July Favorites: A Whole Lot of Hydration (& Silk, Shimmer, Mint, Honey)

Happy Aug – holy shit, it's August??? Summer??? Didn't we just have the Solstice???

I'm panicking too – but I'm also reflecting on some of my favorite products I've used this July. Most of them are brand new & were wonderful surprises – some are old favorites. There should be at least one that fits your budget! I hope you enjoy a little tribute to the month of July. I'm ready to start testing things for August.

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask – $25

I heard about Laneige (the brand) thanks to KathleenLights. She'd been raving about their lip mask in several of their videos. I immediately checked them out on Sephora & was shocked by the low prices – & high ratings. I didn't get the lip mask right away, but I was in need of a sleeping mask – this water one looked amazing, & compared to most overnight masks, this was practically pennies to pay.

I was 100% NOT let down by this product. You get 2.3 fl. oz. for $25, & the jar comes packed full to the brim. It's also sealed air-tight – like a yogurt cup, you have to peel off the top – & includes a little spatula for application. Major points for the hygienic packaging & the large amount of product for the price paid.

The first time I applied it, it sank in very easily, felt extremely cooling & hydrating, but didn't feel tacky or sticky – it also didn't stick to my pillowcase, which is a problem I often have when using sleeping masks. I woke up with extremely glowy, bouncy, hydrated skin that had little to no redness (big problem of mine waking up, especially around the nose area).

IMG_4403.JPG.jpeg

Definite repurchase – & a reminder that KathleenLights always puts me on to good products with low price tags. The success I had with this mask led to my next purchase:

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask -$20

Okay – the success I had with my first Laneige product was a direct cause of my next purchase. Now that I knew that Laneige's other products were good, I was ready to try the lip mask that everyone – Kathleen, Instagram beauty bloggers, & the people reviewing on Sephora – was raving about. This has an almost full 5-star rating on Sephora, which is incredible…so I was excited to see what the hype was about.

Again – massive amount of product compared with other brands like Bite or Dior (both have overnight lip masks). A little product goes a very, very long way; it feels a bit like a gloss, just a little creamier. It could be worn during the day – you'd just get some shine, so if you don't mind that, I'd go right ahead & wear it during the day (I have done it!). It smells like cranberries & strawberries, & the consistency surprised me – I thought it would be a harder, balm-like texture. It's very soft, similar to the Dior Creme de Rose balm if we're looking for comparisons. This also comes sealed & with a spatula – again, major points.

According to Laneige, the mask's "exclusive Moisture Wrap™ technology boasts hyaluronic acid and minerals to form a protective film over the lips to lock in moisture and active ingredients. A generous layer of this soothing mask at bedtime helps reduce flakiness so you can wake up to lips that feel refreshed, supple, and soft to the touch." This includes Vitamin C, antioxidants, & fruits like…you guessed it! Cranberries.

The first night I used this, I didn't exfoliate my lips, I just used this product, & this product alone. I woke up for the first time in months with extremely soft, plump lips. I tried it again the next night, this time using the Herbivore Coco Rose Lip Polish first. The results were even better – lips looked healthy, hydrated, full of color, & plump without looking fake (I hate that look).

As someone who's continually dehydrated (thanks, chronic illness!) it's hard for me to find balms/salves that work really well on my lips. Glossier's Balm Dotcom in Rose (or Birthday if I'm feeling fanc) is my go-to for the day time, but it doesn't always work perfectly as an all-night lip mask. This Laneige mask is now a staple in my night routine – & I think it'll stay that way for a long, long time.

IMG_4392.JPG IMG_4393.JPG IMG_4394.JPG

Lip Balms

Now that we're talking lips, let me share with you the three balms I've been using this past month during the day that have been life-savers.

First off – Fresh Beauty Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30 – $25. I know $25 is a lot for a lip balm – but this isn't "just" a lip balm. It can be used on other areas of the face (like the eyelids or cheekbonees or nose) that sunscreen might not settle into so easily. The SPF made a big difference on my lips – protecting them from the sun makes them less chapped, & using this treatment was proof of that. I talked about using this in my post about being at an amusement park for the day, which you can read here, in a lip balm post which you can read here, & also in an SPF post, which you can read here. Just know: it's great. & it is very cute, too.

Secondly – Glossier Birthday Balm Dotcom – $12. This was released in June, but I developed new appreciation for it over the month of July. I've been using it as a balm – of course – a highlight, & a lid gloss. The shimmer in this product makes it very multi-purpose. Think of it as a cream highlight, but cheaper. Yes – this balm is permanent collection! The special Milk Bar sticker it comes with, however, only lasts for the summer…so if you're all about collecting limited edition stickers/pins/products I'd hurry up & buy this, since I do believe the sticker is gone by September. Also – remember that Glossier changed their shipping policy! Now you can buy any 2 items or more & get free shipping. That means that you can get two Balm Dotcoms (which is $24) & still get free shipping. The minimum previously was $30. Good stuff! Oh, I almost forgot. This smells like birthday cake, of course – it also tastes like it. 10/10, will continue to use.

Finally – Caudalíe Lip Conditioner – $12. I also included this in my lip balm post, & I mentioned that it's a great little luxury to have. $12 is practically pennies if we're looking at the price range of most other Caudalíe products, & it's a lovely alternative to Balm Dotcom for those of you who live in areas where Glossier is not yet shipping. This smells like champagne, has a waxy texture – which I personally like – & is a lovely little luxury. It looks chic, works very nicely, & is available internationally! Win win.

