#I’mWearing: How I Did This Look

It all started with an Instagram live. I’d just gotten some new makeup & was fooling around with old things, so I decided to go on live & do a look that people wanted to see.

This ended in my friends encouraging (aka: yelling in caps) & teaching me how to actually contour – & giving suggestions that turned out to be one of the most fun looks I’ve done in forever.

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The completed #look

Let’s be clear; we all know my makeup style. That’s extremely light-handed face makeup (cc cream etc), some good highlight, & a pretty lip or eye. I don’t really go all out; I’ve never been into cut creases (they look odd on me) & the whole Instagram-style makeup doesn’t appeal to me – which means that I don’t enjoy contouring my cheekbones & highlighting/setting my undereyes with concealer then powder.

Basically – I don’t like a full face of makeup, & I usually only wear a complete one when I have an important event. Other times, I just feel like it. This was one of those times.

I started my look pretty simple, but once I pulled out the Fenty Beauty Killawatt Highlighter in Trophy Wife, everyone got a little bit excited – including me. This ended up in a glitter moustache on my cupid’s bow, super defined cheekbones, delicate, glossy lips, & a simple eye look that just boosted the green – my actual eye color. 

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Is this over the top? Absolutely. It’d look beautifully hilarious in the day time. But – in that moment, I felt like I was about to step on a runway for fashion week. I definitely would wear it for a fancy night out. Or…who knows! Maybe one day I’ll change my mind & wear it in the day time. Who cares what people think, right?

After I posted a few photos of my completed look, I got some people asking what I used on my face. So – with no further ado, here are the products I used to get the finished look. Mini reviews & photos included, of course. Side note: I usually love “photographing” (I use my iPhone) in direct sunlight. Golden hour is my favorite time of the day. Still – I decided to go a bit different this time. This is a very “lux” look, & everything looks shinier & more lux with some flash, surrounded by fluffy fleece. Okay. Let’s do this!

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The full line-up (with some pretty decorations)

Okay, this looks like a lot – but once I start breaking it down, I think you’ll find it quite simple. This doesn’t require a steady hand & it most certainly doesn’t require perfection. My brows are messy in the close-up of my eye. Who cares? It still is a beautiful look. Plus – I secretly love undone brows, anyway.

Primer

I actually didn’t use a primer that day. I was wearing my moisturizer that I’d applied in the morning. That was the Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre ; if you want more information on that product, it’s right here in my September Favorites post. If you don’t have the time or desire, though, here’s a bit of a rundown: it’s very similar to the Glossier Priming Moisturizer (original) but the packaging claims that it’s a leave-on mask, a makeup primer, & a moisturizer. I figured I’d be just fine using this base. I was right!

Face Makeup

I still wanted to keep my face looking natural. My skin was quite clear that day, so I didn’t even really feel like using a CC cream for coverage; that’s when I turned to the CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion.

This is one of my favorite face makeup products of all time!!! 1) it has an amazing amount of sun protection 2) it is sheer but buildable; it makes it easy to simultaneously look natural yet have some coverage 3) it is incredibly dewy – not in a sweaty, greasy way; just a from-within glow that looks beautiful. I use it in the shade Light, which is the lightest shade. It looks a lot darker in the “pan” (cushion) than it does on the face; that’s because the pigment of the cushion is fully saturated when in its case.

It comes with a tiny applicator sponge-like contraption, which is cute, fits inside the compact, & relatively easy to use – but I wasn’t getting the exact finish I wanted when I initially used it, so I decided to try my well-trusted foundation brush on the product: that’s the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. It was the first foundation brush I owned, & it is still doing its fair share of work. I make sure to clean it often (obviously) but this is truly one of the sturdiest brushes I’ve ever owned. It’s less than $10, you can find it at any ULTA Beauty (& lots of drugstores, too) & I promise you that it’ll last you for a long time & a good time.

How do I use this brush while applying the Essence Air Cushion? I just open the compact, remove the applicator from the compact, & gently press my brush into the sponge. I buff some into my skin, then repeat until I get the coverage/finish I’m looking for that day. Easy as pie!

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A trusty pair of friends
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Though it looks much darker in the pan, this is closer to what the Essence Air Cushion looks like on the face

Contour

never contour. Ever. I don’t think I’m good at it, & I don’t think it looks good on me. This one time, however, I was convinced. I had one bronzer lying around; it was the Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer in Baked. I decided to go for it, & (with guidance) lightly drew that famous “3 shape” on the sides of my face & on my jawline.

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The highlight is a cream stick, so it melts very nicely into the skin. Milk claims that their “Milk Makeup Milk Melt Technology” is what makes the contour stick so creamy & blendable – but not greasy. That’s their “secret” ingredient; some other main ingredients are mango, peach, & avocado extracts – these are all hydrating & nourishing fruits, so I can see why they were used in a product like this.

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I used my Real Techniques brush – the same one I used for my Essence Air Cushion – to blend everything out. The result? Surprisingly amazing. It amped up the glam just a little – I didn’t even use that much – & made my cheekbones pop, which is perfect for a situation in which you’re trying to make your highlight stand out as much as possible.

Milk Makeup also has a darker Matte Broner shade, called Blaze – described as “a deep bronze.” Although I’m very fair, this contour is definitely buildable. I can see this being used for fair to medium skintones. I’m glad Milk Makeup came out with a second option for deeper skin. The shade Baked will not be an option for everyone, due to the pure nature of contouring , but I can’t say anything about it – I haven’t spotted it in store at Sephora, so I haven’t gotten the chance to even swatch it. I can’t say for sure.

I still won’t contour on the regular, but if I ever feel like doing it for a special occasion, now I know how – & the product I happened to have worked perfectly.

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I did a bit of spot-concealing with the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer in Light; that was really about it. On to the more exciting parts.

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I’m happy – I promise 

Eyes

I primed my eyelids with Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion – just the original one. I didn’t feel compelled to photograph that because…well, everyone’s seen it, & it doesn’t look particularly interesting. It’s a good primer; the only eye one I’ve been able to use without my eyelids feeling dry/getting patchy eye makeup by the end I finish my look.

After I primed, I went into the palette I knew I would be using – the Tarte Tartelette In Bloom Clay Eyeshadow Palette. This is a really nice palette for everyone to have, in my opinion. There are 12 shadows; 10 are matte, two are shimmer. It’s a great palette to use when you want something simple but multi-demensional. All of the mattes work amazingly well by themselves; they also work with each other very well. The shimmer ones are lovely, but the mattes are what makes this palette so good.

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I started off by lightly dusting some of the lightest shadow, called Charmer, all around my eye area. This set the primer I’d applied & was a precaution to make sure everything would stay smooth & even.

After evening out my eye area, I softly buffed Sweetheart & Rebel onto my lid & blended it up into my crease. I added a bit of dimension by lightly tapping the shimmery shade Firecracker (described as “a bronze copper”) on the lid area, too. I went on my lower lashline with Sweetheart & Rebel as well. Finally, I deepened the look a tiny bit more by blending the dark shades Smoke Show & Activist together, then gently buffing it into the outer corner of my eyelid, dragging it down to give an eyeliner effect on my lower lash line. This was the perfect amount of smoky for me – I already knew that my highlight would be very over-the-top, but I tried my best to make a simple yet smoldering look that would compliment my highlight – not out-shine it.

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Finally, I used one of my newest products: Fenty Beauty Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick in Blonde, described as a “glimmering gold.” If you want some more details on the consistency of the product, check out my Fenty Beauty review here – otherwise, let’s talk about how I used it for this particular look.

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I rubbed some of the stick onto the back of my hand, then gently but firmly pressed it into the top of my eyelids & in the inner corners of my eyes (there was something else under that, but I’ll get to it in a minute). The result? Glimmering, extremely intense eyes that weren’t over the top on the smokinesss – but perfect with the amount of glitter. The Blonde Skinstick was then set aside, & Trophy Wife herself came out to play – also on the eyelids & the inner corners. Best of all: I used it as an under-eye eyeliner. I’ve seen some people using it as a pigment – blending a little of the powder with some face gloss & using it as an eyeliner – but I’m not that talented, so I just ran it under my lower lash line with a tiny, tiny pencil brush.

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Staring at myself (& my beautiful highlight compact)

I finished off with the L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara – it’s one I heard a lot of hype for. Some told me it was a dupe for Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara; others swore that it was a dupe for Dior Diorshow Mascara. I was curious when I heard the Diorshow Mascara being mentioned; it’s my holy grail mascara & I wanted to know – would L’Oreal deliver?

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It definitely looks like the Better Than Sex packaging

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My full thoughts you can read here in my September favorites – but my quick review is that it’s good, but not amazing. I still think Diorshow sits way higher – which is good, because it’s a lot more expensive! I’d call this a combination of Diorshow & Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara (which I love). I don’t love this – but I don’t hate it. It looks good, it’s available practically everywhere, & it’s cheap.

I curled my lashes with my Kevyn Aucoin The Eyelash Curler; if I do wear mascara, I’ll always curl my lashes. This one is gentle, doesn’t tug on my lashes, & I don’t worry my lashes will be cut off every time I use it. Obviously, the wand of the curler can be used as any normal one; it can also be used upside down to curl your bottom lashes, which is unique – never used it like that, but again, never say never.

The result? Over-the-top perfection.

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Just checking on the state of my eyes

Finally, I used Glossier Boy Brow in Clear; as you can see, my brows are thick & messy right now. I’m okay with that – don’t get me wrong! But if I were to put Boy Brow in Brown on my brows right now, it would probably look too much; they’re already dark enough. The clear boy brow gives that same fluffy feel that keeps everything in place (yet doesn’t feel crunchy or stiff) & the consistency while applying is the same, too. Can’t recommend this enough for people with thick, dark brows who want just a bit of help with keeping brows in place!

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A better look at the satiny look of the product. It’s true, the bronzer is matte – there’s no glitter or shimmer to be seen – but it’s so creamy that it’s hard to call it matte. It doesn’t slide around, though. Don’t worry

Highlight

The true fun part of this look; the part I enjoyed most!

My highlighting hack is: if you truly want to have a blinding highlight that doesn’t fade, feels creamy yet stays on firmly, you need to first apply a liquid/cream, then a powder highlight. & that is exactly what I did for this look.

I started off with CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Moonlighter Cushion in the shade Gleaming Buff; it’s a gorgeous gold-toned shade that isn’t too dark – but is not too light, either (check out the swatches in my review here). Although it comes in a cushion, it definitely behaves as a liquid or cream highlighter would. This is beautiful by itself; it’s even more beautiful when I want an intense strobing effect. My “secret” (I am 99% sure it’s not a secret) is to first apply a cream or liquid highlight, then layer a powder over. That’s what I did for this look – but we’ll get to the powder in a minute.

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The Essence Moonlighter Cushion looks just like the Essence Air Cushion; it’s just a bit lighter & less chunky in your hand
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I know – it looks like a bronzer in the pan. Don’t worry. Like I mentioned, this is just a super concenterated sponge & the product is sheer! (Swatches)

The Essence Air cushion comes with an applicator just like this one – only bigger – & I don’t use that applicator for that product. Like I showed you above, I dip my brush into the cushion. I have found that these are best applied using the cushion CLĒ includes in the compact. It’s smaller, so you can easily move in a C-shape, from cheekbones to upper temple. You won’t miss any spots, but you won’t mess anything up, either – the applicator just works very well for this!

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This highlight has enough gold in it to flatter the golden look I was going for; that also means that it’ll work very nicely on warmer undertoned complexions. Since the product is so sheer, I think that these could be used on all skin tones. Sheer but buildable, golden but not too golden, hydrating, & elegant.

HERE SHE IS! The famous: Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Trophy Wife.

