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Monday, February 13, 2017

Lemon Sugar Facial Scrub by Andalou Naturals

Disclaimer: I purchased this.
Andalou Naturals is fast becoming one of my favorite skincare companies. I've already talked about my love for their DIY Booster SPF30 Facial Serum, and now I'm adding the Lemon Sugar Facial Scrub to the greatest hits list. I love this stuff.
Targeted towards oily and overactive skin (hello, me), this organic cane sugar, manuka honey and meyer lemon based exfoliating scrub smells and feels divine. Andalou's products all contain something known as ''fruit stem cell science", which as far as I can tell means apple, grape, argan oil, or alpine rose stem cells plus other bioactive ingredients included in the mix.  Looks like the sugar scrub has apple and grape stem cells.
You may be familiar with some of the other companies that the founders of Andalou Naturals have started, such as Avalon Organics, Alba Botanica, Sonoma Soap Company, or Unpetroleum. Andalou Naturals is their most recent venture, and is the first non-GMO verified beauty company. Plus, the products are reasonably priced. Seriously, I'm smitten.
I like using the sugar scrub about twice a week in the mornings.  I'll put about a nickels worth in the palm of my hand with just a few drops of water, rub my hands together and then massage my face.  Less water means more scrubbing action, but the sugar granules are fairly fine in nature so it does not feel overly abrasive. After a minute or so the sugar scrub has become a rich cream that smells divine and tastes great, should you get any in your mouth. Afterwards, my skin feels soft, smooth, hydrated, and happy. That's right, happy. I just got an email letting me know that Andalou Naturals is having a 30% off sale through February 20th, so now is the time to dip your toe in (Code: VDAY). They've got some nice sampler sets to get you started. I've tried several and liked most of them thus far (packaging recently changed, just as a FYI).

Monday, February 6, 2017

February Julep Maven Box: Cozy in Love


The theme of Julep's February collection is Cozy in Love, and it features 4 new shades of the It's Balm lip crayons. I decided not to add any more lip products to my already overflowing collection, and instead opted for another bronzer brush ($28) (love it, and can you have too many brushes?) and the No Excuses Invisible Sunscreen Gel. I did pick up one of the polishes from the collection, the deep blue Maylee.  Let's take a closer look.
Maylee ($14) has a an iridescence when it catches the sun, but it's true nature is more of an inky navy blue. This will be going on my fingers in the next day or so, so expect a review soon.
I've read some pretty good reviews on the No Excuses SPF40 sunscreen gel ($28), so I figured I'd give it a shot. After wearing it for about 4 days now, I've got to say I'm impressed. I love the gel texture, which leaves no white cast at all and absorbs nicely into my skin.
I haven't experienced any breakouts thus far, so fingers crossed that this will join my Andalou Naturals DIY Booster SPF30 Facial Serum and I'll have two favorite sunscreens. Considering how much I've hated wearing sunscreen in the past, that's saying something.
I also like that Julep includes the expiration date (6/2018) not only on the product but also on their site, so that you know how long you have before it expires prior to purchasing. There are a few ingredients in the mix (rosehip fruit oil, camellia japonica seed oil, love plant extract, melon fruit extract, sunflower seed oil) for enhanced skincare benefits:

  • Rosehip Seed Oil delivers essentials nutrients to soother and repair skin
  • Melon Extract* smooths, softens, and brightens skin
  • Camellia Seed Oil* moisturizes and stimulates collagen production
  • Oxalis Triangularis Extract (Jeju Island love plant)* protects skin against environmental damage with rich antioxidants
  • Macro-emulsion technology: The SPF actives in No Excuses are encapsulated into a vitamin-enriched essence-gel base, which preserves the maximum efficacy of all ingredients until the time of application.


