It’s Cold Season – That Means It’s Hydration Season

If you’re perpetually cold (like me) Cold Season starts somwhere around the middle of September, when the frost shows up on the ground in the morning & the tips of your fingers are never quite warm enough.

If you’re not perpetually cold, Cold Season has begun – like it or not. Thanksgiving has come & gone, & it’s only getting colder from here on out…sorry, folks! It’s just fact.

I hate the cold weather – it’s why I want to live somewhere warm once school, grad school &…grad grad school (??) is over & done with. For now, though, I’m stuck with the cold, dry, Midwestern winters. The winter lasts from late October to mid April – at least, that’s how I see it.

I hate the cold because…it makes me cold – but it also makes me dry, which is just as bad. There is nothing worse than getting a blast of cold, dry, wind right in your face (probably accompanied by a few ice pellets or snowflakes).

So – my skin is dry & sensitive year-round, but it gets extra-dry during Cold Season. I decided to write something up for the cold, dry-skinned people like me. If you feel like your skin never gets enough hydration, especially during the winter…you’ve come to the right place. Read on, & let your skin drink it all up!

Note: Black Friday is here! Here are some discounts from brands/shops that I love:

  • Glossier has 20% off site-wide plus free shipping from midnight Friday, November 24 until Monday, November 27 (EOD). No minimums, just discounts! If you shopped with me (using my rep link), I’d be extremely grateful (truly, seriously, & honestly).
  • Peach & Lily has a 30% off their entire site – just use the code PEACHANDLILY30
  • Urban Outfitters has buy one get one 50% off – including beauty & skincare! Urban carries brands like Milk Makeup, Valjean Labs (love their serums) & a whole lot more; definitely worth checking out
  • Into The Gloss: What To Buy On Black Friday – you all know I love ITG. Here, they’ve listed some great deals for luxury skincare, body care, fragrance, & more.

Let’s get cracking for real now! Keep in mind: I have dry/sensitive skin, so this post might not necessarily be the best resource for those with oily/combo skin types – but I’m confident you’ll find at least one or two treasures, too. Enjoy, & get ready to shop!

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser – $18 (plus 20% off for Black Friday weekend)

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Backups on backups on backups – MJC will never leave my side, or my top shelf

It’s no secret that MJC is a holy grail cleanser for me. It’s the first non-foaming cleanser I ever tried, which, at the time, was a novelty (for me, at least). I wasn’t sure how it’d work out – but turns out, it worked just beautifully.

I have a #MiniReview of Milky Jelly here, but here’s a little update on how I’ve been using MJC: I’ve been using it on dry skin for the first time (ever) & I’ve been really loving it.

Milky Jelly can be used on damp or dry skin, Glossier says – it’s safe for the eyes, because it’s formulated with an ingredient base similar to that of contact lens solution. No burning or stinging here!

I’ve found that two pumps of Milky Jelly on my dry face (applied with clean hands, of course) have been even better for my skin than two pumps of Milky Jelly on my damp face. For whatever reason, it’s just been working better for me. Is there a reason? If there is, I don’t know it – but I won’t stop, because my skin’s been looking better since I’ve started using it this way.

I also recently purchased the Tatcha Indigo Soothing Rice Enzyme Powder, which I’ve been loving – a #MiniReview will probably be somewhere in the near future. I love it because it’s a physical exfoliant that doesn’t tear up my sensitive skin; when I use it, though, I like to make sure my skin has been given a gentle cleanse beforehand. Tatcha says to use the powder no more than three times a week; when I use it, I go in with one pump of Milky Jelly all over my dry face (with clean hands) before gently buffing my face with the Tatcha Indigo Powder. Results? Clean, soft, glowy, hydrated skin. Milky Jelly has been & will continue to be a favorite of mine. Bouncy, gooey (in the best way possible) & scented like roses, MJC is the cleanser that I would pick if I was told I absolutelypositively could not even think of using a toner. I think I’d survive if I used MJC.

Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner – $10.95

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Alcohol-free? Lavender? Less than $11 for 12 fluid ounces? I’ll take 100, please.

