It’s Sunscreen Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Physical Sunscreens 

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What is physical sunscreen? 

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

Pros of physical sunscreen:

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

Cons of physical sunscreen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector Broad Spectrum MineralSunscreen SPF 30. 

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

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

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

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

Chemical Sunscreens

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What is chemical sunscreen?

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

Pros of chemical sunscreen:

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

Cons of chemical sunscreen:

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

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

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

Glossier Invisible Shield

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

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

Supergoop! Glow Stick Sunscreen SPF 50

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

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

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

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

Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 50

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

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

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

Makeup with SPF

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

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

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

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

CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion

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

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

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

Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30

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

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

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

Love,

Sofia

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

#TopTenSeries: Top Ten Skincare Items of 2017

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

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

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

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

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

1. Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay

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

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

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

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

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

5. CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser 

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

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

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

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

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

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

7. Kypris Antioxidant Dew

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

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

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

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

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

8. Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner

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

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

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

9. Jade Roller 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Body Hero Duo 

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Sofia 

#DrunkInLove – “Unboxing” Some Drunk Elephant Minis

A year ago, I would’ve looked at the price tag of a Drunk Elephant product & said “no way.” In my mind, no product was worth that amount of money – ever.

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Then, this February, I caved – I asked Sephora for a sample of the Babyfacial. It was love at first application; I held out & saved some of my money & ended up buying the full size a month or so later. Yes – it really is that good.

Same goes for the Framboos serum, although I already had a pretty stronge knowlege of what Drunk Elephant’s products are like/how well they work before I decided to make that investment (glad I did).

Okay, so I love two of the products, but the fact remains that Drunk Elephant is not a cheap brand.

First of all, let me just say that I don’t 100% believe in luxury beauty. I think that some products – take a Tom Ford body oil or a Dior liquid lipstick – just aren’t worth it. Packaging? Sure. Aesthetic? Absolutely. Effectiveness? I’ll go with “ehh.” Buying high-end skin care or makeup is fun & satisfying, & it makes you feel a little more pampered if you carry a Dior lip balm rather than a Carmex – but a higher price doesn’t always mean that the product is better. We have thousands of examples of this; the first example that comes to mind (if we’re truly talking affordable) is The Ordinary; almost all the products are under $10; all are under $15 (excluding shipping). So – yes, you absolutely can have a cheap & effective skin care routine. If you know your skin type & do your research, you shouldn’t have that big of a problem, no matter what price point you’re considering.

Now that I’ve lightly bashed some beauty brands that I really actually do like (Diorshow Mascara is incredible & unable to be duped, in my humble opinion) let me quickly explain why I Drunk Elephant is truly worth the amount they charge for their products.

Tiffany Masterson is the founder of Drunk Elephant. She claims that the idea of Drunk Elephant came to her as she began fiddling with her own formulas, trying to make a cleanser that would work on her unpredictable skin (sometimes oily, sometimes combo, even some rosacea). The result: Drunk Elephant, the brand we know & love today.

So – why are Drunk Elephant products worth their weight in gold?

  • None of the products contain what DE calls the “Suspicious 6″which the founder believes were the root cause of her skin issues. According to DE, the Suspicious 6 (Essential Oils, Drying Alcohols, Silicones, Chemical Screens, Fragrance/Dyes, & SLS.
  • Drunk Elephant’s philosophay is that eliminating these ingredients from your skin care routine will result in calmer, clearer, smoother skin.
  • All of the products are suitable for all skin types (even sensitive). This is because they’re (again) fragrance-free, paraben-free, cruelty-free – free of the Suspicious 6
  • Drunk Elephant focuses on natural vs. clinical – they try to keep everything as organically sourced as possible. Everything is manufactured in the United States, all products contain high concentrations of various extracts – but safe pH levels, so nothing bad will happen no matter your skin type.

I could go on with a few more reasons, but I think that this is a good introduction to Drunk Elephant as a brand, why it’s expensive, & whether it’s worth it.

Long story short – yes, I do think it’s worth it. I understand why it’s expensive, too – the packaging is very sturdy, yet eye-catching; pretty neon or pastel-colored caps contrast the plain white background of each product, feauring a delicate doodle of an elephant. Needless to say, these products won’t break while travelling. & yes – manufacturing in the U.S. is more expensive. Using organically-sourced products is more expensive. Plus – every single DE product that I’ve tried so far has been worth its money – no question.

The real question: sure, it’s worth the money, but how to afford it? Especially if you’re a college student – or just on a tight budget in general.

Well, let me first assure you that a little DE goes a long way. No need to worry about running out within two weeks – these babies last forever, thanks to their high concentrations. Just one pump or several drops is all you need for the true DE effects – & yes, sometimes they’re overnight.

Still worried about the budget? Let’s talk about The Littles™, the mini-size Drunk Elephant products – some of which come in bundles, some of which stand alone. These tiny vials will still last you a good while (obviously not as long as the full-size, but still – long enough for you to decide whether or not you’re a fan) & they cost a lot less.

I can’t drop $90 on a serum just like that – I know a lot of other young peopl can’t, either. This is why I love the concept of The Littles; you’re given enough product to actually last you long enough to see whether or not there’s a clear difference in your skin; you’re not charged heinous amounts that’ll make your bank account cry. It’s a good way to sample the brand & see which things are worth it to you.

