Worth Every Penny – At Least, as A One-Time Purchase

About a week ago, I got an unexpected package in the mail – it was from Glossier, & it contained their revamped Soothing Face Mist. Full disclosure: I received this product for free, because of my position as a Glossier Rep. If I hadn’t received it in the mail, I wouldn’t have run out to buy it – but after giving this one a go, I can say with a clear conscience that this product is worth purchasing at least one time. Let me explain; just know: it’s a bit of a story.

One of my top “treats” for my skin is the Caudalie Beauty Elixir. Described as a “natural cult-favorite toning mist that tightens pores, sets makeup, and provides an instant shot of radiance to the skin,” this face mist smells like white wine, always feels cooling on the skin (even if the product is at room temperature), & can be used as a toner, as a setting spray, a makeup primer (!!!) or simply serve as a refresher throughout the day.

I mentioned “treat” because I have never bought a full-size bottle of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir – it’s $49 for 3.7 fluid ounces. I know. Trust me, I know. It’s not something my wallet can keep up with. When I have a little extra money on my hands & I’m waiting in line at Sephora, I’ll grab a travel-size bottle of the Beauty Elixir. $18 for 1 fluid ounce, this product doesn’t last too long – but it’s a nice treat that I can enjoy for about a month.

One of the things I love most about the Caudalie Beauty Elixir is its spray pump. The mist distributes itself so evenly across the face – & with such tiny droplets – that it truly feels as though you’re passing through a mist of a sprinkler system; maybe the mist from the Niagara Falls if you want a prettier picture. My point? Your face will always be evenly covered with product. No “more here, less there” – the spray pump manages to veil your skin in a fine layer of refreshing, champagne-scented, facial spray.

After having bought a couple of the travel size Beauty Elixirs in the past year & a half, I began to wonder: could i just screw the top off my Beauty Elixir bottle once I finished the product inside, then just put a cheap rosewater & glycerin spray inside it, instead? Win-win: my face would continue to be spritzed evenly; my wallet would suffer less. When I reached the end of my travel-size Beauty Elixir, I ran to grab my $10 rosewater glycerin spray & began twisting the cap on the Beauty Elixir, ready to switch out the product.

I was ready; the bottle, however, was not. After a little twisting, a little tugging, & finally – a frustrated floor-stomp – I realized that Caudalie was smarter than that. They knew their spray pump was good; they knew their spray pump was really good…& they’d fixed it so that it would be impossible to remove the cap on a Beauty Elixir bottle.

I was miffed; I was stumped; I started searching the Internet in hopes of finding something similar. I decided to check out a bunch of different facial sprays the next time I went to Sephora in PERSON – because this was something I really had to test in person. I knew what I wanted, & I needed to make sure it felt exactly the way I wanted it to – as well as have a removable cap – before I handed over my money.

It didn’t seem as though it’d be too hard to find something like this. I walked into Sephora, headed to the luxury skincare aisles, & started looking for some high-end face mists in travel-size packaging. I knew that I didn’t want to spend $50 on a face mist…no matter how good the spritzer was. Travel-size, I told myself, was the way to go for this one.

After a little hunting, I’d almost given up. I’d grabbed a refill of one of my favorite face masks, none of the face mists I’d seen/tried were really “speaking” to me, & I was tired. I headed to go pay – & then I stopped. Right in front of my eyes, in the bins of mini products at the checkout line, I saw “Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist – Travel Size” for $20.

I’ve seen Tatcha’s skin mist all over the Internet. It’s a favorite for many Instagram beauty gurus (in their one-minute makeup tutorials…you know what I’m talking about!); we ALL know that certain YouTubers love to flaunt their wealth by holding up a full size bottle of this stuff & completely dousing their face in it, using up half of a $50 bottle of face mist in one go.

From what I’ve seen & heard, Tatcha’s skin mist is way overhyped. It remains one of their best-sellers on Sephora (& on other beauty retail sites, too) but I’m still a little confused as to why that’s the case – I can name at least three of their products off the top of my head that seem far more effective & innovative. Try one of their Rice Enzyme Powders (a gentle exfoliant that deep-cleanses without creating micro abrasions); try their Silk Canvas Protective Primer (a face primer with a balm texture, made out of pressed silk); try their Camellia Gold Spun Lip Balm (expensive for a lip balm? Yes. A good way to treat yourself? Also: yes). Why is their skin mist their top-selling item? It remains a mystery to me. Still – I gave the travel-size trial spray a little test. The spritzer wasn’t quite as good as the Caudalie one, but the top was removable. I figured that I’d be able to give this skin mist a try, see what all the chatter was about – & at the end of the day, I’d still have a good quality spritzing bottle that I could refill with whatever my heart desired, as soon as the original product was gone.

I set down the trial, I picked up one still in its packaging, & I walked on up to hand over my money. Time to see if this refillable version of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir bottle would be a favorite; tried & true. Only time would tell.

Okay, but – what qualifies as “time,” can I ask? Within 48 hours I was seething, looking for my receipt (failed on that one) & looking at my complexion in the mirror in complete disbelief. Hives? No. Rash? No. Blemishes? Yes. Tacky skin that felt sticky & dirty? Yes. Within 48 hours of giving the Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist a go, my complexion did a 180 – & not in a good way. I was confused. I hadn’t expected it to be a miracle product – but what on earth went so wrong for me?

Tatcha describes their skin mist as a “silky, fine mist moisturizer that can be used under or over makeup for dewy glowing skin anytime, anywhere.” It’s good for all skin types, helps eradicate dullness, dryness, & fine lines/wrinkles. In the “If you want to know more…” section in Sephora’s product description, Tatcha directs: “Mist on this spray moisturizer for a boost of soothing hydration and a luminous complexion….The Dewy Skin Mist’s super-fine sprayer only takes two to three spritzes for your whole face. Use right before applying makeup for flawless application and a dewy, glowing look. Take it with you for easy touch-ups on the go to refresh skin and give it an extra glow. You can also mist it over makeup to replenish moisture and prevent caking. It won’t disturb makeup, so you can use it anytime, anywhere.”

The description goes on to say that the skin mist is non-irritating, non-sensitizing, dermatologist tested, & cruelty-free/fragrance-free. It all SOUNDED great…but looking at my skin in the mirror after giving the skin mist a few trial runs, I was wondering: non-irritating? Non-sensitizing? Really?

Now – even a product that is formulated for sensitive skin can react badly on some people with sensitive skin. We are not all the same; not every product works for everyone. Still – I was angry. I couldn’t find my product receipt, I couldn’t use the product because it made my skin feel gross, & the spritzer wasn’t even as good as the Caudalie’s spritzer. I decided to dump out the product (with clenched teeth) & put some good old rosewater & glycerin spray in there, instead. Maybe the mister would feel better with a product that I knew worked well for me.

Nope. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t everything Tatcha had hyped it up to be. Now I was sitting there with a small bottle of rosewater & glycerin – a bottle that had originally contained $20 worth of face mist…which I’d had to dump, because it’d done nothing good (& everything bad) for my skin.

I got over it. I stopped using the mist once I dumped it down the drain (obviously) I cried myself to sleep over the $20 lost thanks to my misplacement of my receipt, & I stopped looking for a mist that would work as beautifully as the Caudalie Beauty Elixir did. Maybe, I told myself, I could just continue treating myself from time to time.

Glossier got a lot of flack for their Soothing Face Mist. Initially $18, the Glossier Soothing Face Mist was essentially Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater – just more expensive. Although I’d purchased the Glossier mist when I first was trying out the brand, way before I became a rep, it was something I didn’t purchase again. It didn’t feel like anything special – & it stung my eye/lip area. Yes – even if I shut my eyes. I wasn’t the only one who said this; I most CERTAINLY wasn’t the only one that quickly realized that this face mist was way overpriced. The main ingredients (rosewater, aloe, glycerin, & good old H2O) could be purchased for half the price at any Ulta Beauty, Walgreens…even Whole Foods. & the ones I could buy at Ulta, Walgreens, Whole Foods, etc. didn’t sting my eyes. I quickly moved on from this product, & when I became a rep, was careful to say: it wasn’t a product I recommended purchasing for all of the reasons above.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Glossier sent me their revamped mist, along with a little card describing what was different about the mist this time around. “NEW-ish: Soothing Face Mist,” read the card. “Especially nice on hot summer days, in the morning, after exercising, or on long plane rides that dry out skin.” Okay – nothing new there. Every face mist is supposed to do that for you. I continued. “Now with finer droplets, a plane-friendly size, and a recalibrated continuous spray pump.”

 

THAT caught my eye. Finer droplets? Recalibrated spray pump? My ears were now pricked. I noticed that the face mist packaging had been switched up, too. The bottle is now a translucent, #glossierpink – you can see how much you have left, which is a nice change from the previous bottle, which was a plain white – no transparency. This looked prettier, sounded nicer, &, because of the new “plane-friendly size,” it was $3 cheaper – now $15 vs. $18.

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Okay, $15 for 3.2 fl oz. – you can still find cheaper facial sprays that do the exact same thing; at this point, however, I was most interested in the recalibrated spray pump. The brand’s photos of the revamped product looked more luxurious than the previous photos; the mist looked very fine, very soothing…it looked kind of like – you guessed it – the Caudalie Beauty Elixir spray pump. I decided to be brave & give it a go. I shut my eyes, held my breath, & pressed down on the spray pump.

It was magical. It felt like I was giving my face a healthy dose of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir – except instead of the white wine/champagne scent, I was getting the rosewater scent that was expected for a spray whose first ingredient is…rosewater. I waited to see if I felt any stinging sensations. I didn’t. Had my eyes become less sensitive? Was the spray reformulated? I don’t know the answer…all I know is that I didn’t have to dump out the product.

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Checking the reviews for the revamped Soothing Face Mist on Glossier’s site, opinions on the formula remain mixed. Some say they still feel a stinging sensation – & who am I to tell them they’re lying? I can only give my two cents: when I tried the original, it burned. When I tried the 2.0, it did not. Ultimately, I’ll be left with an empty bottle of Glossier Soothing Face Mist – & then I’ll start cheating. What kind of sprays can I refill my bottle with? Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray with Aloe, Chamomile, & Lavender is a favorite of mine; Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin Spray is another favorite. All I know is that I’ve finally found the perfect spritzer bottle. Farewell, Caudalie Beauty Elixir – maybe I’ll return to you one day, when I have an actual salary, my own apartment, & pay every single one of my bills – with some cash left over. Until then, I’ll be refilling this Glossier Soothing Face Mist with whatever appeals to me at that moment. Are you a lover of the fine mist of Caudalie’s champagne-y spray? You won’t get the white wine effect, but you will get everything else. I promise. Did I mention it’s cheaper now, & travel-friendly, to boot? All-in-all: absolutely worth a one-time purchase. Again: I promise. Worth every single penny – for a one-time purchase.

Are there any refillable mist bottles that you’ve been loving before Glossier revamped their face mist? If so, I’d love to hear about them! If you’re still stumped, give this one a try – give me your thoughts in the comments, too!

Love,

Sofia

Shop here for 20% off your first Glossier purchase!

*campaign photos by glossier; #glossierinthewild photos by me* 

Watch Out, Western Brands…K-Beauty Is Coming for You Faster & Better Than Ever Before

A few weeks ago, I took a survey asking what most influences me to purchase a beauty product: Posts/photographs/reviews on sites like Violet Grey or Into The Gloss? An advertisement on Instagram? There were a few more choices, but these two stuck out to me…especially the option to choose “an Instagram advertisement.”