* Sourced directly from Korea’s Jeju Island.
The full retail value of my box is $70, which is quite the deal for the $19.99 cost (I was grandfathered in at a lower price, lucky me) of my box. I also like that they included a sample of the Love Your Bare Face cleansing oil, as that will come in handy next time I travel.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

NOTD: Rising Spirit by SpaRitual

 Lady Luck smiled on me twice in January when it came to winning beauty products in some blog giveaways, and today I have a new polish from SpaRitual to show you as a result.

Beauty Undercover partnered with SpaRitual to offer 30 readers their choice of one of the four polishes from their Vegan GOLD collection "Rise", plus a bottle of their new flexible topcoat. I chose the soft gold shimmer Rising Spirit, and it's a beauty.
This new polish formula has quite a few claims behind it, such as: applying 75% faster yet removing 85% faster than gels, drying 60% faster than a traditional manicure and containing a smudge-repair technology that is both self-leveling and correcting. Sounds kind miraculous, doesn't it? At least when it comes to nail polishes.  
I'm on day 4 of wear and so far I have no chipping and minimal tip wear, even after bathing Lulu, which requires 3 separate sudsings with a medicated shampoo. The polish did dry relatively fast but I still managed to ding and smudge two nails on my right hand. I was impatient and decided I wanted to make breakfast not long after I painted them, so my bad.
Overall I'm happy with Rising Spirit and the topcoat, so thank you to Beauty Undercover and SpaRitual for the giveaway!  On another note, the tulip trees are in full bloom here in Mobile, and the azaleas as starting to bloom.  I guess we are in for an early spring this year, which I have mixed emotions about. It's 76 degrees outside today, so I'm hoping for at least a few weeks of cooler weather before the heat and humidity starts their unrelenting onslaught. We shall see, as February is usually the coldest month in this area.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Empties! Facial Masks, Hair and Body Care Items I Used Up Sept-Jan

Life has been busy but here (finally) are the rest of the products I used up or tossed from September to January. That will teach me from getting behind on posting these in a timely manner :-) First up are masks, and I'll highlight a few favorites and a few that left me underwhelmed.
Memebox has their own line of masks out, and the bonvivant Botanical Masks come in a variety of botanically based formulas that I quite like. They are inexpensive (especially when bundled together), and I've yet to try one that I thought was sub par.  The mask sheets are made with 100% Eucalyptus-derived material and I find them comfortable to wear. They are well-saturated with essence and I can get a good 30 minutes of wear before they start to dry out. Regular price on these is $3, but during a sale you can find them for $1-$2 dollars each. Well worth it, IMO, and I've got quite the stockpile now.

I also like the Banobagi Vita Genic masks, which come in 4 different varieties: Lifting, Whitening, Relaxing, and Hydrating. I got mine as part of a mask bundle from Memebox, but I no longer see them listed on the site. A quick search shows them to be reasonably priced at anywhere from $14-$20 for a box of 10 masks from a variety of online sites.
I bought the Karuna Online Only Flawless Skin Kit ($39) during a 20% off sale from Ulta. The box presentation itself is lovely, but I've got to admit I was a bit underwhelmed by the masks themselves. They were okay, but nothing I would purchase again at that price. The do have little booster patches you can wear under the masks that are designed to target problem areas, which is what intrigued me. Can't say I saw much of a difference after using them, however. I'm probably spoiled by Korean masks, which feature stellar ingredients at much cheaper prices.
But if you really want to talk about expensive facial masks that are not worth the price: look no further than the Le Metier de Beaute (LMdB) Revitalizing Hydro Red Algae & Collagen Mask.  I received this as part of a LMdB subscription box, and they are a whooping $15 each. It was a two piece mask that kept wanting to slide off of my face due to it's gel composition and there was nothing in the ingredient list that you can't find in a good Korean mask, at a fraction of the price. This is definitely a case of paying for the LMdB name, since it's a luxury brand. Not worth it in this case.
The Moroccan Oil conditioner I've had for years and am just now finishing. It's nice, but I'm not as big of a fan as many seem to be. I also used up a few foil samples that I really like, and one that left me cold.
Hask shampoo and conditioners are probably one of my favorite finds from 2016. They are inexpensive yet feature more "clean" ingredients, and the Charcoal shampoo and conditioner has little flecks of charcoal in it, which I find so cool. Charcoal absorbs impurities so I can see where it would make a good clarifying shampoo. I would probably use it only when my hair needed a good cleanse to degunk hair care products like hairspray, in order to avoid over stripping.

