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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Sofia

Shop here for 20% off your first Glossier purchase!

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

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 ❤

High & Low – My Favorites of Each

We all know that some high-end skin care really isn't all that. At least, I know it…I hope you do. We've all seen beauty gurus doing their "hot or nots" on Youtube, trying out $200 face primers, $100 face masks, & $60 lip balm by La Mer (Jackie Aina says it's not worth the money; I'll trust her).

All that sounds super appealing – I mean, the thought of putting a gold leaf sheet mask on my face just because of the aesthetic concept. But…I know that some of my dirt-cheap, K-Beauty face masks will do more than any gold leaf ever could. I know that oftentimes, I'm just paying for packaging when I buy a higher-end product. However…there are some that are worth the money, just like there are some that are not. I'm going to give two of my top high end skin care products, & two of my top low-end skin care products – & provide reasons as to why they're worth it, or why they're so cheap & still so good. Read on!

Drunk Elephant Babyfacial – $80

 

I've purchased this only once (in early March) & I am not close to being finished with it – even so, I know I will be buying it again. One of the reasons I'll be buying it again is because I'm still not done with it! A high-end product's longevity is a huge concern for me. Yeah…the full-size Caudalie Beauty Elixer is beautiful & wonderful & I adore how cooling it is on my skin – but I cannot drop $50 on a facial spray, no matter how much I love it (I get the $18 travel size when I want to give my skin a special treat). So, since I only need 2-3 pumps of the Babyfacial – not more than two times a week – I can justify the $80 price tag.

Also: the Babyfacial has drastically improved my skin, & continues to do so. It's a powerful, effective detox – I always have softer, clearer skin after using it, & despite my sensitive skin, I've never gotten a bad reaction to it (like a burn or a rash). Plus, Drunk Elephant's super hygienic packaging (Babyfacial comes in an airtight container that doesn't expose it to the light) is just one more reason for my immunosuppressed skin to love it. I'm not ashamed to say I bought the Babyfacial, & I'm not ashamed when I say I will continue to buy it. This stuff lasts, it's effective, &…yes, it has beautiful, pale-pink packaging.

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Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream – $46

Eye creams don't really…work on me. I have dark circles constantly – thanks anemia! – which I'm not really bothered about. I think they give dimension & contour to my face & have come to accept, even love them. However, what I do not accept or love about my under-eye area is the puffiness I wake up with in the morning. This is all thanks to late nights – thanks chronic pain! Thanks anxiety! – & even though I tried a couple eye creams before this one, they didn't do anything to help my puffiness. Sure, my skin under my eyes was softer…but that didn't make me look any less sleep-deprived.

Literally the next morning after I used this cream for the first time, I woke up with absolutely zero puffiness. Yes, I was still tired, & grumpy, & wanted to get back in bed – but it didn't look like I felt that way. I was truly shocked. I don't expect most products to work overnight; I understand that sometimes, skin takes a while to get used to/garner full effects of a product…but this one wasted no time. Now, I use the Saturday Skin cream every night, paired with the Milk Makeup Cooling Water Stick (also a great product that I adore – just not truly categorized as "high end") & (eventually) fall asleep, content with the knowlege that no matter how tired I am when I wake up, I sure as hell won't look that way. This will keep being refilled on my top shelf. Thank you x 10 to Saturday Skin for keeping me looking fresh!

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Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater – $8 or $12

Truly ride or die. This isn't just good because it's cheap…it's good because it's good. I have backups of this absolutely everywhere; I use it as a toner, as a light hair fragrance, as a refresher in the middle of the day when I'm feeling parched & dull, & as a setting spray. It's so multipurpose, so effective, works for all skin types – & you can purchase it in the tiniest little 1 oz. bottle (at Ulta's checkout) for your weekend getaway for $5, in the 4 oz. version for $8, or the jumbo 8 oz. bottle for $12. I have it in all three. You'll always catch one in my purse, two on my top shelf (one for a backup, one for use) & probably another tiny one in my bag – just in case. Are you afraid it's going to smell like your grandma's potpourri? Don't be – it's fresh, light, & absolutely not grandma-y. No offense to grandma. Mario has treated me better than any man ever has – & he'll be here with me til the day I die.

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The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% – $6.79

You know the Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment? The one that costs $105 for 1 oz.? Try this lactic acid, instead. You get 1 oz. for $6.79. No, it's not as good as the Sunday Riley – but it's nearly as good, & is more than 10 times cheaper for the same amount of product. The 5% version made Into The Gloss'sBeauty Editor's May Favorites article – I initially used the 5%, then worked my way up to 10%. I can't say that the 10% is significantly better than the 5% (10% does tingle more & sometimes I wake up with brighter, clearer skin than when I used the 5%, but it's hard to tell whether it's that product or just chance)…but I can say that they both work beautifully as a chemical exfoliant – even on my poor, dry, sensitive skin. Seriously, it's amazing. Just ignore the smell…some call it "maple syrup," some call it "burnt plastic" (I'm team "burnt plastic") & some say, oh so eloquently, "ass but it still works really well so I don't care" (thanks to one of my followers for giving me that priceless description). Regardless of what you think it smells like, this stuff works. Give it a chance; I don't think you'll be let down. In general, try all of The Ordinary's products – you won't break your bank, & you won't be let down. You might even be let up.

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There you have it! Two things I'm unashamed to say I love (& why) & two things that, even if a higher-end brand has something similar, I'll politely pass on & continue to use my cheap, effective, good products.

Remember – a high price tag does not mean a product will be life-changing! Oftentimes you might just be paying for a name, for packaging, & just because some pricing markups are ridiculous. Don't feel bad about not getting that $60 La Mer lip balm. I'm happy with my $12 Balm Dotcom.

Love,

Sof ❤

Get 20% off any Drunk Elephant purchase here, & get $10 off a $50 purchase from Peach and Lily here!

The Lip Balm Post (About Every Lip Balm You Could Possibly Think Of. Seriously)

Okay. I said I’d do it. I said I’d make a post about lip balm…lip balm only. Since I like to overdo things, this turned into a post about lip balms…but also lip scrubs & lip masks. Because, like I said, I overdo things.

Just for some reference, though – I truly am always on the hunt for lip balms. I’m dehydrated a lot!! (I drink water, don’t worry) That means that I’m always reaching for or digging for a lip balm to save my smile…or just my mouth in general.

So, here’s a post about lip balms. A lot of them. Throw in a couple scrubs & treatments/masks, & I feel like by the end of this post you’ll have found a balm that sounds good, is available in your country, & that you can’t wait to buy. That’s what I hope, at least. Enjoy!!!

Before we get started let me address the thought that might be running through some of your minds: “just use Chapstick, for god’s sake!” Let me be clear: Chapstick is easy, it’s accessible, & it…doesn’t really work on me. Most times that I’ve used Chapstick, I’ve ended up with flaky, dry lips with a bunch of product sitting on top of my lips. No product absorbs into my lips when I use Chapstick…that’s why I’m not a fan! Some of you may feel differently…but my lips always say “no” when it comes to using Chapstick.

This isn’t like I never have used it – I absolutely have, & I still do if I’m in a pinch! It works, but it’s not a long-term solution to chapped lips, in my opinion. Don’t worry: there are a lot of options waiting for you right after this introduction, & no matter your budget, you should be able to find a balm that works for you.

 Lip Balms

 

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Smith’s Rosebud Salve ($6)

Okay, we’ve all heard of this baby (probably). You know: the retro, almost pharmaceutical metal packaging, the one that’s casually scattered on someone’s bed along other skin care products in those effortlessly elegant Instagram posts you may come across (seriously…how do they do it?). But if you haven’t, here’s a little info:

The Rosebud Salve was first sold in 1892. That’s right…1892. So, yeah, it’s been around a while. For good reason – it’s simple, elegant, delicately fragranced, & multi-purpose. It was the first lip balm I ever bought (age 14) other than chapstick – that’s when I decided I wanted to be fancy.

