Worth Every Penny – At Least, as A One-Time Purchase

About a week ago, I got an unexpected package in the mail – it was from Glossier, & it contained their revamped Soothing Face Mist. Full disclosure: I received this product for free, because of my position as a Glossier Rep. If I hadn’t received it in the mail, I wouldn’t have run out to buy it – but after giving this one a go, I can say with a clear conscience that this product is worth purchasing at least one time. Let me explain; just know: it’s a bit of a story.

One of my top “treats” for my skin is the Caudalie Beauty Elixir. Described as a “natural cult-favorite toning mist that tightens pores, sets makeup, and provides an instant shot of radiance to the skin,” this face mist smells like white wine, always feels cooling on the skin (even if the product is at room temperature), & can be used as a toner, as a setting spray, a makeup primer (!!!) or simply serve as a refresher throughout the day.

I mentioned “treat” because I have never bought a full-size bottle of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir – it’s $49 for 3.7 fluid ounces. I know. Trust me, I know. It’s not something my wallet can keep up with. When I have a little extra money on my hands & I’m waiting in line at Sephora, I’ll grab a travel-size bottle of the Beauty Elixir. $18 for 1 fluid ounce, this product doesn’t last too long – but it’s a nice treat that I can enjoy for about a month.

One of the things I love most about the Caudalie Beauty Elixir is its spray pump. The mist distributes itself so evenly across the face – & with such tiny droplets – that it truly feels as though you’re passing through a mist of a sprinkler system; maybe the mist from the Niagara Falls if you want a prettier picture. My point? Your face will always be evenly covered with product. No “more here, less there” – the spray pump manages to veil your skin in a fine layer of refreshing, champagne-scented, facial spray.

After having bought a couple of the travel size Beauty Elixirs in the past year & a half, I began to wonder: could i just screw the top off my Beauty Elixir bottle once I finished the product inside, then just put a cheap rosewater & glycerin spray inside it, instead? Win-win: my face would continue to be spritzed evenly; my wallet would suffer less. When I reached the end of my travel-size Beauty Elixir, I ran to grab my $10 rosewater glycerin spray & began twisting the cap on the Beauty Elixir, ready to switch out the product.

I was ready; the bottle, however, was not. After a little twisting, a little tugging, & finally – a frustrated floor-stomp – I realized that Caudalie was smarter than that. They knew their spray pump was good; they knew their spray pump was really good…& they’d fixed it so that it would be impossible to remove the cap on a Beauty Elixir bottle.

I was miffed; I was stumped; I started searching the Internet in hopes of finding something similar. I decided to check out a bunch of different facial sprays the next time I went to Sephora in PERSON – because this was something I really had to test in person. I knew what I wanted, & I needed to make sure it felt exactly the way I wanted it to – as well as have a removable cap – before I handed over my money.

It didn’t seem as though it’d be too hard to find something like this. I walked into Sephora, headed to the luxury skincare aisles, & started looking for some high-end face mists in travel-size packaging. I knew that I didn’t want to spend $50 on a face mist…no matter how good the spritzer was. Travel-size, I told myself, was the way to go for this one.

After a little hunting, I’d almost given up. I’d grabbed a refill of one of my favorite face masks, none of the face mists I’d seen/tried were really “speaking” to me, & I was tired. I headed to go pay – & then I stopped. Right in front of my eyes, in the bins of mini products at the checkout line, I saw “Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist – Travel Size” for $20.

I’ve seen Tatcha’s skin mist all over the Internet. It’s a favorite for many Instagram beauty gurus (in their one-minute makeup tutorials…you know what I’m talking about!); we ALL know that certain YouTubers love to flaunt their wealth by holding up a full size bottle of this stuff & completely dousing their face in it, using up half of a $50 bottle of face mist in one go.

From what I’ve seen & heard, Tatcha’s skin mist is way overhyped. It remains one of their best-sellers on Sephora (& on other beauty retail sites, too) but I’m still a little confused as to why that’s the case – I can name at least three of their products off the top of my head that seem far more effective & innovative. Try one of their Rice Enzyme Powders (a gentle exfoliant that deep-cleanses without creating micro abrasions); try their Silk Canvas Protective Primer (a face primer with a balm texture, made out of pressed silk); try their Camellia Gold Spun Lip Balm (expensive for a lip balm? Yes. A good way to treat yourself? Also: yes). Why is their skin mist their top-selling item? It remains a mystery to me. Still – I gave the travel-size trial spray a little test. The spritzer wasn’t quite as good as the Caudalie one, but the top was removable. I figured that I’d be able to give this skin mist a try, see what all the chatter was about – & at the end of the day, I’d still have a good quality spritzing bottle that I could refill with whatever my heart desired, as soon as the original product was gone.

I set down the trial, I picked up one still in its packaging, & I walked on up to hand over my money. Time to see if this refillable version of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir bottle would be a favorite; tried & true. Only time would tell.

Okay, but – what qualifies as “time,” can I ask? Within 48 hours I was seething, looking for my receipt (failed on that one) & looking at my complexion in the mirror in complete disbelief. Hives? No. Rash? No. Blemishes? Yes. Tacky skin that felt sticky & dirty? Yes. Within 48 hours of giving the Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist a go, my complexion did a 180 – & not in a good way. I was confused. I hadn’t expected it to be a miracle product – but what on earth went so wrong for me?

Tatcha describes their skin mist as a “silky, fine mist moisturizer that can be used under or over makeup for dewy glowing skin anytime, anywhere.” It’s good for all skin types, helps eradicate dullness, dryness, & fine lines/wrinkles. In the “If you want to know more…” section in Sephora’s product description, Tatcha directs: “Mist on this spray moisturizer for a boost of soothing hydration and a luminous complexion….The Dewy Skin Mist’s super-fine sprayer only takes two to three spritzes for your whole face. Use right before applying makeup for flawless application and a dewy, glowing look. Take it with you for easy touch-ups on the go to refresh skin and give it an extra glow. You can also mist it over makeup to replenish moisture and prevent caking. It won’t disturb makeup, so you can use it anytime, anywhere.”

The description goes on to say that the skin mist is non-irritating, non-sensitizing, dermatologist tested, & cruelty-free/fragrance-free. It all SOUNDED great…but looking at my skin in the mirror after giving the skin mist a few trial runs, I was wondering: non-irritating? Non-sensitizing? Really?

Now – even a product that is formulated for sensitive skin can react badly on some people with sensitive skin. We are not all the same; not every product works for everyone. Still – I was angry. I couldn’t find my product receipt, I couldn’t use the product because it made my skin feel gross, & the spritzer wasn’t even as good as the Caudalie’s spritzer. I decided to dump out the product (with clenched teeth) & put some good old rosewater & glycerin spray in there, instead. Maybe the mister would feel better with a product that I knew worked well for me.

Nope. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t everything Tatcha had hyped it up to be. Now I was sitting there with a small bottle of rosewater & glycerin – a bottle that had originally contained $20 worth of face mist…which I’d had to dump, because it’d done nothing good (& everything bad) for my skin.

I got over it. I stopped using the mist once I dumped it down the drain (obviously) I cried myself to sleep over the $20 lost thanks to my misplacement of my receipt, & I stopped looking for a mist that would work as beautifully as the Caudalie Beauty Elixir did. Maybe, I told myself, I could just continue treating myself from time to time.

Glossier got a lot of flack for their Soothing Face Mist. Initially $18, the Glossier Soothing Face Mist was essentially Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater – just more expensive. Although I’d purchased the Glossier mist when I first was trying out the brand, way before I became a rep, it was something I didn’t purchase again. It didn’t feel like anything special – & it stung my eye/lip area. Yes – even if I shut my eyes. I wasn’t the only one who said this; I most CERTAINLY wasn’t the only one that quickly realized that this face mist was way overpriced. The main ingredients (rosewater, aloe, glycerin, & good old H2O) could be purchased for half the price at any Ulta Beauty, Walgreens…even Whole Foods. & the ones I could buy at Ulta, Walgreens, Whole Foods, etc. didn’t sting my eyes. I quickly moved on from this product, & when I became a rep, was careful to say: it wasn’t a product I recommended purchasing for all of the reasons above.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Glossier sent me their revamped mist, along with a little card describing what was different about the mist this time around. “NEW-ish: Soothing Face Mist,” read the card. “Especially nice on hot summer days, in the morning, after exercising, or on long plane rides that dry out skin.” Okay – nothing new there. Every face mist is supposed to do that for you. I continued. “Now with finer droplets, a plane-friendly size, and a recalibrated continuous spray pump.”