It’s been a joke for a while: “my FBI agent is watching me…I know it!” There have been a lot of “experiments” in which it seems quite obvious: our phones & other technological devices are “listening” to us – whether or not they’re listening to our actual voices is debatable, but the concept of our social media ads are being tailored to fit our personal interests like a glove has become an (almost) undeniable fact. I do a Google search for a Chanel lip gloss – the next day, a post by the re-vamped Chanel Instagram page (@welovecoco) is at the top of my Instagram timeline. Coincidence? After having this happen time & time again, I’ll go with: “No.”

What we discuss online is now used as a tool to draw our attention to things an algorithm knows we’d like. It sounds scary – & maybe it is – but I’m not here to talk about the future of technology at large; today, I’m simply acknowledging how I was put onto this brand (hint: Instagram).

It was no surprise once I saw more than a few of ads similar to these that “Nooni,” the brand behind the lip oils, masks, & marshmallow maker was a K-Beauty brand. Why? Usually, K-Beauty products are incredibly cheap, packaged in an eye-catching, fun way…oh! They don’t break the bank, either. Cute, cheap, effective? Nooni is one of the brands that perfectly demonstrates the “blueprint,” so to speak, of K-beauty. It’s hard to resist.

One of the only reasons to not like K-Beauty is the fact that many brands tested on animals – a turn off for many, whether they’re vegans, vegetarians, or just like to keep their skin routines cruelty-free. However, this is quickly changing – in fact, by the end of 2018, animal testing on cosmetics/skincare will be illegal. By this time of year, almost all K-beauty brands are already on the cruelty-free level, & those who are not will have to be by December 31st, 2018 – otherwise, they’ll be illegally manufacturing products. (For more on Korea’s ban of animal testing on skincare &/or cosmetics, read here

Nooni is one of many brands now following Korea’s new cruelty-free policies. With no product over $40, packaging that looks pretty on a top shelf, & 5-star reviews, it’s hard to resist the temptation. After months of Instagram ads, a couple Google searches, & some YouTube videos demonstrating how to use some of the products as well as some first impression videos, I was ready to give the brand a try. None of the products I purchased by Nooni were over $15 – real steals! I decided to go for the things I’d been most attracted to on the Instagram advertisements: lip oils, lip mask, cleanser, & cleansing device. Meet the new family below, & get a good look at my thoughts on this brand & its products.

Deep-Cleanse Snowflake Whipping Cleanser

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$12 for a 5 oz. bottle of cleanser? That alone was a good reason to try it out – especially after looking at the ingredients list. “Enriched with anti-aging Pearl Powder and a unique complex of 7 white flowers….this cleanser brightens, hydrates, and calms skin,” claims the brand’s official summary of the product. The most beneficial ingredients used are Kaolin, Rose Extract, Jasmine Extract, & Pearl.” The ingredients listed are not usually ones that go into a $12 product…let’s think more of a $50-ish product. Still, here stands this cleanser. It’s also added that it’s great for sensitive skin, a relieving thing to catch my eye on the description on the back of the product.

How to use this cleanser? Well, there are two ones: squeeze a pearl-size amount of the cleanser onto your hand, then create a lather by adding some water & rubbing hands together. Apply the foam (it “magically transforms from a silky cream into a snow-like fluff that gently removes light makeup, impurities, and sebum) to your face, then massage in gentle circular motions for 10 to 15 seconds. Rinse your face – done! The second method is more fun, & involves another product by Nooni. Read on!

Marshmallow Whip Maker

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Again, this product is tempting simply because of its $6 price tag & aesthetic appeal. This is a device that “instantly transforms any facial cleanser into a fluffy cloud of rich foam that cleanses deeply & more gently.” Do you have a foaming cleanser that you already love? This might take it up a few notches! The whip maker creates “micro bubbles” – also known as “lots of foam” – & these bubbles reduce friction, making it less likely for the cleanser to drag over or tug the skin on your face. This means it’s better for your face in the long run, & it makes you look fresher & brighter in the short run. Just like the Nooni Snowflake Cleanser, this is great for sensitive skin. I decided to give these two things a go as a duo, & was eager to see what exactly this “whip maker” would do to my face.

It’s rather hard to explain how to use the whip maker, but it’s certainly not difficult to figure out once you read the directions & maybe watch a youtube video or two, if you’re anxious you’re doing something wrong (been there…many times!). Memebox has some demo videos on their page here, if you want to be absolutely sure you’re going by the books.

The similarities that method one (cleanser only) & method two (cleanser plus whip maker) both require a pearl-size amount of product. Using a small amount & getting good effect is always a big factor in whether or not I’ll repurchase something. How long will it last? Is this small product worth refilling within three weeks? With a 5 oz.+ bottle of cleanser & only one dot required for each cleanse, it’s safe to say you get a lot of bang for your buck – especially with the whip maker. Add a pearl size amount of cleanser to some water (there’s a dotted line showing where to fill the water up to) push the little pump up & down until the cleanser has foamed into a meringue-like cloud. If you use the whip maker properly, the pearl-size dot of cleanser will have turned into a cloud of tiny bubbles that fill the entire cup that makes up the whip maker. Apply tiny bubbles onto face, massage for 15-30 seconds, then rinse with warm water.

So – how was my first experience using the cleanser & whip maker duo? Very fun, very positive, & I could see an immediate difference. After gently wiping the foam away from my face, I looked up to see brighter, softer skin that looked fresh & glowy. It reminded me of the Pixi Oxygen facial – the bubbles permeate your pores & draw out impurities without having to scrub all over your face. The scent of the cleanser is really nice – not too sweet, not too musky, just pleasantly, vaguely floral. The foam, of course, smells the same as the cleanser.

Now – even gentle foaming cleansers can dry out my skin, so I wouldn’t use this as a daily cleanser – I can see myself using it three times a week, perhaps. My holy grail cleanser is still (& probably always will be) Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser; non-foaming cleansers are most gentle to my skin. Still – it’s good to get some bubbles on my face once & a while, & I think this cleanser & whip maker have convinced me to put bubbles on my face a little more than once & a while. It’s done no harm so far – in fact, it’s done a good deal of good. Is it possible to purchase a $6 “whip maker” & then immediately see your complexion brighten up, freshen up, & soften up? I’d have said “no,” in the past, but Nooni proved me wrong.

Appleberry Lip Oil / Applecoco Lip Oil

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I know, I know. ANOTHER lip treatment product? I’ll be honest: yes. These were the first things I saw on my Instagram page: the colors were pleasing (Appleberry is red, Applecoco is golden, & Applemint is pale green) & the design was minimalistic in an elegant way – for a cheap price. I was genuinely curious to see how this lip oil would feel – usually, lip OILS tend to sink into my lips & leave them dry & flakey, in need for a scrub & an intense overnight lip mask. This was not the case with these lip oils – they’re not sticky like a gloss, but they don’t have a balm texture, either. I wore the Applecoco for a whole day, reapplied a few times, but never had to excessively pull out the product. It looked like I was wearing lip gloss; at the same time, it had a slightly more subtle shine, perfect for a day when you need some hydration but would like to glam it up a little rather than grab a chapstick.

Why apple in these oils? Well, apple water instantly hydrates the skin & sloughs away dead skin – a hydrating lip exfoliator, if you will. This is what keeps your lips from drying out as they might from a slightly more oily lip product. In the Applecoco (a golden color in the package that applies clear), coconut oil adds an extra splash of hydration. Some of you may know – I’m not a huge fan of a coconut scent. This product has almost no scent at all – & I can’t detect any coconut scent; I can pick up a little bit of an apple smell. If you’re not a fan of coconut-scented products like me, this is one you’ll receive all the benefits of coconut oil from without having to smell a scent you don’t like. If you don’t mind coconut, this is still a good product! It’s hydrating, it amps up a chapstick kind of day, & – again, it’s cute.

What about Appleberry? Appleberry is for a day you might want a little tint to your lips. It applies & wears the same as the Applecoco lip oil – it just has a sheer wash of color to it. The same apple water formula keeps lips soft, while a slight tint to the product gives a fresh, pinky-red splash of elegant color. This one has quite a strong smell – 50% apple, 50% berry. I have no problem with either of those scents! I’ve worn this one out, too – the “almost a gloss but not quite look” is continued here. The tint gives no extra shine, just a pop of color. Slapping this on as your lip of the day is valid – I’m sure I’ll be doing that a lot, since it’s so easy – but this is a lovely way to pull off the “popsicle lip effect” that’s currently trendy. Apply a little lip stain (an actual stain, not a gloss or lipstick) in the center part of your lips, tap it outwards to create a faded effect, then grab the Appleberry & slide it all over your lips. It’ll create an incredible ombre effect!

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On left: Applecoco Lip Oil. On right: Appleberry Lip Oil

If you’ve seen a Nooni brand ad pop up on your Instagram, you might be wondering where the pale green one is: Applemint. I wondered the same thing standing in the Nooni section at Ulta, hoping I’d be able to get my hands on the pale green one for the sake of aesthetic. Still, after reading about this lip oil, it’s clear that it’s not just “pretty” – like Appleberry, it not only does what the transparent Applecoco lip oil does, it has an extra effect, thanks to the mint. A “mint-infused formula stimulates skin, making lips appeal more full.” This is basically like a plumping lip gloss, except with a more subtle effect. I saw a couple of reviews complaining that the lip oil didn’t have any long-term benefits, but I don’t believe that was ever the intention for this product. Let’s face it: unless you’re getting lip injections, no magical gloss, treatment, or oil will keep your lips looking fuller than they naturally are for more than a few hours. No – this won’t make your lips grow (at least, I don’t think so!), but it will make them feel cooler & look a little plumper for a little while. Also, it’s a pale blue-green. I know I keep saying it – I’m just sad that the store (Nooni is carried at Ulta) didn’t have the one that looked most unique to me. I’ll keep my eyes peeled – hopefully, I’ll get my hands on one soon.

Applebutter Lip Mask

When I unscrewed the cap of this lip mask, I smiled in relief. A little spatula rested on a plastic barrier between the product & the product’s lid. This is one of many things I love about K-beauty: everything comes with a tiny spoon – extra sanitary!

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This mask really does smell like apple butter; I wouldn’t recommend eating it, but a little got inside my mouth & it kind of tastes like apples, too (don’t try this at home; I don’t condone it…it was an accident I swear).

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As you might guess from the lip oils above, this product contains apple water to buff away dead skin & enhance hydration. “Say bye to flaky, cracked lips with a thick, velvety lip mask that can be used day or night to alleviate and soothe dry skin,” exclaims the product description. How to apply? “Use attached spatula to lift out a pea-sized amount of product, then smooth an even layer over clean, dry lips.” This product can be used as a sleeping mask for the night, of course – & works as a day-time lip balm, too. It can even be used in a thin layer as a prep for lipstick. After waking up the morning after I tried this lip mask, I’m happy to say that the magic ingredient (apple) worked once again. I’m still putting Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask as my number 1 lip mask, but this one is nothing to sneeze about. Plus – it’s cheaper by $5. If you’re a lip balm fiend like me, you’ll love this. If you want an effective lip mask but not spend too much finding one, you’ll love this. If you love apples…if you love lip masks…if you love soft lips…well – you’ll love this, too!

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Does Nooni being a K-beauty brand make it harder to purchase in the United States? No! In fact, thanks to the slow & steady takeover of K-beauty, Nooni is available not only on sites like Memebox (an online K-beauty shop similar to Peach & Lily; both sites carry various Korean brands) you can now test out the lip oils, the lip mask, & a few other things in Ulta stores – & you can order Nooni online on Ulta’s website, too. They make it really easy…& there’s just one more reason to fall in love with Korean beauty brands.

That’s all I have for you this time, so I’ll ask: do any of you have K-beauty products that have helped your skin level up without breaking your bank? If so, I’m always here for good recommendations. In the meantime, have fun playing with face wash that looks like meringue & soft, sweet-smelling, glassy lips. That’s a pleasing sentence; it’s encouraging me to catch a nap. First, though: let me grab my lip mask.