No, seriously – this toner has been a life-changer for me, just as it has been for so many others. This is another product I love enough to do a #MiniReview on (check it out here) & I know that it’ll be a twice-daily staple for me for the rest of my life – unless something better & cheaper is out there…but the way Thayers prices their product, I seriously doubt it.

As you’ll see in the #MiniReview, there are many “varieties” of the Thayers toner. There’s Lavender (which I have), there’s Rose Petal, there’s Aloe, there’s Cucumber – there’s even a completely unscented version, for those of you who can’t deal with scented skin care. Thayers has also been slowly rolling out their toners in a facial mist packaging, a la Mario Badescu. Though people have been very excited about this, I think I’ll stick to the version I have. It does everything it should, & it works better than any misting toner I’ve ever used.

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The signature red cap

The witch hazel is a natural astringent – which was initially worrying, because astringents can dry my skin out pretty easily – but the lavender, the aloe, & alcohol-free formula soothe & calm the skin as well as clarify it. I’ve seen a big difference in my skin: it’s clearer, it’s calmer, & I see less redness. It just looks more even – more content, if you will. 3-4 drops on a cotton square pressed gently into the face post-cleanse, & I’m ready to continue with my serums. Lavender has always been friendly to my skin, & this is no exception. It smells lovely (not too powerful), it’s cheap, & it works. Boom. Are you sold? You should be sold.

Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins™ Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Soothing Treatment Lotion – $34

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“Mushroom” isn’t exactly an…exciting word to hear when talking about skin care ingredients – but hear me out. This stuff is good, & it’s lightweight enough that it’ll suit all skin types, which is a big plus.

This is an “anti-irritant, redness-reducing facial treatment lotion” – it’s described as being super light. I’d agree; this is something you’d apply after a toner, but before a serum. It’s watery enough that you can put it on a cotton pad if you’re scared of spilling too much product, but I personally like to pour a little into the palms of my hands, then pat it gently into my skin.

Origins says that the formula of the lotion “features Dr. Andrew Weil’s famed mega-mushroom blend, which soothes, comforts, and hydrates skin.” Main purposes? It’s an anti-irritant & reduces redness. This also contains narcissus lily bulb (which has anti-aging properties), as well as sea buckthorn, which is calming & soothing. The result? A watery, “green-smelling” ….lotion! It sinks right into my skin; because it’s so watery, you don’t need much to cover the whole face. Make sure to shake this up before use – it has ingredients that may settle at the bottom.

This is apparently Origins’ #1 best-seller world-wide, which was a bit surprising – I expected a few other products to take the lead. Looking at the product, though, it makes sense: this works on all skin types, it’s versatile, & can work as a light layer of hydration for those with dry skin – or as the finishing touch for someone with oily skin. Best of all, a percentage of the sales go to Dr. Andrew Weil’s foundation, which tries to incorporate “alternative” medicines with pharmaceutical drugs. I’m here for that!

Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin™ Liquid – $39 

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If you have dry skin, this is the perfect follow-up to a toner/lotion.

I first purchased the Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid this past summer, when I was trying to find a reasonably priced essence-type product. This happened to be one of them.

No – off the bat, $40 isn’t “affordable,” but when you consider that I use it very regularly (not daily but almost) & still have not run out of product is a pretty good sign that you won’t have to refill this product often. You get 5 fluid ounces, which, looking at other essences, is truly a steal.

This is in the Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin line, which contains a balm, an oil, this liquid, a cream, & a few other things, too. It’s a good line – if you have dry/sensitive skin, it’s definitely a good line to look into.

The Ceramidin Liquid is described as “a powerful serum infused with ceramides to support the skin’s natural protective barrier while delivering a moisture boost for visibly plumper, healthy-looking skin.” I wouldn’t call it a serum; it doesn’t really have that texture for me. Plus, it’s hard for me to consider this product a serum, with it looking the way it does with its packaging. That’s not a bad thing – I just use it as an essence rather than a serum when I do use it.

