#NovemberFavorites: Layers on Layers – Both Clothes & Skincare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling – Green Tea 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Rice Enzyme Powder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tatcha Kissed With Gold Holiday Set 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser 

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

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

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

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

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Skin Freeze Frame Beauty Essence 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Balm Dotcom (Original)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Mask 

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

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

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

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

Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Facial Oil

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Lip Gloss / Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer 

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

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

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

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

Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Cream For Nails

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

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

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

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

Jade Roller 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Sofia ❤

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

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 ❤

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

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

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

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask – $25

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

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

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

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

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask -$20

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

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

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

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

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

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Lip Balms

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

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

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

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

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WINKWINK CALM Mask – $40 (*PR-gifted)

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

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

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

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The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 – $6.80

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Milk Makeup Holographic Stick in "Mars" - $28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday Skin Featherweight Daily Moisturizing Cream – $47

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Sof ❤

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!

I Love__…June Favorites!

Hello friends! I’m back, hitting you with my June favorites post. This is going to include some skin care, some makeup, & a nail polish & a bag!!! I’m truly branching out. Amazing! I hope you enjoy these mini reviews. I love all o these & am not faking (as always!! Why would I!).

The Ouai’s Morning After Kit

I jumped on the bandwagon! It’s the one everyone’s been on for a while, but my ears perked up once I saw Ouai’s Rose Hair & Body Oil all over my friends’ Instagram feeds, as well as my own discover feed.

Okayyyy…I get it! I shaved my head again (you all know this…& stay tuned on a post about that) but I used these before I shaved it & will still be using a few even now that I have. I bought the Morning After Kit because it had three products that I was super interested in trying:

  • Rose Hair & Body Oil – it’s an oil…for hair & body! It is super Instagram-able. I get why it’s all over my feed…it’s truly gorgeous. I love anything & everything rose-scented, so I was excited to give this a go. Also…the color of the product looks like rosé. Very elegant, very summery. This is not a greasy-feeling, overwhelmingly sticky or slimy oil! Very lightweight, I only needed two small pumps for my whole head (now just one!) & the smell is absolutely gorgeous. I know people have reservations about rose scented products because of the whole “that’s my grandma’s potpourrie bowl” thing but it’s 2017, people! I promise this won’t give you potpourrie hair. Also…super shiny effect. It feels healthy on my scalp & hair. I really like this & even though I have no hair now, I’ll be getting full-size once I run out of this mini (also, stay tuned for a post on what i do to my hair/how i take care of it when it’s shaved down to almost nothing!)
  • Dry Shampoo Foam – okay, this stuff kind of blew my mind. I’d never liked dry shampoo; it always felt too sticky or cruncy or stiff. This one is in an aerosol can, so it comes out like shaving cream. “Foam” is right – this stuff is like meringue! It smells gorgeous. Everyone describes it as “gardenia florals” & I’d have to agree! It’s definitely not overpowering, but it’s more scented than the Rose Hair & Body Oil. Regardless, it really got rid of dirt/oil, made some real volume in my hair, & is fun to use (I like foamy products if you haven’t noticed!).
  • Finishing Crème – again, another love! There wasn’t a product in this kit I didn’t love. This has a very subtle scent; it’s a lightweight hair lotion that gives hair shine – also makes hair look healthier! Easy to apply on damp hair.

Biossance 100% Squalene Oil 

cannot rave enough about this product. It’s meant for face, body & hair – it’s organically sourced, cruelty free, has no scent (so if you’re sensitive to scents, this one is for you!) & makes everything better…not to be dramatic. Seriously, though! I put it on my hair (again…coming soon on how hair cair is still necessary even when it’s super short), my body, & recently, my face. I was worried it would break my face out, since the skin on one’s face & one’s body are different (the face is 100% more sensitive). Never fear. This oil hasn’t let me down, ever. It’s good on my face, my hair, & my body. It has 4 & 3/4 stars on Sephora, too…I’m not the only one.