Quick story-time before I get into The Littles – I’ve been a big fan of Drunk Elephant since early this year (sometime in February). I’ve saved my pennies for some of the products & I’m glad I did – I don’t hate any of the DE things I’ve tried; I really love some of the DE things I’ve tried. That’s why I was so overwhelmed, humbled, & happy to get an email for Drunk Elephant, saying they’d like to send a few things my way.

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When my package arrived, I cried a little (okay, no sobbing session…but I wasn’t 100% dry-eyed either; it was a big honor alright?!!!) & then actually opened the bag.

There they were – a bunch of The Littles. Some of them I’ve tried, some I haven’t – but I have some first impressions of the new DE things I tried, as well as some opinions on the DE products I’ve tried myself before.

Remember – everyone’s skin type is different, but this brand is specifically meant to be kind to all skin types. I tried to keep this in mind, but you don’t have to worry – my skin’s quite sensitive & will react to a product quite quickly if it doesn’t like said product. I can almost always tell within a day or two (sometimes less) whether the product is good or bad. Then, I have to decide between good & amazing. None of these products are bad – that’s for sure. Some I like more than others; some of you will probably disagree with me on some things. I’d love to hear what DE product you love most/which DE product you most want to try. Let me know in the comments!

So: let’s go! Time to talk about Drunk Elephant’s more affordable bundles – the student discount bundles, if you will…also known as “The Littles.” I won’t be talking about which is best for which skin type, because Drunk Elephant prides itself on their whole line working for all skin types (thanks to eradicating their Suspicious 6). I will talk about which products I like the most – & why – if my skin didn’t like it, I’ll say so, but it’s hard for me to say “don’t try that [DE product]” because everyone’s skin is different, & all DE products are suitable for all skin types.

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All of The Littles™ – mini products but major effects
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The highlighter pens I dreamed of owning as a high school student – except now, they’re in skin care form…& they’re mine!

Full disclosure – I was sent this bundle of minis or “Littles” by Drunk Elephant, but was not paid to write this review or post any photos. I keep it as honest as possible (if you’ve seen my posts of Glossier products, you’ll know that I keep it real – if I don’t like it, I say so) but Drunk Elephant truly is a brand I adore. I’ve been using their products since the begining of 2017 & have paid for every single one up until now – my monthly favorites can prove it, too. I hope I don’t come off as defensive; I just want to make sure every reader knows the context of this review. 

Okay! On to the goods.

Baby Juju™ + Baby Pekee™️ Travel Duo<<
lieve me when I say: both these cleansers are little bars of soap, very hard & dense in texture, but gentle & soft as a cloud on the skin, accompanied by a pleasing lather.

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e funny thing about both of these bars? They're not really "soap." In fact, both are "are totally free of fragrance and soap and are formulated with skin-friendly ingredients designed to cleanse and soothe the skin. Both have an ideal pH-level of 6.3, to ensure sufficient cleansing without drying or stripping the skin of its protective barrier."

I'm a big fan of non-foaming cleansers/gels; it's why I like Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser so much. I was a bit curious on how these would act. Would they pull through with the claim that the bars' cleansing properties would balance the skin's oils without stripping the skin of everything good? I was a bit nervous – I really never had used a bar cleanser for my face…unless we're counting those few ugly times I forgot a facewash in a few random hotels & had to use their little bars of soap as my cleanser. Moving on…

Of course, both of these bars can be used by themselves, but the purpose of this duo is to provide a good morning cleanser & a good night cleanser.

The JuJu Bar™ is meant to be used in the morning. It has physical exfoliants, like thermal mud and bamboo powder, which brightens, balances, clarifies, & retexturizes. It’s the cobblestone-colored bar – the white one is the Pekee Bar.

Like all Drunk Elephant products, neither of these little bars have any synthetic fragrance. I couldn’t detect even a hint of fragrance in either of the cleansers, so if you’re sensitive to scented products in general (even naturally-scented ones) these are both great cleansing options.

The top of the packaging says “cleanse + exfoliate” – hence, the physical exfoliants packed within this tiny bar.

I was nervous that the physical exfoliants of Juju would tear up my skin – nope! The particles are miniscule. I run the bar under some warm water, work up a lather between my palms, then gentle swirl the lather across my face in small circles. The lather is extremely creamy, which I love; right away, it’s obvious that Juju will not dry out the skin – in fact, I’d say it hydrates! I can feel the bamboo powder & mud particles travelling across my face, but it’s not harsh; it hasn’t caused any extra breakouts – or extra dryness. Less like sugar or salt crystals; more like very fine sand at an expensive beach. A brightening, physical exfoliating cleanser that somehow manages to keep the skin in balance. What a product – & what a suprise for me, the biggest hater of physical exfolianting cleansers out there!

The Pekee™ Bar is meant to be used at night. When I glanced quickly at the top of the wrapped Pekee Bar, I saw the words “clarify + balance” – two of my favorite words when it comes to describing skin care.

I love brightening products, but my dry, sensitive skin makes it difficult to truly brighten my skin without it feeling as though my skin is literally cracking with dehydration – & that’s where the Pekee™ Bar comes in. It’s infused with rich, hydrating ingredients, like marula oil, blueberry extract, & honey. These are all incredibly nourishing & hydrating – they’re also “antioxidants” so the combination of these three key ingredients results in a hydrating yet clarifying bar. Long-term, it claims to fade dark spots/reduce texture. Short-term, it’s brightened my complexion but kept my skin’s hydration barrier intact. I don’t know if I would leave it for my beloved Milky Jelly, but I think it’s a great thing to have on hand. Pekee behaves the same way the Juju does – except it has only lather, no tiny exfoliating particles. After patting my face dry, I feel extraordinarily hydrated; much more so than I would normally feel after using a foaming cleanser from another brand. Also, like Juju, Pekee is fragrance-free, as well as  cruelty-free, paraben-free, & vegan.

