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!

#MiniReview: Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner

The name “Thayers” is practically a household name if you regularly browse sites like Byrdie, The File, & Into The Gloss. I’ve known about Thayers’ toners for at least a year – but I kind of just sat back & listened to everyone talk. “It’s so cheap! It’s so good! It lasts so long! So much product! Product cap perfectly dispenses actual product!”

Me, from a few feet away: “Oh, sounds nice!” I said absently, spraying myself with another shower of Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater (okay, that never happened, but essentially that’s how my “ignoring” process went).

Why did I just never get around to buying this very cheap toner that has had a lot of buzz – especially lately?

First of all, the concept of toning with a liquid-soaked cotton pad was not how I had initially interpreted toning. To me, it was only toning if it came in a spritzer bottle (which isn’t at all true, of course). The concept of rubbing cotton pads on my face sounded irritating – much more so than a healthy douse of floral mist.

Secondly – this product is easiest to find at Target – & I am one of the few people in America who doesn’t love going to Target. I know…I’m sorry! Big spaces make me anxious, it’s cold inside, & I never know where anything is despite all the signs.

About a month ago, however, I was driving home from somewhere & remembered I ran out of Tylenol; I was just happening to pass a Target & figured that this would be as good a time as any other. Coincidentally, I’d been asking a friend about Thayers earlier – she’d mentioned something about a lavender version, & my ears perked. If you know me, you know that I adore the scent of lavender. Suddenly, Thayers seemed a lot more appealing. I ran in to grab a bottle of Tylenol (success) & walked out with my medication…& a 12 fluid oz. bottle of Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner.

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“Retro” packaging 

That’s right – 12 fluid ounces of product. For $10.95. I had never really looked up the price tag on this, but when I got to the aisle at Target, I’m 99% sure I audibly gasped. The bottle was so big; there was so much product, & it was so cheap. Lucky for me, Lavender was the only option left – all of the other choices were gone. I was happy as a clam.

That evening, I skipped my usual Mario Badescu spray & put a few drops of the Thayers Lavender toner onto a cotton square – probably 4-5 drops in total. No need to worry about spilling product; this bottle has some kind of a squeeze cap that ensures that if your bottle does happen to tip over while the cap is open…not much product will be wasted. It’s like a little babyproof gate, except for a toner bottle. This was much appreciated by me; I’m always worried about forget to close a lid on a product & spilling it later if I bump into it by accident (I’m getting better). The product was easy to dispense, had that soothing smell of lavender that I love so dearly. Now: time to talk about what it’s supposed to do, what it did for me, & how I feel about it after about a month’s use.

There are quite a few different versions of Thayers toner: Rose Petal, Lavender, Aloe, Lemon, Mint…& a few more, too. While these versions may differ slightly from one another, they’re all built on the witch hazel base formula, as the name might suggest.

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The witch hazel used in this toner is extracted from the bark of the witch hazel plant. This extract contains natural tannins, which help remove excess oil from the face without stripping it of all its healthy moisture. They reduce inflammation & irritation, which calms breakouts & prevents future ones. They balance the natural pH levels of the skin – again, resulting in calmer, more balanced skin in general. It’s also an antioxidant; it also brightens & tightens the skin because of this.

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The signature red cap

The Thayers witch hazel formula is not distilled. That means that it contains 195% more tannins, according to Thayers’ own website. This, in turn, means that the product works more effectively & does a better job overall. Witch hazel works for oily skin because it removes extra dirt/other impurities; it’s good for combo skin because it keeps the dry patches balanced while (again) removing extra impurities from other areas. As a sensitive/dry skin type, I can assure you it works well for both dry & sensitive skin types, too – even both at once (like me)!

Okay – so what do I think?

Well – I think that it’s incredible. I feel stupid for not having bought this sooner – especially since it is almost infuriatingly good & cheap to beat. My skin looks brighter & clearer, but it’s not any drier than it was when I was using mist toners. The lavender version is incredibly soothing, & I love the scent. It fades within a few moments, but it gives you that calm, essential-oils vibe while gently swiping it all over the face.

Like I said, I use 4-5 drops on a cotton square. That’s right, a square, not a round or a pad. That might sound high-&-mighty – but for me at least, cotton squares are fluffier & lighter in texture than that of a round or a pad. They’re more soothing, they feel more luxurious & they are just as cheap (sometimes chaper) than rounds or pads. I buy mine from the drugstore for about $3 (for 100 or so, I believe) – but if you want to feel super fancy, Shiseido’s cotton is famously good & not ridiculously expensive. It’s a nice little “treat yourself” kind of thing you can pick up in Sephora’s checkout line.

