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

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

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

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

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“exfoliating skin perfector”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A closer look at the (very cool) packaging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Sofia ❤

#NovemberFavorites: Layers on Layers – Both Clothes & Skincare

*Standard message of wow hasn’t this month gone by quickly! This also gives me the opportunity to link you to my November 2017 playlist; enjoy it right here!*

Hello, it’s me! What a jam-packed, emotional month. I’m now officially preparing to get back to school for my winter term; very excited & very dedicated to staying there – no falling down on the street this time.

Truly, though – I’m very excited (& a bit nervous) to be back; I’m sure you’ll be seeing some posts on how to function at university as a chronically ill person as I get back into my groove. For now, though, let’s talk skin care – & a little makeup, too.

This month, I didn’t buy many new things; I’m trying to just build a routine that is hydrating & soothing for the winter months – but also brightening & clarifying. I want my skin to be clear; I also want it to be soft; I also want it to glow. Those are hard to achieve simultaneously, especially in the winter – my skin gets extra dull, thanks to dry wind & cold temperatures.

I’ve been keeping my skin care routine pretty much the same – but I’ve incorporated a few things that were lying around forgotten, & I’ve tried to be as consistent as possible with my current routine – because it’s working so well! If you’d like to see a post about my “staples,” or something like that, let me know – that way, I can focus simply on my current routine, give more detailed information about products you probably have already heard me mention, & perhaps try a few out for yourself, too.

This month, I’ve been “layering” – that is, I’ve been using smaller amounts of product, but I’ve been using them exactly as directed. I’ve found that a little really does go a long way; I’ve seen better results by using less product in a gentler, more thorough way than just pumping out 4 droppers full of serum & slathering my face in it. For me, it’s all about gently patting things into the face – not rubbing – doing a little massage (thank you, jade roller!) & staying away from rough physical exfoliants. That’s always something I keep in mind, but it’s especially on my mind in the winter, when my skin is more sensitive…which means that it’s more likely to break open & start either a blemish or an infection. Neither are good.

So: here are some old products I’ve started religiously incorporating into my routine, & here are a few fun things that I picked up during the Sephora 20% off sale. Enjoy! Happy December; I hope these give you a few ideas for gifts, whether they’re for others or just for yourself.

Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling – Green Tea 

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Let’s start with the things I’ve never tried before! This was something I got when Sephora had their sale; I’ve been looking for a peel like this for a little while – something like the Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Milk Peel, except cheaper. I love Dr Jart+ as a brand, but sometimes…you just don’t want to pay $40 for some cotton pads & liquid. Maybe I’ll be kicking myself in the future for saying this – maybe it really is that great – but for now, I’m staying on-budget.

These are cheap! The container holds 30 single-use pads. You’re not supposed to use these more than twice a week; even if you use them twice a week, they’ll last a good while – 15 weeks, if we’re going to do the math. That, plus the 20% off & the good reviews sold me.

Neogen was originally sold only by SokoGlam, a K-Beauty website similar to Peach & Lily. That means that Neogen, like Dr. Jart+, is a K-Beauty brand; in my eyes, this meant that I was paying for a K-Beauty product that promised to do the same thing that Dr. Jart+’s product did…just cheaper.

There were two types: green tea & lemon. I initially leaned towards the lemon ones, until a friend told me that lemon was too harsh for dry skin. I was a bit scared after that, but the positive reviews on the green tea ones settled my nerves.

These pads are three-layer, & claim to be “perfect for sensitive skin.” They’re tinted a slight green; I’m not sure if it’s natural or synthetic. The scent is very pleasing! It’s very fresh, very…green. It reminds me of some aromatherapy oils – just not as heavy, of course. Main ingredient is green tea, of course: it soothes, reduces redness, & exfoliates without drying the skin. It also contains tea tree extract, which helps speed up the skin’s natural healing process. I saw a few reviews mentioning that it helped fade scarring & dark spots; I saw a lot of reviews saying how bright their skin got after they started using these.

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These are easy as pie to use! The little pad has a tiny pocket that you slip your two fingers into; once your pad is appropriately placed, swirl “the criss-cross side” over your clean, dry skin. I do about 30 seconds for each side; for me, less is almost always more when it comes to chemical exfoliants. Then: flip the pad around to its quilted side, which is very soft. It gets rid of any dirt/debris that the initial exfoliation would have brought to the surface of the skin. Then, rinse with warm water. Done!

I kept close tabs on my skin to see if I noticed any drying effects. Nope! None at all. All I noticed was brighter skin, clearer skin – & a lot less redness, which I’m always trying to combat. This is definitely a winner for sensitive skin; I have seen some noticeable results, I haven’t had any negative side effects, & I’m calm with the knowlege that this product will last me a good long time. When it’s over & done with, though, I know I’ll be getting another jar.

(Since this is a chemical exfoliant, make sure you wear sunscreen! You should always wear sunscreen, but you REALLY need to wear sunscreen if you’re using chemical exfoliants like these pads, BHA/AHA products, glycolic acid, lactic acid…etc. They increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, & we all know what that means. Wear! Sunscreen!)

Lilah B. B. Merry Divine Duo Lip & Cheek Set 

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As the name might suggest, this is a holiday exclusive! Definitely a deal; lilah b. products are not cheap. This has a $92 value, & you get two lip & cheek products, a cute little box in which to put them – & the coolest packaging in the world.

I’m not sure where I first heard of lilah b., but I believe it was on YouTube; I can’t remember who was using it or what was being used, but I do remember that the review was positive, & the packaging really caught my eye. I forgot about the brand for a little while, but when this popped up in the holiday sets on Sephora’s site, I was intrigued & decided to give it a go.

lilah b. is a green beauty brand; they’re cruelty-free, vegan, & most of their products are multi-purpose – all are enriched with botanicals (my skin loves botanicals) like aloe & agar, just to name a few. “Their luxurious formulas deliver a healthy, glowing finish” & “each product is housed in their sleek & modern signature stones.”

That was what first caught my eye, of course – & I was very curious to see how these “stones” felt & looked in real life. When my set came, I was shocked at how heavy the packaging was; it’s extremely weighty. I’m not sure what the packaging is made of, but it feels like ceramic. It fits in the palm of your hand, it slides open, & it snaps shut magnetically with a very satisfying “click.” If you’re an ASMR junkie (like me) you’ll love opening & closing these little pebbles for hours upon hours.

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Okay – so what about the actual product, though? The two shades in this set are “b. memorable” & “b. dazzling.” b. memorable is a dark wine color – darker than the outside of the packaging, b. dazzling is a glowy champagne color, similar to that of Glossier Haloscope in Quartz.

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In the description, Sephora said “Long-wearing yet creamy and moisturizing, lilah.b’s innovative formulation provides blendable and buildable color, perfect for going from day to night. Apply as a cream eyeshadow for the ultimate multitasker.” That’s a lot to live up to, so I was looking closely as I applied these for the first time. First time was a charm; these are beautiful.

b. memorable (the wine shade) is incredible for fair skin because it’s so buildable. Usually, I’ll look like I just need some sleep if I put on a color like this – either that, or I’d better really make up the rest of my face so I don’t look like that. That’s why I love this: one little tap of my pinky finger in the “pebble” of product, & you get a lot of pigment…but the pigment blends out seamlessly, & I can pat it out to get a light layer of pigment – or put on a bolder swipe for a little more color. Same goes for b. dazzling: it’s extremely pigmented, but there’s no actual glitter; my cheekbones, lips, or eyes (wherever I choose to put it) just have a beautiful, dewy glow. It’s hard to describe the finsh of these products – but I’d go with cream-to-powder…except not really. Again – hard to describe, but trust me when I say: these are beautiful! I’m glad I got the set. I really want to create a monochrome look with b. memorable; I love red pigments because it makes my green eyes pop – & trust me when I say: these do not crease. They do not budge! They stay in place; they stay put. For the price, they definitely should…but not all luxury-priced products live up to their pricetag. I’d say that lilah b. does – no doubt about it.

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Both of the shades are permanent collection; you just save money if you buy the holiday set – so, if either or both of these shades are appealing to you (& I recommend both for any & all skin tones & types) spring for the set – you’ll save some money, & you’ll have two cool pebble-type products that you can carry in your purse. You’ll probably even start a conversation around them. They’re that cool. It’s truly the perfect holiday duo: a dark, winter wine color coupled with a shimmery, dewy champagne. I’m in love. You probably would be, too. Purchase for some nice shades, green clean beauty, & some “ASMR tingles” thanks to the packaging.

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Rice Enzyme Powder

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Not a cheap product – that’s why I waited until the holiday sale to try it out. I’d have probably gotten this sooner, if the indigo version of the rice powder (I’ll explain the differences in a minute) was in a mini $15 size, like the regular one – but alas, sensitive-skinned folks need to go big or go home with this one…so I waited for the right time to go big. But not as big. Because it wasn’t as much. Anyway.

Tatcha is known for it’s Instagram/Youtube famous bright purple mask, its gold-plated lip balms, its dewy skin mist…& then you hear about this from time to time, too. I wish people heard more about it; I wish that the indigo version was talked about more! According to Tatcha, the rice enzyme powder line “provide non-abrasive daily exfoliation to create a smooth, makeup-ready canvas.” They’re made up of Japanese rice bran that’s a powder – until it comes into contact with damp skin. Then, it transforms into a very light, delicate foam. It’s a physical exfoliant that contains rice and papaya enzymes, which exfoliate & soften the skin, plus the trademarked “Hadasei-3™” formula, which is “a trio of anti-aging Japanese superfoods: green tea, rice, and algae.” Together, they hydrate, exfoliant, soften, & brighten.

There are several versions of the Tatcha Enzyme Rice Powder – Original, which is best for normal/combo/dry skin; Deep, which is best for combo/oily skin; Gentle, which is best for dry skin; & Indigo, which is best for sensitive skin. I was split between Gentle & Indigo, so I emailed Tatcha for help. They suggested Indigo – so I went with Indigo.

Along with the rice bran, special formula, superfoods, & papaya enzymes, the Indigo powder contains  natural Japanese indigo, which – you guessed it! – “calms and soothes easily irritated and inflamed skin.” I was a bit nervous to use this, because I’ve never tried a powder-to-foam cleanser, & my skin doesn’t generally like foams. Still, I knew Tatcha was famous for this product, I was curious about the sensitive version, & I knew just by looking at the container that it would last a long while.

When my powder arrived, it came packaged very nicely – which is as it should be, like I always say for luxury brands. It came with some folded up instructions – Tatcha recommends that those with sensitive skin using the Indigo powder only use it 2-3 times a week; that seemed reasonable, & I didn’t want to switch out my (much cheaper & very effective) cleanser for this one. It’d be a nice bi/tri-weekly treat for my skin.

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This powder is a very pale purple; it looks like crushed up Smarties, being the color that it is. It doesn’t really have a scent, from what I can detect.