I’ve used this off & on throughout the years. It’s not my favorite, but it is a good balm, no question about it. Rose-scented? Yes. Grandma-scented? No. But seriously…I know that’s often a fear. Who wants to smell like Grandma’s potpourri bowl? Don’t worry. With this one, you won’t. The scent is very light & fades quickly, even if you don’t like it. It’s a shiny balm, & melts into your lips – more oily than waxy – therefore, it’s a great multi-purpose product. My cuticles & elbows always feel softer & more delicate after using this baby on them.

Only $6, a cult-classic (that even makeup artist use) & you’ll find it in the checkout line of any Sephora, most Ulta Beauty stores, & even places like Urban Outfitters. Easy to use, easy to get your hands on, easy to grab on the go.

Still not a fan of rose-scented products? The Rosebud Perfume Co. has exponentially expanded their line: there’s Strawberry (which I love), Rose & Mandarin, Minted Rose, & many more. Prefer your lip balm(s) to be in tube packaging? Again, they have your back: the original rose one & several others are available in squeezable tubes (that’s the version I have in the photos above). This way, you don’t have to carry around little spatulas for hygiene (like I sometimes do) or make yourself sick because you forgot to wash your hands after applying that one time.

Is this balm my favorite? Nope! But it always hangs around. I might not use it on an extra dry day, but it’s a product I have a lot of fondness for. Plus, my elbows are always silky soft after using it. It’s cheap, effective, & easy to find – even outside the U.S.! Also, that packaging! Retro, elegant, & a cute accessory to keep in your bag when out.

All the salve products in this collection are cruelty-free. Some, but not all, are vegan, too.

Milk Makeup Hero Salve ($12/$20)

This salve is a much more recent purchase than the Smith Rosebud Salve. In fact, I didn’t really have interest in buying it – I do have a lot of balms, after all – until I decided to make a post about lip balms! Milk is an up-&-coming, hyped brand, & a lot of people are talking/posting about Milk products because of this. So! I took the plunge.

I really like the scent of this product; very fresh & a bit herbal. It contains ojoba, grape seed, orange peel, & lavender oils, shea butter, & candellia wax. The combo of oils ensures that the balm doesn’t sit on top of your skin; rather, it sinks deep down. This means that the ultimate amount of hydration is thrown at your lips. It also means that this is more of a shiny balm, & less of a matte one. Just be aware! Like the Rosebud Salve, it’s also multi-purpose…hence the product’s name: “salve,” rather than “balm.” I’ve been using this on off days as a highlight (just gently dab & pat into cheekbones) as well as an eye gloss (slide it right over your lids). I thought I’d see a lot of slippage – balms don’t usually have much staying power as a face or eye gloss – but nope! My glossy lids stayed on for more than 4 hours (I’d probably retouch after then if I wanted to keep my shine as good as when originally applied) & the salve on my cheekbones stayed put, for the most part.

Yes, it’s not what you’d call a “cheap” balm – but the packaging is minimalist & elegant, the jar is sturdy (no dents here!), the smell is lovely, &, best of all, it really does work. I like using a heavy layer of Hero Salve at night as a “lip mask,” or a lighter layer for a dewy-lipped, minimalist look. Either way, it works – no flakiness, chapped spots, or redness. It works at its best when I do a lip scrub, wash that off, then apply this salve. Results: plump, exfoliated lips, receiving the ultimate dose of hydration. Still unsure? Don’t get the $20 full size pot! Go for the $12 travel size, & watch your lips thrive. Then go to pick up full size.

This salve is cruelty-free, but not vegan.

Glossier Balm Dotcom

Okay…can’t not mention my favorite balm in the universe.

I know, you might think I’m biased, & I get it – I do rep for Glossier, after all. But…I’d been using this balm way before I even know what a Glossier rep was. It was one of my first Glossier purchases, & I have never been out without a tube (or three) since my first order.

Again, this salve is multi-purpose, so you can use it on other areas of your body. There are flavors! So. Many. Flavors. I love them all, but my favorites are Birthday Cake, Rose, & Cherry. Original, of course, is a given.

Don’t like scented products? Go for Original. In love with anything rose, like me? Get Rose, of course! Want a tinted lip – & cheek? Grab some Cherry. Want a highlight, lip shimmer, & eyeshadow all in one? Get Birthday Cake! It’s my current favorite, as well as Glossier’s newest flavor. I’ve used this on my cheekbones, lids, & brow bone. No sliding, no melting – just beautiful, holographic shimmer wherever I want it to be. Oh! It tastes like birthday cake, too. Glossier really outdid themselves on this one; it’s the amped up Balm Dotcom I never knew I needed but now have 3 of.

Why’s this my favorite lip balm? Well, it’s because although the texture is a bit stiffer than some of the other balms I’ve mentioned, it’s not too stiff that it won’t sink in effectively – but not oily enough that other lip products don’t sit well on top. I use thick layers at night, thin layers underneath my lipstick during the day, & a medium layer if I don’t want colored lips that day. No chapping – ever. For me, that’s truly what it comes down to. Does ____ lip balm ever leave you feeling chapped? With any of the Balm Dotcoms, the answer has always been a firm “no.”

The packaging is adorable, too. Each one is themed on a different color: the color of the flavor! Mint is a pale blue-green, Cherry is a bright…cherry…red, Birthday Cake is cream & holographic. This is one of those balms that never leaves my bag or bedside table – so, yes, I have (way) more than one. It’s something I can run out the door with if I forgot to put on lipstick. It’s something I can pull out casually at a restaurant or lecture without having to dig my finger into anything. Most importantly, it’s something I know will always work on my lips, no matter how parched they may be.

If you’re a Balm Dotcom addict like me, you can purchase Glossier’s Balm Trio – that way, you get three balms (flavor of your choice) for $30, so you can cop that free shipping, too.

100/10, always. Balm Dotcom, I love you!

 Dr. Pawpaw Original Balm ($10)

Dr. Pawpaw’s multipurpose balm is to Australians what Balm Dotcom is to Americans. Celebrities & models like Miranda Kerr, Rose Byrne, & Duckie Thot call it their holy grail balm. They have good reason to, too. The original balm is fragrance-free, multi-purpose, & extremely soothing. The two most active ingredients are fermented pawpaw fruit (a huge factor in making the balm so soothing) & pharmaceutical-grade petroleum. This is a step up from regular old petroleum – you know, the kind you find in Vaseline. It’s milder & non-comedogenic; that means you’re less likely to break out from it, & less likely to get clogged pores from it.

On the back of the tube (which is a bright, eye-catching yellow), Dr. Pawapaw claims to “soothe dry cracked skin,” adds “finishing touches to hair and smoothing brows,” & even “helps with insect bites & minor abrasions,” finishing with: “don’t leave home without it!

I’m going to say that this is a step up from the Smith Rosebud Salve. After rubbing the tiniest amount onto the back of my hand, I felt within moments that my skin was softer & smoother. Major plus! Since getting it, I’ve also used it on a scraped shin & on my dry elbows. Again – great results. I have nothing bad to say about this one! I’ve seen it in magazine spreads for ages, heard buzz about it for the longest time, but finally decided to give it a serious go after seeing Duckie Thot’s interview with Into the Gloss. I have a huge crush on Duckie (who doesn’t?) & if she uses it, it must be good…her skin is flawless, after all.

To put it simply: it’s a good product, it’s a cheap one, & it feels great on the skin – not just your lips! I love multi-purpose salves, & this one has taken the place of Smith’s Rosebud Salve when I want my cuticles or elbows to have a little extra hydration. Don’t worry…they have a U.S. website! They also have tinted versions now, too. There’s a Peach Pink, an Ultimate Red, & even a limited edition Red Sparkle one. You can also purchase a pack of three for $30, or get a mini travel size for $6. In other words – this company has it down. There’s one for everyone, & none of them will break the bank.

