#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!

#I’mWearing: How I Did This Look

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

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

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The completed #look

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

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

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

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

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

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The full line-up (with some pretty decorations)

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

Primer

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

Face Makeup

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

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

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

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

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

Contour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I’m happy – I promise 

Eyes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Staring at myself (& my beautiful highlight compact)

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

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It definitely looks like the Better Than Sex packaging

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

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

The result? Over-the-top perfection.

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Just checking on the state of my eyes

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

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

Highlight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Glitter in my hair, too – honestly…good!

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

Lips 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The finished look!

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

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

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

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Shout what you’d like to see next below!

Love,

Sof ❤

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

Cushion….highlight?

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

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

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

Essence Moonlighter Cushions – $30 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Glinting Buff & Apricot Tinge 

Glinting Buff

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

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

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

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

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

Apricot Tinge 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time!

Love,

Sof ❤

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

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

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

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

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

Some Nights – fun. 

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

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

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

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15-year-old Sofia was a strange bird.

808s & Heartbreak – Kanye West 

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

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

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

Pure Heroine – Lorde 

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

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

Harry Styles – Harry Styles

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

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

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

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

Depression Cherry – Beach House 

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

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

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

Blonde – Frank Ocean

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

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

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

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

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ANTI – Rihanna 

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Oooh. Yes.

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

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

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

Yeezus – Kanye West 

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

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

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

Mind of Mine – Zayn Malik 

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

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

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

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At arcades, blasting Mind of Mine.

Melodrama – Lorde 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5:30 a.m…..
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…9:30 p.m.
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A “Supercut”

Love,

Sof ❤

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Sof ❤

Side note:

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

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

-S

August Favorites: Back To Basics

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

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

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

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

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

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

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My (heavily used) “tub” of FAB Cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Garnier micellar water, with its cotton pad pals

LUSH Honey Lip Scrub 

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

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

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

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

Can you tell I love this product?

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A closer peek at texture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen

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

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

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

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aromatica Damask Rose Soothing Gel 100% 

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

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

So: what to do with it?

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

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6 oz of soothing, rose-scented product

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

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

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

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

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

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

$2 mask that works? Can’t beat it.

O.R.G. Mineral Peel Face

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

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

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

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Mario Badescu Whitening Mask

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

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

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Origins Make A Difference™ Rejuvenating Hand Treatment

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

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

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

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

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

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Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Nail Treatment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essie Meet Me At Sunset Nail Polish

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

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

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

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

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I FOUND (a dupe of) CLAMBAKE 

CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion

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

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

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

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

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

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The gleaming gold letters: CLĒ

Glossier Cloud Paint – Shade: Haze

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lancôme Monsier Big Mascara 

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

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

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

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

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

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Black & pink packaging 

Glossier Wowder Brush

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

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

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

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

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

NYX Dewy Finish Makeup Setting Spray

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

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

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

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My (very cheap & very good) ride or die

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

Love (& happy September),

Sof ❤

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

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 ❤