 

THAT caught my eye. Finer droplets? Recalibrated spray pump? My ears were now pricked. I noticed that the face mist packaging had been switched up, too. The bottle is now a translucent, #glossierpink – you can see how much you have left, which is a nice change from the previous bottle, which was a plain white – no transparency. This looked prettier, sounded nicer, &, because of the new “plane-friendly size,” it was $3 cheaper – now $15 vs. $18.

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Okay, $15 for 3.2 fl oz. – you can still find cheaper facial sprays that do the exact same thing; at this point, however, I was most interested in the recalibrated spray pump. The brand’s photos of the revamped product looked more luxurious than the previous photos; the mist looked very fine, very soothing…it looked kind of like – you guessed it – the Caudalie Beauty Elixir spray pump. I decided to be brave & give it a go. I shut my eyes, held my breath, & pressed down on the spray pump.

It was magical. It felt like I was giving my face a healthy dose of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir – except instead of the white wine/champagne scent, I was getting the rosewater scent that was expected for a spray whose first ingredient is…rosewater. I waited to see if I felt any stinging sensations. I didn’t. Had my eyes become less sensitive? Was the spray reformulated? I don’t know the answer…all I know is that I didn’t have to dump out the product.

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Checking the reviews for the revamped Soothing Face Mist on Glossier’s site, opinions on the formula remain mixed. Some say they still feel a stinging sensation – & who am I to tell them they’re lying? I can only give my two cents: when I tried the original, it burned. When I tried the 2.0, it did not. Ultimately, I’ll be left with an empty bottle of Glossier Soothing Face Mist – & then I’ll start cheating. What kind of sprays can I refill my bottle with? Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray with Aloe, Chamomile, & Lavender is a favorite of mine; Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin Spray is another favorite. All I know is that I’ve finally found the perfect spritzer bottle. Farewell, Caudalie Beauty Elixir – maybe I’ll return to you one day, when I have an actual salary, my own apartment, & pay every single one of my bills – with some cash left over. Until then, I’ll be refilling this Glossier Soothing Face Mist with whatever appeals to me at that moment. Are you a lover of the fine mist of Caudalie’s champagne-y spray? You won’t get the white wine effect, but you will get everything else. I promise. Did I mention it’s cheaper now, & travel-friendly, to boot? All-in-all: absolutely worth a one-time purchase. Again: I promise. Worth every single penny – for a one-time purchase.

Are there any refillable mist bottles that you’ve been loving before Glossier revamped their face mist? If so, I’d love to hear about them! If you’re still stumped, give this one a try – give me your thoughts in the comments, too!

Love,

Sofia

Shop here for 20% off your first Glossier purchase!

*campaign photos by glossier; #glossierinthewild photos by me* 

Watch Out, Western Brands…K-Beauty Is Coming for You Faster & Better Than Ever Before

A few weeks ago, I took a survey asking what most influences me to purchase a beauty product: Posts/photographs/reviews on sites like Violet Grey or Into The Gloss? An advertisement on Instagram? There were a few more choices, but these two stuck out to me…especially the option to choose “an Instagram advertisement.”

It’s been a joke for a while: “my FBI agent is watching me…I know it!” There have been a lot of “experiments” in which it seems quite obvious: our phones & other technological devices are “listening” to us – whether or not they’re listening to our actual voices is debatable, but the concept of our social media ads are being tailored to fit our personal interests like a glove has become an (almost) undeniable fact. I do a Google search for a Chanel lip gloss – the next day, a post by the re-vamped Chanel Instagram page (@welovecoco) is at the top of my Instagram timeline. Coincidence? After having this happen time & time again, I’ll go with: “No.”

What we discuss online is now used as a tool to draw our attention to things an algorithm knows we’d like. It sounds scary – & maybe it is – but I’m not here to talk about the future of technology at large; today, I’m simply acknowledging how I was put onto this brand (hint: Instagram).

It was no surprise once I saw more than a few of ads similar to these that “Nooni,” the brand behind the lip oils, masks, & marshmallow maker was a K-Beauty brand. Why? Usually, K-Beauty products are incredibly cheap, packaged in an eye-catching, fun way…oh! They don’t break the bank, either. Cute, cheap, effective? Nooni is one of the brands that perfectly demonstrates the “blueprint,” so to speak, of K-beauty. It’s hard to resist.

One of the only reasons to not like K-Beauty is the fact that many brands tested on animals – a turn off for many, whether they’re vegans, vegetarians, or just like to keep their skin routines cruelty-free. However, this is quickly changing – in fact, by the end of 2018, animal testing on cosmetics/skincare will be illegal. By this time of year, almost all K-beauty brands are already on the cruelty-free level, & those who are not will have to be by December 31st, 2018 – otherwise, they’ll be illegally manufacturing products. (For more on Korea’s ban of animal testing on skincare &/or cosmetics, read here

Nooni is one of many brands now following Korea’s new cruelty-free policies. With no product over $40, packaging that looks pretty on a top shelf, & 5-star reviews, it’s hard to resist the temptation. After months of Instagram ads, a couple Google searches, & some YouTube videos demonstrating how to use some of the products as well as some first impression videos, I was ready to give the brand a try. None of the products I purchased by Nooni were over $15 – real steals! I decided to go for the things I’d been most attracted to on the Instagram advertisements: lip oils, lip mask, cleanser, & cleansing device. Meet the new family below, & get a good look at my thoughts on this brand & its products.

Deep-Cleanse Snowflake Whipping Cleanser

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$12 for a 5 oz. bottle of cleanser? That alone was a good reason to try it out – especially after looking at the ingredients list. “Enriched with anti-aging Pearl Powder and a unique complex of 7 white flowers….this cleanser brightens, hydrates, and calms skin,” claims the brand’s official summary of the product. The most beneficial ingredients used are Kaolin, Rose Extract, Jasmine Extract, & Pearl.” The ingredients listed are not usually ones that go into a $12 product…let’s think more of a $50-ish product. Still, here stands this cleanser. It’s also added that it’s great for sensitive skin, a relieving thing to catch my eye on the description on the back of the product.

How to use this cleanser? Well, there are two ones: squeeze a pearl-size amount of the cleanser onto your hand, then create a lather by adding some water & rubbing hands together. Apply the foam (it “magically transforms from a silky cream into a snow-like fluff that gently removes light makeup, impurities, and sebum) to your face, then massage in gentle circular motions for 10 to 15 seconds. Rinse your face – done! The second method is more fun, & involves another product by Nooni. Read on!

Marshmallow Whip Maker

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Again, this product is tempting simply because of its $6 price tag & aesthetic appeal. This is a device that “instantly transforms any facial cleanser into a fluffy cloud of rich foam that cleanses deeply & more gently.” Do you have a foaming cleanser that you already love? This might take it up a few notches! The whip maker creates “micro bubbles” – also known as “lots of foam” – & these bubbles reduce friction, making it less likely for the cleanser to drag over or tug the skin on your face. This means it’s better for your face in the long run, & it makes you look fresher & brighter in the short run. Just like the Nooni Snowflake Cleanser, this is great for sensitive skin. I decided to give these two things a go as a duo, & was eager to see what exactly this “whip maker” would do to my face.

It’s rather hard to explain how to use the whip maker, but it’s certainly not difficult to figure out once you read the directions & maybe watch a youtube video or two, if you’re anxious you’re doing something wrong (been there…many times!). Memebox has some demo videos on their page here, if you want to be absolutely sure you’re going by the books.

