“Where Do I Start???” – How To Build A Skincare Routine

Oftentimes, I get wrapped up in talking about new beauty or skincare products – wrapped up enough that I’ll forget: some people are still figuring out how to build a basic skincare routine.

No shame in starting from scratch, & no such thing as a dumb question…so, after a few requests, here’s a very simple routine/top shelfie that you can use for guidance. Let’s do it!

First, let me just make it clear: my skin type is dry/sensitive. Products that work really well for my skin type may not work as well for someone with oily or combo skin. It’s hard to accurately determine your skin type online – always best to go to a dermatologist – but if you can’t make it to one, try this skin type quiz by Soko Glam, an online K-Beauty retailer. Remember: online quizzes won’t give you the most accurate results, but they can be a good place to start.

With that in mind, let me outline a simple 3-step routine. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time on your skin, but want to see some improvement, it’s a good place to start.

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Moisturize

At the end of the day (or beginning), it really comes down to these three steps. Cleanse your face to refresh/remove dirt, oil, & other “bad stuff.” Tone to brighten, hydrate, & purify. Moisturize to keep your skin soft & hydrated all day or all night. Remember, even if you have oily skin, you should be moisturizing. Not moisturizing the skin can cause dehydration – dehydrated skin usually leads to micro-abrasions, which can let in bacteria. This leads to breakouts & acne. So – no matter what skin type you have, make sure you’re moisturizing!

Some of you might already know the three step routine, & that’s great – but you might not know when or how to use serums & oils. Here’s how the three step routine would look plus serums & oils. Remember: you don’t have to use serums or oils; they’re a great way to up your skin care game if you’re not completely happy with how your skin is looking or feeling, but they’re not the must-haves (in my opinion).

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Serums – if you’re using several, work your way from most “watery” to most “gel-like.” In my experience, watery serums will sink in faster & easier if you put them right after a toner. Gel-like serums take a little longer to sink in, so they could use a little extra time…after you’ve finished with the watery serum(s)
  4. Oil – just like with serums, work your way from most diluted to most rich. Any oil will have a different texture & consistency than a serum; that’s why they’re categorized differently
  5. Moisturize

So that’s how you “up” your skin care game, if you’re already used to the three step method.

Without further ado, here are some of the products I use most often (as well as a few new ones). Almost all of them are under $30; there are two exceptions. Remember that you can get effective & affordable skin care products – these two qualities are not mutually exclusive!

Cleansers Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser

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On the left: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. On the right: CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser

As you can see by the rather banged-up bottles, these are the two cleansers I reach for most often. Let’s start with Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, a product I’ve been using (& loving) for almost two years now. I love MJC because it’s such an effective non-foaming cleanser. Most foaming cleansers dry out my skin; Milky Jelly doesn’t lather up, but it does get rid of dirt & oil, just like any other cleanser would. The delicate floral scent is amazing, too. I like to use two pumps of it on dry skin in the morning, making sure to massage my face as I work the cleanser across my skin. It’s like a mini spa treatment – every single morning – & it only takes 2 minutes. I rinse off with luke-warm water, then move on to toner. Read my #MiniReview on Milky Jelly here!

As a bonus, here are some other options for non-foaming cleansers – for those of you who live in countries that Glossier doesn’t ship to, or for those of you who just aren’t interested in Milky Jelly:

Next up: CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser: this is probably (okay, definitely) the only foaming cleanser I can use regularly without worrying about my skin drying out. I like to use this best in the evening – it does an amazing job of getting rid of any leftover makeup that my micellar water might have missed, & it’s admittedly very fun to use. When pushing down on the pump, a goopy substance similar in texture to Milky Jelly comes out (no scent!). Massage that over your face, & it quickly foams up. Leave on for 30-ish seconds, then wipe off with a damp towel, or rinse off with water (I prefer the latter). Most definitely the only foaming cleanser I can use without worrying about drying out my skin, even in the cold dry winter months. This cleanser is magic. Read my review of Oxygen Foam on CLĒ Cosmetic’s blog right here!

Toners

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On the left: Glossier Solution. On the right: Thayer’s Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner 

For a few years, I religiously used the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater – yup, the one that everyone used (& still uses). Although I’ve seen a lot of people complain about it online (not pure, makes them break out) I’ve never had an issue with it – I just eventually encountered options that were more my style. It took me a while to convert to “cotton pad toners,” as I like to call them (as opposed to a spray, like Mario Badescu) but the one that sold me was Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner. I got it at Target for $11 in October – & I’m still on my first bottle. The alcohol-free option is really nice if you have sensitive skin, & lavender is especially soothing on my skin, so I was really happy when I saw that this was one of the few options left on the shelf. Witch hazel is a natural astringent, so it clarifies the skin – but it also soothes & reduces any inflammation that might be present. Also in the formula: aloe vera, plain old water, & glycerin – all calming & soothing for the skin. If you’re hyper-sensitive, Thayers has a non-scented version of their toner. If you still prefer spritz toners to cotton pad toners, Thayers now has a lot of their toners in spray bottle packaging – check them out here. Read my #MiniReview of this toner here!

(Side note: When using a cotton pad toner, I use Shiseido cotton pads. I know, I know – fancy…but seriously, they’re worth it. Even better, they’re actually quite affordable if you do it my way: cut them in half! Use one half for your morning routine & the other half for your evening routine. This way, you cut the cost in half, & you still feel all the benefits of using the Shiseido Facial Cotton (these truly are a huge upgrade from drugstore cotton rounds…trust me). If you have sensitive skin & feel like a lot of cotton pads/rounds are scratchy on your skin, these are for you. 

Another “toner” I’ve been incorporating into my routine: the latest from Glossier: Glossier Solution. This is the brand’s first release of 2018, & it’s been getting a lot of attention – it’s one of the first Glossier products that really focuses on clearing & brightening skin, as well as reducing acne/hormonal breakouts. Solution is a chemical exfoliant, meant to be used once a day in replacement of a toner. The AHA/BHA/PHA blend dissolves dead skin cells, brightens, softens, & refreshes skin, as well as reducing redness, acne, & breakouts. Read the full scoop here; first, though, let me say this: if you’re using Solution – or any other chemical exfoliant – wear sunscreen! When using any kind of chemical exfoliant (this one included) your skin is more sensitive to the sun. You should wear sunscreen no matter what, but if you’ve been guiltily ignoring that, it’s time to start protecting yourself – especially if you’re using a chemical exfoliant. I’ll give you some of my favorite options in a moment. Stay tuned.

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Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin

Finally – I mentioned that my first toner was a spritzer (by Mario Badescu). Here’s one that I’ve revisited & been really loving lately: the Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin. Think of it as the Mario Badescu Facial Spray…but make it purer. There are three ingredients in this: purified water, pure rose oil, & natural vegetable glycerin. If you’re worried about a cloying scent, worry no more. This has a very delicate, floral scent – similar to that of Glossier Milky Jelly. It’s described as “multi-purpose,” because it is. Use it for your hair, use it as a toner, use it as a setting spray, use it as a refresher when 3 pm hits & you still have a few hours to go (but your skin isn’t feeling it) – face, body, hair…go ham. Just don’t drink it. I haven’t used this for a minute, but I’ve been revisiting it – & I’ve appreciated it as a toner, a refresher, & a setting spray this past month. Oh – & it’s only $10. Find it online, in some Whole Foods, some Urban Outfitters, & perhaps even some Targets, if you’re lucky.

Serums 

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From left to right: Glossier Super Pure Serum, The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, & Valjean Labs Hydrate Serum

Like I mentioned when talking about how to build up your skin care routine to something more complex or “fancy” – serums aren’t necessary, but they can be great ways to really improve the texture, tone, & even the health of your skin. I typically don’t wear more than two serums at once – because too much of anything is a bad thing – & I usually wear different serums at night than I do in the day. I won’t delve into that, because this is just about how to build a simple routine – so here are a few serums that I’ve been enjoying. Some are old favorites, others are new discoveries – but they’re all under $30, which is great. Let me start with the Valjean Hydrate Serum – I have a #MiniReview on this, which I’ll link here. If you’re just looking for a super quick review, though, here are my two cents on it: I liked the texture of Glossier’s Super Bounce Serum (another hyaluronic acid serum), but wasn’t seeing results that made the $28 price tag worth it to me. I tried The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid serum (way cheaper) but like a bunch of their other serums, this one was tacky, dried down oddly, & I didn’t even feel like it was hydrating. Stumped, I kept hunting. I saw “Valjean Labs” pop up across a few photos on Instagram before I asked some friends about the serums, & I heard only good things. I got the Hydrate serum first – followed by Glow & Firm. I like Firm – it’s a hydrating & plumping serum that contains ferulic acid & Vitamin E – but I’m not a fan of Glow (a Vitamin C serum). It just didn’t really seem to do anything. So: Hydrate remains my favorite serum from Valjean. It’s a thin, watery texture, but doesn’t dry down tacky. It’s cooling & soothing – really helps reduce redness – & it feels like a cool drink of water for my skin. I use it morning & night. It layers under other serums/moisturizers really nicely, too. Pick it up for $15 at Urban Outfitters, or keep your eyes peeled at your local TJ Maxx – Valjean serums go for $4.99 at TJ.

Next up: an old favorite; an old friend: Glossier Super Pure Serum. The Glossier Supers hold a special place in my heart; Super Glow was the first serum I ever put on my face when the trio launched in fall of 2016. I’ve hopped back & forth between Super Pure & Super Glow as my favorites, but at this point I can confidently say that Super Pure is my favorite. This is a serum that is, in fact, worth the $28 price tag (for me). It calms redness & inflammation in the short-term; long-term, it reduces breakouts & just clarifies the skin overall. The water-gel consistency is not sticky or tacky; it doesn’t pill; it wears beautifully under makeup/moisturizers…I have no bad things to say. Check out my longer review here

Finally – a brand-new addition to my routine: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. It’s so new, in fact, that I’ve only used it twice so far. Before purchasing, I snooped around for some opinions, & immediately got some “NOOOO! IT IS SO SCRATCHY!” comments. Naturally, I was a bit scared when it arrived – but I’m glad I had that “background knowledge” of the texture of the serum before giving it a go myself, because it influenced the way in which I applied it. Obviously, I can’t give that big of a review, because I’ve only used it twice, but here are my first impressions: definitely the “oddest” serum I’ve used yet, mainly because it’s “water-free” – that means that it looks like a cream; maybe a runny moisturizer. The “scratchiness” comes from “dehydrated spheres” of hyaluronic acid, which “offer visible surface smoothing.” I wouldn’t call it scratchy; it doesn’t feel like a sugar/salt scrub; it feels more like someone put sand into a light moisturizer (I know that sounds odd). There’s no denying that it’s a bit abrasive, especially if I were to rub it into my face – but thanks to everyone’s warnings, I was able to avoid that situation. When applying, I put some on my fingertips, then gently press it into my skin. Wait a few minutes, & sure enough – the “dehydrated spheres” melted into my skin. Then, it’s simple: apply moisturizer, & be at peace. There’s no denying that it’s one of the oddest products I’ve tried so far, but I’m intrigued. The Ordinary has great prices, & it’s even more accessible, now that it’s being carried (online) at Sephora. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted.