IMG_4401.JPG.jpeg

WINKWINK CALM Mask – $40 (*PR-gifted)

WINKWINK is an indie brand that's gotten some attention on Instagram lately! They were kind enough to offer to send me a mask, & asked if I had a preference. I told them my skin type (dry-sensitive) & asked them to pick one for me! They sent me their CALM mask. The key ingredients are olive green clay (helps rebalance oil flow, strengthen skin & aid scar-healing); matcha powder (powerful detoxifier); & peppermint (eases swelling, reduces redness and calms itchiness. Also a source of salicylic acid).

Basically, this is a clay mask that detoxifies – but is gentle enough for dry, sensitive skin. I was a bit apprehensive when I saw a main ingredient was peppermint; my skin doesn't always love that "minty feeling" (I know, I'm weird) & I was worried I might get a rash or something. It's a reaction I had (unfortunately) to Lush's Mask of Magnaminty several years ago. It's a me thing, not a brand thing.

Surprisingly – this was incredible!!!!! Truly…incredible. I've used it three times now, & always feel detoxed & clean. I also feel hydrated & cool – but in a good way. This is probably the only minty mask that I actually love & want to keep using – the results are lovely & it really does feel good, to my surprise & delight! Check out their range – there's some other great detox masks. But especially check out CALM. You won't regret it.

IMG_4408.JPG.jpeg

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 – $6.80

I spoke about this in my brand review of The Ordinary (read it here) & talked about how I think it's the only serum that can truly be a dupe for a Glossier serum (as of right now, anyway). This one is a hyaluronic acid serum, so it's a dupe for Glossier's Super Bounce Serum. Both have plumping, hydrating, soothing qualities – this one just has those qualities for much less.

I love the cooling sensation of this product,  & my skin has been a lot calmer since I've started using it! Even when I did a bit of a product detox, I made sure to keep this one in my routine. I'm glad I did, because my skin looks & feels more balanced thanks to it. Also – order through Beautylish! Faster shipping, comes with cute stickers – & also, you often will get unexpected samples (ex. I got tiny Bioderma bottles with my last order).

IMG_4399.JPG

Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask with Echinacea GreenEnvy™️ - $56

Okay – expensive, I know. But also – there was a sale when I bought it (a $15 off special & I was curious!) so it wasn't only a good deal when I bought it…it's an old friend.

I used this on & off throughout the winter but didn't really pay it much attention. It was the first "warming" mask I'd ever used, & I was confused on how exactly to use it. I put it in the back of my cabinet & didn't take it out much.

When I was straightening up this month, I found it again, & decided to give it a serious go. The goopy, honey-textured mask (it's called Honey for a reason) is golden-yellow, until you start massaging it into your cheeks. It melts into a creamy white, & warms your skin; not uncomfortably…just right.

The mask contains "honey (a natural humectant used since ancient times), propolis (an antiseptic found in beehives), and amino acid-rich royal jelly. Echinacea GreenEnvy™ is a unique variant 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. Glycerin attracts moisture to the skin and provides hydrating effects for a suppler appearance. " Basically, it's a product sourced from honey & derivatives of honey. It's supposed to plump, clarify, hydrate, & renew – all at once.

In my opinion, this mask is a 2-3 day process. In fact, Farmacy recommends you use it 3 times a week. It's detoxing, so you might see some small breakouts the first day after using it. After I used it three times, however, I could see that my skin was clearer & more transluscent. It's not drying, either – so it's great for dry-skinned people. Just be aware that warming masks don't work well with some skin. Patch test a mask like this if you're not sure how you'll react to it!

Personally, I now adore this mask & will be getting a refill – even though this time it'll be more expensive. Farmacy's released a whole honey line since this mask was put out, & it all looks beautiful & worth a try. This mask, however, will be purchased first.

IMG_4406.JPG IMG_4407.JPG

Dr. Jart Water Fuse Ultimate Hydro Gel – $39 (*PR-gifted)

I don't have many water-based moisturizers or masks. Well, not until this month, anyway! Dr. Jart was kind enough to send me their Hydro collection (this moisturizer as well as an eye gel & sleeping mask) so stay tuned on a complete review of those products.

I do know already, however, that this Hydro Gel is my favorite of the trio (that's why you're seeing it here). I've only tried one other water-based moisturizer, & that was the Sunday Riley CEO. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it – I only had a travel-size, & I definitely didn't feel like it was worth getting a full-size. I felt like I wasn't maintaining hydration; the gel sank in, but was I getting anything out of it?

With this one, I know I am. It's incredibly cooling & soothing – "hydro" is right. It truly feels like a second face wash after I've put this on. I've been using this as a day cream ever since I bought it; it pairs beautifully with my daily sunscreen: Glossier Invisible Shield. Both are incredibly lightweight & invisible.

This product made me reconsider water-based moisturizers! It showed me that they do work; you just need to find the right one. I know that this was gifted, but I will be purchasing this myself if it continues to work so beautifully.

IMG_4404.JPG

 

Milk Makeup Holographic Stick in "Mars" - $28

Milk Makeup's been around the block a few times – but they really started getting hyped after they released their first Holographic Stick: "Supernova," a holographic, purple-y opal highlight that caught the eyes of YouTubers, Refinery29, & beauty blogs amass. Everyone wanted that holographic shade. I never ended up getting it – I own the Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild Glow Kit & didn't feel as though another silver-purple highlight was necessary.

My interest in Milk's Holographic Stick became a bit more intense when Milk announced their addition to the collection: the shade "Mars," described as a golden pink. It was said to be universally flattering, great on the deepest & lightest of skin tones.

