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!

#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 ❤

Finally, Glossier Has The “Solution” For Redness, Texture, & Acne

It’s hard not to make a (bad) word play when a product is literally named “Solution” – & that’s the name of Glossier’s newest product, which had been hinted at in this Into The Gloss article, published (very) early this year.

In the article, gTEAM member Manouska talks about her life-long struggles with acne, & how a mysterious product (hint: Glossier Solution) has helped her skin look & feel better than it ever has in her adult life. A few weeks after this article was published, Manouska took to Glossier’s Instagram story, giving us all a closer look at the mysterious product. Still in its developmet packaging, all I could tell was that it was a toner-type product – & that it had a very cool dispensing pump.

Finally, Glossier Solution was dropped this past Wednesday. I was curious to see how it would be described – & Glossier calls it “a daily face exfoliator.” Meant to be used only once daily, Solution is a chemical exfoliant that “gently sloughs dead cells away through chemical exfoliation, dissolving the bonds gluing problematic dead cells to the healthy skin beneath.”

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“exfoliating skin perfector”

I know – the words “chemical exfoliation” sound scary & dangerous, when in reality, they’re better for your skin than physical exfoliants, which can cause micro-abrasions. Micro-abrasions invite more bacteria into the skin, which often leads to increased breakouts, texture, sensitivity, & redness. I wrote a whole piece about acids/chemical exfoliants here, which might be valuable if you’re still feeling a bit confused about the whole thing. If you don’t have the time, just know this: as someone with sensitive skin, I was initially nervous about the whole chemical exfoliation thing…until I gave it a try. Since I’ve started using chemical exfoliants, my skin is brighter, clearer, softer, & smoother. Needless to say, I was very excited when I saw the ingredients in Glossier’s Solution – they’re right up my alley.

The most important part of Glossier Solution is the blend of AHA, BHA, & PHA – three types of acids that serve as chemical exfoliants. AHA = alpha hydroxy acid, & can be found in lactic acid or glycolic acid. BHA = beta hydroxy acid, & is most commonly found in salicylic acid. PHA = polyhydroxy acid, a less potent version of an AHA. It exfoliates, but it also moisturizes & conditions the skin. It’s one of the reasons why Glossier Solution works well even on sensitive skin!

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I’ve been using & loving chemical exfoliants, particularly AHA/BHA blends for about a year now. My first introduction to an AHA/BHA product was the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, a weekly treatment that I adore to this day. Once I saw for myself that no, acids did not burn off my face – & yes, they really do eliminate texture & keep the skin baby-soft, I was sold. I started trying out various chemical exfoliants, figured out which ones I liked best (& why), & marvelled as my face became brighter, clearer, & softer.

So – now that I’ve tried Glossier Solution, what do I think of it, as someone who’s been using & loving chemical exfoliants for about a year?

I tried Solution for the first time yesterday, so I can’t say how it’ll feel or look in the long-term, but I can give my “after 24 hours” impression of it – which is when Glossier says you’ll start noticing positive results. Just a disclaimer: this product is good, but no exfoliant will “cure” or clear your skin overnight. These things take time, & Glossier makes sure to let you know that. On the Glossier Solution product page, there are “after 24 hours,” “after 1 week,” “after 2 weeks,” & finally, “after 4 weeks” results. To sum it up: give Solution about a month to work its finest magic.

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As someone with sensitive skin, I was worried that something like Solution would be too harsh for me; I thought it might burn or dry out my skin. Usually, if a product does this, I’ll know within 24 hours. I made sure to do my research on Solution – & Glossier made sure to answer that pressing question within the first day of releasing Solution. “Can I use Solution if I have sensitive skin?” Glossier says: “Yes! Solution was formulated to be gentle enough to be used daily by all skintypes. The acids are balanced with calming, replenishing ingredients like aloe, glycerin, and niacinamide.” Glossier made sure to include people with sensitive skin in the testing process, so I wasn’t too nervous when first trying Solution.

Glossier makes sure to say “use once daily.” Why? Simply because your skin doesn’t need it twice daily. Too much of a good thing can lead to bad things. Even if you have oily skin, acids can still dry you out if you use them too much. I’ve been using Solution in the morning, because I use the Drunk Elephant Framboos serum (an AHA/BHA serum) at night. Again, too much of a good thing often = bad things.

When I opened Solution, I was really excited to see the dispenser that we were given a sneak peek at. It’s very cool: push down on the pump with a cotton pad, & product will dispense directly onto the cotton. No pouring, shaking – just press down. I’m always here for sanitary (& fun) packaging, & Solution’s packaging is both fun & sanitary.

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A closer look at the (very cool) packaging

Ingredients? I already knew what they’d be, but I got more detailed information. I saw lactic & glycolic acid listed as main ingredients, which led to a cheer – like I said, my skin likes these best of all! Lactic acid reduces dark spots/scarring, & glycolic acid breaks down dead skin cells, which improves skin tone & texture. I was a bit nervous about salicylic acid – my skin doesn’t hate it, but my skin definitely prefers lactic/glycolic acids. Salicylic acid reduces acne & unclogs pores – not a bad thing, but it’s not something I generally purchase, after several bad experiences when I was less educated…also known as: “Oh no! I have a blemish! Let me douse my dry, sensitive skin in this Proactiv product with a high concentration of salicylic acid!” Needless to say, nothing good happened there (& it took my skin a while to recover) – but I used it in the wrong way, & Proactiv was never meant for my skin type, anyway. My fears were qualmed when I saw the final acid used in Glossier Solution: the PHA gluconolactone, which exfoliates – but also moisturizes & conditions. Finally – “Anti-Stress Complex,” which is a blend of aloe, glycerin, & niacinamide. All three of these are soothing & help reduce redness (side note: a lot of people asked if it’s okay to use a niacinamide serum – like Glossier Super Pure – along with Glossier Solution. Yes! Niacinamide is a calming ingredient, & it will not burn or dry out your skin. I’ve used Solution & Super Pure together with no negative effects).

Okay – that’s a lot of information on the product itself…but how did I like it? What were my first impressions? How did I use it, & when? Let me break that down right now.

