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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ulta Love Your Skin Event and Haul

Ulta is in the midst of their Love Your Skin event (Jan. 8-28), and there are some really good skincare deals to be had. Each day features one or two items at substantial discounts, and on the very first day the Algenist Genius Vitamin C Serum was 50% off, so I bought the largest size for $59 (regularly $118).
There was also a GWP variety sampler for purchases over $70, so I added the Clean Slate Guide to Glowing Skin sampler (looks to be sold out now) to take advantage of that.
Love that Ulta is putting together this types of sample boxes now! They seem to be copying the Sephora Favorites, and even include a $5 off in store coupon if you decide to buy something from one of the featured brands. There is another sampler box called Fresh Start that is still available, marked 50% off in the regular sale section right now. Definitely a deal/steal if these are items you've been considering.
I've just started using the Algenist Genius Vitamin C Serum but will do an in depth review in a month or so. In the meantime, here's all the items included in the Clean Slate box and GWP sampler. Lot's of lovely stuff to play with!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January Julep Maven Box: Future Fresh

Disclaimer: I purchased this.
Julep's January collection is called Future Fresh and gives us a new skincare item - Boost Your Radiance Reparative Rosehip Seed Facial Oil ($36).  I customized my box to also include the Freedom topcoat and Pacita, the Wonder Maven polish from the collection. Let's take a closer look!
I love a good face oil, and this one features a streamlined ingredient list with Rosehip seed oil as the star.  Rosehip seed oil is indeed known as a skincare power house, as it is supposed to:
  • hydrate skin while also regulating oil production
  • protect against sun damage and even out hyperpigmentation
  • reduce appearance of scars, burns, stretch marks, fine lines and wrinkles
  • help with eczema and acne scarring
So where do these magical properties come from? Rosehip oil is harvested from the seeds of Rosa aff. rubigninosa or Rosa moschata, which are predominantly grown in Chile.  The chemical structure of Rosehip oil is what gives the powerhouse properties I listed, as it is rich in several essential fatty acids, which convert to prostaglandins (PGE) when absorbed by the skin and are involved in celular membrane and tissue regeneration. Hence the "reparative" in the title. It is also high in vitamin C, which is another great ingredient for anti-aging benefits.
Rosehip oil on its own is delicate and can easily go rancid, which is why vitamin E gets added to the mix to help improve shelf life. You will also want to keep it is a cool place and out of sunlight. Bergamot oil is an anti-fungal/anti-bacterial and also helps with hyperpigmentation. Since Rosehip oil is also a dry oil, it does not feel excessively oily and sinks quickly into the skin.
I've been using about 3 drops during the day as part of my skin care regimen (after serum and before moisturizer) and have not noticed it added any more oiliness/shine to my already oily skin. I've also mixed one drop to my more matte foundations, to good effect. Granted, I've only been using this about a week, but I've had no skin irritation or breakouts, and I'm happy to add this to my collection of facial oils!
Pacita ($14) was the polish I was most drawn to this month, as it is a duochrome that shifts slightly between a coppery russet to a dusky grayish mahogany. This is a sheer finish polish which can be built up to opacity or layered over another polish. It's pretty, although I've probably got 4 or 5 polishes in this same color family now. Clearly they appeal to me.
I'm a fan of the Freedom Polymer top coat ($18), although I do find it starts to get thick before I can finish a bottle. I had the same problem with Seche Vite, which is my other favorite top coat. Freedom gives great shine and dries pretty fast, and I generally get less tip shrinkage with it then I do with Seche Vite.
Julep continues to impress me with their skincare offerings and their polishes. The full retail value of my box is $68 and I paid $19.99, which I'm quite happy with. I look forward to seeing what other new products they will release in 2017!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Beauty Resolution #2: Thin the Herd with Project Pan 2017