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You can see what I mean when I say the packaging doesn’t immediately call to mind a serum – don’t get me wrong, I like the shape of the bottle (& how much product is inside) but it doesn’t dispense like your everyday serum would – hence, why I call it an essence

The Ceramidin Liquid contains…ceramides, which supports the skin’s natural moisture barrier for up to 26 hours, thanks to “time-release hydration” – kind of how Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma serum works for up to 2 days even when you’ve washed it off. It seals in moisture, which relieves your skin’s dehydration, & relieves irritation, redness, flakiness, & tightens. It claims to leave the skin smoother – I don’t think that’s the case, but my skin does feel softer after I’ve used this.

The scent is very mild; I don’t really have a good way to describe it – just know that it fades very quickly & that there’s nothing unpleasant about it; perhaps baby soap is a good comparison. I put 3 or so drops into the palms of my hands, then gently press the liquid into my face. I let dry, then move onto my serums – & all that. This is intended for all skin types – so whether you use it as an extra layer of hydration, like I do, or as a finishing touch to a lighter routine (if you have oily skin) the Ceramidin Liquid will work for you some way, somehow.

Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellulr Face Oil – $45 

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$90 for a product? Ouch. $45 for a product? Okay…at least I can breathe.

Sunday Riley’s facial oils were oh-so-dreamy to me last fall, but it took a good bit of saving (& a little help with some Christmas gifts of Sephora gift cards) to get the one that I wanted: U.F.O. – a staple in Harry Styles’ skin care routine, which means that if it’s good enough for him, it’s definitely good enough for you & me.

I ended up buying – & loving – the U.F.O., but it cost me $80. Granted, not all of it was “my” money, & it ended up lasting the whole year (which is incredible!) but let’s acknowlege it: an $80 product isn’t something most people can just click “buy” without giving a second thought.

That’s why I was so excited when Sunday Riley started selling the “mini” versions of their facial oils on Sephora’s site. The original/full-size product is 1.18 fluid ounces; the “mini” is 0.5 fluid ounces. This is most definitely a baby-size version – but I think that you can go the mini route without wasting product. Here’s why.

First off – you only need 2-3 drops of these oils. They’re highly concentrated – as they should be, considering the price tag – & using more won’t necessarily make things better. A little goes a long way.

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If you’re using only 2-3 drops once a day, it’s probably a safe bet to start out with the mini version. End up loving it? Great! Time to get the full size, if you think it’s worth it – but that’s just my take on the Sunday Riley “minis.”

Anyways – I’m not here to talk about U.F.O. today, though it’s a wonderful product. I’m here to talk about Juno! This was the first mini Sunday Riley oil in my collection – full disclosure: this one was sent to me by the brand, but I’m 85% sure that I’ll be repurchasing this one. Here’s why:

Juno is a blend of a “cold-pressed powerhouse of superfood seed oils,” which nourishes the skin, brightens the complexion (thanks to Vitamin A & C), & fortifies skin, making it a good anti-aging product. It’s brightening, it’s hydrating, & it is wonderful.

If you scroll through reviews, you’ll see that the average rating is 4.4/5 stars. Most reviews are complimentary; the more negative ones usually include a comment (or two) about the scent of the product. Yes – this oil (& all Sunday Riley’s facial oils, in fact) have strong scents. I’d describe them as herbal; kind of like a spicy cologne. I personally don’t have any problem with the scent; even if I did, I’ve found that it fades quite quickly. Still – if you’re not a fan of strongly-scented products, go give this a whiff in-store before spending your hard-earned money.

The founder – who is actually named Sunday Riley – says she uses it in the morning to revive her dry skin. I do the same thing – except I usually do it at night, mixing two drops into my Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich (together, the two smell incredible). Riley even says that she has “been known to mix a few drops of Juno with some foundation, which helps keep my skin fresh and radiant throughout the day.”

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I don’t wear “actual foundation” – I stick to more hydrating BB/CC creams, & so I don’t find that mixing Juno into a face makeup product is necessary for me. But if you’re a regular foundation wearer & have dry skin, give Riley’s tip a go – it might do something great. Either way, this oil packs a punch. Packaged beautifully, it makes you feel luxurious the instant you pick up the little glass ombré vial. That’s how luxury beauty should make you feel. Always.