So – which would I choose, & why?

A few days ago, I might’ve said Pekee; it contains everything that my skin already loves. But – it gets redundant when I start mentioning every single gentle hydrating cleanser. Pekee? It’s great, no doubt about that. But Juju is the one that stole my heart. That’s just because I don’t just like how it feels on my face – I love how it feels on my face. It’s really been brightening  & tightening my complexion, while keeping it clear & soft. No micro-abrasions, no irritation from the exfoliants. I’ve used this both morning & evening; I’ve used it just in the morning or evening, & also used it two times in one day (one time for each routine). Although Juju is “intended” to be used in the morning (especially if you’re going to purchase the mini duo) I’ve that found it works beautifully, no matter the time of day (or night).

I can’t predict how long these cleansers will last – I don’t think I’ll be using them every single day…I just like my Milky Jelly Cleanser most of all. I will say that they seem to get a good amount of use, even if they’re being used every day, twice a day. The duo is $18; for a full-size bar (of either) it’s $28. That’s not bad at all. If these minis last as long as some of the reviews claim – I’ve seen at least three saying they’ve lasted more than a month & a half – I think it’s absolutely worth it to buy a full-size if you’re only interested in one. Or…buy the little duo & see which works for you best before forking over a little extra money for the larger, single bar.

I can definitely see myself purchasing the full-size of the Juju™ Bar. It’s been good for my skin, it will last long since it’s a bar product, & it’s very travel-friendly; no stressing about special TSA travel vials. Out of the two, I’d pick Juju. Sorry you had to hear that about ten times…but I really do like it!

As a whole, though, I was pleasantly surprised with how gentle & effective both of these cleansing bars are. I’d say it’s definitely worth $18 – probably worth $28, too, if you’re considering buying one of the full-sized ones.

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right – it's time for the real Littles! These are the ones you’ll see as duos, at Sephora & on Drunk Elephant’s site – the Rise + Glow, The NightBright™, etc. You can also purchase all of them at once by buying The Littles™ bundle.

I don’t think it’s necessary to own every single one of these products; there are some that have been amazing & others that I just haven’t cared for as much. I decided to talk about each product separately as though it were the full size version, because pairing them up in duos would take too much time – & cause too much confusion. Maybe…read this first, then check out duos, & see which one seems to suit you best (if any do at all).

Oh – & how long does each little last? According to Drunk Elephant: “about 45 days.” I’d say that’s worth it! You get enough time to get acquainted with the product, but not so much that if you truly hate it you’d be throwing away $60+. Like I said – The Littles are a great way to try out Drunk Elephant products, even if you’re on a budget. There’s aboslutely no difference between The Littles & the full sized products – texture is the same, effects are the same, results are the same. They’re just different sizes, that’s all! Okay. Let’s go!

C-Firma™ Day Serum

Yes – it’s a day serum, but there aren’t really any rules. You can use this serum at night if you choose – & don’t worry if you already are – but there are some specific benefits for using C-Firma in your morning routine. Described as a “super potent vitamin C day serum,” C-Firma is a combo of an antioxidant complex, fruit enzymes, & essential nutrients – & a chronopeptide, which is what makes this serum so good for the day time. It works up to 72 hours, provides the benefits that Vitamin D would (so hello, extra dose of healthy sun exposure!) & even if you wash your face, C-Firma will keep doing its job until those 72 hours are over.

I have tried to incorporate this into my routine several times, but it just isn’t the one for me. For whatever reason, the serum feels a bit too heavy/sticky on my face during the day, & it felt tacky even after I put a moisturizer over top. That made applying makeup a lot more difficult, needless to say. & no – I don’t wear makeup every day, but it was just another reason for me to realize: I don’t really need this.

I did notice some brightening for sure, as well as tightened pores. My skin looked a bit smoother, thanks to the 15% potent antioxidant complex of l-ascorbic and  ferulic acids C-Firma contains – they act as chemical exfoliants. There really wasn’t a problem while applying the serum…the not-so-enjoyable parts came later. By “not-so-enjoyable,” I mean that it felt too heavy on my skin & though I don’t believe it made me break out, it just didn’t work as well for me as I’d hoped it would.

Some people say they love the product but hate the scent; it’s sort of smoky; hard to describe – but no, it’s not artificial. The scent will linger, though so be careful if you’re sensitive to scents, even if they’re natural.

I ended up giving this product to my mama to see how she liked it – & she loves it. She follows that up with Marula Oil (get to that soon) & now says “I’m so firm!” when talking about her skin. She’s also said her skin has been clearer; less congestion, less breaking out. Drunk Elephant got her excited; I feel like she’s the biggest C-Firma fan out there now.

How does she use it? She’ll use it all over the face, but on more sensitive days she just pats some on darker spots/sun damage, which she says is helping them fade. This has “day serum” in the title, after all, so she applies it after cleaning/toning, & before moisturizing.