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I know it’s with the flash on, but trust me: this is just as beautiful in person as it is on camera. Yes – I was worried it would look dirty on me; in my review here you’ll see that’s not the case, & it fits very well with the Moonlighter Cushion; it built upon the highlight “base” that the CLĒ product provided, then finished me off with a glamorous, glittery (yes, it is glittery) highlight. It felt (& looked) amazing. Of course, I also applied this on my inner corners of my eyes, tip of my nose, chin, etc. I used the Glossier Wowder Brush – I really like this brush…even more than the powder! It’s fluffy, it’s sturdy, & no bristles have fallen out since I started using it. I’ve used it for the Glossier Wowder itself (of course) but it works beautifully as a highlight brush – especially for a look like this, where I really spread my highlight up my temple. Perfect.

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Glitter in my hair, too – honestly…good!

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Now – obviously, this isn’t an every day look. I wouldn’t put this much work into a quick outing to the grocery story – I was just having fun & seeing what I could do with Trophy Wife (as well as the other Fenty Beauty products I have). Trust me: it does a lot. I’m not even finished yet!

Lips 

For my lips, I used just a touch of MAC Spice Lip Pencil in Spice, which I’ve had for over a year now. It’s still not run out! That’s why it won’t be pictured – it’s too ugly (& well-loved) to photograph gracefully.

Then, I finished off with the Fenty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer – of course! How could I not?

“Universal lip luminizer” is code for lip gloss – & I’ve been wearing this gloss a lot. I think it’s incredible. It manages to look not only amazing, both in the tube & on the lips – but amazingly different on every single person I’ve seen wearing it.

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In the tube, it fits the description very well: “a shimmering rose nude.” The doe-foot applicator is nicely shaped & holds a lot of product; I only need to swipe once or twice – never needed to dip my wand back in for more. It smells amazing – very fruity, but in a nice way; it’s not “chemical-smelling” & it fades gracefully, too. For those worried about it being scented: don’t be! It fades quickly, I haven’t seen anyone say it’s unpleasant (although if you’re allergic to scents, that’s another story) & the effect you get is well worth whatever you may perceieve the scent to be – I’m lucky, & I like the scent as well as the gloss! Win win.

It’s extremely hydrating, not too glittery – you get enough of sparkle to make your lips pop but not enough to make individual pieces of glitter stand out. It does not claim to have a plumping effect, but I don’t ever overline my lips, & this gloss looked like it was plumping my lips. No sting or burn like a Buxom Lip Cream (for a comparison) – just a pretty enhancement to my natural lips.

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Then, just for fun – because why not! – I went ham on my cupid’s bow; I used my very thin pencil brush to outline the dip of my cupid’s bow, then slightly extended the line down my lip line. The result was a powerful cupid’s bow highlight (obviously) & lended a sort of “editorial” or “high fashion” vibe to the look. I loved it. It felt super fancy! Even though I wasn’t going somewhere, it was a fun thing to do & a good idea to try; I might very well go out like this some time soon.

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The finished look!

&…that’s all, folks! Although it looks very fancy, I didn’t need much to make it happen – I had a dramatic highlight, decided to make that the focal point of my “look” – & yes, I contoured, & I didn’t die. I actually looked kind of okay!

  • Top – Urban Outfitters
  • Earrings – Maria Black Jewelry 
  • Necklace(s) – Ventrone Chronicles 

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Would you like to see me do some other looks? Feel free to pop in your requests – I like going out of my comfort zone from time to time. In the meantime, here’s a gif of me looking like an alien, thanks to Kirakira+

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Shout what you’d like to see next below!

Love,

Sof ❤

Have Highlighters Leveled Up? A Look At “Cushion Highlights”

Cushion….highlight?

We’ve heard all the hype (& seen all the YouTube ads) about cushion foundations; more specifically: L’Oréal’s LumiCushion Foundation. Big beauty sights like Into the Gloss & Byrdie, as well as publications like Allure – famous for their “Best Of Beauty” – raved about the product. Cushion foundations were in, it seemed.

When I first heard about cushion foundations, I was confused – & a bit disgusted. It seemed as though it would be dirty. It’s not – not any more than applying with a brush or fingers – but that was my first impression. I never really got around to trying one, since I wasn’t on board with the whole idea. I didn’t use any kind of cushion product until I tried CLĒ Cosmetic’s Essence Air Cushion (which I love). That definitely converted me! I do believe it has something to do with the dewy, sheer-to-buildable coverage it gives (love some dew). Not every cushion foundation is like this. Plus – the CLĒ one isn’t really a foundation; it’s more like a CC cream (hello SPF!) made into a cushion formula.

CLĒ Cosmetics certainly didn’t come up with the idea of cushion foundations/face makeup products. However – once they started teasing their Fall 2017 collection on Instagram, I started to wonder if they had concocted something never seen before. What was that?

Essence Moonlighter Cushions – $30 

It was clear from swatches on Instagram stories that this product was a highlight; the product’s name makes it quite clear, too. I was extremely intrigued – CLĒ is one of my favorite brands when we’re talking face products, since all their products have a dewy finish + plenty of SPF – both very welcome on my face!

So – since I liked the Essence Air Cushion so much…would I like the Moonlighter Cushion just as much? I waited in excitement for the collection to drop – & was won over by a lip powder in Plum Medium. Then, CLĒ was kind (WONDERFUL!) enough to send me two shades they thought would be friendly for my skin tone.

Here I am today, with some results – & photos – for you! Let’s get to it.

When I realized that the Moonlighter Cushion would be in a…cushion form, I immediately Googled “highlighter cushion.” I only came up with one (aside from various random Amazon ones that are mostly sold out) & that was Wet & Wild’s MegaCushion Highlight – which looks amazing, but is marked “LIMITED EDITION!” It won’t be here for a long time.

So! These Moonlighter Cushions are a kind of niche product; something different that really hasn’t been talked about much – ever. Is CLĒ a few steps ahead of the game? It’s very possible – after swatching (& wearing) the cushions, I’m a fan.

What exactly is a Moonlighter Cushion? In CLĒ’s words, it “provides a lustrous shine equivalent to that of moonlight glistening on water. Infused with soothing and nourishing ingredients such as calamine, pearl extract, and moisturizing essence, our Moonlighter Cushion highlights desired areas with a silky smooth and illuminating finish.”

Let me just start off by saying that if any product has a gem extract in it, I immediately must have it (prime example: Glossier’s precious-stone highlights: Haloscope). CLĒ’s product description brings the expectations to a whole new level. “Moonlight glistening on water” is pretty specific, after all.

To me, this sounded a bit like Glossier Haloscope – just in a cushion formula. Both have gemstone extracts; both are hydrating & meant to improve skin during its wear time; both have that natural-except-a-little-more-please sheen to them. If we’re talking formulas – absolutely 100% difference, of course. But the sheen that the Moonlighter Cushions gave on swatches (& on my cheeks) was very similar to that of Glossier’s Haloscope.

I like this kind of highlight, because it’s multi-purpose. First of all, it can be used by itself for a quick way to amp up a 5-minute face. Due to its creamy texture, it can be set with a powder highlight – that’s what I do when I want my cheekbones to truly blind people.

How to apply this Moonlighter Cushion, though? Glossier’s is in a stick, so it’s pretty obvious how to put that on – just swipe! Surprisingly, CLĒ’s instructions aren’t that different. There’s a little applicator that comes in the cushion: “Use the applicator puff provided, fingertips, or makeup brush and apply the cushion highlighter to the high points of the face— cheekbones, above the brow area, tip of the nose, forehead, and chin, or use on eyelids or lips for added glow. Blend gently for a smooth, luminous finish.”

Essentially – we’re given free reign! I would say this goes along with the other CLĒ products I’ve tried. Their lip powders can be used on the eyelids as a dramatic shadow – as well as on the cheeks for a blush stain. Their CCC Cream can be worn alone – or combined with several products. I personally like to use the Essence Air Cushion using a foundation brush instead of the applicator. The finish is still flawless – the product is great, no matter how you apply it. I’m always pleased to see brands giving their customers more free reign with the product. Sometimes, someone can’t afford the special brush that the product simply will not work without! That’s not CLĒ’s style. All of the CLĒ products I’ve used have been used in a multi-purpose way; I figured it’d be the same with these.

I recieved two shades: Glinting Buff & Apricot Tinge. They both looked quite dark in the cushion – way darker than a foundation for me, let alone a highlight! I didn’t panic, though – the Essence Air Cushion behaves in a similar way. I assume this is because all of the product is saturated in that one small sponge.

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Right away, I noticed that the compacts were very sturdy; they’re just a tiny bit smaller/shorter than the Essence Air Cushion compacts. They also have a built-in mirror – as well as the applicator sponge!

FullSizeRender.jpg-40IMG_4276.JPGTo call these highlighters “travel-friendly” is an understatement. For those who prefer cream highlights to powders, but don’t like flying with liquids: this is a great option. & for all of those at home: this is a great option. It’s just a good product, period. But we’ll get to that in a moment. First: shades.

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Glinting Buff & Apricot Tinge 

Glinting Buff

I’d describe Glinting Buff as a soft gold with a pearly shift. I think it’ll be pretty universal – it’s quite gold, which is almost always a great go-to for medium-deep skin tones. The pearly, neutral-cool undertone makes it friendly for fairer skin, too. I’ll be wearing this one by itself – &, when I want to amp things up, I’ll dust a little of Fenty Beauty’s Trophy Wife Killawatt on top. Just because!

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Extremely dark in the sponge, as you can see – just a glowy pale gold when swatched or patted on to the cheekbones

This isn’t usually my go-to highlight shade, because most gold-based highlights are too dark for my skin. This one, however, is sheer to buildable. I can have a slight hint of golden glow with a light hand; a glittery gold cheekbone with a heavy one.

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Tiiiiinnyyy sparkles – that’s what makes this so friendly for your work day as well as your night-time fun. It’s glowy enough with a sheer layer; it can really catch some eyes when built up

This one I won’t be wearing quite as often as Apricot Tinge (you’ll see why in a minute) but if you have cool undertones & struggle to find a golden highlight that doesn’t look odd (no matter what skin tone you are) this is a great option. It’s neutral yet theatrical; you get to choose how much to put on; you get to choose how much to build. It’s for the timid & the bold! Seriously, though – it’s very versatile. Golden enough for people with warmer undertones to feel comfortable wearing it; pearly enough for people with cooler undertones to feel comfortable wearing it. No matter how you wear it, you’ll have fun with it.

Apricot Tinge 

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Concentrated pigment – again! Notice the pink sheen & a few white reflects

I’d describe Apricot Tinge as a pearly-pink champagne. It has pink undertones for sure! It’s the kind of highlight I automatically reach for. My fair skin likes pink or cool-toned highlights the best – okay, Fenty Trophy Wife is an exception. Still – I reach more often for the pink/cool highlights as a general rule, just because I am 99% sure I will prefer that one to another shade option.

Back to the actual point of this post! Apricot Tinge is basically a very nice, dewy, pearly highlight that can gently be built up to a stronger one.