Shea Butter – CHEAP

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My own little messy tin of hydrating, lavender-scented heaven

Two words: shea butter. Where to get it? Honestly, anywhere. Just make sure that it’s organic, if you want the real deal. I have a place near me that sells little tins of it; it comes in its original unscented version, & then there are some fun scents, too: orange blossom, peppermint…&…lavender…want to guess which one I took?

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Truly, though – organic shea butter is amazing. I like carrying mine in my bag or backpack; it’s a great multi-purpose moisturizer to have on hand. Cuticles? Check. Elbows? Check. Rough/dry spot on your chin? Check. Shea butter has you covered – & if you pick a scented type, it can even serve as a solid perfume, too. Dab it on the eyelids for a dewy, natural look.

Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Lip Conditioner – $22

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If you’re looking for something a bit fancier, this might suit your tastes 

Okay…plain old shea butter just wasn’t giving you the luxurious holiday sensations you wanted? Maybe this is a better option for you. It’s a lip conditioner – so it’s a lip balm. It’s very lightweight, but slightly waxy, which I actually like. For me, that means that it’ll stay on for a good while…& it does! As the product name might suggest, it contains virgin coconut oil along with rose absolute. This rose absolute has a taste to it, so this balm tastes sweet! It’s not perfume-y; if you hadn’t told me it was rose, I might have just thought it was a generic sweet taste. It’s not overpowering; it’s very mild. Herbivore says it can be used as a standalone balm (which I do) or layered under a lipstick/gloss (which I also do). Either way, it works great. I do a few extra things, too: this works well for when I have super dry patches on my face, or if I’m out & my cuticles look a mess. This works in a pinch for both of the problems I just mentioned. Coco Rose has your back.

Glossier Balm Dotcom – $12 (plus 20% off for Black Friday weekend)

One last lip product – then I’m done.

I recently bought the Glossier Balm Dotcom Trio (which, by the way, has exclusive packaging for the holiday season, starting now) & chose “original” instead of “rose.” I was reminded of how good the original Balm Dotcom is – spoiler alert, it’s really good.

Obviously, it’s amazing on the lips; I like it just as well on my eyelids. It gives a pretty, dewy effect without feeling sticky. Granted, the finish is not glossy, so don’t expect a non-tacky eye gloss (does that even exist?) but it gives a nice sheen to your lids.

Balm Dotcom is described as a multi-purpose salve; the original version is the best to use on other areas of the body simply because it has no tint & no scent.

Will I quit buying my other two favorites (Rose & Birthday)? No – but I’ll be replacing my original tube over & over again now that I’ve remembered how good it really is.

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Balm Dotcom sitting with its pal: Coco Rose 

Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Youth-Preserving Facial Oil – $64

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Alright – looking for a product that’s extremely hydrating, gentle, & nourishing? You’ve got it with this Herbivore oil, which is one out of their three facial oils – the other two are Phoenix (for dry/sensitive skin) & Lapis (for normal/oily/combo skin).

Orchid is the cheapest of the three, & the one I would first point to, if you’re unsure of which to choose. Why?

It absorbs easily & quickly, without leaving a trace of a greasy finish, but firms & plumps the skin, along with protecting your skin’s natural barrier. This makes it good for both ends of the spectrum. It’s also friendly for sensitive skin.

Ingredients? Orchid extract (hence the name) jasmine sambac, and Japanese camellia flower oils work to protect the skin from free radicals. What are free radicals? Well, they’re bad for your skin, but it’s hard for me to explain. I’m not a scientist – just Google it…Google will explain it better than I ever could.

These oils also feed the skin with beneficial vitamins and fatty acids, like omega 3 and 6 – topical superfoods, if you will. It has a lovely texture; it’s extremely rich & has a delicate floral scent, but doesn’t overpower your skin (if you’re afraid of clogged pores) or your nostrils (the scent is pleasant & fades nicely).