Love,

Sofia

It’s Sunscreen Season

“It’s summer! Make sure to put on sunscreen this year!”

Well – even when it’s not summer, you should be putting on sunscreen every single day. I know…you’ve probably heard that from more than one blogger/website/brand/etc., but at the end of the day, it’s true. According to skincancer.org, “about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and about 86 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun.” That means that by protecting your skin as best you can, you’re drastically reducing your risk of skin cancer.

Basically, we all should be wearing sunscreen – & we should all be wearing it every single day, even in the winter, even when it’s cloudy. However, it’s undeniable that more time is spent in the sun during the summer months: beach, pool, amusement parks…even having a picnic. It’s healthy to get sun & fresh air, but you’d better stay protected while you’re doing that.

If you’re a skincare junkie (like me) & use chemical exfoliants (here’s some info about them) you absolutely, positively should be wearing sunscreen every single day. If you’re on medications that increase your skin’s sensitivity to sun, you absolutely, positively should be wearing sunscreen every single day. Guess what: I’m lucky enough to fall into both of these categories – so trust that sunscreen is an absolute must in my everyday skin care routine, just like washing my face.

There are a lot of products out there at this point, & there’s a lot of information. It can get confusing – which is best for you? What are you looking for, & why? I know which types of sunscreens/sunblocks I prefer, but I don’t know which ones you prefer – so, without further ado, here’s your Summer 2018 guide to sunscreen. Remember – at the end of the day, as long as you’re putting on that sunblock, you’re doing the right thing…no matter what brand, what price, or where you got it. Just make sure it’s above 15 SPF, for God’s sake…& make sure it’s not expired, for God’s sake. Alright, let’s do this!

Let’s start with the simple question: What is sunscreen?

Sunscreen is a type of product that absorbs/reflects some of the sun’s UV rays. Short-term, sunscreen helps protect against sunburn. Long-term, sunscreen can slow or prevent development of wrinkles/moles, as well as prevent skin cancers like melanoma. There are two “categories” of sunscreen: physical sunscreen & chemical sunscreen. I’ll be walking you through the differences between chemical & physical, give some product recomedations & mini reviews…& then it’s up to you!

Side note: Although you should always be using a sunscreen/sunblock that is at least SPF 30, SPF 30 vs. SPF 50 is not necessarily more powerful/more effective. You will still need to apply just as regularly; the higher SPF number is more for marketing & less for more powerful sun protection. Sometimes, SPF 50 sunscreens can cause irritations for sensitive skin types – that’s really the only difference. As long as you’re using SPF 30+ (& reapplying, too), you’re doing the right thing. 

Read on…then, go forth & protect your skin from the sun better than ever before.

Physical Sunscreens 

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What is physical sunscreen? 

Physical sunscreen deflects sun rays by sitting on top of the skin. Its active ingredients are zinc oxide/titanium oxide – these two “types” of ingredient are what give many physical sunscreens a white cast/sticky or tacky consistency/that “sunscreen smell.”

Pros of physical sunscreen:

  • No need to wait for it to start working – as soon as you apply a physical sunscreen, you’re safe to go out in the sun.
  • Longer shelf life
  • Lasts longer in direct UV light than a chemical sunscreen would last

Cons of physical sunscreen:

  • Easily rubs off with water/sweat – this means that you may need to apply more frequently when outdoors
  • The zinc oxide/titanium oxide often leave a white cast on the skin, which is especially troublesome for those with medium to deep/dark skin tones
  • UV light can penetrate through sunscreen molecules, so it can be less protective if not applied generously, accurately, & frequently
  • May be too thick/chalky for use under everyday makeup

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Dr Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50. 

After developing interest in skin care – & after starting medication that made my skin even more sensitive to sun – I knew that I had to get serious about protecting my skin. This was the first “high-end” sunscreen I bought – aka, not from the drugstore.

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This is a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, but (on my skin tone, at least), there is no detectable white cast or tacky/sticky sensation. It has a slight tint to it; it’s not white. I’d describe it as a sandy/shell color, & while I don’t have even medium skin tone, from what I can see on the reviews, this slight change of color in the product helps eliminate any risk of white cast on most skin tones. It doesn’t feel greasy, either, which is great – I’d guess that that’s because of its “runny” consistency. It sinks in very quickly, & doesn’t leave a film on top of the skin.

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When I’m feeling like using a physical sunscreen, I reach for this one. Whether I’m using it on a bare face or underneath makeup, it does a great job of protecting me from getting burned – without making me feel oily or forcing me to tolerate the dreaded  “sunscreen smell.” all day long. In fact, it has a pleasant scent: kind of citrus-y, which I really enjoy. It’s very summery.

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Dr. Jart+ is a reputable brand, & most of their products are at the very least worth a go. I’m interested in what seems to be a transluscent version of their original Every Sun Day: the Every Sun Day UV Sun Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 30With a liquid gel formula, this sunblock “provides powerful sun protection and a cationic shield that blocks fine dust to protect the skin…it is designed to have the same electrical charge as fine dust in order to form a protective skin barrier. Cypress water and seaweed extract purify the skin while soothing and moisturizing.” It’s a transparent, lightweight formula, which is exactly the kind of sunblock I gravitate towards. It’s currently sold out, but maybe this will be the sunscreen I test out this summer when it’s back in stock. We’ll see!

Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector Broad Spectrum MineralSunscreen SPF 30. 

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A few weeks after realizing that it was, in fact, possible to find a physical sunscreen that didn’t feel or look gross on my skin, the brand Farmacy (whose Honey Potion face mask I am in love with) sent me their cruelty-free, paraben-free sunscreen, formulated with naturally derived ingredients, & stamped with the “Clean At Sephora” label (there’s a complete description of what this means on Sephora’s site – it’s a good way for vegans/those who are 100% CF to immediately find products that they don’t have to scan the ingredients list before clicking “purchase”).

Unfortunately, I can’t really use this on my face without getting texture/congested pores on the inner portions of my face, though I don’t have that problem with it creating texture on the outer portions/forehead area of my face. I do still use it on my neck & shoulders – they’re more sensitive than the rest of my body, & it’s been working nicely for that. I don’t think I’d purchase it myself, simply because I’m almost certain it was the cause of more texture around the time I was using it, but the reviews on Sephora’s site as well as Farmacy’s own site are overwhelmingly positive. I’ll blame the reaction I had on my sensitive skin.

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This sunscreen is of a slightly thicker consistency than that of the Dr. Jart+ sunscreen, but it has the same “off-white” tint to it. It has more of a sunscreen-y smell, but the scent fades within a few minutes of application. Despite creating texture, it did a great job of protecting my skin from the sun – a good example of a sunscreen with SPF 30 doing just as good a job with blocking the sun as a sunscreen with SPF 50 would. You can use it daily under makeup, or just by itself over your moisturizer. Farmacy suggests applying it 15 minutes before going out into the sun, & to reapply every 2 hours – which is a common suggestion for most, if not all, sunscreens.

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Side note: Drunk Elephant sent me a very generous package the day after I wrote this, containing their Umbra™ Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30. I didn’t have the chance to take photographs of the product because of this, but here’s a mini review: I like this a little more than the Farmacy sunscreen, because it has some luminosity to it – it kind of reminds me of M.A.C.’s strobe cream (toned down a little) with SPF added, of course. It works well under makeup – I think it works as a primer – though I have experienced a little more congestion in my pores than I usually do when using it. Not sure yet whether it’s the DE Umbra or something else, but we shall see. This comes in two versions: the Sheer, which may leave a white cast on deeper skin tones. That’s why DE also has Umbra Tinte™ Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, which is the same sunscreen as the Umbra Sheer – just with a tint to it, so that it doesn’t leave a white cast/is more suitable for deeper skin tones. Both of these products are also cruelty-free. If you know me, you know I adore Drunk Elephant as a brand, & I always encourage people to give any of their products a go. Some are more effective for me than others, but they’re an excellent brand & definitely worth a try for any skin type or skin tone. 

Chemical Sunscreens

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What is chemical sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreen absorbs sun rays instead of deflecting them. It contains combos of chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.

Pros of chemical sunscreen:

  • Thinner, lighter consistency – this makes it easier for wearing under everyday makeup. Most chemical sunscreens are almost if not completely clear, so they can be reapplied over makeup, too
  • Less is needed to adequately protect the skin, because it doesn’t operate in the same way that physical sunscreen does – UV light can’t penetrate through it
  • Leaves no white cast on any skin tone, thanks to its transluscency

Cons of chemical sunscreen:

  • Shorter shelf life
  • Needs about 20 minutes before it starts properly protecting your skin from the sun
  • Must be reapplied more frequently, because when in direct UV light, the protection chemical sunscreen offers is used up more quickly

Personally, discovering chemical sunscreen was a life-saver for me. My whole life, I assumed that physical sunscreen was the only type of sunblock (& for a while, it was), & because of that, I hated sunscreen – it smelled gross to me, it felt greasy & sticky, & it broke me out. Granted, I was using drugstore sunscreen up until last year, but still – it was a big reason behind why I wasn’t as diligent with protecting my skin from the sun as I am today: my skin felt dirty & sweaty the minute I applied sunscreen – & no one likes their skin to feel that way, so of course I slacked

You may have noticed by now that I have a lot of complaints about physical sunscreens; you might’ve also have come to the conclusion that I prefer chemical sunscreens…in which case you’d be correct! I do prefer chemical sunscreens. Yes – I need to wait about 15-20 minutes before going out in the sun to ensure that I’m truly protected; yes, I need to make sure that my dry skin won’t start screaming in protest (sometimes, chemical sunscreens can be more drying than physical sunscreens) before I find my next holy grail chemical sunblock, but in the end…chemical sunscreen was the catalyst to me finally properly protecting my skin from the sun. Every. Single. Day.

Glossier Invisible Shield

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Ah, yes. The first chemical sunscreen I ever tried, which introduced me to a whole new world of possibilities. Glossier marketed Invisible Shield as leaving no white cast (not even on deep/dark skin tones), having no sticky/tacky consistency, & easy to apply with a moisturizer for a bare-faced day, easily worn underneath makeup, & even easy to reapply over makeup – all thanks to its transluscency. I’d never heard of a gel-consistency sunscreen, but was eager to try it…& I wasn’t disappointed. Invisible Shield sinks in just as quickly as a water-gel serum would. It doesn’t mess with the finish of my makeup – & if I’m wearing no makeup, it doesn’t look odd over my moisturizer. In fact, I mix 2-3 pumps of Invisible Shield with my daily moisturizer, Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre – & have found that to be my dream combo for daily wear. It’s a lightweight yet hydrating combo, I have yet to get a sunburn once I’ve started using this, & my skin stays protected no matter what.

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A brief yet geniune review! The only complaint I initially had about Invisible Shield was the price tag. It was above $30, not more than $35 – but still too much for the amount of product you get. Glossier’s fixed that: Invisible shield is now $25, so I can recommend this without feeling conflicted, thanks to the previous price.

Supergoop! Glow Stick Sunscreen SPF 50

Another brand that I kept seeing last summer was Supergoop – a brand that, according to their product page on Sephora’s website, “is the first and only prestige beauty brand dedicated to UV protection.” This means that every single Supergoop product contains SPF, whether it’s good old sunscreen, lip balm, setting powder…even hand cream.

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I haven’t had the chance to try Supergoop’s most well-known product, which is their Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40(similar in packaging & formula to Glossier’s Invisible Shield), but it’s most certainly on my Sephora Loves List. I have, however, gotten the chance to pick up their Glow Stick Sunscreen SPF 50 – recommended by @namvo on Instagram, an amazing makeup artist obsessed with healthy, dewy, glowing skin. I’m a fellow obsessee of that type of makeup, so I knew that I’d like the product when I saw her recommend it on her Instagram story, but did a little research nonetheless. Seeing that it was an oil stick, I figured that it’d work well on my dry/sensitive skin.