I also enjoyed these Klorane shampoo and conditioner samples for blonde hair. They felt gentle and refreshing and left my hair soft and shiny.
The DHC After Bath Hair Treatment is a good leave-in conditioner that makes it easy to comb through but does not weigh my hair down. I always enjoy getting samples of these when I purchase from DHC or they send one in their catalog.
The Oscar Blandi At Home Salon Glaze however? Not a fan. It makes my hair feel strange and I cannot tell any difference in shine. I didn't even finish using up this generously sized sample.
Next are some body care and perfume items.  The Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel is a product that is just not for me. I didn't feel like it really did anything and found it too cumbersome for such lackluster results. Give me a good sugar scrub any day over this.
The Crystal Essence deodorant is a favorite. I tend to rotate natural ingredient based deodorants and this one has a solid place in the rotation.
I also really like the Julep top coat, although it does tend to get thick before I can finish a bottle. I finished a few perfume samples but had to toss the Versace Eros after trying it and disliking it so intensely I had to scrub it off. Not sure what in the note list is causing such extreme dislike, but it smelled vile to me.
Whew, I'm finally caught up with my empties and will make sure to post monthly from now on so that it doesn't get so overwhelming!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Empties! Skincare Items I've Used Up Sept-Jan

These are the skincare items that I've used up in the last 3 months or so. I had wanted to post a review on the Estee Lauder items but never got around to it, so these mini-reviews will have to suffice.
The Estee Lauder Nutritious line of products are infused with pomegranate and are supposed to give radiance to your skin. I believe the Nutritious products were first marketed towards Asian skincare concerns, as these are supposed to brighten skin by combating dullness. I don't know about that, but the products did a good job of providing just enough moisture so that my oilier skin was happy but not shiny. I'm on bottle two of the Advanced Night Repair serum deluxe sample and will wait on a review until I've finished the third one, as that equals a full sized bottle.  The Advanced Night Micro Cleansing Foam was a definite improvement over the last Estee Lauder foaming cleanser I used, which was both stripping and overly fragranced.  I've got another one and will use it up as well.  Overall though, I find Estee Lauder skincare products to be overpriced and would go towards Korean skincare products instead. But I won't turn my nose up at them when it comes to GWP's, which is how I got these.
I like having a variety of toners on hand and I liked all three of these. If you are looking for a good natural ingredient skincare line, Andalou Naturals is worth checking out. I do remember reading some early reviews of the nooni toners that said they smelled way too strong, but I don't smell anything offensive or overpowering with the Sprout Smoothing Toner. Maybe they toned it down after the negative reviews.
I won the Aurora De Juliis Retinol Night Creme in a giveaway several years back. I couldn't really tell much of a difference when I initially used it and then I let it languish for way too long. So, I finally used up the remainder just to move it out of my collection. I liked the bareMinerals Skin Longevity Vital Power Infusion Serum sample I received in the holiday advent calendar and got about 2 weeks worth of use from the deluxe sample. I just received another sample and will use that one up as well.
The Manuka Secrets Serum is definitely a favorite and I'm still disappointed that this line is no longer carried at Ulta.  I was fortunate that the company offered to send me another serum after they read my review, where I had noted that the pump was not working correctly. So, I've got another one on hand, which makes me happy.
I enjoyed using the CosRX Galactomyces Alcohol-Free Toner, but I'm sure it really did anything significant for my skin. I think I just like spray toners and this one is gentle and refreshing. I've read other reviews where people said they didn't really notice much of a difference until after they quite using it and their skin was not quite as radiant looking as when they were using it, so there is that to consider. I probably won't seek this one out again but then again, at the right price...........
The SKII Night Cream did not knock my socks off, but it was nice to try a line that is raved about yet out of my price range at $260 for a full sized jar. For some reason I remember not liking the Pink Peony Overnight Water Pack by the Estee edit, but I can't remember why. I do have a larger sample in the wings, so maybe it will come back to me or I realize I did like it after all.  I did like the Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation Moisturizer sample enough that I dug out a deluxe sample sized jar to use up. Beyond that, none of the other foils or the eye mask left much of an impression on me.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Empties! Products I Used Up or Tossed Sept-Jan