I looked at the shade online, in videos & photos & decided that this highlight was targeted for those with deeper skin – that's who mainly featured this product, anyhow (I'm not trying to say that marketing is a bad thing; on the contrary I support & try to highlight brands & products that market to all skin tones).

When I swatched it in-store this past month, I decided to take the plunge. It felt very smooth, & I figured I could use a little fun in my life.

Happy ending! The stick is extremely soft, doesn't pull on the face (it might take off foundation if you're applying it directly & have a heavier amount of face makeup) & leaves a duo-tone, peachy-pink sheen. It's not oily, it doesn't smear – it looks dewy yet unique; subtle enough for my cheekbones but cheeky enough for my eyelids. I love this & was shocked on how well it worked on my skin tone – just as beautiful, but very different from some of the swatches I'd seen on deeper skin tones.

I think this is a great product if you're looking for a bit of a fun highlight that's easy to apply, travel with, & can be multi-purpose!

IMG_4396.JPG

 

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil – $9.80 &Mario Badescu Rose Hips Nourishing Oil – $22

Clearly, I'm on a rosehip oil kick. Why? Well, it's because rosehip oil is one of those oils that works on every skin type – it does a lot of things, & none of them are bad. It reduces redness & inflammation, soothes skin, reduces texture, clears pores (which reduces acne) & a whole lot more. Basically: if you have oily skin, use rosehip oil. If you have normal skin, use rosehip oil. If you have…you get my point.

So, these are the two options I have tried. I first tried out rosehip oil with the Mario Badescu Nourishing Oil. It was good! It reduced redness & cleared pores – it always felt a bit runny, though; hard to pat onto my face or even mix into creams.

This past week, I got The Ordinary's Rosehip Seed Oil…worlds of difference. This oil's vial is UV-protected, so the oil doesn't lose potency over time due to light. This oil is extremely pigmented & rich in texture…just two or three drops is all you need for your face.

The Ordinary's version of rosehip oil is less than half of what the Mario Badescu one costs…& it's been changing my skin in the most positive of ways: more hydrated, less irritated or red, clearer, too! Even though it's only been a week, I know this one's the winner. This is a great example of cheaper product being much more effective than a higher-end product. They're the things we all want & strive to obtain! This is one of them.

FullSizeRender.jpg-38

Saturday Skin Featherweight Daily Moisturizing Cream – $47

I have raved about this product before, & for good reason: it's extremely hygienic (similar air-tight packaging to Drunk Elephant's Lala Retro Whipped Cream), extraordinarily hydrating, & beautifully soothing.

This was a cream I used during the day during my skin detox. Only a cleanser, a toner, a serum/oil, & a cream…this was my day cream! Chaology Beauty (the company behind Saturday Skin) has developed a special formula: one that is in every single one of its products. According to Chaology, Saturday Skin's effectiveness is from "the Cha-7 es Complex, an exclusive peptide formula that promotes skin's natural regeneration process…increases collagen and elasticity while reducing melanin production for a flawless, stress-free complexion."

Basically, every Saturday Skin product ever makes you glow, lifts your face, & keeps infections & irritation away. This is how I've felt using this product. It does the job just well enough that absolutely nothing is imbalanced. Definite repurchase, definite old friend.

IMG_4400.JPG

Slip Silk Pillowcase in "Pink" – $79 (*PR-gifted)

I know, I know!!!! This is definitely not one of those things you just casually go to pick up. But silk pillowcases are amazing for your skin, hair, & scalp – especially for those with compromised or sensitive skin. Slip was so kind to send me their (very luxurious take) on a silk pillowcase! There are cheaper options (still wonderful, too) on Amazon for those who can't take this kind of purchase plunge.

Hate being that person, but yes: I really do feel more refreshed. My skin is softer & more relaxed – no pillow wrinkles anymore! My scalp is softer but not rubbed to redness – something I might notice more accutely, now that I'm you know…bald. I'm not sure about the anti-aging claims – remember I'm still just 20 – but my skin does feel softer, looks brighter, & feels more pampered. Going to sleep feeling like a king won't hurt your skin – ever.

IMG_4410.JPG IMG_4409.JPG

That's all for this month! Things were brought back, new things arrived – I was surprised by new & old products, several times! I'm excited to see what August will bring.

What have your July favorites been? Let me know in the comments!

Love,

Sof ❤

The Ordinary: Are They Dupes? Are They Not? Are They Good? Here’s My Thoughts:

“Have you tried it?” “Does it work?” “So cheap!” “There are dupes for everything!!!

The things being said in the opening questions are most likely about the line called The Ordinary. You’ve probably heard of it in the past half year or so, right?

DECIEM, a larger brand that carries several lines – all have different prices & effects. DECIEM by itself is described as “The Abnormal Beauty Company.” They carry one called Foundation & White RX, to name a few. Their most popular, however, is The Ordinary.

If you haven’t heard of The Ordinary by now, I might be a little surprised. I’m not quite sure how DECIEM pulled this off, but with virtually zero online/paper advertisements, The Ordinary became a cult-favorite line in the skin care community. Serums for $5! Oils for $7! DECIEM “Monkeys” (customer service employees) help you map out a personalized skin routine over email – for free. No one could figure out the catch. It seems that there is none. It’s good for beginners; good for old-timers, too.

I was introduced to The Ordinary thanks to an anonymous message on my Tumblr, telling me I should check out the brand’s prices. I was intrigued, of course – who can resist claims of $5 serums?! – but skeptical. I kept my distance for a while – but everyone else was way ahead of me. I watched the photos of these little bottles whisk down my Instagram feed. I tried to figure out what their “Advanced Retinoid” meant. Then…I started to hear that some products carried by The Ordinary contained some of the same (almost exact) ingredients as the Glossier Supers (Glossier’s famous trio of serums released last September).