Sure enough – in the product description, it was listed that the Glow Stick was best for normal, dry, combination, &/or sensitive skin types – no mention of oily skin types. This was no surprise; most products containing oil aren’t recommended for oily skin, especially not ones that you’ll be wearing out & about in the summer heat. Supergoop said the Glow Stick was a solution for dullness, uneven texture, & dryness, going on to say that the “dry oil stick brightens and hydrates for a healthy-looking glow without leaving an oily residue.” It can be worn underneath makeup, it can be worn as makeup (highlighter on your cheekbones, collarbones, etc.), “or applied anywhere you want to glow!” It’s even safe to apply over tattoos – the oil won’t burn your skin (which was my first fear)…in fact, it helps preserve the pigment of your inked skin. “Amazonian oils protect the skin, and a blend of fatty acids delivers antioxidants and restores balance and moisture, creating a more even, smoother, healthier-looking complexion.”

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Glow Stick has a barely detectable scent to it – & I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s not overpowering or unpleasant, & it fades within a few moments. It’s most certainly not for someone looking to eradicate oil from their skin; this will give you some shine. I personally really liked it – it worked like a glowing primer for me, & I added a little extra on the high points of my face, as well as on my collarbones. I didn’t need much extra highlight when I started on makeup, all thanks to the Glow Stick. I was worried that the oils would break me out, but no worries – my skin reacted really well to this product, & I’d say that I’ll be re-purchasing immediately…except that it’s an extremely dense product & will, without a doubt, last me for ages. If you have dry/normal/sensitive skin (I can’t speak for combo skin, as everyone’s is different) this is a really neat way to combine skincare, sunscreen, & makeup. I’m a big fan!

Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 50

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After seeing a travel-size version of this in my Sephora’s checkout line, I decided to give it a go. I’d never tried a spray-on sunscreen, & figured that since I liked their Glow Stick, I might really like Supergoop’s SPF mist, too.

In the product description for the Defense Refresh Setting Mist, Supergoop says that the spray is intended for normal, oily, combo, or dry skin – no mention of sensitive skin, which I should’ve probably checked before using it, but no worries. My skin didn’t react badly to this, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you have dry skin. Supergoop describes the prodcut as an “innovative makeup setting spray that helps control oil and shine while refreshing your UV defense with an uplifting scent of rosemary and mint” & says that it’s a solution for oiliness.

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As soon as I sprayed it on my face, I felt that mattifying sensation start to set in as the mist dried. My skin didn’t flake off my face, but I did remove my makeup & chose to use my trusted Invisible Shield that day. I definitely need a hydrating setting mist (my favorite is the NYX Dewy Setting Spray) to set any makeup, & this one was not for my skin type – however, if you’re somone who prefers a matte finish, or has oily skin, this might be a great way for you to simultaneously set your makeup & mattify your face this summer. It smells really pleasant – very herbal, as the ingredients of rosemary & mint might suggest, & it felt cooling, too. If it was more of a dewy finish, I’d definitely love it & purchase a full-size, but this will probably end up going in a little goodie bag for a friend or sibling. I’ll be on the lookout for a more dewy SPF setting spray; let me know if you have a favorite!

Makeup with SPF

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Okay – finally, what about makeup? It’s no secret that there are countless BB/CC cream type products on the market that contain SPF. The rise of K-Beauty in the USA was a big reason behind this, & so the two products I have & enjoy using most are K-Beauty. Both of these products are pretty light coverage, & that’s because almost all foundations break out my skin/clog my pores/make my skin feel dirty. I stick to little-to-no face makeup if possible, & either spot conceal with Tarte’s Shape Tape Concealer combined with Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint (which is very sheer) over top a sunscreen, or I use one of these two products, which are a combination of sun protection & coverage/tint. If you’re not a fan of either of these brands/these products in particular, just head on over to Sephora’s site & check for face makeup products that contain SPF. You’ll have a goldmine of products with a very nice price range. For now, though, here are my two favorite face makeup products that contain SPF:

Dr Jart+ Cicapair™️ Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30

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This product is part of the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair™ Collection, “inspired by the true legend of Asian Tigers, rolling in Centella Asiatica to heal their battle wounds. Also known as tiger grass, its medicinal use has been recognized for centuries. For generations, this active ingredient has also been recognized as a recovery system to help support wounded skin exhibiting inflammation, redness, or blemishes.” There’s a cream (with no pigment) that serves as a moisturizer, along with sheet masks, a serum, & now, “Camo Drops,” described as “an ultra-lightweight revitalizing serum and color corrector that neutralizes redness and turns on skin’s glow.” I’ve tried the cream (don’t hate it but don’t love it, either) along with the Color Correcting Treatment, but haven’t given any of the other products a go, though Dr. Jart+ sheet masks are always a winner. Enough of that – my point is that this line is great if you struggle with redness/hyper-pigmentation.

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The price tag of the Color Correcting Treatment seems high, but trust me when I say: a little goes a very long way. It has a pleasant smell – kind of like mown grass – & I take about a quarter-size dot that I place on my MakeupDrop (check them out!), then gently dot small amounts of the product in the center of my face, on my chin, & in the center of my forehead. I then use my Real Techniques face brush to buff out the product. As you can see from the photos, the green-beige color of the product in the jar “includes a color-changing capsule within the formula to cover blemishes and restore the look of the skin’s strength, health, and vitality.” Basically, it works the same way that a CC cream would – white when you squeeze it from the tube, but then adjusts to the pigment of your skin. If texture/acne isn’t a huge concern for you, you can most definitely just use this as your face makeup – it takes care of redness without a problem. The SPF keeps you protected, & while the product is naturally dewy, it can easily be fixed (for those who want a more matte complexion) with a setting powder/setting spray. Because of the thickness of this product, it’s not one I reach for often, but I know that it’s an easy, reliable product that’ll get rid of redness, protect me from the sun, & maintain my hydration all at once.

CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion

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You’ve probably heard/seen at least a few things about CLĒ Cosmetics on my social media or on here – that’s because they’re such a great brand. They sell both skincare & makeup, & I have favorites from each category – but right now, I’ll be talking about one of my all-time favorite face makeup products: the CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion. Like a cushion foundation – except with SPF – this product “gives sheer to medium coverage with a healthy and luminous shine that feels feather light on your skin.” The initial $49 price tag might seem formidable, but don’t worry; a “refill cushion” (aka: another sponge soaked with the product) is included with the original cushion inside its refillable compact. My first cushion lasted a bit less than a year; I’m about to switch mine out for a new one – & the refills cost significantly less than the original.

I wear the lightest shade, “Light.” This has no sunscreen smell, no stickiness; it melts right into the skin & provides a luminous glow while managing to make you feel as though you’re wearing absolutely no face makeup whatsoever – quite the achievement. The SPF 50+ does its job well – & even on my sensitive skin (which is more prone to irritation from suncreens with higher SPF) doesn’t react badly to the added protection. This gives the exact amount of coverage & sun protection that I like when I feel like wearing “actual” face makeup. I’ll keep refilling this until I can’t find it anywhere any longer!

If you’re looking for a little more coverage than the Essence Air Cushion, CLĒ also has a CCC Cream, which works sort of like the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Color Correcting treatment, except it has SPF 45+ & has a shade range: Light to Deep. No sunscreen smell! Yay! Still, I prefer the lighter finish of the Essence Air Cushion – but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend the CCC Cream to anyone looking for something even a little more full coverage. Oh – both are buildable, too, so you can apply as little or as much as you like, as long as you blend it out. It’ll look even, don’t worry – & you won’t have to dig in your bag for the sunscreen you didn’t even need.

Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30

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What about your lips? What about your eyelids? The little areas that are too sensitive for a “regular” sunscreen – chemical or physical. Fresh has a nice solution with their Sugar Sport Treatment – packaged like a lip balm, it’s “a durable, water-resistant treatment ideal for on-the-go use that moisturizes and provides UV protection to the lips, face, and eye area during year-round outdoor activities.” I picked this up last year – I won’t lie, mostly because the packaging caught my eye – & I’m very glad I did. This stuff lasts forever, thanks to the balm-stick formula, it can be applied as “a highlight,” kind of like the Supergoop Glow Stick – except you can do even more with it! Apply it on the eyelids, on the browbone, on the lips, on the cupid’s bow…you get it. It won’t break you out – I promise – & the packaging is perfect for taking on a day-long outing.

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The bright orange packaging is eye-catching, & the stick is wide enough to find without a lot of digging (lip balm-type products are easy to lose, let’s face it) – this also makes it easy to gently glide over your lips, yes…but also wider areas of your face, like the browbone, eyelids, etc. It has the classic Fresh scent – citrusy & sweet, which I adore – & it contains moisture-preserving sugar (which is a natural humectant) along with a blend of oils, like avocado oil & black current seed oil, both of which are extremely nourishing, hydrating, & softening. It’s a product that falls right into the 30 SPF-50 SPF bracket, so you won’t have to worry about getting too little protection, it lasts forever thanks to the dense consistency, it’s easy to carry around, & it’s waterproof! You can cry over your summer fling; you can jump in a pool; you can survive a rainshower that’s followed by intense sun, & you’ll still be protected. The priority is to keep your skin out of harm’s way – aka, the sun’s UV rays. It’s still possible to have fun in the sun while protecting your skin!

That’s all I have for you, folks – what are some of your favorite sunscreens? I’d love to hear about them…I’m always hunting for more, more, & more.

Love,

Sofia

P.S. You’ll hear from me soon – sorry for the hiatus!

Glossier’s Latest & Greatest: Mascara…or…Lash Slick

Hey Glossier: you thought you were slick, didn’t you? Get it? Sorry.

I’ve had my eyes peeled for a Glossier mascara for a while now. Follow Annie (@annieokay) on Instagram? She’s Glossier’s Executive Editor. If you don’t, now might be a good time to hit that follow button – because I’ve gotten some pretty good clues about upcoming products from her Instagram stories & Instagram livestreams.

Quite a while back, Annie did a livestream where she was getting ready for some sort of event – I don’t remember the details, but I do remember that she applied the Tom Ford Patent Finish Lip Color (“a liquid lip color that combines a lip stain with an ultra-glossy finish”), which is a ridiculously expensive & luxurious lip product that I’ve been eyeing ever since…& that she did her brows with Boy Brow(brown) & then started applying mascara. She didn’t mention the name.

I commented: “mascara brand? I have Diorshow & love it but am always on the lookout for a mascara that’s even MORE holy grail.”

A few other people asked questions in a similar vein. Annie smiled, & said “just a mascara,” leaving it at that. A bunch of eye emoji comments rolled in, a few pleas for more details…but that was it! Annie was done talking. She finished her face.

Ever since I saw that – & saw how careful Annie was to keep the packaging of the mascara out of site (even though it most likely was just in product development) – I’ve had my eyes peeled for more eye makeup from Glossier. I thought that that would be The Product of the year for Glossier: a mascara is a big product to launch, because it’s one of the most widely used makeup products. I was surprised to see the Lidstar shadows launch first (check out that review here) though I had been expecting to see some kind of eyeshadow/eye tint…again, thanks to Annie’s cryptic swatches that showed up from time to time on her Instagram story.

When Lidstar launched, I thought that that would be it for Glossier for a while. Eyeshadows are another big product to launch, & I expected a little more time to pass before we got our mascara. I was wrong. Less than three months after Lidstar’s launch, I got a mystery package from Glossier. As a rep, I sometimes get early access to products – this time, there was a single product box, similar in packaging to a Lidstar shadow or a Boy Brow brow gel. This one was labelled “Lash Slick.” I also got an email: don’t share photos or info before the product launches…but don’t worry, the product is launching soon! Glossier wasn’t lying. Just a few days after I received my Lash Slick, Glossier’s first mascara went live on their site for $16 USD, $20 CAD, & $14 GBP (don’t worry Frenchies: Glossier’s coming to you real soon).