Sorry, C-Firma – it’s not you, it’s me! Everyone around me – even my mother – who’s tried it either likes or loves it. I don’t think it did anything special for my skin, but I’m not bitter. There are a lot of other Drunk Elephant products that did & still do something special for my skin, so it’s all good. Worth a try? Yes, sure! I think it probably works best on less sensitive, slightly more mature skin. Maybe I’m just too young for this one to really make a difference.

Be sure to wear a sunscreen while you’re using this product. It’s a chemical exfoliant, which increases your sensitivity to the sun, which can lead to a greater risk of skin cancer, if you’re not careful. Don’t panic if you haven’t been doing this – just find a good one & start today! Of course, you should be wearing one no matter what, but if you’re using this product, sunscreen is a must. No two ways about it. < strong>B-Hydra™ Intensive Hydration Gel <<
eight words: a cool splash of water for your face. Even Drunk Elephant says so, calling it “a cool drink of water for your skin” – & no, I didn’t look that description up before I wrote my own.

The descriptions are almost identical because it’s aboslutely true; this is something that feels cooling, even in 90-degree weather..but it’s not something that will give you literal chills in the colder weather. It’s extremely lightweight, extremely hydrating, & sinks in beautifully. It’s most defnitely a gel, but the way B-Hydra settles into your skin feels like a liquid serum. That’s how smooth it is!

Pro-vitamin B & pineapple ceramide hold in moisture, creating a barrier for your skin. You’ll feel hydrated all day. More moisture means brighter, plumper skin. I’d be confident in saying that B-Hydra does exactly that. Barberry extract has soothing properties, a watermelon rind/apple/lentil complex (or combo) ensures that your skin will be hydrated properly for up to 24 hours. Then, the fancy name “sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer” is what makes this product so lightweight; it’s how this gel turns into a lightweight spritz of water once it’s been swiped over your skin.

It might look a bit underwhelming, but B-Hydra is a good product. Although lightweight, those specific ingredients ensure that no moisture will be lost for dry skin. Meanwhile, the lightweight consistency will also appeal to those with oily/combo skin.

I don’t use it all over my face; I think that that would be a waste, since not every area of my face needs it. I focus it around my nose: that’s where I get the most redness & dryness. It works – morning & night, I use about half a pump of B-Hydra on that area & after a few moments, my skin has stopped burning or itching, & redness slowly begins to fade. It’s a product that looks underwhelming but does a lot of hard work. The color? A transparent white, similar to that of Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. There’s no scent – don’t be scared!

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The mini C-Firma & B-Hydra, which make up the Rise + Glow Duo ($23)

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lt; strong>Umbra™ Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 <<
you know me, you know that I really dislike physical sunscreens. Most of them feel greasy/tacky, which causes me to break out – & even on my very fair skin, I'll often get a white cast. They're hard for me to blend, I dislike the scent…I just don't like physical sunscreens, okay??

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unk Elephant won me over here. The Umbra Sheer was sent to me for the first time for me to try, & I skeptically swatched it on my hand. I twisted open the bottle (it has a cute little circular dispenser) & sure enough: there was the dreaded "white liquid." I put it up to my nose. Nothing. No scent. I already felt encouraged – that, & the fact that it felt so light on my hand, even when I hadn't yet blended it in.

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ce I started blending it in, magic really started to happen. No stickiness, no grease, no tacky consistency – just this incredibly lightweight, hydrating cream that gave a bit of…luminescence? <<
at's right – the best way I could describe this sunscreen is: an extremely lightweight physical sunscreen with no scent that also happens to act as an illuminating primer. It's as though someone dropped a little bit of liquid highlight into a tub of this sunscreen. I tried it under makeup, using it as a primer, & I really liked it. It looks & feels good on its own, too. It's light, it hasn't broken me out, & it doubles as a magically glowing primer. I'll take ten, please.

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lt; strong>T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum<<
ve I screamed about this enough? Yes, probably – but it keeps saving my skin, so I'll keep singing its praises.

Framboos: one of Drunk Elephant's priciest products…&, maddeningly, one of my favorites. I first purchased it in the NightBright Duo, figuring that I should get a cheaper version before fully committing myself. Within a week, I knew I'd be committing. By the time the tiny vial of Framboos was finished, I had a squeaky-clean full size version waiting for me. I can't say enough good things about this serum. Exfoliating? Check. Clarifying? Check. Brightening? Check.

It's not surprising I love this serum so much – it contains a special AHA/BHA blend. My skin loves product containing both AHA &/or BHA; Framboos has both. This blend is made up of glycolic acid (hence the name). lactic acid (another great exfoliant that my skin loves), tartaric acid, citric acid, & salicylic acid. All of these are whipped up with raspberry extract – which, by the way, is why this product has the name that it does: "framboos" is "raspberry" in German.

The night I tried it, I worried about potential tingling/burning, as well as dryness. I took special care to hydrate my skin after I applied the serum, but I already knew it was going to be a good one.

This serum is transparent & has a gel-like consistency. It's extremely concentrated – I only need one pump for my whole face – but doesn't strip my skin of its moisture. The opposite, in fact. If I apply Framboos then properly hydrate my skin, I always wake up looking softer, brighter, & smoother. Tingly? Yes, a little – but not for more than a few seconds. It sinks in quite fast. It has a bit of a tacky consistency, even after it's absorbed, but it doesn't pill off when applying moisturizer over top, & the tackiness fades as the moisturizer begins to sink in.