I’d say that this is a great product to start off with if you’re looking for a facial oil that’s a little more luxurious; a little more intense – a step up from The Ordinary’s rosehip oil, for sure. You also get a lot of product – you’re paying $64 for 1.7 fluid ounces. 1.7 fluid ounces is more than one full-size Sunday Riley oil, which would cost $80-$110. You’re getting a lot more product – & the product you’re getting is good. I also appreciate the tapered dropper; it makes it a whole lot easier to control the amount of product you’re dispensing.

This will last you forever. I promise. Mix 2-3 drops into your moisturizer, or just pat it into your skin before moisturizing. I love using this at night; I wake up with baby-soft, glowy, supple skin. It’s amazing.

(Here’s 25% off your next purchase on Herbivore Botanical’s site! They have some good Black Friday weekend deals coming up; also, if you’re interested in all three of Herbivore’s facial oils but don’t want to drop $200+, there’s a little sampler kit on the site – right here.)

The Body Shop British Rose Fresh Plumping Mask – $28

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Does the texture/color look familiar? It should – it’s almost exactly like Fresh’s Rose Face Mask. Actually, it’s better

I remember Sephora’s 2016 birthday gift like it was yesterday: I chose the skin care kit, which contained the Fresh Soy Cleanser &the  Fresh Rose Face Mask, which was getting a lot of buzz around that time. I remember trying the cleanser & feeling neutral about it; I remember trying the mask, loving the smell, then feeling outraged when I looked in the mirror & found no noticeable difference – at all. The full size version of this product is $62, so I guess I have Sephora to thank for letting me have a go at a product that, while beautifully scented, really didn’t do anything at all.

Think of The Body Shops’ British Rose Mask as a cheaper, more effective version of the Fresh one. Like the Fresh mask, The British Rose Mask is a gel-textured mask that contains real rose petals. Alongside that, it contains the “essence of hand-picked roses from Britain,” aloe vera from Mexico, & is enriched with rosehip oil from Chile. Those are a lot of great ingredients for such a (comparatively) cheap mask!

This has a really pleasant, fresh, floral scent – not like a bowl of potpourri, don’t worry. I’ve found that it works particularly well when my skin is extra sensitive; this stuff works like a charm to soothe my skin & reduce redness & inflammation. It lives up to its name: it plumps, it’s fresh, & it hydrates. Grab this one instead of the Fresh one – you won’t regret it, & you’ll save $30 or so.

Frank Body Glow Mask – $21.95

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Five-minute mask? Yeah, I was skeptical too. Then, I saw a photo of Duckie Thot – face of Fenty Beauty, Australia’s Next Top Model contestant, & now an icon in general – on Frank Body’s Instagram, captioned with something about her wearing their “brand-new, now-available Glow Mask.”

This is smart marketing, because I got the mask almost immediately – okay, two days later. Truly, though – Duckie has amazing skin, said she liked the product, & I was curious to see if it really did what it claimed to do…in five minutes flat.

The thing I first noticed was how rich the mask was in consistency. I wondered how brightening it really could be – I wondered if the “heaviness” would clog my pores, rather than brighten, tighten, & lift them. I also smelled something nutty – I checked the ingredients, & I saw coconut oil. I started to panic – my face doesn’t really like coconut oil – but I told myself that it was a five-minute mask, & that I should at least give it one go…so I did.

Well? Well: I like it! It’s not my favorite mask out there, & the results aren’t mind-boggling, but it’s a great mask if you’re having a busy morning but still want to feel pampered. The rich consistency of the mask will make you feel extremely luxurious; washing it off will also be enjoyable. I like the scent of the product, & after seeing that it did not clog my pores, I liked the texture, too. If you look closely, you can see that it’s slightly luminous when swatched.

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A peek at the texture of the Glow Mask

What makes this work in five minutes? Frank Body is known for their brightening body scrubs, which contain coffee. This mask has Arabica coffee seed oil, which increases circulation, decreases puffiness, & promotes collagen production quickly – in five minutes, to be exact. Think of it as a Milk Makeup Cooling Water Stick, but for your whole face. Some other great ingredients: shea & coconut butters, which lock in the moisture provided by the mask. Coconut oil/butter is not my friend, but this time around, it worked for me. Thank god. Throw in some superfoods like goji berry extract & cranberry/raspberry seed oils, & you truly do have a brightening, hydrating mask that’s fun to wear, feels good on – & continues to feel good after you’ve washed it off. It’s not a must-have, but it’s a good mask, especially if I’m feeling extra dry.