The similarities that method one (cleanser only) & method two (cleanser plus whip maker) both require a pearl-size amount of product. Using a small amount & getting good effect is always a big factor in whether or not I’ll repurchase something. How long will it last? Is this small product worth refilling within three weeks? With a 5 oz.+ bottle of cleanser & only one dot required for each cleanse, it’s safe to say you get a lot of bang for your buck – especially with the whip maker. Add a pearl size amount of cleanser to some water (there’s a dotted line showing where to fill the water up to) push the little pump up & down until the cleanser has foamed into a meringue-like cloud. If you use the whip maker properly, the pearl-size dot of cleanser will have turned into a cloud of tiny bubbles that fill the entire cup that makes up the whip maker. Apply tiny bubbles onto face, massage for 15-30 seconds, then rinse with warm water.

So – how was my first experience using the cleanser & whip maker duo? Very fun, very positive, & I could see an immediate difference. After gently wiping the foam away from my face, I looked up to see brighter, softer skin that looked fresh & glowy. It reminded me of the Pixi Oxygen facial – the bubbles permeate your pores & draw out impurities without having to scrub all over your face. The scent of the cleanser is really nice – not too sweet, not too musky, just pleasantly, vaguely floral. The foam, of course, smells the same as the cleanser.

Now – even gentle foaming cleansers can dry out my skin, so I wouldn’t use this as a daily cleanser – I can see myself using it three times a week, perhaps. My holy grail cleanser is still (& probably always will be) Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser; non-foaming cleansers are most gentle to my skin. Still – it’s good to get some bubbles on my face once & a while, & I think this cleanser & whip maker have convinced me to put bubbles on my face a little more than once & a while. It’s done no harm so far – in fact, it’s done a good deal of good. Is it possible to purchase a $6 “whip maker” & then immediately see your complexion brighten up, freshen up, & soften up? I’d have said “no,” in the past, but Nooni proved me wrong.

Appleberry Lip Oil / Applecoco Lip Oil

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I know, I know. ANOTHER lip treatment product? I’ll be honest: yes. These were the first things I saw on my Instagram page: the colors were pleasing (Appleberry is red, Applecoco is golden, & Applemint is pale green) & the design was minimalistic in an elegant way – for a cheap price. I was genuinely curious to see how this lip oil would feel – usually, lip OILS tend to sink into my lips & leave them dry & flakey, in need for a scrub & an intense overnight lip mask. This was not the case with these lip oils – they’re not sticky like a gloss, but they don’t have a balm texture, either. I wore the Applecoco for a whole day, reapplied a few times, but never had to excessively pull out the product. It looked like I was wearing lip gloss; at the same time, it had a slightly more subtle shine, perfect for a day when you need some hydration but would like to glam it up a little rather than grab a chapstick.

Why apple in these oils? Well, apple water instantly hydrates the skin & sloughs away dead skin – a hydrating lip exfoliator, if you will. This is what keeps your lips from drying out as they might from a slightly more oily lip product. In the Applecoco (a golden color in the package that applies clear), coconut oil adds an extra splash of hydration. Some of you may know – I’m not a huge fan of a coconut scent. This product has almost no scent at all – & I can’t detect any coconut scent; I can pick up a little bit of an apple smell. If you’re not a fan of coconut-scented products like me, this is one you’ll receive all the benefits of coconut oil from without having to smell a scent you don’t like. If you don’t mind coconut, this is still a good product! It’s hydrating, it amps up a chapstick kind of day, & – again, it’s cute.

What about Appleberry? Appleberry is for a day you might want a little tint to your lips. It applies & wears the same as the Applecoco lip oil – it just has a sheer wash of color to it. The same apple water formula keeps lips soft, while a slight tint to the product gives a fresh, pinky-red splash of elegant color. This one has quite a strong smell – 50% apple, 50% berry. I have no problem with either of those scents! I’ve worn this one out, too – the “almost a gloss but not quite look” is continued here. The tint gives no extra shine, just a pop of color. Slapping this on as your lip of the day is valid – I’m sure I’ll be doing that a lot, since it’s so easy – but this is a lovely way to pull off the “popsicle lip effect” that’s currently trendy. Apply a little lip stain (an actual stain, not a gloss or lipstick) in the center part of your lips, tap it outwards to create a faded effect, then grab the Appleberry & slide it all over your lips. It’ll create an incredible ombre effect!

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On left: Applecoco Lip Oil. On right: Appleberry Lip Oil

If you’ve seen a Nooni brand ad pop up on your Instagram, you might be wondering where the pale green one is: Applemint. I wondered the same thing standing in the Nooni section at Ulta, hoping I’d be able to get my hands on the pale green one for the sake of aesthetic. Still, after reading about this lip oil, it’s clear that it’s not just “pretty” – like Appleberry, it not only does what the transparent Applecoco lip oil does, it has an extra effect, thanks to the mint. A “mint-infused formula stimulates skin, making lips appeal more full.” This is basically like a plumping lip gloss, except with a more subtle effect. I saw a couple of reviews complaining that the lip oil didn’t have any long-term benefits, but I don’t believe that was ever the intention for this product. Let’s face it: unless you’re getting lip injections, no magical gloss, treatment, or oil will keep your lips looking fuller than they naturally are for more than a few hours. No – this won’t make your lips grow (at least, I don’t think so!), but it will make them feel cooler & look a little plumper for a little while. Also, it’s a pale blue-green. I know I keep saying it – I’m just sad that the store (Nooni is carried at Ulta) didn’t have the one that looked most unique to me. I’ll keep my eyes peeled – hopefully, I’ll get my hands on one soon.

Applebutter Lip Mask

When I unscrewed the cap of this lip mask, I smiled in relief. A little spatula rested on a plastic barrier between the product & the product’s lid. This is one of many things I love about K-beauty: everything comes with a tiny spoon – extra sanitary!

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This mask really does smell like apple butter; I wouldn’t recommend eating it, but a little got inside my mouth & it kind of tastes like apples, too (don’t try this at home; I don’t condone it…it was an accident I swear).

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As you might guess from the lip oils above, this product contains apple water to buff away dead skin & enhance hydration. “Say bye to flaky, cracked lips with a thick, velvety lip mask that can be used day or night to alleviate and soothe dry skin,” exclaims the product description. How to apply? “Use attached spatula to lift out a pea-sized amount of product, then smooth an even layer over clean, dry lips.” This product can be used as a sleeping mask for the night, of course – & works as a day-time lip balm, too. It can even be used in a thin layer as a prep for lipstick. After waking up the morning after I tried this lip mask, I’m happy to say that the magic ingredient (apple) worked once again. I’m still putting Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask as my number 1 lip mask, but this one is nothing to sneeze about. Plus – it’s cheaper by $5. If you’re a lip balm fiend like me, you’ll love this. If you want an effective lip mask but not spend too much finding one, you’ll love this. If you love apples…if you love lip masks…if you love soft lips…well – you’ll love this, too!

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Does Nooni being a K-beauty brand make it harder to purchase in the United States? No! In fact, thanks to the slow & steady takeover of K-beauty, Nooni is available not only on sites like Memebox (an online K-beauty shop similar to Peach & Lily; both sites carry various Korean brands) you can now test out the lip oils, the lip mask, & a few other things in Ulta stores – & you can order Nooni online on Ulta’s website, too. They make it really easy…& there’s just one more reason to fall in love with Korean beauty brands.

That’s all I have for you this time, so I’ll ask: do any of you have K-beauty products that have helped your skin level up without breaking your bank? If so, I’m always here for good recommendations. In the meantime, have fun playing with face wash that looks like meringue & soft, sweet-smelling, glassy lips. That’s a pleasing sentence; it’s encouraging me to catch a nap. First, though: let me grab my lip mask.

Love,

Sofia

#TopTenSeries: Top Ten Skincare Items of 2017

Hello, friends! Welcome to the end of 2017. I’m going to spare all of you the sentimental words, because I think there’s a time & place for that; right now isn’t the time. Right now, let me talk about my top tens.