Look – I love Glossier! (Duh) & I love using their products. But…no one can ever say no to trying a dupe that might be better than the real…right?

Still, I balked. I just didn’t feel like it. & then I got some Sephora sample rewards one day, & discovered Sunday Riley’s Good Genes. I was (obviously) floored…the results were incredible & an overnight difference was evident.

Buttt…Good Genes is over $100 for a not-very-big-bottle. I don’t have $100+ to spend on a single product. I wish I did! But I don’t. So, I started doing my research. I figured out what lactic acid was, what it did, & what it didn’t do.

A few months later, I was doing my nightly routine, browsing online as I waited for a mask to finish… & I came across (& read a review) of the Lactic Acid 5% on Into The Gloss – a serum I’d been happily using for over 2 months!

When ITG says it’s good, it’s good. When the Lactic Acid 5% got the ITG stamp of approval, I decided to give some others a go. I decided to get the Super Pure & Super Bounce “dupes” – as well as something completely unique.

Without further ado, here’s the list of products by The Ordinary that I already own; I’ll include a small wish list at the bottom & explain why each would be a good choice for my skin

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5%+ HA 2% /Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%

I first bought the Lactic Acid because of my sad inability to regularly purchase something like Sunday Riley Good Genes. I quickly became grateful I’d found out about this product – even if I knew nothing about Good Genes.

The serums are either light yellow or a dusty brown rose color; the 5% is paler because it is less concentrated. Both have a gel-like consistency – not watery at all. It’s something I like putting between my hands then gently patting into my skin, kind of like an essence.

The serum smells rather odd – plastic-y yet sweet? – & has a tacky consistency even after it’s dried. That’s the only thing I don’t like about the serum(s); bad smells don’t matter to me – as long as a product works, it’s fine!

I noticed brighter, fresher skin & fading dark spots & scars. This got better as time went on. As with all acidic products, I take extra time to ensure that my face (& body) are protected. Remember – AHAs & other peeling products make your face more sun-sensitive!!!

After I used about 3/4 of the 5% serum, I decided to go for the stronger one to see if it would make a difference. I should say: I don’t think it does. The 10% is slightly more jelly-like in texture, & is a darker color. It might tingle a bit more, too The end result, however, is exactly the same as I have seen using my 5%.

I’ve gotten many questions as to whether the 5% vs 10% have different/better results. I’d have to go with no. perhaps, if your skin is less sensitive or oily-type, you could go for the 10% to start off – it might penetrate more easily. For me, however, I saw no difference in the strengths, & next time I refill, I’ll probably go with 5% again. It feels the same, is gentler on my skin, & I can’t notice a difference in results. All good!

FullSizeRender.jpg-32
The two Lactic Acids. Excellent – but one is not better than the other

The AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution/ “The Vampire Facial”

 Described as a “10-minute peeling solution,” you may have seen this on various Instagram stories – more as a joke, since it’s hard to take an attractive selfie with this stuff on your face; you’ll end up looking like you were in battle.

Despite all the blood/vampire jokes (seriously, make sure you’re wearing something you don’t mind getting stained, just in case) this stuff works. It may be a great introduction to those curious about products like the Herbivore Blue Tansy Mask, or the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial – but those who don’t want to spend $40-80 just out of curiousity.

If you’re looking for a cheap, effective resurfacing masque, this one might be the one for you.

I will say it feels more intense on the skin as opposed to the Herbivore or Drunk Elephant products – & the results aren’t necessarily as good. Still – when I use this, I look & feel brighter/softer in the following days. I just have to be careful to leave it on for only ten minutes (the stuff burns) & to wash all of it off. When using this masque, I only find it necessary to use once a week. It’s that tingly! It can also be a bit drying. If you have dry/sensitive skin, I wouldn’t say it’s a product that gets a hard “no” – I’d just say tread carefully!

This product has barely any scent to it, & the liquid, although thick & gel-like in texture, dries down on the face very quickly. The only two things truly noticeable about the product are its color – & its burning (yet) effective sensation.

FullSizeRender.jpg-33
I said “vampire”….
IMG_2836.JPG
….& I meant it. If you are squeamish to blood…this one may not be for you. Still, don’t worry – only needs to stay on 10 minutes

 Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

This was what everyone was telling me to get as a replacement to my Glossier Super Bounce. I’ll admit it – I was doubtful at first. Eventually, however, curiosity took the better of me & I ordered a vial about 2 weeks ago.

Firstly: oh boy, is it great!!!

Secondly: I feel like a fool not to have purchased this earlier.

This serum is truly great – probably my favorite thing by The Ordinary that I’ve tried. It has no scent to it – it’s just cooling, hydrating, soothing – I could go on. It has a slight tackiness when it dries down, but I’ve found this to be the case with most (if not all) Ordinary products I’ve tried.

I had a bit of a reaction on my face last week & I cut my routine down to the essentials…I added this on, however. I’m convinced my face calmed & cooled down more quickly because of this product. If a Glossier Super can be duped, this is the dupe for Super Bounce Serum. Good product, good quantity, low pricetag.