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You definitely need to make sure that your face & hands are damp when using this, just like the instructions say. If they’re not, you’ll have a flop, just like me. I was sitting there with some half-foaming, gritty powder in my hands, angry that I’d wasted product (not a lot, but still…it’s product). Second try was successful: the purple powder transformed into the light foam, as promised, & I started gently swirling it around my skin – about 30 seconds per area. I cleansed for about 90 seconds total.

I’m not sure if this is making a huge difference, but it’s either this, the Neogen pads, or  combo of both – those are the completely new skincare products I’ve tried this month. I’ve seen brighter, clearer skin – & my skin is definitely softer after I use it. I’d give this the thumbs-up for people with sensitive skin; I’m curious  to see if my skin would get worse if I stopped using it – but then…I get scared. I’ll see if I can find a dupe some time in the future – or, maybe it truly is worth its weight in gold, like Drunk Elephant has proven to me (more than once). Only time will tell.

Tatcha Kissed With Gold Holiday Set 

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  1. I’ve been lusting over Tatcha’s Camellia Gold Spun Lip Balm for over a year now
  2. Tatcha has free shipping on any order $25+ on their site
  3. Tatcha had 20% off on Black Friday weekend

That was all the convincing I needed to get this. For $32, you get the lip balm (which is $30) & a little box, which is pretty for a vanity (but not necessary) as well as a very handy – & again, very pretty – Gold Leaf Travel Mirror.

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Essentially, you’re getting a travel mirror for free, & you’re paying $2 more for the balm. I think that I just made free shipping; it was around $28, I believe – so a big win for sure. This is still available on Tatcha’s site – so if you’ve been drooling over the balm like I have, go get it in the set & get a free mirror. Gold-plated anything is really nice, right?

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This is definitely a bit gimmicky. I don’t think that anyone needs this balm. It’s kind of like Glossier’s Birthday Balm Dotcom – you get a little shimmer, & it tints your lips slightly golden. It’s pretty; more of a shimmer than glitter. It’s not tacky like a lip gloss – so maybe it’s a must-have for someone who wants a bit of sparkle but doesn’t want to deal with the stickiness of a lip gloss. I will say that it did keep my lips very hydrated throughout the day, & I only re-applied once because I wanted a little more shimmer. It has a pleasant scent – unexpected, but pleasant. I expected it to smell floral; it has a citrus-y scent to it, which I like too. It’s invigorating! The texture is also pleasing; it’s not gooey, but it’s not waxy. You need to let your finger warm the product a little bit if you want to scoop out more than just a touch, which I like – you’re not going to be dripping with product. A little info about the balm itself: as the name suggests, it’s enriched with camellia oil, as well as squalene oil. Both of these are extremely hydrating & protect the skin’s moisture barrier along with locking in extra hydration. Camellia especially is “rich in oleic acid and vitamins A, B, D and E as well as Omegas 3, 6 and 9.” I’m seeing a trend with the superfood ingredients here.

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Again – at the end of the day, it’s not a must-have; if you’re looking for a nice gift for either yourself or someone special, it’s a nice little touch. Let’s be honest here – it is truly a beautiful thing to look at. It makes you feel fancy. Feeling fancy makes you fancy – & there you go.

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As for the gold-plated mirror – not much to say about that, except that it’s cute. It’s gold-plated. It’s a mirror. I used it to apply my lip balm when I retouched it; it fits nicely even in my (quite small) Pop & Suki Camera Bag – so it’s a nice thing to have on hand no matter what kind of bag you carry. When you’re already buying a $30 balm, might as well pay $2 more for a fancy-looking mirror, right? You’ve already reached free shipping status on Tatcha’s site at this point, anyway.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser 

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I know…I know. You’re probably saying (or thinking): Oh for God’s sake…again??? I know. Hear me out – I’ve been using MJC differently lately. Also – look! A product you don’t have to save up for 3 weeks to afford!

For a long time, I watched people talk about how they used Milky Jelly on dry skin vs. damp skin. I knew that it could be used either way; for whatever reason, I had no interest in trying it. So: what made me finally go for it?

Laziness. I had a headache one day, I didn’t want to move outside my room, & I blindly grabbed for my bottle of Milky Jelly, thinking: I know this works on dry skin. I used it, patted my face with a towel I dampened with my water bottle (listen…I was sick, okay?) patted on a toner, slapped on some moisturizer, & buried my head in the darkness of my pillow again.

I woke up the next day with softer, smoother skin, & I couldn’t forget the sensation of using the cleanser on dry skin. It’s bouncy, it’s soft; it takes a minute to warm up, but after it’s settled down, it essentially feels as though I’m massaging my face with a gel-type mask. I think the “massaging” has helped, too – it improves circulation in the face & defines/lifts your features. Just a new tip (that’s only new to me) that I’ve recently been following. I can say with confidence: I haven’t used Milky Jelly on damp skin since I started using it on dry skin. This method really is that much better. Just make sure your hands are clean – then, go to town.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% 

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Let’s switch to a more affordable product for a second – because let’s be honest, almost everyone can afford a $6 serum. Here’s The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%.

Are you surprised that I’ve mentioned this as a favorite? I am, too! That’s because I previously wrote about not liking the consistency of this particular serum on my skin, when I bought it to see if it was a dupe for Glossier’s Super Pure Serum (it’s not: same ingredients, but completely different texture & results – at least, different results for me). I stopped using it because it felt too sticky/tacky on my face, & I started noticing that it was drying my skin out. I put it at the back of my top shelf.

The other day, when I was sifting through things I don’t use to give away/sell, I found this vial again. It’s kind of hard to sell a $6 serum – let’s be real. I just let it hang out for a little while longer.

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A few days later, I noticed a blemish forming. I don’t know what prompted me to grab this serum & use it as a daytime spot treatment, but I did it – & I’m glad I did. By the end of the day, my blemish was almost completely gone. There was almost no redness, & any actual inflammation was gone. I shouldn’t be shocked – the niacinamide/zinc combo is praised because of its anti-inflammatory properties – but I think I was just shocked that I ended up liking this product…just not the way in which I originally intended to use it.

Perhaps this works well as a full-face product for people with oily/normal skin; it’s just too drying for me to put all over my face. However – it did just as good a job with calming any breakouts or blemishes as the Origins Super Spot Remover. Granted, I haven’t been breaking out much lately, so maybe my skin is just more balanced now; still, it’s worth a try if you’re truly looking for a dirt-chip spot treatment.

Salicylic Acid 2% Solution is also a serum by The Ordinary. This one is genuinely meant to be a spot treatment – I won’t be buying it, because

  1. The Ordinary suggests in the product info that the salicylic solution shouldn’t be used on very dry/sensitive skin. So, I’ll take their warning & won’t be trying it for myself, because…
  2. The niacinamide serum works just fine as a spot treatment for me; no need to spend another $6. Still, I think it’s valuable information, if you’re looking for a spot treatment made with the intent to treat spots, which the niacinamide serum was not. That’s just me improvising.

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How much should you use if you also want to try the niacinamide serum as a spot treatment? Not even a dropperful. Just squeeze out a tiny tiny drop. If you’re using it this way, it’s a spot treatment – & just a little dot of a spot treatment is the most successful method. Less is more.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

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I’ve talked about this before. I’ve talked about it the most in my “brand review” of Kypris, which you can read here. The main point of my post on that brand was to find out which products would be worth purchasing myself – would I like them enough to pay the price?

I specifically mentioned that the Antioxidant Dew was my favorite Kypris product, & that I’d recommend that one before any other Kypris product. That’s because it’s unique! It’s a thin, milky liquid – not quite a serum, but not exactly an essence, either. I pat about three drops into my skin in the mornings; I don’t use it in evenings. It’s not bad to use it twice a day – but I’m a bit skimpier with my more expensive products, because I want them to last.

So – what else makes the Antioxidant Dew so special? If you want it short & sweet, here it is: it’s jam-packed with ocean extracts & herbal antioxidants. Vitamin C & E nourish your skin’s barrier; sea algea extracts calms the skin; reed extract, which is a sea vegetable used to release heat/calm irritations. The list goes on; it’s long enough that I’d be tired after finishing describing each of them in detail. Just know that despite being jam-packed with all these antioxidants, botanicals, etc., the Antioxidant Dew doesn’t feel heavy on the skin; not even a little bit. It just leaves a radiant glow to the complexion. About three days after I started using it, I began to notice my complexion looking brighter & clearer; it also seemed to tighten my skin.

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This has been a beloved product ever since I received it; I’m sadly watching the last of the dew disappear – I love it, but I’m not quite sure if I’ll be buying it. The price tag is high. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m currently trying out a product that’s $35 or so cheaper; a product that might end up being better than the Antioxidant Dew! I’ve just started using it & am keeping my eyes peeled; I have a feeling that this new product could “replace” both the Antioxidant Dew & the product next up in my favorites.

For now though, let me say this: the Antioxidant Dew is absolutely a unique product, & the product I’m using has a different consistency. It’s not a bad product; I absolutely love it! But if there’s something cheaper out there…well….

Saturday Skin Freeze Frame Beauty Essence 

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& here we have: a product I forgot I owned. Let me rationalize it by saying that I own the Saturday Skin Wide Awake Eye Cream (which is excellent) & both bottles look the same – the essence is just bigger. So – in my defense, the packaging is identical except for the size. Millennnial pink on white, silver caps, same shape…you get it.

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Okay. So how did I rediscover it? Believe it or not, I rediscovered it from the site I bought it on: Peach & Lily. Alicia Yoon, founder of Peach & Lily, took over the site’s Instagram story on Black Friday, naming some of her favorite products. I find her voice incredibly calming, & I love watching her talk about products she loves, especially new & exciting ones. When she popped the Saturday Skin essence into the frame… *record scratch* – oh wait! I have that! I don’t need to drool over it, I can just take a trip to my cabinet!

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A trip to the cabinet was made, & I tried out the essence that evening. I remembered that the reason I put it away was because my skin was congested, & I wasn’t sure if that was the root cause of it. Just in case it was, I decided to use it in the way I’ve been using all of my products: less is more. I only used one pump for my whole face, & I took my time patting it in, then going over my face with a jade roller.

This essence has Saturday Skin’s patented secret formula (that appears in all their products) & also contains pomegranate extract, which helps elasticity; avocado protein, which nourishes skin & protects its barrier; & peach extract, an antioxidant that brightens yet keeps skin supple & smooth. It smells amazing – probably not a surprise to hear that, after seeing all of those ingredients. It’s white & slightly transluscent; definitely more of a gel cream than a liquid. It won’t slide down your hand.