My “#TopTenSeries,” as I’m calling it, is a collection of my…top ten ____ of 2017; an article for each category, if you will. In this post, you’ll see skincare. Next up, I have some makeup. Then: top albums, top songs…a few other cool things, too. These things will be either made/released in 2017, or heavily used/listened to in 2017. Basically, I’ll try to keep everything as “new” as possible. We don’t need to hear about the five products that I’m currently loving that have been on shelves for 5+ years…however:

I didn’t know much about skin care until late 2016/early 2017. 2017 was the year that I started nailing down a routine that worked (& still does work) best for my skin. Some of these products will not be brand new, because I didn’t always need the latest & greatest to make my skin look better. I made more of an effort to include makeup brand new to 2017, albums made in 2017, songs made in 2017, etc. Skin care is my one exception to this rule. If something has truly switched up my style, my music taste, etc., I will take care to mention it, even if it’s not made right in 2017. Don’t worry, though – I’ll stick to this year as much as possible!

I’ll churn out as much (quality) content as I can these next few weeks. Then, I’m off: back to school again. I’m incredibly excited to do this once again. You can rest assured that I’ll keep writing on here, but the type of content I write might change a little. Maybe more personal pieces/creative nonfiction pieces, which is what I’m choosing to focus my cognate on my last few years of undergrad.

You’ll come to see what’s next – & I’m not even quite sure what’s next myself – but for now, here’s my #TopTenSeries. These are in chronological order, not in the order of “most to least favorite” – for me to choose favorites in this list would be tortorous, truly. I hope you enjoy it

1. Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

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Glossier hinted & hinted last holiday season that they had something special for us in January 2017; we were not let down. Priming Moisturizer Rich was Glossier’s first new product release of 2017…& it remains one of my favorite Glossier products of all time. A cult favorite – as in, “I use this every day” kind of cult favorite.

In the dry winter months, I’ll wear PMR (as it’s affectionately nicknamed) twice a day. Glossier has a seeecret “Anti-Redness Complex” & an “Oxygenating Agent” which are the base ingredients of PMR. Add some murumuru & shea butters, lavender (one of my favorite, most relaxing scents in the world), red algea complex, & a few other things, & you have a rich – super rich – face cream that isnt greasy, cuts redness, & wears well by itself or under makeup.

I’m constantly asked to dupe PMR, & the true answer is that I really can’t. The texture, scent, & effect it gives my face is unique – that’s why I continue to fill & refill (& refill) my jars. It’s coming into 2018 with me without a doubt – probably 2019, too. Try to find a more luxurious-feeling face cream for less money than PMR…you can’t. Give this a go; you won’t regret it. Good for dry skin (obviously) & oily skin alike…everything in between, as well. Like I said, this is a daily staple for me – it’s a twice-daily staple for me in the cold dry months, but even in the humid hot summers, I can’t completely let go of PMR.

2. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

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This was the first Drunk Elephant product I ever tried. It was the beginning of 2017, I was at a hotel, staying the night because I had some hospital testing in another city, & I’d stopped at a Sephora on the way in to get some samples. When you’re bored in a hotel room, there’s nothing better than trying out the free samples that Sephora employees angrily dole out (seriously, why are they angry when giving you samples? Asking for a friend).

Anyways – thanks to Into The Gloss, I’d heard a lot of buzz about the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, & I was seeing the #millennialpink packaging on every top shelf I came across on Instagram. I had a few friends who assured me it was worth it, but I was still skeptical. Babyfacial isn’t cheap – as a brand, Drunk Elephant isn’t cheap – so I decided to get a sample, try it out once or twice, then make my call.

I’ll admit: I was scared to give this a go. The words “Drunk Elephant’s dream team blend of glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric, and salicylic acids” in the product description had me shaking in my shoes. I hadn’t really tried chemical exfoliants before; I was of the (false) opinion that chemical exfoliants would dry out my face & only hurt my skin. In retrospect, I couldn’t have been more off the mark: chemical exfoliants are actually gentler on my face than physical ones (ex: sugar scrub masks, etc.).

I took my tiny sample of Babyfacial, braced myself for the tingle that I was warned I would feel, & started applying. Yes. It burned…but only for about 20 seconds. After that, I felt a slight tingle or two, but nothing major. I didn’t feel as though my skin was peeling off my face. I left it on for 10 minutes, which is recommended if you’re using it for the first time (especially if you have sensitive skin).

Immediately after I took it off, I sighed to myself, because I knew that I’d be buying it for real. My skin did actually feel baby-soft. I showed my mother. I showed my friends. I told the Internet. I told the man passing me by on the street. My skin hadn’t felt this soft in forever – & within a few days, I noticed that my skin looked smoother & brighter, too.

Long story short: it took me a little less than a year to use up one full-size “jar” of Babyfacial. Was it worth it? Yes. Did it change the way I treat my skin? Yes! I focus more on chemical exfoliants, especially AHA/BHA products, like Babyfacial – & Drunk Elephant Framboos serum, which you’ll read about below.

Are there cheaper options/cheaper AHA/BHA products? Absolutely! Try The Ordinary’s AHA peel, aka “the vampire facial.” It’ll run you less than $10, & it gives off a similar effect. I’ve tried a few different “peels,” “masques,” & “facials,” trying to dupe Babyfacial…but the truth is, this one stands on its own. If you want something cheaper, there are many options out there – but if you want the overnight results, Drunk Elephant is the way to go. A good way to spend some Christmas/holiday $$$. Trust me on this one.

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

IMG_9946Another product that wasn’t developed in 2017 – but a product that changed my life in 2017.

If you’d told me that I’d be religiously using this serum last year, I’d have laughed in your face, & said that no product this expensive was truly worth it.

Well, I’m crawling back now in shame to admit that I was wrong. This product completely switched up my skincare routine. It made my skin clearer, brighter, & it even made my routine shorter. This serum doubled as several things; suddenly, I didn’t need three serums to make a clarifying concoction. This one just did it all.

I use one pump a day – or evening, since it’s a night serum – focusing on the areas of my skin that aren’t too dry – this is an AHA/BHA product, so it’s no good to put it on dry areas of your skin (they’ll just get more irritated). Treat your skin gently – but don’t be afraid of this serum, even if you have dry skin. Coming from someone with extremely dry sensitive skin: this will not kill you. In fact, it’ll revive you.

The AHA/BHA blend is incredible: you have glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric, and salicylic acids, all blended with raspberry extract (hence the name “Framboos”). This cocktail of acids sounds overwhelming, but it is not. The balance is perfect. It won’t burn your face off; just prepare for a slight tingling if you have sensitive skin, like me. There’s no odor or color to the product. You’ll feel a slight tackiness, but that fades after you’ve put on a cream – plus, the effects of the serum are worth any tackiness you might have on application.

Drunk Elephant says: “This high-tech gel resurfaces dull skin, lifting dead skin cells away by gently dissolving the glue that holds them to the surface. The results are greater clarity and a smoother, more even-looking complexion.” I couldn’t say it better myself. Drunk Elephant doesn’t need to overcompensate while describing its products…simply because they always work – hands-down. The product description of Framboos on Sephora’s site doesn’t quite do this serum justice, but it comes pretty close. Without a doubt – worth your time & money.

4. Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay

IMG_9299.jpegI don’t usually expect my mother to introduce me to skincare products that will become staples on my top shelf – but this is exactly how I came to discover the Origins Rose Clay mask…a mask that I now admittedly cannot live without.

It was another hotel room stay. My mama suggested we do face masks, to relieve the anxiety I was feeling about the next day’s doctor appointment. I didn’t have any in my travel skincare bag, but she had a little 200 point Sephora sample of the Origins Rose Clay mask. I tried it out. I took it off, & I saw softer, smoother skin that had absolutely no redness – even around the areas of my face that are most prone to redness. I felt clean, detoxed, but not dry. Just super soft, clean, & nourished. I saw the sample was still available, so I snapped it up that evening when refilling a sheet mask I needed. By the time I’d squeezed the sample tube empty, I knew that it was time to go full size.

I’ve been through one full tube of the rose clay mask now, & I have another one (one-quarter empty) sitting on my top shelf, staring at me right now. I just did it last night.