I Googled for a definition of Project Pan, and this is what I got: Project Pan is basically a challenge for people who have lots of make-up. You choose some items (make up and toiletries) which you challenge yourself to use fully before the end of the year to help get your make-up collection closer to your "ideal" make-up.
Some people restrict themselves from buying new items until they finish up the ones they are trying to pan. My goals for Project Pan 2017 are primarily to finish products that are older or have just a small amount left to them and to restrict new purchases to items that are unique to my collection. I will not force myself to use up items I do not enjoy, as life is too short and I have too much to chose from. 
I've chosen 17 items to use up in 2017, and some are carry overs from the Project Pan I started in 2016. I guess I should report on how I've done with that particular group of items, shouldn't I? All links are to previous reviews.
I finished three of the items above: the bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream, the Le Metier de Beaute Peau Vierge Correcteur, and the Smashbox Photo Op Under Eye Illuminator.  I'm just about done with the Blonde Bombshell eyebrow pencil by Inika, which is now an inch long. I'm carrying over to Project Pan 2017 the Sunday Riley lipstick in Sunday, the Buxom lip glosses Cherry and April, the Supergoop CC Cream, and the Le Metier de Beaute eyeshadow in Naked.
Naked in July
Peachy Keen (left) and Naked (right) in January
New items for Project Pan 2017 are:
  • deluxe sample of Clinique CC cream that's about half used
  • Le Metier de Beaue Peau Vierge (about 1/4 left in bottle)
  • stila one step bronzer (1/4 left in bottle)
  • TriDerma Pore Reducing Anti Aging Serum: level is at the top of my index finfer
  • Urban Decay Complexion Primer Potion: this is so old it's not even made anymore and is almost full. 
  • Peachy Keen eyeshadow by Le Metier de Beaute
  • Manna Kadar Priming Lip Stain in Lucky. I've used this quite a bit and cannot tell how much is left in the tube.
  • Korres Cherry Oil lip gloss in Golden Brown, which has got to be at least 5 years old. Amazingly, it's still good but let's not tempt fate even more.
  • Urban Decay's Lo-Fi from the Gwen Stefani blush palette.
  • Blushing Beige blush by True Cosmetics, which is now TRUE Izaac Mizrahi. This is my oldest blush at about 5 years old?
I am finding that forcing myself to stick with some specific products has made me appreciate a few of them more. The Smashbox Photo Op Under Eye Illuminator is really good and I find myself missing it now that it's gone. I've moved on to my Estee Lauder Perfectionist Youth Infusing Brightening Serum, but I think I like the Photo Op better. Once I've run through my under eye illuminators (I've got a BECCA Under Eye Brightening Corrector somewhere), I'll allow myself to repurchase my favorite.

Anybody else out there doing a Project Pan in 2017?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Beauty Resolution #1 for 2017: Out with the Old before In with the New

Disclaimer: I purchased these.
I took some time over the holiday break to mull over what resolutions I want to make for 2017 when it comes to beauty and wellness, and the first one is: out with the old before in with the new. I doubt I'm alone in coming to the realization that I've got a butt load of beauty products. While there are still plenty of product haul posts and videos to be found in the blogosphere, there are an equal amount of "project pan", decluttering, and no-buy/low-buy posts and videos out there as well.
So, my goal is to finish up the products I have if I like them or chuck them if I don't before I buy anything new in the same product category. Some how, some way I need to slow down the cycle of rampant consumerism when it comes to purchasing makeup/skincare items. I also want to truly enjoy the items that I have instead of buying the next best thing. Cause there will always be a next best thing.
To that end, I'm combining an old product that has languished for far too long (Farmaesthetics Sweet Milk and Chamomile Facial Exfoliate) with a new product that is not quite right (on it's own) for my skin type - the Honey & Rosehip Organic Facial Cleanser from Bubble & Bee. I bought a sampler pack ($14.99) of Bubble & Bee's 3 facial cleansers during their big annual sale, and this one is targeted towards dry or sensitive skin.
A look at the ingredient list (below) lets me know that there are a lot of oils in the mix, and I did not feel like this worked for me as a second cleanser, which is how I wanted to use it. It did not rinse clean and I could feel the oils left on my skin, which means it really wouldn't work for me as a first cleanser either. Now, if you have really dry skin, this could be perfect for you. Mine is on the oily side however, so it wasn't a great fit and to be fair Bubble & Bee has this disclaimer under the description of the cleanser: This product also is highly moisturizing and contains primarily honey and oil. If you have anything but very dry skin,please order one of our other cleansers.  We always recommend ordering our sample pack first to see which cleanser best fits your particular skin type.  So I knew prior to purchasing the sampler set that this one was probably not for me, but I really like the ingredient list. You can even see the honey as the ingredients separate when the bottle sits for a while.
Ingredients: Organic jojoba oil, organic honey, organic rosehip seed oil, organic coconut oil saponified, organic olive oil saponified, organic jojoba oil saponified, vegetable glycerin, organic guar gum, rosemary extract, organic aloe vera.
Sometimes combining an extremely moisturizing cleanser with an exfoliate is a marriage made in heaven, so I pulled out my neglected Farmaesthetics Sweet Milk and Chamomile Exfoliate to mix with the cleanser. And ya'll, I really like it. I do think it's a concoction best used prior to taking a shower, as there were remnants of cornmeal and milk in my hair afterwards, but I had nowhere to go, so whatever. This is me with major bedhead but nevertheless luxuriating in the prospect of 12 whole days off in front of me. 
The Sweet Milk and Chamomile Flower Facial Exfoliate ($28) is one of four different varieties offered by Farmaesthetics, and every time I look at the ingredients ( dried powdered milk*, fine yellow cornmeal & finely ground chamomile flowers*  (* indicates certified organic ingredients)) I think "I could make this". I could be delusional, but I definitely think you are paying more for the esthetic of the brand as opposed to the ingredients with this particular product. Mine is way past it's 2 year shelf life (original review here), but still appears to be fine. I do want to use both of these up though, and now I have a combo I like!