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Hair products galore!
FOREO LUNA Mini 2 

This is a cleansing device sent to me by FOREO (thank you so much!!). It really changed my cleansing game, as I’d been using a charcoal sponge to cleanse previously. I recieved it in the beginning of June, fully charged it, & it still is going strong! It’s meant to be used once a day, & I use it in the evening. My skin is even clearer than when I was using the charcoal sponge, which I appreciate – since it’s a device that’s significantly more expensive! I like playing around with the different settings, depending on how my skin feels that day – & it stops every 15 seconds to let you know you should move to another area to cleanse. Very meticulously done, very well thought-out. I really love this! Oh…& now I can shower & wash my face at the same time. I didn’t like bringing my sponge in the shower. Loves it. (Read my review of FOREO products here!)

Glossier Birthday Balm Dotcom

Truly the product of the month. One of my favorite Glossier products is their Balm Dotcom. This flavor/shade (??) was a game-changer. Holographic packaging, a shimmery balm that can be used on the lips, lids, or high points of the face as a highlight. Created in collaboration with Milk Bar (the famous bakery in NYC renowned for their special birthday cake), the balm smells & tastes (!!) like birthday cake. You get a special sticker (pink, with silver glitter, & balloon-shaped) – but only for the summer. The balm is here to stay; the sticker is a summer collaboration with Milk Bar – & a summer collaboration only! Get the sticker while you can (looks amazing on a phone) & if you want a full review of the Birthday BDC, click here!

CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion

Sheer coverage. SPF FIFTY. FIFTY!!!!! FOR A FACE MAKEUP PRODUCT! No greasiness, comes in various shades (unlike most K-Beauty brands), doesn’t leave a line, thanks to the cushion applicator, & gives a dewy glow – it’s like Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint, except in a cushion. & with SPF 50. Yupppp. Also…stay tuned for some special CLĒ stuff I’ll be doing soon 🌚

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Glossier’s Birthday Balm Dotcom, CLĒ’s Essence Air Cushion, Essie’s Perfect Posture 
Saturday Skin Featherweight Daily Moisturizing Cream

Saturday Skin keeps doing it! This is an airtight moisturizer, so nothing can get to it. Contamination risk? Zero. It feels velvety smooth & soft; the texture is so nice that I can wear it during the day (under makeup or just by itself) or as a night cream. It’s hard to find a moisturizer that can do day & night. This one does day & night…& it does it beautifully. Also: the cream has a light, fresh, citrus scent that is infinitely relaxing.

Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy AHA + BHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask

I absolutely love Herbivore, their products, their aesthetic, & their standards – they’re vegan & cruelty free, so for any of my readers/followers who are looking for skin care/makeup that’s vegan/cruelty-free, this is the brand for you!

I’d had my eye on this Herbivore Blue Tansy mask for a while, but restrained myself…since god knows I have enough face masks. However, about a week ago, Herbivore had their 6th birthday, & to celebrate that, had 15% off any purchase – & included a deluxe sample of the Blue Tansy mask in each order. I couldn’t resist! I ordered their Pink Clay Cleansing Bar (stay tuned for a post on solid facial cleansers), & eagerly awaited my package.

I was NOT let down. This is an amazing mask, I’ve used it quite a few times already, & I can really see an improvement in the brightness & clarity of my skin. It’s super lightweight – described as a “natural clarifying and cooling gel mask that gently exfoliates, smooths, and resurfaces skin.” “Gel” is absolutely correct. Although the mask is a deep, ocean-blue in the jar, it gives only the slightest blue cast to your skin when applied. It tingles, which is normal for any product containing AHAs, but is not unpleasant or uncomfortable. I love using this in the evening: I cleanse my face, apply the mask, brush my teeth, hop in the shower, come out, & rinse off the mask. This is the perfect window, since it takes me 15-20 minutes to do all that, & Herbivore recommends you leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes! If you’re new to AHAs, you should start with 5-10 minutes – just so you don’t risk a burn or a bad reaction! AHAs are great for the skin, but if you’re sensitive, it’s better to start slow.