This is a clay mask that I feel safe using even in the driest, coldest months of winter. The Mediterranean rose clay & Canadian willow herb are soothing & reduce redness, while the small jojoba beads give the mask its signature exfoliating texture – but don’t worry, it won’t rip your skin apart. Delicately swirl the product across your face with warm water when removing, & the jojoba beads will gently exfoliate without leaving any microabrasions.

It’s a deep cleanse; takes the garbage out of your skin & leaves behind refined pores, super-soft skin, & absolutely no redness – anywhere. It’s a mask that detoxes my face in the stickiest, most humid months of summer – & it’s just great for fall & spring, too. It’s a year-round must-have for me, & it’ll stay this way. That was just the beginning of my love affair with Origins; there are so many products I adore from that brand now…but this one has a special, special place in my heart. Thank you to my mother for putting me on to this one (but I’m still taking the credits for putting her onto Drunk Elephant, okay? Okay!).

5. CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser 

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Ever since I discovered Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser, I was strictly a fan of non-foaming cleansers. After evaluating my routine several times, it wasn’t too difficult to figure out that my skin dried out every single time I switched from a non-foaming to a foaming cleanser.

I was skeptical of CLĒ Cosmetics’ Oxygen Foam Cleanser because of this – in fact, I’d specifically ordered their Melting Cleanser instead, which is a non-foaming cleanser. They happened to include several sample packets of their Oxygen Foam Cleanser. When I was out of town for one night, I grabbed this packet, figuring that one night wouldn’t hurt.

It didn’t – it actually helped. I was in awe of my skin within half an hour of using the cleanser. I applied it as directed: massaging it into my dry skin with circular motions of my fingertips. Wait 30 seconds, & the gooey liquid turns into a foam – it bubbles up on your skin, kind of like the pop rocks of skin care.

Why’s this one work so well for me? I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t question it too much. it quickly oxygenates and forms bubbles, helping to produce collage and elastin to give skin a soft, healthy and youthful appearance. The first time I used it, I gently rinsed off my face, patted it dry, & looked in the mirror (side note: you can also simply wipe this off with a warm damp towel). My brows shot up. The sensitive, red areas around my nose were gone. My pores looked tighter. My face looked bouncier. All that…& not a sign of dryness.

I haven’t fooled around much with other foaming cleansers since then – the other two I’ve tried dry out my skin, too. If you like that bubbly, foaming sensation but do not like the way your skin responds to it afterwards, this is a great product. It’s a foam cleanser that somehow is also incredibly brightening & hydrating. Again – I won’t question it too much. I just keep an extra bottle (or two) on my top shelf. Besides Milky Jelly Cleanser, it’s the cleanser I use most.

If you want a lighter review on the cleanser, check out what I wrote on CLĒ’s blog right here!

6. Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

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This was new to Sephora this year, & it was abuzz on YouTube in the spring & summer. Every single dry-lipped YouTuber was raving about it: so much product, so effective, good for day or night. It wasn’t expensive, either. After seeing 3+ of my favorite, trusted beauty bloggers sing the praises of Laneige’s Lip Mask, I decided to check it out. At the time, it was online-only – I couldn’t check it out in-store, & where I’m currently located, there still are not any Laneige products at my local Sephora stores. Sad.

Anyways…I took the leap, made the order, & applied it the night it arrived.

Sephora says that the special Laneige “Berry Mix Complex™ offers a nutritiously sweet and fragrant blend of raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, and blueberry extracts,” while the “exclusive Moisture Wrap™ technology boasts hyaluronic acid and minerals to form a protective film over the lips to lock in moisture and active ingredients.” Basically: this lip mask’s formula has an antioxidant blend of “superfoods” that hydrate the lips & strengthen them, too.

I appreciated the way the mask was packed: it has a gloss-like texture (& can be worn as a “glossy balm” during the day to complete a makeup look) & is packaged in a jar. It is not solid; the jar comes with a little spatula (complete with its own little envelope case) that you scoop product out of & apply to the lips – like a lip gloss wand. I liked the sanitary way in which the mask was packaged, & found the texture to be super rich, glossy, & hydrating. Unlike many glossy-ish lip products, this texture didn’t draw moisture out of my lips…it felt like it was sucking moisture in. I struggle with perpetually dry lips – but I woke up with smooth, soft, supple lips.

Now, whenever I feel my lips getting dry again, I usually realize that it’s because I’ve forgotten to apply the lip mask before bedtime. The Lip Sleeping Mask has sat comfortably on my bedside table since I got it, & I reach for it every single evening. Sometimes, I might even wake up to apply it a second time. If you’re a fellow sandpaper lips, give this a go. You probably will feel as though your lips are a part of your face for the first time in what may have felt like forever. Also great to wear while doing your makeup, if you’re prepping your lips for a liquid lip/pencil/drying lipstick. A good, effective, cheap product to have around – & I’ve been using this almost nightly since July & am not halfway through it yet. I apply librally, by the way. Don’t worry. This will work, & it’ll last you forever to boot.

7. Kypris Antioxidant Dew

IMG_7315.jpgI was conflicted about including this product, but the last few days is what pushed me to include the Antioxidant Dew in my top ten.

This past summer, Kypris sent me a very generous box of gifts, including their famous Antioxidant Dew. I was skeptical, because the product looked so lightweight. I put three drops on my face in my morning routine (following toner, before applying serum) & by the afternoon, I could see my face looked brighter. It felt softer. I had little to no texture on my forehead.

I took a break from the Antioxidant Dew these past two months. I tried to dupe it with another product, after a lot of research into botanicals, & which ones would be best for my skin.

After 3+ weeks of testing this product…I tried a few drops of Kypris Antioxidant Dew two days ago, after not using it for nearly a month. By that evening, I could see – no texture, clearer skin, softer skin…it really had made a big difference in my routine.

Kypris is not a cheap brand – & I made that clear in my brand review. I did say, however, that if I had to pick one product to keep purchasing myself, it would be the Antioxidant Dew. After trying it out the whole summer, taking a break to try a dupe or two, & seeing the quick & incredible improvement my skin made in the last two days after starting to use it again, I’ll say it again: this one is worth it. Spend $10 on your toners, spend $18 on your cleansers (hi, Milky Jelly – hi, Thayers Witch Hazel)…but Kypris Antioxidant Dew is worth every single dollar. Oh – & also, less is truly more with this product. Three drops is all I use. Just once a day. The bottle should last you 6 months at least. If that’s not another selling point, I don’t know what is. I’ll probably cry a little when I have to refill, but I still have a ways to go. Three drops a day = enough, which = good skin, which = me not having to buy it too often that it’ll hurt.

8. Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner

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“Your skin will think you’re at a Spa,” is the selling phrase on this product’s description page.

Thayers’ toners have been around forever, & they’re no secret to the beauty world; I’d go so far to call them a cult favorite. For whatever reason, I refused to try them. Don’t ask me why. I stuck to my Mario Badescu Facial Spray & just shrugged off my friends’ suggestions to try the (cheaper) Thayers toner. I think it had something to do with the fact that I felt odd putting product on a cotton pad & then applying it to my face. I finally broke in October when I was picking up a prescription at Target & saw a bottle of the Lavender toner. It’s no secret: lavender is probably my favorite scent, & it’s very soothing on my skin. I decided that it would be $11 either well-spent or wasted, but either way, I wasn’t throwing a huge amount of money at a product. I went for it.

Since then, Thayers has released spray bottle versions of their toner – but I’m actually more than happy with the cotton pad method at this point. I “upgraded” my cotton pads (I use the Shiseido ones; they’re worth it – trust me. Just don’t remove your makeup with them. I think that’s a waste) & my skin has been brighter, softer, & clearer since I started using Thayers Lavender. I’m not sure if I’ll try another…scent? Flavor? Whatever you want to call it – I don’t know. I’m not even halfway through my bottle right now, & I use it twice a day. Thank you to Into The Gloss, probably ten of my friends, & all the comments on Instagram urging me to “go for it.” I’m glad I did.