Oils

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The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Organic Rose Hip Seed Oil – good for all skin types 

I’m a fan of facial oils, but I’m not the biggest fan – basically, creams > oils in my opinion (& keep in mind: everyone’s skin is different). While creams are my priority, I found oils to be way more confusing, especially when first thinking about using one. Won’t it just make my skin greasy? Will I break out more? Why would you put oil on your face…?

The answer to the last question: there are many reasons for putting oil on your face, & if you remember that you’re not putting vegetable oil or bacon grease on your face – you’re putting rosehip oil, tea tree oil, marula oil & so on (all of which have their benefits) – the fear of breaking out or looking greasy will soon fade. Oils won’t make your face greasy – you just have to choose the right one. That depends on your skin type, & since I can’t tell every single one of you what your skin type is, I’d leave the serious oil recommendations to someone more qualified (ask a skin care consultant at Sephora, or go to your dermatologist, or just do some reading after you know a little more about your skin type), but I can tell you one oil that works really well for all skin types: rosehip!

Rosehip oil calms redness, reduces inflammation, & hydrates – of course. It’s lightweight, doesn’t feel heavy, sticky, or greasy, & it wears well under a cream. You can also put a little more on & forget a cream all together. One of the cheapest options out there is The Ordinary’s 100% Cold-Pressed Organic Rose Hip Seed Oil. Described as “a daily support formula for all skin types,” this oil is rich in various vitamins & fatty acids, all of which plumpen, hydrate, & boost skin’s circulation. It smells slightly floral, but I can hardly detect a scent. It’s not the highest-quality oil, but it’s under $10, I wouldn’t call it bad, & it’s a great way to experiment with facial oils without dropping a lot of money. Next on my list of things to try: Pai Skincare’s Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil, which has rave reviews on many platforms. It’s a step up from the $10, but from what I’ve seen, it looks to be worth it.

Moisturizers 

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On the left: Dr Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream. On the right: Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

Currently, I’m using two moisturizers: a day cream & a night cream. If you use one & your skin is happy – great! My dry/sensitive skin gets a little finicky, especially when it comes to hydration, so my skin most definitely appreciates the two different moisturizers I use.

For daytime, I use the Dr Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass CreamI held off for a very long time on buying this, mainly because I looked at the amount of product in the tube & rolled my eyes. I wouldn’t be forking over that amount for this little tube of cream…but then, I got it as a free sample with a Sephora order I made over winter break, & when I tried it out, I finally understood. This is an extremely dense cream; it’s almost like an ointment. This was worrying to me, at first: would it feel greasy? Would it clog my pores? The answer to both of these questions: nope! It most definitely doesn’t feel greasy, it certainly doesn’t clog my pores, & I’m glad I chose this sample, because by the time I ran out of the baby version, I was convinced that the full-size was truly worth it.

You need the tiniest amount – the tube looks like a tube of toothpaste, & that’s just about how much I use for my face: imagine that you’re putting a smear of toothpaste onto your toothbrush, & that should just about cover it for your whole face. I put the ointment between my fingertips to let it warm up a little, then gently press it into my skin. If I have the time, I’ll follow that up with a quick facial massage with my jade roller. If I don’t – I’m still good. The cream has really helped reduce any redness, which is something I struggle with (especially in the winter time). I would constantly complain about the dry area under my nose – not after a week of using this cream, though. January is one of the hardest months on my skin…& this year, I have zero dryness/irritation in my usual dry patches, my skin is relatively redness-free, & I get to use a very cool toothpaste-y product that smells like freshly-mown grass. Worth it? Definitely.

For night time, I use Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich – a product I’ve been religiously using & refilling since Glossier put it up for sale in January 2017. Basically: I’ll never stop screaming about this (screaming in a good way). I’ve been through a few jars, but I don’t go through it outrageously quickly, because it truly is “rich.” “Rich,” yes. Oily? Not even a little bit. I have dry skin & love it; I know people with oily skin who love it equally. People in the middle? Yup, PMR has your back, too. Red algae reduces redness, lavender makes you feel like you’re in an aromatherapy session, & the cream has this incredible buttercream texture that’s addicting. Every night, I smooth a little spoonful (I use the NIOD Stainless Steel Spoon to keep my creams sanitary) into my skin, I massage my face with my hands &/or my jade roller, & then I sink into my pillows with a sigh of relief. It’s the perfect way for me to end my day.

Sunscreens

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On the left: Glossier Invisible Shield. On the right: Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen 

One of the most important – but one of the most ignored – steps in a skincare routine is protecting your face from the sun. Even if you don’t work outside…even if you’re not going for a long walk…even if you live in a country where you don’t see much sunlight during the winter…you should still be wearing sunscreen. UV rays cause long-term damage, & you might not ever feel a sunburn – but you may still be at risk for skin cancer if you don’t take the proper steps to protect yourself. That sounds like a threat, but it’s just me saying be careful! You can greatly reduce the risk of skin cancer simply by throwing on some sunscreen every single day.

The two I swear by are Glossier Invisible Shield (SPF 35) & Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen Broad Spectrum (SPF 50). These products are quite different from one another, though ultimately, they both do a good job of protecting your skin from harmful sun exposure.

What’s the difference? The Glossier sunscreen is a chemical sunscreen; the Dr. Jart+ sunscreen is a physical sunscreen. “Chemical” sounds scary in most situations, but just as is the case with “chemical exfoliation,” “chemical sunscreen” is not dangerous or harmful for your skin. It just operates in a different way than “physical sunscreen.”

Chemical sunscreens contain organic, carbon-based compounds which create a chemical (hence the name) reaction, changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. No – you won’t get burned, & no – it doesn’t feel hot upon application. Don’t worry.

Physical sunscreens like the Dr. Jart+ one contain active mineral ingredients, also referred to as physical blockers (again – hence the name). Most commonly, the physical blockers are titanium dioxide or zinc dioxide – that’s what gives physical sunscreen its famous (or, if you’re like me, infamous) scent. These blockers sit on top of the skin, deflecting & scattering UV rays away from the skin.

So – which do I prefer? Personally, after I tried a chemical sunscreen, I heavily lean towards that side of the spectrum. Most physical sunscreens feel very sticky & heavy on my skin & I’ve broken out from quite a few. Most don’t wear very well under makeup for me, either. I prefer the gel-like texture of a chemical sunscreen. Also – it’s much easier to reapply, since you don’t have to massage it into the face as intensely as you might have to with a physical sunscreen – chemical sunscreens leave no white cast on the skin, which is another bonus.

Still, I really like the Dr. Jart+ one. After I started taking immunosuppressive drugs that make my skin even more sensitive to sun, my mama & I panicked & looked for the most powerful & best sunscreen out there. SPF 50 is pretty much as high as you can get, & this Dr. Jart+ option is probably my favorite physical sunscreen. It’s very lightweight, it lacks that odd scent that so many physical sunscreens have, & it doesn’t feel greasy or sticky – doesn’t break me out, either. If you’re not into chemical sunscreens, this is a physical sunscreen that I truly do like. The price isn’t half bad, either – especially for a Dr. Jart+ product.

As for the Glossier Invisible Shield – like I said, I now prefer chemical sunscreens, after having tried both, & this one is a great choice. Recently, Glossier reduced the price to $25, which I feel is a much fairer price than the original $34. In my opinion, there isn’t enough product in the Invisible Shield bottle to justify spending $34 on it; now, with the adjusted price, I can give Invisible Shield 5 stars without feeling like it’s just a biiiit too expensive to rate so highly. I use about 3-4 pumps, & gently swipe the gel over my face after I’ve finished moisturizing (but before I’ve applied makeup). I let it sit for a few moments; it has a cooling sensation which is really soothing. I like the citrus-y scent, too.

A lot of people ask what the best amount of SPF is. Most dermatologists agree that anything between SPF 30 & SPF 50 is going to give you the same results. SPF 50 isn’t really going to give you more protection than SPF 30 – in fact, some people get less protection even while wearing SPF 50, since they feel like they don’t need to apply as much product. No matter what, be sure to reapply sunscreen if you’re spending periods of time outside, & don’t stress about SPF 50 working better (or worse) than SPF 35 or SPF 40. In the end, as long as it’s over 30, you’re good. Stay protected!!!

Spot Treatments 

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Oh – almost forgot about this very important category. For a while, I was a non-believer. It seemed as though everyone swore by the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion; I’d given it a few goes & hadn’t seen anything special. Overnight results? Sounded unrealistic…& I never got that from the Drying Lotion.

For the past 7-8 months, I’ve been using & loving the Origins Super Spot Remover. It’s a clear gel spot treatment, which is nice – it sinks into the skin instead of rubbing off on your pillowcase (sound familiar?). It can also be worn under makeup, which, again: something the Drying Lotion cannot do.

When I ran out of my second little tube of the Origins treatment, I headed to grab a refill – only to see that it was sold out both online & in store. A Sephora employee redirected me to the Tarte Blemish Bully Acne Spot Treatment – same consistency, same texture, same end results. The formula seems to be essentially the same; I did notice that the Tarte formula contains caffeine, though, which is nice – it aids in depuffing whatever area you’re trying to target. I’ve been using it for about a week now, & have no complaints thus far. It seems to work just as well as the Origins treatment, & you get a little more product for the same amount, too. I’ll see how this one lasts in the long run, but for now…I’m liking it. Side note: the Origins spot treatment is now back in stock on Sephora’s website. 

Sometimes, one product just doesn’t work – if I’m really having a problem blemish (or two) I’ll layer two products: first, a thin layer of the gel spot treatment – in the past, Origins; currently, Tarte. After the gel has dried down, I’ll pat a small amount of Mario Badescu Drying Cream on top. That’s right – cream, not lotion. They are two different products. The Drying Lotion is the one you see most often: the pink sediment at the bottom of a vial of clear liquid. The Drying Cream is a yellow-beige paste that comes in a little jar. Described as “a unique spot treatment featuring sulfur,” the Drying Cream is ideal for under-the-surface bumps as well as good old blemishes. Sulfur & zinc oxide draw out impurities, but ingredients like aloe vera & Vitamin E ensure that you won’t wake up with a painful dry patch of skin where your blemish used to be. This does transfer, so if you wear it overnight, just be aware that some might rub off on your pillowcase. It’s worth it, though – I can’t say that this combo always works overnight, but it comes pretty damn close.

Well – that’s the finale! If you’re new to skincare, I hope I helped you figure things out a little more; maybe you have something to work with now. It can be very overwhelming when starting to be “serious” about skincare or makeup, simply because there are so many products. I can’t say that all of these will work as well for you as they do for me, but I hope I help at least a few of you. What’re some of your holy grail skincare items – whether you’re new or old to the skincare game?

Catch you next time! Let’s talk about face masks next, shall we?

Love,

Sofia ❤

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 ❤

September Favorites: A Lot of Favorite Oldies – & Some Incredible Newbies

I truly cannot believe that it’s October. I’ve been busy! It’s not “going to class” busy, but I have been writing, taking one online class that is about writing creative non-fiction (aka: the way I write on this site!), & just…Realizing Things…

I feel like I Realize Things every month (I mean, thank god I do) but this month was huge for me. I’m slowly starting  to slip into the shell that fits me most. It’s a long scary road ahead, but I think I’ll handle it fine. I have been more at peace with my mind lately; I laugh more easily & things are’t engulfed in dark thoughts. I’m becoming more myself, & for that alone – I will always remember this September in my mind.