  • The packaging of the bottle is very cute. It’s the signature #glossierpink, but the bottle is sparkly! Very Kirakira friendly.
  • I used Glossier Solution in the morning. You can use it morning or night – but don’t use it more than once a day, because overloading the skin is never a good idea. I chose to use it in the morning because I use the Drunk Elephant Framboos Night Serum in the evening. If you don’t use a serum like that in the evening, feel free to plop Solution into your night routine. It’s truly up to you – the results will be the same.
  • I used a Shiseido cotton pad with Glossier Solution. You can now buy Glossier Cotton Rounds, which were designed especially for using with Glossier Solution…but at the end of the day, it’s cotton. If you’re happy with what you’re using now, stick with it.
  • A lot of people have asked where Solution fits into a skincare routine. It would “replace” your toner – so, after cleansing, before serums (which are optional) & moisturizer. Be sure to moisturize after applying Solution, & be sure to wear sunscreen. AHA/BHA/PHA blends make the skin more sensitive to sun. This increases risk of skin cancer if you don’t stay on top of it & apply sunscreen! Be sure to do that no matter what, but be especially sure if you’re using chemical exfoliants like Glossier Solution (or Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, or any other chemical exfoliant). Wear! Your! Sunscreen!
  • I was pleasantly surprised to experience no burning, tingling, or dryness. I was also pleasantly surprised by the scent. It’s not artificially sweet, but it’s not horribly chemical, either. It’s hard to describe, so I’ll just say that it’s subtle & pleasant – not something you’d expect from a chemical exfoliant.
  • The pump is so much fun to use. I know – it’s just packaging – but packaging is a big deal to me. The pump convinces me that you can take it wherever you like without worrying about spilling a single drop. Also – the product will stay free of contamination, because you don’t have to touch any part of the bottle to dispense it. No bacteria! No infections! Yay!
  • After 24 hours, I looked in the mirror to see if I could notice a difference. Short answer: yes. Long answer: my skin felt softer & smoother, it looked noticeably brighter, & I had no dryness or redness. I was especially surprised by zero redness. Usually, I expect redness under my nose when I wake up in the morning, especially during the cold, dry winter months. Not after Solution! This was a big factor in my “final” first impression of Glossier Solution.

Final first impression? This is sensitive-skin friendly, it works like it says it works, & I’m excited to see how my skin will look after one week…then two…then three…then four…& so on, & so forth.

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It’s nice to see Glossier put out a product that specifically targets acne! One of the larger complaints about Glossier was that they did not have anything for acne-prone skin/oily skin. Glossier’s Wowder was the first answer to those kinds of complaints – it helps eliminate shine – & this is the first big skincare product by Glossier that claims to help reduce acne. I had a lot of friends with oily skin/acne-prone skin who were very excited to hear about this. Best of all, Glossier tested on “real” people – & there are untouched photos on the Solution product page of “before Solution” & “after Solution.” It’s really transparent & honest – untouched, just like the before & after photos.

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That’s all I have for now. I’ll be sure to update my thoughts on Solution, but until then, here’s to chemical exfoliants that reduce texture & redness while boosting clarity & glow – all while being packaged in a sparkly pink bottle with a very fun dispenser.

For the first two weeks of Glossier’s Solution release, get free shipping when you add the (also new) Glossier Cotton Rounds to your order & use the code SOLUTION at checkout.

Has anyone else tried Solution yet? If not, will you be giving it a go? Let me know!

Love,

Sofia ❤

#TopTenSeries: Top Ten Makeup Products of 2017

Welcome to part two of my #TopTenSeries! I’ll be honest: I’m not sure how many top tens I’ll be posting, but this is definitely one you’re getting. As you might’ve guessed from the title, these are my favorite makeup products of 2017. 

For my #TopTenSeries, I tried to pick things that had actually been released in 2017; there are a few exceptions, but for the most part, this is all brand new to 2017. 

What’s my makeup style like? Well, if you follow me on Instagram (you should; do it right here) you probably know that I keep it quite minimal if we’re talking face makeup. Foundation-type products break me out, clog my pores, irritate my skin…all that good stuff. I try to take good care of my skin/invest in skincare products that work well enough so that I don’t feel like I have to wear face makeup. 

Rant over – let me actually talk about my makeup style. I love a good dramatic eye look, I adore glowy skin, & *gasp* though I never thought it would happen, I actually do like lip gloss now – though I’m pretty sure I have it on record somewhere on the Internet that I’d never convert. Well…when it’s made by Rihanna, I have no other choice than to love it. 

So – glowy skin, minimal face makeup, bushy brows & a dramatic highlight/eye look when I’m feeling up to it are my “defaults.” Some of the products I’ve listed pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best way possible; I wouldn’t ever have thought that I would like blush…but here we are. None of these products should be a surprise to you; I’ve probably posted at least a little bit about each one of these – but here’s a quick run-down on why I love these products so much, & what they’ve done for me. As with skin care, let me start from the “beginning” – or, what I tried earliest in 2017, then move chronologically from there. Enjoy!

1. Tarte Tartelette In Bloom Clay Eyeshadow Palette

I don’t have any actual photos of my personal Tartelette palette, because it’s that banged up – but I’ve included some photos of me wearing Tartelette In Bloom (& Tartelette In Bloom only) on my eyes.

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I picked this up last Christmas, & didn’t really start wearing it until mid-January – I was on a no-makeup run for the last half of December 2016 & the first half of January 2017, since I had a staph infection on my face (ouch) & needed time to let things heal.

I always have trouble finding simple neutral palettes that work with anything – anything at all, no matter what. I’ve been on a matte eyeshadow kick this past year, too, so I was drawn in by the fact that the Tartelette In Bloom palette only has two shimmer shades; the rest are matte.