 Dior Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm ($33)

Before I get into the product, let me just say that yes, absolutely, this is an expensive product & you can get one just as good (or better!) for cheaper. That brings me to my (kind of?) point: sometimes, packaging makes a product worth it. Obviously, that’s subjective, & not everyone may feel the same way. That’s fine! To me, however, packaging can be worth it – not always, but sometimes. You just need to know what you’re looking for.

This balm’s packaging is classic Dior: translucent tinted plastic with a silver knob at the end. The silver knob is a trademark for most of their products (like the It-Lash mascara & their lipsticks). This shiny, silver-against-pink packaging makes this balm an accessory as well as a beauty product. It’s something you can carry in a fancy clutch to a red-carpet event; it’s also something you can casually whip out in front of friends (or enemies) to impress them. So: yup! Packaging can be worth the while. Sometimes, however, it’s not. We’ll get to that, don’t worry.

About the balm: these balms are, as the name suggests, tinted. There are four shades: Lilac, Pink, Coral, & Berry. All four adjust to your skin to make it look good on you, personally. It’ll look different on everyone, which I think is pretty neat. I have Pink, which seems to have the most buzz surrounding it. When applying, I definitely see a bit of color – but if you’re expecting a lipstick-like coverage, you won’t find it here. It’s more of a color enhancer, less of a color provider. Again, don’t expect full coverage! I like using this on off days as a lipstick. It’s pretty, it’s subtle, but it also lasts all day, keeping my lips plump & hydrated. The color fades after a few hours, but a light reapplication will rectify that.

The scent is pleasant! It’s also a classic Dior scent (their lipsticks smell this same way): minty, but not too strong; vanilla, but not too sweet. I’m not quite sure how to describe the scent balance, but I think vanilla-mint is the best description I can provide.

All-in-all, it’s an effective tinted balm. Can you find a good one for less? Absolutely. It’s the name & packaging that prompts this product’s high price tag. I still love it, though. I know!! I’m sorry!!!!

Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Lip Conditioner ($22)

I’m quite a fan of Herbivore in general; I haven’t tried any of their products that I actively dislike, which speaks volumes!

I’ll admit it! I don’t usually like the smell of straight-up coconut. I know…I’m sorry! For whatever reason, it’s just not my thing. I find the scent a bit heavy & overwhelming for my nostrils. So, I was a bit doubtful when I first got this baby.

Not to worry. The coconut scent isn’t a pure, coconut oil kind of coconut scent. It’s combined with Moroccan rose absolute, resulting in a scent that is sweet yet fresh, delicate yet lasting, feminine yet masculine. So, if you’re a coconut hater like me, don’t worry about not liking the scent of this product. It’s not the stereotypical coconut scent – & even if it were, it fades gently & gracefully. You won’t smell this all day long!

As for the product: when first opening the pot, I found the texture a bit hard & waxy. Don’t worry…give it 10-15 seconds. The heat of your finger will warm up the product, making it easier to scoop out of its container.

The main ingredients in this balm are virgin coconut oil & Moroccan rose absolute. The coconut oil is rich in fatty acids, lauric acid & proteins. These aid in providing intensive hydration, replenishment and nourishment to the lips. The Moroccan rose absolute also provides hydration – & acts as an anti-inflammatory (if you’re a rose junkie, like me, you know that rose products are super soothing/help with reducing redness & irritation). Not only are both ingredients safe to taste…they taste good, too! According to Herbivore’s site: the coconut oil has a light, natural, vanilla taste – not too coconut-y! The rose absolute tastes like it smells: “light, floral & sweet.” These two combined results in a fresh, floral, sweet scent – & taste.

The best way I can describe the texture of the balm/conditioner/whatever you want to call it is: “buttery.” It leaves my lips pillow-soft, plump, & isn’t too greasy or waxy. It’s truly a Goldielocks consistency. I will say that it takes a bit of work to warm the balm when first using it. After a few uses, there will be a slight dent in the product. That makes it a lot easier to scoop it up & apply.

I love this as a lip primer! Like I said, this balm has a buttery texture that isn’t too greasy or waxy. This makes it perfect to layer lightly under a lip liner or lipstick. The product on top of the balm won’t bleed through – but it also won’t dry your lips as the day progresses. I’d describe this as a dewy finish…kind of strange to refer to a balm in that way, but it’s true! The texture is unique, & I mean that in the best way possible.

This is great for daytime use, whether it be by itself or with another lip product. Also: the small, compact container makes it super easy to carry! That makes it perfect for your bag – or back pocket. I don’t find this moisturizing enough to use overnight. If I had a day where my lips were especially chapped, I don’t think this is the first one I’d reach for. But…there’s a balm for every need! This one fulfills many, & it’s a great product.

This product is vegan & cruelty-free.

Dior Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm ($30)

Remember when I said that some things are expensive just because of the packaging? This is one of them. It’s basically Smith’s Rosebud Salve, but in a more elegant container with the Dior logo. I will say that it does not contain petrolatum (a filler ingredient in many, if not most, lip balms), so that might be a reason for the higher price point, as well. Instead, key ingredients are: Rose of Damas essential oil (anti-aging); Vitamins A & E (energizing); & shea butter (smoothing & hydrating).

The scent is very pleasant, but very faint. It’s rose-scented – like the Rosebud Salve, though, it’s not an “old lady rose” smell. It’s fresh & floral, not cloying & not too sweet. This product also contains SPF 10, which is…okay, I guess! SPF 10 doesn’t really do anything to protect skin from the sun, so I’m not sure why this was included in the ingredients. I guess better some protection than none, right?

The goal of this balm is to plump, smooth & hydrate. I will say it smooths & hydrates; I don’t, however, see much of a difference in my lips if we’re talking about plumpness. I wouldn’t buy this if your only goal is to find a plumping balm; it doesn’t live up to that claim well enough, in my opinion. The product is also described as having a transparent shine – I agree. The pink color of the balm doesn’t carry over to your lips. Just like the Rose Salve & the Glossier Rose Balm Dotcom, the slight pink tint of the product doesn’t do anything to change the color of your lips. I’m not mad about that – they do call it transparent, after all! Just know that you won’t be getting any color from this balm.

At the end of the day, however, this is Dior – it’s going to have a higher price point. It’s a very pretty balm (the color is gorgeous) & the packaging is elegant & looks chic on your vanity or in your purse.

Caudalie Lip Conditioner ($12)

What a breath of fresh air: a Caudalie product that won’t make your wallet cry! As many of you may know, Caudalie’s products aren’t what anyone would call cheap. I love all the Caudalie products I’ve tried…but my budget forces me to leave it on the shelf when I’m at Sephora. I will occasionally treat myself to the Beauty Elixir (travel size) which is probably my favorite product of theirs. Other than that, I keep my distance.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to see that Caudalie’s take on a lip balm was so (relatively) inexpensive. I was even more pleasantly surprised to see the amazing results I got from the balm: oftentimes, luxury lip balms don’t really…do anything. Not the case with this one!

The texture of the lip conditioner is more of a waxy one – like Chapstick. Grape oil and organic fair-trade shea butter nourish, renew, and repair; ceramides moisturize & protect; plant waxes provide a rich, creamy texture.

You saw the grape oil right at the top, right? Caudalie is famous for incorporating grape oil/water into their products. This is amazing because it makes them smell a bit like champagne – a breath of fresh air from the rose or vanilla-scented balms on the market. This one is very fresh & clean. Due to its waxy texture, I prefer not to wear this at night; it’s more of a daytime balm for me.

I’d say that if you’re looking for a “bougie” product to treat yourself to but don’t have much money, go for something like this! The packaging is elegant, the brand is high-end, but in the end, you’re only paying $12. Could you get the same effects from a different, cheaper balm? Yup! But the champagne scent, pretty packaging, & buttery texture on your lips makes you feel like you’re really treating yourself. It’s a nice little luxury that won’t break the bank.

Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30 ($25)

I hold quite a bit of fondness in my heart for Fresh’s lip balms. I received a few of them years ago for Christmas (I was a tween!) as a stocking stuffer. The classic scent (citrusy yet sugary) always prompts a wave of nostalgia if I whiff it in my local Sephora.