9. Jade Roller 

IMG_7492.jpeg“What’s that green thing?” is probably the most asked question when I’m doing my skincare on Instagram live. I’ve been asked this so many times, in fact, that I wrote a post about jade rollers…called “What’s That Green Thing?” I know; very funny.

Jade rollers aren’t new to the market; they’ve been used for thousands of years – especially in China (where they originated). They’ve broken the mainstream market, thanks to brands like GingerChi, Herbivore Botanicals, & good old Amazon.com. There are even different colored jade rollers now – & now, you can get rose quartz facial rollers, too. Fancy fancy.

Basically, it doesn’t really matter how expensive your roller is. You can get one for $200, sure – you can also get one for $10. The end result will be the same! Vogue says: “This Chinese skincare tool will cool, tighten, & de-puff your face in seconds.” That’s partly because of jade’s ability to stay cool for long periods of time – & even after it’s been warmed up by the heat of your face, set it down for a second, & it’ll cool down to its original temperature (stick it in your fridge for an extra dose of cool).

Jade rollers are tools that assist lymphatic massage: they reduce inflammation by moving – & improving – your skin’s circulation. This means that it’ll eliminate toxins (less breakouts!), tighten the pores (make your skin look younger & more lifted!),  improve blood circulation, elasticity of the skin, & reduce puffiness. For me, that’s especially helpful around my under-eye area. I use the smaller end of my jade roller to gently massage my under-eyes. Although my dark circles are still present, I don’t mind the look of them – I just want to get rid of the puffiness that my on-&-off insomnia gifts me.

All-in-all, it’s a super relaxing tool that you can use morning & evening. For a spa-like treatment, use a facial oil on your face before going in with the roller. It’ll massage all the good ingredients of whichever oil you choose deep into your skin, resulting in healthier, plumper, tighter, & brighter skin. This was a big win for me in 2017!

Check out some jade rollers here – Herbivore Botanicals & GingerChi both have high-quality double-ended ones, if you’re trying to target large & small areas of your face…but Amazon has the $10 ones that work just as well. Trust me – I’ve tried both.

Glossier Body Hero Duo 

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Is this skin care? I don’t know, but I have to say: this was one of Glossier’s 2017 releases that I thought I could live without. After refilling both the cream & the oil wash, I take it all back.

What I love most about the duo is its amazing fragrance, shared by both the Daily Oil Wash & the Daily Perfecting Cream: the “Orange Blossm Neroli Blend,” which is light, but very herbal. I think it’s unisex, & I like the scent of it a lot – a solid perfume of this fragrance would be incredible.

The Oil Wash is probably my favorite between the two – surprising, since I fully expected the cream to be my favorite. I like the Oil Wash because it’s so unique to any other body soap/wash I’ve ever tried. The Oil Wash has 0% water in it; it’s made up of seven oils, which turn into a creamy lather when rubbed into the skin. They attract grime, then melt it away. Thanks to the 0% water, the pH levels of this wash are great, too – so you can use it anywhere on your body without worrying about imbalancing your skin. I suffer from perpetually dry elbows, but this wash helped eradicate that problem. Usually, when I step out the shower, I need to frantically apply moisturizer. My skin will feel dry & cold if I don’t. After using Daily Oil Wash, I step out of the shower feeling super clean – but already very hydrated. That’s because of the lack of detergents in the wash; I step out feeling like I already have a protective hydrating layer over my skin. You’d think that’d be an oily, unpleasant sensation, but it’s not. My skin just feels baby-soft & pampered, even before I’ve applied the cream. Oh – & the stuff is so good, I use it as a shampoo, too (shh). I know…I barely have any hair, but I need a moisturized, well-scented head anyways, okay? Okay.

As for the cream – I can only describe it as though someone decided to put a few drops of those beautiful illuminating CoverFX drops into the body cream, then blended it together. The result is a super glowy, dewy lotion that smells delicious (like its sister) & looks like you have a healthy, magical sheen on your skin. I especially love the way it looks on my neck, collarbones, & shoulders. The consistency is super rich, which I love. It’s a great cream for the cold months, but it’s not sticky or greasy, so it’ll work for the warmer months too. I decided to include this because I was truly surprised at how good it was – I didn’t think this would be one of my favorite Glossier releases of the year. But hey, we all learn something new every day.

That’s all for now, babies! Tell me your top ten skincare items in the comments – or just one, if you wish. Or none at all. Stay tuned for some makeup, music, & other cool top tens. 

Love,

Sofia 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner – $10.95

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

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

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

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The signature red cap

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin™ Liquid – $39 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellulr Face Oil – $45 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shea Butter – CHEAP

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

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

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

Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Lip Conditioner – $22

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

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

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

One last lip product – then I’m done.

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

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

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

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

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Balm Dotcom sitting with its pal: Coco Rose 

Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Youth-Preserving Facial Oil – $64

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Body Shop British Rose Fresh Plumping Mask – $28

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

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

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

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

Frank Body Glow Mask – $21.95

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

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

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

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

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A peek at the texture of the Glow Mask

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

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

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One of the dreamiest masks for winter time 

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

The Echinacea GreenEnvy™ that Farmacy has trademarked is “a unique variant of echinacea purpurea, which contains a high concentration of the phytochemical cichoric acid—a potent, natural antioxidant that enhances hydration and the purifying benefits of honey.” They said it, not me.

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A true honey-gold

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

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

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

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Convenient & sturdy: a metal magnetic spatula 

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

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

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The dreamy, space-themed packaging of the Moon Mask 

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

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

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

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

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A quick peek at the consistency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration – $30 

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich – $35

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Texture heaven

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

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Our good old friend Mario

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

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

Love,

Sofia ❤

 

#MiniReview: Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner

The name “Thayers” is practically a household name if you regularly browse sites like Byrdie, The File, & Into The Gloss. I’ve known about Thayers’ toners for at least a year – but I kind of just sat back & listened to everyone talk. “It’s so cheap! It’s so good! It lasts so long! So much product! Product cap perfectly dispenses actual product!”

Me, from a few feet away: “Oh, sounds nice!” I said absently, spraying myself with another shower of Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater (okay, that never happened, but essentially that’s how my “ignoring” process went).

Why did I just never get around to buying this very cheap toner that has had a lot of buzz – especially lately?

First of all, the concept of toning with a liquid-soaked cotton pad was not how I had initially interpreted toning. To me, it was only toning if it came in a spritzer bottle (which isn’t at all true, of course). The concept of rubbing cotton pads on my face sounded irritating – much more so than a healthy douse of floral mist.

Secondly – this product is easiest to find at Target – & I am one of the few people in America who doesn’t love going to Target. I know…I’m sorry! Big spaces make me anxious, it’s cold inside, & I never know where anything is despite all the signs.

About a month ago, however, I was driving home from somewhere & remembered I ran out of Tylenol; I was just happening to pass a Target & figured that this would be as good a time as any other. Coincidentally, I’d been asking a friend about Thayers earlier – she’d mentioned something about a lavender version, & my ears perked. If you know me, you know that I adore the scent of lavender. Suddenly, Thayers seemed a lot more appealing. I ran in to grab a bottle of Tylenol (success) & walked out with my medication…& a 12 fluid oz. bottle of Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner.

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“Retro” packaging 

That’s right – 12 fluid ounces of product. For $10.95. I had never really looked up the price tag on this, but when I got to the aisle at Target, I’m 99% sure I audibly gasped. The bottle was so big; there was so much product, & it was so cheap. Lucky for me, Lavender was the only option left – all of the other choices were gone. I was happy as a clam.

That evening, I skipped my usual Mario Badescu spray & put a few drops of the Thayers Lavender toner onto a cotton square – probably 4-5 drops in total. No need to worry about spilling product; this bottle has some kind of a squeeze cap that ensures that if your bottle does happen to tip over while the cap is open…not much product will be wasted. It’s like a little babyproof gate, except for a toner bottle. This was much appreciated by me; I’m always worried about forget to close a lid on a product & spilling it later if I bump into it by accident (I’m getting better). The product was easy to dispense, had that soothing smell of lavender that I love so dearly. Now: time to talk about what it’s supposed to do, what it did for me, & how I feel about it after about a month’s use.

