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

It’s Sunscreen Season

“It’s summer! Make sure to put on sunscreen this year!”

Well – even when it’s not summer, you should be putting on sunscreen every single day. I know…you’ve probably heard that from more than one blogger/website/brand/etc., but at the end of the day, it’s true. According to skincancer.org, “about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and about 86 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun.” That means that by protecting your skin as best you can, you’re drastically reducing your risk of skin cancer.

Basically, we all should be wearing sunscreen – & we should all be wearing it every single day, even in the winter, even when it’s cloudy. However, it’s undeniable that more time is spent in the sun during the summer months: beach, pool, amusement parks…even having a picnic. It’s healthy to get sun & fresh air, but you’d better stay protected while you’re doing that.

If you’re a skincare junkie (like me) & use chemical exfoliants (here’s some info about them) you absolutely, positively should be wearing sunscreen every single day. If you’re on medications that increase your skin’s sensitivity to sun, you absolutely, positively should be wearing sunscreen every single day. Guess what: I’m lucky enough to fall into both of these categories – so trust that sunscreen is an absolute must in my everyday skin care routine, just like washing my face.

There are a lot of products out there at this point, & there’s a lot of information. It can get confusing – which is best for you? What are you looking for, & why? I know which types of sunscreens/sunblocks I prefer, but I don’t know which ones you prefer – so, without further ado, here’s your Summer 2018 guide to sunscreen. Remember – at the end of the day, as long as you’re putting on that sunblock, you’re doing the right thing…no matter what brand, what price, or where you got it. Just make sure it’s above 15 SPF, for God’s sake…& make sure it’s not expired, for God’s sake. Alright, let’s do this!

Let’s start with the simple question: What is sunscreen?

Sunscreen is a type of product that absorbs/reflects some of the sun’s UV rays. Short-term, sunscreen helps protect against sunburn. Long-term, sunscreen can slow or prevent development of wrinkles/moles, as well as prevent skin cancers like melanoma. There are two “categories” of sunscreen: physical sunscreen & chemical sunscreen. I’ll be walking you through the differences between chemical & physical, give some product recomedations & mini reviews…& then it’s up to you!

Side note: Although you should always be using a sunscreen/sunblock that is at least SPF 30, SPF 30 vs. SPF 50 is not necessarily more powerful/more effective. You will still need to apply just as regularly; the higher SPF number is more for marketing & less for more powerful sun protection. Sometimes, SPF 50 sunscreens can cause irritations for sensitive skin types – that’s really the only difference. As long as you’re using SPF 30+ (& reapplying, too), you’re doing the right thing. 

Read on…then, go forth & protect your skin from the sun better than ever before.

Physical Sunscreens 

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What is physical sunscreen? 

Physical sunscreen deflects sun rays by sitting on top of the skin. Its active ingredients are zinc oxide/titanium oxide – these two “types” of ingredient are what give many physical sunscreens a white cast/sticky or tacky consistency/that “sunscreen smell.”

Pros of physical sunscreen:

  • No need to wait for it to start working – as soon as you apply a physical sunscreen, you’re safe to go out in the sun.
  • Longer shelf life
  • Lasts longer in direct UV light than a chemical sunscreen would last

Cons of physical sunscreen:

  • Easily rubs off with water/sweat – this means that you may need to apply more frequently when outdoors
  • The zinc oxide/titanium oxide often leave a white cast on the skin, which is especially troublesome for those with medium to deep/dark skin tones
  • UV light can penetrate through sunscreen molecules, so it can be less protective if not applied generously, accurately, & frequently
  • May be too thick/chalky for use under everyday makeup

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Dr Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50. 

After developing interest in skin care – & after starting medication that made my skin even more sensitive to sun – I knew that I had to get serious about protecting my skin. This was the first “high-end” sunscreen I bought – aka, not from the drugstore.

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This is a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, but (on my skin tone, at least), there is no detectable white cast or tacky/sticky sensation. It has a slight tint to it; it’s not white. I’d describe it as a sandy/shell color, & while I don’t have even medium skin tone, from what I can see on the reviews, this slight change of color in the product helps eliminate any risk of white cast on most skin tones. It doesn’t feel greasy, either, which is great – I’d guess that that’s because of its “runny” consistency. It sinks in very quickly, & doesn’t leave a film on top of the skin.