Damn you, Herbivore – you really got me hooked, & I know I will be purchasing the full size once I’ve used up my sample. However, it’s a generous sample. I’m not too worried about running out that quickly! (For 25% off ANY Herbivore purchase, click here.)

Milk Makeup Matcha Cleanser / Milk Makeup Matcha Toner 

Okay. I haven’t done these enough justice (I don’t believe you’d find a photo of these babies on my Instagram) but they’re really amazing. I love both! I love the toner more, since it’s 1) super soothing, cooling, & reduces redness (like a Milk Cooling Water Stick – but actually intended to be a toner) 2) the world’s first solid toner, which is pretty amazing 3) is TSA-friendly – something I’m always on the lookout for! I love the cleanser, too – just not as much as the toner. Don’t get me wrong – I really like it. It smells amaaazing (the toner is scent-free) & I always know I’ll wake up with clear, fresh skin after using  it. I just am speaking out of paranoia here, since I’ve had no issues with it…but the cleanser does have some sort of micro-beads in it, so I’d be nervous to use it every single day in fear of breaking open my skin. Still, this is a suspicion that hasn’t occurred – I’m just voicing why I don’t use it every single day. I’d definitely take the cleanser & toner if I were to fly somewhere. It’s easy, it’s clean, & saves you a lot of extra little bottles & containers. Milk’s been putting out some very neat products lately (aka Glitter Stick for Pride Month!!) & I think this falls into the “neat” category.

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Milk Matcha Duo, Saturday Skin’s cream, Herbivore’s Blue Tansy Mask, my FOREO in the background (as well as some hair product!) & Essie’s Perfect Posture in the foreground

Essie Gel-Couture Color: Perfect Posture 

I love this color so much! Essie calls it a periwinkle poweder blue – I prefer baby blue. Whatever you want to call this shade, it’s amazing – delicate yet unique. It makes your nails stand out, but doesn’t make them look streaky, like so many white nail polishes might do. Basically, it stands out in the best way, stays on forever (part of Essie’s gel collection) & the name is adorable.

Pop & Suki Camera Bag

I finally did it! My very own Pop & Suki Camera bag. I got it in Noir, didn’t choose to customize it, but got a luggage tag (also in Noir) with the pink letter “S” on it. Simple, minimalistic, so easy to carry around – &, despite its small size, it really does fit a surprising amount of things. At the same time, the bag’s small size encourages you not to overpack, which, as a serial overpacker, I truly appreciate. Did I mention that they’re the cutest brand ever? I want a P&S/Glossier collab now, please! They’re the brand queens of #millennialpink (they also have makeup cases, if you’re interested).

I wouldn’t have bought this bag myself, but I got birthday money – & I am glad I used it on this baby. Let me know in the comments if you’d like a “What’s In My Bag” post!

That’s it, everyone! My favorites for the month of June. As always, I’m being completely, 100% honest. I’d never post about a product I didn’t like – especially not for a monthly favorites type of post. Then there’s no point!

Let me know in the comments what your June favs were!

Love,

Sof ❤

 

 

May Favorites! (All New Products)

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

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

Sun Protection!

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

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

Cleansers!

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

Toners!

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

Serums/Oils!

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

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

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

Moisturizers!

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

Masks/Cleansing Balms/Various Stuff!

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

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

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

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

Face Makeup!

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

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

Face/Lips/Cheeks-aka, Multis!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fragrance! 

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

Grand Finale! 

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

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

Love,

Sof ❤

Shop Glossier with me!

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

What The Heck Is An Essence?

Until a few months ago, I’d never heard of essences.

Until a few weeks ago, I rolled my eyes at the concept of their effectiveness.

Now, I’m on the essence train.