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Results? After about a week of using this, I’ve noticed that my skin looks tighter & brighter. But:

Like I said – I’m currently trying a product that is a ~sort of~ dupe for the Kypris Antioxidant Dew, & when I think of the Kypris & Saturday Skin products being mixed together, that’s the best way I can describe the consistency of the product I’m trying right now. If it lives up to my expectations (& it has been so far) I probably will not repurchase this or the Kypris product. Why pay more when you can get it for less – & get the same (if not better) results? I don’t need to answer that qestion; let me just say again: let’s see what happens with this new product.

Glossier Balm Dotcom (Original)

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I’ll keep it short & sweet on this one. You all know about Glossier Balm Dotcom & how much I love it. Recently, I made a return to the original version; that’s the unscented one with no tint at all. It was the first Balm Dotcom Glossier released; the flavored/scented versions were follow-ups that rolled out slowly.

Why do I like this one so much all of a sudden? Well, I ran out of my tube of Rose Balm Dotcom (which is a big favorite, too) & I was waiting for my order to arrive; I found a half-used tube of the OG Balm Dotcom & decided to use it while I was waiting for my rose balm to arrive.

I forgot how good the texture is. Don’t get me wrong – none of the Balm Dotcoms are bad. None of them dry out your lips (I have this problem a lot with several lip balms); they all smell amazing, & I love the shimmery Birthday Cake flavor, I love the Rose (obviously) & I even love the Mint – even though I hate almost all “mint-flavored” products.

But…there’s something special about the original Balm Dotcom. The texture is better than the rest of them – I’m not going to lie. I started using it on some dry patches on my face, too, & the dry spots were gone within 48 hours.

My lips are always dry, & I need to wear a lip mask at night if I want to wake up without feeling as though my lips might fall off, but the Original Balm Dotcom is a great daytime balm for me. Sometimes, I even use it overnight. All the balms are hydrating, but this one is the most hydrating & nourishing, in my opinion – & this is coming from someone who has tried every single flavor. If you’ve forgotten the Original, go revisit it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. If you can’t pick just one, consider the Balm Dotcom Trio – they have limited edition packaging for the holidays, & you can pick your three favorites. If I were to build a trio right now, I’d go with Original (no scent or tint; good for all areas of the face & body); Rose (amazing scent with a texture almost as good as Original); & Birthday Cake (works as a highlight, a lip luminizer, & looks pretty on eyelids, too).

I got a bit off-track, but my point is: go revisit Original Balm Dotcom. You won’t regret it.

Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Mask 

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I mentioned this mask in my last point right here, & I gave quite a detailed description, so I’ll keep this one short.

This is a self-warming mask that contains Farmacy’s trademarked “secret” Echinacea GreenEnvy™, a blend of “echinacea purpurea, which contains a high concentration of the phytochemical cichoric acid—a potent, natural antioxidant that enhances hydration and the purifying benefits of honey.” The mask looks like actual honey in the jar, as you can see; it’s a bit goopy, too – kind of how raw honey is. The honey-gold gel turns into a soft, white cream that has a self-warming effect. The mask transforms from gold to white thanks to the glycerin in it, another key ingredient. Glycerin attracts moisture to the skin while providing its own benefits, which make the skin more supple.

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The honey/honey-derived products = lots of antioxidant effects. This mask makes me feel warm & toasty (it is most certainly warm) & when I rinse it off, my face feels softer & my skin looks & feels more elastic. It’s not a mask I use in the summer – I feel like it’s a bit heavy for warmer/more humid weather – but it’s a mask I pulled out of my cabinet as soon as I detected a cold wind. It’s like a heated blanket for your face – combined with lots of things that leave your skin feeling good, even when the “blanket” is washed off. I give a few extra points for the cool metal spatula, which magnetically snaps to the top of the mask’s jar.

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Warm & cozy – perfect for those winter nights when you feel like you need 10 electric blankets on top of you. Your skin will love it, too – just be prepared for a little “detox” the first time you use it. Second time is better, third time is the charm. After that, you’re in the clear. Say hi to your new skin: moisturized, plump, elastic, & toasty-warm.

Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Facial Oil

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Again – another product I talked about in my post on hydrating products for the wintertime, which you can read here; again, I’ll keep it short & sweet, since I’ve already talked about it.

Basically, this facial oil is a great step up for those of you who want something a little ~fancier~ than an oil by The Ordinary (their rosehip oil is great, I will say) or Mario Badescu, perhaps. The price tag is high, but you get a lot of product – way more than a Sunday Riley oil – & you’re paying way less for the larger amount that you’re recieving.

This is an oil I recommend for all skin types, because it’s kind of the middle ground out of Herbivore’s three facial oils. It’s also the cheapest – & it smells & feels delicious. As you might guess from the name, it contains orchid extract, which is a powerful antioxidant that attracts moisture to the skin, fights against free radicals, & contains calcium, magnesium, & zinc – these all have great anti-inflammatory properties, so it’s soothing, but it also won’t break you out or clog your pores.

This oil also contains camellia flower oil – which I mentioned just a few products above, when I talked about the Tatcha balm. Camellia is an oil that absorbs easily, doesn’t leave any greasy residue, & contains Omegas 3 and 6, which increases the skin’s elasticity – & makes you glow.

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One last main ingredient: jasmine sambac oil, which, according to Herbivore, “comes from the night blooming variety of jasmine,” & has “been used in skincare and perfumery for centuries.” This is what gives the Orchid Facial Oil its beautiful, delicate floral scent; it also improves the skin’s elasticity & increases moisture content.

All-in-all, it’s a great oil to use all the time if you have dry skin; it’s great to use even for oily skin during drier months. It smells incredible, applies smoothly with a velvety finish, & works either by itself  (2-3 drops patted into the face before applying cream) or mixed in with your cream. Either way, you’ll see baby-soft skin, & no negative side effects. I wish there was a perfume out there that smelled like this – well, maybe there is, & I just don’t know about it.

Glossier Lip Gloss / Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer 

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Two glosses that I’ve raved about in the past & will continue to rave about – I’ve been wearing them “differently” this month & this is why I’m talking about them both yet again.

The Glossier Lip Gloss looks a bit pink in the tube but has a crystal-clear finish; it’s very shiny & makes your lips look “sparkly” but there is absolutely no glitter in it. I know MAC calls their lip glosses “lip glasses,” but I associate “lip glass” with a lip product that’s crystal-clear & has no specks of glitter in it. Some MAC’s lip glasses have glitter; some don’t. I don’t use their glosses, but I like the term “lip glass” – it’s probably the best way to describe the Glossier gloss. You’ll get lots of shine, lots of hydration (thanks to the Vitamin E) & you can even use it as an overnight lip mask – that’s how hydrating it is. Thank me later, because it’s cheaper than MAC – & it’s cruelty-free, too.

Fenty Gloss Bomb – again, something that I say everyone needs. This one does have shimmer in it. I’m still floored at how Rihanna managed to make a lip gloss that looks different yet beautiful on every single person who wears it; I’ve heard that Fenty Girl (& big crush) Slick Woods has gone through five tubes of it since it came out. I don’t blame her. It looks good no matter what. I can put this on if I’m wearing absolutely no other makeup on my face – & I will look more put together, without a doubt. This is a big win, & it’s something I’ll keep purchasing. It’s also affordable – especially for a brand that has a big celebrity’s name on it. Rihanna really is looking out for all of us; I know “FentyCare” is a joke…but…Rihanna, can you make it happen please? Asking for a friend. I know that everything you do is stellar. Please? Please. Thank you!

Why did I list both of these? Well, because although they’re quite different (Glossier’s gloss is clear, & Fenty’s Gloss Bomb is not) they both work really well by themselves – by that I mean that you can slap on either of these without wearing any other makeup, & you’ll look just a bit more put together. Also, they’re both affordable. Also, they both have beautiful packaging. Also, they’re incredibly hydrating. I could go on – but I don’t think I need to. Both of thse prodcuts sell themselves.

Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Cream For Nails

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I’ve talked about this in my post about “nail care,” which you can read right here. If this one is out of your price range, there are some great dupes in that post – but I think this is worth the $27, & here’s why: you need the tiniest bit to cover all ten of your cuticles. It smells incredible. It lasts forever – I’m not even close to being finished. In fact, it looks like I just started using it, when I have in fact been using it since the end of August. A little goes a very long way.

The color is beautiful, the texture is a bit tacky, but not bad at all, especially because it works so well – if you have dry cuticles, this is definitely a product to consider. As Sephora says, “Created in 1963, Dior’s ‘Cult-favorite Magic Multi-tasker’ is the key to truly terrific nails. This creamy salve encourages nail growth, improves nail strength, and conditions cuticles. It can be massaged into the base of nail pre- or post- polish.”

This is a cult-favorite, like the description says. Into The Gloss has raved about it, it has nearly 5 stars on Sephora’s review page, &…it’s just a really good product, okay? Plus – the packaging is beautiful. It’s hard to resist that perfect, ivory-white circular jar with “CD” engraved on the top. The color & texture is beautiful & it smells delicious. Maybe this sounds weird, but it looks good enough to eat.

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Think about it, especially if you have dry/sensitive skin in general (face, body, nailbeds…you name it). I like to think that if it’s been around since 1963 & is still going strong, it has to be good, right? That’s what I told myself when I bought it – & when it arrived, it lived up to expectations. My hands smell incredible, & my nailbeds are always soft now. It’s good. It’s really good. A nice stocking-stuffer for sure.

Jade Roller 

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I’ve talked about these before – in fact, it was one of the earlier posts I put up on this blog. If you don’t know much about them, here’s some more detailed information on them – if you already know what they do, read on to find out why I’ve been using this all the time this past month – & why I intend to keep doing that.

Jade has properties that allow it to remain cool on contact with skin – yes, they’ll warm up after a little bit, but they stay cool for a good while, & once you take it off your face, it cools down right to its “starting point.” This coolness helps close pores & tighten skin; it “lifts” your face – hence why it’s used as an anti-aging tool – & it also helps keep your skin clear, thanks to its pore-tightening properties.

I don’t really have an explanation for why I set my jade roller on my shelf for a while & left it be; I just know that when I started using it again regularly (every time I do my skin care) I noticed a difference: skin looks brighter, I don’t have as much puffiness around my eyes when I wake up (thanks to this double-sided roller that I have; the smaller end really works under the eye area), & I feel extremely pampered & relaxed while “rolling my face.”

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How to use? Well, I’ve been talking about applying my products in my routine in light layers – let’s take 2-3 drops of…Kypris Antioxidant Dew for an example. After gently patting/pressing the product into my skin, I go over my face with the roller. It feels cooling & soothing, which is always nice, & it allows the product to absorb even better – at least, that’s what I’m assuming, because ever since I started using it in this way, I’ve seen better results with my routine that’s been pretty consistent for more than a little while. Less product, more massaging. I think that’s a good philosophy to go by. Plus – you’re saving money…so, less product, less $ spent, more massaging that makes you feel like you’re getting a spa treatment in the comfort of your own bathroom/bedroom.