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There are some cool shades, some warm shades, & some neutral shades. I would recommend this to anyone of any skin tone. It’s the perfect palette to travel with – if I take this & this alone for a trip, I know that I can create a two-minute neutral eye for the daytime…& I can also amp it up in the evening, smoke things out with some of the darker shades, & even pop one (or two) of the shimmer shades in the very middle of my lid. This palette is a winner from start to finish, & that’s because it truly works for any & all occasions. The mirror & sturdy packaging score some extra points in my book, & again: if you’re looking for one palette that can do it all, this is the one for you. My favorite thing to do: use these shadows as my base, then grab whatever “crazy” eyeshadow color I’m feeling at the moment. Try some Colourpop Super Shock Shadows, yeah?

2. Diorshow Mascara

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It’s hard to aesthetically photograph a mascara – but here’s my feeble attempt.

I’ll be the first to admit it – seeing Bella Hadid plastered all over Sephora, Instagram, & basically everywhere else was what initially spiked my interest in the Diorshow Mascara. I had never tried any other Dior makeup product before; I’d assumed they were outdated & that I could get better for less. So – Dior, if you’re reading this (which I highly doubt) good job! Your campaign succeeded. It sold me.

I’m not a big mascara fan; my lashes are pretty dark & I usually just focus on eyeshadow if I’m going to be doing eye makeup. Pre-Diorshow, I was wearing Benefit Roller Lash Mascara, which I really liked. I saw this in the checkout shelf at Ulta when I was shopping with my mama in the spring, & decided to put back my refill of my Benefit & give the Dior a go. They’re both about the same price, give or take $2. I swiped it on, & I was sold.

This gives all the volume that Roller Lash does, but the wand makes the mascara feel less stiff. My lashes feel more like they have a pomade on them, as opposed to a heavy, sticky paint (which is how most mascara feels on me). It felt light, but my lashes looked extremely long, dark, & luxurious. If I’m wearing mascara, I’ll usually curl my lashes – but Diorshow Mascara doesn’t make me feel like I need the extra boost of volume that a quick curl might give.

Long story short: I’m sold on Diorshow, until I find a better one. But I doubt I will. I guess casting Insta-Girls really does work. (See above selfies for a closer look at Diorshow in action; I’m wearing that mascara plus Tartelette in Bloom palette on my eyes in both of the above photographs!)

3. Glossier Cloud Paints in shades Beam & Haze 

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I’m not “a blush person.” My fair skin makes most blushes pop – not in a flattering way. I usually just end up looking sweaty, or like a clown. Sometimes, I’ll look like a sweaty clown. The only blush that ever really worked for me was NARS Orgasm – & I have to use the tiniest tap for it to look flattering. No swirling of the brush for me.

I was skeptical of Glossier’s Cloud Paints, because they were cream blushes (which I thought would be more difficult to work with) & they looked very pigmented…& they are – but they’re sheer to buildable before they’re pigmented.

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I did not expect to like Haze & Beam best; those were the two shades that I thought would be least flattering on me. Once again, I was proved wrong. Beam is the only coral shade of blush that has ever looked flattering on me; I used it all summer long on the apples of my cheeks & on the bridge of my nose (for a sun-kissed look). Now that it’s cold, & darker colors are “the thing,” Haze works just as beautifully. I’d compare it to the Generation G Lipstick in Jam; both are a berry shade. Haze has a little more brightness to it than Jam, but they’re quite similar. I was very nervous about Haze being too over-the-top for my skin tone, but I didn’t have to worry. A tiny dot on my fingertip works just fine. I tap it onto my cheeks (use it as a contouring blush or on the apples of your cheeks for a more natural flush) & blend it in with a face brush if I feel like it’s still a bit much.

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Wearing Beam on my cheeks & the bridge of my nose in May 2017 (before my big buzz. Obviously)

All-in-all, these were a big win for me in 2017. I discovered that I could actually wear blush without looking like a clown. Don’t worry about them sliding around, either – these set very nicely, even if you’re not wearing setting spray. It’s just a natural flush that you can make as pigmented (or as sheer) as you wish. That’s why they’re so great for all skin tones, too. Try mixing them together if you own more than one shade; I love combining Puff & Dusk for a dusty rose blush. Super pretty. I’m now a tentative blush fan; I say tentative because I have yet to find any other blushes (besides NARS Orgasm) that work on my face as well as the Cloud Paints do.

4. CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion

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This wasn’t the first CLĒ Cosmetics product I tried, but it’s remained a favorite ever since I put it on my face. The Essence Air Cushion is great if you need a lot of sun protection (50+ SPF? sign me up) but don’t like the heavy/tacky feeling that a lot of foundations/BB creams/CC creams can give you. It feels like CLĒ’s cushion was made for me; it goes on sheer, & blurs everything beautifully. It acts almost as a color corrector, but doesn’t smudge or cake up in odd places. The cushion comes with a little applicator sponge, but I use my $8 Real Techniques brush to apply it; I just dip my brush into the sponge, buff the product over my face, & go from there. It’s like a snap filter for my face – my skin still looks like my skin…just a little better. Extra points for the shade range – most cushion foundations have two shades at most. CLĒ has five. For reference, I wear light.

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This is what the shade Light looks like in the “pan.” I know – I was worried, too! It goes on very sheer. Remember: this is a cushion completely soaked with the product, so it will look darker in the container.

The price will probably make you blink the first time you buy it – but after you’ve purchased the compact, just re-fill the cushion when yours runs out (or runs dry). Those will only run you $23. Much better.

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The included applicator, if you choose to apply your product that way.

Even more extra points for the all-day dewy glow it gives me. I’ll be carrying this into 2018 without a doubt.

5. Glossier Boy Brow in Clear 

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Glossier’s Boy Brow is a product that’s been around the block a few times; I’ve been wearing Boy Brow in Brown since early 2016. Clear was a new shade debuted in spring 2017, though – & it became a regular for me. I’d say I use Clear even more than I use Brown now.

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Sporting Boy Brow in Clear 

From February to April of 2017, I had had bleached brows – then, when I was growing them back, they obviously had some color to them, but they weren’t their natural dark color (just scroll through my Instagram; you’ll see!). I relied on Boy Brow in Brown to make my brows look their normal dark shade, but once my brows went back to normal, I started making use of Clear.

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Even my cat can’t let go.