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When I’m feeling like using a physical sunscreen, I reach for this one. Whether I’m using it on a bare face or underneath makeup, it does a great job of protecting me from getting burned – without making me feel oily or forcing me to tolerate the dreaded  “sunscreen smell.” all day long. In fact, it has a pleasant scent: kind of citrus-y, which I really enjoy. It’s very summery.

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Dr. Jart+ is a reputable brand, & most of their products are at the very least worth a go. I’m interested in what seems to be a transluscent version of their original Every Sun Day: the Every Sun Day UV Sun Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 30With a liquid gel formula, this sunblock “provides powerful sun protection and a cationic shield that blocks fine dust to protect the skin…it is designed to have the same electrical charge as fine dust in order to form a protective skin barrier. Cypress water and seaweed extract purify the skin while soothing and moisturizing.” It’s a transparent, lightweight formula, which is exactly the kind of sunblock I gravitate towards. It’s currently sold out, but maybe this will be the sunscreen I test out this summer when it’s back in stock. We’ll see!

Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector Broad Spectrum MineralSunscreen SPF 30. 

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A few weeks after realizing that it was, in fact, possible to find a physical sunscreen that didn’t feel or look gross on my skin, the brand Farmacy (whose Honey Potion face mask I am in love with) sent me their cruelty-free, paraben-free sunscreen, formulated with naturally derived ingredients, & stamped with the “Clean At Sephora” label (there’s a complete description of what this means on Sephora’s site – it’s a good way for vegans/those who are 100% CF to immediately find products that they don’t have to scan the ingredients list before clicking “purchase”).

Unfortunately, I can’t really use this on my face without getting texture/congested pores on the inner portions of my face, though I don’t have that problem with it creating texture on the outer portions/forehead area of my face. I do still use it on my neck & shoulders – they’re more sensitive than the rest of my body, & it’s been working nicely for that. I don’t think I’d purchase it myself, simply because I’m almost certain it was the cause of more texture around the time I was using it, but the reviews on Sephora’s site as well as Farmacy’s own site are overwhelmingly positive. I’ll blame the reaction I had on my sensitive skin.

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This sunscreen is of a slightly thicker consistency than that of the Dr. Jart+ sunscreen, but it has the same “off-white” tint to it. It has more of a sunscreen-y smell, but the scent fades within a few minutes of application. Despite creating texture, it did a great job of protecting my skin from the sun – a good example of a sunscreen with SPF 30 doing just as good a job with blocking the sun as a sunscreen with SPF 50 would. You can use it daily under makeup, or just by itself over your moisturizer. Farmacy suggests applying it 15 minutes before going out into the sun, & to reapply every 2 hours – which is a common suggestion for most, if not all, sunscreens.

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Side note: Drunk Elephant sent me a very generous package the day after I wrote this, containing their Umbra™ Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30. I didn’t have the chance to take photographs of the product because of this, but here’s a mini review: I like this a little more than the Farmacy sunscreen, because it has some luminosity to it – it kind of reminds me of M.A.C.’s strobe cream (toned down a little) with SPF added, of course. It works well under makeup – I think it works as a primer – though I have experienced a little more congestion in my pores than I usually do when using it. Not sure yet whether it’s the DE Umbra or something else, but we shall see. This comes in two versions: the Sheer, which may leave a white cast on deeper skin tones. That’s why DE also has Umbra Tinte™ Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, which is the same sunscreen as the Umbra Sheer – just with a tint to it, so that it doesn’t leave a white cast/is more suitable for deeper skin tones. Both of these products are also cruelty-free. If you know me, you know I adore Drunk Elephant as a brand, & I always encourage people to give any of their products a go. Some are more effective for me than others, but they’re an excellent brand & definitely worth a try for any skin type or skin tone. 

Chemical Sunscreens

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What is chemical sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreen absorbs sun rays instead of deflecting them. It contains combos of chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.

Pros of chemical sunscreen:

  • Thinner, lighter consistency – this makes it easier for wearing under everyday makeup. Most chemical sunscreens are almost if not completely clear, so they can be reapplied over makeup, too
  • Less is needed to adequately protect the skin, because it doesn’t operate in the same way that physical sunscreen does – UV light can’t penetrate through it
  • Leaves no white cast on any skin tone, thanks to its transluscency

Cons of chemical sunscreen:

  • Shorter shelf life
  • Needs about 20 minutes before it starts properly protecting your skin from the sun
  • Must be reapplied more frequently, because when in direct UV light, the protection chemical sunscreen offers is used up more quickly