This is great if you have anxiety! Oftentimes, I’ll have pain in the morning or evening – mornings especially. This isn’t “a cure” for anything, but it allows me to preoccupy my hands while closing my eyes, imagining that I’m in a quiet, calm spa environment.

The three recurring questions I get are listed below, with my short & to-the-point answers:

  1. Are they (jade rollers) worth it? – Absolutely! You can get one for $10 on Amazon (they work just as well), you can get one for $25-30 (Herbivore Botanicals, Mount Lai, & GingerChi all have good ones in that price range) & if you read the full post I wrote about rollers, you can even find one for $100. Obviously that’s excessive, but my point is that you can find a good-quality roller for a small amount of money. If you do a little hunting, you can find some truly unique ones, too! I know that rose quartz facial rollers are currently “buzzing.” I’m not sure if the properties/results are different, but maybe I should get one to see. If any of you have a rose quartz one, let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
  2. How expensive was your roller? The one I’m currently using – the one in this post – is from GingerChi, & it’s $24. Like I said – even if you’re paying for an “authentic, good quality roller,” it doesn’t have to break the bank. The GingerChi roller is a perfect example of that.
  3. How do you clean your roller? I just wipe it down with a few drops of micellar water on a clean cloth after using it! You don’t need anything fancy. Just don’t use super hot water – jade doesn’t take well to that – & don’t use any harsh cleaning chemicals. Treat it gently, just like you would your skin! If you’ve been doing that all along, just keep going at it.

All-in-all, I’m really glad I started using this again this month! I picked it up off my top shelf on a whim when I was feeling anxious; after using it, I kicked myself for not using it every single day & night the past few months, then cleaned it, & put it at the top of my shelf. It deserves to be treasured, not forgotten.

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Seriously, though – are you anxious? Do you find that your skin care routine is a way for you to de-stress? Throw a jade roller into your routine; you won’t be disappointed. & yes, sometimes I just use this absentmindedly if I’m chilling out at home. Why not, right?

Well – that’s all I have for you! I put the jade roller last, because it’s been a key tool for me this past month. Smaller amounts of product, layered carefully – then massaged in with my jade roller. It’s no coincidence that I noticed a very noticeable positive difference in my skin once I started doing this. If you have one that’s laying there unused, take it out! Use it! If you don’t have one, head to Amazon, head to Herbivore, head to GingerChi…just get yourself a good one, okay? Okay.

Happy end of November; happy beginning of December. I cannot wait to share my projects with you in December, & I cannot wait to get back on my grind in January! This year was incredibly difficult, & I’ll save all of that for a different post, but let me just say: I’m incredibly grateful to all of you! Thank you for reading my posts; thank you for telling me you want to hear/see more! Thank you for being so enthusiastic about my “blog.” It means the world. It’s been a big motivator in me realizing that I can do a lot of things; I’m still talented, I still have a lot of strengths, & I have a lot to share & a lot to talk about. I can’t wait to keep that going.

Love,

Sofia ❤

If you’re considering a jade roller/quartz roller – or any purchase at Herbivore – here’s 25% off! Yay!

#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 ❤

October Favorites: Keeping Calm (& Hydrated) With A Little Glitter Thrown In

Happy November! November isn’t that happy of a month (in my opinion) but we are almost done with the year. I’m not going to harp on for too long about how short the year was & how time flies even when things aren’t going well but I will say: I have a lot of upcoming things (creations of my own!) that I can’t wait to share with all of you, & I also have some things I’ve already cooked up for all of you – check out this video & this video for now. Don’t worry – I’m growing every day, I have new things in mind every day, & I hope to share some more of them very very soon!

#MonthlyPlaylist is also out & you can take a look at it here!

Now, let’s get into my favorites of October.

For me – a perpetually cold human being – I look at October as “my last chance.” By last chance, I mean: last chance to go out wearing only a sweatshirt & not a heavy coat! Last chance to leave a clay mask on for too long without paying dearly for it (dry skin for weeks…or months…)! Last chance to…not be miserably cold & dehyrated. All. The. Time.

I’m sick, & I’m underweight (I know, I know, let me tell you something you don’t already know) so I get cold easily. Because of some medications I’m on, I also have quite sensitive skin. I’m dry-skinned to begin with, but add a little extra sensitivity & you have my face: not really prone to acne, but sensitive enough to break open (hi, micro-abrasions!) & easily retain bacteria if not properly hydrated.

Essentially: from the middle of October to the end of April, I do everything in my power to keep my skin exfoliated (chemically), hydrated, hydrated, & hydrated. Most of the products in this month’s favorites have to do with hydration, or calming the skin. So – sit back, relax, & enjoy my skin care favorites first, followed by a few makeup mentions, & one new yet beloved fragrance. If you have oily skin…maybe skip to the makeup. Or, if you’re in need of entertainment, by all means: learn about how dry my skin is!

Skin Care 

Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Cucumber, & Green Tea

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I know, I know. I swear by the rose version! Hear me out: I’m currently switching up my toner routine (trying to find an easier, hydrating method that doesn’t involve more than one product) & this one seems to be doing the job very well. I’ve found that my skin looks less red/sensitive when using this spray as opposed to the rose version. I’m assuming that’s because of the green tea & the cucumber: my skin loves both those ingredients, especially green tea. Green tea gets rid of leftover dirt & reduces redness, but doesn’t dry out the skin. I’ve been saying I would be switching up toners – & I am (probably to a Thayer’s toner; stay “tuned” for that next month, if not sooner in a mini review) but for now, this spray is my go-to toner. It’s cooling, it keeps breakouts at bay, but it never dries out my skin. To me, that = a good toner.

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Also, Ulta now carries the 8 oz. size in-store. No more worrying about paying shipping (& choosing rose because of that). Score!

Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser – as a 2-minute mask

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Hear me out. I was skeptical, too! But…it really works. It even works for people with dry, sensitive skin.

Although this cleanser is marketed for all skin types, I was quite wary when looking at it as a cleanser. It’s foaming, it claims to be “the brightening solution” (always a bit of a warning sign if you’re worried about drying products) & it contains quite a lot of glycolic acid. An even bigger flag: Mario Badescu saying in “instructions” to use it only 1-3 times a week in replacement of one’s daily cleanser. Again: big head-shake from me. It sounded way too drying, even if I were to use it once a week.

I know, I use (& love) the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum, but Drunk Elephant is a different animal (hah). All of their products specifically claim to work for any & all skin types. For the most part, I’ve found that to be true of all DE products, & the Framboos serum is certainly no exception. But – back to the Mario.

Like I said, Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Foaming Cleanser wasn’t on my radar. I was perfectly happy with my two main cleansers (Glossier Milky Jelly & CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam) & didn’t really need any others. Then, I saw @aafterglo on Instagram (check her out – she has great tips!) mention it in several posts. She mentioned it, but she didn’t mention it as a cleanser – she said she used it as a face mask. That’s right!

After reading her method, I was intrigued. “Splash masks” or “shower masks” or “5/10-minute masks” are all the rage (check out this amazing Into The Gloss reviewof some splash masks that I’m coveting). Another friend of mine tried it (check out Han, too!) & this friend has very sensitive skin. When I got a “THIS IS SOOOOO GOOD” text, I decided to head to Ulta to pick it up. $16 for 6 fluid ounces of product isn’t bad at all…especially if it’ll be used once/twice a week as a mask, not a cleanser.

So – how do I make this work? I make sure my face is clean & a little damp – not soaking, but just damp enough to squeeze out some of this gel-textured cleanser & rubbing it in circular motions until I have a light coating of foam all over my face. Then, I wait two minutes.

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The bottle dispenses product like the Mario Badescu cleansing lotions (toners): squeeze the bottle – don’t worry, it has a gel-like consistency – then go to town.

Let’s just say – both of the people I know who tried this method raved about it; I’m on that boat, too! I’ve had no issues with dryness (I don’t apply it around my super dry areas, such as around my nose) & my skin is incredibly, silky-smooth soft once it’s been removed. The results are almost immediate: bright, soft, clear skin that feels squeaky clean but not one bit dry. I’ve had it for almost a month now & it barely looks used – it’s a great way to test out an exfoliating product or “splash mask” without dropping $40+ on one you don’t know that much about.

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Standing upright, ready to go 

I’m curious to see how my skin may or may not react to my “cleansing mask” (as I call it) in the deep of cold hard winter. I’m not sure if this is an all-year-round type of thing; for now, though, it’s approved by me. Unless I come back with a sad update, this “mask” has been & continues to be the bomb…dot com.

WinkWink “CALM” Skin Mask with Matcha Green Tea + Peppermint

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Speaking of masks…here’s an old one (well, not that old) that I’m revisiting & loving even more. I love when I pull out a product I haven’t used in a while & remember how nice it is to my skin; this mask is one of them! WinkWink says “This superfood skin mask is just that, super food for your skin.”

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Texture (& a very cute lid to the mask’s jar)

The mask contains olive green clay, which helps heal old scars, strengthen skin, & balance your skin’s natural oils. The matcha is a big deal – it’s a powerful detoxer, & it can aid in fighting/removing harmful toxins, as well as fight free radicals (what happens when an oxygen molecule splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons, which are called – linked to aging & other not so cool skin ailments). Just like the olive clay, matcha balances the skin’s natural oil & sebum production. & finally: peppermint! I’d never tried peppermint in a mask before this one, & I’m sorry I hadn’t. Peppermint reduces redness/swelling, which is nice for sensitive skin; it also naturally contains salicylic acid, which is one of the most well-known acne treatments.

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Not going to lie – I was wary of the peppermint at the beginning. I don’t always like minty sensations (especially on my face) & worried that it would feel too odd. Not to worry, though! This mask is cooling & soothing thanks to the peppermint; it’s calming & redness-reducing thanks to the matcha; it’s held in place with the olive green clay. I love using this before bed; something about the scent makes me very sleepy! It’s minty, it’s green. It smells…calm! This is a clay mask that I will not be afraid to use during the winter; it’s hydrating yet clearing. Big. Fan!

Skinfood Egg White Pore Mask

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I know, I know! This is the third mask. It’s the final one, too – don’t worry. I’ll keep things moving.

This is another product that was pushed to the back of my face mask cupboard; I hadn’t used it for a good while until an anonymous message on Tumblr recommended it for a pore treatment; I don’t really have a problem with pores myself, but it reminded me that I actually owned the product. The message also said it helped their skin look tighter & firmer, too. I decided to give it another go!

Like the name may suggest, this mask contains egg white. It’s a quality protein source, which strengthens the skin; Skinfood claims that the egg white ingredient “regulates excessive sebum, eliminates pore-clogging impurities, tightens pores and minimizes their appearance, eradicates skin bacteria.”

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The color of snow, the consistency of meringue 

This is another mask that I won’t be afraid to use during the winter, although it’s clarifying & tightening. I apply it simply by following directions on the packaging; no DIY necessary on this baby. The instructions: “After cleansing, apply to the face, avoiding the eye and mouth area. After 10-15 minutes, wash off thoroughly with warm water.”