FullSizeRender.jpg-30
Cooling, scentless, & hydrating – worth every (less-than-$7) penny

 Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Again, I was told, another perfect Glossier dupe – this time for Super Pure Serum. Some of you may know that Glossier’s Super Pure Serum is something I use every day, no matter what – it’s a holy grail for me, it’s improved my skin exponentially – so I was doubtful when someone told me that this serum was a dupe for it. I was also curious. Super Pure is $28, right? If a $6.80 serum felt the same as Super Pure, & had the same results, I’d certainly be reconsidering my favorites. So – I got it. & I used it for a week straight.

First impressions: same texture as super pure: a watery gel. There was no strong scent to it; no overpowering chemical scent. It feels very cooling & refreshing when first applied.

Then – & this is what I don’t like about the serum – it dries down tacky.

This is the big difference between Super Pure & Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Yes, they contain an extremely similar list of ingredients. But the Ordinary’s “dupe” dries down tacky, & doesn’t reduce inflammation or redness as well as Super Pure does, in my opinion. It’s also slightly drying – Super Pure never dries out my skin. That was another thing to consider. While this is a great clarifying serum, it is more drying than Glossier Super Pure & it does not reduce redness as well. I think by itself, it’s a good serum…but it’s not close enough to the Glossier Super Pure to be called a dupe. Dupes are supposed to perform almost identically to the original product. In my opinion, this one does not. If you want a dupe for a Glossier Super, go for The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid – it’s a great dupe for Super Bounce.

So…let’s go back to the question I’ve been getting all the time lately: “What do you think of The Ordinary?”

I think they’re an amazing company. They’ve grown exponentially in a very short time. They’ve kept their prices lowest of the low. This allows “skin care newbies” to feel comfortable. It’s very intimidating when you’re new to skin care & only see talk about products that are over $40. The Ordinary is a great source for those new to the skin care scene because of their inexpensive yet effective products.

FullSizeRender.jpg-31
The supposed Glossier Super Pure “dupe” – good, but different. I’m sticking with Super Pure – might add this one in, though

It’s also great for people who’ve been “into” skin care forever. Who can say no to a bottle of 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oilfor less than ten dollars?

 I would recommend The Ordinary as a brand to anyone – & I often do just that. I would, however, advise you to regard The Ordinary as their own brand. Might you find some dupes for more expensive products? Absolutely! But don’t expect everything to be a copy. I think The Ordinary is very focused on its own message. You don’t to be looking for a dupe to shop their products. They will provide you with quality skin care (& customer service) no matter what. They’ll help you come up with your first-time skin care regimen…or help you refine/add to it. It’s just a great, affordable brand that’s been getting a lot of buzz – for very, very good reason.

What’s on my wish list for The Ordinary?

Well, as I type this, I am adding The Ordinary’s Rose Hip Seed Oil – the Marula Oil is also on my eye…as soon as it’s back in stock. Those are the two I have my eye on…especially the Marula. Drunk Elephant sells one for $70 – The Ordinary’s is under $10…which is why it’s always out of stock. A girl can dream, though!

Rose Hip Seed Oil reduces redness & calms inflammation – a great thing to have on any top shelf! I’m was using a Mario Badescu rosehip oil that was much more expensive than The Ordinary’s. I can’t wait to give this cheaper one a go – my sources say it’s incredible.

Like I said – I have absolutely nothing bad to say about The Ordinary! They provide quality service & products; they make everything easy to read/learn about on their site; they give good recommendations. They keep rolling out new products: their foundation drops were all the buzz about a month ago, & they’re coming out with some very cool-looking Vitamin C products that I’m very excited for. Because of all this buzz, shipping can be slow – especially when a new product drops. It can take up to two weeks to get a product.

Once I noticed Beautylish was carrying The Ordinary, I started shopping that brand through Beautylish. Shipping is slightly faster – but my favorite thing about Beautylish x The Ordinary? The stickers that come with every order (as seen in cover image). A small sheet contains labels like “1” “2” or “3.” Some say “Niacinamide” or “Vitamin C.” It’s great for someone trying to build a regimen who has trouble keeping track of the steps to their skin care. It’s great for me too – I’m a Glossier aficionado, after all. Who doesn’t like free stickers with a skin care order?

Love,

Sof ❤

What Ordinary products have you tried? What are you thinking of trying? Are there any favorites – or hates? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

High & Low – My Favorites of Each

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

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

Drunk Elephant Babyfacial – $80

 

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

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

IMG_2763

Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream – $46

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

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

IMG_2017.JPG

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

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

IMG_4015.JPG

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% – $6.79

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

IMG_2765

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

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

Love,

Sof ❤

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

I’m Authentic Now: I’m Using “Real” Toners

I’ve always known the three crucial steps to taking care of your skin: cleanse, tone, moisturize. Sure, all the other things (like serums, oils, & face masks) are great, fun, & (hopefully!) beneficial – but if I were to take three things only for my face, it would be a cleanser, a toner, & a moisturizer.

For the longest time – actually, ever since I can remember – I’ve been using facial sprays as toners, like Caudalie’s Beauty Elixer, Herbivore Botanical’s Rose Hibiscus, Glossier’s Soothing Face Mist, & my holy grail: Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater. I thought that was the default for toning.

I started seeing people on social media, especially Youtube & Instagram, talk about their favorite toners; sometimes even demonstrate them. Yes, I saw a lot of facial sprays! I also saw a lot of “real” toners – you know, the ones you drip onto a cotton pad & swipe all over your face. I also got told by a lot of people that I should try one like that (Thayer’s Witch Hazel, for example), but I balked. I was perfectly happy with my spritzer toners. They worked just fine for me, & I didn’t like the concept of rubbing a fiber on my face – it just sounded irritating. I have sensitive skin, so the idea of such a thing kind of sent some shivers down my back.