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So – what’s Lash Slick all about? The name sounds a little racy, I won’t lie. Is that because it’s smooth? Is it a marketing ploy? Is it both? After trying it, I’d have to go with both – but let’s walk through some of the product claims & what I think about them after trying Lash Slick.

“248 formulations later: the perfect everyday mascara. Lash Slick curls and sculpts as it lengthens, enhancing the look of your natural lashes instead of clumping them together or spackling them in product. Teeny-tiny fibers coat lashes from root to tip to create a lengthened baby-extension, while flexible film-forming polymers lift and lock each fiber into place. And it’s water-resistant (not waterproof), so Lash Slick washes off easy with warm water at the end of your day.”

248 formulations sure is a lot. Glossier provided a lot of photos on their Instagram of various wands that were tried; various tubes that didn’t work & so forth & so on. It does certainly seem as though they’ve put a lot of effort into it – both from the product description &, ultimately, how I feel about the appearance & sensation of the product. Okay. So – Glossier’s been working hard on Lash Slick. Why’d it take this long to get here? What’s specifically special about it?

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  • It’s water-resistant, but not water-proofThat sounds dangerous – I thought that it would definitely run/flake if I started to cry or went in the rain…but that wasn’t the case. I tried both (mostly crying, but a quick CVS run in the rain happened, too) & the mascara doesn’t flake. It sticks right onto your lashes without feeling crunchy or stiff.
    • It still sounds dangerous – that’s because I’m paranoid of water-proof mascaras. I was wary that “water-resistant” would hurt/pull at my lashes. If I couldn’t cry it off, would I be able to gently remove it with warm water without yanking out some of my precious lash hairs? The answer to that: Yes. I can gently remove it with warm water without losing precious lashes. A pump of Milky Jelly Cleanser (my holy grail cleanser) massaged with that warm water works even more beautifully. I worked in gentle, circular motions with my warm water/MJC combination, & I had clean, dry lashes within a minute – no raccoon eyes here! That was a big factor in how much I ended up liking it. If a mascara is difficult to remove, I drop it quicker than a hot potato. This one fits my strangely specific criteria: “easy to remove – not waterproof – but doesn’t come off when crying.” Hard to believe that there’s something like that out there now, but here I am, claiming that Lash Slick did exactly that for me.
  • It’s…shiny?I know. That doesn’t sound great at first, does it? Hear me out: it doesn’t look like your lashes are coated in thick, greasy paint. It’s more of an enhancement. Your lashes don’t look shiny, but the “Natural Shine Polymers enhance the formula’s black pigment so lashes are extra shiny & sleek.” Basically, with that “natural shine,” Lash Slick is creating an illusion of longer, healthier lashes. That’s something I’m always here for
  • You don’t need a lash curler!!!!!!!If you know anything about my makeup routine, you know that 1. I hardly wear mascara in the first place 2. When I do, I always curl my lashes. I feel like I can’t get the lift that I want if I don’t curl them – I have long lashes, & though they curl upwards when I don’t wear mascara, they stick straight out when I apply (most) mascaras. The weight of the mascara is too much for my little lashes to handle while maintaining their curl. The closest I ever got to not needing a curler was Benefit’s Roller Lash Mascara (which is a big favorite all over the world at this point) but the brush felt too I poked myself in the eye a few times, then decided it wasn’t worth it (is it odd that most of my endeavors to love Benefit products – ex. their Gimme Brow! brow gel & their Roller Lash Mascara – led to me finding Glossier products that are cheaper & more effective?). I shelved Benefit Roller Lash over a year ago & switched to Diorshow mascara – just the original one, in Black. I blame Bella Hadid’s millennial marketing campaign for getting me to notice Dior’s mascara, but hey…that was clearly the point, & it is a good mascara. However, for me to get the maximum feathered & curled effect that I wanted (& zero clumps) it took a good curl, a coat or two of mascara, & then a careful brushing session with a spoolie. Effective? Yes. Time-consuming? Absolutely. If there’s an easier way, I’ll always opt for that…& Lash Slick has, so far, given me a cheaper, quicker, easier way to achieve a lash look that I actually enjoy. Less tools, less time, but just as good (if not better) lashes.=
  • Tapered Comb Brush (made of rubber)This application brush is described as “sleek, comb-like.” It separates your lashes, kind of like a spoolie brush would. It also grabs your lashes at the very root, lifting, curling, & defining. The rubber makes sure you don’t have too much product on your hands – which eliminates any danger of clumps. I know some people like that thick, spider-lash formula for mascara, & if that’s the case, this one isn’t for you (unless you layered something else on top & used this as a curling mascara). For me, however, it was a big plus. I prefer individual separate lashes, even when I’m wearing mascara. This one does what Roller Lash & Diorshow do combined.
  • Glossier used “Japanese Fiber Technology” to make Lash Slick look like eyelash extensionsThe technology creates miniscule fibers that hook onto your individual lashes – which creates the curling effect without a curler needed
    • The lashes get extra definition &, therefore, extra pigment. Your lashes are natural-looking, but are long, fluffy, & super pretty when you blink.
  • It really does last 12 hoursGlossier claims that Lash Slick will not run if in contact with light water (tears, rain, sweat, etc.) & will last up to 12 hours. They weren’t lying. Yours truly had a good few crying sessions in the two days I tested Lash Slick, & there was no runny mascara, no lashes that had nothing on them while others had excess…it doesn’t look like the typical mascara does – that’s where the water-resistant part really helps.
    • Sometimes, mascara can get a little too crunchy. This one was very soft at the beginning of the day but was getting a little stiff by the time I took it off (worn for 12 hours). It wouldn’t keep me from purchasing it, because I really only noticed it for the last 2-3 hours or so of wear. It’s not uncomfortable; it’s just noticeable if you were to touch your lashes (which I did while testing the mascara) it’d be stiffer by EOD than when you first applied it.

Though this one was sent a few days before release to test, I will be refilling my Lash Slick, because this one mascara does everything I want & used to need to achieve that effect. It’s a cheaper, more effective way to do your mascara. I haven’t done the “swipe on mascara & go” look with Lash Slick, simply because I never have made that my “emergency” makeup routine. However, the way Lash Slick looked with eyeshadow…I’m curious to see how it’d look by itself. I think that’s going to be in my next round of new things to try.

IMG_2169IMG_2177I’d call this the Boy Brow of mascaras. It’s effective, it’s easy, it’s affordable. I’m glad it took Glossier hundreds of attempts & more than a year to develop: for me, this product is absolutely living up to its claims – doing better, even – while not pricing high as a Benefit mascara (mid $20s) or Diorshow, which is almost $30. This gives me a combined effect of the two, in fact – & I will only have to fork over $16. I’ll take ten more right now, actually.

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No enhancements besides Lidstar in Herb & Moon, Boy Brow in Brown, & Lash Slick

I’ve never finished a tube of mascara before because I don’t wear it often enough – it dries out before I get to the bottom. However, there’s a first for everything, & Glossier’s made a few “firsts” happen…let’s see if this is the first one you’ll see me finish. History might be made!

It’s now possible to make an entire eye look just out of Glossier makeup: Lidstar for eyeshadow, Lash Slick for mascara, & Boy Brow for brows. Done.

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Lash Slick, Lidstar in Moon, & Boy Brow in Brown 

Have you tried Lash Slick yet – or if not, will you be buying it? Let me know!

Love,

Sofia ❤

Lash Slick is cruelty-free cruelty free, paraben free, fragrance free, hypoallergenic, allergy tested, dermatologist tested, ophthalmologist tested, suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers, & non-irritating.

Check out my review of the Glossier Lidstar shadows right here!

The (Lid)Star of the Show – a Look at Glossier’s Newest Shenanigans: Eyeshadow!

Remember that time last year at the Oscars, when stars like Taraji P. Henson & Chrissy Teigen debuted the Glossier Cloud Paint blushes? I know, it’s been a year – & then some – already. Chrissy & Taraji were not the only ones. Rashida Jones, Allison Williams…even Reese Witherspoon had the delicate creamy shades blended onto the apples of her cheeks. A smart move on Glossier’s part – the perfect way to say: “See, they’re wearing it too!”

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Fast forwarding to February of 2018 – just about a year since Glossier’s Cloud Paints dropped – Glossier was on top of it. First, we got hints. Second, we got photos of celebs on the Grammys red carpet, wearing mostly Glossier – every shade/product type revealed in the captions.

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@glossier: #SZA wears Lip Gloss, Cloud Paint in Beam, and Boy Brow in Brown. Skin was prepped with Super Glow serum and priming moisturizer

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@glossier: Beyoncé wears ____ in _____ (coming soon)✨👀, Boy Brow in Brown, Body Hero Daily Perfecting Cream, and perfecting skin tint in Dark + Deep

Let me be honest: I’m surprised Glossier didn’t release any eyeshadows/pigments up until now. God knows there have been a lot of sneak peeks over the past 7-8 months. Swatching cards covered in glitter! A Glossier employee doing her makeup on IG live, gently applying some shimmer onto her lid, then only smiling coyly when asked what it was…I could go on, but you get the point.

When I got an email explaining the “lidstar drill” & what I (as a Glossier rep) could share online right now or wait until the campaign is announced, I’m quite sure I let out an audible scream. We were given a teaser – just some swatches on a plain white background – but I, like everyoe else who wanted this product immediately, wanted more.

I was one of the lucky ones to actually get more than I expected! A package arrived at my door the weekend before the launch of the newest Glossier product. I hastily tore it open to reveal four…test tubes? Lip gloss? Something else I can’t think of?

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It was none of those things. It was Lidstar Glistening Eye Glow – or, rather, four of the Lidstars. The shades I received free of charge are called Cub, Lily, Fawn, & Slip; there are six shades in total. I now also have the shade Moon, which I purchased myself – surprise…it’s one of my favorits in the collection.

I read up the product description & decided to start testing them out. Glossier described Lidstar as individual eye shadows, saying “Lidstar lights up eyes with a wash of soft, glistening color that lasts all day….The cream dries down to a sheer veil, locking onto lids with no creasing (no need for primer). It’s one-step eye enhancement you can do every day.”

An eyeshadow that wouldn’t crease? Not only that, but wouldn’t crease even if you were wearing a primer? Sounded too good to be true – so, of course, I was skeptical. Most cream shadows I’ve owned have creased quite badly or flaked off over time. Doing the “crease” test was on my priority list as I started thinking about how else to make as reputable review as possible. I came up with these criteria:

  • When wearing Lidstar for the first time, put it on in the morning before your early class & don’t take it off until the evening – 9-ish or so
  • This will help determine whether or not it’s truly long-lasting
  • NO EYESHADOW PRIMER ALLOWED! I want to see what these babies can do without any help
  • I will take some photos of my eyeshadow throughout the day, to see if any creasing/flaking/patchiness is noticeable
  • Try mixing & matching the shades – coming up with cute combos, just like I tried (& still do try) combining Cloud Paint shades!
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From left to right: Cub, Slip, Fawn, Lily, & Moon
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From left to right: Cub, Slip, Fawn, Lily, & Moon

Application process

As with most things Glossier, Lidstar is very “easy.” It’s a product you could pull out of a bag on your way to *insert occasion* & be able to make a shimmery eye look. Some are more opaque than others, but it’s important to note that these are not matte shadows. That, in fact, was what made me so skeptical of Lidstar’s staying power. “A liquid with glitter in it? I don’t think that’ll work in the crease of my ey – wait, this looks…really good!”