The texture is very smooth; it’s kind of like a mousse. It most certainly is the color of egg whites! It goes on smoothly & doesn’t suck the moisture out of your skin, like so many pore-targeting masks do. You don’t have to scrape it off the face, either – big plus for that. Overnight results? Yes & no. Yes – because my skin feels more hydrated, softer, & cleaner after using the mask. I don’t immediately see a tightening effect. That comes after a few uses.

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Skinfood’s packaging is cute – it’s also durable

In the end, I say this is a great mask for all skin types & all budgets. It’s $10.50, it’s effective, & – oh! The packaging is cute, too. Skinfood is a great K-Beauty brand that’s easily accessible to anyone near an Ulta (or, if you have a computer, amazon.com). As a whole, the brand is cheap, cute, & it works!   I like their Pineapple Peeling Gel, I’m curious about their Freshmade Watermelon Mask – & of course, I like this mask, too.

Eco Tools Dry Body Brush

Although it doesn’t photograph well (which is why I haven’t got any photos included) this body brush is incredibly good. Eco Tools says “Enjoy an at home spa treatment using this Eco Tools Dry Body Brush (with cruelty-free synthetic bristles) for beauty you can feel good about! Inspired by spa dry brushing treatments, used to exfoliate and detoxify, improving appearance and leaving skin soft, smooth and glowing.”

I was worried that this brush might be a bit too harsh for me/create some micro-abrasions on my body. Not to worry. Though the bristles are stiff & definitely do some serious work while you’re moving the brush over your body, there’s no redness, scratches, or anything else of that sort after using it. My body just feels super exfoliated, soft, & clean. I love using it with my Glossier Body Hero Daily Oil Wash (read why here). I put about two pumps directly on the (dampened) brush, then go to town, following the instructions: “Use the dry brush to gently brush using long, upward strokes. Start with your legs, then mid-section, then arms, always brushing in an upward motion.”

The wash froths up beautifully; it’s the perfect thing to use with something as hydrating as the Daily Oil Wash. I’ve also used it with the Mario Badescu AHA Body Wash – almost as good!

I don’t like using my bare hands to clean my body; before I found this brush, I was using a large charcoal vegetable sponge. I like this even better. Like I said: I feel smoother, softer, more exfoliated, & extra pampered – especially if I slather on a good bit of body cream afterwards. Oh, & it’s vegan, improves circulation (always great)…& best of all, it’s only $4.99. I can’t think of anything bad to say; that’s probably because there is nothing bad to say. 10/10.

Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins™ Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Soothing Treatment Lotion

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Full disclosure – this baby was sent to me by Origins (thank you – you’re the best!) but I will absolutely, positively, no question be purchasing this myself when I run out.

I’ve been eyeing this product for a while – it looks incredible, & the fact that Origins went out of their way to mention how good it is for sensitive skin in the product description was already clueing me in; I had a feeling I would like it. I was right.

This is formulated for all skin types, & it’s extremely lightweight – so if you have oily skin & are worried about this clogging your pores/breaking you out, I would stop worrying now. It’s lightweight, it’s fresh, but it’s hydrating. It has been “clinically proven to reduce redness,” is described as an “anti-irritant, redness-reducing facial treatment lotion,” & is (as you may have already guessed) in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Weil, who is (according to the incredibly reliable source of Wikipedia, “an American celebrity doctor who is a physician, author, spokesperson, and broadly described “guru” of the alternative medical brands: holistic health and integrative medicine.”

When I first looked this up & saw what Dr. Weil was all about, I was a bit hesitant to rave about the products. I have mixed feelings about alternative/holistic treatments &/or medications; however: I do believe that integrative medicine is important & deserves a respectful place in the medical field. Alternative treatments can really help those with chronic pain/chronic illness/terminal illness; pharmaceutical drugs are crucial for keeping me alive, but alternative treatments can make my days easier. They’re not an answer to everything, but they can be a big help.

I then saw that Dr. Weil donates all his after-tax royalties from the sales of his products (in collaboration with Origins, like this product right here!) directly to his foundation, which is supposed to – according to him – fund “mechanism for the advancement of integrative medicine through training, research, the education of the public, and policy reform.” NICE.

As for ingredients? It features Dr. Weil’s “proprietary mega-mushroom blend” which soothes, hydrates, & balances the skin. This is a blend of “Chaga & Reishi extracts” (which I am guessing are different types of mushrooms). It also contains narcissus lily bulb as a main ingredient, which has anti-aging properties. Finally, sea buckthorn helps futher soothe & calm the skin.

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This smells incredibly fresh, & feels incredibly hydrating. It has a green/fresh scent; nothing overpowering, just very relaxing; very herbal. Shake bottle before use (ingredients may settle if you don’t), pour onto a cotton pad/directly on the fingertips, & pat into the face. I use this both morning & night, after toner & before serum(s). I have to say: Origins’ biggest claim for this product – that it reduces redness – is right on the mark. My skin feels calmer, softer, & more…at peace. It’s truly incredible, & it’s not horrifically expensive. I know I’ll be purchasing this myself, & I really truly do want to get that big deluxe size Sephora is offering. Yes – I’ve had it for about a week & I already love it so much that I’m planning a restock.

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Keep in mind – this product is runny. Be ready to catch it with your fingertips – or use a cotton pad. Otherwise, beware!

This is a great product for all skin types – it’ll provide an extra boost of hydration to dry/sensitive skin types, & it’ll balance out oily/combo/normal skin types. Love, love, love!!!

Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Facial Oil

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I’ve been a big fan of Sunday Riley’s U.F.O. Ultra Clarifying Facial Oil since December 2016 (I was ahead of the curve on that one, okay? I used it before Harry Styles leaked that it was in his skin care routine) – but the Sunday Riley Juno Oil is the bomb (dot com) for those who need some extra overnight hydration.

Yes – this product is expensive; I think it’s unnecessary to get the full size, unless you use it two times a day without fail. These oils are extremely rich – you only need 2-3 drops (three at most) to satisfy your whole complexion…especially with this particular oil.

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A rich, colorful, luxurious product – no two ways about it

Sunday Riley describes their Juno Oil as a “superfood oil.” It contains a botanically active blend of cold-pressed superfood seed oils. Antioxidants? Check. Vitamins? Check. Essential amino acids? Check. Omegas 3, 6, and 9? Check. Naturally soothing agents? Check. Vitamins A & C? Check.

That packs a big punch for one product – like I said, you don’t need a lot of it to see some clear results.

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The bottle alone is beautiful; though the vial has an ombre effect, the oil does not – it stays the same color as it is at the top of its vial

I’d say that this oil is best for dry/sensitive/combo skin types, but I don’t think that it’d necessarily be bad for other skin types. It’s hydrating yet exofoliating (thanks to the Vitamins A & C); it sinks in without leaving a greasy finish or an oily residue; best of all, it leaves your skin feeling extra hydrated, extra soft, & it’s as though you have a shield over your face, protecting you from those super cold, super dry winter winds. I like mixing 2 drops of this with moisturizer at night. I think it works better overnight than it does during the day – I’m not really a fan of using heavy oils during the day, since they can interfere with the way makeup stays on my face. Overnight, though? It’s a winner. Oh – & it smells amazing (not floral – I can best describe it as “fresh & bright”) & the packaging is beautiful. As it should be. The mini is $45; the full-size is $90. We better be getting good packaging for that price tag!

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

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I am unashamedly putting this in my favorites again because…it is an all-time favorite of mine. Yes – you’ve probably read everything I have to say about this (amazing) cream because I tend to talk about it 24/7. In case you haven’t, here’s a brief rundown:

I call PMR (Priming Moisturizer Rich) the “prettier sister” of the original Glossier Priming Moisturizer. Glossier “dropped” it in January of 2017 (so, this year) & I haven’t gone without it since I first purchased it. That’s right – I continue to refill this product over & over again, because it’s never treated my skin badly.

It feels incredibly…rich (I know, what a description!) but doesn’t leave any greasy residue. It sinks into my skin smoothly & softly & just feels extraordinarily hydrating & soothing.

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My photograph doesn’t do this product justice – it looks even more luxurious, creamy & hydrating in the flesh

During the summer, I use this only as a night cream. During the colder months, I’ll wear this morning & night. Nope – doesn’t slide under makeup! Trust me: check out Paloma Elsesser’s Glossier GRWM – she uses PMR under her makeup, & she has one of the most beautiful complexions I’ve ever seen. It has one of my favorite ingredients: lavender oil, an anti-oxidant known for its healing properties. It’s also an extremely calming scent for me; I love using rollerballs of lavender oil as a sleep aid/relaxer, & if my whole house, face, body, & everything else I own smelled like lavender, I’d be a happy person for the rest of my life.

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No, but seriously – this stuff is incredible. Red algae complex protects the skin’s natural moisture barrier, five key fatty acids lock in moisture, lavender oil soothes & calms, murumuru butter melts into the skin without feeling greasy or clogging pores…& so on. Like I say over & over again, this makes me feel like a queen. It continues to do so, so I suppose this means that I’ll keep talking about it until the day I die. I don’t have a problem with that.

Makeup 

Time for the “fun stuff!” I put that in quotations because I think that skin care is just as fun, but that’s just me. If you prefer makeup, this is your section. Let’s go!

CLĒ Cosmetics Melting Lip Powder in Desert Rose

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I mentioned the shade additions to CLĒ Cosmetics’ Melting Lip Powder line in my September favorites; I own Plum Medium & Desert Rose. Plum Medium looks quite dark on my fair skin, & it’s a fun night color – maybe a little later in the season, I’ll wear it during the day, too. For now, though, I’ve been loving Desert Rose most of all.

In my September Favorites, I described Desert Rose as a “dusty deep brick/rust that doesn’t show up super red or super brown” & added that I couldn’t “wait until it’s time to wear very thick sweaters. These fall shades will be perfect for every gloomy (or sunny) autumn day.”

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Well – I was right. I was especially right when thinking of Desert Rose; some of my favorite colors to wear lately have been mustard yellow, rust, black & dark grey (what’s new) & some dark greens/bright reds. I’m enjoying all the color-blocking trends. What I’ve been loving most, though, is mustard yellow or rust – & Desert Rose looks beautiful on my lips when I wear either of the colors mentioned above.

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I’ve mentioned that one of my favorite things to do with the Lip Powders are tap a little on the back of my hand & mix it with a smudge of Glossier Balm Dotcom – it makes it a very easy, very creamy/sheer blushy type of product, perfect for cheeks or eyelids – or even lips, if you want more of a satin finish. I want to try this with Desert Rose as a powerful blush on my cheeks & eyelids – I think it would be quite a fall look! We shall see. For now, though – I love this shade, & I think it’ll continue to be a staple throughout the fall/winter.