This post isn’t really about “me” at all, as you can tell by my title – but I wanted to type it out that I am feeling more comfortable with myself every single day & it’s something I’m proud of & want to share. I never thought I’d be this busy & at peace with myself after having to give up violin in April (read why here). I have been more cheerful, more focused on my own thoughts & trying to trust my intuition; I dance alone in my room; I write, write, & write; I keep my family & dear friends close to my heart & try to love them as best as I can. Needless to say, feeling this way is amazing for me & it’s not something that came to me easily – so, I’m proud of the progress I have made & wanted to share it with all of you!

Now that I have that out of the way, let me promise that I have some amazing things coming up on here, including a few “interviews” with some friends of mine! I also have some upcoming things that are even more amazing with some other orgnizations 🙂 stay tuned is all I will say (for now).

My monthly playlist for September is already up! You can check it out here. For the first time, it includes a poem – by me! It’s the first time I have put my poetry on this blog, so I hope you like it. I have good things planned for the month of October, & I CANNOT contain my excitement for Stranger Things Season 2. AAA! Okay! Let’s talk products (& other little things)

I’ve written about simplifying my skin care routines – both morning & night. I really tried to stick to that this month, & I do think that the difference is noticable! My skin looks glowier & isn’t as congested. I think my face was being overwhelmed with products & was telling me to slow down…I’m glad I listened.

Don’t worry, I won’t be cutting off new products; you’ll still get reviews from me! I’m just using a different (slower, but worth it) method to see how I like a product: that is, make sure the rest of my skin care is consistent while I’m trying out the new product. That way, I can tell if there’s a noticeable difference – good or bad!

So, this September, I cut back my routine to fewer steps; fewer serums. I had to make one big purchase; other than that, however, I stuck to what I knew & loved. My cutting back on buying skin care has been good for my wallet AS WELL AS good for my skin. It’s a win-win.

In my September favorites, I’m returning to some old, much-loved products, as well as a few new ones that are helping me keep my skin calm, hydrated, glowy, & clear. You’ll see a lipstick I just remembered I owned; you’ll see a cream that triples as a moisturizer, leave-on mask, & makeup primer. I’ve categorized them loosely: Of course, we’ll have skin care; I’ll split up makeup favorites into another category; I also have some art pieces, photos, & jewelry i’ve been liking as well (side note: I may do a lookbook in the future; it might be fun! Tell me what you think about that).

You’ll see them all; you’ll see everything! Even better, you’ll be able to read all my thoughts on them starting…now! ENJOY!

Skincare 

My routine is pretty much the same as the simplified ones I’ve built (read my “back to basics” morning routine here; I’ve allowed myself free range on masks, which is fun! Most of my skincare favorites for this month are old & much-loved (though I haven’t talked in detail about all of them on this blog). Only one out of the three masks I loved the most this month is an old favorite. I figured we may as well start with the new stuff, then move from there!

 

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The tremendous trio of my September

Let’s start with the one I was most surprised by: the Boscia Luminizing Black Mask. I have an upcoming post that’s a review of some of Boscia’s other products – they were kind enough to send me some things, including this mask! I have some good opinions on the other products, & I won’t say too much about this one – just that I’m shocked at how effective yet gentle it was. Yes – it’s an intense peel-off mask, & you may have to tug a tiny bit, but it really, really works. I use it in the evening; I wake up with glowier, clearer, less congested skin every time I’ve used this mask. I will definitely be repurchasing this with my own money; I’m also recommending it to everyone I see!

Okay – on to our next mask. This is an old favorite; something my own mama put me onto, actually! You all know my love for Origins products – the Drink Up™️ Intensive Overnight Mask is now one of my cult favorite products from the brand. Here, I have a small travel size that came from a bigger kit with two minis (one of this mask; the other the Origins charcoal mask), but I will most definitely be getting full-size (or sneaking dollops of my mama’s) once I’m done with my little tube.

What made me start using this again? Well, I always have redness/sensitivity/dryness under my nose, but it got quite bad this past month for some reason (nothing changed; no colds; nothing!) & I was trying to find overnight masks that would give that are an extra boost of hydration. BAM! This one did the trick in about two days. Sensitivity & dryness are, for the most part, gone. It definitely is intended for dry skin types; even Origins mentions that in the product description. It contains a variety of hydrating oils: avocado & apricot kernel oil do most of the work here. Together, these oils build a moisture reservoir for your skin overnight. You’ll wake up with softer, calmer skin for sure – but it works even in a few minutes. The oils don’t just build a moisture reservoir; they instantly flood your compromised moisture reserves – aka: it’s great for using on super dry spots. It also contains Japanese seaweed as a main ingredient, which repairs the skin’s barrier, preventing future dehydration. The smell is soft but present; I’d describe it as slightly citrusy; tangy fruit for sure. It also is very cooling when first applied – another relief to tired, dehydrated skin cells. Best of all – this mask does not clog my pores, even though it contains oils, & even though it’s meant to be worn overnight! I can only thank Origins (of course) & my mama – for buying the mask before I even knew it existed.

Last mask? Mario Badescu Whitening Mask. I’ve been hearing things about this product for ages; I was a bit scared because it seemed quite intense. The mask itself looks a bit like liquid concrete (see above photo) & has a very thick texture. It also has an odd smell – that’s because of the liquorice as an ingredient.

Will this bleach my skin/lighten my freckles? No! It simply evens out your skin tone, soothing irritation & reparing discolored areas, like scars. To my surprise, it’s actually meant for dry skin.  Kojic acid, liquorice root extract, mulberry extract, & grapeseed extract  and  minimize the look of age spots and even out skin in general, while olive oil & Vitamin E lock in moisture, making your complexion bright & glowy – but still soft. I know a lot of dry-skinned people who struggle to find a brightening mask that isn’t drying. I’d hesitate to call this a “whitening” mask, as I don’t think that it lightens the skin. I think “brightening” is a better way to describe it, but that’s just me. Best of all? You only leave it on for ten minutes maximum – perfect if you’re up in the morning, want to treat your face right, but don’t have much time. Try using it as a spot treatment on uneven areas from time to time; your skin will thank you. I’m happy I finally gave this a go; it’s a great mask that’s quick, not too expensive, & lasts a long time (thanks to the consistency).

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The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 / Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum

You’ve seen these before in my posts; the fact that I love the Drunk Elephant Framboos Glycolic Night Serum is no secret. I love The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid as well – it’s dirt-cheap (unlike the Drunk Elephant) & works very well overnight to lock in moisture & keep my complexion plump & glowy. The one problem I have with all of The Ordinary’s serums is that they’re a bit tacky; I don’t mind this, however, if I’m using one as a night serum. I find the Drunk Elephant one to be a bit tacky, too – together, they work like a dream.

The Drunk Elephant serum works to gently exfoliate, thanks to the AHA/BHA blend & the glycolic acid. I do try to avoid the area under my nose when applying this serum – I am always dry & sensitive around there, & I don’t want to take too many chances. On my cheeks, forehead, chin, though – that’s a different story. This serum took my skin to the next level; think of it as a very gentle Babyfacial – except you use it every single night.

The Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is another treasure. It’s more lightweight than some of the other serums by The Ordinary; because of this, it’s less tacky than the others – big plus! As most of you may know by this point: hyaluronic acid can attract up to 1,000 times its weight in water. This makes it an amazing hydrating serum for any skin type – it contains no oil – & the added Vitamin B5 in The Ordinary’s formula enhances surface hydration. Basically: this is an amazing, hydrating serum for any & all skin types. It’s dirt-cheap, & it works beautifully.

Why do these two work so well together? Well, I like to think of the Framboos serum as a lighter version of the Sukari Babyfacial (also by Drunk Elephant). It gently exfoliates (chemically, thanks to the glycolic acid & the AHA/BHA blend) & gets rid of texture, keeps skin clear & bright, & just gives me a great glow. The Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 locks in moisture; it gives me an extra layer of hydration without feeling too weighed down, & it ensures that no matter what, I will not have dry skin after applying the DE Framboos – no matter what. A dynamic duo, indeed.

Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre 

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Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre – Jane Birkin’s go-to

Okay. I love Glossier with all my heart – & I loved their Priming Moisturizer for daily wear, until very recently. I noticed a few other people (including YouTubers like Ingrid Nilsen) complaining about the formula. I was confused. I noticed no difference – then I started using my brand-new tube. Suddenly, I got it. Keep in mind: this was Ingrid’s first impression of Priming Moisturizer; she hadn’t bought it previously so hadn’t tried the previous formulation. Here’s what she had to say about the PM in her video “GLOSSIER REVIEW! What’s Worth It + What’s Not”:

“I wanted something that would be a really good daily moisturizer; one that would provide a little bit more hydration. When I started using this, I really loved the consistency of it…but then after a few days of using this regularly, I started to notice that my skin felt kind of and irritated…kind of like how it feels when I use a retinol treatment. I was really confused about how my skin was feeling at first…because when I put the moisturizer on, it felt really hydrating, but not greasy…I looked at the ingredients in this, and sure enough, there is retinol in this.”

Long quote, but it’s still a shortened version of what Ingrid had to say. I love her videos – you should check them out! This was a great review of the brand (in my opinion).

Okay – so I’d been getting questions for a while about Glossier switching their ingredients. I was confused, because mine felt the same – then I got my new tube, felt a bit irritated & red for a few days, watched Ingrid’s video…&…you get it! 2 + 2 = 4.

I didn’t have the same reaction Ingrid did; she mentioned feeling tight & dry. I felt hydrated still, but I felt as though my skin was tingling; it felt a little warmer than usual, too. I didn’t ever get a rash, but I had increased irritation/redness under my nose.

If you’ve been using Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer lately & haven’t had a problem, you’re fine – you probably just aren’t sensitive to retinol; some are more sensitive than others. The ingredient won’t hurt you – just make sure you wear sunscreen (otherwise, it will hurt you). But remember: you should be wearing sunscreen anyway!

I saw that Ingrid mentioned the Embryolisse cream. I asked a few others about it, & after seeing only positive reviews – & hearing that it was Jane Birkin’s go-to moisturizer – I ordered it from the online shop DermStore – you can get many French pharmacy products & other cult favorites on there. It’s quite inexpensive; you get a bit more product than the Glossier Priming Moisturizer, & you pay a little more for this tube than for the Glossier one. It evens out when considering product amount.

This moisturizer is quickly described as “A vitamin and antioxidant-rich moisturizer ideal for dry skin. Well – dry skin, that’s me! On the back of the tube, Embryolisse claims that this cream is a 3-in-1: a moisturizer (of course) a leave-on mask, & a makeup primer. Say no more. I’ve been eyeing leave-on masks since I saw Delilah Parillo use the ridiculously expensive (& luxurious) Sisley Paris Black Rose Cream Mask in her GRWM video with Glossier.