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It is “really good.” It also is quick & easy. I applied it the same way the models on Glossier’s Instagram page were doing: sweeping across my eye with the lip gloss wand-type applicator & then tapping it gently onto the lid/crease/brow bone/inner corner. They don’t “set” as quickly as a liquid lipstick might, for example – but they do set at some point; it’d be impossible for them to have any staying power otherwise. Still, the time between application & “setting” is not that narrow. You can breathe! It won’t outrun your finger tips. Glossier calls this their “Softlock Technology,” which means that each Lidstar shadow contains a special coating that “allows the formula to lock onto lids for 12 hours without creasing, fading, or smudging.”

I’ve said enough. Let’s get to business: the wear test.

Wear test

I applied Lidstar at around 8:30 a.m., just before I left my place for the first class of the day. I made sure to pick a day in which I’d be moving around. The shadow might stay put if I’m sitting on my bed all day, I thought, but using it on a busier day will truly be stress-tested. I used the shade Lily, “a sheer lilac base with blue and violet pearls.” I applied as I mentioned above: like a lip gloss, I swiped it across my lids, then tapped it in. I made sure the coating was dry, then applied another few sweeps to see how vibrant it would be. Lily is certainly one of the more translucent shades, but With a few coats, it’s definitely noticeable – in a good way. 

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Lidstar in Lily – just after the shadow “set.”

After a whole morning of wear & tear at school, I came back to my place before my last class of the day. I’d done a quick check in my school’s bathroom, & noticed no creasing. Additionally, I was worried that there might be “fallout,” since Lily is a sheer glittery shade. Nope! Thanks to that setting technology, you shouldn’t be seeing any glitter around or under your eyes – unless you put it there on purpose. At home, I had a closer look. I noticed that there was a small patch very near the lashline on my left eye, but my right eye looked just as good as it had in the morning. I later figured out that it was because I didn’t apply Lidstar close enough to my lashline.

I headed to my last class, finished up, then came home. I took a quick glance – the one patch on my left eye was still there, but other than the color fading just a bit, I could see no difference. I can absolutely guarantee that there was no creasing whatsoever! This immediately added several points to its score. It really is an easy thing to pop on in the back of an Uber, in your drive-thru, at home…you get it.

I didn’t do a detailed analysis until 8:30 p.m. that night. That way, I’d be able to test the 12-hour claim to its full effect.

Once again: no creasing, no fallout, nothing. It looked pretty in the crease (which is difficult for a shimmer shadow to accomplish) – there was just that one patch by my lashline, which had gotten a tiny bit bigger. I wondered why this was – then, after watching an application video again, figured out that I hadn’t placed the wand close enough to my lashline – hence the “patch” which was in reality just a bare spot.

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Small patch evident right at lashline

Encouraged, I tried a more opaque shade the next day, making sure I applied it snugly near my lashline. Success! This shade was Fawn, the one worn by Beyoncé. It looks rather simple – just a brown-ish shade with not quite visible shimmer to it (in the tube) – but on the eye, it’s magic. I was able to create a whole look with this single shadow – first, I used it in the “traditional way,” using the wand directly on my lids. Next, I put a tiny bit on an eyeliner brush to put on my lower lashline. The results were sophisticated-looking, polished – & it had taken less than five minutes.

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Wearing Lidstar in Fawn + Lily 

For the benefit of the doubt, I’ll give Lidstar a 9/10 on staying power, just because of the spot I missed…& that was on me. Other than that, I’d had no problems with staying power, creasing, fallout, or fading. After Lidstar day two, when I’d made a combo (Fawn & Lily) I immediately ordered the Lidstar shade Moon. These are extremely fun to play with; extremely fun to combine or just wear solo…& they all look really good on the lids.

Glossier featured several different eye colors wearing Lidstar. In my opinion, they make any eye color pop, simply because the gentle shimmer draws attention. Brown, hazel, blue, green…all the colors suit all skin tones & eye colors.

Speaking of colors – which Lidstar shades did I like best, & which ones didn’t sit so well with me?

Shades

In order from least favorite to most favorite:

  • Cub – “a rose gold with warm shimmer effect.” Oddly enough, this seems to be a site favorite, as this shade is currently sold out on Glossier’s site. I don’t think that Cub is an ugly shade, but to me, it just looks like another red-brown metallic eye pigment, & there are some other rose gold shadows I prefer to this one. Still, if you’re “bad” at eyeshadow (no such thing!) & would rather have a more popular color that’s easy to use, this one might be the one for you. Or – maybe you’re a rose-gold fanatic, & this screams your name. The formula is good; the pigmentation is good. It’s just not one I’d personally pick myself.
  • Slip – “a sheer baby pink with golden highlight effect.” This one was a shade I fully expected to be my favorite – again, I was surprised. Not a bad shade; I love a shimmery pink shadow, but it didn’t stick out to me as much as the others. It’s one of the more opaque shades, along with Cub, Herb, & Fawn. If you’re looking for maximum color payoff, one of the four shades mentioned above would suit you very well.
  • Moon & Lily – “the sheerest cream base with blueish opalescent glimmer,” “a sheer lilac base with blue and violet pearls.” I can’t pick which of these are better! They’re both favorites of mine. I’ve been liking glittery eyeshadow lately, & these are nice options, as they give you some actual sparkle while staying put; like I mentioned, no fallout here. Moon is gorgeous on its own; however, I’ve been using it most for a “halo effect” by tapping it in the center of my lid, no matter what other eyeshadow I’m wearing. It’s an easy way to amp up an eye makeup look, & it’ll stay on. Lily is also beautiful by itself; I’ve been mostly wearing it as a single. Still – one of the best combos I made with Lidstar shadows was using Fawn as a “base,” then putting Lily in the middle of my eyelid with several coats. The result? A brown, shimmery look with a duochrome flash in the right lights. It looks really sophisticated, but – like I’ve said one hundred times by now – these are user-friendly. If the concept of creating your own eye makeup looks rather than using just one shade frightens you, these would be nice to expand your horizons with if that’s what you wanted to do.
  • Fawn – I know, I know. It’s the most “boring” one; at the same time, it looks incredibly unique. It’s easy to blend into the crease, giving the illusion that you’re using more than one product; it works really nicely with all of the other shades; it’s just incredibly versatile. While Moon & Lily are the “fun ones,” Fawn is practical. It’s also pretty. It’s also easy to apply. It’s also really pretty. Did I say that?
  • Herb –  “a smoky green with yellow gold pearl.” This is the one shade I do not have yet; I will be purchasing it soon, though, especially after seeing how unique it looks. It’s not transluscent, so there’s a lot more pigment to it; simultaneously, it contains a lot of gold glitter. I think this would look really pretty with a gold highlight, like Fenty Beauty’s Trophy Wife Killawatt Highlighter. I’ve seen a few demos where it’s being used as an eyeliner; that, to me is intriguing. I’m not a fan of eyeliner; I don’t think it looks good on my eyes; I do like a touch of color on my lashline, though – so, usually I’ll end up using a shadow as an eyeliner. This looks like it’d be a perfect candidate for that style of application/preference.
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Some “paper” swatches

Worth it?

Yes, absolutely! The Lidstar shadows are good for people who have little experience with applying makeup; they’re good for people who want a quick, easy look; they’re good as a combination for a more sophisticated vibe…I could go on. I’ll be greeting my final Lidstar shadow at my door later this month; until then, I am happy with these – & could go on & on about how much I like them. It’s difficult to create an eyeshadow-type product that is both easy to use & sophisticated in looks. Glossier nailed it.

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Oh, yes: They may stay on for twelve hours, but will that mean you’ll need to scrub it off? Nope! Absolutely not. When I removed my Lidstar for the first time (in shade Lily, one of the more glittery ones) I was shocked at how smoothly they wiped off. It was almost traceless after one swipe back & forth with some micellar water & a cotton pad. Again, only good things seem to come with this product.

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A bit less serious – wearing Lidstar in Fawn + Lily 

Have you tried any of the Lidstar shades yet? If so, which ones? You should tell me your favorite, too – of course.

Try getting the Lidstar Duo – if you want to play with combos, do it. It’ll save you some money!

Love,

Sofia ❤

#MiniReview: My First & Most Favorite Blush Was Orgasm. By NARS. Here’s Why

It’s common knowlege that I’m not a big fan of blush. I’m very fair, & in my opinion, even a little tap of most blushes make me look like a clown, & not in a cute way. I’ve gone a bit out of my comfort zone with the Glossier Cloud Paints (they’re easy to blend & very sheer but buildable – so they work nicely on my almost-transluscent skin) but before those were released last spring, I hardly wore blush; emphasis on hardly. There was one exception to that: NARS blush in Orgasm.

IMG_6013IMG_6017I think I first came across the blush in some beauty magazine, way before I even thought of putting makeup on my face – I was strictly eyeshadow-only until my senior year of high school: no foundation/BB cream, I didn’t even know what highlighter was yet (gasp), & I certainly didn’t think of putting blush on my face. Still – 15-year-old Sofia’s attention was caught by the NARS cult classic. Why? Obvious: name. Part of me wondered if it was even allowed to be sold at Sephora (it is). It’s marketing at its finest. Older folks might chuckle or sigh; younger folks might feel a little…risqué at checkout? Who knows. I didn’t even think of buying it – like I said, I didn’t know how to & didn’t want to know how to apply blush – but I definitely lingered on the page longer than I might have had the blush name been Dolce Vita, for example (another blush by NARS). With that, the NARS blush – & its brand – had planted a seed in my head. I started seriously looking at the blush after I swatched it in a Sephora store, years after I first saw it in a magazine. I glanced at the product description: “peachy pink with a shimmer” & dipped my finger in, giving it a go. The result? A very sheer, glowy finish that was most definitely a blush…but wasn’t overpowering – not even on the back of my wrist. It was like a highlight…except a blush. A highlighting blush. That was immediately more appealing than most other blushes I saw, which looked matte in the pan & harsh on my skin. They were difficult to blend out; Orgasm looked natural & dewy on my already-dry skin. It was one of a few exceptions to my “no powder products” rule. I knew this even with a wrist swatch. I put it on my “loves” list, & decided that since I was 19, I’d passed the age of embarrassment, & I could safely name the product on a birthday wish list for my mother.

I did – she laughed, & guess what I got on my 19th! I tapped a little on my cheeks, then applied some highlight over top/around that area. I looked luminous & glowy; healthy, but not feverish. Instantaneous fan.

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A little blush goes a very long way on me – so I experimented a bit with Orgasm. I tried it as an eyeshadow; it looks gorgeous if you’re into the pinky/red eye looks like I am. If you have deeper skin, it’d probably look beautiful as a dramatic highlight. I’ve dusted a little on my cupid’s bow/used it as a lip topper, & it’s a winner there, too.

Speaking of lips: after I got Orgasm blush for my birthday, I started looking more into the NARS blush collection; they have the shade Albatross, a white-gold used as a highlight (& an old YouTuber classic), they have Exhibit A – “a brilliant red” matte shade that I’m scared to purchase to this day…& they have the other “sexy” ones: Sex Appeal (a soft peach), Super Orgasm (peachy pink with gold glitter)….& Deep Throat (“peach with shimmer”).

I don’t wear enough blush to justify getting any of these, & though it’d probably be fun to have a whole collection like that – again, I don’t wear enough blush to justify getting them. I did peep the Super Orgasm lip gloss – a gloss that matches the Super Orgasm blush – at Christmas time last year, & I decided to go for it.

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A little goes a long way; I hadn’t purchased a NARS lip gloss before, & they’re very creamy. It’s definitely a glossy finish, don’t get me wrong – but it’s definitely a creamy texture/finish as well. Nothing wrong with that, especially not during the winter months. I thought the extra glitter that put the “Super” in Super Orgasm would make the gloss gritty, but it didn’t. There are glosses with less glitter that feel grittier to me (some old Sephora Collection ones, & a few Anastasia Beverly Hills ones, too).