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

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One of the dreamiest masks for winter time 

An old favorite – & one that I highly recommend for dry skin in the winter time! This was the first self-warming mask I ever tried; I don’t even think I knew what a self-warming mask was until I came across this product last fall. It was intriguing: looks like pure organic honey in the jar; when massaged over the face, it turns from a transluscent yellow-gold to a rich, white cream. Leave on for 20 minutes – enjoy the warming sensation it gives your skin – then gently rinse off.

The Echinacea GreenEnvy™ that Farmacy has trademarked 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.” They said it, not me.

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A true honey-gold

This mask is great for dry skin, because it plumps & hydrates without clogging pores, & it even lifts/tightens the skin, too. It contains honey (obviously) which is a natural humectant that’s been used to keep skin hydrated for centuries. Propolis, an antiseptic found in beehives, works to fight inflammation & redness. Royal jelly’s amino acid-rich properties attract moisture, then trap it in your skin.

Basically, this is a product formulated almost entirely off of honey/beehive products. It’s hydrating, brightening, & plumping. Do not get this mask if you think that you won’t like a warming mask, or if you already know you don’t like warming masks – the sensation on this one is quite powerful. It’s not uncomfortable, but you most definitely will feel that warmth on your skin.

One more warning: you may break out the first time you use this mask – I did! I knew that it was the mask, because I hadn’t been using anything else new. I gave it another try, & noticed my skin clearing up. One more try, & my skin looked clearer than ever. So, just a warning: you might experience a “detox” – but it’ll be well worth it.

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Convenient & sturdy: a metal magnetic spatula 

Vegan? I know there’s controversy about honey being vegan, but Farmacy does its work with care & dedication. The honey used to make this mask is made only by bees that live on Farmacy’s farm(s). That’s pretty cool! The magnetic metal spatula that comes with the mask is a big plus – reuseable, & easy to clean, so you can use it for other masks, too. This mask is a winner, that’s for sure.

Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask – $22 (plus 20% off for Black Friday weekend)

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The dreamy, space-themed packaging of the Moon Mask 

Another big win in masking territory – Glossier calls this the “most intensely hydrating treatment we could make.” They’re not wrong.

It’s hard for me to describe the scent of this product, but there’s something about the scent & the consistency that reminds me of the (much more expensive) Korres Greek Yoghurt Mask. It has that same creamy texture & a fresh, creamy scent – but it doesn’t contain any yogurt. I guess that’ll remain a mystery.

It’s plumping: sweet almond oil, plant-based squalane, and hyaluronic acid do the “deep hydration” here. They keep working even after the mask has been washed off; all three of these hydrating ingredients help protect the skin’s moisture barrier.

It’s brightening: licorice root and lemon fruit do all of that. Plus, they help even out your complexion; I’ll even go so far as to say that it does a little bit of retexturizing, which is unexpected for a hydrating mask with this kind of consistency. Lemon & liquorice also help fade dark spots/acne scars, kind of like a Vitamin C serum would. Throw in some honey & aloe for a little extra hydration & soothing properties, & you’re good!

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A quick peek at the consistency

In the winter, I love sticking this in the fridge until it’s nice & chilly. Then, I draw a hot bath, apply a thick layer of it to my skin, & sit for 20 minutes, feeling my face soak in the soothing hydration while enjoying a warm bath (who doesn’t love one in the winter?). I also use it as an overnight mask – just use a lighter layer, so you (& your pillowcase) don’t get all messy. Another hack: if I feel like I need a little extra hydration – but only in some isolated areas – I apply my night cream, then dab a little Moon Mask over the areas that need some extra TLC, like the area under my nose, the bottom of my chin, & a few spots on my cheeks, if the wind really picks up speed.