The Sisley one is $162; the Embryolisse is $28 (& that’s the bigger size). I’m not saying they’re similar – I have no idea what the Sisley one feels like on the face – but if you’ve been looking for “leave-on masks,” this is a good inexpensive one to give a go.

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“Moisturizer. Make-up primer. Moisturizing mask.”

It’s very similar in consistency to Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer. Yet – it sinks in quicker, easier, & – best of all – doesn’t tingle or burn after application. It’s slightly less…oily…I suppose is the best word…than the Glossier Priming Moisturizer. I feel as though the finishes are slightly different. Somehow, the texture ends up feeling similar yet very different. It sinks in faster than the Glossier one; if you work too slow, the cream will actually sink into the back of your hand, leaving less than you put on the back of your hand (if that’s how you apply your moisturizer). Embryolisse boasts that the cream is quickly absorbed by the skin; I’d agree with that – in the best way possible, it is very absorbant. Hence, the hydrated yet not sticky or greasy finish. It works very nicely as a primer; if I need five minutes to get ready, this is the moisturizer/primer I would slap on before patting a little concealer on & running.

I will definitely be refilling my tube when this one runs out. It’s been the main player for the past month or so for a daytime moisturizer. Plus – Jane Birkin used it. It has to be good, right?

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This is a LOT of product – I won’t run out any time soon

Sunday Riley U.F.O / Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

This is a “hack” that is most certainly not a hack – thousands of people have done this before I have. In fact, I got that tip from many posts on various skin care websites. Oils can be patted into the skin before or after moisturizing, but they can also be mixed into the moisturizer of your choice (just as long as it’s not a water gel cream; I can’t see an oil reacting well to that type of moisturizer).

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My newest night moisturizing routine – scoop, cream, & oil are used together every single evening

Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil 

I love a good facial oil! This one was the first that I ever bought – & it is something that I have continued to return to, time after time.

First off – let’s start with some context. I was having some bad skin weeks in January; I asked a friend for help, & she recommended I try the Sunday Riley. When I looked it up on Sephora, I noticed that it contained some salicylic acid – something found very often in acne treatments (like Proactiv). I was nervous after seeing that – I was convinced I’d end up dry & greasy – but the oil itself was so beautiful, I had never tried a face oil, I had Christmas money, & my skin did need a litle extra help at that time. I figured that all of these were good reasons to justify my purchase, so I clenched my teeth, typed in my Sephora gift card number, & waited for the product to arrive.

I was not disappointed. Turns out: this oil is marketed for all skin types. Why? Well, because while the salicylic acid does its clarifying work, milk thistle and cucumber seed oil ensure that you’ll feel soothed & hydrated all day. Chamomile and neroli soothe stressed, blemish-prone skin, but they can also sooth dry/sensitive, too.

This oil has a very pungent smell to it. It’s very herbal, green, & very dark. I like it quite a lot, but I know some people absolutely hate it. If you’re unsure about scented products/are sensitive to heavy scents, I’d definitely recommend going to a Sephora to see what it smells like. Personally – I don’t really care what a product smells like, as long as it works. This one works – I also like the smell, which is a big plus.

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich 

(Not to be confused with the original Priming Moisturizer I mentioned above with the Embryolisse cream)

Sigh. Will I ever shut up about how much I love this moisturizer? Well, even if I could, I wouldn’t. It’s that good to my skin. Seriously. When Glossier launched this product in January, I jumped on it as fast as possible. I was not surprised. Even on the coldest days, PMR would keep my face feeling plump & hydrated. I can wear it in the day without getting clogged pores, or I can slather on a thick layer all over my face after a rigorous tingling mask. I can use it for any occasion, really.

First off the bat – this stuff is butter-soft, so luxurious in texture, & smells heavenly. It isn’t too floral; it isn’t musky or fruity. A key ingredient in PMR is lavender; one of my favorite scents is lavender. It would make sense I gravitate towards that scent! Anyways: it smells luxurious, feels luxurious, & gives your skin a from-within glow. It’s one of the Glossier products I recommend to anyone – like Super Pure Serum (read my mini review on it here!). In fact, PMR was the first thing to pop into my mind when I was asked as a rep to name my favorite Glossier products. I said it “makes me feel like a queen.” I wasn’t wrong.

The only cream I can compare PMR to is Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Cream. They’re not exact by any means; the rose cream is a pale pink, while the Priming Moisturizer Rich is an ivory-shell kind of shade. The end results, however, are very similar – there’s just one downside: the Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Mask is $75.

That’s a lot of money for a cream, & I do spend money on some expensive skin care (like Drunk Elephant or Sunday Riley), but I don’t look at creams much anymore (for nightt-ime, that is). Why?

Priming Moisturizer Rich. That’s all.

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A close-up of the products, with a bit of the spoon’s scoop showing itself. I love the color of the oil

So…what’s the deal with these products? What’s that stick in the jar of cream?

First of all – the stick is actually called the Stainless Steel Spoon, sold by NIOD, which is one of the few “brands” DECIEM owns (including The Ordinary).

I’ve spoken about how hygienic spatulas are – they keep bacteria away, & only scoop up enough amount that you need; cream you’ll have to touch regardless. Keeping the fingers away from your jar of moisturizer, however, will benefit me, you…the whole universe.

I used some plastic spatulas to apply my moisturizer initially; this past summer, I saw the Stainless Steel Spoon pop up when I was browsing DECIEM’s site for The Ordinary prroducts. I saw it pop up, I saw it was $2.50, & then I bought it.

Thoughts? Not much to say, except that it’s very pretty & shiny, it does exactly what it’s supposed to do – & it’s environment-friendly! No more throwing out plastic spatulas after they get old. I clean this one with rubbing alcohol, just as I did with plastic – but this one will last.

I use the Stainless Steel Spoon to scoop up the right amount of Priming Moisturizer Rich for my face (about one average-size scoop of the spoon), then I grab my vial of Sunday Riley’s U.F.O. & drop three drops right down into the cream on the back of my hand. I then mix them together; the dark green of the oil makes the cream turn a nice minty-green apple color. The scents of the two products combined is absolutely heavenly, especially at night. I like to think of it as aromatherapy. I apply the green mix to my face, close my jars & screw shut my vials – & there! I am good to go. The oil helps keep my skin balanced & clear, while the moisturizer keeps my skin get softer, dewier, & free of redness (YAY!)  & I think they work perfectly together. It’s a dreamy combination.

Glossier Body Hero Duo 

You know – the huge body-positive ad campaign that’s going around these days. The one that hasn’t been photoshopped or retouched. The one starring (let’s be real here) Paloma Elsesser, one of my favorite faces out in the beauty/fashion world right now. You can read my full review here if you’d like; you can also just keep reading to see why the duo is in my favorites.

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Another duo; this time: Body Hero Duo. (SIDE NOTE: special Body Hero sticker only comes with an order of the duo; same goes for the larger pink pouch that comes with it (which I’ve been loving as a quick makeup bag. The more you can fit, the better

In my first impressions review, I mentioned being worried about the Daily Oil Wash running out on me quickly. I was worried because the consistency is extremely thin, which often means you need more amount of product, which means you run out quickly…you get it. I’ve also been using it on my “hair.” The oils are gentle enough but foam up very nicely; I come out of the shower with soft skin, a nose full of orange blossom neroli (the Body Hero scent) & soft peach fuzz on my head, too! I’ve found it to be particularly useful after shaving my head. I get covered in particles of hair; the oil swipes the little ones stuck to my shoulders with no issue, & I can dry off without seeing more of my tiny hair spikes that I didn’t catch the first time around. Daily Oil Wash? So far, you’re doing well. Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of my impressions of Daily Oil Wash – coming soon!

I will say with no hesitation that the Daily Perfecting Cream is my favorite out of the two. It truly does work like a liquid highlight; I’ve applied it while shining a flashlight on my hand or arm, & you can see a subtle glow (not even a shimmer!) that reflects slightly pink. It’s as though Becca’s liquid highlights now have a sister – just for the rest of our bodies.

I’ve been using the Daily Perfecting Cream as a body & a hand cream. It’s really hard to explain how nice the cream feels when it’s sunk into your skin…just know that you won’t feel sticky or greasy; you’ll just walk around feeling as though you just moisturized, but not in a bad way. It also smells like orange blossom neroli, & the scent lingers longer than the scent of the Daily Oil Wash – I’m not complaining. I absolutely adore the scent of this duo; it’s very neutral, yet somehow appealing to everyone that I know has tried it. I truly don’t have anything bad to say about it – & if you don’t want to buy the duo & don’t know which to pick…get the cream. You won’t regret it – I promise!

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Makeup

Yay! Time for some fun. Let’s get right to it. Here’s what I’ve been loving – get ready for some face photos, too!

Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb / Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Weirdo 

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Two lip products that work amazingly together – & just as well as standalone products, too

I’ll get to the lipstick in a moment – let’s just take a moment to acknowlege that Rihanna came out with one single lip product for the initial launch – a lip product that looks incredible on literally every skin tone. I mean, it’s Fenty Beauty – inclusivity is a must, & I’m here for it.

Gloss Bomb is described as a “universal lip luminizer,” which, judging from the pictures I’ve seen, is completely accurate. The shade is in “Fenty Glow” which is described as “a shimmering rose nude.” Somehow, the gloss is sheer enough to be flattering on everyone; no one looks as though they’re wearing a heavy lip (or one that is waaaayyy too light). Even on my pale skin, my lips look plumper & shinier – enhanced, not modified. It truly does look incredible on everyone I’ve seen wear it.

The Gloss Bomb is also one of the cheaper products on Fenty Beauty’s display. It’s a gloss that wouldn’t take too many hours of work to buy. The shape & design of the gloss makes it a beautiful thing to carry around; plus, the octagonal shape of the chunky little tube makes it easy to find if/when digging around in a bag. The wand is chunky & thick, just like the tube. Don’t worry – it won’t be messy. One swipe with this big wand, a few smaller strokes to ensure full coverage, & you’re good to go. It’s something you can apply without a mirror; it’s something that smells good; it’s something that’s incredibly hydrating; it’s something that looks good on every. Single. Person.

If you’re overwhelmed by the Fenty Beauty launch (that was a lot of product dumped on us!) I recommend you start with this if you don’t know where to begin. I guarantee that you’ll look amazing in it. Trust me!

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Fenty Gloss Bomb on the lips!

Now – the lipstick. I’ve liked the Urban Decay Vice lipstick line for quite a while now. I have three shades: two are pinky-nudes, the other is a sheer red (which I adore). In my opinion, the quality of UD lipsticks have surpassed MAC’s – plus, I always try to go with the cruelty-free option…& if on top of that, it feels better than MAC lipsticks anyway – what reason do you have to not pick the Vice lipstick?

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This is just about the same price as a MAC lipstick & I think the packaging is prettier! (but that’s just me)

I wear the shade Weirdo all the time. It’s a cream finish; that means it’s hydrating but doesn’t fade too quickly. It also has a bit of sheen to it – it’s not a glossy lipstick by any means, but I enjoy the slight sheen. It’s described as a “pale baby pink” – & I know I’m pale, but looking at that lipstick, it just doesn’t seem quite a baby pink to me. When swatched or worn on the lips, it comes off more of a rosy coral for me – it’s not over the top, though. Definitely it’s something I pull out when I’m stumped on what to do with my lips when I have a dramatic eye look going on; it’s also good to smudge some of this on in a hurry & look hecticly polished because of it.