There’s nothing different about the formula; it looks transluscent-white in the tube, but doesn’t dry down white. It doesn’t feel crunchy – it has the same pomade texture that the colored Boy Brows do. Not something that was revolutionary for my face this year, but definitely something I picked up more often than I picked up the brown BB. Give it a go, if you’re unsure about which Boy Brow shade is best for you.

 

6. CLĒ Cosmetics Melting Lip Powder in Desert Rose 

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I first tried the CLĒ lip powders around the same time I tried their Essence Air Cushion – but the shade Desert Rose wasn’t released until September, for CLĒ’s fall collection. It’s currently sold out…for good reason. This is a shade that’s very flattering on any skin tone & all skin types.

As the name might suggest, the powder is primarily for lips. I was a bit skeptical when first applying one of these; I worried that they’d have the dreaded liquid lipstick effect: aka, my lips dry down to the texture of sandpaper in less than two hours. Not so with the Melting Lip Powders. I apply a little to the center of my lip – yes, it’s a powder in the tube & comes out of the tube as a powder as well – then wait for the heat of my skin to melt it down. I pop my lips together, apply a lighter layer to the remaining parts of my lips, pop them together again, & I’m all set. This gives a great liquid lipstick finish – without the drying effect. Even better: they can be used on the cheeks & eyes, too! I’ve had a lot of fun with the shade Red Cherry on my eyelids (I love a bold red eye look) & the shade Milk Choco (the first shade I ever tried from CLĒ) looks beautiful as a dusty, contour-y blush. If you have deeper skin, try Hot Choco for the same effect.

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Powdery texture evident here, just as the name promises!

When using the powders as blush, I like to take a little smear of Glossier Balm Dotcom & mix it with a tap or two of the pigmented powder. I then dab it into my cheeks. The balm sets within a minute, & it’s easier to move around on my dry skin. If you have oily or combo skin, you probably can skip the balm step & just apply straight to your cheeks!

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You could probably build Desert Rose up to this color, but I’d say it’s a little dustier than this colored sticker. On the lips, it’s truer to the color that it looks to be in the tube.

All-in-all, this is a super unique product. I’d never heard of a lip powder before I heard of CLĒ’s products, & I haven’t seen any other products like these powders! They’re worth a go. A very cool, unique product with lots of fun shades, from neutral to wild. Desert Rose is my favorite – as you probably could tell from the listing of the name – so if you’re interested in this shade, sign up on their site to get notified when Desert Rose is back in stock.

7. Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb

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Like everyone else on Planet Earth, I could hardly contain my excitement for Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty launch in September of this year. We got some sneak peeks in the weeks leading up to the brand’s launch, & I deliberated very carefully. Almost right away, I decided on getting the gloss, because I was shocked at how “affordable” the gloss was. Okay…it’s not a $4 gloss from e.l.f., but for a celebrity brand, $18 isn’t bad at all (let’s just take a look at Kylie’s prices). I was also intrigued by the fact that it looked different – but beautiful – on all of the models. Fenty made sure to be diverse from the moment they dropped their first “intro video” – we had a fair-skinned ginger, Mallory Merk, all the way to Duckie Thot (one of my favorite models of the moment, & the face of the deepest shade of Fenty Beauty’s foundation). There was only one shade of the gloss: Fenty Glow, which everyone found quite surprising – in fact, Fenty’s Gloss Bomb is the only permanent collection lip product for now, along with the Stunna Lip Paint (there are lots of lipsticks coming the day after Christmas). The gloss looked beautiful on all of the girls, & it showed off different undertones on each skin tone. I was really curious about how it’d look on me, so I made sure to snap it up. I was not disappointed.

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If I’ve done an eye look & want some color in my lips (no clear gloss) but am not really sure what to reach for, I grab Gloss Bomb. If I’m wearing some Glossier Boy Brow & a little concealer, I grab Gloss Bomb. If I’m wearing no makeup at all & am running out the door – but want a little polish to my face – I grab Gloss Bomb. No matter what, I get compliments. It smells amazing, it looks incredible. The shape & shine of the packaging itself makes it its own accessory; it’s not something you’ll be embarrassed to pull out of your pocket/purse/backpack/sock/whatever you carry your lip products in.

Gloss Bomb didn’t live up to my expectations…it went above & beyond. This is something that I’ll continue to refill until the day I die. Also, Rihanna’s little statement about it is beyond cute:
“I made it because I wanted the girls to get kissed more.”—Rihanna, Brand Founder (via Sephora’s site)

8. Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Trophy Wife

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Second purchase that month – Fenty again. I couldn’t help myself. Trophy Wife was the shade that had been teased most, tested most, & the one Rihanna herself had worn to the brand launch.

I knew this wouldn’t be a “natural highlight on me” – & I was right. I was, however, surprised at how wearable this product is as a highlighter. I worried I’d have to return it if it didn’t serve the purpose of a higlighter…but I’ve been pleasantly shocked at some of the looks I’ve been able to accomplish with Trophy Wife & Trophy Wife alone.

If you don’t like glitter, this isn’t the one for you. Just know: it looked beautiful lightly dusted across my cheekbones for the daytime (still calling that a soft look; I wasn’t wearing any other eye makeup or lipstick); it looked dramatic when built up on my inner corners & cheekbones as a night look; I use it all the time as a lid topper & love using it on my cupid’s bow.

Long story short – the color is beautiful. If you have medium/deep skin, you’ll probably be able to wear this as a comfortable highlight. If you’re not in that range – it’ll still be a very fun product, & I don’t believe it’s looked ugly on anyone I’ve seen wear it. It’ll turn heads, but let’s be real: we already kind of get that vibe just looking at Trophy Wife in pan.

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Trophy Wife is a winner for me, because I’ve been able to do several things with just the one product. I can glimmer slightly, or glitter like a disco ball – that’s up to me. New Year’s Eve look? Most probably.