On days when I feel like doing a dramatic makeup “thing,” I’ll layer a cream highlight with a powder highlight on top – to catch every ray of light bouncing off my cheekbones BAM! An android-like glow that somehow is appropriate for a daily look. I feel like Apricot Tinge would be amazing for that kind of look; it would serve as a cream-like product, yet set differently. It also looks beautiful by itself. I’m a fan – but I already knew that going in, because 1) CLĒ Cosmetics hasn’t let me down yet 2) it’s just a very “me” shade, you know? Yeah! Here’s some side by side swatches:

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Glinting Buff on the left; Apricot Tinge on the right. Each swatch was one swipe!
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A different angle – feels like cream; sets down beautifully into a product that could be (from this swatch, at least) either a stick highlight or a powder

Sensation of applying the product? I’d compare it to applying a cushion foundation product. It felt similar to CLĒ’s Essence Air Cushions: cool on the skin when first applied with a hydrating consistency that lasts. I’d even say it stayed on longer than Glossier’s Haloscope. The cream-liquid product is hydrating, but the way it sets into your skin is much more…user-friendly, if you will. It doesn’t feel drying, but it stays put once it’s been patted into place. It does fade, of course, but it fades gracefully. I couldn’t see any patchiness, even after a day of wear.

Don’t feel afraid to experiment with these – they’re very fun to play with! Dip a brush into one! Use your included applicator! Use your fingertips! However you use it, it’ll end up looking good – & glowy.

I don’t know anyone with oily skin who’s tried this product yet (these didn’t launch that long ago), but as someone with dry skin, I can certainly say it’s hydrating enough. At the same time, the Moonlighter Cushions set very well onto my skin. The glow moves with my skin, but it stays where it’s supposed to. That – to me – is a sign that it wouldn’t slide off oily skin. Also remember: CLĒ has some great “Lip Powders” – pigmented powder inside a little tube that melts when in contact of body heat, & leaves a long-lasting color. Their experience with this kind of powder product is further proof that this is friendly for all skin types!

I can say with no hesitation that Moonlight Cushion will become a product used very often. It feels good on my skin, it lasts all day, it illuminates my face but doesn’t emphasize texture. It can be used on the eyelids or brow bones, the nose, the cupid’s bow…basically, it’s an amazing cream highlight that isn’t quite a cream. Neither is it a powder. Do we need a name? Call it what you like! I’m calling it “amazing” because that’s what I said after I first swatched then wore the two shades I was sent.

CLĒ’s Moonlighter Cushion comes in one more shade: Copper Rose. If you go on CLĒ’s Instagram, you’ll see swatches; it’s a beautiful sheer, pink highlight. It’s quite pink – I like that, because it can provide a nice, warm highlight for deeper skin tones, & a shimmery blush or dramatic highlight for fairer ones. Again – very versatile. I’m tempted to get that one myself…& I probably will. They really are good.

So: no, CLĒ Cosmetics didn’t invent the concept of a cushion highlighter – but they’re the first brand I’ve seen (besides that one Wet & Wild product) that has one. Scratch that – they have three! I’m curious to see how other brands may catch on. Maybe cushion highlights are the new black. I’m cool with that, as long as they look as good as CLĒ’s Moonlighter Cushions.

Have any of you tried the Moonlighter Cushions? Are any of you planning on getting one? Let! Me! Know! I want to hear your thoughts, too.

Until next time!

Love,

Sof ❤

NEVER HIT SKIP: The Albums That Are Too Good To Skip Through…Yes, Even That One Song.

It’s diary time! I wasn’t sure what to write about for a while; I have, however, recently made a playlist of some of my favorite albums: albums that I cannot bear to hit “skip” on. Do I not like singles? Or just one song? No, of course I do! But – liking a whole album in its entirety is a special thing, I think. I’m a big fan of albums that I can listen to from bottom to top, backwards & forwards, through & through & through. To me, it’s the ultimate sign that I will never stop listening to ___ album; that I’ll associate it with important events or people. These albums, in their entirety, provide a rush of emotion & color.

Some other contributing factors? Well, I have synesthesia, though it’s not crazy powerful. I can’t see colors in front of my eyes when I hear a single note, but I associate colors & textures with certain songs, pieces, or albums. If I hear a song, piece, or album & immediately start strongly associating it with various colors, moods, textures, color scales, etc., I know that I’ve found an album that speaks very strongly to me. Same goes with crying, believe it or not – oftentimes, I think one of the best signs that an album is a good one is that it prompts emotion. I’m all about music being an emotional outlet, & I listen to all types. They all provide me with relief, joy, happiness, melancholy…anything that I am feeling, I can find some music that helps me put a soundtrack to my life, no matter how happy or sad it is in that moment.

I listen to all types of music – a lot of classical, really. Makes sense, given my music background, but if I shared a top ten list of classical albums that I like & told you why, you’d be still reading, 12 hours later. It would take forever, & that’s what I use my musicology classes for. However – if you’re interested in getting some classical recs, don’t be afraid to hit me up on my socials! (Instagram, Twitter

Here I present: The Top Ten Albums I Can’t Hit Skip On (& Why) ***in no particular order. Also: here’s my Spotify. Feel free to follow me, check out my playlists, or do both! Or…do none. ALSO: I’ll be putting a few personal photos after each mini review of each album. Some will be photos of me listening to ____ album while doing something; some will be photos of things I associate with ___ album. Enjoy!!!!!!!

Some Nights – fun. 

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I was quite young when this album came out. I remember being at Interlochen Arts Academy Summer Music Camp as a violin student & going to “mixers” (you know the deal) & hearing the song “We Are Young (ft. Janelle Monae.” That’s when I first started associating it with positive events in my life. I continued on to hear the whole album. When I left Interlochen, heartbroken, (as one is after summer camp) the sadder songs served as emotional outlets. The fast-paced ones let me go on long bike rides. It was one of the first pop albums I listened to through & through – & I cried more than once. Okay, maybe I still do…but remember: tears while listening to or playing music are okay!

My favorites? Well…”We Are Young” of course. I adore the “Some Nights – Intro,” & how it seamlessly melds into Some Nights, the song itself. There’s an incredible amount of emotion bottled up in both those songs – both extraordinary opposites when it comes to style, but lyrically, almost identical. “Out On The Town – Bonus Track” is another favorite. One of those melancholy breakup songs you can cry to.

As a whole, this album incorporates a lot of different instruments & sounds, as well as featuring other artists. It works as an album, & all the songs work by themselves, too. It’s emotional, exposed, & I fondly think back to my 15 year old self when I turn it up loud once & a while.

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15-year-old Sofia was a strange bird.

808s & Heartbreak – Kanye West 

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Obsessed with everything surrounding 808s & Heartbreak – did you know that the cover art was designed by Virgil Abloh (designer, DJ, & founder of fashion label Off-White), Willo Perron (a disciplinary director & designer)  & drawn by pop artist Kaws? The album also heavily features the Roland-TR 808 drum machine – hence the inclusion of “808s.” What Kanye didn’t know until he’d already figured out the album’s name, however, was that Hawaii’s area code is 808 – & the Avex Recording Studio in Honolulu, Hawaii is where Kanye recorded the majority of this album.

Everyone fights me on this – but I truly do think that 808s is Kanye’s best album. Again – lots of raw, pent-up emotion. Kanye, for the first time, actually sang…but used auto-tune. This provides a somewhat distant, robotic effect while contrasting with the emotional lyrics & melancholy background music. It’s eerie in the best way possible. My favorites are…all of them, really. “Say You Will” & “Paranoid” are almost complete opposites, but I love the lyrics & drive behind both of them. My favorite, of course, is “RoboCop” – I don’t know what it is about this song, but it speaks to me. It’s very colorful – lots of neon lights, blue lights, disco balls…that kind of a mood. “Pinocchio Story (Freestyle Live)” is also a great one: it truly is a live performance; there are cracks & dips in Kanye’s voice, & screaming fans sometimes make the lyrics hard to hear. Some are annoyed by it. I, however, love it. It reminds me of the sensation of performing; what it’s like to perform at your most raw in front of huge crowds. It’s an adrenaline rush, & it’s bitter-sweet.

I hadn’t heard this album until around November of last year (2016). I was going through a rough emotional time & there were a lot of lonesome listening sessions with this album in my ears. It brings back a lot of bitter memories, with a tang of sweetness. It’s funny how sometimes, frightening & overwhelming things can happen to you…but they turn into an elaborate memory, reflecting feelings, smells, foods, & so many more things that you thought of or consumed or felt at that time. So: I’ll say it once, & I will say it twice – I’ll say it 100 times if I must. 808s & Heartbreak is Kanye West’s greatest album.

Pure Heroine – Lorde 

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Okay. My obession with Lorde started when I heard her first song on the radio, late sophomore year of high school. That song, of course, was “Royals” – I looked up the music vidoe & was struck by this tiny, intense, curly-haired girl with a stare that could kill. The super minimalistic visuals of the video intrigued me, too. Lorde was mysterious, & so was her album – Pure Heroine is a teenager’s album, filled with an assurance, a sense of command, confidence, & times of freedom – & frustration. Her lyrics are rich. There is so much to dive in when looking at Pure Heroine. I dove in, alright. People started telling me I looked like Lorde: greeny-blue eyes, fair skiny, bushy, long hair…I embraced it & started putting on purple lipstick (the cheapest one I could find; a dark violet Revlon lipstick from my grocery shop’s cosmetic aisle), fluffing up my hair by letting it air-dry, wearing black, & developing a resting bitch face. I owe it to Lorde for people telling me I seem scary – I also owe her for helping me win my music school auditions. Songs like “Bravado,” “Tennis Court,” & “Swingin Party” helped me remember that I was worth something – they also allowed me to let my stress & emotions wash through me, rather than consume me. It was the soundtrack on airplanes, car rides – everywhere I went. I had finally found someone who was a “pop star” that I could identify with. She was human, she was odd, she danced weird. She didn’t care – & people loved her for that. Lorde was one of the best musical discoveries of my teenage years – no two ways about it.

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Yup – I dressed as Lorde for Halloween when I was 16. My proudest high school accomplishment? Winning “best celebrity lookalike” & being compared to Lorde. An exciting Moment In History.

Harry Styles – Harry Styles

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Need I say more? I am what they’d call “a Harrie” – meaning, Harry Styles was my favorite One Direction member. I followed 1D’s every move when they were touring & recording – when I got sick, I asked to meet them through Make A Wish…& when I (most luckily) got the chance to do so, I ran straight to Harry. I have a tattoo on me that he drew for me. His fashion is something that truly inspires & encourages me to develop my own style. His kindness & love for the LGBT community is something I hold close to my heart, too.

As you might be able to tell: I’m a big fan, yes. Yes – of course I went to see Dunkirk! (It was good just as a film, too. Don’t worry) Of course I bought his album. Of course I’ll be seeing him on tour next year! 

But, seriously. I was extraordinarily excited for Harry’s solo album. I wanted to hear more of his individual vocals & lyricism – & oh boy, did I get both! Some of the album sounds like classic British pop or rock. Others, like “Carolina” (which is about me, by the way…I’m Townes), are a bit of a tongue-in-cheek country song; “Woman” is an odd yet satisfying experience. Nothing can beat that quack noise in the background (but really, it’s a lovely song). I especially feel close to “From The Dining Table.” The lyrics are simple, but it feels like Harry is very up close to the mic – I almost get ASMR tingles when I listen to the song with the volume up. The subtle harmonies that actually do reach a climax contribute both to the delicacy & the power the song has. As for “Kiwi,” well…need I say it? HAVING YOUR BABY!!! NONE OF YOUR BUSINES-

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Taken while listening to “Two Ghosts.”
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Taken while playing “Woman” – look! I have hair!
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On my IG: taken while listening to “From The Dining Table”

Depression Cherry – Beach House 

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Now…who doesn’t love some Beach House? Yes, some of their songs kind of do sound the same after a while (with some excellent exceptions), but the focus on background music playing just as large (if not larger) a role as the vocalists is extremely striking. Definitely a great album to listen to when crying. The lyrics can be hard to hear at times; the music can really get that loud & sometimes words are slurred for effect. If you really want the real deal, look up the lyrics before bed, then turn off your lights & have some melancholy me time.