The lipstick formula contains a lot of hydrating ingredients, like aloe vera, jojoba, avocado, and babassu oils, as well as Vitamin E. Vitamin C is there, too; UD says it “delivers a hint of antioxidants.” Not sure what that means, but I am sure that the three Vice lipsticks I’ve tried have all been incredibly hydrating. No chapped lips, no need to prep before application – it’s all good to go, right there in the tube. Don’t worry about it being patchy during the day, either; the lipsticks fade out with elegance & grace. No ugly spots at the end of the day! Best of all, the shape of the lipstick bullet makes it extremely easy to apply in public without a mirror.

As you can see, both of my lip choices for this month were things that don’t need a mirror. I love that effortless look, & both of these products (one quite old, the other brand new) help me achieve that.

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This is a look I get asked how to do quite often. I have the product breakdown here – but to stay on topic, Urban Decay Weirdo is on my lips!

 

Fenty Beauty Portable Highlighter Brush 140 / Fenty Beauty Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick in Blonde

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A side view: the brush is white (with a reflective purple glimmer); the Shimmer Skinstick is the matte beige color 
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Glimmer in effect!

Of course I had to put these together as some of my favorites. The little brush was made for the highlight stick – no, seriously: they were made to go together. That’s why they’re magnetic (I can’t stop sticking & unsticking them together). The brush is small, & I was scared it’d be flimsy. Not so! Both of these products are very solidly made; they fit comfortably in your hand without feeling too heavy; at the same time, they’re able to have some weight to them. They don’t feel cheap.

I’ve been using the highlight brush with the highlight skin stick, of course – I’ve also been using it with other highlights, cream or powder; I will say that the brush works best with cream stick products. That makes sense, since it was built to work for the Shimmer Skinsticks.

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Even at an angle, these buddies like to stick together

Blonde is described as “a glimmering gold.” I like to call it the cream sister of the Fenty Beauty Trophy Wife Killawatt highlight. It’s less glittery & more dewy; it does shine a “pure” gold, though. I was scared that this wouldn’t work on me, but it’s beautiful. They’re very buildable; Fenty Beauty describes the formula as a cream-to-powder that’s “weightless, blendable, & LIVES to be layered.”

I was a bit nervous that “cream to powder” would be too dry on my skin, therefore causing patchiness if I tried to apply it in layers – not to worry! It goes on smooth the first layer; it goes on even smoother a second time around. It’s not drying; in fact, I’d say the main effect of this product (though the shade Blonde does contain some little sparkles & a bit of shimer/glitter) is dewiness. It gives my cheekbone a golden glow that (for once) doesn’t make my cool-toned skin look muddy. I’ve been smudging it all over my eyelids, too – & since Rihanna made it clear that the Match Stix are safe for eyes, lips, or anywhere else on the face, I’ll be experimenting with Blonde. Maybe it’ll be an inner corner highlight one day; maybe it’ll be on top of my lipstick the following day. We’ll see. With these (very versatile) highlighting sticks, the world is my oyster.

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A pretty side view. These are just very pretty to photograph…okay?

CLĒ Cosmetics Melting Lip Powder(s)

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Two out of the three newest additions to CLĒ Cosmetics’ collection of lip colors: these come from the Fall 2017 Collection (Desert Rose on the left, Plum Medium on the right)

I’ve talked a good amount on here about my love for CLĒ Cosmetics’ products. Whether it’s a skin care product or a makeup product, all of CLĒ’s collection is gentle on the skin & suitable for all skin types. All their face makeup (Essence Air Cushion & CCC Cream) contains high levels of SPF, which is great. Best of all: the people behind the brand are infinitely sweet.

I was extremely excited for their Fall Collection to launch – mainly because of the Essence Moonlighter Cushion highlights (we’ll get to that in a minute) – but also because of the three new shades of their lip powders.

I know – lip powder. You’d think it’d be drying – but I swear it’s not. “Melting” is a great word to put in there. The lip products arrive in litle lipstick-like tubes; inside the tubes is a wand (like a lip gloss one) & the powder itself. It looks like a matte powder pigment, but the moment you swipe a little bit across your lips with the wand, it melts (thanks body heat!) & creates a buildable stain that looks almost like a liquid lip – just without the dryness & without the stress of reapplying every 3 hours.

The two new shades I have are Plum Medium, a gorgeous, muted, eggplant color; I also have Desert Rose, which I love for daytime. It’s a dusty deep brick/rust that doesn’t show up super red or super brown; I love how muted both of the shades are – yet the color scheme is perfect for fall. CLĒ won me over yet again! CLĒ has a third shade of lip powder for their fall collection, too. It’s called Blushing Peach, a beautiful cool-toned peach shade that works so beautifully on the eyes – just check out this photo on CLĒ’s Instagram, featuring Blushing Peach as an “eyeshadow” – how cool is that!

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clecosmetics🍑 @katybaileyx wears Melting Lip Powder ‘Blushing Peach’ on eyes, lips and cheeks + Essence Moon Lighter ‘Apricot Tinge’ 💫 #clecosmetics

These powders are multipurpose & are safe for the lips, eyes, or face! They’re also waterproof, smudge-proof, & long-lasting. Those are some big claims – but they’re true. Once the powder sets down into the skin (of the lips, cheeks, eyes, etc.) it stays put.If I want to use one as a blush, I like to put a bit of lip balm on the back of my hand, then blend in a tiny amount of lip powder. That creates a paste that’s easier to blend into my skin than the powder alone. The balm gradually fades (just put a tiny amount on your hand – otherwise, it’ll slip & slide around your face), leaving a barely-there cheek tint. If you like versatile & interesting products, these powders are definitely for you. There’s lots of things I love about the CLĒ Melting Lip Powders; probably the biggest one is that it provided me with a hydrating lip product that looked just the right amount of matte. That’s all thanks to the Vitamin E (known for its hydrating effect on the lips) – & CLĒ’s genius, too. I’ve been starting to do bold fall lips & these have both been put to use. Stay tuned for more looks – they’ll come, don’t worry! I’ll probably challenge myself & do a full face of CLĒ products soon; they have enough to build a full face around just their products! Congratulations on the beautiful colors, CLĒ babies!  I can’t wait until it’s time to wear very thick sweaters. These fall shades will be perfect for every gloomy (or sunny) autumn day.

Eye makeup

I haven’t been reaching for many multi-dimensional eye looks lately. I’ve been preferring one shade blended all over the lid, crease, & lower lash line – maybe with a bit of highlight dabbed on the center of the lid. Mascara (sometimes) & then run! Here are the three eye products I’ve been using the most this month. One’s an oldie – the other two were purchased (or recieved) this month.

 

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Two eyeshadows, one mascara – all three incredibly affordable.

Let’s be clear – I’m always reaching for my Tarte Tartelette In Bloom Clay Eyeshadow Palette. All the shades are matte except for two. It contains the perfect balance of warm mattes & cool mattes, as well as a few neutrals. Usually, I’ll end up “embelleshing” an eye look with one or two shadows from that palette. It’s just one I use consistently, since I like every single one of the shadows. Still – I’ve talked about that palette more than once (probably 5 or 6 times, actually), so I’ll focus on the three products I haven’t talked about.

Vendome Paris Beaute Pearl Eye Shade in Espresso

I received this product in the September box that Glossybox sent to me (a box of a variety of full size & travel-size beauty/skin care products, similar to companies like Ipsy). The eyeshadow is from the company Vendome Paris – a brand I’d never heard of. From what I can tell from Vendome’s website, the company is mainly focused on making eyeshadow singles as well as blushes – all with magnetic bottoms that can fit into an artist’s palette – or in the customizable palettes Vendome also sells on their site. The eyeshadow I got retailed for $26. It’s a very big eyeshadow; I’d say it’s just about the size of a dollar coin, maybe a bit bigger.

Not much is said about the color itself (which I would call a warm brown, shimmery; the color of iced coffee with some milk in it) on the site. The Pearle Eyeshadow, however, is described as “a wonderfully fine textured shadow with a lightly pearled brilliance,” with technology that “allows for a soft luminosity that is both modern and polished.” I’d agree with this. I get an incredible three-dimensional look from using one single eyeshadow. The many times I’ve worn this shadow (& this shadow alone) thi past month, I’ve been asked almost every time I’m out with it on about what is on my eyes.

I can’t predict if I’ll repurchase, simply because it’ll take me so long to get through this big one. All I know is that I’ve been loving it – & so has everyone & their mother who’s seen me in it.

L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara 

I started hearing about this product at the end of July. Some swore that it was a dupe for the Diorshow Mascara (my favorite mascara); others said it was more like Too Faced’s Better Than Sex Mascara. Either way, everyone seemed to love it – strange, because I think the Better Than Sex Mascara & Diorshow Mascara are incredibly different (I don’t like the Better Than Sex). Still, I got curious by the time September hit, & when I had a spare $10, I picked it up at my local grocery. Convienient.

Conclusion? Smells nice, feels good on the lashes – but definitely not a dupe for Dior’s. I could see it being a dupe for Lancôme’s Monsieur Big Mascara – maybe if Monsieur Big & Better Than Sex had a baby, this is what that mascara would be. It’s not bad by any means; I’d even go so far as to say that it is good. It’s just not as good as the Diorshow – which made me sad, because I was excited by the concept of paying less for the same product. It’s okay, though – this is a good mascara, I haven’t stopped using it, I don’t plan on stopping using it, & when I run out, I may very well buy a new tube. At my local grocery store.

Colourpop Super Shock Eyeshadow in Arrow 

Ah, Colourpop. I remember late 2015, when it suddenly became possible to buy $5 eyeshadows…online! That were good!!! I had a Colourpop craze in summer 2016, & I still have & love a lot of their products – mostly their eyeshadows (my favorites are the super glittery or pigmented ones, like Bubbly or Coconut). This shade, Arrow, was released in the Valentine’s Day 2017 collection, & I thought it was limited edition. I thought wrong! When I checked today, Arrow was still up on the site.

It’s a great eyeshadow – sheer, but buildable. It has a lot of different color shifts. In some lights (like in the photo above), it looks like a copper penny. In other lights, it looks red. In others, pink. Colourpop descibes it as “a vibrant red topped with pink & copper glitter” – hence the red shift.

I love this color for fall. It looks beautiful tapped all over the lid; it looks beautiful as an inner corner highlight or cupid’s bow highlight; it also looks good used as an eyelid topper. It’s very versatile, it contains all the right “fall colors” & it’s only $5. 10/10.

Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Trophy Wife / CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Moonlighter Cushion in Apricot Tinge 

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Fenty Beauty Trophy Wife on the left; CLĒ Cosmetics Apricot Tinge on the right. Don’t worry – Trophy Wife is about 100X more glittery than it looks here (as it should be). The CLĒ highlight does not look this dark on your cheeks. It is sheer & very, very shiny (as it should be)

Trophy Wife is probably going to be ending up The Beauty Product of 2017. It was one of the first things we were given a sneak peek at on Fenty Beauty’s Instagram page; Rihanna wore it to the official Fenty Beauty Launch party; every YouTuber I can think of has reviewed (& screamed over) this highlight; there are looks upon looks on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube…

As of right now, Trophy Wife is sold out on Sephora’s site, but is still available (as I write this) on the Fenty Beauty site. Trophy Wife was available in my Sephora store when I went a few days ago, & I have no doubt that other stores have them, too. Sephora has a huge sign next to the Fenty display: “AVAILABLE ONLINE & IN ALL SEPHORA STORES.” Of course, you can’t always keep up with the demand – & Trophy Wife was definitely the most talked about, both online & in-store (from what I could hear). Still, the big sign next to the Fenty display has me believing that Sephora is committed to keeping the product in stock both in all stores & online.

So – that being said, yes, you can still buy Trophy Wife right now – & restocks will be coming soon, too. You can check out my full thoughts on Trophy Wife in my Fenty Beauty review, but just know this: Yes, it is that glittery. Yes, it looks that beautiful. Yes, it’s over the top, but I’ll still wear it in the daytime when I want to – because I can. Yes, somehow Rihanna created a solid gold highlight that looks good on my pale skin (like the Shimmer Skinstick in Blonde) & I do not know how she did it, but I’m in love with it. 

Check out these few photos here – I’ll have full look details on this one out very soon! In all of the photos, I’m wearing Trophy Wife on my cheekbones, high points of my forehead, cupid’s bow, chin, lower lash line, inner corners, & tip of the nose. So basically: everywhere.

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Earrings are Maria Black Jewelry; necklaces are Ventrone Chronicles

As for Apricot Tinge by CLĒ Cosmetics? Well, if you’ve read my review on it (it’s here if you’re interested) you’d already know: it’s the perfect pinky-white reflective highlight that I need to look incredibly glowy in all the right places. It’s super hydrating; although it sinks into the sink very fast, leaving a smooth – not sticky – finish, I’ve also used it as a “cream” highlight, then layered a powder over it. The results? Blinding – blindingly beautiful.

Like I predicted, Apricot Tinge is the perfect shade for my skin tone. However, it contains enough undertones & is sheer enough that someone with a very different skin tone could love it just as much as I. However CLĒ put this one together, I thank them with both hands – everyone knows how much I love highlights!

For a more in-depth look at the Essence Moonlighter Cushions, the way they apply & feel, the way they wear, & some more detailed ingredients information, click here for my review!

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Apricot Tinge (CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Moonlighter Cushion) layered with the Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit shades Starburst/Pearl (sadly this particular kit is no longer available)

Well – that’s all I have, if we’re talking about skin care & makeup! I think that this month I was a bit more “makeup-focused” – that’s because I spent a lot of time (maybe more than I should have) thinking about Fenty Beauty…because it really is…so…good….anyways, I thought I’d share what jewelry I’ve been loving lately, too, because I’ve been wearing these quite often.

I love gold jewelry; I have an olive leaf necklace & earrings made of white gold, but that is the only “silver” jewelry I currently own (& love – let me be clear…I LOVE that necklace & those earrings!).

I think gold is very fun to play with in terms of jewelry; it can compliment a cool or warm-toned look, gold earrings can look either very delicate or extremely chunky. They can be embellished; they can stay simple. Crystal studs with gold backs, or golden hoops. Both can complete a simple look while making everything fall into place; that’s how I’ve been feeling about the photos of the earrings below. They’re the ones I’ve been wearing most over the past month. The pearl hoops are by Ventrone Chronicles; the other two pairs of hoops are by Maria Black Jewelry (thank you for sending me such lovely ones!!). I love the Ventrone Chronicles Grand Perla Ring Hoops, because they look almost exactly like something my mother has that is jewelry made in Croatia – a lot of jewelry there is made with “sea gems.” I like to pair these earrings with my coral bracelet from Croatia (!!!) & think back to the several (extraordinarily) happy summers I’ve spent there. I’m a big fan of Ventrone Chronicles’ jewelry anyways – this was just another big love for me.

Tthese pairs of earrings for making my shaved head look even cooler – because now hat my hair is gone, you can see my ears. Turns out: my ears are a little pointy, like an elf’s! (I never knew that until I got my hair so short) & my ears look a little odd but very cool with circular (preferably small & light – my ears can’t take a lot of weight) hoops on. I like the look. It’s cool but it’s relaxed; it’s classic but hip. Basically – how I’m trying to be this fall. How I’m always trying to be.

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Tell me about your September favorites in the comments here (or don’t, & risk hurting my feelings). I’d love to hear your thoughts on my monthly playlist, too.

Love (& happy autumn!),

Sof ❤

Want some Drunk Elephant but don’t have quite enough $$$? Here’s 20% off!

I’d love if you’d help support me & buy Glossier products (if you want them!) with my link. Again – much, much appreciation.

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 ❤

Yes, This IS Crazy Expensive – What’s Worth It, Though?

There are some things people will splurge on for their skin. There are others that can be bought for less than $10 at your local drugstore (or, you know: theordinary.com)

However- there are, in my opinion, some pricy products that are worth splurging on. Does it mean your entire routine has to consist of Sisley-Paris, La Mer, & Tatcha? Absolutely not! We all know that high price tag does not necessarily mean a good product. Again, though – some products really are worth their weight in gold. These special products can be added to a simpler, cheaper routine. A few drops a day can enhance an otherwise ordinary, simple, & effective routine into a glowing, constantly clear, “I don’t need concealer” kind of look.

Introducing: Kypris Beauty. Kypris Beauty is a brand that flew under my radar, for the most part, until I started religiously reading sites like Into The Gloss. That’s because 1) they aren’t carried at Sephora, so it’s a separate process to purchase a Kypris product 2) nothing is under $70. It is admittedly a very, very pricy brand – I put it in the league of Drunk Elephant, Sunday Riley, & Tatcha.

Still – Kypris products really stood out. They seemed to focus most on their Antioxidant Dew, which I was confused by (moisturizer? serum? both?), as well as their Beauty Elixir I 1,000 Roses, an oil that is allegedly infused with the oils of – you guessed it – 1,000 roses.

So – like I’ve mentioned (several) times, skin care does not have to be outrageously expensive – it is absolutely possible to achieve clear, calm skin with drugstore or middle end products. That is what the majority of my skin care consists of.  & so: would owning full cabinet of Kypris products be something I would be able to financially maintain? Absolutely not! Still, I was genuinely curious. Would this brand that is organic, cruelty-free, & paraben-free truly stand up to its high price tag? I decided to try the products with the mindset that I could only pick one or two, & see if they actually were a life-changer in my skin routine.

Kypris was incredibly generous – they sent me a lovely box filled with products – products that, if I’d chosen all those items, I would not have been able to purchase myself.

So – is Kypris a brand that I could completely drop all my other products for? No, because it’s too pricy for a university student. But – after applying the “pick one or two” mindset, I think I have found at least one product that, for me, is worth it – & if I start narrowing down my routine like I have been considering (more on that to come, & check the bottom of the article for more information), these are products I would take along with me.

So, sit down, get some popcorn or something, & get ready for a review on Kypris products.

First of all, packaging. I got the most beautiful package, truly – the packaging was beautifully wrapped & protected, & came wrapped in a big pink satin bow.

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The stuff dreams are made of
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Gold-leaf detailing on the box
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Soooo much gold!
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Protective crinkle paper, an extremely sturdy box – & yes, those are the product boxes in the background.  I couldn’t help myself – I had to tear them all open!

Also included in the package was a little flyer of sorts; it explained the Kypris philosophies & motives on one side – on the other, it gave a little extra information on each product, which was nice – I like getting “secret” tips from the retailers. Skin care products can be used in so many ways by so many people, so it’s nice to have little life hacks, if you will, included in my  package from the actual company.

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A sheet of photos, directions, & instructions

 

Mini Beauty Elixir I $90 // Mini Beauty Elixir II– $88 

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Let’s start with the products that have the most jaw-dropping price on the Kypris site: the Beauty Elixirs. $90 is expensive, right? It’s one full-size Drunk Elephant serum, a Tom Ford Bronzing palette, 88 LA Girl lip glosses…you get my point. Not cheap!

What’s funny: These aren’t the full-size versions.

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The Mini Elixirs (there are three total for the face) are .47 fl oz. Not…a lot of product, especially when we’re looking at the price range: none of the three are under $70. 

Each of these Elixirs come in a full-size – those are $225 & $200. YUP! Clearly, this is in the leagues of Sisley-Paris. After I saw how much the elixirs cost, I really put them to the test – meaning, I microanalyzed my skin, I checked on daily photos of my face to look for improvement…& a whole lot of other things.

Before I review them individually, let me just briefly explain what these elixirs are all about.

“Elixir” is a pretty vague term. It could mean a setting spray, a toner, a serum – anything that has a potion-like consistency (at least, that’s how I like to think of it). & what are the Kypris elixirs like?

To be very brief: the Kypris Elixirs are oils. Described as “100% active, reparative beauty oils formulated by skin type,” all three elixirs contain vitamins E & C for brightening & hydrating; they contain various antioxidants to help repair/plump/heal. They all come in a full-size (the $200 size) & a mini (the $88 size).

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I enjoyed the consistency of the oils – they’re nice by themselves, & they’re nice when mixed into moisturizers. These can be used both day & night, according to Kypris, but I prefer using them at night.

The elixirs are very concentrated. I would say 2-3 drops (3 at most) does the job for your face. Yes – your entire face! Another positive: the dropper tapers down to a narrow point (similar to the Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Oil, for reference) which makes it easy to use a small amount – & also keeps the serum’s dropper from getting clogged. Small details matter when using an expensive product – truly! No excuses should be made. I was glad to see that this kind of design had be used for such an expensive product. It shows that the brand is committed to selling something that not only works, but can be dispensed & used to its full potential. That should be a given, especially for higher-end brands.

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Tapered dropper, with a rounded end – see the drop lingering there? This styleof dropper improves application exponentially

Scents: beautifully fragranced – floral but not cloying. They’re almost like a perfume – they just fade faster. Which, I think, is for the best – you all know I hate when my skin care & fragrance combine into one big mess.

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Alright. Let’s get into the individual reviews of the two Kypris Elixers I have, shall we? (see all the elixirs here)

Mini Beauty Elixir I (1,000 Roses)

Mini Beauty Elixir I is also called “1,000 Roses.” The name speaks for itself – the essential oils of 1,000 roses (surprise!) combined with some other “magic” ingredients to live up to the elixir label. Some other key ingredients? Pomegranate seed extract, kukui oil (extremely hydrating) & a few other “superfoods,” too.

I’ll narrow it down to this: it’s essentially a rosehip oil, with some other things in there. These things brighten your skin, balance hormonal acne, & plump & lift. That’s thanks to Vitamin C, E, & even some liquorice extract.

Kypris says this is the most universal of their three elixirs – it can benefit any skin type in some kind of way. That’s because rosehip oil has so many healing & soothing properties. The oil consistency of the elixir, meanwhile, ensures that dry-skinned people can reduce breakouts without drying to a crisp. “For rose lovers,” is the opening line in the product description. I’m a rose lover, & I absolutely love this. It has a lovely, subtle, floral, rosy scent that isn’t dry or stuffy – just very fresh, soothing, & calming…basically, it smells exactly how this kind of product should.