9. NYX Dewy Finish Makeup Setting Spray

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Let’s not pretend this product is news to anyone. It’s been around the block more than a few times – but I decided to include it because I’m often asked how to keep makeup on while maintaining a dewy/glowy finish to the skin. I’ve given a few sample-size setting sprays a try this year, & none of them lived up to the NYX. I tried Caudalíe Beauty Elixir (okay…almost as good, but not as much staying power & way more expensive), a few spritzes of the famed Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist (don’t waste your $$$), & stole my mama’s Urban Decay Setting Spray, which is probably the best known out of the three I just mentioned. My mother loved it – until she ran out, & I converted her to NYX as well. Now we’re both the spray’s #1 fans. You can join our club if you like.

Truly, though: this spray is great. The spritzer doesn’t soak one part of your face while keeping another part completely dry; it dispenses very evenly. It doesn’t smell of alcohol or burn when first applied (a problem I get a lot when using setting sprays), & it just lasts really well…& it keeps my skin dewy all day long. Remember: I have dry skin. Oh – & if you’re about the matte finish, NYX has one for you, too. Same price. I’m sure it’s great, too.

If you’re looking for a high-quality setting spray for under $10, go for the NYX. Save your money – buy a Tom Ford lipstick you don’t need or something instead.

10. Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal

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This was not (surprisingly) one of the first Fenty items I sprung for when Fenty Beauty initially launched; I was getting mixed reviews on the powder highlights, & I decided to wait a little while. I finally made the choice to spring for the dual panned Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal highlight, part of the Killawatt powder highlights the brand has (along with their cream shimmer sticks). I was worried it would be too chalky or glittery, because the arm swatch wasn’t that promising – but I was desperate. I’d finally run out of my Anastasia Glow Kit in Gleam, which was what I used for two years. It was cool-toned, it was luminous, it was finely milled…it was perfect. Then Anastasia decided to make it limited edition, & I never had a chance to pick up a second before they were gone for good. From what I could see, Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal was close enough to be a combination of the shades Crushed Pearl & Starburst from the Gleam kit: my two favorite shades to combine, & a highlight that could be blindingly bright or just perfectly natural, depending on how much I layered. It didn’t look muddy or dirty on my cool-toned, fair skin – & this Fenty highlight seemed to have the same undertones that the combination of those two Anastasia highlights had. I heard they applied better on the face than when swatched, so I decided that if I didn’t like it, I could return it the next day.

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Don’t let the pan fool you; this is a glowy highlight, not a glittery one. I promise.

I love it. I love it; it’s almost identical to the finish of the Gleam kit – though I will say that Gleam will always hold a special place in my heart. Still, the highlight lived up to the reviews. It didn’t swatch well on the arm, but it applied beautifully on the face. I tried it layered with a cream highlight underneath for a truly blinding effect; it looked more natural when just used by itself.

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See this shine on my cheekbones? Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal combo. No sparkle – just glow.

To close the case: I’ve found my “natural” higlight. It’s one that I can use without worrying that it won’t go with my eye look or my lipstick; it’s one that I can build up to look super dramatic (in a natural way); it’s one that I can use day in & day out without having to worry about whether it’ll be limited edition. Fenty Beauty is here to stay, & so is this highlight. Stay it will.

There you have it! My top ten makeup items of 2017. I tried to keep it as interesting as possible – but I also tried to be most honest about what I used most. I think I nailed it as well as I could. Tell me your top ten (or just top one) makeup product of 2017! I’d love to hear it. Maybe it’ll inspire me to bring something new into 2018.

Stay tuned for another #TopTen very soon. Until then!

Love,

Sofia ❤

#TopTenSeries: Top Ten Skincare Items of 2017

Hello, friends! Welcome to the end of 2017. I’m going to spare all of you the sentimental words, because I think there’s a time & place for that; right now isn’t the time. Right now, let me talk about my top tens.

My “#TopTenSeries,” as I’m calling it, is a collection of my…top ten ____ of 2017; an article for each category, if you will. In this post, you’ll see skincare. Next up, I have some makeup. Then: top albums, top songs…a few other cool things, too. These things will be either made/released in 2017, or heavily used/listened to in 2017. Basically, I’ll try to keep everything as “new” as possible. We don’t need to hear about the five products that I’m currently loving that have been on shelves for 5+ years…however:

I didn’t know much about skin care until late 2016/early 2017. 2017 was the year that I started nailing down a routine that worked (& still does work) best for my skin. Some of these products will not be brand new, because I didn’t always need the latest & greatest to make my skin look better. I made more of an effort to include makeup brand new to 2017, albums made in 2017, songs made in 2017, etc. Skin care is my one exception to this rule. If something has truly switched up my style, my music taste, etc., I will take care to mention it, even if it’s not made right in 2017. Don’t worry, though – I’ll stick to this year as much as possible!

I’ll churn out as much (quality) content as I can these next few weeks. Then, I’m off: back to school again. I’m incredibly excited to do this once again. You can rest assured that I’ll keep writing on here, but the type of content I write might change a little. Maybe more personal pieces/creative nonfiction pieces, which is what I’m choosing to focus my cognate on my last few years of undergrad.

You’ll come to see what’s next – & I’m not even quite sure what’s next myself – but for now, here’s my #TopTenSeries. These are in chronological order, not in the order of “most to least favorite” – for me to choose favorites in this list would be tortorous, truly. I hope you enjoy it

1. Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

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Glossier hinted & hinted last holiday season that they had something special for us in January 2017; we were not let down. Priming Moisturizer Rich was Glossier’s first new product release of 2017…& it remains one of my favorite Glossier products of all time. A cult favorite – as in, “I use this every day” kind of cult favorite.

In the dry winter months, I’ll wear PMR (as it’s affectionately nicknamed) twice a day. Glossier has a seeecret “Anti-Redness Complex” & an “Oxygenating Agent” which are the base ingredients of PMR. Add some murumuru & shea butters, lavender (one of my favorite, most relaxing scents in the world), red algea complex, & a few other things, & you have a rich – super rich – face cream that isnt greasy, cuts redness, & wears well by itself or under makeup.