This is hands-down one of my favorite Drunk Elephant products. I use one pump every night before bed – after toning, before applying cream. The serum is very concentrated; very dense – yet somehow, it's lightweight enough that it can be easily blended out all over the face. That's why I need only one pump for it to work.

I try to avoid my extra dry areas (under the nose, mostly) & I won't use it on an open cut/abrasion, because you should never do that with any kind of acidic serum – ever! By applying it to my cheeks, forehead, top of the nose, & chin, I'm balancing out the areas of my skin that truly do need that exfoliation & clarification; I'm also preventing my dry areas from getting worse. I won't lie – if you have dry skin & don't properly hydrate after using this, your skin may suffer. However, if you go in knowing this, it is absolutely 100% worth it. Your wallet may cry, but your skin will thank you. This is on my permanent repurchase list.

Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil<<
is is a Drunk Elephant cult-favorite – but surprisingly, it's not at the top of my list. Described as "rehab for your skin," this oil is packed with antioxidants & omegas 3 & 9. When combined into one little bottle, Virgin Marula blocks environmental stressors & free radicals, & reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, scarring, & redness. It also improves the skin's elasticity, which makes the skin feel more hydrated. Marula oil is appropriate for all skin types, so even if you're oily: don't worry, it won't hurt you.

Why's the Virgin Marula such a big deal?

Well, "virgin" means that it comes straight from the "pip" (seed) of the marula fruit. It's cold-pressed, which preserves all of the oil's nutrients & gives it a longer shelf life. It is 100% pure – there are no other essential oils or add-ons, which Drunk Elephant says would decrease the effectiveness of the product. Totally pure, "the way it is used by African women," which is where the marula oil is harvested.

There's nothing wrong with this product – it feels extremely luxurious, as the name would suggest, & it feels great when mixed in with a night cream. It’s also nice to use after the Babyfacial – it helps calm the skin, seal in moisture, works overnight to plump & hydrate the skin.

So – is it good? Yes. Would I personally purchase the full size? No. I don’t use enough facial oils to justify purchasing a full-size vial, but I can appreciate the smooth, luxurious feel of the product.

Virgin Marula works nicely on my young adult skin – I think it’d work even better on more mature skin, simply because it contains so many hydrating ingredients & is so highly concentrated. I always enjoy using it when buying a mini size if I want the NighBright duo, but it’s not something that’s a staple in my routine – still, as with most Drunk Elephant products, it’s worth a go. Your skin may fall head over heels for it. Mine isn’t exactly committed, but I wouldn’t kick this facial oil out of bed, either. It’s fun to use when I’m in the mood for a little extra luxury in my routine!

Be sure to wear a sunscreen while you’re using this product. It’s a chemical exfoliant, which increases your sensitivity to the sun, which can lead to a greater risk of skin cancer, if you’re not careful. Don’t panic if you haven’t been doing this – just find a good one & start today! Of course, you should be wearing one no matter what, but if you’re using this product, sunscreen is a must. No two ways about it. 

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The mini Framboos & Virgin Marula – these two buddies make up the NightBright Duo (a good investment, & only $28 (with a $45 value)

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lt; strong>Lala Retro™ Whipped Cream< img class=”alignnone wp-image-13387″ src=”https://sofhoney.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/img_4515-1.jpeg&#8221; alt=”IMG_4515-1″ width=”3096″ height=”2320″><<
ve been hearing a lot about this product for ages, mostly because I was so intrigued by the packaging – it has an air-tight "pump" – or, a dispenser that hands you product without having to stick your fingers in a jar. It's a great bonus for those who try to keep their skin care products as clean as possible.

The little jar I received is not air-tight; you have to get the full size for that. That didn’t mean I wasn’t excited to finally try it, though.

Why “retro?” Drunk Elephant says that it has all the old-timer benefits – “the luxurious texture of your grandmother’s face cream” that won’t suffocate the skin. It’s not greasy; it’s incredibly hydrating yet lightweight. You’ll be shocked by this (sarcasm) but it is also fragrance-free.

The “whipped formulation” is what keeps the cream so lightweight – yet so hydrating. Lala Retro has a blend of six rare African oils that lock in moisture for hours on end; plantain extract plumps up the skin & increases elasticity (like Virgin Marula) & will also brighten the skin. It contains sodium hyaluronate, too – just like B-Hydra! It works in the same way: the cream will sink in quickly & easily, but the hydration doesn’t disappear. In fact, it’s the opposite – sodium hyaluronate releases long-lasting hydration for hours at a time. It also contains fermented green tea, which is rich in antioxidants & has anti-aging/anti-inflammatory properties. To top it off, the omega acids brighten dull. dry skin while providing a punch of moisture.

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re's the hard part: loving this so much, but knowing that it's more expensive than a moisturizer I already own & love (Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich). I use that religiously every single night. This one is significantly higher in price – up about $20 or so. That does make me pause. My face needs hydration, so I go through more cream – especially during the winter – faster than someone with normal or oily skin might. So…I love this cream. I love it a lot. I’m going to have to use up the jar & save a little bit if I want to invest in the full size, as well as deliberate & go back & forth with myself about how good this stuff has been for my skin.

In the larger packaging, the cream would have the built-in dispenser. Again, as you can see, that’s not the case with my mini version. Not a problem! I just scoop it out of the jar with my little NIOD Stainless Steel Spoon that I use with any other cream I own that doesn’t have an air-tight dispenser. Side note: this spoon is only $4, is eco-friendly (I just wipe it down with alcohol after using) & will keep your product clean.