This sounds like I’m bashing the album – I swear I’m not! Each of these songs is special to me. Another great album I was listening to through my tough time in November. “Space Song” is on every aesthetic Instgram video ever, but that doesn’t make it not good – I’m still not annoyed! I would say that my two favorites are “Levitation” & “10:37.” In “Levitation,” strings give texture & urgency to the line, while the gentle vocals allow the listener to lay back. The lyrcis are beautiful, but can be hard to hear, like I said. In “10:37,” the gentle but steady drum beat(s) provide comfort & safety; the vocals contribute to it. It’s a warm, gentle song – a beautiful experience.

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Back at home for Christmas break was my prime time for Depression Cherry… 
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….& even before I left, the dark days & oddly glowing sunsets of winter, coupled with my blue mood…made Depression Cherry a soundtrack of my life at that moment in time.

Blonde – Frank Ocean

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The album that made me want to die my hair this color (I’m only kidding a tiny, tiny bit)

Well – of course! I was first sucked into the Frank Ocean hype when “Super Rich Kids” was everywhere – but it’s been years, & we’d all been clamoring for the next album. It even became a meme. The wait was worth it, though: all of these songs boast a variety of styles & effects. In “Nikes,” for example, Frank’s voice is sped up. It heavily contrasts with “Futura Free,” in which Frank sings in his natural voice about how lucky he has been – but also about how hard he has worked, & how he & his family deserve what he’s gotten thanks to the talent he possesses. “Be Yourself,” a track simply consisting of a recorded voicemail message from someone’s mother, calling her child at a university. The mother is telling her child not to “do that cocaine” or marijuana, & warns the child about “weedheads” & the danger of alcohol. Of course – substance abuse is always going to be a “thing” for parents talking to their children…& yes, you should be careful with what you put in your body. In this context, however, the 1:29 track is simply a humorous interlude to some more intense tracks.

Overall, Blonde was worth the wait – truly! It combines angst with humor; rapid sequences of lyrics along with one or two words repeated for a single track. There’s something for everyone in this album – & all of it is for me.

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September 2016 – last year, basically. I even played Blonde in my elevator.

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ANTI – Rihanna 

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Oooh. Yes.

I’ll admit – it took me a full year to really get into ANTI. I didn’t understand the flow of the tracks at first…still, I kept coming back to it. In the end, Rih did not disappoint – when does she ever? Famous features like SZA & Drake pique the interest of other fan bases – & yes, the songs with those two are great. In fact, it’s how I found out about SZA. Songs like “Desperado,” “Needed Me,” “Pose,” & “Sex With Me” are some real anthems of empowerment; of the beauty of independence; of the marvel of self love. Meanwhile, tracks like “Love On The Brain” are for the tenderest of moments; it feels much older than it actually is. Then – what better song to listen to than “Kiss It Better” with your crush, just to give you that extra boost of confidence….? Try it.

It’s a good album. I’m very sorry it took me that long to appreciate. But now, I appreciate it with all my heart. That counts, right?

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The real hours of ANTI – adequately expressed in this sign in a restaurant.

Yeezus – Kanye West 

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I only knew about Kanye West from the Katy Perry song more than a few years back: “E.T.” Oh – I knew about & liked “Mercy,” but he only had a few verses in it; it was more of a collaboration type of deal.

I heard about the Yeezus album on – believe it or not – NPR. Yup! Fresh Air (an NPR show) didn’t interview Kanye, but they did play one song: “Bound 2.” That was the first song that I truly ever heard Kanye as a solo artist, not a collaborator. I was intrigued by the mixing of retro tracks with new verses by Kanye himself. I loved the cover art. I was…taken aback by the music video Kanye made with Kim Kardashian (I was still young…okay?). But most of all, I was intrigued. That’s when I really started getting into listening to beats of songs. Yeezus flows exquisitely well, in my opinion. There are some intense – almost horrifically intense – songs like “On Sight,” or “Black Skinhead.” There are others like “Hold My Liquor” – this song combines some of the melancholy heard on 808s with a heavy, sometimes screeching beat, along with aggressive yet emotionally expressive lyrics. I was intrigued at how “Bound 2” seemed to be a goodbye to the world; a hello to his wife (wait, were they married then?) & the children they would soon be having. I like to think of it as a great depiction of how meeting someone you truly end up loving makes you feel – normal things are beautiful. “Red cups on the lawn,” not telling your mom, speaking about infidelity as well as loyalty. It depicts a faulty yet loving relationship, in my opinion – sure, told from the standpoint of a man, but nevertheless, Kanye’s right – sometimes you don’t remember the day you first met; that’s okay. It’s also okay to write a song about it being okay.

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The days of Yeezus – especially “Bound 2” were in the Adirondack mountains, summer of 2015.

Mind of Mine – Zayn Malik 

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Zayn Malik has not been…the most politically correct these past few years, let us say. He was the rogue – left One Direction, broke all our hearts, & went out & got cozy with Gigi Hadid, reinvented the importance of Twitter celebrity feuds – & released an album that knocked me speechless.

No, I’m not a fan of all Zayn has said & done. But his album is objectively good – “Pillowtalk” was a great single – both visually & musically appealing. His track organization was meticulous; each song flows into the next – literally. Each song ends with the beginning of the next song. Like I’ve already said – I have a weakness for that kind of album style. Each & every song from the album is pleasant to listen to, but all together they are a journey.

“Pillowtalk” will always be iconic for me…but “dRuNk” (thank you, quirky type style), “INTERMISSION: fLoWer,” “BLUE,” “BRIGHT,” & “SHE DON’T LOVE ME” all touch me in different ways. It’s a good album to listen to when you’re in your feelings. Zayn’s been flying quite low since he dropped his album & did a promo tour…who knows what he’s up to? I certainly don’t – but I do know that Mind of Mine is an excellent album with a great flow.

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At arcades, blasting Mind of Mine.

Melodrama – Lorde 

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Okayyyyy. Another album I waited for as eagerly as I did Frank Ocean’s. No…that’s a lie. I waited even more eagerly for this one. Like I said – Lorde is someone I really identified with – I still do. I wondered if she would be able to capture the sensation of late teens & early adulthood. That was the night before she released “Green Light” as her first single. The next morning, I woke up feeling like I should go dance on top of a car, or a roof…a strange bathroom. It was different, it was new, but it was undoubtedly Lorde. It speaks volumes when an artist’s sound changes subtly yet powerfully. There was no major “rebranding” here – no new lifestyle, no drastic changes. Lorde – or Ella – grew up. She cut her hair, she didn’t wear purple lipstick as much. She went through a big breakup. She vomited outside house parties. She was living & dying – every night. I could identify with that – big time. Melodrama was this year’s summer album, & it’s an album I’ll associate with this specific time for the rest of my life.

As for favorites? When people ask me, I have no idea what to say. They’re all uniquely appealing, & at the end, it depends on what I feel like that day. Sometimes, “Hard Feelings/Loveless” is all my soul needs. Other days, I need to cry to “Liability.” Some days, I want to dance on a rock in the middle of a creek to “Green Light” – & yes, I did that the other day…all by myself. It’s what she would do, isn’t it?

Lorde gave me some real material here – coming-of-age, romanticizing normalities, being more open & vulnurable with those around you. Making closer friends, not trying to increase the volume of friends. Realizing that loneliness can be beautiful, & sometimes a walk (or dance) down your beach/sidewalk/street/nearby mountains all by yourself is exactly what you need.

Lorde cut her hair – so did I. We both experienced crushing life events over the past few years. So did all of you. Lorde’s writing is now infinitely approachable – who doesn’t feel like a liability at least once in a while? What college student can’t relate to “Perfect Places” even in a small way? Why wouldn’t you want to feel dangerous & beautiful by turning up “Sober?” Don’t forget about Supercut – it’s raw, it’s real, it is infinitely emotional.

I was lucky enough to have the money to buy tickets to see Lorde – or should I say…one ticket? That’s right! I’m going by myself, I’m sitting in the nosebleeds, & I wil dance my heart out. It has long been a dream to attend a Lorde concert; I was sad I didn’t have my shit together to do it last time she came around. This time, however, will be better. More songs…more to talk about. I can’t wait. & I love Melodrama. Did I say I love Melodrama?

That’s it for the diary – for now! Let me know via social – or the comments! – what kinds of personal entries you’d enjoy seeing. I love being inspired by you, & I love feedback! Also: tell me your top 10 “never hit skip” albums – or just one album. I’m always looking for new ones.

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5:30 a.m…..
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…9:30 p.m.
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A “Supercut”

Love,

Sof ❤

Illness Is Not A “Fetish,” My Illness Has A “Fetish” For Me: Looking At the “Fetish” Music Video By Selena Gomez – & How I Think It Relates To Chronic Illness

NOTE: Before I begin, I’d like to say that I am very well aware of the…lack of social awareness Selena Gomez has had (“all lives matter” statement & so on). I still think it’s important to hear this out. Selena Gomez may not be likable to you, to me, or anyone else; she may have offended you many times; she could be the worst friend or just bad at conversation. That does not, however, make her chronic illness go away. It furthers my point that chronically ill people are not your angels – chronically ill people have said & do say offensive things. They are not all “good.” They are all not “correct.” I think it’s important to acknowledge that. I hope that Selena’s illness has given her perspective on marginalized communities – because being chronically ill does make you part of one of those marginalized communities, like it or not. Regardless – I think this music video & her latest announcement carry a lot of weight. I hope it will inspire people to speak up about how they feel. I hope more celebrities will continue to open up about chronic illness. Chronic illness (invisible or not) is present everywhere. Either you are ill, or you know someone who is. This is not “rare.” This is common – yet it’s treated as though it has never been heard of. 

I wish every single day that more people will continue to learn more, & that chronically ill people will feel confident to speak up for themselves, about themselves, & share other things about themselves, too. Remember – we are not only our illnesses. One more side note: although Selena Gomez & I do not have he same illness, we both have “invisible illnesses.” I think that if you believe this music video has metaphorical significance to chronic illness, it’s quite relatable across the board – no matter what illness you have. For context (in case you didn’t already know) mine are Crohn’s Disease & inflammatory arthritis. This past summer, Selena Gomez released a cheeky single: “Fetish,” featuring Gucci Mane. Initially, there was a lyric video. It is focused only on Selena’s lips, in sparkly gloss. She smiles, bites her lips, & plays with her elegant, almond-shaped nails. It’s undeniably sexy.

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Selena’s Instagram, however, hinted that something else was coming – a project with Petra Collins. It was only right to assume that it’d be a full music video. The sneak peeks at the cinematography were…very different, let’s say, than the images provided for the lyric video. Selena looks somber; vague. She doesn’t look as though she’s completely aware of her surroundings. It’s misty. She looks as though she’s trying to find something she’s lost.

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I remember the day the video came out – I talked with a few friends about it. We admired the video as well as the photographs (also taken by Collins). My sick friends & I talked about how eerily relatable a lot of the video was. This was not your run-of-the-mill “sexy music video.” There are no bikinis. The almond-shaped manicure, if it is there, is not emphasized. Neither is lip gloss. There are scenes of Selena in a freezer. She looks robotic; it doesn’t seem as though she knows what is going on. She looks in the mirror; she sticks her tongue into an eyelash curler. She’s sprawled on the floor. Sometimes, her hair is soaking wet. There isn’t much smiling, but when there is, it’s eerie – it doesn’t seem to be from happiness.

Confusing, right? People had speculated that this song was about past relationships. After watching the actual video, I didn’t think so. Neither did my sick friends. We thought it was about the relationship between a sick person’s body & mind – & how it is a continuous push/pull, love/hate relationship. You do odd things & scary things. You don’t always know what is going on. You can come across as being scary, when in reality, you are trying to stay alive. Your normal is someone else’s nightmare.