I was quite ambivalent about the whole thing, but as I started to see more & more people talk about “real” toners, I decided to give one a go.

I’d known about the Mario Badescu Cleansing Lotions for a bit, mainly because I saw them at an Ulta, decided to check out the cleansers, picked one up a while back to test…& jumped in surprise when a watery product spilled all over my hand, without a single soapy bubble.

I’d read the label “Cleansing Lotion” & had assumed that it was a cleanser. It was not. I went home, googled “Mario Badescu Cleansing Lotion why?”, & saw a post MB had made on their blog (which I recommend checking out!). According to Mario Badescu, the Cleansing Lotions are absolutely toners – & absolutely not for washing your face or body. “Cleansing lotion” is just the original or classic name for “toner.” Mario Badescu formulated his toners when the term “cleansing lotion” was more commonly used, & the company now wants to “keep the label true to Mario Badescu’s original product names so his legacy remains intact and we remain authentic to the brand’s heritage.” (x)

After finding that answer, I still didn’t feel like trying one out. Laziness? Lack of interest? Already having a toner that worked just fine for me? To be completely honest, it was probably all three. But – I decided to finally give it a whirl, & was futher encouraged by some friends that also had sensitive skin – if they could do it, why couldn’t I? I (tentatively) decided to give it a go. I went to Ulta about 10 days ago, looked for some cotton pads that wouldn’t be too rough on my sensitive skin (these are great: cheap, 100% cotton, unscented, & quilted for extra softness), &, once I’d found those, wandered over to the Mario Badescu shelves.  I figured that since my friend Mario had already given me the best toner of my life, I might as well try one of his “real” toners. Or maybe even two. I ended up with two – if you’re intruiged, keep reading!

Seaweed Cleansing Lotion

This was the first of the two I picked up. I did a little online research on the MB website & blog before making a trip to Ulta, & this one seemed to fit my criteria. It’s labeled as being ideal for dry, sensitive, or combo skin, & is described on MB’s site as being their “most universal toner.” This description, & the fact that it’s alcohol-free (yay! No stinging or burning!) were selling points for me. Alcohol-based toners can be great for oily skin – sometimes even combo skin – but it’s a whole mess for my dry & sensitive skin.

This toner contains witch hazel, which clarifies without being too rough or drying; aloe vera, which soothes & moisturizes; &, of course, the seaweed: bladderwrack extract, which also soothes the skin, & is rich in minerals. It’s a pretty moss-green color, & has a clean, fresh, green scent to it that doesn’t linger for an uncomfortable amount of time.

As I started applying the toner to my face with one of the cotton pads, I felt completely comfortable. I didn’t feel irritated or dry after I’d finished gently swiping the toner-covered cotton pad over my face. I just felt clean. I even noticed that it had removed a tiny bit of makeup which my cleanser had glossed over. I didn’t feel tight or dry – & my face didn’t sting, either (something I was really nervous about). Basically, it was love at first use. I went to sleep, hoping I’d see something the next day. I woke up, looked in the mirror straight away, & saw a brighter, fresher face staring back at me. My pores looked tighter, my skin looked (& felt) clearer & cleaner, but I had no dry patches or sensitive, stinging areas. I kept using it, wondering if I’d break out, or if I’d end up with drier skin over the course of the week; sometimes, products take longer than one night to do something to your skin – good or bad. Nope. My skin only got better. I was truly floored. Yes, my facial spray was (& still is) amazing…but this took my skin up a level or two.

 

IMG_8933.JPG

Alpha Grapefruit Cleansing Lotion

After I saw amazing results with the Seaweed Cleansing Lotion, I decided to give the other MB dry/sensitive/combo-targeted toner a go. This product is described as a brightening, energizing toner, enhanced with AHAs. It is also alcohol-free, which, again, is a plus! I was a bit warier of this one, however – I know what AHAs are like, & they work well on my skin…but I’d never tried a toner containing AHAs – just masks or masques.

The AHAs in this product come from grapefruit & lemon extract – hence the product’s name. Once I saw that the other key ingredients were aloe & linden (both have soothing properties), I was less worried about how this toner would feel on the skin. I took it home & gave it a go.

This one does sting a bit, & it is definitely less moisturizing than the Seaweed Cleansing Lotion. I don’t find it to be drying in & of itself – but if I were having a bit of an extra sensitive skin moment, I probably wouldn’t reach for this one; I’d grab its sister, Seaweed, instead. For me, this is most similar to a Vitamin C serum – it brightens, tightens, closes pores, & reduces dark spots.

I wondered whether this toner would be more clarifying than the Seaweed, but I don’t believe so. I do think it’s been helping even out my skin tone a little bit; nothing fancy, but it’s definitely doing something. It’s a super pretty color: a soft, glowy orange. The scent is, surprisingly, not at all citrusy. I just get a slight whiff of herbs. This one doesn’t have a heavy scent, either. I really was surprised that I didn’t detect any citrus-y smell in this product…it does have “grapefruit” in its name, after all. I’m not complaining, though: in my opinion, most skin care products shouldn’t be heavily scented (I have a few exceptions that I enjoy).

IMG_8934.JPG

Overall? Both of these are a game-changer. I have fully incorporated them into my skin care routine, & have only seen good results. I will say that I prefer the Seaweed Cleansing Lotion to the Alpha Grapefruit one. Both are good! I think it just comes down to personal preference. If you’re more interested in a soothing toner, & less interested in a brightening one, I’d recommend you give Seaweed a go. If you’re trying to make your dull skin a bit perkier, I’d say go for Alpha Grapefruit! Like I said, I enjoy using both…but I think Seaweed has my heart. I can’t guarantee I’d repurchase Alpha Grapefruit, but Seaweed is definitely going to have a permanent place on my top shelf.