Friday, January 6, 2017

It Cosmetics CC+ Creme with SPF 50

Dang it, I really didn't want to like this deluxe sample of the It Cosmetics CC+ Creme as much as I did. I've already got new jars/tubes of my favorite two foundations (Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Creme Foundation and bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream), and just really do not need anything else. But this is niiiice.
So nice that I even cut it open to scrap out the last bits, which I only do when I really like something. Marketed as a full coverage color correcting cream with SPF 50 that can increase skin's hydration, smooth texture, and enhance brightness, it is chock full of beneficial skincare ingredients such as peptides, niacin, hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid, vitamins and antioxidants to help deliver on it's claims. The CC+ Creme seems to be striving for the standard set by Korean CC creams, which are supposed to not only provide coverage and sunscreen with some added skincare benefits, but also color correct (hence the CC) by reducing skin redness or sallowness.
Shade medium in outside light
The are five available shades and the medium worked well for my fair skin, but this is supposed to adjust to fit your skin tone. Considering my paleness and the mid-range shade is working for me....well, let's just say I doubt there is much here for those with dark skin tones, but maybe these adjust better then I'm giving them credit for.
Fully blended
I'd say the coverage is medium as opposed to full, but the finish is very natural looking. I did set it with powder but I do that will all foundations due to having oily skin. Wear time was a good 8-9 hours before I started noticing breakdown, and I had no problems with the CC+ creme causing breakouts or other irritation, so the formula seems to agree with me.
But ya'll, the price is a bit steep at $38. Yes, it's got skin enhancing ingredients and a high SPF plus you get 1.08 ounces, so there is that. I'm going to put this on a wish list for later in the year, maybe during the Sephora 20% off sale in November. By then I will have made a dent in some of my foundations and if this is still lingering in my mind, then I'll let myself pull the trigger.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

DYI Facial Toner/Makeup Setting Spray

Disclaimer: I purchased these.
Hope your 2017 is off to a good start! I'm still mulling over my beauty/wellness resolutions for this year, but I'm pretty sure one is going to be spend less money and use up what I already own. To that end, here is one successful strategy I've adopted. Way back in July I decided to try making my own makeup setting spray, and I'm now on my third batch and have been pleased with the results. For reference, I've got aging but oily skin and using a facial spray after applying my makeup helps to "set" my makeup and meld the creams and powders together, giving a more natural looking appearance (hopefully).
Manuka oil and Tea Tree oil from Pacific Resources International
I also want a spray with ingredients that can potentially help my skin beyond just setting my makeup, so after doing a bit of research I settled on the following ingredients for my concoction:

  • Witch hazel: strong antioxidant and astringent properties and helps to kill bacteria on your skin
  • Vegetable glycerin: natural humectant and helps to maintain skin's water balance
  • Aloe vera liquid: antimicrobial properties, soothes, cools, and hydrates skin
  • Rose hip seed oil: antioxidant rich (vitamins E, C, D, B-carotene, and a form of A) to help fight free radicals, essential fatty acids to help heal skin and improve skin texture and pigmentation
  • Manuka oil: antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, helps promote new cell growth. Manuka bushes grow only in New Zealand, and I purchased my oil from Pacific Resources International. You could substitute Tea Tree oil for Manuka oil, as they have similar properties.
As you can see below, the oils do not mix with the other ingredients so I always make sure to vigorously shake the bottle prior to applying. I eyeball the amounts, with witch hazel and aloe vera juice comprising the majority, about a tablespoon of glycerin, and vigorous shakes of the rose hop/manuka oils. Manuka oil has a pungent smell very similar to tea tree oil, so that and the witch hazel are the dominant fragrances. It's a little funky but I've grown to like it.
All of the other ingredients were purchased from iherb.com, and I purchased several aluminum spray bottles when drugstore.com was going out of business. Iherb.com has really replaced drugstore.com for me, and I like their loyalty program which gives you a percentage back to be used in the next 60 days on new purchases. 
This is one of the DYI projects that I can say has been a complete success for me. It also helps me resist buying items like Urban Decay's newly packaged setting sprays, which are $31 for a 4 ounce bottle. I feel like the ingredients I'm using are "cleaner" and I'm getting good results at a fraction of the cost, which is a win/win in my book. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Makeup Items I Really Enjoyed in 2016

It's time for all the "best/worst of 2016" lists, and here are the makeup items that I really enjoyed in 2016. In looking back over the year, a few things stand out. First of all, I'm saturated with product. That didn't stop me from purchasing new items, but I am slowing down. I want to set some goals for 2017 on using up products I already have and just be a more mindful/conscious consumer. But for now, let's see the products that stood out in a positive way for me in 2016! In no particular order, and links are to full reviews.....