Bite Beauty Multistick in Praline

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Okay, I’ll admit it: this color is pretty close to that of CLĒ Cosmetic’s Desert Rose lip powder – but I think that, as the name suggests, it’s more of a multi-purpose product.

I’ve never tried a Bite Beauty product before this – all I knew is that you can technically eat their products. The brand itself claims “Bite is beauty for lips that’s good enough to eat. With highly pigmented, trend-forward color palettes, Bite’s hydrating formulas are infused with food-grade ingredients—so your lips feel as gorgeous as they look.  Bite is beauty for lips that’s good enough to eat. With highly pigmented, trend-forward color palettes, Bite’s hydrating formulas are infused with food-grade ingredients—so your lips feel as gorgeous as they look.”

So – yes, you can eat them, which is a fun fact…though I don’t know why anyone would truly want to. I knew that, & I knew about their Bite Lip Lab, which has locations in NYC, San Francisco, & Toronto – where you pay (a good amount of money) to “mix up” the perfect custom lip shade, just for you (watch Safiya Nygaard’s cool video where she experiences it, if you haven’t already)

I don’t live near enough to any of those cities to go spend (a lot) of money to get my own custom lipstick, but I was curious about Bite Beauty. It’s been around for a hot minute now, & is best known for their lipsticks – especially in the famous shade Honeycomb.

I have enough lipsticks, but their Multisticks intrigued me. I liked the idea of being able to put the pigment on eyes, lips, & cheeks for a monochromatic look – or, just popping it on the lips (eyes, or cheeks) with contrasting makeup. Just another option. It seemed easy, portable, & quick. It was all those things – & more.

I really like the texture. Bite describes the formula as a cream that “wears like a powder for weightless color application—just apply with your finger or a brush on the eyes, lips, and cheeks.” Bite also claims that all of their Multisticks are universal shades that look good on all skin tones (& types). They’re also silicone-free – which makes them buildable, easier to blend, & allow your skin to breathe.

All the shades looked tempting, but Praline “a spicy peach” spoke to me – like I said, I’ve been loving those rusty, dirty peach shades lately. It most certainly lives up to expectations – whether I’ve used it smudged all over my lids as a messy, pretty fall eye look…or as a simple lipstick that’s small enough to carry around; easy enough to apply without a mirror. I have yet to use it on the cheeks, but I really want to do a look using this on my lips, eyes, & cheeks all at once. I think it’d look quite cool!

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As for the packaging – it’s very pretty. The tube is small, but it has weight to it. It snaps closed magnetically, which is a nice “modern” touch. All in all, I love the formula, & I love the product – & how it works on my skin. I can most certainly see myself getting another. If you like multi-purpose products, this one is a great option. I have my eye on the shade Mochi for a lovely red holiday lip; I love the shade Nectar for a 2014-2015 Lorde-esque, goth girl look. Best of all? They’re slightly cheaper than the lipsticks – & they do more! Praline’s an easy color to pull off on all skin tones, yet it has a slight twist to it that makes it natural yet eye-catching I would definitely recommend it to anyone. Any skin type, any skin tone. It’s perfect.

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Fenty Beauty Galaxy Collection – Quick Run-Down (What I Got & What I Didn’t)

I have two “favorites” from the new Fenty Beauty release, which dropped Friday October 13 (HAH!) as part of the Galaxy Collection.

The Galaxy Collection is limited edition, & is being marketed as a holiday collection. In contrast to the initial Fenty Beauty releases – which were all about a natural glow, perfect skin, & an elegant highlight – this collection is glitter, glitter, & more glitter. Nope – not one single product in this new collection is matte. That’s refreshing, I won’t lie. The matte trend was getting old, & it was drying out my poor lips. All of these products promised shine, hydration, & glow. The packaging was exciting, too – it had that “galactic theme” – I liked the oil-slick detailing on the caps of the glosses & liners, & the reflect on the eyeshadow palette’s outside packaging. According to Sephora, “Rihanna wanted her first holiday collection to wow from every angle: ‘Glitter on glitter on glitter. That’s what The Galaxy Collection is all about, no exception.’—Rihanna.”

Now – I definitely knew I didn’t want all of this stuff. God knows I don’t need another eyeshadow palette – I mainly stick to matte neutrals when choosing palettes (& if I want a crazy eye look, I’ll usually just get a single eyeshadow). I definitely didn’t need an eyeshadow brush, I wasn’t too intrigued by the lipsticks; the shades just weren’t my thing, & I don’t really need more lipsticks, anyway. What really stuck out to me were the glosses (Cosmic Lip Glitters) & the liner. I’ve been into lip glosses lately, & all of the shades looked appealing to me. As for liner – well, let me explain below why I decided to “go for it.” I think Rihanna’s making me take more risks. I’m not complaining.

Fenty Beauty Eclipse 2-In-1 Glitter Release Eyeliner in Nepturnt

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As I type this, this shade of liner is sold out on Sephora’s site – Fenty Beauty’s official site seems to still have it. I’m not sure whether or not these Galaxy Collection items will be restocked (they were marketed as limited-edition from the start) but if they are, I’d advise running over to wherever you can, to get whatever you want (aka: need).

If you’ve followed me for a bit, you probably know that I’m not an eyeliner fan. At all. I don’t like the way it looks on my eyes; I’ve tried the cat eye (failed), I’ve tried a crayon liner (failed) I’ve tried a gel liner (failed). When we’re talking eyeliner, the only ones I use are the NYX Faux Whites: a collection of “white” pencil liners with hints of color. Easter egg pink, lavender, mint, baby blue. I use them on my waterline occasionally, (or perhaps the inner corners of my eyes) & they really make things pop.

Still – I don’t really consider those eyeliners. When I think “eyeliner” I usually think of a black crayon liner, or a black liquid liner. I wasn’t at all sure if I’d like the Fenty Beauty liners, but Trophy Wife was a bit of a risk for my skin tone – & it ended up working beautifully, so I figured that it was worth the risk.

Nepturnt is described as a “green-black metallic / smoky emerald glitter.” It’s hard to see from the packaging, but you can detect those small amounts of glitter in the liner’s tube. When actually “painting” on the liner, it looks almost completely matte. The magic arrives when the liner dries down; when you smudge it lightly with a pencil brush. As you rub, the glitter magically rises to the surface. With Nepturnt, you’re left with a dragon-scale black-green-blue color – it’s magical. You can probably see by these photos that I can’t do it justice – but I’ve tried it on my lids already, taken photos, & should be able to give a better representation of what it looks like on the face some time soon.

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Do you need a precise hand to apply these? No, I don’t think so. If it were a matte liner, I wouldn’t have even considered getting it – the fact that you’re supposed to mess around a little with these liners after they’ve dried down is what really sold me. It’s a bit more forgiving than your average liner, & it gives a really unique touch. I’m not really well-informed on eyeliners on the market, but this one is definitely something special.

I’ve used this for the daytime with my much-beloved Tartelette in Bloom palette; I think I’ll also be able to do some very dramatic nighttime looks with this if I want. We’ll see! For now, I’m happy. & if you’re not a fan of glitter eyeliner – that’s cool! Leave it be, & it’ll give just the slightest touch of shimmer if it catches the light. That’s what’s so amazing about this product. I hope that in the future, she releases a permanent-edition liner that has a similar effect to this. I’d love to see a burgundy one give off a similar effect. Oooh.

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The Fenty liner with its Sephora PRO buddy

Fenty Beauty recommends using the smudger end of their Galaxy 2-Way Eyeshadow Brush for best results for the liner. I don’t have the brush, & didn’t really want to get it – I think I have enough, & I don’t think it’s necessary for the liner. I used my (already-purchased) Sephora Collection PRO Smudge Brush #11. It’s a few dollars cheaper, it does the job just beautifully, & if you have a brush similar to either the Fenty one or the Sephora one, you’ll probably be able to get the exact same results with the one you have. If you’re looking for just a smudger brush, I do definitely recommend the Sephora PRO one. Like I said: it does the job nicely: makes the glitter pop, & works for the rest of your eye look, too – it doesn’t disrupt already-blended eyeshadow, which is nice. I think it’s a good duo, & slightly cheaper than if you purchased the Fenty Beauty brush!

Fenty Beauty Cosmic Gloss Lip Glitter in Astro-Naughty 

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I won’t lie – it was really hard for me to choose just one gloss because they all looked so beautiful. The only one I wasn’t really torn over was Plutonic Relationship – I don’t really look that good in cool-toned fuschia colors like that, so it was off my radar, so to speak.

The other three – that was more difficult. I wasn’t able to make it to a Sephora in-store, so I relied on the help of my friend Ursula (check her out on Instagram) who has pretty much the same skin tone, face shape, & perhaps DNA. We don’t know. All we know is that our faces register as the same person under iPhone face recognition – so she’s a pretty good match. She managed to make it to an actual store to swatch, & I checked out her hand & lip swatches, then made my decision. Here’s what I learned from her swatches (keep in mind this is on very fair skin with cool/neutral undertones). The only one not “discussed” between the two of us was Plutonic Relationship; neither of us like that shade on our skintones.

  • Gal On The Moon (“holographic pink orchid”) – most certainly a dark gloss. Definitely will give a “fall look” to whatever makeup you’re doing for the day. Slap this on, & you’ll look spooky. This has a lot of cool-toned reflects in it; you can visibly see blue & purple sparkles when flicking your hand around so the gloss can catch the light. I decided not to go with this one, because I haven’t really been feeling cool-toned lip/eye makeup lately; I get enough of that from my cool/neutral highlights. I need something to warm up the face, unless I’m just in it for the drama. Drama’s cool, & I knew that no matter what, all of these glosses would be dramatic – but I needed a bit of warmth, so that I could make it a daytime look if I wished.
  • Spacesuit (“glittering peach”) – this was very tempting. It looked gorgeous on Ursula’s hand swatch, & it looked gorgeous on her lips, too (she ended up buying it). It’s very glittery, & it has warm reflects in it – I mean, the peach description makes that almost immediately obvious. By warm reflects, though, I mean: coral, pink, & orange. It was definitely eye-catching, & I loved it a lot – but I have a similar gloss (Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss in Girly) & decided that it was just too close of a call. I needed something different.
  • Astro-Naughty (“glittering garnet”) – I knew as soon as I saw this swatched on Ursula’s hand that it was the one for me. It has an incredible amount of warm reflects; I don’t know quite how to describe it. The color of the gloss itself is that garnet-blackberry shade. I wouldn’t call it cool or warm. The glitter in the gloss is what gives the shade all its warmth. Mostly, I can see orange, warm purple, & coral glitter. It’s very easy to distinguish each “piece” of glitter in the gloss, which is what gives these glosses such amazing dimension.

I ended up getting Astro-Naughty, & leaving it at that. Like I said, I already have a peachy gloss that’s glittery; I don’t need one that almost exactly matches it. This shade is unique enough that I felt like it wasn’t a waste of money to purchase it.