The funniest thing about all of this? Well…I kept excitedly telling everyone about it, like this method of toning was a new discovery. I got “we know,”&  “told you so” a lot. I even got: “Wait…you’ve never used a toner like that?” That’s my personal favorite.

Nope! I hadn’t. I was perfectly happy that way, too – so was my skin. But…now that I’ve finally tried it, this method of toning will now have a permanent place in my routine. The MB facial spray was, is, & always will be amazing – so will the Caudalie Beauty Elixer, & so many others. I’m just experiencing a new feeling with this method of toning…& I’m really enjoying it. So is my skin!

To all the sensitive-skinned people out there who might have worried about how abrasive this kind of toning method may be, let me assure you: it’s not! Just make sure your cotton pads are soft, & that the toner you’re using is for your skin type. You can get a pack of 80 hypoallergenic, unscented, 100% cotton pads for less than $4 at Ulta. You can probably order even more for even less online. Both of these toners cost $15. This isn’t expensive skin care! It’s cheap, it’s effective, & there’s one for everyone. Oh, & don’t worry about spilling product all over your hand, like I did once upon a time. Unless you’re treating it like a gel or a cream, the little flip-up tube that’s built into the product’s cap dispenses the toner just fine. No spillage!

IMG_8935.JPG
The tiny tube dispenser in action on the Alpha Grapefruit Cleansing Lotion
So, to all of those new to this toning method: come join the club! It’s pretty big over here. I find it pretty funny that I’ve been taking care of my skin for a good while – & never given this method a thought up until a few weeks ago. But I’m here now! I’m loving it! & I think you will, too. To those who might be rolling their eyes at my “discovery” over here: I hope at least one out of the two toners I mentioned sound appealing to you, if you haven’t already tried them.

I’m always figuring out new things when it comes to skin care! This time, I figured out an old thing – but it was new to me. I’m just glad I finally went for it. Maybe it’s time for you to do the same.

Love,

Sof ❤

IMG_8931.JPG

 

The Overnight Spot Treatment Duo That REALLY Works – & Costs $30 Total

Okay. We’ve all been there (there meaning oh my god I have a horrific blemish on my face get this off ASAP). That one blemish that pops up & looks bad, feels bad, & makes you feel bad.

Side note: if you are happy with your skin the way it is, don’t let this post make you feel like you need anything to make your skin different. Just because you have acne does not mean that you can’t look beautiful, be beautiful, & feel beautiful!!

So, it’s 6 p.m., you’re about to take off the day’s face, & you notice a blemish starting to form. & then you’re in a bad mood for the rest of the evening, because you’re thinking of how to fix it, or how much work it’ll take the next day to 1) pretend it’s not there 2) use extra time & energy to make it somehow invisible.

Well, maybe you’re not the “you,” but I am most certainly the “you.” Sometimes I still am – let’s be real, there are some blemishes that only heal with time – but I think I’ve finally found the perfect combo for getting rid of blemishes overnight. Keep in mind: these are spot treatments, not to be used all over your face (like a mask) – if you used them like that your whole face would probably fall off! Tread carefully!

My “magic combo,” as I like to call it, lasts forever (seriously) & will cost you a total of $30 (maybe a little more if you’re ordering online). Maybe that sounds excessive…but I know people who shell out a hell of a lot more on clarifying masks, cleansers, & acids that just end up drying/burning the skin – which in fact causes more blemishes (due to microabrasions that come from skin that’s too tight & dry). If you’re near a mall, you’ll probably be able to pick them both up at the same location. If you’re near an ULTA Beauty? Even better! These two products are mere shelves away.

& so, without further ado, I present: My Magic Combo

Origins Super Spot Remover™️ Acne Treatment Gel – $16

I know…it looks super small. It is super small! But I’ve been using one bottle since mid-April, & I’m not even halfway through it. You only need the tiniest drop for your blemish. I’d “been there, done that” with most spot treatments, but after a few of my friends told me that this one seriously worked, I begrudgingly picked it up – & immediately changed my tune the next morning, once I looked in the mirror. Magic? Sorcery? Witchcraft? I have no idea how Origins did it, but they did THAT.

This gel is a very thin consistency, & it’s transparent – so you could go out in public wearing it, without people looking at you, wondering why you have little pink or white dots on your face! I haven’t tried wearing makeup over it, but since it sinks in like a serum would, I don’t think it would be a problem. Still, it isn’t marketed for wearing it under makeup, so don’t be shocked if it doesn’t. Anyways…if it works as well as it does for me as it does for you, you won’t have to worry about wearing makeup over it. Just dab or tap on a small squeeze of product! It contains salicylic acid (the OG blemish-control ingredient), several various citrus extracts, which help correct post-blemish darkening, & caffeine and red algae – both calming & brightening. Best of all, this cocktail will help control & reduce redness & irritation while it’s on your skin.

Yes – this product works amazingly by itself! I’ve gone many a night wearing just this, & have woken up blemish-free. But if I have a particularly pesky blemish, I layer my next product on top of the Origins gel to ensure that I won’t feel grumpy about my skin the next morning.

Mario Badescu Drying Cream – $14

Nope – not the drying lotion! The drying lotion is a super, super hyped product (I can’t count how many celebrities, skin care gurus, & makeup artists rave about it), but for me…I’ve never been that impressed by its effects. Don’t ask me why! I know people who love it & swear by it. But it doesn’t have the powers of the drying cream, in my opinion.