There are quite a few different versions of Thayers toner: Rose Petal, Lavender, Aloe, Lemon, Mint…& a few more, too. While these versions may differ slightly from one another, they’re all built on the witch hazel base formula, as the name might suggest.

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The witch hazel used in this toner is extracted from the bark of the witch hazel plant. This extract contains natural tannins, which help remove excess oil from the face without stripping it of all its healthy moisture. They reduce inflammation & irritation, which calms breakouts & prevents future ones. They balance the natural pH levels of the skin – again, resulting in calmer, more balanced skin in general. It’s also an antioxidant; it also brightens & tightens the skin because of this.

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The signature red cap

The Thayers witch hazel formula is not distilled. That means that it contains 195% more tannins, according to Thayers’ own website. This, in turn, means that the product works more effectively & does a better job overall. Witch hazel works for oily skin because it removes extra dirt/other impurities; it’s good for combo skin because it keeps the dry patches balanced while (again) removing extra impurities from other areas. As a sensitive/dry skin type, I can assure you it works well for both dry & sensitive skin types, too – even both at once (like me)!

Okay – so what do I think?

Well – I think that it’s incredible. I feel stupid for not having bought this sooner – especially since it is almost infuriatingly good & cheap to beat. My skin looks brighter & clearer, but it’s not any drier than it was when I was using mist toners. The lavender version is incredibly soothing, & I love the scent. It fades within a few moments, but it gives you that calm, essential-oils vibe while gently swiping it all over the face.

Like I said, I use 4-5 drops on a cotton square. That’s right, a square, not a round or a pad. That might sound high-&-mighty – but for me at least, cotton squares are fluffier & lighter in texture than that of a round or a pad. They’re more soothing, they feel more luxurious & they are just as cheap (sometimes chaper) than rounds or pads. I buy mine from the drugstore for about $3 (for 100 or so, I believe) – but if you want to feel super fancy, Shiseido’s cotton is famously good & not ridiculously expensive. It’s a nice little “treat yourself” kind of thing you can pick up in Sephora’s checkout line.

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Clear & concise directions on the back – big plus

All-in-all? An incredible experience. I’m mad I didn’t try this sooner; I’m glad I started using it. I don’t feel the need to return to more expensive products when this big, cheap, effective bottle is right there in my top shelf. No guilt needed, especially when the product is good, is packaged prettily (come on, you know it too!) & smells like lavender (if you’re like me & like lavender).

I’m interested in trying out some of the others – particularly Lemon & Rose Petal – but I don’t think I’ll need to worry about replacing my current Thayers toner any time soon. The 12 ounces of product doesn’t sound that big of a deal – until you pick it up, realize how heavy it is, & realize that using 4-5 drops twice a day will last you essentially an eternity.

I’m not complaining, though. The Lavender toner is just right for me – it’s one of my favorite scents, it exfoliates, brightens, hydrates, balances, & tightens. All for $10.95. 10/10. I’m sorry I didn’t commit sooner, Thayers. Hope you can forgive me.

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My cheap & effective toner snuggling with my cheap & effective extra soft cotton squares

Thayer’s has announced that a spritzer toner (same formula) will be available soon – that’s good news for all of you who prefer to spray to tone as opposed to using a cotton pad. It’ll be out soon – not sure if I’ll try it, because this is doing the job very well. We’ll see!

Are there any others out there who haven’t tried the Thayers line yet? If so, I won’t shame you – but I will encourage you to try it. If you have tried it, I’d love to hear your favorite version if you’ve tried several – especially if you have dry/sensitive skin like me.

Long live the simultaneously incredible & incredibly cheap products like this one!

Love,

Sof ❤

Time For A Product Review Update! My Thoughts on Glossier’s Body Hero Duo After Several Weeks of Use

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Right off the bat, I knew that I would like Glossier’s Body Hero Duo. I like most of the things they put out; there are only a few products that I don’t care for (or some that I find cheaper dupes for). 

But this was different. This was new. This was Glossier’s first venture into body care – & no one had any idea what to expect. All we knew: the Duo comes with a special BODY HERO sticker (it looks a bit like a Supreme label) & a jumbo #glossierpink pouch – super handy if you can’t manage to fit quite everything into your smaller ones. 

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In my first impressions post of Body Hero (which you can read here) I mentioned that the prices are quite reasonable for the amount of product you get. However – I worried that the Daily Oil Wash (step one of the Duo) wouldn’t last long at all, once I actually saw & experienced the consistency. I said I liked the cream a lot, & that we’d see how the Daily Oil Wash lasted.

I think we’re at a “how’s it going” stage, so here I am, checking in with my thoughts on the Glossier Body Hero Duo after about three weeks of using it.

Daily Oil Wash

The consistency? It feels just as though you were putting oil on your skin. When I saw how thin & slippery the wash was, I panicked – there’s no way I can make this last long, I thought.

I thought wrong. Here we are, it’s the last day of September, I’ve been using Daily Oil Wash since I got it (September 8th) & I am not yet a quarter of the way full.

Before you think “she’s probably not hygienic, then,” let me assure you that I wash my body very carefully…very thoroughly. I have to, because of health reasons. So – no, I’m not taking a tiny drop to see if it lasted. I used an amount of product that I knew would wor kfor my body, because I wanted to see how it would last when using normal amounts of product.

It took a few tries, but I figured out the secret: do small pumps (don’t push all the way down on the bottle’s dispenser) & lather up frequently. Once the texture turns lathery, you’re all good – the foam is on your body, & you’re in no danger of losing any product. It’s before you lather the wash that product is lost. If you’re a sponge type of person (I like charcoal body sponges – just not loofahs) I highly recommend putting the wash on the sponge/loofah , lathering that first, then using the sponge on your body. Again – the more time the product has to lather up, the better it’ll work…& the less you’ll have to use.

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A few days ago, I was redoing my head (I do my buzz myself) & was frustrating by the prickly little hairs that kept shearing off my head onto my shoulders. It’s always really hard to get the tiny prickly bits off my shoulders & collarbone; when I had the Daily Oil Wash in my hands, I looked at it for a second, then hopped into the shower, putting a generous drop of the wash onto the back of my neck, my shoulders, & my collarbones. Then, because I just felt like it (& also because the Daily Oil Wash has a pH that is safe for any part of the body) I rubbed another pump into my “hair.” It lathered up nicely – & just like the rest of my body after I use the Daily Oil Wash, my head felt fragrant, soft, & hydrated. It’s a great replacement for a shampoo – at least, it is for me. Less work, better scent, less suds, more pink (bottles).

Daily Perfecting Cream

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In my post regarding my initial thoughts on Body Hero, I said:

“Daily Perfecting Cream takes the cake…it almost disappears on the spot. It feels extremely luxurious when squeezed out of the bottle; it doesn’t give off the sticky/sweaty feel that a lot of “heavy” body lotions or creams do. Now my collarbones are glowing – as is every other part of me.”

I don’t have much more to say – other than…I was right! If push came to shove & I had to choose one of the two, I’d still take the cream. It’s a more unique product (to me, at least) & I love the illuminating effect. Also, the scent lingers for a longer amount of time, which I love. I’ve raved about the scent before, so I won’t drool over it now – but just know that it’s truly incredible. Sexy, fresh, neutral – neither masculine nor feminine, it is just good. That’s what a good scent means to me. I don’t like hard implications of masculinity (aka cologne) or femininity (super sweet florals, candies); I like to keep a balance. The Body Hero Duo set managed to put itself firmly in the middle regarding “masculine/feminine” scents. It’s something that (I think) will be loved by if not all, than most. It’s not overpowering, it fades gracefully, & it leaves the skin soft & smooth for the rest of the day.

Is the Body Hero Duo worth it? Is the Daily Oil Wash worth it?

My answer is “yes” to both. I’m saying yes to Daily Oil Wash because it is lasting quite well; it’s also doubling as my “shampoo,” which – hey, I’m not complaining! Again, though: if you have to pick one, my advice is to go with Daily Perfecting Cream. It’s a few dollars more, but you’ll be getting a stronger scent, a thicker product (which means it’ll last longer) & an illuminating effect. I don’t seem to find anything wrong with that!