So, what is an essence? Well, it originates from Korea, the magical land of 7-step hydrating routines (aka, probably perfect for my dry, sensitive skin without even knowing much more). An essence is not a toner. A toner is used directly after cleansing your skin, meant to complete the cleanse, get rid of any remaining impurities, & prepare your skin for additional steps. They’re usually water-based, & they’re usually meant to hydrate & sooth the skin (prime example: my holy grail toner, Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater).

So, okay. An essence isn’t a toner. Is it a serum?

Nope. A serum is much more highly concentrated than an essence. They usually come in smaller sizes, & are meant to be massaged gently into your skin. There are a whole variety of serums: hydrating, clarifying, brightening, soothing, so on & so on (some of my favorites are the Glossier Super Pack–shop here with me!–which, as a trio, hydrate, brighten, & clarify; the Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, which is meant to brighten & plump the skin, & The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5%, meant to clarify & make skin more transluscent).

So, the conclusion you’ve probably come to at this point is that an essence is something between a toner & a serum. You’d be correct! Kind of. But it’s also its own thing. Just know that I’m really here for it.

Essence is best-suited for dry/sensitive skin types, because it provides the skin with an extra layer of hydration. Essence should be applied with a technique unique (hah) from toners or serums: you’re supposed to pat or press it into your face with your hands, starting at your chin, moving upwards (always apply products in upwards motions, so you don’t drag down your skin). Here’s what SokoGlam, (an online marketplace specializing in Korean beauty products) has to say about applying essence: “Korean women are all about tapping when applying anything on their face. Why? Rubbing your face like you’re windex-ing a window is not the recommended technique. They recommend tapping because it enhances absorption. FYI – it sounds like this, “TOK TOK TOK.” Try it!” (x)

So, when Saturday Skin sent me a PR package (!!!) filled with a bunch of cool things, like their amazing eye cream, lightweight moisturizer, & a small sample of….”Freeze Frame Beauty Essence“….I paused. Finally, essence was in my possession. I had no choice but to give it a go.

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Saturday Skin Freeze Frame Beauty Essence

I researched application tips, & had a go at it. I applied the essence after toner, & before any serums or oils. I used the “tok tok tok” tip provided by SokoGlam. Then, I waited.

Within a few days, I could see my skin looking more moisturized, brighter, plumper, & firmer. My sample was dwindling, so I hurredly placed an order for the same essence by Saturday Skin, while looking for some cheaper (but just as good) alternatives.

I came across an article on Into The Gloss, entitled: Things We Finish: Dr. Jart Ceramidin Liquid. I’d heard of Dr. Jart, & already loved their color correcting Tiger Grass cream, as well as their sunscreen. In short, I was already a fan of Dr. Jart, so it didn’t take much to sell me on this one.

Writer Casey Zhang describes the product as “lightweight…I also like the smell a lot–it has a light herbal fragrance, almost medicinal but in a good way…the main point is that my face feels hydrated, brightened, and sans any flaky cracked patches.”

Well, that sounded good enough for me. Also: $39 for 5 fluid oz.??? I had to double check a few times. Most other essences I had looked at were at least $50. At least.

My ceramidin baby arrived today, & after patting it into the back of my hand after I excitedly opened the package, I saw a difference in about 5 minutes. My skin looked firmer, brighter, more transluscent–very similar to the Saturday Skin one, except a good deal cheaper.

Sorry, Saturday Skin! I love you, I LOVE your eye cream, & I love the bottle of essence I got from you this time around. But when I run out, I think Dr. Jart stole my heart with this one. Welcome home, Ceramidin. Welcome, eternally hydrated skin.

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Ceramidin’s new home on my top shelf. Feat. $11 Jade Roller from Amazon (!) Saturday Skin Freeze Frame Beauty Essence, Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, (of course) & my holy grail toner, by Mario Badescu. Oh…& a few other things, too. Of course. 

Love,

Sof ❤

Interested in trying out the Saturday Skin Freeze Frame Essence? Here’s $10 off a $50 purchase at Peach & Lily. So your wallet doesn’t cry too loudly.