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The first time I applied this, I tried to take note of scent, whether or not it was “gritty,” & how pigmented it was/how long it lasted/how gracefully it faded. Here are my quick thoughts on that:

  • Scent – it’s sweet, candy-like. It’s not fruity, like the Fenty Gloss Bomb; I think it has a different scent. It’s not very powerful, though, & it fades after a minute or two. If you’re sensitive to scents, I wouldn’t worry too badly; it faded very quickly – for me, at least.
  • Texture – there’s a little bit of grit, but nothing that I would consider intolerable. The consistency wouldn’t keep me from purchasing it; it just feels like there are a few pieces of glitter in your gloss – that’s true…except that it feels like there are 2-3 flecks, when in reality, your lips are reflecting like 1000 mirrors. I noticed some people on YouTube saying that these tingled upon application, but I didn’t notice that – & my lips are pretty sensitive to that “plumping gloss” sensation.
  • Pigment – super pigmented. One swipe will give you a lot of color to work with. It’s a little hard to spread around the lips; what I did was dip my wand in once, spread the color over, then retouch with the “empty” wand – & finally go in again with a little extra if I had some patchy spots. Overall, it applied very smoothly, & I didn’t need much product to get a very full effect.
  • Long-lasting? – I would say this lasts just as long as a normal gloss. The pigment might give it a little extra time; I think the glitter helps keep things together, as well. I wouldn’t say that it stays on through a meal, but it does stay in place quite well. I  didn’t find that it faded patchy.

Overall, when looking at the Galaxy Collection, I’d direct most people to the glosses. I guarantee that you’ll be able to find one that works for your style; I personally don’t think the shadow palette is worth it, because it contains 100% glitter shadows. Nothing wrong with glitter (& I know – it was the point of the collection) but it would be difficult to create a full look using just the Fenty palette alone.

With the glosses, you’ll be getting some fun colors, cute packaging, & you won’t be throwing $50+ for a palette. The lipsticks didn’t appeal to me, because the finish looked a little odd, & I wasn’t a huge fan of the colors. Still – I’ve seen some amazing looks out there with those lipsticks. Just because it didn’t appeal to me doesn’t mean some other people will love it. This is just my personal opinion! If you want to play safe, go with the gloss (or lipsticks, if you like the shades). If you want a little adventure, try the liner. I promise you won’t be let down by those.

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(Check out a review of the whole collection by Essence Magazine)

Glossier You Eau de Parfum

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I already made a big post about how much I like Glossier You, including lots of pretty photos & more fun information – but let me just give a quick description of the fragrance & why it’s a favorite of the month for me.

Glossier You is mainly built on “base notes.” Base notes are a starting point for fragrances; some build on that base, others stick to that base, with just a few little extra cherries on top. Glossier You is like the latter – it’s mostly “You” as Glossier says in the fragrance description.

The key base notes are meant to melt into the skin; they’ll smell different on everyone, because they adapt to your own personal skin (did you know you have your own personal skin?).

Seriously, though – the base notes are:

  • Ambrette – comfy & warm
  • Ambrox – smooth, salty, animalistic.
  • Musk – long-lasting, addictive

I love musk in fragrances, so right when I got my sample, I knew it’d be a great one. I also noticed that the scent does indeed vary from person to person – because of that, it reminds me of Juliette Has a Gun’s Not A Perfume fragrance. This fragrance is also made up of base notes & adjusts to each individual’s skin & body heat in a different way.

In a world where we seem to see the same fragrances over & over again, it’s refreshing to see a fragrance that smells different on everyone – even though each vial has the same exact formula (of course). There’s something very appealing to me about that.

Glossier You also has a few “top notes” – I think that they give it a little extra “zing,” as a Vogue Magazine writer described it. The top notes are iris root (“earthy, green, woody”)
& pink pepper (“spice, sparkling”).

Another fun fact: the Glossier You vial is about the same size as the Not A Perfume vial (the smaller NAP vial, not the larger) – & Glossier You is nearly half as expensive. That’s a win right there.

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The result of all this ~science~ & all the articles & explanations behind it? Well: a really good fragrance, one that will smell like…you. Not to be cheesy. If you really want a strong opinion on it, check out my post about it here!

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There you have it – another month, another few great discoveries…& some old favorites revisited.

What weres some new things you tried this month that you like – & maybe even think that I’d like, too? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Halloween – forgot to mention it.

Love,

Sof ❤

“Pubic Hair Oil – Excuse Me Now?” Just Hear Me Through!

Shhh.

Just – shhh. I know what you might be thinking. Hear me out before you start talking again.

Pubic hair oil? Sounds gross? Well…it shouldn’t! Not if you take proper care of yours, that is (however little or much you may have).

Sounds familiar? It should! Fur Oil has a lot of hype on social media & has been featured in various magazines, interviews, & even videos like Buzzfeed’s famous “Ladylike” (watch them test out Fur for a week here)

Alright, now that we’ve stopped laughing about pubic hair, let’s talk a little bit about Fur Oil & what it actually does.

First off, this product is 100% organic – which is good. Organic is good as a general rule but is even better when it’s going near your sensitive nether regions.

The key ingredients in Fur Oil are grape seed & jojoba oils (dry oils that contain Vitamin A & E to soften/condition hair); tea tree oil (clarifying: it helps clear pores which minimizes ingrown hairs); & clary sage seed oil (healing properties that will soothe & reduce inflammation for healthier skin over time).

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According to Fur’s website, “Fur Oil’s unique blend of lightweight oils softens pubic hair and clears pores for fewer ingrowns and healthier skin. The 100% natural formula can be used as frequently as desired to enhance pubic hair and skin, and is also suitable for use on the face and body.” It is suggested you use it once daily as part of your regimen (ideally after showering).

Did you notice “suitable for use on the face & body?” Yup! Fur Oil is 100% organic, contains no dyes, artificial fragrances, parabens, silicone, & is not tested on animals – I think it’s safe to say that this can absolutely be used on other areas of the body as well. Fur says “also great for legs, underarms, chest, beard, and anywhere hair meets skin.”

Does using Fur Oil mean that you have to go happy hippy & shave absolutely nothing? Ever again? No, of course not. Let me explain my primary reason for being so interested in Fur Oil: ingrown hairs.

Ingrown hairs can be a mild inconvienience. They can also be a big pain in the ass – or a big painful infection, depending on how healthy (or unhealthy) you are. As an immunosuppressed person, I have to take extra care to use clean, new razors, disinfect things like tweezers & nail clippers, &, yes, watch out for ingrown hairs – whether they’re under my brows, on my legs, or under my arms. Or elsewhere.

You get my point, though! Sure, you can use Fur Oil as a conditioner/moisturizer for your body hair. You can also use it after shaving – to prevent ingrown hairs & inflammation. Like Fur claims, this truly is a multi-purpose oil.

$44 for 2.5 fl. oz. Cheap? No. But the product will last you 6 months, according to the site. It’s cruelty-free, approved by dermatologists & gynecologists. So far, so good. I’ve been doing what Emma Watson recommends [in her interview with Into the Gloss]: “I’ll use that anywhere from the ends of my hair to my eyebrows to my pubic hair. It’s an amazing all-purpose product.”

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So – oil for your pubic hair? Sure! You’ll be softer, shinier, less irritated.

Oil for your eyebrows? Yup! Again – softer, shinier, less irritated.

Or, try using it under your arms after shaving (before deodorant). Your ingrown hairs will be gone, & your tired, tired skin will thank you. Trust me.

Plus – yeah, I’ll say it – the bottle looks amazing on my windowsill. & yes…it is very Instagrammable. You can’t say that for a lot of pubic hair products out there on the market, can you?

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2017 – the year of putting your personal grooming products right next to your candles & decorative soaps

Have you used Fur Oil before/have you been thinking of giving it a go? Feel free to leave your experiences in the comments below!

Love,

Sof ❤

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

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

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

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

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

Some Nights – fun. 

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

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

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

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15-year-old Sofia was a strange bird.

808s & Heartbreak – Kanye West 

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

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

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

Pure Heroine – Lorde 

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

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

Harry Styles – Harry Styles

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

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

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

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

Depression Cherry – Beach House 

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

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

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

Blonde – Frank Ocean

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

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

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

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

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ANTI – Rihanna 

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Oooh. Yes.

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

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

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

Yeezus – Kanye West 

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

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

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

Mind of Mine – Zayn Malik 

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

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

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

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At arcades, blasting Mind of Mine.

Melodrama – Lorde 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5:30 a.m…..
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…9:30 p.m.
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A “Supercut”

Love,

Sof ❤

I’m Wearing ____: A Full-Face Walk Through

I got a lot of love (thank you!) for a simple makeup look I did the other day.

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I hate car selfies. I apologize in advance. The lighting was good…OKAY??

I also got a lot of questions about the products I used! I decided to post about it. Why? Because any time I put on a “full face” of makeup, it’s worth noticing…I’ve cut back on the dramatic eye looks & have been focusing more on my skin. Still – sometimes it’s great to wear a little extra, & I always have fun with makeup. Also: I was going to work for the first day (!!) & wanted to look a little amped up; something more than a dab of CC cream or skin tint, a highlight, & brushed out brows. Without further ado, here’s my face details from the other day.

Don’t get me wrong – this is in no way a dramatic ! It feels like a lot for me, but I know it’s pretty simple…probably fool-proof, let’s be honest! Not much talent was used while “coming up” with this look, but regardless: I think it’s simple, glowy, & enhances my natural features. Okay, enough! Let’s go:

Eyes

I rarely do much eyeshadow anymore – I used to be a huge fan of holographic glittery eyelids in the broad daylight. Don’t get me wrong, though; I still love red eyeshadow at noon; high-fashion feather brows at my morning lecture. But in general, I don’t mess around much with my eye looks anymore…especially not for a morning class. I started by priming my eyes with the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original – you know, just that good old primer! The one that’s been used by everyone & their uncle; the one that has been in every YouTuber’s routine at some point. I know it’s on the pricy side for primers, but I’ve gone through a bunch of different drugstore ones, & none of them have worked as well as this one (let me know your holy grail drugstore primer, though…please!), so I use it whenever I wear some amount of eyeshadow – admittedly not often, so this little tube lasts me a good long time.

For my actual shadow, I used only the Tarte Tartelette in Bloom palette – I adore this palette. It has the perfect mix of warm & neutral shades, it contains only two shimmer shades (the rest are matte, perfect for a crease or lash line), & it’s sturdy & has a mirror. All of these features combined make it an ideal palette for me. I got it over Thanksgiving break last fall & have not hit pan on any of them, though they’re getting worn up. When I do wear eye makeup, just know that usually the look has come together either with Tarlette in Bloom or the Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaisssance…maybe with a few tweaks of funky color here & there. Back to my point: this is an amazing palette, super easy, has enough uniqueness to it that you’ll have an understated eye look in the most glamorous, eye-catching way.

