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!

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?