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Clear & concise directions on the back – big plus

All-in-all? An incredible experience. I’m mad I didn’t try this sooner; I’m glad I started using it. I don’t feel the need to return to more expensive products when this big, cheap, effective bottle is right there in my top shelf. No guilt needed, especially when the product is good, is packaged prettily (come on, you know it too!) & smells like lavender (if you’re like me & like lavender).

I’m interested in trying out some of the others – particularly Lemon & Rose Petal – but I don’t think I’ll need to worry about replacing my current Thayers toner any time soon. The 12 ounces of product doesn’t sound that big of a deal – until you pick it up, realize how heavy it is, & realize that using 4-5 drops twice a day will last you essentially an eternity.

I’m not complaining, though. The Lavender toner is just right for me – it’s one of my favorite scents, it exfoliates, brightens, hydrates, balances, & tightens. All for $10.95. 10/10. I’m sorry I didn’t commit sooner, Thayers. Hope you can forgive me.

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My cheap & effective toner snuggling with my cheap & effective extra soft cotton squares

Thayer’s has announced that a spritzer toner (same formula) will be available soon – that’s good news for all of you who prefer to spray to tone as opposed to using a cotton pad. It’ll be out soon – not sure if I’ll try it, because this is doing the job very well. We’ll see!

Are there any others out there who haven’t tried the Thayers line yet? If so, I won’t shame you – but I will encourage you to try it. If you have tried it, I’d love to hear your favorite version if you’ve tried several – especially if you have dry/sensitive skin like me.

Long live the simultaneously incredible & incredibly cheap products like this one!

Love,

Sof ❤

[Safe] Sun Fun: How I Kept Sun Safe at an Amusement Park

Amusement parks! The terror of some, the delight of others. Personally, I'm one of the people delighted in roller coasters, stomach drops, & the "I'm gonna fall" feeling.

IMG_4017Safe to say that I feel at home in amusement parks! I do! Just this week I went to one with my family. I hadn't been for three years & was excited to see what was new.

Why hadn't I been in three years? The summer I was diagnosed I was told I shouldn't be in evironments like that; the second summer I was out of state vacationing; this summer, finally…I would be able to return.

Obviously, many things drastically changed for me over the past three years. I'm sicker (boo) I'm more fatigued (boo) & I am very sensitive to the sun. It's incredibly important that I wear sunscreen; the medications I take increase risk of skin cancer. SPF is no joking matter for me!

So, without further ado, here's what I wore on my face to the amusement park!

  1. A tiny dab of CLĒ Cosmetics CCC Cream – SPF 45 (!!) in the shade Light
  2. Spot concealing with the Tarte Shape Tape Concealerin Fair (I use a little brush to get rid of blemishes or redness under my nose)
  3. Dabbing Milk Makeup's Glitter Stick on my cheekbones & eyelids (no longer available)
  4. Tapping a bit of Glossier Cloud Paint in Haze on the bridge of my nose & a tiny bit on my cheeks
  5. Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen – SPF 30 (this is a multi-purpose SPF product, but primarly a balm)
  6. Glossier Invisible Shield Sunscreen – SPF 35
  7. Glossier Boy Brow in Clear
  8. Milk Makeup Face Mist
  9. Glossier Generation G Lipstick in Crush 

There's a lot of debate on whether SPF 50 is truly more effective than SPF 30 or 35; there's not much research out there either. Most dermatologists agree that once you hit a 30 or 35 number, sunblocks don't really get much more protective. They all agree that sunscreen is important to apply frequently – especially when outside. That's why I brought my Invisible Shield – I'd never tried putting it on over makeup, but I would be doing that at the park. The gel formula hinted that I'd gently pat it into my face with no issues with my makeup moving. I also had the SPF from CLĒ's CCC Cream on my face, too –  safe to say I was very sun-protected.

 

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I started out the day fresh-faced, of course: here's a look at what I looked like on the way – 10 a.m.!

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I have to note that the weather was beautiful. It was partly sunny, but it was very breezy – sometimes even cool. Still: the sun's rays are there, & I knew I had to take care of my skin no matter what.