Today, I started out with the shade “Flower Child” (a whiteish tannish-pink), blending & buffing it all over my lid & crease. I added some warmth with the shade “Rebel;” I put it on my lid, then blended it into my crease. It’s a reddish shade, & red makes green eyes pop. That’s why I tend to gravitate towards eyeshadows in that shade range. I continued with the shade “Leader,” an extremely dark red with a hint of black. This shade is very dark & super concentrated; I like to take the smallest amount & blend it into my outer triangle for added depth. I continued with my lower lash line, buffing the shade “Smarty” pants all under my lashes with a soft pencil brush. It’s a very neutral light brown, which I love. This gives the look of an eyeliner with no ugly smudging or harsh lines. Finally, I took the shade “Leader” again & made small dots on the outermost portion of my lower lash line with the smallest pencil brush I could find. I then took my softer, wider pencil brush & blended it all together. Results? A simple, matte look with a hint of unique color (here, the red) that makes the eyes pop.

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A bit of blending gone wrong – oh well!

Most of you probably know that I also don’t like to wear mascara much – or at least, I didn’t. I’ve found a few this past year that I’ve liked enough to start admitting that I like mascara. Still – I’m very particular to what I want. I’ve been using Dior’s Diorshow mascara for a hot minute now, but I recieved a Glossybox this month & saw a mini tube of Lancôme’s mascara, called “Monsieur Big.” I know about Lancôme, of course – but I’d never thought about their products, so I knew nothing about this mascara. I’d never even seen it! Lancôme just isn’t a brand I browse when I’m at Sephora. I did a little research, & found out that it was a newer product, released earlier this summer (mid-May, I believe). I thought it’d be fun to give another high-end mascara a go.

I was super skeptical when I saw the wand; it looked like a Better Than Sex Mascara wand (that mascara isn’t better than sex…or anything else, for that matter) & I don’t care for that mascara. When I started applying, though, I immediately noticed the creamy texture of the product. It glided on my lashes very easily, didn’t tug, pull, or clump. It applied beautifully, didn’t smudge on my crease or lower lash line. It just was a very good mascara! It gives off a different effect than that of the Dior one, which I actually like. They’re not dupes – they’re just very different, very good mascaras. I’ll keep using this mini size, & who knows…I might switch from Diorshow to Monsieur Big in the next little while! (You can actually purchase a mini-size Monsieur Big right here on Sephora’s site)

Happy with lashes, I started to do my face, but remembered a little trick I’d picked up from someone I follow on Tumblr, actually: Kay Smetsers (now in the latest Gucci campaign) doesn’t really wear makeup, but she smudges white liner into her waterline. It gives this very shimmery, fresh, awake look – even though the liner is matte. I have the NYX Faux Whites liner in “Baby Powder,” a light, light blue that looked interesting – & cheap – to pick up at an Ulta. I went in on my waterline, & came out looking more awake. My eyes also had more depth. The liner provided one more layer of color contrast, which, again: makes the eyes pop.

FINALLY! Being the Gemini that I am, I decided I wanted a bit of shimmer on my lid. I used Colourpop’s Super Shock Shadow in “Co-Pilot,” described as such: “This light icy pink ultra-glitter will be your right hand man.. or woman hehe.”

Well…okay, Colourpop. That was a bit vague of a description…especially the last part. Seriously, though: this is a great shadow, since it works wonderfully by itself as well as a lid topper. It gave a slight halo effect without much blending or extra work. I just tapped a little onto the center of each lid with my ring finger. Boom! Sparkle away✨

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A close-up on the lashes (Lancôme Big Monsieur), the shadows (Tarte Tartelette In Bloom Palette), the baby blue eyeliner (NYX Baby Powder), &, of course, the brows. Glossier!

Face

I moved on to face! First I applied the day’s sunscreen: Glossier Invsible Shield. I knew I would be wearing face makeup with SPF in it, too, but I’ve lately been liking this as a hydrating primer, too. It’s extremely cooling on the face, the smell is therapeutic, & it sinks right in, leaving no stickiness…just a touch of hydration. It was never intended to be a primer, but my makeup sticks right to it. Something about Invisible Shield makes it a great, dewy primer – even for people with oily skin. It’s that light – but it’s also that hydrating. I followed up with a few drops of Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in the shade “Light” – I like using it with other foundation-type products. It gives a sheery, dewy finish that’s like a Snapchat smoothing filter, so it’s nice by itself for more relaxed days; it’s also great to combine with more products, like I’ll be talking about here!

Next, I applied CLĒ Cosmetics’ Essence Air Cushion (aka, face makeup) in the shade “Light” all over my face. This product is odd at first, if you’re not used to the texture of this type of face makeup. It also looked very, very orange when I first opened it, so I was scared I’d look like I’d have a fake tan or just be plain orange. WRONG! Light is perfect for my skin. It’s a sheer, dewy finish that’s like a Snapchat smoothing filter. No orange, no difficulty applying…only good, nothing bad. I’d always been scared of cushion foundation products, but I don’t know why I was. This one is just great! I didn’t apply any product directly to the outer parts of my face, though – I started in the center, then used the applicator the cushion comes with to pat it outwards. This method means you won’t get any foundation line of any kind; the product will simply do an ombre into your jawbone & neck. This has a crazy amount of SPF in it – 50!!! Even if I weren’t to wear a sunscreen, this product would cover it. It is extraordinarily lightweight & hydrating. It’s dewy without being sticky or greasy, & it gives the right amount of coverage for my style: a slightly blurred complexion, but no harsh contour/other types of shading.

Finally, I usedTarte Shape Tape Concealer in “Fair”just to conceal some red spots, & also get rid of a little redness underneath my nose that I tend to have. I don’t like under eye concealer; I just use this as a spot concealer! It works great; full coverage, doesn’t dry out, & the lightest shade is light enough for me! Win win win. I have a little brush that I use to apply it, & I’m 99.99% sure it’s not a concealer brush; I think it’s actually some sort of brow brush. I have no idea where it came from, or why it landed in my hands, but it’s probably a very old brush that my mama had first. I don’t know what brand it is, & it hurts my heart to think of it some day falling apart. I’ll have to search for a dupe – or the real thing. But anyways: yes, that’s how I spot conceal!

Highlight

I really haven’t been liking powder highlights, lately. I sold a bunch of my barely used ones on Depop (check me out on there; I have a few things up right now!) & I used that money to try some liquid/cream ones instead.

I feel like I’m the only one, but let me just say it: I think the Becca powder highlights – yes, even “Champagne Pop” (it’d look too orange on me anyway) are overrated. They break very easily in my opinion, & the one I owned – shade “Pearl” just faded into a weird, glittery shimmer after an hour or so. The powders don’t stay where you want them to, either. I really don’t know why those are the most talked about Becca products – I think the liquid ones are much, much better – they can be mixed into foundation or foundation-like products, they can be used as highlights alone, they can be layered under a powder for a super-strobe…the possibilities are endless. I eventually ended up with two shades of Becca’s Shimmering Skin PerfectorⓇ Liquid Highlighter: shades “Moonstone”  “Pearl. In its liquid form, “Pearl” gave me the effect I wanted to see in the powder form. It was dewy, it stayed put, & it was versatile. After a while, I ended up getting “Moonstone,” too. I love mixing these two liquid highlights together into a lighter, pearlier shade – but still contains a hint of gold. That’s what I did with this look! I took one pump of “Moonstone,” one of “Pearl,” mixed them on the back of my hand, dabbed it onto the high points of my face – & done. I knew it would last all day, too (I was right).

 

Brows

You already know: Glossier Boy Brow. In “Brown.” It’s all I need. I like feathering up in small, fast gestures: it gives a ruffled, fluffy, messy effect that lasts all day & puts emphasis on the eyes. Sometimes I’ll comb through them with a little spoolie brush, just to make sure I don’t have product clumped anywhere. It also makes the feathering trick a little easier – that way, you aren’t smudging boy brow above your brows!

Lips

I. Love. The Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks. They’re like MAC – but better. They’re creamier, they’re cheaper (!!) they’re cruelty-free, & their shade range is incredible. I have three shades: two are nudey-pinks (nude on my skin, that is) & the other is a lovely red. All three are creamy, very hydrating & extremely easy to apply – so easy, I don’t need to be in front of a mirror to make sure everything looks okay. In this look, I wore the shade “Weirdo” – it’s a lovely coral-pink, subtle enough to be “my lips but better,” but with a tiny bit more of color to amp it up. I applied a light coat all over my lips, then patted a bit more product in the center of my lips, to give a soft, ombré look. When I’m feeling like it, I’ll use this with a liner & make it a true pinky-nude lip; when I use it as an ombré effect, however, it just gives an effortless, tinted look. Like I said: no mirror necessary!

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Some pursed lips (& gleaming cheekbones)

Finally, I finished with NYX Dewy Finish Makeup Setting Spray. I. Love. This. I love it!!! I have never owned another one, unless we’re talking just plain rosewater, or something like that. I’ve tried my mama’s – the Urban Decay All Nighter, I believe – but nothing beats this $8 bottle of liquid gold. It truly is dewy…but it doesn’t look oily. Ever. It’s incredibly refreshing, & takes only a few minutes to dry down. It also doesn’t make patches of makeup come off, like so many setting sprays tend to do.

Everyone raves about the Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist…but I’d honestly say: save your money, & get the $8 mist instead of the $45+ one. This one is truly wonderful.

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When he says “smile, sweetie!” Kidding. Not really. But here’s a head-on of the full face

And…done. That was a lot of writing, but this is a look that easily can be achieved in 15 minutes or less. Probably less. For me, I can make it happen in less than 10. It’s possible! & it’s the perfect look to hastily do before a friend unexpectedly asks you to go out; the perfect look to go to a fashionable but casual place to eat; the perfect look to go with any outfit you’re unsure of. It’s simple, but it emphasizes the features you want to feature. Brown-eyed? Use a violet, indigo, or dark denimn shade to emphasize your eye color. Blue eyes? Use neutral colors as dark as chocolate brown. Darker skin tone? Find a “your lips but better” – with, like I said, that extra “oomph” to it, & you’ll be wearing the same type of nude! Same goes with highlight. It’s a look that can easily be adapted, switched up a bit, & is able to be replicated by any person.

Work with your features, your skin tone, your eye color – enhance them, then add some lashes, good brows, & a nice highlight. Those will all make everything pop out even more. You’ll still look like you – you’re not sculpting your face, you’re paying attention to the features & tones/undertones you already have, & moving & adapting to them. That’s what really makes your makeup look like your makeup – & no one else’s.

Anyone tried the Lancôme Big Monsieur Mascara? If so, give me your mini reviews in the comments! & if you recreate this look, @ me on social media – I’d love to see how everyone interprets & adapts this look.

Love,

Sof ❤