As much as I love the Fresh lip balms, they’re not a staple in my balm collection – because, as amazing they are, a $25 price tag for a lip balm that’s not a “high fashion” brand is quite a bit. I’ll get one from time to time, but it’s not a product you’d count on seeing in my bag, my room, or on my makeup table.

However: I was browsing the “New at Sephora” page a few weeks ago & came across the Sugar Sport. I immediately noted the SPF 30, & took a liking to the sturdy yet whimsical packaging. I went back & forth for a bit, but finally decided to go for it.

Boy am I glad I did!!! Firstly, this balm smells like the original Fresh Sugar Lips, which I love. Whenever I wear it, I’ll pucker up my lips, closer to my nose, to get an extra whiff of the scent. There’s a reason Fresh made a fragrance inspired by the scent of their Sugar Lips – it’s that good.

Fresh named this balm “Sugar Sport” for good reason: it’s water-resistent, safe to use all over your face – even your eye area – & is ultra-hydrating. The SPF 30 obviously protects your skin/lips from UV rays; it won’t come off with water, either (as mentioned above).

Besides the chemicals used to incorporate SPF into the product, the main ingredients are Moisture-preserving sugar & a blend of various oils, including avocado & black current. The sugar is a humectant – that means it retains & preserves moisture. The cocktail of oils allows the product to sink more easily into the skin/lips. This ensures a long-lasting, effective wear.

I’ve also noticed that my lips are never chapped when using this balm. I chart it to the SPF. The sun dries out your face & body – so of course, it would dry out your lips, too.

I’m a big fan of this product. I’d never tried an SPF lip balm before, & I’m glad I gave this one a go. Yes, it’s pricey; it’s also water-proof & moisture-retaining…& it smells great. The bright-orange, sturdy packaging makes it easy to find, even if you’re carrying a big tote or a backpack. I’ll be taking this with me on “outside” days, like a trip to an amusement park, a strawberry-picking outing, or a day by the pool. This makes sun protection chic! No gross smell or stickiness – just the classic Fresh fragrance with some amped up protection. I love it!

Lip Scrubs

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Lip scrubs are a must for me, especially before putting on a heavy-duty lip product, like liquid lipstick. Okay, I’ll admit it – I kind of stopped using liquid lipstick because 1) the trend is a bit dead now 2) it would take a day & a half of lip prepping for me to know that my lips would look good in a liquid to matte lipstick. Despite quitting on the liquid lips, I continue to use lip exfoliators. That’s because I still need to get rid of old skin cells – & I like the plump, soft, fresh feeling my lips have right after a good scrub. It’s been hard for me to find ones I like; I’ve had a lot more difficulty finding a decent/good lip scrub than I have had finding a balm. At this point, however, I have at least two that will stay on my top shelf permanently. If you’re also frustrated by your inability to find a good lip scrub, keeeeep reading!

 Dior Addict Lip Sugar Scrub ($33)

Okay, I’ll be the first one to say it: this is not worth your money – even if you like pretty packaging! Let me defend myself by saying that I saw a lot of posts (& ads) talking about how versatile & travel-friendly this scrub is. The theory is that you can rub it across your lips, rub your lips together, & then go on with life – the sugar will simply sink into your lips; no need to wipe it off.

Well, Dior really played me on that one. This does not sink into your lips. I’ve had to wipe sugar off my mouth every single time I’ve used it. Also, the stick formula doesn’t work for a product like this. There’s not enough friction if you’re applying it in gentle sweeps – & I’m scared to do it stronger than that, in fear of breaking the product.

Packaging: the same as Dior’s Addict Lip Glow Color Revival Balm: the pale pink tube with the silver knob. The scent is also the same: vanilla-mint is the best way I can describe it.

 So…yeah. Save your money on this one. I’ll keep using it until it’s gone, but I won’t be re-purchasing. Even as I type “I’ll keep using it” a part of me wonders if I really will keep using it. It’s so ineffective that I usually forget I own it.

Cute? Yes. Effective? Not even a little. I’m all here for pretty packaging, but the product must at least be decent. This one, in my opinion, is not.

Bite Beauty Agave Sugar Lip Scrub ($18)

Most of us know Bite for its “edible” lipsticks & its versatile multi-sticks. I didn’t really know about their three-step lip collection until I saw the pretty, bullet-shaped tube of lip balm at the checkout line at Sephora. I went home, did a little research, & decided to try the scrub, since I didn’t need more lip balms.

According to Bite, this lip scrub is a three-in-one product: a cleanser, exfoliator, & conditioner. Why a cleanser? Well, rub the product into your lips for however long you feel is necessary, then add water. The scrub will turn into a milky foam, dissolve, & leave your lips free of product. That’s the cleansing & exfoliating taken care of! The conditioning comes from the oils left over from the lip scrub (even after it’s washed off). Let them sink in overnight, & you’ll (theoretically) wake up with soft, smooth, conditioned lips.

This all sounds amazing! But let me say this: while it’s entertaining to see the dark, molasses-colored product melt into a transluscent foam, & cool to think of your lips being “cleansed”…it really isn’t all that. I tried using it once all by itself, with no follow-up product. I woke up with kind of dry lips. I don’t think that the oils from the lip scrub work by themselves; they need another product to truly be effective.

I don’t hate this product, but I also don’t love it. I use it, sure! But there’s other scrubs I prefer; ones that I think work more effectively.

This product is vegan & cruelty-free.

 Lush Honey Lip Scrub ($9.95)

Oh, Lush! The first skincare brand I ever was introduced to – I started poring over their (very cool) catalogs around 10 years old, & begged for their limited edition shower gels for Christmas (still love them). I’d tried one of their lip scrubs years ago – the Bubblegum one, which is still available – but ran out long ago & never thought to replace it. Once I saw they’d come out with a new flavor, honey, I squealed. I love honey-scented/honey-themed products, so this one already sounded amazing.

The packaging is classic Lush: you know, the slanted, white font against a black background. The amount of product you get is outstanding for the price you’re paying – I’d say this is the best deal, if you’re looking for something cheap.

Not only is it the best deal…it’s also one of my top two lip scrubs. The grains of sugar can be a bit large (size varies) so use the product carefully…you don’t want to scrape your lips. A little goes a looonnngggg way, which is another plus for someone on a budget. Of course, honey is the main ingredient. This softens the lips & draws moisture from the air to continue the hydration process even after you’ve washed (or licked) off the sugar. It also contains white chocolate, vanilla, & peppermint oil. The peppermint oil leaves your lips feeling cool & tingly – & makes them look plumper, too. The base ingredient is jojoba oil, which conditions, leaving lips soft, pillowy, & moisturized.

I love using this scrub before bed, with a lip mask on top, or in the morning, before applying a bright lip. The plumping effect is subtle – you won’t look ridiculous. It just will bring a bit more attention to your cupid’s bow…like a highlight on that area might do!

I love Lush, & always have. They have a great message, great products, & great customer service. I was elated when they announced their Honey Lip Scrub – & I wasn’t let down.

This product is vegan & cruelty-free.

 Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Coconut Oil Lip Polish ($22)

Okay…out of them all, this is the one – the one that I love most, the one that works best, the one that I’ll continue buying until I die (or until they run out).

Like the Coco Rose Coconut Oil Lip Conditioner, this product contains virgin coconut oil, shea butter, & rose oil – it smells just like the conditioner because of this. All three of these ingredients are ultra-hydrating, so you’ll end up with soft, smooth lips.

The best thing about this product, however, is the texture of the sugar. Raw sugar is used, but the granules are incredibly fine & delicate. This makes the exfoliation gentle; it also lets you get into every crevice of your lips. When my lips are at their most chapped, I reach for this one before putting on a lip mask. This is truly my holy grail lip scrub. Delicate but effective – & it smells like roses. Absolutely no complaints here!