I’m constantly asked to dupe PMR, & the true answer is that I really can’t. The texture, scent, & effect it gives my face is unique – that’s why I continue to fill & refill (& refill) my jars. It’s coming into 2018 with me without a doubt – probably 2019, too. Try to find a more luxurious-feeling face cream for less money than PMR…you can’t. Give this a go; you won’t regret it. Good for dry skin (obviously) & oily skin alike…everything in between, as well. Like I said, this is a daily staple for me – it’s a twice-daily staple for me in the cold dry months, but even in the humid hot summers, I can’t completely let go of PMR.

2. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

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This was the first Drunk Elephant product I ever tried. It was the beginning of 2017, I was at a hotel, staying the night because I had some hospital testing in another city, & I’d stopped at a Sephora on the way in to get some samples. When you’re bored in a hotel room, there’s nothing better than trying out the free samples that Sephora employees angrily dole out (seriously, why are they angry when giving you samples? Asking for a friend).

Anyways – thanks to Into The Gloss, I’d heard a lot of buzz about the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, & I was seeing the #millennialpink packaging on every top shelf I came across on Instagram. I had a few friends who assured me it was worth it, but I was still skeptical. Babyfacial isn’t cheap – as a brand, Drunk Elephant isn’t cheap – so I decided to get a sample, try it out once or twice, then make my call.

I’ll admit: I was scared to give this a go. The words “Drunk Elephant’s dream team blend of glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric, and salicylic acids” in the product description had me shaking in my shoes. I hadn’t really tried chemical exfoliants before; I was of the (false) opinion that chemical exfoliants would dry out my face & only hurt my skin. In retrospect, I couldn’t have been more off the mark: chemical exfoliants are actually gentler on my face than physical ones (ex: sugar scrub masks, etc.).

I took my tiny sample of Babyfacial, braced myself for the tingle that I was warned I would feel, & started applying. Yes. It burned…but only for about 20 seconds. After that, I felt a slight tingle or two, but nothing major. I didn’t feel as though my skin was peeling off my face. I left it on for 10 minutes, which is recommended if you’re using it for the first time (especially if you have sensitive skin).

Immediately after I took it off, I sighed to myself, because I knew that I’d be buying it for real. My skin did actually feel baby-soft. I showed my mother. I showed my friends. I told the Internet. I told the man passing me by on the street. My skin hadn’t felt this soft in forever – & within a few days, I noticed that my skin looked smoother & brighter, too.

Long story short: it took me a little less than a year to use up one full-size “jar” of Babyfacial. Was it worth it? Yes. Did it change the way I treat my skin? Yes! I focus more on chemical exfoliants, especially AHA/BHA products, like Babyfacial – & Drunk Elephant Framboos serum, which you’ll read about below.

Are there cheaper options/cheaper AHA/BHA products? Absolutely! Try The Ordinary’s AHA peel, aka “the vampire facial.” It’ll run you less than $10, & it gives off a similar effect. I’ve tried a few different “peels,” “masques,” & “facials,” trying to dupe Babyfacial…but the truth is, this one stands on its own. If you want something cheaper, there are many options out there – but if you want the overnight results, Drunk Elephant is the way to go. A good way to spend some Christmas/holiday $$$. Trust me on this one.

3. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

IMG_9946Another product that wasn’t developed in 2017 – but a product that changed my life in 2017.

If you’d told me that I’d be religiously using this serum last year, I’d have laughed in your face, & said that no product this expensive was truly worth it.

Well, I’m crawling back now in shame to admit that I was wrong. This product completely switched up my skincare routine. It made my skin clearer, brighter, & it even made my routine shorter. This serum doubled as several things; suddenly, I didn’t need three serums to make a clarifying concoction. This one just did it all.

I use one pump a day – or evening, since it’s a night serum – focusing on the areas of my skin that aren’t too dry – this is an AHA/BHA product, so it’s no good to put it on dry areas of your skin (they’ll just get more irritated). Treat your skin gently – but don’t be afraid of this serum, even if you have dry skin. Coming from someone with extremely dry sensitive skin: this will not kill you. In fact, it’ll revive you.

The AHA/BHA blend is incredible: you have glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric, and salicylic acids, all blended with raspberry extract (hence the name “Framboos”). This cocktail of acids sounds overwhelming, but it is not. The balance is perfect. It won’t burn your face off; just prepare for a slight tingling if you have sensitive skin, like me. There’s no odor or color to the product. You’ll feel a slight tackiness, but that fades after you’ve put on a cream – plus, the effects of the serum are worth any tackiness you might have on application.

Drunk Elephant says: “This high-tech gel resurfaces dull skin, lifting dead skin cells away by gently dissolving the glue that holds them to the surface. The results are greater clarity and a smoother, more even-looking complexion.” I couldn’t say it better myself. Drunk Elephant doesn’t need to overcompensate while describing its products…simply because they always work – hands-down. The product description of Framboos on Sephora’s site doesn’t quite do this serum justice, but it comes pretty close. Without a doubt – worth your time & money.

4. Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay

IMG_9299.jpegI don’t usually expect my mother to introduce me to skincare products that will become staples on my top shelf – but this is exactly how I came to discover the Origins Rose Clay mask…a mask that I now admittedly cannot live without.

It was another hotel room stay. My mama suggested we do face masks, to relieve the anxiety I was feeling about the next day’s doctor appointment. I didn’t have any in my travel skincare bag, but she had a little 200 point Sephora sample of the Origins Rose Clay mask. I tried it out. I took it off, & I saw softer, smoother skin that had absolutely no redness – even around the areas of my face that are most prone to redness. I felt clean, detoxed, but not dry. Just super soft, clean, & nourished. I saw the sample was still available, so I snapped it up that evening when refilling a sheet mask I needed. By the time I’d squeezed the sample tube empty, I knew that it was time to go full size.

I’ve been through one full tube of the rose clay mask now, & I have another one (one-quarter empty) sitting on my top shelf, staring at me right now. I just did it last night.

This is a clay mask that I feel safe using even in the driest, coldest months of winter. The Mediterranean rose clay & Canadian willow herb are soothing & reduce redness, while the small jojoba beads give the mask its signature exfoliating texture – but don’t worry, it won’t rip your skin apart. Delicately swirl the product across your face with warm water when removing, & the jojoba beads will gently exfoliate without leaving any microabrasions.