This is in no way meant to glamorize illness. I don’t believe that was Selena’s intention, either, if my theory is correct…maybe I’m completely off the mark, but I don’t think that I am.

But why do I think that I’m right in assuming that Selena’s “Fetish” video is about her illness? Because of an Instagram post she made very recently:

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Selena’s fans have been speculating about her absence from the pop culture world. She hasn’t been promoting many of her new projects – she’s been recovering. From a kidney transplant.

When I saw this post, I had to sit back for a second. I truly do believe after seeing this that Selena’s song is about dealing with her illness. After sitting back for a while & tying my own experiences into what I took from the music video, I came up with this:

this past year i was VERY sick – whole sophomore year of university. i lost about 20 pounds. i was on chemo pills. at one point, i was having surgical procedures every 4 weeks. i woke up from one feeling like my throat was on fire; i couldn’t breathe. i was confused because the procedure had nothing to do with my throat. i asked the nurse why. she said that i was so thin, my heartrate scared the doctor. they were afraid i’d die on table. so they intubated me; hence the sore throat.

i remember being in my bathroom at school, on the floor at 3 a.m. sobbing, SCREAMING. once, my mama was afraid because i’d texted her that i wanted to die, but i fell asleep before i could tell her i was ok. she thought that i was dead. i woke up to the cops at my door.

i did very weird things with my body. i still do. i move & dance in odd ways. in march, i stared at my naked body in the mirror & i PUNCHED the right lower side of my abdomen. i punched hard. that’s where my disease originates. i secretly hoped something would rupture. i wanted to die.

i have memories of being zoned out on pain meds; listening to the doctor telling me that my disease had given me arthritis. i would no longer be able to be a violinist. it was this weird, hazy, dream-like state. sometimes i feel like i am still in it. my illness is still here, after all.

in this video, selena’s staring at herself in the mirror. she’s on the floor a LOT. she’s almost always inside/near a bathroom. she’s sick; she’s twisted, yes. she bites a lipstick; she puts her tongue in an eyelash curler just because. when your body is going to shit, your tongue doesn’t matter. who cares if you’re in a subzero freezer, eyelashes brittle, smile frozen, when it doesn’t matter in the end?

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you can try to push away illness out but it WILL come back. chronic illness has a fetish for your body. it will always be there, no matter what.

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i don’t know how to close this. i’m trying to say that this is a very raw perspective on chronic illness. it’s an ugly, twisted, experience. on the floor in a beautiful dress – that’s wet from a shower you were too weak to undress for. you can still throw a party, though – & you will be the life of it. 06-fetish

i read selena got a kidney transplant this summer. i cried. then i wrote this.

“Can’t see a point in blaming you/If I were you I’d do me too” is probably one of the most significant lyrics in the song (for me). Why?

First off, the song in no way glamorizes sickness or illness. We see Selena in despair, we see her in distress, we see her in pain. There is no implication – at all – that Selena’s “experience” inside this random house is enjoyable, glamorous, or, God forbid: “cute.”

However, those lyrics are the ultimate sarcastic laugh at one’s own illness – something I can relate to in some capacity. Of course you picked me, I think. Why wouldn’t you? That’s because the way I look today…I’d pick me, too.

I am sending my best wishes to Selena as she recovers. A transplant is a devastating shock to the body, & it is an extremely difficult thing to recover from – both physically & mentally.

However, Selena speaking so frankly about her illness (& transplant) brings me hope – hope that more celebrities will speak up about their illnesses. AS more celebrities speak up, more “ordinary” people will speak up. I have hope that chronic illness – invisible or otherwise – will become more widely discussed in the upcoming years. I want to be part of it. I am trying my very best to do so.

Love,

Sof ❤

Side note:

THIS IS IN NO WAY MEANT TO GLAMORIZE CHRONIC ILLNESS. As someone who has spent many nights on the floor of their bathroom, crying in pain…I promise you that. I don’t think this music video glamorizes it, either.

I am self-injecting the 4th dose of my medication this afternoon. My blood levels were dangerously high or low when I was on other medications. This one is seeming to do the trick. My blood has stabilized. I am working on gaining energy & weight. This will take time, but seeing public figures speak so frankly about their personal experiences with illness – no matter how small or severe! – helps remind me that I am not disgusting, weird, or odd for having what I have. I got a wild card. So did Selena – so did thousands…millions!!! of other people.

-S

Diary: I AM VERY SICK! & Now That I Have Your Attention – Please Read This! (No, It’s Not Clickbait)

Hello friends! This is just a short diary post & a quick life update.

I am still working! Still working hard at a “real” job. It is very hard; I’ve had some issues with fatigue & treating my hands properly. Since I am now arthritic, it doesn’t take much to get me into an arthritic flare. Usually, I am triggered by cold temperatures. Right now, my circulation in my hands is very bad because of the flare – the inflammation cuts circulation off to my fingers, so they look white or blue much of the time.

Why am I telling you this? For pity? Clickbait? No, definitely not. I’m trying to speak candidly about my illness(es) & raise awareness for them.

I just put out a few resources last night: here’s my YouTube video, titled “My Illness Is Not Your Inspiration!!!” Here’s a short introductory clip – click here to watch all of it. I really hope you do. Disabled or abled, young or old, I hope all of you can either learn something or feel like you can relate to what I am saying (here is a link to the full thing).

Have you heard of Hospital Glam? If not, you should check them out here (on Tumblr)

What is #HospitalGlam? According to the Tumblr:

“#HospitalGlam is a movement for and by people with invisible disabilities that started by appropriating fashion imagery and reinserting it into medical environments using bodies that don’t outwardly present as sick or disabled. #HospitalGlam is about contextualizing ourselves inside an often alienating environment in order to assert our rights as patients & better our treatments. By taking #HospitalGlam photos and posting them on social media, patients increase awareness in their communities and with doctors.”

I cannot emphasize how much#HospitalGlam has given me confidence even when I felt like I had none. It allows you to pretend to be confident. By pretending, you become more confident. This is something I truly believe. Here is something I wrote a while back, pertaining to #HospitalGlam:

“i have crohn’s disease & inflammatory arthritis. these illnesses have crushed some dreams & have ruined many a date/outing/even a vacation. i am not proud of my illness, but i am proud of how i have come to deal with it. every day is a learning process. i still cry many tears over it – i still get angry about the cards i was dealt. but if someone had told me two years ago that i would have shaved my head, dressed up in high-heeled boots & fancy sunglasses to go to a doctor’s appointment – then POSED in front of a chart of the digestive tract…i would have laughed in your face. this seems to be a common thing. the old me would have laughed at the thought of me even daring to do such a thing.

i am proud of the progress i have made – if not physically, then mentally. these are issues that will affect my personal life, my careers, my schooling, my relationships…for the rest of my life. i get joy & confidence for a moment when i make a “glam” pose in front of something that is so funny! no! crohn’s is not a “bathroom disease” – it is a serious, sometimes life-threatening one. some things are getting better, others are not. but my mind is healing, & every day, i learn more about myself, my illness, & how to deal with it. i am grateful for the friends & connections i have made. i am grateful to have a family that supports me. i am grateful to have gotten out of a situation with a manipulative doctor. i am heartbroken over a diagnosis i got over two years ago, but i am still grateful for what i have today. it has shaped me as a person. like it or not, i will give my disease that. for better or for worse, i have learned to be as unapologetic about myself & my illness as possible. & i love myself for it. thank you for creating a platform that inspired me to flaunt my beauty – because beauty is present…even in chronically ill or disabled people! how about that. much love.”

I hope you check out #HospitalGlam’s Tumblr! They are an amazing resouce for people with invisible illnesses. I also encourage abled peopel to take a peek. We can’t continue to raise awareness without abled people listening, learning, & sharing our experiences.

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Much love to all of you! I’m continuing to learn & I hope you are, too. Stay tuned for some posts containing my own writing – mostly pertaining to chronic illness, but also on other topics! Remember: I’m more than my illness & all that, yeah?

Also: check out the hashtag #DisabledAndCute on Twitter – it is filled with lovely photographs of chronically ill/disabled people showing off their beauty – whether in a hospital or out. It’s a great movement, & one I always talk about when I can.

 

I am trying to remain positive despite everything. September will be a hard month. I should be at school, but I am not. That sucks – but I’m making a great effort to make connections with people, meet new people, love new friends/people – & old. I know that I will come out of this a better person.

Have a lovely Friday (& stay tuned for Fenty Beauty reviews when my products arrive).

Love,

Sof ❤

P.S. Don’t call me strong 🙂 or inspirational 😉

P.P.S. I am trying to make more YouTube videos, but have no earthly idea of what topics I should cover. Suggestions appreciated!

August Favorites: Back To Basics

August has been a tremendous month! You can be sure to check out my diary section if you want more beautifully structured sentences & paragraphs on all that. It’s product time.

Okay. This past month, I’ve been trying to cut back on the variety of products I use. I tend to want to try the latest & greatest of everything; that often results in finding amazing products, yes! It also results in my skin getting confused – more & more, as time goes on. That is: I try so many new things that if my skin doesn’t like something new, it can take me forever to get the bad product out of my system, since I have to sift through so many other options.

This month, I made a few bigger splurges (& was gifted several others) that are, short-term, more expensive than serums/oils/other products I’d normally buy. However – if I was using less, I didn’t have to think about all the new things I’d be getting; I’d just be refilling my old favorites. I tried to cut back this past month. I think I was pretty successful! In doing so, I did go back to some old favorites, yes – but I couldn’t help but try one or two more new things. 

I’ll probably make a more detailed post on this to come – but yes, I’m trying to simplify my routine. Doesn’t mean I won’t have lots to say on here, don’t worry! I’m not going to stop trying new things. Skin can always look better (i my opinion) & I’m always open to new options. Over these past few months, especially after starting my site, I’ve learned that it’s just good to have some solid, staple products always in my back pocket – or my top shelf. 

Side note: not all of these products are skin care! As you may have heard, I’m working part-time this semester at my local Starbucks as a barista. I’ve fallen back to some old favorites & new discoveries in the makeup realm that are beautiful – & easy – to wear every day. Some are even drugstore options. I know! Okay, let’s do it. 

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

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My (heavily used) “tub” of FAB Cream

I talked about going back to basics – let me prove it with this old favorite. It’s been in my moisturizer pile since late November, when I was having a skin infection. I started using it because it’s fragrance-free, paraben-free, & sulfate-free. It’s described as “an all-over moisturizer that provides instant relief and long-term hydration for dry, distressed skin and eczema.”

I’d definitely agree with that. This cream was the perfect day cream for me during harsh winter months, especially during the ones that my face had a painful rash on it. I started using it again, though – as a day cream, in the summer, no less. I was curious: this product was supposed to be the end-all, be-all for sensitive, dry skin. Would it be just as good in the day, during a hot Midwestern summer?

Turns out: yes. The cream has the same texture as it does in the winter: whipped, moisturizing (but not greasy), no scent, no unpleasant stickiness after application. It sinks in seamlessly & leaves my skin feeling plump & fresh.

Let’s also talk about bang for your buck – this face cream sells for $30…for 6 fl oz. Six. Fluid. Ounces. That’s about three of whichever medium-end moisturizer you’re currently using is (probably). You get a lot of product. I have the $30 version; I’m not even close to finishing it, & it’s been around a while. If you’re someone prone to reactions with face creams – texture, acne, irritation, lack of proper hydration – I highly recommend this. I also recommend this to people looking for “nicer” skin care than one may find in a drugstore (don’t sneeze at the drugstore though…ever), but don’t want to pay $50 for a face cream. I don’t blame you. This will give you quality & quantity. How better to sell someone on a skin care product?