Now, this can be used many ways. Kypris recommends using it twice daily – but I’m keeping it ~relatively~ affordable here. Out of practicality & affordability, I wouldn’t use this product twice a day. That’s because although these products were sent to me (for which I am very grateful), I am trying to review as though I actually did buy all of these products with my own money. We’re always more careful when it comes to spending our own money – no one wants to waste any. That is, not any product, & not any money. Even so – price tag aside, I think 1,000 Roses is extremely effective used once a day – that’s how I use mine- & doesn’t need applying twice.

I have found 1,000 Roses is best either patted into my skin in my morning routine, or mixed with a small scoop of my night cream in the evening. Personally, I like giving rosehip oil some serious time – so I now apply it only in the evening. It’s very soothing, super hydrating, & behaves the same way by itself as it does mixed with a cream. I’ve noticed a decrease in redness since I started incorporating this.

Like I said – yes, this is a very expensive & fancy oil. If you’re looking for similar benefits that you see rosehip oil does, there are definitely many cheaper alternatives to this product – more bang for your buck. However – if you want a 3-in-1 kind of deal, this product is probably a good choice. Just a few drops will hydrate, balance, & brighten your skin. Again – it can be expensive, but if a little goes a long way, & you are looking to narrow down a skin care routine, it may be worth it. I’d suggest this for people who are more experienced in skin care/looking for some more sophisticated results than plain rosehip oil (which – don’t get me wrong – is amazing) – & looking to get rid of those boxes of unused skin care items & just find something effective, quick, & multi-purpose.

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The color of the actual product: 1,000 Roses is a golden-yellow, with a very luxurious consistency.

Mini Beauty Elixir II (Healing Bouquet) – $80

We’ve been through one of these. Let’s talk about the other: Healing Bouquet. Again, this is a pretty universally useable product. & again: it’s because an oil is hydrating – but an oil can be clarifying & soothing, too. Using an oil? Doesn’t mean you’ll end up a greaseball. I promise.

Healing Bouquet lives up to the word “healing” in its name. It contains 24 active natural ingredients – admittedly very impressive. These ingredients are meant to heal & sooth inflamed or irritated skin, prevent further damage to skin that has been overexposed to sun, & is a good product for more mature skin types, as the ingredients sink deep into the skin, plumping & lifting.

I used this as a night treatment: mixed it into my Glossier Priming Moisturizer, my favorite night cream. I had a small microabrasian on my chin from a healing spot – the next morning, all redness & irritation was gone. Like I said, it lives up to its name.

The scent is also extraordinarily calming, thanks to the essential oils: Indian jasmine, rose geranium, aged patchouli, and lavender. These give off a musky, floral scent that is definitely heavier than the scent of 1,000 Roses – it is absolutely not, however, an unpleasant scent. Kypris says that Healing Bouquet is also an aromatherpy. I’d agree. In fact, treat yourself: apply Healing Bouquet, then massage into your face for a few minutes. It’s like you’re in a spa. Turn down your lights, too. Atmosphere is key. 

Don’t get me wrong…I am 100% a rose lover, as Kypris would say. However, I have a great rosehip oil already. 1,000 Roses does a little more than that oil, but it’s not entirely unique. I have found Healing Bouquet to be extremely fast-acting, effective, &, yes, unique.

I find it odd that this elixir is $10 cheaper than its sister, 1,000 Roses – but then again, I don’t. If that elixir really includes the oil of 1,000 roses, that probably takes some work. Roses can get expensive, I do know that. However, if I had to personally choose between the two if I were to purchase one, I’d go for this one. It’s a great way to do some self care at night (try the jade roller), it heals skin (even my weak little immunosuppressed organ that I call skin!) very quickly, &…yes, it’s $10 cheaper. Is it still kind of crazy to pay $80 for half a fluid ounce? Yes, probably. But like I said – if you have problems with your skin healing, or have problems with recurring spots, this is probably a great choice. I think would also be great for immunosuppressed skin – I mean, here I am, testing it out, & seeing very quick & effective healing results.

So: which one? This one. Healing Bouquet, I like you lots!

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Here’s the actual color of this product: it’s slightly darker; more golden, I think. They don’t vary much in terms of color or consistency, but the scents are very different

 

Deep Forest Clay Mask – $88 // Glow Philtre Mask – $88

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The dreamy (& frighteningly effective) Kypris masks, in the flesh. Or clay. Or gel.

Okay. $88 for a product that stays on your face for an average of 20 minutes. That’s…a lot of money for a product like that.

Masks are my guilty pleasure. I love the sensation of wearing them, I always feel as though my skin will be flawless when I rinse off – even though that is most certainly not always the case – I love seeing before & after effects of masks.

I love me a good mask. $88 good? I was unsure. These masks are more than the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, one of the most expensive products on the trending market right now. Still – Babyfacial is worth its weight in gold. It was a good investment, & it lasts forever. So: is this duo worth it? Let’s see.

Deep Forest Clay Mask

I applied the Deep Forest Clay mask one morning when I had a lazy day. It comes sealed, which is another detail I appreciate seeing. Again – if you’re paying a higher price, I feel that you should expect a certain level of packaging, customer service, & effectiveness. It is a very soft clay; similar to soft ice cream when first applied (except…it doesn’t melt). Like most clay masks, it starts to dry until it cracks. Wash off in 20 mins. Voila.

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Sealed & ready to go

I looked in the mirror to check for results right off the bat. My skin looked more transluscent & less red, after washing off, but most of my other clay masks do that, too; ones like the Origins Rose Clay Mask, Glosiser Mega Greens Galaxy Pack, & Laneige’s Water Clay. Deep Forest Clay is a bit of an exception, however. Again, we’re back to the “multipurpose” product. I could see some pretty normal effects right after washing, but after a day, I could notice brighter skin, too. I saw my skin getting a little less congested, too.

I usually despise physical exfoliants – & this mask has a bit of texture to it. However, it’s soft & fine enough to not break skin (even sensitive skin) or irritate anything. It feels like a very filtered, thin, sand scrub.

Reduced redness makes sense. The mask contains algae, ocean salt, &, of course, ingredients from “the forest” like botanical exfoliants, roots, leaves, & flowers.

This has a very green, lemony scent. It gives off a whiff of mint, but it wasn’t cool or tingly upon application. The scent can get strong after a minute or two, but I’m not the best to say whether or not it’s worth it, since I truly don’t mind “odd” scents that many skincare products have (ex. Drunk Elephant C Firma).

Overall, this mask brightens, clarifies, exfoliates/resurfaces, & reduces redness & congestion. It can be used as a 20 minute treatment (that’s how I like to do it) but also as a quick detox if left on for five. I wouldn’t want to waste product for a five-minute mask, but Kypris also mentions that sensitive-skinned people seem to gravitate towards the five-minute masking method.

Will I purchase when I’m done with this? I don’t know yet! I’m leaning towards no, since I have a lot of effective masks that cost much less – & I think Kypris has some products that can be duped. However – there were more than a few that I was exponentially impressed by, & since I said I will act like I spent money on these products, I’m saving what I think is truly worth it for the lasts!

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Kypris suggests you apply “a generous dollop” of Deep Forest Clay for best results. I scraped off the amount stuck to the seal; this amount was able to cover my entire face. Softness of the clay is also quite evident here.

I will say: it’s an excellent clarifying mask & did a great job reducing some congestion on my skin. I know that a little goes a long way with this product, so I’m not worried about running out any time soon. Not sure if I’ll repurchase, but I think this is hands-down a very nice clay mask. Maybe not worth it for some, but at all sensitive-skinned people who struggle to find a clarifying treatment: this might be the one for you. The five-minute version will help you avoid bad reactions; the softness & moisture of the mask will keep you frome drying out. & remember – created to clarify & detoxify!

Glow Philtre Mask

This was a product I fell in love with before I even tried it. Why? Because I am weak. Because the packaging was white & gold, & the mask itself has flecks of glitter in it. Mention anything gold in my skin care & I will get right on it.

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The sparkle is subtle, so it’s not easy to catch on camera – however, when actually looking at the mask in person, it looks exactly like the outside packaging. In other words: we already know this is a “treat yourself” kind of mask.

The other golden mask I own is the Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Mask Pure Luxury Lift & Firm Mask – it’s supposed to tighten & brighten, & maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really see results when using it – at all. I was mad that I used Christmas money to buy it – & I was mad that I didn’t return it in time to get a refund. I use it as a hydrating, somewhat brightening mask, now – I don’t expect any other results. However, if you’re looking for something like the PTR Mask – but something that truly makes you smoother & glowier. I mean…the PTR mask is $80. The Kypris mask retails for $88. If you’re considering getting the PTR mask, I would point you this way instead. It is only $8 more expensive – & if you’re already thinking about investing that much money in a mask, I think the Glow Philtre will give you the results you might think the PTR one does.

Although the Glow Philtre Mask doesn’t have actual gold in it like the PTR one, it might as well be its first ingredient – that’s how much glow this mask gives you. Instant.

This is a mask that I applied, left on for 20 minutes, rinsed & patted dry – & saw a face about 10 times brighter & glowier. After a second use, my skin looked tighter & plumper, as well. There were very noticable results that occured in an incredibly short amount of time. Usually, I’ll use a mask more than twice before giving my thoughts on it – this one, however, I don’t need to worry about.

This is a gel mask, but it is an exfoliating mask, thanks to: pomegranate enzymes.  Brands like Drunk Elephant & Peter Thomas Roth use enzymes in their products, too – they’re brightening & resurfacing without being too irritating.

Is it an AHA mask? Nope, not as far as I can tell. It feels cool upon application, like any gel mask would. It smells fruity – not pomegranate, funnily enough, though some of the ingredients lower down specify citrus extracts – & citrus does have a powerful smell, so it probably would cut out any scent of a cranberry. That’s not a complaint, though: it smells very fresh & invigorating. I think it’s an amazing morning mask. Kypris thinks so too, actually: they say that it’s lovely to use post-skin care, pre-makeup. That’s because of the dewy glow it gives – without being oily.

When applied, the mask does not tingle at all. In fact, the whole 20 minutes I had on the mask, I was waiting for some kind of tingle or burn & I got none – hence my suspicion before I took a good look in the mirror, post-mask rinse.

This mask is a great choice for sensitive skin. It’s a great exfoliator (& brightener) that will not irritate your skin. Truly – I didn’t even feel a tingle. When I took it off, though, I looked as though I’d used an AHA mask – but I hadn’t! It was all Glow Philtre.

This mask is not recommended to be used more than 3 times a week – I definitely agree with this. I would even go so far as to say that once a week is plenty. That means: 1) there is more product for a longer period of time 2) there is a reason to look for Sunday evening: detox day!

Would I purchase this mask? Out of the two of the masks, this is the one I would consider splurging on. I loved the results. They were very unique, literally instant, & didn’t dry me out, clog my pores, burn my skin, or even tingle. All in all, it’s a great product, I think it’ll last me a good long time, & like my beloved Babyfacial, this is a mask I would consider investing in (hit me up on Venmo, though).