1.  Gwen Stefani Blush Palette by Urban Decay
From the pretty packaging to the shades perfect for us fair skinned girls, this just works for me. On the downside it's limited edition, but on the plus side this was not one of those items that sold out in a nano second. I've hit major pan on Lo-Fi and will probably add it to a 2017 Project Pan.

2. Pop of Passion Lip Oil Balms by bareMinerals
I love glossy lip tints and the bareMinerals Pop of Passion Lip Oil Balms ($16) give me sheer color and moisturized lips, so I'm a fan. Plumberry Passion is the most pigmented and vibrant of the four deluxe samples I've collected, but the sheer watermelon Rose Passion is my favorite.
Plumberry Passion, Nude Passion, Rose Passion, Pink Passion
3. My Parisian Pastels by Lancome ($59)
Another limited edition item, these shimmer cubes can be used as shadow, blush or highlighter and were probably my favorite of the spring items I purchased in 2016. Yes, they were expensive and I know now that The Body Shop has a similar product called Shimmer Cubes ($22 for 4), but I'm still happy with these. Lancome's products are over priced IMO, which is why I always wait for a good GWP to help sweeten the pot.

4. Precious Petals Megaglo Highlighting Powder by Wet 'n Wild ($4)
Wet 'n Wild hit it out of the park this year when it came to drugstore highlighters. Sadly, the two I picked up were both limited edition and hard to come by for most, as there were usually just a few per display. I happened to luck upon Precious Petals before the display was picked over, and I'm quite happy that I did. This is flat out gorgeous!
The formula is great and the color is a somewhat unique (to my collection at least) pink champagne. Here's hoping Wet 'n Wild brings this one back so more people can experience it's goodness.

4. When Pencil Met Gel by Julep ($16)
Julep has a seriously good gel pencil formula. They match up to any I've tried, and I'm an eye pencil junkie, so I've tried a lot. While I like the formula in general, my favorite of the ones I've tried thus far is Gilded Gold Shimmer (middle below). It's stunning.

5. Le Crayon Khol in Black Coffee by Lancome ($26)
Bottom: Blackened Coffee
While by no means new, this is the year that I fell in love with Black Coffee by Lancome. I actually got one of these in 2012 but threw it out when it looked like mold was growing on the tip. I received another this year, and it has become a staple for me. I use it on my water line as well as my upper/lower lash lines, and it's blackened brown color is just lovely. Glad I was able to give it a second try.

6. Megaglo Holly Gold-head Highlighting Gold Bar by Wet 'n Wild ($4)
Holly Gold-head Highlighting Gold Bar was part of Wet 'n Wild's limited edition holiday collection, and again I was lucky enough to happen upon the display at my local Rite Aid before all 4 of them were gone. I guess it's a good thing that Rite Aid is on my way home and I stop there several times a week, at least when it comes to picking up limited edition drugstore highlighters :-)

8. Custom Magnetic Palettes by Tarte ($17)
Mmmm, I have 3 of these limited edition Tarte palettes now. They are the same size (although a different shape) as the large Z palette, but less expensive and sturdier in design. Plus, I love the Gold Digger design that Tarte briefly offered during the holidays. It reminds me of one of my favorite artists, Gustav Klimt.

9. Murumura Butter Bronzer in Light by Physician's Formula ($14.99)
This has been the year of the bronzer for me, in that I've finally found several that work well for me (Lo-Fi by Urban Decay and Light Golden Bronze by Julep are my other go to's). The Butter Bronzer comes in two shades and I have the lighter version. It's warm without going ruddy and I like how natural it looks on the skin.  

10. Bronzer Brush by Julep
Julep also has some good brushes, and their tulip shaped bronzer brush has become a favorite of mine. I like the weighted handle and how soft/fluffy yet precise the brush is. I've had no issues with the brush shedding and it has held up well after multiple washings.

I've got plenty of other items that have achieved holy grail status for me that I've had in past year's favorites, but these were the newer standouts for me. I'd love to hear about your favorites as well!