Mario Badescu has a great blog (check them out!) where they talk about the differences & similarities of all their products, & feature different products every few days. In one of their posts, they explained the difference between their Drying Lotion, Drying Cream, & Buffering Lotion. (Read it here!) But to put it simply: the Drying Cream is for small bumps & blemishes, particularly those that cluster together in one spot. It comes in a pot, not a vial (Drying Lotion comes in a small vial…I’m sure you’ve seen that clear liquid with the pink sediment at the bottom), & is thick, tan, & most definitely a cream texture. Its main ingredients are sulfur & zinc oxide, which draw out impurities & excess oil – but it also contains aloe, vitamins B & E, & several other soothing ingredients. This combo ensures you’ll have clear skin – but clear skin without the dryness, redness, or irritation.

When I layer this over the Origins gel, magic truly does happen. I can conquer any blemish overnight with this duo! My sensitive skin has never complained, which is a miracle in & of itself. No problems, no angry skin – just clear, calm skin the next morning. That makes my mind clear & calm, too.

Of course, I can’t guarantee it won’t let you down, but I’m 99% sure it won’t (& if you have to choose, get the Origins. It’s more multipurpose – & invisible).

I can’t exactly remember what prompted me to layer these products – probably desperation – but I am so glad that I did. I have an unused bottle of Drying Lotion in the back of my skin care shelf, & I think it’ll stay unused. Meanwhile…I have a backup vial of Origins gel in the front, & my Drying Cream is nowhere near running out. This stuff is the real deal.

So – give it a go! Let me know what you think. & if you’ve tried a particular combo (or even better, a single product) that’s your miracle-worker/holy grail, tell me about it! I think I’ve found mine…but there’s no such thing as perfection, right?

Love,

Sof ❤

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Sof ❤

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

May Favorites! (All New Products)

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

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

Sun Protection!

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

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

Cleansers!

IMG_2024.JPG.jpeg

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

Toners!

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

Serums/Oils!

IMG_1827.JPG
Herbivore Orchid Youth Preserving Facial Oil
FullSizeRender.jpg-20
Anese Slay Serum
IMG_2047.JPG
Biossance 100% Squalene Oil
This was a great month for serums & oils. All three of these were generously sent to my by the brands! The Herbivore Orchid Youth Preserving Facial Oil is, quite frankly…incredible. This is for people who want to try facial oils, but are frightened that they’ll end up greasy. This oil is super lightweight, has a very faint fresh scent to it, & sinks into your skin, leaving you feeling plumped & hydrated–but never greasy.

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

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

Moisturizers!

IMG_2048.JPG.jpeg
Mario Badescu Honey Moisturizer (that’s not a hair, my bottle is scratched. I swear.)
I haven’t found anything truly groundbreaking for summer moisturizers, but I do love the Mario Badescu Honey Moisturizer. It’s great for sensitive, dry, & combo skin types; it’s lightweight enough for hot, sticky days, but provides enough moisture to keep your skin plump & hydrated.

Masks/Cleansing Balms/Various Stuff!

IMG_2016.JPG
Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream
IMG_2015.JPG
TCFS Egg Mousse Pack
IMG_1821.JPG
Origins Super Spot Remover & Rose Clay Mask
None of these really fit into an above category, so I thought I’d just group them together as one.

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

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

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

Face Makeup!

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

IMG_2029.JPG.jpeg
Dr Jart+ Cicapair™️ Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30
As you can see, this looks beige-green in the container–but it adjusts to your skin tone when you apply it. It feels super lightweight, almost like a moisturizer, & has no sunscreen-y smell to it–it actually smells like freshly-mown grass, which I love. Overall, it just basically evens out your skin, does a little color-correcting, & makes your skin look like your skin, just a little better. I think it’s a great summer product, & if you still want to use face makeup, it’s possible to use this underneath as a primer/color corrector. Also, the SPF is an added summer benefit!

Face/Lips/Cheeks-aka, Multis!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fragrance! 

IMG_2025.JPG
Margiela REPLICA Fragrances: Beach Walk & Lazy Sunday Morning 
I have recently been eyeing the Margiela REPLICA fragrances, mainly because the bottles are so gorgeous, but also because they have some very fresh, unique summer scents! I have tried out Beach Walk & Lazy Sunday morning; both are lovely. I would say Lazy Sunday Morning is a bit more powdery than Beach Walk, but I really like them both. I’d love your opinion on one or both of these! Comment below if you have either (or both) & why you like them! I’m considering getting a full-size of one of the two.

Grand Finale! 

IMG_2022.JPG
Dior Addict Lip Glow Pomade, & Herbivore Coco Rose Coconut Oil Lip Polish – Dream Combo
When I’m not complaining about my lips’ tendency to get dry & flaky, I’m trying to find product combos that will fix that (other than my favorite Glossier Rose Balm Dotcom, of course). I finally found it. The Dior Addict Lip Glow Pomade is somewhere between a lip oil/mask & a gloss, so it can be worn in the daytime as a gloss, & as a treatment at night (that’s how I justify the price to myself…plus, it really does work). The Herbivore Coco Rose Coconut Oil Lip Polish is finally…FINALLY!! a lip scrub that actually works on my lips! Like most lip scrubs that don’t come in a stick form, it’s a bit messy to apply, but oh boy, does it work. I put this baby on, rub it around for about 25-30 seconds, remove excess sugar, & then apply the Dior lip pomade. The result? Plump, glowing, MOISTURIZED lips the next morning.

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

Love,

Sof ❤

Shop Glossier with me!

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