This mask is great for all skin types, & I love using it with the other Glossier mask: the Mega Greens Galaxy Pack. You can get them both with the Mask Duo if you really want to try your hand at multi-masking, but if we’re talking hydration, & hydration alone…Moon Mask has your back. Or your face.

Origins Drink Up™ Intensive Overnight Mask to Quench Skin’s Thirst – $27

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My travel size tube of Drink Up – time to go for the full size!

I love this stuff – & so does my mama. In fact, she was the one who introduced me to it (usually, it’s the other way around. At least, lately).

This is definitely a mask intended for dry skin types, & Origins isn’t afraid to let you know that. Described as a “luxurious nighttime mask to quench skin’s thirst,” Drink Up contains avocado and apricot kernel oils, which replenish moisture your skin might have lost during the day, as well as build moisture reservoirs overnight – so you wake up with plump, hydrated skin. The apricot oil also gives the product its amazing, slightly citrusy scent. Japanese seaweed repairs skin’s barrier to prevent future dehydration and signs of premature aging.

Drink Up isn’t just for your face – Origins encourages you to use it on other dry spots, like elbows & knees. You can even use it as a shaving cream in a pinch. I’m all for multi-purpose products, I’m always here for Origins’ products, especially if they’re hydrating – so this one’s another win for me. I need a bigger size now, because we’re truly getting into the cold dry weather – the weather that this mask was probably formulated for.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration – $30 

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Alright, everyone – I truly do mean everyone this time – here’s a great moisturizer. For the face, for the body, for the hands…you get it.

Truly, this product’s a golden egg. $30 for 6 whole ounces of product – that’s incredible in & of itself. It has a whipped texture that manages to simultaneously feel lightweight & extraordinarily hydrating. Its “whipped texture absorbs with no greasy after-feel” – I can attest to this.

This is suitable for all skin types – especially dry skin. It can be used on all parts of the body, & is child-friendly, too. Colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, ceramide 3, and the (secret) First Aid Beauty Antioxidant Booster provide relief, hydration, & soothes the skin. First Aid Beauty claims that “it is clinically proven to increase hydration by 169 percent immediately upon application.”

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Lightweight texture; it’s not a water-based formula, but it most certainly isn’t greasy

I use this during the day when it’s Cold Season – perhaps for someone with more oily skin, this would be more suitable as a night cream – but truly, I think that the product’s whipped texture makes it incredibly easy to wear & adaptable for any & all skin types. Sensitive to fragrances? FAB has your back on this one. You won’t smell a thing. Lots of product – seriously, lots of product – effective, & cheap. It’s a product that I know will always work for me, no matter what. I don’t have to worry about how my skin will react when I reach for this moisturizer in the mornings. I just massage it on, put on my makeup (or not) & go.

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich – $35

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Luxury packaging, luxury texture – just skip the luxury price tag

Ah yes. The creme de la creme, truly. Glossier dropped this in January 2017, & I’ve been using it ever since. In the winter, I use it day & night. In the summer, I use it at night…but I never go without it. When I have, I notice a (negative) difference in my skin – so I stick to it.The closest thing I can compare this cream to is the Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Cream – except Priming Moisturizer Rich is $35, & the Rose Stem Cell Cream is $75. That’s a $40 difference, & I think PMR does a better job – that’s just me.

Well, no – it’s not just me. I see people using it left & right in their beauty routines; I was pleasantly surprised to see Paloma Elsesser apply it before putting on makeup in her Glossier GRWM; I don’t come across too many others that use it in the day, too – so let that be a testament! Both Paloma & I use (& love) PMR for daytime use.

 

Ingredients: Glossier secrets: Anti-Redness Complex and Oxygenating Agent, both of which reduce redness (obviously) hydrate the skin, & prime it, too – see, it can be used under makeup. Shea and murumuru butters give the cream its luxurious texture, but don’t leave a greasy sheen on the skin – it’s more like a healthy, hydrated glow. Red Algae Complex acts as a reservoir for the skin’s moisture barrier, Lavender Oil provides antioxidant and skin-calming properties (& makes me feel like I’m in heaven, because I love the scent of lavender) & five key fatty acids help lock in moisture, so none can escape.