Anyway. Lala Retro. I fell hard & fast here. The texture of the cream (as you can see in the photos) is light, whipped, airy…all that good stuff. It looked lightweight. It was lightweight, but it also felt like an extremely rich night cream or hydrating mask; once I scooped out a little of the cream & put it on the back of my hand, I could see the thick, rich consistency it was as though I had buttercream frosting on my hand.

Okay, so that might throw people off – no one really wants buttercream on their face. Not to worry; Lala Retro has your back & mine. When first applying it to my face, I could feel the rich thick texture. I massaged in the cream & within a few minutes, my skin felt softer – but it wasn’t sticky or greasy. I don’t know how to describe this cream other than: it feels rich & luxurious, it has no scent, & though it’s packed with good, natural things, it doesn’t overwhelm the skin. I’ve tried this for the day & night; it works as both, though it might be a little much for oily skin – I can’t say for sure.

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– will I buy this? I really, really want to. My skin is loving it, I feel hydrated, plump, & firm. But.

But!

But. The price tag. I am very happy with my Glossier PMR & I don't believe this cream is a necessity for me personally, though it feels incredible & continues to tempt me (I'll probably end up buying it at some point, let's be honest). That doesn't mean I don't like it – if this is in your budget, go for it. Use nothing but it. Love it. I sure do.

T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial™ Mini (VERY Limited Edition)<<
ll – Drunk Elephant wasn't lying when they called this "VERY Limited Edition" – because it's sold out on both Sephora's site & Drunk Elephant's site. I'm not surprised. Babyfacial is one of the most hyped products online, but it's expensive – not everyone can get it. People were screaming in the streets when Drunk Elephant dropped a $25 mini of the Babyfacial, which contained a .5 fluid oz. Babyfacial & a "little" size Virgin Marula. Well, no, they weren't screaming. At least – not out loud.

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lt;

he mini Babyfacial is gone, but you can get either the full-size, get a sample from your local Sephora, or buy The Littles kit if you're curious about more than 2 or 3 of the products I've talked about. No matter what, Babyfacial is good & it’s worth talking about – so let me talk about it for the 100th time.

What is it? It’s “a pro-quality AHA/BHA ‘facial’ that resurfaces to reveal greater clarity, improved skin texture and tone and a more youthful radiance,” according to Drunk Elephant. It was the first “chemical” (chemical doesn’t necessarily mean artificial; it definitely doesn’t mean that in this case) exfoliant I’d ever tried, & it set the bar very high for me. I got a little sample from Sephora, & after seeing how soft & smooth my skin was…overnight, no less, I scrounged together my money & a small balance on a leftover Sephora gift card. I bought it in February 2017, & it is still yet to be finished. Needless to say: it’s worth it.

I was drawn into this product because of the packaging, to be honest. It’s pretty! The delicate #millennialpink top contrasts with the body of the packaging, which is a funny little white, tubby, & air-tight container.

This “facial” or “masque” is intended to be used twice a week at most – that’s because it has a high concentration of AHA (25%!!!) & BHA (2%). This makes your skin more sun-sensitive, just like C-Firma & Framboos, so be sure you’re constantly wearing sunscreen during the day.

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The full size Babyfacial (1.69 fluid oz.) compared to the mini Babyfacial (.5 fluid oz.)

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lt;

ngredients? Babyfacial contains the same blend that the Framboos serum does: the signature AHA + BHA blend, which contains glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric and salicylic acids. The texture of Babyfacial is a bit goopy, sticky, & a tan color – all because of the chick pea flour, which was used in place of clay. Chick pea flour is brightening, exfoliating, & balancing, but it's less drying than clay. Niacinamide tightens pores & reduces redness while matcha tea, apple fruit and milk thistle soothe the skin. The result? Glowing, smooth, soft skin. Soft as…a baby's.

I like what Drunk Elephant put on their page about Babyfacial: "Glycolic acids get a bad rap for being sensitizing, but we believe that the pH level and accompanying ingredients (think fragrant oils or high amounts of alcohol) can often be the real problem. We formulated Babyfacial™ at the ideal pH level of 3.5 – 3.6 with a blend of acids that work together synergistically to ensure higher efficacy without the redness and sensitization."

It's true: I was very nervous about using exfoliants/acids before trying Babyfacial. The only reason I did was that I had another friend – also with sensitive skin – who'd tried it before me. Reassured, I got a sample, & smeared the tacky stuff all over my face. Tingly? Yes. Absolutely. If you don't like a tingly/burning sensation, I would hold off on getting this. It'll take about a minute for your skin to adjust to the sensation. It didn't hurt my skin at all – I had no rash, extra sensitivity, or any other ailment after washing it off for the first time, & it continues to be this way. I don't believe it'll hurt your skin – just be careful, as you should be with all acids/exfoliants. & wear sunscreen! Also: start with a short time period & build up to the suggested 20 minutes; this is especially helpful/important if you’re sensitive, like me.

Out of all the Drunk Elephant products, this is the one I think has the most bang for its buck. Like I said, I bought this in February 2017 – it’s November now, & I’m not close to running out. I only use it once a week (because I don’t want to overwhelm my skin) but even if I used it twice, I don’t believe it would run out extra fast. Even better: it comes with a teeny vial of the Virgin Marula – a great opportunity to invest in one product & test out another that may be beneficial.