This product is vegan & cruelty-free

Lip Treatments

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Okay, so what’s a lip treatment? It’s basically a lip balm, but a goopier formula, usually containing more oils. The oils & liquidy texture are what makes these treatments like face masks for your lips. They’re ideal to use after a lip scrub – your lips will be exfoliated & ready for a punch of hydration & essential oils. They’re best used in the evening, right before bed. That way, your lips have a solid 6-8 hours (hopefully you can sleep that long; I can’t) to absorb all of the good stuff.

Can you use a plain old lip balm as a lip mask? Definitely! I certainly have. Lip treatments aren’t a must, but they’re a nice thing to have if you suffer constantly from chapped lips. There are some really expensive ones…& there are some very affordable ones. Let me share my favorites with you!

 Milani Moisture Lock Oil-Infused Lip Treatment ($8)

You can find these babies everywhere. By everywhere, I really do mean everywhere. Check your local pharmacy, Ulta Beauty, or even the beauty aisle at your grocery store. Chances are you’ll find a whole row (or two) of these.

There are eight “shades,” or flavors. Each contains a base formula of jojoba, avocado, & tsubaki oil – all three of these are healing & hydrating. Then, you get to choose your flavor. Each treatment is infused with a different oil. For example, Peach Mango is rejuvenating, Primrose is repairing, Lemon Honey is healing, & so on. I’ve tried Peach Mango & Primrose; I currently own Primrose. What’s unique about these treatments is that they work very well as a gloss, too. They’re great for overnight repair & healing – but look amazing during the day, whether by themselves or on top of another lip product. Depending on which one you choose, you’ll be getting a tinted – or untinted – product. Flavors like Pomegranate & Raspberry will give a bit of color as well as the shine that each of the treatments has; if you don’t want any color at all, I recommend you try either Almond Coco or Lemon Honey; those are the most translucent. You shouldn’t get any color at all from those…not even a little!

What’s most unique about this product is the applicator. It’s hard to describe; I guess I’d go about saying that it’s enormous! It’s a doe foot applicator, like most lip glosses; it’s just about ten times bigger. Milani describes it as a “plush, extra soft applicator that hugs the curves of your lips, locking in moisture.” I agree with this: thanks to this strange, pillowy applicator, these treatments are extremely soothing & easy to apply. I do have one complaint: the applicator is so large that product is used up quite quickly. If the wand was a bit smaller, I think the product would last longer. Regardless…it’s a very cool, innovative

If you’re looking for a super affordable, super effective lip treatment that doubles as a gloss (&, if you choose the right one, a tint, too), these Milani treatments are perfect for you.

This product is vegan & cruelty-free

 Complex Beauty Co Pout Protector ($22)

I’ve made a post about Complex’s products before – some of my favorites, & why they’re so good! I really like supporting indie brands – if they have good products – & this brand is one of those. This lip mask is surprisingly effective. I say surprisingly because I see results within 48 hours or less! Like most lip treatments, I find it most effective to use in the evening, after an exfoliation.

Out of all the lip treatments/masks I’ve tried, I’ve found this to be the most “goopy.” It’s not a product I’d wear in the day time – if I were to go out, that is. I’m all good wearing this on an off day in my bedroom! It just means more moisture & nourishment for my lips.

Like I mentioned, this product is “goopy.” That’s mostly because of all the oils it contains. Oils are a good thing!! The two primary ones are castor seed oil, which soothes, moisturizes, & protects; & coconut oil, which moisturizes, heals, strengthens skin tissue, and protects skin cells from damage over time. Other key ingredients: a peptide blend, plant stem cells, & an amino acid blend. Together, these work to plump, hydrate, regenerate, firm, & heal skin cell damage over time. You’ll see short-term & long-term results with this product.

I mentioned that I liked using it after a lip scrub – Complex’s site says that this product “works best with exfoliated lips,” so we’re on the same page here! The site also says that it works as a lip balm for daytime, which I think could work for some – it’s just not my style! Remember, skin care is different for everyone. I’m not telling you it’s bad to use in the day time, & it won’t hurt you if you do use it in the daytime. It’s just not my balm of choice when going out somewhere.

I love love love the smell of this product. It’s a sweet yet not overpowering vanilla: closer to vanilla bean than grocery store vanilla cake. The one thing I actively dislike about the product is the way it’s dispensed: it works like a soap bottle; you push down to pump out product. I think it’s fine for using at night when your hands are clean, but when out & about, it’s probably not the most sanitary way to apply a lip product. Like I mentioned previously, however: I use this product exclusively at night, so I have no problem with the way it dispenses! When I have clean hands, there’s no wrong way to use a lip product.

Dior Addict Lip Glow Pomade ($33)

Okay…out of the whole Dior Lip Glow collection (I have everything but the liner, which I didn’t get because of the less-than-stellar reviews), this is the one that is absolutely, 100%, without a doubt, worth your money.

Looks like a gloss, right? It is! That’s what I like about it. This product doubles as a gloss & a lip mask/treatment. The packaging is gorgeous (that millennial pink tube) & the product has a subtle, minty scent like the balm & the scrub from the same collection. The product dispenses very evenly, thanks to the odd but effective way the product comes out of the tube: instead of one large hole in the middle of the applicator, there are 6 smaller ones scattered all over the top. This makes it extremely easy to effectively coat your lips with an even amount of product. Also – comes in a tube, not a pot or a pump dispenser. This makes it great for on the go, great for at home, great for whenever. Did I mention it’s gorgeous? This is most definitely an accessory as well as a beauty product – & it’s one that’s extremely effective as both!

This whole Dior Lip Glow collection has been getting a lot of hype lately, thanks to Bella Hadid becoming a brand ambassador. I was curious – it’s hard not to see Bella Hadid wherever you go, & her ads appeal to a younger crowd…someone like me. I think the Lip Glow collection is okay. The balm is alright, the lip scrub is not, but the pomade is truly amazing. If you were to choose between one of the three, I’d say get the pomade. I won’t be repurchasing the scrub, I miiighttt repurchase the balm in a different shade (the berry one looks pretty), but I will, without a doubt, continue to buy this pomade.

My favorite thing to do with this product is exfoliate with the Herbivore Lip Polish, gently wipe off excess sugar, then apply a thick layer of the pomade right before bed. I wake up with soft, glowy, full lips every single time. If we’re talking dream combos, this one is mine. It continues to blow my mind each time I use it.

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Dream combo
Well…that was a shamefully long post about one of the simplest products out there: lip balms. Still – I feel like this post is something that’s necessary! Everyone has their holy grail lip balm…some, however, are still looking for it. There are good options at every price point, & you will be able to find something that works well for you, looks cute, & feels great, too! If you feel like I missed one that you can’t live without, let me know in the comments.

Love,

Sof ❤

 

 

The $12 Product That I’ll Always Buy – No Matter How Much Money I End Up Making

Is it something you’ve seen before? If you’ve walked into an Ulta Beauty or even an Urban Outfitters before, chances are you have. If you’ve been at your friend’s house & looked at their top shelf, chances are you have. If you’re a model getting final face touchups before you step up on the catwalk, chances are you have. That is: the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater. 

 

So…why do people like this so much? It’s Mario Badescu’s best-selling product. But…all it is is rosewater, basically. What makes this one so special?

Well, first of all, the price. $7 for 4 oz., $12 for 8 oz. is nothing to sneeze at (if you’re a fan, get the 8 oz. version. It’s worth it, trust me). If you have any experience with makeup or skin care, you know that some facial sprays go to upwards of $50 (like Tatcha’s Dewy Luminous Skin Mist). So…whether you’re getting the 4 or 8 oz. size, either way, it’s a deal. & it’s good.

What’s it do? It has many uses, actually. First & foremost, it can be used as a toner. It can also be used to set makeup (keep in mind if you’re wearing a full face of foundation, concealer, contour, liquid liner, etc., etc. this probably isn’t the setting spray for you), can be used to refresh your face during the day (especially great during the summer) & even can be used as a subtle hair fragrance. Basically, it’s an all-purpose spray for your face & body.