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Let me know your thoughts on Body Hero below, if you’ve tried it, if you haven’t, & your thoughts on the campaign in general!

Love,

Sof ❤

Back To Basics: Morning Edition

“Okay. This past month, I’ve been trying to cut back on the variety of products I use. I tend to want to try the latest & greatest of everything; that often results in finding amazing products, yes! It also results in my skin getting confused – more & more, as time goes on. That is: I try so many new things that if my skin doesn’t like something new, it can take me forever to get the bad product out of my system, since I have to sift through so many other options. I’ll probably make a more detailed post on this to come – but yes, I’m trying to simplify my routine. Doesn’t mean I won’t have lots to say on here, don’t worry! I’m not going to stop trying new things. Skin can always look better (i my opinion) & I’m always open to new options. Over these past few months, especially after starting my site, I’ve learned that it’s just good to have some solid, staple products always in my back pocket – or my top shelf.”

Well, I mentioned this in my August Favorites post –  & now you’re getting the “more detailed post,” as promised. However, since I tend to overdo everything, I figured that I’d split my “Back To Basics” skin care products into two posts: one for the morning, one for the evening. Because – I’ll admit it – my morning & night routines are still different. I wouldn’t call that cheating, though – my skin does need different products at different times of the day, & I could always use an extra layer of hydration in the evening. Let’s call this splitting decision a good one, alright? Plus, you get two articles to read! By me!

What is my “Back To Basics” thing all about?

Well….I am a skin care hoarder. I own too many serums, masks, & other products. I am the first to acknowlege that I don’t need it all – some of it I give to my family or donate.

However…I’m always pulled in by a new campaign’s promises & sneak peeks (I see you Fenty Beauty!). That results in me spending more money on a product I might only use once or twice – I might not even like it.

Even if I do like the product, I have to remember – using 10 serums that all work really well on me isn’t necessarily good for my skin. Sure, it’s good to use a hydrating or brightening serum – it amps up your routine a bit & sometimes is that last thing you needed to achieve your “skin goals.”

I came to realize that I was skipping around products too fast; too soon. If I ever had some sort of reaction, it’d take me weeks to figure out which product was doing that – if any at all. I decided to narrow down my routine & keep it a bit more consistent.

So! I sat down in front of my top shelf, I made some hard cuts, & I came up with a much simpler, quicker skin care routine. I allowed myself to layer some serums & oils – but like I said, I narrowed it down & simplified it. I gave myself one pass: I would do whichever face masks I thought necessary. No limits on masks! Everything else, though…cut!

I have been doing this routine for about 10-14 days now, & have been loving how my skin looks. Brighter, fresher, more awake – even though I’m actually working a “real” job now! Gasp!

Now: let me get to work. Here are the products I’ve been using every morning for the past 10-14 days. Photos & mini reviews included, as always!

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser 

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I’ve raved enough about this cleanser for you all to know how much I love it – & why I love it. If you don’t know, here’s a piece I wrote all about it. Anyways: this cleanser is soft & gentle on my face in the morning, feels like a nice floral massage when I use my hands to cleanse, & when I pat my face dry, it doesn’t feel tight or painful. Most other cleansers make my skin feel this way; that’s one of the reasons why I love Milky Jelly so much. There are many more, too. Trust me.

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater

I have been using this for years & have loved it; it’s the simplest, easiest toner out there, in my opinion. I know a lot of people have complained about this product in the past, saying that there’s better out there, but I like what I get with the price. Still – I’ll be switching up, soon. I’ve been recommended the Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin Spray – people say it’s the Mario Badescu one, but better; there’s more actual rose in there. I like that; my skin loves rose (though I know not all skin does) so I think upping the percentage of “real” rosewater will further help calm redness & sensitivity. Still, it’s Mario for now – til I run out!

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

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This stuff is liquid gold. Truly! The only other “high-end” brand I’ve seen such instant results with is Drunk Elephant’s Babyfacial/Framboos Serum. The Kypris Antioxidant Dew contains a bunch of herbal antioxidants, as well as Vitamins A & C (for moisture & brightness) & “an array of botanicals.”

This is quite a combination, & this product has quite the price tag…but I assure you, it’s worth it. For sensitive-skinned people looking for a clarifying, brightening product, this will be perfect for you.

The Dew is a very lightweight texture; no stickiness, tackiness, or goopiness. It looks a little like almond milk, just a little bit more substantial in consistency. I use only two drops: into my palm, pat hands together, pat on the face. Done. Kypris advises that this product be used as a lightweight moisture layer – & that’s exactly what I do with it.

Aromatica Damask Rose Soothing Gel

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Described as a lightweight moisturizer for “the face & body,” my face would be way too dry if I used this alone to moisturize! I layer it as a hydrating serum-type product

Sorry – I just realized that most of these products were in my August favorites; that’s okay, though…at least you know what I’m really using! This gel has essentially been used as another lightweigh, soothing layer of moisture for my skin. I’d hardly call it a serum as it’s 95% water; it’s more like a gel-consistency toner that sinks into the face. I use a dime-size amount for my whole face. It’s very cooling, soothing, & leaves my face refreshed & feeling even cleaner.

Glossier Super Pure 

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My vials (one empty, one full & ready to use) of Super Pure 

I’ve said over & over that if I had to pick one Glossier Super Serum for the rest of my life, it would be Super Pure. This has an amazing water-gel consistency that doesn’t dry down tacky; it soothes redness & calms the skin in general – but it also keeps breakouts at bay. It’s a serum that does several things at once; to me, those are the products that are most worth it if you’re trying to narrow things down. You’ll only be applying one thing; many things, however, will be happening to your skin. In a good way.

Embryolisse Lâit Creme Concentre

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A quite affordable, French pharmacy product now much more easily available to acquire in the U.S., thanks to shops like Beautylish & Dermstore. It’s described as a “moisturizer, make-up primer, & moisturizing mask.” That was super exciting to see! I’ve been trying to find a cheap leave-on mask, ever since I drooled over Delilah Parillo using a Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask – also a leave-on mask, except it’s over $200. That obviously wasn’t in the budget, so it was a nice surprise when I read the label before purchasing it.

I’d been asking for some good day creams that weren’t too expensive; although some swear they can’t tell, my skin hasn’t taken well to the higher amount of retinol in Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer (formula was changed for some reason; I don’t know why) & I needed something similar in consistency but not too expensive. A bunch of people recommended this cream to me; Jane Birkin used it, apparently, which was a selling point for me.

I was not disappointed when this product arrived. It’s very lightweight, but it’s still very possible to feel the hydrating effect this has throughout the day. I use a primer over it anyway if I really want to do something nice with my face, but it feels amazing on a “no makeup makeup” day. It feels amazing every other day, too. It’s just really good, okay? I love my French drugstore skin care.

Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen

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Because everyone needs their SPF. I like this one because it’s lightweight, not sticky, & leaves no white case, since it’s transluscent. When I wear makeup, I use products with SPF in them (CC creams, etc.) but when I’m not, I make sure to apply some sunscreen – just over top my moisturizer.

I won’t lie: I usually use this even if I’m layering another product containing SPF in it, anyway. I just am that careful.

Yes – this one is on the pricy side, but I love gel-consistency sunscreens, & at the moment, Lagom’s famous Sun Gel is sold out (yet again, no surprise) on all the sites that carry it (in the U.S. at least). So, until I’m able to snag a bottle of that (much cheaper) Lagom sunscreen, it’s Invisible Shield for me.

Well: that’s all – for now! I hope you’ve found some products that sound appealing, whether or not you’re trying to make a simpler, more concrete routine. These are all products I have loved since I started using them – that’s why I included them in my back to basics, of course!

What are the products you wouldn’t be able to leave out of a skin care routine? Let me know in the comments if you like!

Because I love overdoing things, I also made a YouTube video where I did this exact skin care routine (excluding sunscreen). Check it out here!

Love,

Sof ❤