Lippe Balm <<
ll, here we go: a good old lip balm. This one is $18; less than Dior, more than Baby Lips/Balm Dotcom. This comes in funny, tubby packaging, similar to the Babyfacial. The product claims to " help nourish super-delicate lips for a noticeably plump, youthful-looking pout." It also is supposed to enhance your lip line; it's not a plumping balm (by that I mean that it doesn't burn) but by supposedly making the outer lines of your lips more noticeable, your mouth looks larger.

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m not particularly interested in getting bigger lips, but I was curious to give it a go & see what it truly did. I knew that no matter what, it wouldn't be extreme, & it most certainly wouldn't be permanent.

The main hydrating bases of the Lippe Balm are avocado, mongongo, cranberry and marula oils – all incredibly hydrating, even for sensitive lips. Peptides and sea fern algae work as moisture locks, continuing to plump & hydrate the lips. Finally, antioxidant-rich green tea leaf and Vitamin C brighten & exfoliate the lips, while neutralizing free-radicals. Sounds fancy – so what does it feel like?

To me, it feels very similar to a Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. It's just a bit "fatter" – the stick of balm twists up, & while it's small, the circumference of the stick of balm itself is very wide. I'd say that while it looks small, you're getting a good amount of product.

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for effectiveness, I can't say that the Lippe Balm does absolutely everything it claims to do. It feels like a nice, hydrating lip balm, & it most definitely helps define the lip line (after a few days of use) – but I can't say in good faith that it'll plump your lips. My lips feel smooth with the balm on, & it fades without parching my lips. It’s not bad, but it’s not the first Drunk Elephant product I’d recommend to a friend (or stranger). Yes – it will make your lips look more defined, thanks to the enhancement of the outer lip line. Because of that, I think it provides an illusion; almost a lip liner effect without the lip liner. It’s an interesting product for sure – just make sure you know what it does before investing. Still, I say this for all skin care!

&…that’s all, folks! If you haven’t given Drunk Elephant a try, maybe this will give you some motivation to do so. If you have, I’d love to hear about your favorite products – I personally pick the Framboos serum & the Babyfacial; they’re the most unique. Coming in at a close second is the Juju Bar & Umbra Sheer – both are products I hadn’t tried previously, & both are excellent. I’m definitely considering purchasing full size versions of both of those products at some point, when my littles run out.

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ke I mentioned when opening, I wouldn't ever say anything from Drunk Elephant is bad. Some products are definitely better than others, but that’s the case with every brand. For Drunk Elephant in particular, I’d say that if I had to toss one product, it’d be the Lippe Balm – we all know that you can get a good balm for cheaper. Still, though: that doesn’t negate all of the positive qualities of Drunk Elephant’s brand or products. They’re good for all skin types, they really do work (truly!) & while your wallet might cry, maybe I’ve convinced you that some of these products are worth the splurge.

At the end of the day, expensive skin care (or makeup) isn’t always the best. Drunk Elephant is another story. I would definitely say their products hold their own – as they should. I’m of the firm belief that if you have the money to invest in a good product, it had better deliver – & Drunk Elephant delivers.

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ew! That's all, folks! Thanks for sticking with me, if you're reading this at the bottom. I hope my opinions/experience with Drunk Elephant products gave you some inspiration to treat yourself & your own – I was quite cautious of Drunk Elephant from the beginning because of how powerful they claimed their products were.

They definitely weren't wrong on that. The products are powerful, but I’ve come to realize that “powerful” & “sensitive” have to be mutually exclusive. If you do your research & try out some things, your skin might very well end up better than before – one of those life-changing skin care products. You know the feeling!

So – what are my old favorites/what would I recommend first off the top of my head?

  1. Babyfacial. This is an amazing product for any skin type. You will not regret the purchase, & it’ll last you for ages
  2. Framboos. I’ve tried to find a clarifying serum that didn’t dry me out; Framboos came along & saved my life. My skin’s been glowier & healthier since I started using it.

These are both 10/10 on my list. Again – these are products I’d recommend to any person with any skin type. They’re unique; they work for all skin types, they work quickly, & they work effectively.

New favorites?

  1. Juju Bar. I really like the exfoliation the Juju Bar has been giving me. I’ve been using it as a night cleanser for quite some time now; I believe my skin has gotten clearer because of it.
  2. Lala Retro. This cream has a unique texture & sensation. I find it to be similar to some products, but the lightweight effect it manages to pull of for both oily & dry skin is what really makes it unique. This is something I’d feel comfortable recommending to anyone. It’s cute, it’s fun, & it feels incredibly expensive. What’s better?

What else to say? Hashtag Drunk In Love? Not sure. Is that a good way to close this? Oh! 20% off Drunk Elephant here. What an incredible outro.

Seriously, though: thank you, Drunk Elephant! It was unbelievably exciting to get such a lovely care package from a brand I already love.

Tell me what your top Drunk Elephant picks are, if you’ve tried any of their products. If you haven’t, I’d love to know what you’d think about picking up first!

Love,

Sof <3<<
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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 ❤

August Favorites: Back To Basics

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

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

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

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

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

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

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My (heavily used) “tub” of FAB Cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Garnier micellar water, with its cotton pad pals

LUSH Honey Lip Scrub 

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

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

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

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

Can you tell I love this product?