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To me, Super Orgasm gloss has a texture similar to the Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb. They’re both really creamy, they stick on my lips all day, & they don’t make my lips feel dry or flaky, like many glosses do – especially in the cold weather. The Gloss Bomb & Super Orgasm are completely different if we’re talking shades, but the textures are very similar to me. If you have one & enjoy it, you’d probably enjoy the other. I will say that Gloss Bomb comes first for me, because 1. Rihanna 2. it’s more universal. Still, Super Orgasm gloss is pretty universal, too. You’ll get that pink tint – it’s pretty obvious in the packaging – but despite the thick texture, it goes on sheer…& just like its blush sister, it’s flattering on all skin tones.

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I haven’t picked up my Orgasm blush for a while, & now that it’s super cold & dry, I still might wait a little while; I just remembered I had it the other day while packing up for school, & made sure to put it in my “going with me” pile. Ever since the Glossier Wowder Brush dropped, I’ve been using that as my multi-purpose powder/blush/highlight brush,  & the super-fine, super-soft bristles make it easy to apply without any harsh edges. I barely have to blend out when I use blush with the Wowder Brush; I know that’s not its original intent, but hey – it works really well.

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Despite the eyebrow-raising name, the blush gives a gentle tint to the cheeks that could be sexy, sure – but if you go gentle, it can be sweet, too. Give her a go this year!

Do any of you have any items from the NARS “risqué” collection? If so, what’s your favorite?

Love,

Sofia ❤

“Where Do I Start???” – How To Build A Skincare Routine

Oftentimes, I get wrapped up in talking about new beauty or skincare products – wrapped up enough that I’ll forget: some people are still figuring out how to build a basic skincare routine.

No shame in starting from scratch, & no such thing as a dumb question…so, after a few requests, here’s a very simple routine/top shelfie that you can use for guidance. Let’s do it!

First, let me just make it clear: my skin type is dry/sensitive. Products that work really well for my skin type may not work as well for someone with oily or combo skin. It’s hard to accurately determine your skin type online – always best to go to a dermatologist – but if you can’t make it to one, try this skin type quiz by Soko Glam, an online K-Beauty retailer. Remember: online quizzes won’t give you the most accurate results, but they can be a good place to start.

With that in mind, let me outline a simple 3-step routine. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time on your skin, but want to see some improvement, it’s a good place to start.

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Moisturize

At the end of the day (or beginning), it really comes down to these three steps. Cleanse your face to refresh/remove dirt, oil, & other “bad stuff.” Tone to brighten, hydrate, & purify. Moisturize to keep your skin soft & hydrated all day or all night. Remember, even if you have oily skin, you should be moisturizing. Not moisturizing the skin can cause dehydration – dehydrated skin usually leads to micro-abrasions, which can let in bacteria. This leads to breakouts & acne. So – no matter what skin type you have, make sure you’re moisturizing!

Some of you might already know the three step routine, & that’s great – but you might not know when or how to use serums & oils. Here’s how the three step routine would look plus serums & oils. Remember: you don’t have to use serums or oils; they’re a great way to up your skin care game if you’re not completely happy with how your skin is looking or feeling, but they’re not the must-haves (in my opinion).

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Serums – if you’re using several, work your way from most “watery” to most “gel-like.” In my experience, watery serums will sink in faster & easier if you put them right after a toner. Gel-like serums take a little longer to sink in, so they could use a little extra time…after you’ve finished with the watery serum(s)
  4. Oil – just like with serums, work your way from most diluted to most rich. Any oil will have a different texture & consistency than a serum; that’s why they’re categorized differently
  5. Moisturize

So that’s how you “up” your skin care game, if you’re already used to the three step method.

Without further ado, here are some of the products I use most often (as well as a few new ones). Almost all of them are under $30; there are two exceptions. Remember that you can get effective & affordable skin care products – these two qualities are not mutually exclusive!

Cleansers Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser

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On the left: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. On the right: CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser

As you can see by the rather banged-up bottles, these are the two cleansers I reach for most often. Let’s start with Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, a product I’ve been using (& loving) for almost two years now. I love MJC because it’s such an effective non-foaming cleanser. Most foaming cleansers dry out my skin; Milky Jelly doesn’t lather up, but it does get rid of dirt & oil, just like any other cleanser would. The delicate floral scent is amazing, too. I like to use two pumps of it on dry skin in the morning, making sure to massage my face as I work the cleanser across my skin. It’s like a mini spa treatment – every single morning – & it only takes 2 minutes. I rinse off with luke-warm water, then move on to toner. Read my #MiniReview on Milky Jelly here!

As a bonus, here are some other options for non-foaming cleansers – for those of you who live in countries that Glossier doesn’t ship to, or for those of you who just aren’t interested in Milky Jelly:

Next up: CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser: this is probably (okay, definitely) the only foaming cleanser I can use regularly without worrying about my skin drying out. I like to use this best in the evening – it does an amazing job of getting rid of any leftover makeup that my micellar water might have missed, & it’s admittedly very fun to use. When pushing down on the pump, a goopy substance similar in texture to Milky Jelly comes out (no scent!). Massage that over your face, & it quickly foams up. Leave on for 30-ish seconds, then wipe off with a damp towel, or rinse off with water (I prefer the latter). Most definitely the only foaming cleanser I can use without worrying about drying out my skin, even in the cold dry winter months. This cleanser is magic. Read my review of Oxygen Foam on CLĒ Cosmetic’s blog right here!

Toners

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On the left: Glossier Solution. On the right: Thayer’s Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner 

For a few years, I religiously used the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater – yup, the one that everyone used (& still uses). Although I’ve seen a lot of people complain about it online (not pure, makes them break out) I’ve never had an issue with it – I just eventually encountered options that were more my style. It took me a while to convert to “cotton pad toners,” as I like to call them (as opposed to a spray, like Mario Badescu) but the one that sold me was Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner. I got it at Target for $11 in October – & I’m still on my first bottle. The alcohol-free option is really nice if you have sensitive skin, & lavender is especially soothing on my skin, so I was really happy when I saw that this was one of the few options left on the shelf. Witch hazel is a natural astringent, so it clarifies the skin – but it also soothes & reduces any inflammation that might be present. Also in the formula: aloe vera, plain old water, & glycerin – all calming & soothing for the skin. If you’re hyper-sensitive, Thayers has a non-scented version of their toner. If you still prefer spritz toners to cotton pad toners, Thayers now has a lot of their toners in spray bottle packaging – check them out here. Read my #MiniReview of this toner here!

(Side note: When using a cotton pad toner, I use Shiseido cotton pads. I know, I know – fancy…but seriously, they’re worth it. Even better, they’re actually quite affordable if you do it my way: cut them in half! Use one half for your morning routine & the other half for your evening routine. This way, you cut the cost in half, & you still feel all the benefits of using the Shiseido Facial Cotton (these truly are a huge upgrade from drugstore cotton rounds…trust me). If you have sensitive skin & feel like a lot of cotton pads/rounds are scratchy on your skin, these are for you. 

Another “toner” I’ve been incorporating into my routine: the latest from Glossier: Glossier Solution. This is the brand’s first release of 2018, & it’s been getting a lot of attention – it’s one of the first Glossier products that really focuses on clearing & brightening skin, as well as reducing acne/hormonal breakouts. Solution is a chemical exfoliant, meant to be used once a day in replacement of a toner. The AHA/BHA/PHA blend dissolves dead skin cells, brightens, softens, & refreshes skin, as well as reducing redness, acne, & breakouts. Read the full scoop here; first, though, let me say this: if you’re using Solution – or any other chemical exfoliant – wear sunscreen! When using any kind of chemical exfoliant (this one included) your skin is more sensitive to the sun. You should wear sunscreen no matter what, but if you’ve been guiltily ignoring that, it’s time to start protecting yourself – especially if you’re using a chemical exfoliant. I’ll give you some of my favorite options in a moment. Stay tuned.

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Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin

Finally – I mentioned that my first toner was a spritzer (by Mario Badescu). Here’s one that I’ve revisited & been really loving lately: the Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin. Think of it as the Mario Badescu Facial Spray…but make it purer. There are three ingredients in this: purified water, pure rose oil, & natural vegetable glycerin. If you’re worried about a cloying scent, worry no more. This has a very delicate, floral scent – similar to that of Glossier Milky Jelly. It’s described as “multi-purpose,” because it is. Use it for your hair, use it as a toner, use it as a setting spray, use it as a refresher when 3 pm hits & you still have a few hours to go (but your skin isn’t feeling it) – face, body, hair…go ham. Just don’t drink it. I haven’t used this for a minute, but I’ve been revisiting it – & I’ve appreciated it as a toner, a refresher, & a setting spray this past month. Oh – & it’s only $10. Find it online, in some Whole Foods, some Urban Outfitters, & perhaps even some Targets, if you’re lucky.

Serums 

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From left to right: Glossier Super Pure Serum, The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, & Valjean Labs Hydrate Serum

Like I mentioned when talking about how to build up your skin care routine to something more complex or “fancy” – serums aren’t necessary, but they can be great ways to really improve the texture, tone, & even the health of your skin. I typically don’t wear more than two serums at once – because too much of anything is a bad thing – & I usually wear different serums at night than I do in the day. I won’t delve into that, because this is just about how to build a simple routine – so here are a few serums that I’ve been enjoying. Some are old favorites, others are new discoveries – but they’re all under $30, which is great. Let me start with the Valjean Hydrate Serum – I have a #MiniReview on this, which I’ll link here. If you’re just looking for a super quick review, though, here are my two cents on it: I liked the texture of Glossier’s Super Bounce Serum (another hyaluronic acid serum), but wasn’t seeing results that made the $28 price tag worth it to me. I tried The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid serum (way cheaper) but like a bunch of their other serums, this one was tacky, dried down oddly, & I didn’t even feel like it was hydrating. Stumped, I kept hunting. I saw “Valjean Labs” pop up across a few photos on Instagram before I asked some friends about the serums, & I heard only good things. I got the Hydrate serum first – followed by Glow & Firm. I like Firm – it’s a hydrating & plumping serum that contains ferulic acid & Vitamin E – but I’m not a fan of Glow (a Vitamin C serum). It just didn’t really seem to do anything. So: Hydrate remains my favorite serum from Valjean. It’s a thin, watery texture, but doesn’t dry down tacky. It’s cooling & soothing – really helps reduce redness – & it feels like a cool drink of water for my skin. I use it morning & night. It layers under other serums/moisturizers really nicely, too. Pick it up for $15 at Urban Outfitters, or keep your eyes peeled at your local TJ Maxx – Valjean serums go for $4.99 at TJ.

Next up: an old favorite; an old friend: Glossier Super Pure Serum. The Glossier Supers hold a special place in my heart; Super Glow was the first serum I ever put on my face when the trio launched in fall of 2016. I’ve hopped back & forth between Super Pure & Super Glow as my favorites, but at this point I can confidently say that Super Pure is my favorite. This is a serum that is, in fact, worth the $28 price tag (for me). It calms redness & inflammation in the short-term; long-term, it reduces breakouts & just clarifies the skin overall. The water-gel consistency is not sticky or tacky; it doesn’t pill; it wears beautifully under makeup/moisturizers…I have no bad things to say. Check out my longer review here

Finally – a brand-new addition to my routine: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. It’s so new, in fact, that I’ve only used it twice so far. Before purchasing, I snooped around for some opinions, & immediately got some “NOOOO! IT IS SO SCRATCHY!” comments. Naturally, I was a bit scared when it arrived – but I’m glad I had that “background knowledge” of the texture of the serum before giving it a go myself, because it influenced the way in which I applied it. Obviously, I can’t give that big of a review, because I’ve only used it twice, but here are my first impressions: definitely the “oddest” serum I’ve used yet, mainly because it’s “water-free” – that means that it looks like a cream; maybe a runny moisturizer. The “scratchiness” comes from “dehydrated spheres” of hyaluronic acid, which “offer visible surface smoothing.” I wouldn’t call it scratchy; it doesn’t feel like a sugar/salt scrub; it feels more like someone put sand into a light moisturizer (I know that sounds odd). There’s no denying that it’s a bit abrasive, especially if I were to rub it into my face – but thanks to everyone’s warnings, I was able to avoid that situation. When applying, I put some on my fingertips, then gently press it into my skin. Wait a few minutes, & sure enough – the “dehydrated spheres” melted into my skin. Then, it’s simple: apply moisturizer, & be at peace. There’s no denying that it’s one of the oddest products I’ve tried so far, but I’m intrigued. The Ordinary has great prices, & it’s even more accessible, now that it’s being carried (online) at Sephora. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted.