Seriously, though – I found these results to be very good & very unique. When a product is unique, that’s what helps me know it is worth it (usually). The zero tingles but extremely bright skin was what did it for me. I don’t think I’ll have to be purchasing it myself due to the amount of product you need (not that much) & the fact that it doesn’t have to be a daily treatment. Maybe for Christmas? We’ll see. But, again: if you’re thinking about a luxury mask similar to the PTR one, skip over it & head for the Kypris Glow Philtre, instead. If you’re paying a lot for a mask, it better be good! This one is absolutely, without a doubt, very, very good.

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From the air: Deep Forest Clay on the Left, Glow Philtre on the right
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Sealed packaging. The little white circle works great as extra protection to the product, even after the seal has been broken. Nice!
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Thing 1, Thing 2.
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(I like Thing 2 better). Shh.

 

Would I repurchase both? Well, I definitely wouldn’t do it at once. I do think there are a lot of clay masks out there that work just as well as this one, although this one has a few unique features that generally (though not completely) would explain the high price tag. Maybe if Kypris had a mask duo that would help save a little money, I’d get them as a duo. However: Glow Philtre blew my mind. It’s truly incredibly unique – & again, if you’re in the market for a truly excellent mask that works, this one will do it for you.

 

Antioxidant Dew – $72

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In her beautiful, beautiful glory

Aaaand this is it folks. This is it. THIS IS IT! This is the product that I will be telling everyone they need for the rest of…forever, probably.

Okay, so: what the heck is an antioxidant “dew?” I was very confused when I saw that a product labelled as a “dew” came in a vial. I had expected a spray of some sort; maybe a toner. Not so!

Essentially? It’s a fancy word for “serum.” But what a serum! It is thin in consistency, & is a light, almost opaque milky-white. It looks very…underwhelming. Boy, was I wrong.

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The long, long, long dropper of the Antioxidant Dew. I found it odd that this dropper wasn’t pointed, like the Beauty Elixir droppers. No problems, though – everything dispenses just fine. I’ll keep an eye out for a clogged dropper, though, just to be safe!
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Against a bright light – it’s the best way to describe the consistency of this product.

Kypris claims that the Antioxidant Dew “restores hydration, vitality, & radiance to skin.” That’s a very simple way of describing all the things it does, so let’s go:

First of all, it’s gluten-free – I personally don’t have a problem with gluten in my products, but for people who do: this is probably a really nice serum for you. It is good for all skin types, but especially those who have imbalanced complexion, signs of environmental stress, or acne. But wait, there’s more! The Antioxidant Dew is free of any essential oils, which is pretty amazing for some sensitive-skinned people. It provides moisture (hence “dew”) but doesn’t do it in a way that incorporates oils. Think of it as a water gel cream, but in serum form.

This was the first Kypris product I gave a go. I patted it on my face after toning & applying one other serum: Glossier Super Pure, a holy grail of mine. Throughout the day, I would stop & marvel at my complexion. It was an extremely dewy look, but it didn’t feel or look like sweat or oil. It was more from underneath the skin, not on top. This means that the product absorbs incredibly well, which it does! There’s more evidence for this, too: it doesn’t pill off of my face like some serums tend to do (help! Anyone have this issue with some of The Ordinary’s serums?), which always messes up my routine & ends in frustration.

Nope! Just drop 3 or so drops into the palm of your hand & gently pat into your skin. I apply it the way I would an essence. Three drops is all you need…truly! If need be, rub on palms first, then pat all over the face. I’ve tried it both ways, because in my experience, the application method I choose to use depends on the serum I am using. Palms on face seems to work best with this product.

Like all the other Kypris products, Antioxidant Dew is chock-full of antioxidants & other naturally-sourced ingredients. It contains a ton of ocean extracts and herb derived antioxidants, which provides hydration without unncessary heaviness, enhances plumpness, helps skin heal faster Vitamins C & E (as well as a variety of botanicals) provide the brightening, dewy effect.

This is supposed to be beneficial to all skin types, & I agree. Again – that’s because it is a multi-purpose product. It can be used “as a lightweight multi action moisturizer or as a potent layering piece in your skincare wardrobe,” Kypris says on the product page. Oily-skinned? Maybe use just this as a day moisturizer. Combo? Apply extra where you need it. Normal? Of course you’ll do fine! Dry? Use it as, yes: a layering piece. That’s what I have been doing.

Again, Kypris suggests using this twice a day, but I don’t think that’s necessary. Three drops in morning or evening is all you need! I prefer morning for this particular product, thanks to the brightening effect, but others may feel differently…& that is fine.

Honestly, out of all the products I recieved, I can absolutely say that this is one Kypris product I won’t hesitate to refill when I run out of the one I recieved. This stuff works – you don’t need as much of it as you would a mask (ex. Glow Philtre), it’s incredibly hydrating, incredibly cleansing & purifying, & all-round a truly amazing product.

To put some pricing reference here, let’s compare a similar high-end brand’s serum to the Antioxidant Dew. How about Drunk Elephant C-Firma? It’s 80 dollars, one pump works for the entire face (no more is necessary) & it contains 1 fl oz. of product. Antioxidant Dew is $72, & is nearly 1.6 fl oz. – technically, it’s 1.59 fl oz.

So, okay, let’s clarify. I initially thought this was a $72 dollar toner or face mist. Something like that? A hard nope. $72 for a toner is…very extra, as you can find incredibly cheap & effective ones online, at Ulta, at the drugstore…heck, even at Whole Foods, if you’re a fan of good old rosewater & glycerin.

This is not a toner. But…it’s not exactly a serum, either. It’s not thick enough to be an essence. I’d feel safe in calling it an emulsion. What’s an emulsion? It’s a beauty product founded in Korea, & was only up til recently carried by Korean brands. American brands have started expanding their product lines with essences, emulsions, & other K-beauty products, since they are so effective.

Sorry, got off track. What’s an emulsion?

It’s a skin-balancer. It ensures your skin maintains good levels of oil & hydration – healthy levels! This balancing act (hah) keeps skin clearer & glowier over time.

That’s what I feel safest comparing the Kypris Antioxidant Dew to. But – no matter what you want to call it, this is a product that 1) I know will last me a good while 2) I know I will be purchasing it myself after this magical vial has done all its work.

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Some very fancy packaging called for some fancy objects to be casually placed next to the product. Just because, you know?

Overall thoughts?

Kypris is an admittedly expensive brand – no ifs, &’s, or buts about it. You will pay a pretty penny for a vial or jar of a Kypris product, & in my opinion, not all were created equal. Some are absolutely worth every penny (hello again Antioxidant Dew); some can be gently passed over. Here’s a list of the order I would put the products in – aka, the ones I would seriously consider buying vs the ones I probably wouldn’t purchase unless I had a good bit of extra cash.

Remember, though: everyone’s skin type is different, & some of you may gravitate more towards the Deep Forest Mask! Maybe you absolutely need an Elixir! But – if you have the same skin type as me & are considering a “treat yourself product,” check out the list I have made. Even if you don’t have my type of skin, this still might be helpful. After all – Kypris products do work on all skin types. Some just work better on certain types than others. It’s all about knowing what you need or want to improve, & finding a product that matches that. So, enough rambling: here’s my final verdict. Kypris sent me these products, but let’s theoretically say that they’re all gone now – & I can only pick one product to use again & again. Here they are, listed by priority:

  1. Antioxidant Dew – The cheapest of the lot, the most unique of the lot, & the one that had the most instant results, in my opinion. A little goes a long way, & I think this vial is worth keeping on hand. It’s truly magic in a bottle.
  2. Glow Philtre Mask – An expensive-ass gel mask, but an effective-ass gel mask. Like I said – if you’re going to claim that your mask glows, go right ahead – but if it costs over $50, it better make my skin glow glow. This one does that. If you’re on the hunt for a bougie mask that actually works, this is the one. There are a lot of $80 masks out there – they all claim they’re groundbreaking. Not so for 99% – this one, however, is doing just great.
  3. Mini Beauty Elixir II (Healing Bouquet) – A pricy, pricy product, no two ways about it, & you don’t get a lot. But…but…there are a lot of great ingredients, it feels luxurious, the dropper is well-made, & you only need a very little amount. It truly works wonders on inflammed, irritated skin. Again – it does what the name says, & it does it well.
  4. Deep Forest Clay Mask – Yup, there are a lot of clay masks on the market. You can definitely find a great one for a lot less money…but if you have sensitive/dry skin, have trouble finding clay masks that don’t leave you feeling like a painful piece of sandpaper, & don’t have much time, either (five-minute mask method, remember?), this is the one for you. The softness & soothingness of the clay is what makes this product unique. That is why I think it would be great for people who are otherwise too sensitive for clay masks – but still want the clarifying effect of a clay mask.
  5. Mini Beauty Elixir I (1,000 Roses) – Yes, it’s good. Yes, it’s luxurious. Yes, it’s a high-quality oil. Yes, it smells good. But it’s not that good. You can find a lot of enhanced rosehip oil products, & to me, this was not unique enough to justify the price. It is a dream to use a product named “1,000 Roses,” isn’t it? I don’t dislike it – but if push came to shove, Healing Bouquet would come out the winner…for me, at least.
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A happy, luxurious little family.

At the end of the day, when I’m reviewing an expensive product (or products) I really look for the most unique products. Obviously, they must be effective, too – but my point is that if I’m shelling out a considerable amount of money for a serum, mask, cream…it better be good. Really good. Honestly! This isn’t meant to be dramatic, I am just being up front. Some things are much better when they’re more expensive…but as brands like Tonymoly, The Ordinary, & Glossier (some products, not all) have taught us, skin care doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. You can find wonderful rosehip oils for $6! You can find decent moisturizers at CVS. You can maintain a cheap & effective routine, & keep up clear skin while you’re doing it. Then, add a few little luxuries. If you do your research, get some samples, & read some reviews, you’ll be able to find ones that work as beautifully as they look – & look as beautiful as they feel. There are products out there that are worth every penny & make you savor every drop. So, what’s the Kypris product that meets that criteria? Hands-down, Antioxidant Dew.

 

Hold up: I want to take a couple moments to say thank you: firstly, thank you so much to Kypris for sending me these jars & vials of liquid gold! I feel incredibly lucky to have recieved these beautiful products. I also want to thank all of you reading this, all of you who follow me on social medias & look forwards to reading what I have to say. Your support means the world, it always will, & you are what make things like this review possible – & this was so, so exciting for me.

& so, after all those photos, all those thoughts, & all that ingredient-listing, & the thank yous, here’s my conclusion:

Get the Antioxidant Dew! You are welcome.

Love,

Sof ❤

What product, based on my descriptions & reviews, would you considering purchasing a Kypris product? If so, which would it be – & why? Do you own any Kypris already? If so, what do you have? Do you think it’s worth it? Again: why? Let me know…I love hearing from all of you!

-S

High & Low – My Favorites of Each

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

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

Drunk Elephant Babyfacial – $80

 

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

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

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Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream – $46

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

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

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

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

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The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% – $6.79

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

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

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

Love,

Sof ❤

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