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A closer peek at texture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen

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

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

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

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aromatica Damask Rose Soothing Gel 100% 

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

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

So: what to do with it?

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

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6 oz of soothing, rose-scented product

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

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

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

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

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

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

$2 mask that works? Can’t beat it.

O.R.G. Mineral Peel Face

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

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

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

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Mario Badescu Whitening Mask

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

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

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Origins Make A Difference™ Rejuvenating Hand Treatment

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

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

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

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

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

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Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Nail Treatment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essie Meet Me At Sunset Nail Polish

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

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

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

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

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I FOUND (a dupe of) CLAMBAKE 

CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion

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

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

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

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

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

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The gleaming gold letters: CLĒ

Glossier Cloud Paint – Shade: Haze

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lancôme Monsier Big Mascara 

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

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

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

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

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

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Black & pink packaging 

Glossier Wowder Brush

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

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

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

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

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

NYX Dewy Finish Makeup Setting Spray

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

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

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

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My (very cheap & very good) ride or die

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

Love (& happy September),

Sof ❤

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

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!

I’m Feeling Hot…Not In The Good Way – Tips On Keeping Your Cool This Summer!

It’s that time of year! Humidity is up, hair is frizzy, & no matter what, your palms will always feel sticky.

So…what to do? How should you (& I) keep our cool this summer? Here’s five products that will hopefully keep you cool, hydrated, but never sticky (& one that will protect you from those harmful rays of sunlight). Even better? They’re in the middle-range price point, (except for one) & hopefully won’t make your wallet cry.

So…stay cool, stay misty, stay soothed! It’s a must in summer weather.

Aromatica Damask Rose Soothing Gel

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This is an amazing product, & I never see anyone talking about it! Exclusively on Peach & Lily’s website (it’s a Korean brand) this gel is cooling when you apply it, yes…but the coolness & freshness stays with you even when it’s absorbed. made with 95% rose water (hence it’s gentleness), this can be used as a moisturizer for the face and body. The price point is incredible – $18 for 10 fluid ounces!! – & it truly is very versatile. I use it on my body after shaving, pat a few pumps into my face, & is so good for sensitive skin – its cooling nature brings down irritation & redness. (Side note: this does have a scent! Not overpowering but it does smell like roses; if you’re sensitive to scents, it’s probably not for you. Aromatica also sells an Aloe Vera Gel similar in formula (vegan & organic!) & I think I’ll be getting it some time soon, especially if I have unexpected beach or pool plans! Aloe is amazing for skin irritated or burnt by the sun, but this gel not only helps sooth burns/irritations – it calms & soothes your skin, too. Even cheaper than the rose one! $15 for 10 fluid ounces. (!!!) All in all, a great addition to summer skin care, a massive amount of product, & simple, almost pharmaceutical packaging that simultaneously manages to be elegant. I love this stuff.

Evian Mineral Water Spray

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I know. You’re probably rolling your eyes at EVIAN! Making a facial spray. But…I have to say…this really cools you off. The extremely fine aerosol/spritzer (whichever you prefer) gives a refreshing mist but never splatters too much on one side of your face & none on the other. It’s $12.50 for the smallest size, $18 for the bigger size. Not as cheap as Mario Badescu’s facial spray, but this stuff is good – & it’s especially great for those who don’t like scented products. There’s none in this! It’s simply cooling, refreshing, mineral water.

Milk Makeup Cooling Water Stick

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I bought this last year, intrigued. I tried it out, & haven’t stopped using it since. It’s super cooling (hence the name…obviously..), depuffs your undereye area, & i’ve even heard from some that it can be used as a primer. Regardless – however you choose to use this product, it’s a winner. It’s $24, & my first stick from last June lasted to the middle of May this year. I call that a bargain.

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive™️ Hydrating Gel

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Not cheap, nope. But super effective. It contains the amazing combo of pro-vitamin B & pineapple ceramide. These two ingredients plump, brighten, tone, & improve texture. It also contains sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer, which sinks into your skin, providing moisture throughout the day – even if you wipe your face down. Just know – this isn’t a moisturizer substitute. It’s recommended to use before a moisturizer for an extra boost of hydration (& coolness). Truly a breath of fresh air on the skin.

Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

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One of the best hydrating masks out there! Can be used as a 20 minute mask if you put on a thicker layer; can also be used as a sleep mask (if you apply a thin, even layer over your skin about 30 minutes before bed. It reduces redness, moisturizes without cloggin pores, & is a personal favorite of mine when the summer heat gets too much: I just stick it in my fridge for an extra boost of soothing coolness. Also: try chilling the mask, applying it, then taking a shower while wearing it. The contrast between cool & warm is an amazing sensation.

The Sunscreen: Glossier Invisible Shield

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Many people have mixed feelings about this product! Some said it irritated their skin, some complained about packaging. I personally really like mine. The chemical formulation makes it more like a gel-like serum rather than feeling like a sticky sunscreen. No white cast, hypoallerenic, & cruelty free

That’s about all I have for now! I hope you found these descriptions helpful, & that you’ll consider buying some in future. Your skin needs moisture, no matter how hot & muggy it is! Hydration is important: jot that down. Also: ALWAYS WEAR SUNSCREEN!!!! Your skin is at stake here. Treat her well.

Comment some of your cooling, soothing summer essentials! I’d love to hear about new things & your experience with them, as always

Love,

Sof