It’s a deep cleanse; takes the garbage out of your skin & leaves behind refined pores, super-soft skin, & absolutely no redness – anywhere. It’s a mask that detoxes my face in the stickiest, most humid months of summer – & it’s just great for fall & spring, too. It’s a year-round must-have for me, & it’ll stay this way. That was just the beginning of my love affair with Origins; there are so many products I adore from that brand now…but this one has a special, special place in my heart. Thank you to my mother for putting me on to this one (but I’m still taking the credits for putting her onto Drunk Elephant, okay? Okay!).

5. CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser 

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Ever since I discovered Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser, I was strictly a fan of non-foaming cleansers. After evaluating my routine several times, it wasn’t too difficult to figure out that my skin dried out every single time I switched from a non-foaming to a foaming cleanser.

I was skeptical of CLĒ Cosmetics’ Oxygen Foam Cleanser because of this – in fact, I’d specifically ordered their Melting Cleanser instead, which is a non-foaming cleanser. They happened to include several sample packets of their Oxygen Foam Cleanser. When I was out of town for one night, I grabbed this packet, figuring that one night wouldn’t hurt.

It didn’t – it actually helped. I was in awe of my skin within half an hour of using the cleanser. I applied it as directed: massaging it into my dry skin with circular motions of my fingertips. Wait 30 seconds, & the gooey liquid turns into a foam – it bubbles up on your skin, kind of like the pop rocks of skin care.

Why’s this one work so well for me? I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t question it too much. it quickly oxygenates and forms bubbles, helping to produce collage and elastin to give skin a soft, healthy and youthful appearance. The first time I used it, I gently rinsed off my face, patted it dry, & looked in the mirror (side note: you can also simply wipe this off with a warm damp towel). My brows shot up. The sensitive, red areas around my nose were gone. My pores looked tighter. My face looked bouncier. All that…& not a sign of dryness.

I haven’t fooled around much with other foaming cleansers since then – the other two I’ve tried dry out my skin, too. If you like that bubbly, foaming sensation but do not like the way your skin responds to it afterwards, this is a great product. It’s a foam cleanser that somehow is also incredibly brightening & hydrating. Again – I won’t question it too much. I just keep an extra bottle (or two) on my top shelf. Besides Milky Jelly Cleanser, it’s the cleanser I use most.

If you want a lighter review on the cleanser, check out what I wrote on CLĒ’s blog right here!

6. Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

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This was new to Sephora this year, & it was abuzz on YouTube in the spring & summer. Every single dry-lipped YouTuber was raving about it: so much product, so effective, good for day or night. It wasn’t expensive, either. After seeing 3+ of my favorite, trusted beauty bloggers sing the praises of Laneige’s Lip Mask, I decided to check it out. At the time, it was online-only – I couldn’t check it out in-store, & where I’m currently located, there still are not any Laneige products at my local Sephora stores. Sad.

Anyways…I took the leap, made the order, & applied it the night it arrived.

Sephora says that the special Laneige “Berry Mix Complex™ offers a nutritiously sweet and fragrant blend of raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, and blueberry extracts,” while the “exclusive Moisture Wrap™ technology boasts hyaluronic acid and minerals to form a protective film over the lips to lock in moisture and active ingredients.” Basically: this lip mask’s formula has an antioxidant blend of “superfoods” that hydrate the lips & strengthen them, too.

I appreciated the way the mask was packed: it has a gloss-like texture (& can be worn as a “glossy balm” during the day to complete a makeup look) & is packaged in a jar. It is not solid; the jar comes with a little spatula (complete with its own little envelope case) that you scoop product out of & apply to the lips – like a lip gloss wand. I liked the sanitary way in which the mask was packaged, & found the texture to be super rich, glossy, & hydrating. Unlike many glossy-ish lip products, this texture didn’t draw moisture out of my lips…it felt like it was sucking moisture in. I struggle with perpetually dry lips – but I woke up with smooth, soft, supple lips.

Now, whenever I feel my lips getting dry again, I usually realize that it’s because I’ve forgotten to apply the lip mask before bedtime. The Lip Sleeping Mask has sat comfortably on my bedside table since I got it, & I reach for it every single evening. Sometimes, I might even wake up to apply it a second time. If you’re a fellow sandpaper lips, give this a go. You probably will feel as though your lips are a part of your face for the first time in what may have felt like forever. Also great to wear while doing your makeup, if you’re prepping your lips for a liquid lip/pencil/drying lipstick. A good, effective, cheap product to have around – & I’ve been using this almost nightly since July & am not halfway through it yet. I apply librally, by the way. Don’t worry. This will work, & it’ll last you forever to boot.

7. Kypris Antioxidant Dew

IMG_7315.jpgI was conflicted about including this product, but the last few days is what pushed me to include the Antioxidant Dew in my top ten.

This past summer, Kypris sent me a very generous box of gifts, including their famous Antioxidant Dew. I was skeptical, because the product looked so lightweight. I put three drops on my face in my morning routine (following toner, before applying serum) & by the afternoon, I could see my face looked brighter. It felt softer. I had little to no texture on my forehead.

I took a break from the Antioxidant Dew these past two months. I tried to dupe it with another product, after a lot of research into botanicals, & which ones would be best for my skin.

After 3+ weeks of testing this product…I tried a few drops of Kypris Antioxidant Dew two days ago, after not using it for nearly a month. By that evening, I could see – no texture, clearer skin, softer skin…it really had made a big difference in my routine.

Kypris is not a cheap brand – & I made that clear in my brand review. I did say, however, that if I had to pick one product to keep purchasing myself, it would be the Antioxidant Dew. After trying it out the whole summer, taking a break to try a dupe or two, & seeing the quick & incredible improvement my skin made in the last two days after starting to use it again, I’ll say it again: this one is worth it. Spend $10 on your toners, spend $18 on your cleansers (hi, Milky Jelly – hi, Thayers Witch Hazel)…but Kypris Antioxidant Dew is worth every single dollar. Oh – & also, less is truly more with this product. Three drops is all I use. Just once a day. The bottle should last you 6 months at least. If that’s not another selling point, I don’t know what is. I’ll probably cry a little when I have to refill, but I still have a ways to go. Three drops a day = enough, which = good skin, which = me not having to buy it too often that it’ll hurt.

8. Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner

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“Your skin will think you’re at a Spa,” is the selling phrase on this product’s description page.

Thayers’ toners have been around forever, & they’re no secret to the beauty world; I’d go so far to call them a cult favorite. For whatever reason, I refused to try them. Don’t ask me why. I stuck to my Mario Badescu Facial Spray & just shrugged off my friends’ suggestions to try the (cheaper) Thayers toner. I think it had something to do with the fact that I felt odd putting product on a cotton pad & then applying it to my face. I finally broke in October when I was picking up a prescription at Target & saw a bottle of the Lavender toner. It’s no secret: lavender is probably my favorite scent, & it’s very soothing on my skin. I decided that it would be $11 either well-spent or wasted, but either way, I wasn’t throwing a huge amount of money at a product. I went for it.

Since then, Thayers has released spray bottle versions of their toner – but I’m actually more than happy with the cotton pad method at this point. I “upgraded” my cotton pads (I use the Shiseido ones; they’re worth it – trust me. Just don’t remove your makeup with them. I think that’s a waste) & my skin has been brighter, softer, & clearer since I started using Thayers Lavender. I’m not sure if I’ll try another…scent? Flavor? Whatever you want to call it – I don’t know. I’m not even halfway through my bottle right now, & I use it twice a day. Thank you to Into The Gloss, probably ten of my friends, & all the comments on Instagram urging me to “go for it.” I’m glad I did.

9. Jade Roller 

IMG_7492.jpeg“What’s that green thing?” is probably the most asked question when I’m doing my skincare on Instagram live. I’ve been asked this so many times, in fact, that I wrote a post about jade rollers…called “What’s That Green Thing?” I know; very funny.

Jade rollers aren’t new to the market; they’ve been used for thousands of years – especially in China (where they originated). They’ve broken the mainstream market, thanks to brands like GingerChi, Herbivore Botanicals, & good old Amazon.com. There are even different colored jade rollers now – & now, you can get rose quartz facial rollers, too. Fancy fancy.

Basically, it doesn’t really matter how expensive your roller is. You can get one for $200, sure – you can also get one for $10. The end result will be the same! Vogue says: “This Chinese skincare tool will cool, tighten, & de-puff your face in seconds.” That’s partly because of jade’s ability to stay cool for long periods of time – & even after it’s been warmed up by the heat of your face, set it down for a second, & it’ll cool down to its original temperature (stick it in your fridge for an extra dose of cool).

Jade rollers are tools that assist lymphatic massage: they reduce inflammation by moving – & improving – your skin’s circulation. This means that it’ll eliminate toxins (less breakouts!), tighten the pores (make your skin look younger & more lifted!),  improve blood circulation, elasticity of the skin, & reduce puffiness. For me, that’s especially helpful around my under-eye area. I use the smaller end of my jade roller to gently massage my under-eyes. Although my dark circles are still present, I don’t mind the look of them – I just want to get rid of the puffiness that my on-&-off insomnia gifts me.

All-in-all, it’s a super relaxing tool that you can use morning & evening. For a spa-like treatment, use a facial oil on your face before going in with the roller. It’ll massage all the good ingredients of whichever oil you choose deep into your skin, resulting in healthier, plumper, tighter, & brighter skin. This was a big win for me in 2017!

Check out some jade rollers here – Herbivore Botanicals & GingerChi both have high-quality double-ended ones, if you’re trying to target large & small areas of your face…but Amazon has the $10 ones that work just as well. Trust me – I’ve tried both.

Glossier Body Hero Duo 

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Is this skin care? I don’t know, but I have to say: this was one of Glossier’s 2017 releases that I thought I could live without. After refilling both the cream & the oil wash, I take it all back.

What I love most about the duo is its amazing fragrance, shared by both the Daily Oil Wash & the Daily Perfecting Cream: the “Orange Blossm Neroli Blend,” which is light, but very herbal. I think it’s unisex, & I like the scent of it a lot – a solid perfume of this fragrance would be incredible.

The Oil Wash is probably my favorite between the two – surprising, since I fully expected the cream to be my favorite. I like the Oil Wash because it’s so unique to any other body soap/wash I’ve ever tried. The Oil Wash has 0% water in it; it’s made up of seven oils, which turn into a creamy lather when rubbed into the skin. They attract grime, then melt it away. Thanks to the 0% water, the pH levels of this wash are great, too – so you can use it anywhere on your body without worrying about imbalancing your skin. I suffer from perpetually dry elbows, but this wash helped eradicate that problem. Usually, when I step out the shower, I need to frantically apply moisturizer. My skin will feel dry & cold if I don’t. After using Daily Oil Wash, I step out of the shower feeling super clean – but already very hydrated. That’s because of the lack of detergents in the wash; I step out feeling like I already have a protective hydrating layer over my skin. You’d think that’d be an oily, unpleasant sensation, but it’s not. My skin just feels baby-soft & pampered, even before I’ve applied the cream. Oh – & the stuff is so good, I use it as a shampoo, too (shh). I know…I barely have any hair, but I need a moisturized, well-scented head anyways, okay? Okay.

As for the cream – I can only describe it as though someone decided to put a few drops of those beautiful illuminating CoverFX drops into the body cream, then blended it together. The result is a super glowy, dewy lotion that smells delicious (like its sister) & looks like you have a healthy, magical sheen on your skin. I especially love the way it looks on my neck, collarbones, & shoulders. The consistency is super rich, which I love. It’s a great cream for the cold months, but it’s not sticky or greasy, so it’ll work for the warmer months too. I decided to include this because I was truly surprised at how good it was – I didn’t think this would be one of my favorite Glossier releases of the year. But hey, we all learn something new every day.

That’s all for now, babies! Tell me your top ten skincare items in the comments – or just one, if you wish. Or none at all. Stay tuned for some makeup, music, & other cool top tens. 

Love,

Sofia