I'm behind on posting my empties, so I've got quite a backlog to get through, which will take multiple posts (links are to full reviews I've done). All photos were taken inside because it's super windy outside after the Saturday evening/Sunday morning thunderstorms which spawned all those tornadoes along the Gulf Coast. I was saddened to hear about the deaths in Hattiesburg and the damage at William Carey University. But I digress, and let's start with a category that I usually don't have much of - makeup items.
  • Two of the four sample Urban Decay eye primers (Eden and Anti-Aging).Their old eye primer in the wand was my HG at one point, but I'm not as fond of the newer formula.
  • Deluxe sample of the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF50. I liked it.
  • bareMinerals Blush Balm in Natural Passion. I'm proud of myself for using this up! Once I hit pan I just wanted to keep on going, so I used it a lot during December when I was reviewing products from the bareMinerals advent calendar. Love the formula and would considering repurchasing once I work through some of my other cream blushes.



  • bareMinerals Mineral Veil sample. I've been using this as my setting powder and have rediscovered how much I like it. I'm currently mixing the translucent shade with the tinted version, both of which I received in the advent calendar, which was timely. I'd considering purchasing once I run through my current crop of powders, which will be a loooong time.
  • Smashbox Photo Op Under Eye Brightener. I rediscovered how much I liked this when I added it to my 1st Project Pan and was sad to see it go. I like it the best of the under eye brighteners I've tried so far and would repurchase once I finish the others. I find this does a good job of brightening beneath my eyes without settling into fine lines, which are developing even as I type, it seems.
  • Also on my 2016 Project Pan was the Inika Brow pencil in Blonde. If you want a natural/organic ingredient warm toned dark beige brow pencil, this was a good one. It took a good 6 months of consistent use to finish, and now I'm moving on to one of the 3-4 other brow pencils in my collection, so will not be repurchasing.  
  • Keviu Aucoin Candlelight Celestial Skin Liquid foil sample pack. Nice but I have plenty of liquid luminizers I need to use up.
  • Estee Lauder Sumptuous Bold Volume Lifting Mascara deluxe sample. I'm a fan of EL mascaras in general and this one worked well for me. I've got such a backlog of mascaras to work through that it's ridiculous, but this one is a favorite.
  • Estee Lauder Little Black Primer. Love this stuff and use it daily. Will definitely repurchase once I run through the few of these I already own. This is the deluxe sized mini and I got a good 3 months use out of it.
  • Laura Mercier mascara. Eh, I don't really remember much about this one, but it was time to toss.
  • Too Faced Shadow Insurance eye primer. This took the place of my previous HG Urban Decay primer once they changed their formula. I was reluctant to pay for a new one but bit the bullet during Sephora's November 20% off sale. I'm still looking for a drug store eye primer and want to try Milani's or Wet 'n Wild's, but can never seem to find them. 
  • Pur Air Perfection Cushion Foundation in medium. This wasn't really right for my oily skin and at 2 years old was ready to be tossed. I did get some use out of it but it never really grabbed my heart. It's also a bit pricey, IMO.
  • Benefit's Pore Professional sample pack. I've been using the few samples of this that I have on hand and like it well enough. My mom requested a bottle for Christmas after I gave her a few sample tubes, so she's a fan. I doubt I would purchase a full size for myself, but will definitely use up the sample tubes I've accrued.

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!