However – Mario Badescu is careful not to call their face mist a toner. Why?

Traditionally, toners are usually poured onto a cotton ball or pad & gently swiped over the face. (MB has a lot of great options on their site!) This gets rid of excess dirt, oil, & whatever else might be lingering. It’s great for all skin types – for me, however, I’ve not seen a huge difference in applying this type of toner & using a “face mist.”

For my sensitive skin, face mists work better. I don’t have to worry about extra irritation a cotton pad might bring to my face. I just mist my face flap my hands around in the air to help my face dry, & continue with my skin routine. The face mist tightens my pores while continuing to provide my dry skin with moisture. No extra hand/cotton pad contact necessary. Extra points if it’s been chilled in my fridge beforehand, something I do more & more frequently as it continues to warm up here.

This isn’t to say that this mist works for all people with sensitive skin! I’m not particularly sensitive to scented products; some of my friends are. If you’re one of those people, this probably isn’t the mist/toner for you.

I’ve tried quite a few other toners – including the Herbivore Botanicals Rose Hibiscus Coconut Water Hydrating Face Mist, the Milk Makeup Matcha Toner (world’s first solid toner, & unscented, for those of you who don’t react kindly to scented products), the Caudalíe Beauty Elixer (luxurious &, if I had the money, would buy endless bottles of) & the Glossier Soothing Face Mist.

Yet – as lovely as some of these are, I keep returning to my beloved Mario Badescu. There’s something about the satisfaction of paying $12 for a huge amount of product & watching it work well on your skin – just as well, if not better than some of the other mists I mentioned.

It’s true – I joke about taking baths in Tatcha’s Dewy Luminous Skin Mist when I make my first million, & watering my flowers with Caudalíe’s Beauty Elixer. These are both amazing, have beautiful packaging, & feel wonderful.

But…I have a feeling that no matter how much (or little) money I make, the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater will have a permanent place on my top shelf – for life. Mario was here when I started taking proper care of my skin, & I think he’ll stick around til I can’t do it anymore.

Love,

Sof ❤

P.S. If you weren’t aware, Mario Badescu also has a “newer” version of their traditional face mist – an Ulta exclusive, called the Facial Spray with Aloe, Cucumber, & Green Tea. It’s almost – not quite – as good as the original. If you have oily or irritated skin it just might become your holy grail, if it isn’t already. Check it out! I love this one, too.

Products I Didn’t Expect To Go Crazy For

Sometimes, I buy a product on a whim without expecting much. Or, I get sent a product & try it without too much excitement. Most times, those products end up being “okay!” for me. I won’t complain about them, but I don’t rave about them, either. Here are some products I’ve bought/been sent lately that absolutely shook my expectations & made me want more, more, & more – even before I’m halfway done with them!

OSEA Sea Vitamin Boost

The 100% cruelty-free, pure, & vegan skin care brand OSEA (based in Malibu) sent me a few of their travel size products, including this toning mist. I loved their message right off the bat (they’re also a family-owned business!) but as always, tried to be as objective as possible. Right when I opened the box to see this product, however, I fell in love with the color – this glowing, coral-red color was extremely eye-catching & strangely soothing. This toning mist is meant for dry/sensitive skin (that’s me!) & claims to deliver instant hydration & a “radiant glow to dull, thirsty skin.” It contains organic algae & pomegranate, among other things, all of which claim to lock in moisture & reduce signs of anti-aging.

I first tried it as a toner. It was nice, but I didn’t like it as much as my Mario Badescu Facial Spray. I had an idea a few days later: on a particularly muggy, hot, sticky day, I misted this on my face after doing my morning skin care. Instant results: I looked glowy, but the extra boost of moisture also, in some magical way, managed to keep me from looking sticky & sweaty. I kept misting it on throughout the day. Amazing.

All in all, the color, the really nice spritzer that evenly disperses the mist, & the cooling, soothing effects of this spray make it a winner! I’ve tried sticking it in the fridge a few days ago on an extra hot day. Even better. This is a summer win for me! Thank you, OSEA 🌊🍉

Too Cool For School Egg Mousse Pack

I’m normally super wary of foaming products – in my own experience, they strip my dry skin of any moisture I might have, making my skin feel tight & uncomfortable. After having great results with CLĒ Cosmetics’ Oxygen Foam Cleanser, however, I decided to give this TCFS mask a go. TCFS is also a K-Beauty company, & since I’d had such a good experience with the Oxygen Foam Cleanser, I decided to be brave, & try this mask.

It comes in an aerosol can, which is pretty cool! It dispenses almost exactly like whipped cream. Another bonus: only $20 for about 3.4 ounces, which might not sound like a lot of product, but as you’ll see below, the amount I put on my hand was enough for my entire face – & that took about half a second to come out of the can.

TCFS calls this “a whipped foam facial mask made from egg yolk & egg white extracts that creates a smooth & radiant complexion in as little as 5 minutes.” I was pretty taken aback by the 5 minute claim, but was encouraged to see positive reviews, & TFCS’s promise that this would leave my skin silky soft & smooth. I decided to give it a go on a day when my face felt particularly dry & irritated. I know – I took a risk with this one…but it was worth it.

I left it on for about 10 minutes, rather than 5, & after rinsing off, was pleasantly surprised to see a brighter complexion,  & felt a lot more moisturized immediately afterwards.

It’s also a super fun mask, I have to say. Foam is fun! I wish more foaming products were good for my skin, because I would be using them like no tomorrow. Unfortunately, most are too drying for me – but this one was a pleasant, fun surprise.

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All the product you need for your whole face! Less than 1 second of a spray. It looks & feels like meringue.

 

Sephora Birthday Gift: Caudalíe (!!!)

As most of you probably know, Sephora Beauty Insiders (doesn’t cost anything to sign up! Just an email address or phone number) recieve a mini set with any purchase during the month of their birthday. The gift sets change from year to year, & there’s usually two options: a mini makeup set, & a mini skin care set. I have plenty of makeup & don’t really wish to collect more at the moment, so I decided to go with skin care – especially when I saw that this year’s skin care set was by Caudalíe!

I’ve raved about their beauty elixir (which smells like champagne or white wine & is super cooling & soothing) in a few previous posts, but hadn’t tried anything else by them. I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to give it a go. The set included a mini of their Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet (described as a gel-cream meant to instantly moisturize & calm dehydrated, irritated skin), & a mini of their Vinoperfect Radiance Serum (described as a highly concentrated, oil-free serum that improves the appearance of dark spots, promotes even skin tone, & boosts radiance). Together, the set claims to instantly refresh, moisturize, & brighten skin.

Neither of these products are cheap – in fact, the Vinoperfect Serum is $80 before taxes – so I took this as an opportunity to try out more Caudalíe products without breaking the bank.

These are both minis, & don’t pretend to be anything else – both products are 0.33 fluid ounces – but if nothing else, they’re a good opportunity to try out an expensive brand, & also good for travel (collect free minis as much as possible if you travel a lot!).

I expected the products to have a powerful scent, given that the beauty elixer does, but neither of them have much of a scent. I wouldn’t call them fragrance-free, but they just have a slight, fresh scent to them. Both products sink instantly into the skin! I really, really like the Vinoperfect Radiance Serum (& hate myself for liking it so much since it’s so expensive) & I also really, really like the Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet (I hate myself less for liking this one, since it’s $40 instead of a whopping $80). The sorbet sinks into my skin really well, leaves it super moisturized, but not at all sticky. I’d call it a really good daytime moisturizer. It could almost be a primer for dry skinned people, since it leaves your skin moisturized but has just a tiny bit of “tack” (I don’t mean this in a bad way at all) to it.

Caudalíe, I love you, I hate you. I see myself buying at least one of these in the future. They really are…so good….& let’s not forget about their whimsical yet elegant packaging.

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My Caudalíe minis shining in the sun, with my Beauty Elixir by their side. I especially love the dusty rose packaging of the Sorbet.