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Notice: the “whipped” texture of the Ultra Repair Cream

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Cleanser & Makeup Remover

Well…you could’ve given me less of a mouthful, Garnier. I’ll let it pass though – your micellar water is amazing.

I’d previously tried a L’Oreal micellar water, but I just wasn’t a fan. If we’re talking textures, they’re both obviously the same (or almost the same) but it feels like the Garnier water really gets off all that makeup; it’s great for removing stubborn mascara. The L’Oreal one couldn’t do that.

I don’t use this as a cleanser, although some do – & love it! I use this as a makeup remover. Few drops on a cotton square, gently wipe in circles all over the face, & bam! Clean, fresh face.

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The Garnier micellar water, with its cotton pad pals

LUSH Honey Lip Scrub 

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Oh, look! Another affordable product – one that is good, one that has a lot of quantity for its quality, & is named after some of the world’s hardest workers.

This is a great lip scrub – I have only had one other lip scrub from LUSH (it was the bubblegum one) & I really liked it. I just put LUSH off my radar for a while – big mistake. Anyway, once I started putting some products that contained honey into my routine – & seeing great results – I saw more honey-related products pop up on my IG discover feed. I found this little baby, went to sniff it in-store, & left with a big pot of lip scrub that smells like honey & mint.

I like this so much, it made my “Lip Balm Post” in the lip scrub category. My only complaint is that some of the sugar grains are big; if your lips are super chapped, you could scratch your lip. Other than that? Great scent, great, feel, great taste (yes, you can lick it off) & it plumps & softens lips. The formula? A castor sugar base, combined with “a lip-smacking combination of syrupy honey, creamy white chocolate and aromatic vanilla” as well as jojaba oil – this helps prep lips for a tint or lipstick! Oh, & like I said: cheap.

Also: at large, LUSH is also an incredible company to support at large. They’re 100% cruelty-free, very vegan-friendly, & make active efforts to work against deforestation & have a hand cream dedicated to making donations from each sale to various charities. Whatever your taste in scents, LUSH is a great place to shop, & has good principles – & product.

Can you tell I love this product?

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A closer peek at texture

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

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The Nightbright set – contains my first Framboos serum (the mini version)

I know, I know. You’re probably yelling “what are you doing buying a $90 serum???” Let me explain:

First off, I was iffy about the serum. I saw a lot people raving about it, but…it’s no cheap price, & I always ask myself – is it really worth it?

I decided to get the Nightbright mini set – a mini Framboos & a mini Marula Oil – to 1) have a mini-size that I can easily carry with me when travelling 2) see if the hype on the Framboos serum was worth it.

I started phasing the mini Framboos into my routine – it was when I had started to cut down on my skin care & figure out what I really, truly, needed. I know, sounds fake – but I figured that a clarifying serum would be nice; I have no serums specifically meant for nighttime. I thought it was unique/interesting enough of a product, yet not gimmicky. I’d be using it if I liked it. Like I said: I do like it – very much! As I started to turn down my routine a few notches, I began to use this. I noticed my skin getting brighter & smoother, as well as a bit cleare. The best effect I can say it gives (for me, at least) is a brightening effect. & I love that! The ingredients speak to the brightening claim; the serum has BHA/AHA 12% in it.

Let me be honest: In the back of my mind, I kept feeling like this wasn’t a good serum choice for me; I fully prepared myself for dryer skin, maybe some irritation or tingling, or a “skin purge” – aka, breakouts when using a new product.

Upon first applying it, I did feel a little tingling; no burning, though. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it irritating; I did see some reviews mentioning it felt uncomfortable when first applying it, but I myself didn’t experience. I was surprised – I’d expected some kind of irritation. Still – maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. One of Drunk Elephant’s claims is that they’re for all skin types, no matter which product of theirs you choose. That seems to be the case with this one! I’ve had different friends with various skin types tell me how good it was; I’ve now put my STAMP of approval on it, too! I’m a believer.

The first night I applied it, I took note of: scent (or lack thereof), texture, & sensation as I applied it to my face.

Thoughts: Framboos looks & feels like a cool water gel – & it feels like a cool water gel while being applied. The product itself has no scent (no DE products do) & it’s completely clear & transparent. Again: water gel vibes. After it’s been applied, the serum dries down a bit sticky. I don’t generally like that sensation – who does! – but the stickiness lasted about 5-10 minutes. By the time I apply moisturizer, the tackiness has gone away.

Conclusion: Is this product really that good? You probably already know what I think, but in case you don’t: the product is really that good. I wish I’d just gone to my local Sephora & gotten a sample of it instead of the Nightbright Duo. Why? Well, when I looked in the mirror the morning after I used this for the first time, I knew full size would be worth it. I know, sometimes the workers don’t like being asked for samples – especially when they’re asked by younger people for samples or expensive skin care products – but who cares? Spend less; it’ll be worth it!

But truly, conclusion: Brightening, retexturizing, & definitely, postitively worth it.

Side note: I’ll link a 20% off link for any DE products at the bottom of this post! That makes a $90 product a $72 product.

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Unopened…
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Open! I love the little twist-up, almost puzzle-like pumps on the DE serums. They’re cute! Even better, they’re hygienic.

Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen

I knowww. I know! There was & still is a lot of controversy about Glossier’s take on sunscreen. It may be hard for you to trust my judgement, but truly…truly! I stay honest. So! Here are my thoughts, both good & bad.

  1. Lightweight – sinks into the sink like water. Weren’t we just talking water-gel formulas?
  2. The lightness of the product makes it perfect for wearing under makeup. I’ve been using it as a cooling primer/sun protection all in one
  3. It smells great; very fresh & citrusy
  4. You don’t get a lot of bang for your buck. I wish the product was bigger. That was the thing that really did bring me down. At the same time, the other chemical sunscreen I want to try (Lagom one) is constantly sold out. I enjoye the non-stickiness/lack of white case to this product, & so I’ve refilled it. Until I can snatch up 10+ Lagom sunscreens, I’m sticking to this one. It’s been the most successful so far: no clogged pores, no stickiness, no gross smell.

The piece I wrote a few days ago (here) I incorporated Invisible Shield into my routine; both as a primer & as a sunscreen. Multi-purpose products! It doesn’ get more low-maintenaince than that.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

Another product that I have the right to scream about – because it’s good, but it’s also expensive. Kypris was super kind & sent me a box of goodies (check out my full review of the things they sent here). I liked all of them – I mean, if you’re paying more than $50 for a product you should expect nothing but the best, in my opinion.

This product, however, stood out. I’d had people tell me this was good, but I never really thought to get it. Drunk Elephant are the products I splurge on; I don’t really think to check out other high-end, indie brands.

Well, thank god I did! This is gold in a jar. I use two drops of it every morning, patted all over my face. It hydrates & restores vitality/radiance to the skin. Ocean extracts & herb antioxidents speak for the “Antioxidant”  in the product’s name. It also contains a lot of hydrating botanicals, as well as Vitamin C & Vitamin E.

I use mine after toning & before serums – Kypris advises to “use as a lightweight multi action moisturizer or as a potent layering piece in your skincare wardrobe.”

No residue, no scent, no stickiness. I felt tingly the first day I used it & my skin looked a bit flushed the next day. The next time I used it, however, I saw only positive results. Thanks to this beauty, my skin is brighter, dewier (“Dew”) & clearer than it was before. I said this in my review post, but I’ll say it again: If you’re going to buy one Kypris product, I suggest you go with this one.

Also: follow their Instagram; they’re into the moon (so am I) & post a lot of cool nature shots as well as product ones!

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An expensive product deserves bougie packaging. This takes the cake!

Aromatica Damask Rose Soothing Gel 100% 

I stumbled across this months ago while browsing low-price items on Peach & Lily’s site. I got it, simply because 1) it has rose in it 2) it was cheap as hell! $15 for 6 fl oz.

This is super cooling & refreshing. It smells of roses, but it’s not unpleasant or over powering. The scent fades in a moment, anyway.

So: what to do with it?

Well, I’ve used it many different ways. Peach & Lily says it can be used as a face/body moisturizer, but it’s way too lightweight for my skin to use only that as a moisturizer or cream. I do like to use it as a hydrating serum; one tiny press on the pump & you’ll get enough for your whole face.

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6 oz of soothing, rose-scented product

It’s just very soothing, very relaxing, & very cooling. I haven’t used it in forever, but I’m starting to use it now as a hydrating serum/emulsion-type product…& I like it!

For those who are allergic/sensitive to rose: there’s a great aloe vera version, too! Check it here.

Tonymoly I’m Real Red Wine Sheet Mask AND My Beauty Diary Black Pearl Mask

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If you’re looking for, let’s say: the one-night stand of skin care, these are your buddies. I’ve loved the Tonymoly masks for years. They’re all great! Lately, I’ve been loving this one especially. As you can see, it says “pore care.” That means that it reduces the appearance of pores or texture, & tightens/purifies skin. I’d agree! It’s a less-than-$5 facial, it works very well, & my skin always comes out looking plumper & smoother. & no, I don’t think it smells like red wine…at all! Doesn’t make it bad, though…so I’m not complaining.

As for the Beauty Diary mask, I’d ordered the Black Pearl ones up at university this past spring. They’re ridiculously cheap – less than $11 for a ten-pack – & they work! This claims to hydrate, fade dark spots, & scars. It contains actual pearl essence (!!!) which is mineral-rich & works to “rejuvenate” the skin; it also contains various botanicals like algae, yeast proteins, & lemon extracts. These hydrate & brighten…how about that!

This is the only line of masks I’ve gotten from Beauty Diary. There are a lot more options on Target’s site (& Amazon, of course). I’d forgotten about these Black Pearl ones – they were in the back of my bathroom drawer. When I pulled them out, I first squealed because I hate losing things. Then I put it on. I’m back on board! Reminder to self: buy more of these. They serve you well.

$2 mask that works? Can’t beat it.

O.R.G. Mineral Peel Face

I usually find “peeling gels” or “peeling liquids” to be a bit gimmicky. You’ll see skin coming off…but it’s usually not your skin at all – or it’s a very small part. It’s mostly your hands shedding skin. At least: that’s what I’d been told. I was admittedly skeptical when I received this, but I gave it a go.

Verdict? Best “peel” product I’ve ever had. I can actually see results. Who knows if the skin is coming off my hands or my face; the product works beatifully. It brightens, refreshes, & makes everything feel new & clean – squeaky clean.

Stay tuned for a mini review on this one! I’ll be focusing on this product – & this product only.

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Mario Badescu Whitening Mask

I find it funny that I was so “scared” to buy this mask for so long. It didn’t seem to be suited to my skin type – everyone was talking about it being an acne life-saver. Since I’m not really acne prone, I just shrugged my shoulders. But when I actually read the description on the Mario Badescu site, I saw the light: this is ” a skin-perfecting mask specially formulated to address discoloration and dehydration” & contains kojic acid, liquorice root, & mulberry extracts. These are all antioxidents that help prevent further discoloration; meanwhile, olive leaf extract & Vitamin E nourish the skin, & beeswax seals in moisture & important nutrients.

Because I was stupid & did no research, I was…really kind of missing out! I like how quick & easy it is; I like the results, & I have not (in the slightest) been dissatisfied with the result; nor have I been sucked dry of any existing moisture! I like this. A little goes a long way, so I’ll have it for a while. Best feeling ever, am I right?

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Origins Make A Difference™ Rejuvenating Hand Treatment

I’ve been trying to take better care of my hands. They were always dry & sore when I was playing violin (lotions mess up the speed with which you can play, since it’s slipper; they also can ruin the instrument’s varnish) but I decided to make a joke of it: now that I’ve lost my lifelong dream, I may as well have nice hands & nails. As for losing my dream: don’t worry…I will find another; I WILL!)