I can go on for hours about how much I love this product, but I think you know enough by now. It’s luxurious, but it’s not ridiculously priced. It’s very friendly for cold weather. It smells incredible. & look at the swirl on that brand new jar of product, would you?

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Texture heaven

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Cucumber & Green Tea – $12

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Our good old friend Mario

I know. Who hasn’t heard of the facial spray by this time, right? I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t seen this at least once – somewhere, somehow. I’ve been using it in a different way. I forget where I read this, but I saw on a beauty site somewhere that misting the face after completing your beauty routine essentially acts as a “setting spray” for your skin care: it locks in moisture, gives yet one more layer of light hydration, & is cooling & soothing. I used to say that the rose version was my favorite, but I’ve found that this one is even more soothing. Stick it in the fridge – you won’t regret it – & grab a mini bottle while you’re in the checkout line at Ulta. Your bag could use a tiny bottle of this mist; it’s a great thing to spritz over your face if you’re out & the dry cold is really starting to get to you, as it does to me. Give it a go.

Happy Holidays (it’s officially Black Friday now), Happy Cold Season – but most importantly, happy Hydration Season.

Love,

Sofia ❤

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skin Care 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Standing upright, ready to go 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skinfood Egg White Pore Mask

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

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

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

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The color of snow, the consistency of meringue 

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

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

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

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

Eco Tools Dry Body Brush

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Facial Oil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

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

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

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

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

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

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

Makeup 

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

CLĒ Cosmetics Melting Lip Powder in Desert Rose

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

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

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

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

Bite Beauty Multistick in Praline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Fenty liner with its Sephora PRO buddy

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

Fenty Beauty Cosmic Gloss Lip Glitter in Astro-Naughty 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier You Eau de Parfum

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

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

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

Seriously, though – the base notes are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Halloween – forgot to mention it.

Love,

Sof ❤

#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 ❤

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

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

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

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

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

Some Nights – fun. 

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

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

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

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15-year-old Sofia was a strange bird.

808s & Heartbreak – Kanye West 

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

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

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

Pure Heroine – Lorde 

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

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

Harry Styles – Harry Styles

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

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

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

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

Depression Cherry – Beach House 

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

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

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

Blonde – Frank Ocean

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

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

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

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

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ANTI – Rihanna 

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Oooh. Yes.

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

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

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

Yeezus – Kanye West 

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

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

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

Mind of Mine – Zayn Malik 

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

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

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

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At arcades, blasting Mind of Mine.

Melodrama – Lorde 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5:30 a.m…..
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…9:30 p.m.
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A “Supercut”

Love,

Sof ❤

August Favorites: Back To Basics

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

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

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

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

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

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

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My (heavily used) “tub” of FAB Cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Garnier micellar water, with its cotton pad pals

LUSH Honey Lip Scrub 

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

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

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

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

Can you tell I love this product?

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A closer peek at texture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen

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

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

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

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aromatica Damask Rose Soothing Gel 100% 

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

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

So: what to do with it?

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

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6 oz of soothing, rose-scented product

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

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

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

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

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

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

$2 mask that works? Can’t beat it.

O.R.G. Mineral Peel Face

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

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

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

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Mario Badescu Whitening Mask

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

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

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Origins Make A Difference™ Rejuvenating Hand Treatment

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

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

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

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

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

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Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Nail Treatment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essie Meet Me At Sunset Nail Polish

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

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

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

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

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I FOUND (a dupe of) CLAMBAKE 

CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion

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

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

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

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

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

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The gleaming gold letters: CLĒ

Glossier Cloud Paint – Shade: Haze

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lancôme Monsier Big Mascara 

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

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

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

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

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

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Black & pink packaging 

Glossier Wowder Brush

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

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

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

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

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

NYX Dewy Finish Makeup Setting Spray

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

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

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

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My (very cheap & very good) ride or die

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

Love (& happy September),

Sof ❤

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

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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I said “vampire”….
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….& 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.

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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.

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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!