Fresh SugarBath Lychee Body Lotion

I purchased this body lotion on the same day that I got my Caudalíe minis. I’d been looking for a body cream for some time, but was leaning more towards a body butter, since my skin all over my body is pretty dry. I was considering the Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, which everyone & their mother raves about, but the $45 price tag really had me questioning it. I didn’t love the smell all that much, & the texture was okay…but it didn’t have me sold.

I wandered over to the Fresh products, & saw this body lotion almost immediately. I was shocked by the price – $23 for 10 fluid ounces is super cheap for a Fresh product – so I tried some out on my hand. I first tried the Sugar Lemon scent, but slightly recoiled. The texture was nice – really nice – but I find citrus scents a bit too powerful for body lotions or creams, especially if I’m planning on wearing a fragrance. I saw the Lychee scent, saw that it was based off their best-selling Sugar Lychee fragrance, & gave that one a sniff. Much better. It had a much more subtle scent, was a bit sweeter – yet not sickly – & still had a slight whiff of citrus to it, which I actually really liked. I tried it on my hand, & quickly saw that my skin appeared firmer, more radiant, & felt much more moisturized. If it worked this well on the tougher skin of my hand, I thought, it would be amazing for my body. I went with it!

Fresh describes the lotion as leaving the skin “feeling dewy and soft, thanks to the therapeutic qualities of real brown sugar. The light, supple texture of this superb body moisturizer makes it easy to use any time of the day, in any climate.” It’s described as  “a sparkling with delicate grapefruit, lemon, lime, juicy lychee, & mango.” I love the slight citrus-y scent of this lotion, which slightly cuts the sweetness of the lychee & mango – basically, it’s a perfect balance between sweet & citrus. Plus: the bottle’s classically beautiful, simple packaging (that Fresh is famous for) looks beautiful on my windowsill, & the generous amount of product will definitely last me all through the summer, possibly even longer. Lightweight, not greasy, but super moisturizing & dewy. So much bang for your buck!

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Simple, elegant packaging
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A look at the consistency & texture of the lotion – it’s definitely a lotion, not a cream or a butter.
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The after-effects: dewy, plump, & moisturized! Definitely can be a hand & body lotion.

 

 

Biossance 100% Squalane Oil 

A relatively new brand to Sephora! Biossance is a skin care brand that mainly utilizes squalane oil (a natural 30-carbon organic compound) for skin, body, & hair products. I was sent their 100% Squalane oil, a fragrance-free product that claims to be multi-purpose, hydrating from head to toe, & locks in moisture. Biossance also says it’s a solution for dullness, dryness, & rough/uneven texture. As much as I love multi-use products, I was a bit hesitant on this one. Since I have sensitive skin, I’m always a bit scared to put multi-use products on my face (if they’re powerful enough for the rest of my body, I’m a bit frightened that they’ll react badly on my face). So, I decided to give the Squalane oil a go on my hair first. I’m a big fan of using oil on my hair (I’m super low-maintenaince with my hair: I let it air dry, & usually smooth some argan oil in it when it’s damp), so I decided to replace my usual argan oil with this one for a few days to see results.

The morning after applying the oil on my damp hair, I woke up, looked in the mirror, & saw bouncier, shinier, healthier-looking hair. I already have super-thick, pretty healthy, virgin hair (I’ve bleached in the past, but shaved it off…another story…) but this was on another level. I was truly blown away! I raved about it on Instagram, & tried it on my body. Again – amazing body moisturizer, especially right after showering. I have yet to use it on my face (since I already have so many good oils for my face, & I LOVE! this for my hair especially!) but I will give it a try soon. I haven’t been this blown away by a hair product in…probably forever, since I spend so little time on my hair. But for those who don’t like to do much with their hair: this is probably the thing for you! Your hair will look & feel better. I promise. Biossance, I love you with all my heart!

 

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I expected the oil to be green, kind of like the Sunday Riley U.F.O. Howvever, it’s just the packaging that’s green – the oil is 100% transparent (& 100% fragrance-free).

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A look at the oil on a tin: again, 100% transparent.

 

 

 

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How I achieve the sleek, center-part, Bella Hadid-esque bun: bobby pins, bobby pins, a scrunchie in the back, & Biossance oil on the top for some shine. It holds things in place, like a hair spray – but doesn’t smell bad or feel gross on your hair.

 

So…those are the products I’ve tried the past few weeks without the highest of expectations…& ended up being absolutely, 100% wrong. OSEA, Too Cool For School, Caudalíe, Fresh, Biossance…I love you! Thank you for switching up my skin & hair routine(s) in the best way possible.

Love,

Sof ❤

 

May Favorites! (All New Products)

Hello hello! Happy end of May to all of you! I hope the last full month of spring was kind to you, & that you’re ready to really get into summer mode. I know that I am!

For me, this means staying super sun-protected, super moisturized, & minimal, minimal makeup. There’s nothing like a multi-use product, especially in the summer, so I’ll be talking about some of those in this post! But first, let’s start with my May skin care favorites (since skin care comes first. Always.)

Sun Protection!

As many of you know, I am on biologic medications & chemo medications that make me extremely sun-sensitive. As in, sun exposure will drastically increase my risk for skin cancer (much more than the average person). So, I am always on the hunt for sunscreens! The problem with me is that my skin is also quite sensitive. Sunscreens usually clog my pores, break me out, & leave me feeling sticky–which sucks, because that sometimes makes me not want to use it, even though it’s such an important step for me (& all of you, too!!!). I also hate “that sunscreen smell.” I do everything I can to avoid it.

Two sunscreens that I have used for more than 2 weeks now with no issues are Farmacy’s Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen, & Glossier’s Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen SPF 35. The Farmacy one is a physical sunscreen that feels lightweight, has a fresh scent with no hint of “that sunscreen smell” & sinks into skin swiftly & easily, leaving no sticky or tacky feel. Since it’s a physical sunscreen, the active ingredients are zinc oxide & titanium dioxide, which are usually the ingredients that give a sticky feel/white cast/sunscreen smell. However, this product doesn’t do that! I’ve had no issues with breakouts or stickiness while using this product, & have no bad things to say. Just keep in mind that I’m quite pale, so what might not leave a white cast on me might leave a white cast on people with deeper skin tones. &, of course, if you’re allergic to the active ingredients, leave it be!!!! As for the Glossier sunscreen, it’s a chemical one–so again, if your skin is sensitive to chemical sunscreens, leave it be!!! Again, I’ve personally had no issues with this sunscreen. It sinks in very nicely & is transluscent. The serum-like consistency gives the product that transluscent look, so there’s no chance that it’ll leave a white cast–even on people with dark skin.

Cleansers!

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It’s always important to wash your face: once in the morning & once in the evening. My holy grail cleanser is Glossier’s Milky Jelly, but this CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser is a close second. I don’t use this cleanser in the morning, but I love using it in the evening. Although it’s a foaming cleanser–which my skin usually hates–it manages to leave me feeling fresh, clean, but not stripped of moisture. It’s also very user-friendly: massage into your face, & let it bubble up for 30 seconds. I like to use this while doing something else, like using mouthwash, or finding a pair of clean socks…

Toners!

My holy grail will always be the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater, but when I’m feeling a little fancy, I absolutely love using the Caudalíe Beauty Elixer. I bought the mini bottle on a whim at the Sephora checkout, & gave it a go. It smells like white wine or champagne, which I love! & it feels extremely cooling & soothing on my skin. It can also be used as a setting spray, which I love to do as well. The spritzer on the bottle is also great–the product comes out extremely fine & spaces out very well on your face. It’s a very summery product, & I’m going to try sticking it in my fridge to make it even more soothing on an extra hot day.  I also gave the Milk Makeup Matcha Toner a go. It’s great! I really like green tea products for reducing redness, & this one definitely does that. It has no scent, which is a plus for any of you who are sensitive to scented products, & since it’s solid, it’s also a great summer travel option.

Serums/Oils!