What was I saying? Yes! This is a great cream. I have a tiny travel size that’s not individually sold; however, Sephora has the full size.

This has a pleasant smell that doesn’t linger too long; I like to apply it when hands are still damp & wait for everything to sink in.

I love most of Origins’ products, as many of you may know, but I’d never expected a hand cream to feel so nice!

I’m still on the hunt for affordable hand creams, though – if you have recommendations, shoot me a shot in my DMs or in the comments below! For now, though, this one is working just fine. This winter, I will finally be able to apply hand lotion when I want to. Wow.

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Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Nail Treatment 

Okay. I thought Dior was upping their game thanks to all the versions of Diorshow that came out this past year. Turns up this particular product has been around since 1963. If it’s been there that long, it’s gotta be good, right?

Well…not always. But for this one, I’m right.

A little goes a long way, & it has a putty, sticky texture that fades into a balm once on the cuticle. I like using this with my hand lotion at night now; already, my cuticles look & feel softer.

It has a really pleasant smell – slightly apricot, yes, but not in a fake, peach-rings kind of way. It’s fruity, but also floral. It also fades quickly – not that it matters, because 1) I sleep with it on 2) the smell is pleasant anyway!

So far, so good. There are cheaper options out there wiht just plain old apricot oil (it’s a healing oil) but I’m going to be honest with you all: this is so dense in texture that I feel like I won’t need a refill until 2020. You really do need that little…& I love it.

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The classic “CD” initials against the circular, ivory background. So…so…pretty. A purse accessory, for sure.
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I love texture photos of skin care. This one is probably the best representation of how the treatment looks.

Essie Meet Me At Sunset Nail Polish

Essie’s shade “Clambake” was on the nails of every beauty blogger/influencer this past summer. For good reason: it’s the kind of orange-y red that looks good on all skin tones.

Unfortunately, Clambake got so popular that it’s virtually unavailable right now. Boo. No word as to whether that was a limited edition shade, but I found a pretty close dupe: also Essie, but this one’s called Meet Me At Sunset. It’s described as “a deep orange” on Essie’s site, but I’m going to politely disagree; it’s orange-red, & very close to Clambake’s color.

I usually don’t like bright red nails; there is something in this, however, that compliments every outfit I put together, looks elegant on my nails, & makes them look longer, too!

**Stay tuned on the nail treatment/polish/hand cream thing. I have an upcoming post!**

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I FOUND (a dupe of) CLAMBAKE 

CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion

I’ve spoken many times about CLĒ! They’re helpful, friendly, & their products really work. This is no exception. I know I’ve included their CCC Cream in a past monthly favorites, but I’ve been loving this more as of late.

It’s hard to describe the finish you get from this, but I’d call it dewy. You’ll get light to medium (at best) coverage with this product – if you want something with more coverage, try the CCC Cream.

Back to the finish. It’s super dewy & glowy. It works like a Snap filter for your face, except it stays all day. It’s buttery, it applies like a dream (comes with an applicator) & is super versatile. I can use this all over my face; I can also use it in the center of my face, blending out for a more casual, carefree look that still balances out my skin.

The initial price is steep, but worth in the long run. The actual “cushion” – that is, the compartment it comes in – is a one-time purchase. After you have your compartment, you’ll just get refills (if you choose to refill) – that costs significantly less.

The sun protection in this product is unreal. 50+ SPF! Wow!!!! & no sunscreen-y smell, no stickiness, no clogged pores. Just a very nice, very even finish with just enough dew. Great for those who want a little something – more than skin tint, less than foundation or BB/CC cream.

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The gleaming gold letters: CLĒ

Glossier Cloud Paint – Shade: Haze

I’ve been a big fan of Cloud Paint from the beginning! It’s extremely user-friendly; great for people who, like me, are scared of blush. I just don’t want to look like a clown…okay?!

No worries with these, though – even I, palest of pale, can apply a tiny dot & get the perfect dose of color. They work beatifully on medium & dark skin tones, too – just check Glossier’s page, where they demo cloud paint on several different models, with different skin tones.

Haze was the shade I thought I’d end up liking least. Wrong! Turns out, Beam (orange-coral) is my favorite, & Haze is my second. I find that funny, because I thought I’d prefer the other two. Surpises around every corner, am I right…

Down to business, though: I think this is going to be the perfect fall/winter shade. It’d look very cute with a gently smoked-out eye, or a lip stain or liner. It’s a nice, deep, berry color that somehow manages to make me look, well…good in blush!

If you’re scared of blush & trying to get out of your comfort zone, I think these are a great start. Haze will be an even more specific great start: you’ll be getting your fall colors on, while experimenting with a new product you may not have previously cared for!

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As the name suggests, Cloud Paint comes in “paint-like” tubes

Lancôme Monsier Big Mascara 

Never really thought much about Lancôme! They never had anything that really appealed to me, so I always stroll by that section when I’m at Sephora. I took the wrong turn – because Lancôme is, apparently, stepping up their game.

I recieved a mini of this Lancôme mascara with my August Glossybox – it’s just like Ipsy or other makeup subscription boxes – & I’m so glad it was sent my way, because this is truly a good mascara – coming from someone who doesn’t like wearing mascara!

The Monsieur Big Mascara was released earlier this year. I find it to be similar in effect to Dior’s Diorshow Mascara (original version); maybe a bit more volume at the roots. Still, they’re very similar.

I have no doubt this tube will last me a good time. I don’t know if I’d replace my Diorshow with this mascara as they’re similar in effect to me. However! I’m currently trying the other Diorshow dupe – the L’Oreal one – & maybe I’ll do a comparison after I’ve gotten some real wear out of the L’Oreal one & give my thoughts on each.

For now, though: it is a more-than-okay mascara. It’s even a great mascara! I really do like it; I’m glad Glossybox put me onto it. & don’t worry – if you don’t want a full size because it’s too pricy, buy the mini version (the one I got in my Glossybox) on Sephora’s site. It’s only $12!

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Black & pink packaging 

Glossier Wowder Brush

This brush is sold both as a separate item & also with the Wowder (powder) that it was designed for.

I got Wowder, & I like it! I just don’t like wearing powder all the time. This brush, however, can be used at any time of the day or night, for any look you please.

Call me stupid, but this is genuinely a good brush! I’d say it’s Sephora Brand quality (their brushes can get pricy) for about half as expensive. Deal, no?

I use this for my Wowder (duh), for highlights – & I also use it as a fluffy blending brush. However I choose to use it on a certain day, it always pulls through for me. I also like the case it comes in – good for travel, yes! Also: good for pencils. You’ll be the class Glossier Girl, pulling your pencils/pens out of your special, rectangular, #glossierpink brush case.

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A quick look at the back: sturdy, has a pretty sheen, & I like the idea of the “G” logo on the bottom, rather than stuck elsewhere
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Close-up of the actual brush! As you can see, it’s fluffy. I wouldn’t use it for blending out a foundation product, but otherwise, I’d say it’s good for pretty much else

NYX Dewy Finish Makeup Setting Spray

I remember trying a setting spray for the first time last year – it was my mama’s, & she was using the Urban Decay one. I tried it, decided it wasn’t worth it, & looked for cheaper alternatives; maybe a dupe.

What I found wasn’t a dupe – it was better than the more expensive product! When I feel like I want a setting spray, I use this. It keeps me looking hydrated & dewy; it has a nice spritzer, so product is evenly sprayed.

I love using this for long days, whether it be at work, a hospital, or just a day at class. I come home looking tired, yes – but my skin is still glowing. All that for $7.99. Save the money & get on NYX’s (excellent) take on one instead. For those who don’t like a dewy finish, NYX also carries a matte finish one.

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My (very cheap & very good) ride or die

Well…my fingers hurt from typing, & it’s probably time for me to go to bed. I hope you enjoyed my favorites this month! I’d love to hear yours, so feel free to let me know what you’ve been loving in the comments. 

Love (& happy September),

Sof ❤

Thinking about Drunk Elephant? Here’s 20% off any of their products. It makes the purchase less painful!

What’s With All The Water?

“I just drink water! Sometimes I splash my face with it, too; no soap!”

You know it: the answer models hand to hungry, fashion week reporters. & isn’t it frustrating.

Of course I wish that’s how my skin worked. I’m eternally glad (& yes, a bit jealous) that some people can just drink & splash some water & that’s that! “That,” however, is not me. & it’s probably not you, either – statistically speaking, of course.

But…models have a point. Even though that’s the only way they might be using it in their regimen, water is an amazing, life-giving source. Thank you, Magdalena Fraçkowiack, for reminding me of this fact (I’m half-kidding).

Since water is good for your digestion, blood, heart, & yeah…pretty much everything else, too…it’s also great for your skin. That’s why things like hyaluronic acid – a compound found in our bodies to keep our insides hydrated – are amazing to use if you want plump, glowy skin. Plump, glowy skin comes from hydrating – & drinking water is number one, of course…but why not get some skin care in there while you’re drinking your two fluid ounces?

As of late, water-based moisturizers, masks, & eye gels have been popping up left & right. This oil-free, mostly-water formula can be traced back to Korea (no surprise) but other brands are jumping on board, & they’re jumping quickly. There are even cleansers that are only water-based – take, for example, my holy grail: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser 

The idea behind water-based products? The truth that a healthy dose of hydration is the best thing you can do for dry, parched skin. Since the products are lightweight, however, they’re also ideal for other skin types: oily or combo – or normal! The reason they work so well for everyone? The key ingredient is often hyaluronic acid, which can soothe, reduce inflammation, & decrease irritation…as well as plump & lift.

Hyaluronic acid is a universally effective product, so it’s no wonder that water-based products work so well on all skin types. Water-based products aren’t news or anything…but they do tend to pop up more during the summer: humidity, sweat, beating sun, & sticky nights. None of those things particularly make you want to apply an oil-based moisturizer, does it? Water-based products will do most (if not all) that oil-based ones do – they’ll just feel cooler & lighter on the face.

Today I’m going to briefly mention a quick Sephora steal (which also made my July favorites post) that is water-based: the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask. Only $25, it boasts more than 2 oz. of product & comes sealed air-tight, with a small spatula to further improve cleanliness. Check it out next to the other product: Dr Jart Water Fuse Hydro Sleep Mask, which is $48:

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Check out my July favorites to see my full thoughts on the Laneige mask – today, we’re talking about one particular brand that I’ve personally loved for several years. This brand has released a water-based collection of products – that brand is Dr. Jart!!! Most of you probably know how much I love their Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Cream & their dedication to SPF in products. 

Dr. Jart was kind enough to send me their Hydro collection to try out – something I still cannot believe my typing! “Dr. Jart is like, big, you guys!” Seriously, though: Thank you so much, Dr. Jart! I’ve loved your products for years & it’s quite exciting to receive such a wonderful gift from such a wonderful brand. Okay, I’ll try to act normal now & not super excited & overwhelmed!!! Side note: you may have already heard some of my opinions on a few of these products already – consider this a full run-down; a research paper, if you will. 

The three products in the Hydro collection are:

  1. Water Fuse Ultimate Hydro Gel – $39
  2. Water Fuse Hydro Soothe Eye Gel – $42
  3. Water Fuse Hydro Sleep Mask – $48

Let’s toss aside price, because it’s undeniable: Dr. Jart is a mid-priced, sometimes high-priced brand. Their products, however, work. They work for all ages, too: my mama is obsessed with their Beauty Balm; the photos of teens wearing the Dr. Jart #millennialpink rubber masks took over Instagram for a good month. So: they’re appealing to all ages, they have street (read: Instagram) cred, & their stuff really works. Oh – & they’re K-Beauty. You know how much everyone loves their K-Beauty.