Oils

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The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Organic Rose Hip Seed Oil – good for all skin types 

I’m a fan of facial oils, but I’m not the biggest fan – basically, creams > oils in my opinion (& keep in mind: everyone’s skin is different). While creams are my priority, I found oils to be way more confusing, especially when first thinking about using one. Won’t it just make my skin greasy? Will I break out more? Why would you put oil on your face…?

The answer to the last question: there are many reasons for putting oil on your face, & if you remember that you’re not putting vegetable oil or bacon grease on your face – you’re putting rosehip oil, tea tree oil, marula oil & so on (all of which have their benefits) – the fear of breaking out or looking greasy will soon fade. Oils won’t make your face greasy – you just have to choose the right one. That depends on your skin type, & since I can’t tell every single one of you what your skin type is, I’d leave the serious oil recommendations to someone more qualified (ask a skin care consultant at Sephora, or go to your dermatologist, or just do some reading after you know a little more about your skin type), but I can tell you one oil that works really well for all skin types: rosehip!

Rosehip oil calms redness, reduces inflammation, & hydrates – of course. It’s lightweight, doesn’t feel heavy, sticky, or greasy, & it wears well under a cream. You can also put a little more on & forget a cream all together. One of the cheapest options out there is The Ordinary’s 100% Cold-Pressed Organic Rose Hip Seed Oil. Described as “a daily support formula for all skin types,” this oil is rich in various vitamins & fatty acids, all of which plumpen, hydrate, & boost skin’s circulation. It smells slightly floral, but I can hardly detect a scent. It’s not the highest-quality oil, but it’s under $10, I wouldn’t call it bad, & it’s a great way to experiment with facial oils without dropping a lot of money. Next on my list of things to try: Pai Skincare’s Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil, which has rave reviews on many platforms. It’s a step up from the $10, but from what I’ve seen, it looks to be worth it.

Moisturizers 

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On the left: Dr Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream. On the right: Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

Currently, I’m using two moisturizers: a day cream & a night cream. If you use one & your skin is happy – great! My dry/sensitive skin gets a little finicky, especially when it comes to hydration, so my skin most definitely appreciates the two different moisturizers I use.

For daytime, I use the Dr Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass CreamI held off for a very long time on buying this, mainly because I looked at the amount of product in the tube & rolled my eyes. I wouldn’t be forking over that amount for this little tube of cream…but then, I got it as a free sample with a Sephora order I made over winter break, & when I tried it out, I finally understood. This is an extremely dense cream; it’s almost like an ointment. This was worrying to me, at first: would it feel greasy? Would it clog my pores? The answer to both of these questions: nope! It most definitely doesn’t feel greasy, it certainly doesn’t clog my pores, & I’m glad I chose this sample, because by the time I ran out of the baby version, I was convinced that the full-size was truly worth it.

You need the tiniest amount – the tube looks like a tube of toothpaste, & that’s just about how much I use for my face: imagine that you’re putting a smear of toothpaste onto your toothbrush, & that should just about cover it for your whole face. I put the ointment between my fingertips to let it warm up a little, then gently press it into my skin. If I have the time, I’ll follow that up with a quick facial massage with my jade roller. If I don’t – I’m still good. The cream has really helped reduce any redness, which is something I struggle with (especially in the winter time). I would constantly complain about the dry area under my nose – not after a week of using this cream, though. January is one of the hardest months on my skin…& this year, I have zero dryness/irritation in my usual dry patches, my skin is relatively redness-free, & I get to use a very cool toothpaste-y product that smells like freshly-mown grass. Worth it? Definitely.

For night time, I use Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich – a product I’ve been religiously using & refilling since Glossier put it up for sale in January 2017. Basically: I’ll never stop screaming about this (screaming in a good way). I’ve been through a few jars, but I don’t go through it outrageously quickly, because it truly is “rich.” “Rich,” yes. Oily? Not even a little bit. I have dry skin & love it; I know people with oily skin who love it equally. People in the middle? Yup, PMR has your back, too. Red algae reduces redness, lavender makes you feel like you’re in an aromatherapy session, & the cream has this incredible buttercream texture that’s addicting. Every night, I smooth a little spoonful (I use the NIOD Stainless Steel Spoon to keep my creams sanitary) into my skin, I massage my face with my hands &/or my jade roller, & then I sink into my pillows with a sigh of relief. It’s the perfect way for me to end my day.

Sunscreens

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On the left: Glossier Invisible Shield. On the right: Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen 

One of the most important – but one of the most ignored – steps in a skincare routine is protecting your face from the sun. Even if you don’t work outside…even if you’re not going for a long walk…even if you live in a country where you don’t see much sunlight during the winter…you should still be wearing sunscreen. UV rays cause long-term damage, & you might not ever feel a sunburn – but you may still be at risk for skin cancer if you don’t take the proper steps to protect yourself. That sounds like a threat, but it’s just me saying be careful! You can greatly reduce the risk of skin cancer simply by throwing on some sunscreen every single day.

The two I swear by are Glossier Invisible Shield (SPF 35) & Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen Broad Spectrum (SPF 50). These products are quite different from one another, though ultimately, they both do a good job of protecting your skin from harmful sun exposure.

What’s the difference? The Glossier sunscreen is a chemical sunscreen; the Dr. Jart+ sunscreen is a physical sunscreen. “Chemical” sounds scary in most situations, but just as is the case with “chemical exfoliation,” “chemical sunscreen” is not dangerous or harmful for your skin. It just operates in a different way than “physical sunscreen.”

Chemical sunscreens contain organic, carbon-based compounds which create a chemical (hence the name) reaction, changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. No – you won’t get burned, & no – it doesn’t feel hot upon application. Don’t worry.

Physical sunscreens like the Dr. Jart+ one contain active mineral ingredients, also referred to as physical blockers (again – hence the name). Most commonly, the physical blockers are titanium dioxide or zinc dioxide – that’s what gives physical sunscreen its famous (or, if you’re like me, infamous) scent. These blockers sit on top of the skin, deflecting & scattering UV rays away from the skin.

So – which do I prefer? Personally, after I tried a chemical sunscreen, I heavily lean towards that side of the spectrum. Most physical sunscreens feel very sticky & heavy on my skin & I’ve broken out from quite a few. Most don’t wear very well under makeup for me, either. I prefer the gel-like texture of a chemical sunscreen. Also – it’s much easier to reapply, since you don’t have to massage it into the face as intensely as you might have to with a physical sunscreen – chemical sunscreens leave no white cast on the skin, which is another bonus.

Still, I really like the Dr. Jart+ one. After I started taking immunosuppressive drugs that make my skin even more sensitive to sun, my mama & I panicked & looked for the most powerful & best sunscreen out there. SPF 50 is pretty much as high as you can get, & this Dr. Jart+ option is probably my favorite physical sunscreen. It’s very lightweight, it lacks that odd scent that so many physical sunscreens have, & it doesn’t feel greasy or sticky – doesn’t break me out, either. If you’re not into chemical sunscreens, this is a physical sunscreen that I truly do like. The price isn’t half bad, either – especially for a Dr. Jart+ product.

As for the Glossier Invisible Shield – like I said, I now prefer chemical sunscreens, after having tried both, & this one is a great choice. Recently, Glossier reduced the price to $25, which I feel is a much fairer price than the original $34. In my opinion, there isn’t enough product in the Invisible Shield bottle to justify spending $34 on it; now, with the adjusted price, I can give Invisible Shield 5 stars without feeling like it’s just a biiiit too expensive to rate so highly. I use about 3-4 pumps, & gently swipe the gel over my face after I’ve finished moisturizing (but before I’ve applied makeup). I let it sit for a few moments; it has a cooling sensation which is really soothing. I like the citrus-y scent, too.

A lot of people ask what the best amount of SPF is. Most dermatologists agree that anything between SPF 30 & SPF 50 is going to give you the same results. SPF 50 isn’t really going to give you more protection than SPF 30 – in fact, some people get less protection even while wearing SPF 50, since they feel like they don’t need to apply as much product. No matter what, be sure to reapply sunscreen if you’re spending periods of time outside, & don’t stress about SPF 50 working better (or worse) than SPF 35 or SPF 40. In the end, as long as it’s over 30, you’re good. Stay protected!!!

Spot Treatments 

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Oh – almost forgot about this very important category. For a while, I was a non-believer. It seemed as though everyone swore by the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion; I’d given it a few goes & hadn’t seen anything special. Overnight results? Sounded unrealistic…& I never got that from the Drying Lotion.

For the past 7-8 months, I’ve been using & loving the Origins Super Spot Remover. It’s a clear gel spot treatment, which is nice – it sinks into the skin instead of rubbing off on your pillowcase (sound familiar?). It can also be worn under makeup, which, again: something the Drying Lotion cannot do.

When I ran out of my second little tube of the Origins treatment, I headed to grab a refill – only to see that it was sold out both online & in store. A Sephora employee redirected me to the Tarte Blemish Bully Acne Spot Treatment – same consistency, same texture, same end results. The formula seems to be essentially the same; I did notice that the Tarte formula contains caffeine, though, which is nice – it aids in depuffing whatever area you’re trying to target. I’ve been using it for about a week now, & have no complaints thus far. It seems to work just as well as the Origins treatment, & you get a little more product for the same amount, too. I’ll see how this one lasts in the long run, but for now…I’m liking it. Side note: the Origins spot treatment is now back in stock on Sephora’s website. 

Sometimes, one product just doesn’t work – if I’m really having a problem blemish (or two) I’ll layer two products: first, a thin layer of the gel spot treatment – in the past, Origins; currently, Tarte. After the gel has dried down, I’ll pat a small amount of Mario Badescu Drying Cream on top. That’s right – cream, not lotion. They are two different products. The Drying Lotion is the one you see most often: the pink sediment at the bottom of a vial of clear liquid. The Drying Cream is a yellow-beige paste that comes in a little jar. Described as “a unique spot treatment featuring sulfur,” the Drying Cream is ideal for under-the-surface bumps as well as good old blemishes. Sulfur & zinc oxide draw out impurities, but ingredients like aloe vera & Vitamin E ensure that you won’t wake up with a painful dry patch of skin where your blemish used to be. This does transfer, so if you wear it overnight, just be aware that some might rub off on your pillowcase. It’s worth it, though – I can’t say that this combo always works overnight, but it comes pretty damn close.

Well – that’s the finale! If you’re new to skincare, I hope I helped you figure things out a little more; maybe you have something to work with now. It can be very overwhelming when starting to be “serious” about skincare or makeup, simply because there are so many products. I can’t say that all of these will work as well for you as they do for me, but I hope I help at least a few of you. What’re some of your holy grail skincare items – whether you’re new or old to the skincare game?

Catch you next time! Let’s talk about face masks next, shall we?

Love,

Sofia ❤