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Herbivore Orchid Youth Preserving Facial Oil
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Anese Slay Serum
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Biossance 100% Squalene Oil
This was a great month for serums & oils. All three of these were generously sent to my by the brands! The Herbivore Orchid Youth Preserving Facial Oil is, quite frankly…incredible. This is for people who want to try facial oils, but are frightened that they’ll end up greasy. This oil is super lightweight, has a very faint fresh scent to it, & sinks into your skin, leaving you feeling plumped & hydrated–but never greasy.

The Anese Slay Serum gave me some overnight results that I was not expecting! I applied about 3 drops on my face before bedtime & woke up with extraordinarily glowy skin. I had changed no other parts of my routine, so I know it was thanks to this. I was honestly blown away by how quickly–& effectively–this product worked. Also: it’s super concentrated, so you only need a little bit for your whole face. This product will last me a good while, I can already tell.

The Biossance 100% Squalene Oil is intended for face, body, & hair. I haven’t used it on my face or body, but I’ve tried it on my hair. Usually, I use argan oil on my hair (I just massage it in while my hair is damp, then let it air dry) but after giving this a go, I think I might switch over to this option full-time (if my wallet will let me). My hair looked shinier, healthier, & bouncier the very next day–I really, really like this. I will try it on my body & face soon, but right now, I’m just loving it for my hair!

Moisturizers!

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Mario Badescu Honey Moisturizer (that’s not a hair, my bottle is scratched. I swear.)
I haven’t found anything truly groundbreaking for summer moisturizers, but I do love the Mario Badescu Honey Moisturizer. It’s great for sensitive, dry, & combo skin types; it’s lightweight enough for hot, sticky days, but provides enough moisture to keep your skin plump & hydrated.

Masks/Cleansing Balms/Various Stuff!

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Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream
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TCFS Egg Mousse Pack
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Origins Super Spot Remover & Rose Clay Mask
None of these really fit into an above category, so I thought I’d just group them together as one.

Saturday Skin kindly sent me their Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream, which I tried dubiously–I don’t mind my dark circles at all–but I hate waking up in the morning with puffy eyes. One night of use, & I woke up in the morning truly looking…wide awake. Another product that magically worked overnight. I will definitely be getting this myself when I run out–but there’s so much product that I know it’ll last me a long while.

The Too Cool For School Egg Mousse Pack is such a cool mask! Super affordable, you get a lot of product, & the texture is amazing–it feels like you’re playing with beaten egg whites. It has a very fresh, clean, pleasant smell to it which I really like. You’re only supposed to leave it on for 5-10 minutes before rinsing off, & it purifies, smooths, & softens your skin. I’ve used it twice so far & have really liked it! All around, it’s a super fun product to use (feels really funny on your skin, in a good way!) & you get a lot of bang for your buck.

These two Origins products are some of my favorite skin care products of all time–& I’ve only seriously been using them for about a month. The Super Spot Remover™️ Acne Treatment Gel is seriously the only spot treatment that works overnight for me–& I do not say that lightly. It’s amazing–doesn’t dry out my already dry skin, a little goes a very long way, & doesn’t burn or sting. Love love love. Same goes for the Original Skin™️ Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay. It’s very similar to the Lush Rosy Cheeks mask in that it reduces redness & sooths the skin–but something about this one just leaves my face feeling even softer & fresher than when I use the Lush one. I got this as a 100 point reward at Sephora, & I’m close to running out–I know I’m going to be getting that full size ASAP!

Face Makeup!

As I mentioned before, summer makeup is great–if you keep it low-maintenance. I’m personally trying to get to the point where I need almost no face makeup this summer! My skin doesn’t particularly like face makeup ever, but really doesn’t like it in the summer. I decided to give a face makeup “substitute” a go by getting the Dr Jart+ Cicapair™️ Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30.

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Dr Jart+ Cicapair™️ Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30
As you can see, this looks beige-green in the container–but it adjusts to your skin tone when you apply it. It feels super lightweight, almost like a moisturizer, & has no sunscreen-y smell to it–it actually smells like freshly-mown grass, which I love. Overall, it just basically evens out your skin, does a little color-correcting, & makes your skin look like your skin, just a little better. I think it’s a great summer product, & if you still want to use face makeup, it’s possible to use this underneath as a primer/color corrector. Also, the SPF is an added summer benefit!

Face/Lips/Cheeks-aka, Multis!

I think multis are always an amazing thing to have, especially if you like to keep your makeup low-maintenance. This is especially amazing for the summer, so I have a few multis here, & then one gloss & one blush that I just really love!

Glossier’s Cloud Paint in Beam changed the game for me. I was always really scared of blush becaue I am so pale. Usually, blush makes me look a bit like a circus clown. But Cloud Paint is sheer to buildable–a little goes a very long way, but it blends out so, so, SO well. I love Beam for the summer; it’s an orange/peach/coral shade that makes you look sun-flushed. My favorite hack is to put a bit on the bridge of my nose & blend it out–it makes it look like I’ve been in the sun for a few hours–in a good way, & without the sun damage! It’s the most popular shade for a reason.

The CLĒ Cosmetics Melting Lip Powder is such an amazing formula. It goes on as a powder, which I was a bit wary of, but it really does melt right into your lips. This also doubles as a cheek tint, & I’ve tried it out several times. It’s great! I love doing the same bridge of the nose trick with this one. & it’s cute when my cheeks & lips match so well.

Herbivore’s Coco Rose Lip Tint in Coral is super, super pretty; it’s more of a browny-rose color for me but could be a nude for deeper skin tones. It’s super versatile, & although it isn’t marketed as a cheek product, I’ve used it as such & can say that it looks lovely.

The RMS Beauty Un Cover Up Concealer/Foundation in 000 is amazing for me, the palest of the pale. As the name suggests, it’s somewhere between a concealer & a foundation & is small, solid, & super easy to slip into my bag for a touch-up if I need one.

The Dior Addict Lip Maximizer Plumping Gloss in Pink 001 isn’t anything super special; it’s “just” a gloss. However, it has that minty tingle to it that makes your lips look plump, it’s super easy to apply if you don’t have a mirror on hand, & it has just a touch of shimmer to it, which I love. Also, Dior’s silver packaging details are so lovely….it’s hard not to buy this simply because of the packaging.

Fragrance! 

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Margiela REPLICA Fragrances: Beach Walk & Lazy Sunday Morning 
I have recently been eyeing the Margiela REPLICA fragrances, mainly because the bottles are so gorgeous, but also because they have some very fresh, unique summer scents! I have tried out Beach Walk & Lazy Sunday morning; both are lovely. I would say Lazy Sunday Morning is a bit more powdery than Beach Walk, but I really like them both. I’d love your opinion on one or both of these! Comment below if you have either (or both) & why you like them! I’m considering getting a full-size of one of the two.

Grand Finale! 

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Dior Addict Lip Glow Pomade, & Herbivore Coco Rose Coconut Oil Lip Polish – Dream Combo
When I’m not complaining about my lips’ tendency to get dry & flaky, I’m trying to find product combos that will fix that (other than my favorite Glossier Rose Balm Dotcom, of course). I finally found it. The Dior Addict Lip Glow Pomade is somewhere between a lip oil/mask & a gloss, so it can be worn in the daytime as a gloss, & as a treatment at night (that’s how I justify the price to myself…plus, it really does work). The Herbivore Coco Rose Coconut Oil Lip Polish is finally…FINALLY!! a lip scrub that actually works on my lips! Like most lip scrubs that don’t come in a stick form, it’s a bit messy to apply, but oh boy, does it work. I put this baby on, rub it around for about 25-30 seconds, remove excess sugar, & then apply the Dior lip pomade. The result? Plump, glowing, MOISTURIZED lips the next morning.

That’s all I got! I will be using these for most of the summer, if not all of the summer, if things keep working as well as they already are! I hope I gave you some items to put on your wish lists :’)

Love,

Sof ❤

Shop Glossier with me!

$10 off a $50 Peach & Lily purchase (if you’re eyeing that eye cream)