So! A little realistic background on Dr. Jart, its prices, its products, & how it is so good for what it is. For reference, some of hte Dr. Jart products I have purchased myself in the past & will continue to purchase are:

  • Every Sun Day Sunscreen
  • Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment
  • Liquid Ceramidin

So, one more time for htose who don’t believe me or haven’t read my reivews of other Dr. Jart products: I really do like them, & I really do support their brand.

Now, let’s get on to the products, shall we?

Water Fuse Ultimate Hydro Gel

Out of all of the pieces in the collection, this one is my favorite by far. You know how my Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich is my holy grail night cream? I may have just found a holy grail day cream.

A little goes a very long way; the jar comes with a spatula, something I always appreciate. The color is pale, baby-blue, but the product has no scent to it.

Described as a “lightweight gel-cream,” Dr. Jart says the product is meant to cool & refresh skin while giving a healthy dose of hydration. The gel-cream is formulated with a special (patented) “proprietary AquaMineral complex” which is supposed to grab & retain moisture (ideal for keeping skin soft & hydrated throughout the day). It’s also supposed to brighten & energize the skin, as well as repair it.

Well…those are a lot of bold claims to make! I’ll go ahead & stand behind the claim that it is cooling & refreshing. It absolutely feels extremely cooling, soothing, & refreshing – that’s why I like to wear in the day. It feels cooling even an hour after application. It also makes my skin appear dewy, not oily; great for no-makeup days…but it doesn’t mess up makeup application – probably from lack of oils which can melt/mess makeup – so it’s good for makeup days, too. Overall, this is a lovely, lovely cream – I really think I’ve found The One for me. It’s only slightly more expensive than Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer Rich – which I’ll continue to use at night. A little goes a long way for both of these moisturizers; this is why I think it’s a worthy investment to make. I know it’s good when my dry, dry skin only needs “a little bit” – & I really do mean a little bit

I’ve been wearing this every day since I’ve gotten it, & have no complaints to make; it’s reduced my redness, makes me feel cool even on hot days, & I’ve seen some little abrasions on my face heal faster than usual – definitely a sign, since I hadn’t switched up my routine to take care of the abrasions at all…except for this product.

Props to Dr. Jart for putting me on to this, because it really is a winner. Think of it this way: this Hydro Gel is giving me the effects that I wouldn’t get from other products unless I were paying at least $20 more. That…plus it’s just as good – & even more hygienic? I’ll take it, please – actually, two. Thank you.

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A protective cap to the Hydro Gel – spatula neatly nestled between the jar & its lid
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Closer look at the spatula in action, dipping right into the Hydro Gel. “Gel cream” is truly the best way to describe this product – it’s lightweight & bouncy – but hydrating & replenishing
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A bare-faced look at a beautiful, baby-blue product

Water Fuse Hydro Soothe Eye Gel

Funny that I should follow up the product I liked the most with the one I liked least! Or maybe not; maybe I’m just good at compare & contrast. Anyways – why is this my least favorite? Let me explain what I like about it, first – because I don’t hate it! There’s just some reasons why it’s not the first thing I’d go for when looking at this collection.

It’s funny I say this, because out of the three Hydro products, this eye gel seems to be selling the best. I guess a lot more people liked this a lot more than I did…because it’s actually sold out on Sephora as I type this. Don’t worry, though: if people like it this much –  & the reviews/ratings show that they do – it’ll be back soon. Get ready for my personal experience with this gel!

The product is a delightful aqua color; it’s reminiscent of the color of the water in the Carribean – a sort of green aqua blue. It’s transluscent, so once a little is dabbed onto your finger tips, you won’t notice any pigment – even before you’ve tapped onto the eye area.

The scent is light – extremely light. There’s something vaguely herbal or citrus-y about it, but it’s hard to actually put a name on it. Regardless, the scent fades quickly, which I always appreciate – especially if it’s a daytime product & I don’t want to ruin the perfume of the day.

This product does happen to be a daytime one, yes. It acts as a solution to puffiness, loss of firmness & elasticity, & dryness. Those are actually all things I battle with – thanks, lack of sleep! But seriously: I thought I’d found the perfect eye combo, & when I saw what this one did, I wondered if this would become my new one.

Conclusion: No, I don’t think I’m going to make this an every day kind of product. Why? Let’s talk. First of all, this gel has no SPF in it – that’s what bothers me about this product. It’s meant to be a daytime gel. It’s extremely hydrating, leaves eye area dewy & fresh, as well as brightened. But…if I go out while wearing it, I’m not getting sun protection on my lids, & might have to make some adjustments to make sure I’m protected.

Remember that I am writing this as a chronically ill person who’s extra sensitive to the sun. I don’t think lack of SPF would otherwise be a big deal.  It’s amazing at making me wake up a little. It’s amazing at making me look less dead – & it’s less expensive than the product combo I currently use. It’s also like the Hydro Gel, it’s super cooling. It also reminds me of the sensation of Milk Makeup’s Cooling Water Stick (something I currently use).

Still – something about it just didn’t quite work for me.  At first, I didn’t know, but I’m still giving it some go, but after breaking down the ingredients a bit more, I concluded that there was one ingredient I didn’t see in this eye gel: caffeine. I think it was the missing caffeine that made the this product “oh!” instead of “OH!” My Milk Makeup Cooling Water Stick has caffeine, & it majorly reduces puffiness/dark circles.

So….I guess I’ve cracked the code (my code, anyway): I need caffeine applied directly onto my skin to make it look more alive. I wish there were some SPF in it – that’s something I feel to be necessary in a daytime eye product. Still – the reviews (& sales) on Sephora Dot Com say loads more than I ever could – & the masses love it! It’s probably just a “me thing.”

Again – don’t dislike the product by any means. It feels & looks great – I just didn’t find it life-changing. If this gel just contained a little SPF & maybe some caffeine, it would be a holy grail for sure. I’ll keep using this – but my trusted eye combo is still my trusted (& expensive) combo. For those of you wondering: I use the Milk Makeup Cooling Water Stick on my eye area twice a day (morning & night) & apply Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream over the Cooling Water at night. That has completely eradicated my puffiness – except for those nights you cry, you know. It’s like that sometimes. That’s okay.

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Also comes with a little cap – doesn’t include a spatula, like the Hydro Gel. 
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A closer look at the very cool color/consistency of this gel cream
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An even more intense close up. I love the ocean/summer vibe I get from this color

Water Fuse Hydro Sleep Mask

Here we have our final product! & what a coincidence: the last product I review from this collection is meant to be used while sleeping (this is me reminding you to take a nap today if you can).

Sleeping masks: masks that are gel or cream consistencies, meant to be massaged into the face & left on overnight.

When I was first introduced to sleep masks – I read an article around age 13 of Miranda Kerr using Korres Yoghurt Sleeping Facial (still pining) & was very confused. Wouldn’t that kind of thing just get all over my pillowcase?

Well, yes – at least, if you’re me doing a sleep mask for the first time (shouts out Glossier Moon Mask!) & apply too much…then toss & turn. That’s no good for your pillowcase – no two ways about it!

Giving it two more rounds, I came up with a product amount that would protect me overnight – while leaving my pillowcase intact.

I also worried about pores clogging overnight – if skin is being masked for more than 6 hours (hopefully), won’t your pores start to scream in anger?

Answer: Nope! Not if you pick the right ones & have faith in me & every other person who’s used one. That includes Miranda Kerr, & she seems a bit more famous than me.

For me, the “right ones” include Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, Glossier Moon Mask, Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell, & now: Dr. Jart Water Fuse Hydro Sleep Mask.

Like the eye gel, this mask has a slightly citrusy, herbal scent to it. It lingers a bit longer than the scent of the eye gel, but it doesn’t last too long that you’d get sick of it – plus the scent is not cloyingly sweet.

The Water Fuse Hydro Sleep Mask comes in packaging reminiscent of Drunk Elephant’s products – not an imitation…more like an inspiration. The colors & bottle shapes are completely different; the pumps, however, are very similar.

This mask is meant to boost firmness/elasticity, get rid of dullness/uneven texture, & (of course) hydrate. It’s good for all skin types – again, thanks to hyaluronic acid. This contains a bit more than hyaluronic acid, however. Like this whole line, the Hydro Sleep Mask contains Dr. Jart’s AquaMineral complex, which “is made of exact amounts of skin-identical minerals—sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These four specific minerals possess the ability to improve water absorption.”

There you have it! Clarifying contents, yes – hydrating ones as well. You get the best of both worlds.

This is an admittedly pricy mask – $48 is nothing to sneeze at. However, the first night I tried it, I could see that I needed an extremely small amount of product – it’s very concentrated; you can practically feel all the minerals in it. So: I know this will last me a long time.

After pumping some out, I massaged it into my face for about 30 seconds, until it was nice & absorbed. I then went to bed!

I did have a bit of a problem with my face sticking to the pillowcase, but this could have been because I didn’t let it sit for long enough before sleeping. My bad!!!

I woke up the next morning looking super refreshed: kind of that look you get when you emerge from a pool: a little disoriented, yes (who isn’t in the mornings!)….but also: fresh & sparkling with hydration.

I also noticed some micro abrasions that I get occasionally on my face had almost completely healed – & they had looked very different the previous evening. Overall, I felt refreshed, excited, & very hydrated & healthy after using this mask. Just make sure you let it sit on your face before putting your head to the pillow. I’ll be keeping this around, checking in with long-term results. Then I’ll decide whether or not to purchase this myself. I am, however, going to have to go with “yes” – for now, anyway. I do think this mask is slightly more effective than the Laneige one, but I can’t say for sure. I can tell you that you’ll see similar results if you use the Laneige – & if you’re on a budget, the Laneige is a respectable dupe for the Dr. Jart Sleep Mask Side note: this is meant to be a sleeping mask, but I’ve used it several times now as a “leave-on day mask” on no-makeup days. It doesn’t look weird or greasy when massaged in well; it does improve hydration, gives a little glow, & plumps up your face really nicely. 

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A look at the packaging (& packaging only) of the Hydro Sleep Mask
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A quick peek at how the pump works – reminds me of Drunk Elephant’s Babyfacial pump. As you can see, this is definitely more of a cream than a gel or liquid – it still has that transluscent quality to it, however, that makes it incredibly easy to silently sink into the skin & get to work

Parting thoughts, perhaps?

Well, I think this Hydro Collection is absolutely worth taking a look at. If you have problems with clogged pores or don’t react well to heavily-scented, oil-containing products, this is very likely the line for you.

I know I’ll be repurchasin the Hydro Gel as a face cream. I’m interested to see how it’ll behave in the winter. I haven’t ever used water-based products as my “main thing” during the cold, dry winters I have to face. I guess we’ll have to wait & see for this one, right?

Seriously, though – thank you, Dr. Jart! Thanks for sending some great stuff my way (that I hope other people may like, too), & thank you for making my face feel like I’ve just dipped it in cold water – except I feel that all day long. I don’t know how you did it, but you did! Here you are on my top shelf:

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#millennialpink, meet #oceanhydroblue

Water-based products are “trendy” now, it’s true. They’re also extremely effective. Try one out. Since every water-based product I’ve ever seen is said to work on all skin types, I’m going to bet every one of you reading this will find at least one of these products worth it. After all, I taughtt you everything you need to know. Now that you’ve learned all about it, it’s time to give it a go!

What Dr. Jart Hydro collection product do you have interest in? Why is it so? Do you own some part of this collection – or all of it? Do you like it? Tell me in the comments! I love getting feedback.

Love,

Sof ❤