Around 2 pm (few hours later) we stopped to eat & regroup. I reapplied my sunscreen…this time OVER makeup. The sensation? A cooling gel that is easily tapped into the face – & doesn't feel sticky, even over makeup. I was super impressed by this. I wasn't wearing a full face, true – but it didn't mess up any spot cleaning I'd done with concealer & it didn't mess up my highlight. Usually, a sunscreen would mess up concealing. This one did not.

I finished up with a spray of Milk Makeup's Soothing Face Mist & we were off again. Here's my look, mid-day, after sunscreen re-application:

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Not much – if anything – moved around. I was very satisfied with the power of the sunscreen & the Tarte concealer. My brows were fine – I was wearing Boy Brow, after all…& everyone knows the brows stay put with that!

A few more hours, a bit more sun – I kept reapplying my Fresh lip balm & hoped that my sunscreen would last even though I only once reapplied. The day ended quickly, & we started to head back. I started to look at my face, wondering if redness or breakouts would pop up.

Nope!!! Nothing at all. Here's how my face looked on the way back home:

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So…conclusions?

  • Chemical sunscreens are my thing from now on – especially this one. I like the gel consistency & I love how it absolutely doesn't mess up any makeup (Peach & Lily has some great ones I'm dying to try)
  • If you spend a lot of time in the sun: TRY CLĒ COSMETICS' FACE MAKEUP! Both their Essence Air Cushion & their CCC Cream (the one I used at the park) have high levels of SPF – they work for a lengthy time – & they work well.
  • When out in the sun, SPF lip balm is more effective than regular. I haven't ever noticed a difference inside…but walking for some hours under the sun is a different matter. I kept reapplying the Fresh balm – it smells & feels great, just like their original balms – & my lips were soft & crack-free on the way back. Hack: apply it to your browbone area/bridge of your nose/other small areas. It's a multi-purpose SPF; safe to use all over the face! Just don't put it in, you know, your eyes.
  • I'm really getting into Milk's Face Mist. I love the way it feels going on. It's very cooling, so: great for summer! It's also seemed to clear my skin a little bit. The only issue I have with it is that it often stings my face for a few seconds after the coolness of the spray has dispersed. Anyone have similar reactions? Do you know what it's from? I haven't gotten a rash or anything like that; it just stings a few seconds after I put it on

Well…that's about all the groundbreaking conclusions I've come to today! Remember: amusement parks/fairs/other outside summer activities are great fun…but they're not as much fun when you're boiling like a lobster. I personally escaped this year with zero (0!) redness or ruddiness to my face. I just had a bit of a neck burn. That's nothing a little aloe gel won't fix, right?

What are some of your favorite products to use when you know you'll be spending some time outside?

Love,

Sof ❤

High & Low – My Favorites of Each

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

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

Drunk Elephant Babyfacial – $80

 

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

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

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Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream – $46

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

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

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

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

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The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% – $6.79

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

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

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

Love,

Sof ❤

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Lip Balms

 

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Smith’s Rosebud Salve ($6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Milk Makeup Hero Salve ($12/$20)

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

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

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

This salve is cruelty-free, but not vegan.

Glossier Balm Dotcom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Dr. Pawpaw Original Balm ($10)

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

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

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

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

 Dior Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm ($33)

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

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

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

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

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

Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Lip Conditioner ($22)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This product is vegan & cruelty-free.

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

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

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

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

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

Caudalie Lip Conditioner ($12)

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

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

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

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

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

Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30 ($25)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lip Scrubs

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

 Dior Addict Lip Sugar Scrub ($33)

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

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

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

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

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

Bite Beauty Agave Sugar Lip Scrub ($18)

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

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

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

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

This product is vegan & cruelty-free.

 Lush Honey Lip Scrub ($9.95)

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

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

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

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

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

This product is vegan & cruelty-free.

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

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

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

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

This product is vegan & cruelty-free

Lip Treatments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This product is vegan & cruelty-free

 Complex Beauty Co Pout Protector ($22)

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

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

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

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

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

Dior Addict Lip Glow Pomade ($33)

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Sof ❤

 

 

Products I Didn’t Expect To Go Crazy For

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

OSEA Sea Vitamin Boost

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

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

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

Too Cool For School Egg Mousse Pack

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sephora Birthday Gift: Caudalíe (!!!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fresh SugarBath Lychee Body Lotion

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

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

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

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

 

 

Biossance 100% Squalane Oil 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

Love,

Sof ❤