Personally, discovering chemical sunscreen was a life-saver for me. My whole life, I assumed that physical sunscreen was the only type of sunblock (& for a while, it was), & because of that, I hated sunscreen – it smelled gross to me, it felt greasy & sticky, & it broke me out. Granted, I was using drugstore sunscreen up until last year, but still – it was a big reason behind why I wasn’t as diligent with protecting my skin from the sun as I am today: my skin felt dirty & sweaty the minute I applied sunscreen – & no one likes their skin to feel that way, so of course I slacked

You may have noticed by now that I have a lot of complaints about physical sunscreens; you might’ve also have come to the conclusion that I prefer chemical sunscreens…in which case you’d be correct! I do prefer chemical sunscreens. Yes – I need to wait about 15-20 minutes before going out in the sun to ensure that I’m truly protected; yes, I need to make sure that my dry skin won’t start screaming in protest (sometimes, chemical sunscreens can be more drying than physical sunscreens) before I find my next holy grail chemical sunblock, but in the end…chemical sunscreen was the catalyst to me finally properly protecting my skin from the sun. Every. Single. Day.

Glossier Invisible Shield

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Ah, yes. The first chemical sunscreen I ever tried, which introduced me to a whole new world of possibilities. Glossier marketed Invisible Shield as leaving no white cast (not even on deep/dark skin tones), having no sticky/tacky consistency, & easy to apply with a moisturizer for a bare-faced day, easily worn underneath makeup, & even easy to reapply over makeup – all thanks to its transluscency. I’d never heard of a gel-consistency sunscreen, but was eager to try it…& I wasn’t disappointed. Invisible Shield sinks in just as quickly as a water-gel serum would. It doesn’t mess with the finish of my makeup – & if I’m wearing no makeup, it doesn’t look odd over my moisturizer. In fact, I mix 2-3 pumps of Invisible Shield with my daily moisturizer, Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre – & have found that to be my dream combo for daily wear. It’s a lightweight yet hydrating combo, I have yet to get a sunburn once I’ve started using this, & my skin stays protected no matter what.

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A brief yet geniune review! The only complaint I initially had about Invisible Shield was the price tag. It was above $30, not more than $35 – but still too much for the amount of product you get. Glossier’s fixed that: Invisible shield is now $25, so I can recommend this without feeling conflicted, thanks to the previous price.

Supergoop! Glow Stick Sunscreen SPF 50

Another brand that I kept seeing last summer was Supergoop – a brand that, according to their product page on Sephora’s website, “is the first and only prestige beauty brand dedicated to UV protection.” This means that every single Supergoop product contains SPF, whether it’s good old sunscreen, lip balm, setting powder…even hand cream.

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I haven’t had the chance to try Supergoop’s most well-known product, which is their Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40(similar in packaging & formula to Glossier’s Invisible Shield), but it’s most certainly on my Sephora Loves List. I have, however, gotten the chance to pick up their Glow Stick Sunscreen SPF 50 – recommended by @namvo on Instagram, an amazing makeup artist obsessed with healthy, dewy, glowing skin. I’m a fellow obsessee of that type of makeup, so I knew that I’d like the product when I saw her recommend it on her Instagram story, but did a little research nonetheless. Seeing that it was an oil stick, I figured that it’d work well on my dry/sensitive skin.

Sure enough – in the product description, it was listed that the Glow Stick was best for normal, dry, combination, &/or sensitive skin types – no mention of oily skin types. This was no surprise; most products containing oil aren’t recommended for oily skin, especially not ones that you’ll be wearing out & about in the summer heat. Supergoop said the Glow Stick was a solution for dullness, uneven texture, & dryness, going on to say that the “dry oil stick brightens and hydrates for a healthy-looking glow without leaving an oily residue.” It can be worn underneath makeup, it can be worn as makeup (highlighter on your cheekbones, collarbones, etc.), “or applied anywhere you want to glow!” It’s even safe to apply over tattoos – the oil won’t burn your skin (which was my first fear)…in fact, it helps preserve the pigment of your inked skin. “Amazonian oils protect the skin, and a blend of fatty acids delivers antioxidants and restores balance and moisture, creating a more even, smoother, healthier-looking complexion.”

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Glow Stick has a barely detectable scent to it – & I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s not overpowering or unpleasant, & it fades within a few moments. It’s most certainly not for someone looking to eradicate oil from their skin; this will give you some shine. I personally really liked it – it worked like a glowing primer for me, & I added a little extra on the high points of my face, as well as on my collarbones. I didn’t need much extra highlight when I started on makeup, all thanks to the Glow Stick. I was worried that the oils would break me out, but no worries – my skin reacted really well to this product, & I’d say that I’ll be re-purchasing immediately…except that it’s an extremely dense product & will, without a doubt, last me for ages. If you have dry/normal/sensitive skin (I can’t speak for combo skin, as everyone’s is different) this is a really neat way to combine skincare, sunscreen, & makeup. I’m a big fan!

Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 50

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After seeing a travel-size version of this in my Sephora’s checkout line, I decided to give it a go. I’d never tried a spray-on sunscreen, & figured that since I liked their Glow Stick, I might really like Supergoop’s SPF mist, too.

In the product description for the Defense Refresh Setting Mist, Supergoop says that the spray is intended for normal, oily, combo, or dry skin – no mention of sensitive skin, which I should’ve probably checked before using it, but no worries. My skin didn’t react badly to this, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you have dry skin. Supergoop describes the prodcut as an “innovative makeup setting spray that helps control oil and shine while refreshing your UV defense with an uplifting scent of rosemary and mint” & says that it’s a solution for oiliness.

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As soon as I sprayed it on my face, I felt that mattifying sensation start to set in as the mist dried. My skin didn’t flake off my face, but I did remove my makeup & chose to use my trusted Invisible Shield that day. I definitely need a hydrating setting mist (my favorite is the NYX Dewy Setting Spray) to set any makeup, & this one was not for my skin type – however, if you’re somone who prefers a matte finish, or has oily skin, this might be a great way for you to simultaneously set your makeup & mattify your face this summer. It smells really pleasant – very herbal, as the ingredients of rosemary & mint might suggest, & it felt cooling, too. If it was more of a dewy finish, I’d definitely love it & purchase a full-size, but this will probably end up going in a little goodie bag for a friend or sibling. I’ll be on the lookout for a more dewy SPF setting spray; let me know if you have a favorite!

Makeup with SPF

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Okay – finally, what about makeup? It’s no secret that there are countless BB/CC cream type products on the market that contain SPF. The rise of K-Beauty in the USA was a big reason behind this, & so the two products I have & enjoy using most are K-Beauty. Both of these products are pretty light coverage, & that’s because almost all foundations break out my skin/clog my pores/make my skin feel dirty. I stick to little-to-no face makeup if possible, & either spot conceal with Tarte’s Shape Tape Concealer combined with Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint (which is very sheer) over top a sunscreen, or I use one of these two products, which are a combination of sun protection & coverage/tint. If you’re not a fan of either of these brands/these products in particular, just head on over to Sephora’s site & check for face makeup products that contain SPF. You’ll have a goldmine of products with a very nice price range. For now, though, here are my two favorite face makeup products that contain SPF:

Dr Jart+ Cicapair™️ Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30

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This product is part of the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair™ Collection, “inspired by the true legend of Asian Tigers, rolling in Centella Asiatica to heal their battle wounds. Also known as tiger grass, its medicinal use has been recognized for centuries. For generations, this active ingredient has also been recognized as a recovery system to help support wounded skin exhibiting inflammation, redness, or blemishes.” There’s a cream (with no pigment) that serves as a moisturizer, along with sheet masks, a serum, & now, “Camo Drops,” described as “an ultra-lightweight revitalizing serum and color corrector that neutralizes redness and turns on skin’s glow.” I’ve tried the cream (don’t hate it but don’t love it, either) along with the Color Correcting Treatment, but haven’t given any of the other products a go, though Dr. Jart+ sheet masks are always a winner. Enough of that – my point is that this line is great if you struggle with redness/hyper-pigmentation.

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The price tag of the Color Correcting Treatment seems high, but trust me when I say: a little goes a very long way. It has a pleasant smell – kind of like mown grass – & I take about a quarter-size dot that I place on my MakeupDrop (check them out!), then gently dot small amounts of the product in the center of my face, on my chin, & in the center of my forehead. I then use my Real Techniques face brush to buff out the product. As you can see from the photos, the green-beige color of the product in the jar “includes a color-changing capsule within the formula to cover blemishes and restore the look of the skin’s strength, health, and vitality.” Basically, it works the same way that a CC cream would – white when you squeeze it from the tube, but then adjusts to the pigment of your skin. If texture/acne isn’t a huge concern for you, you can most definitely just use this as your face makeup – it takes care of redness without a problem. The SPF keeps you protected, & while the product is naturally dewy, it can easily be fixed (for those who want a more matte complexion) with a setting powder/setting spray. Because of the thickness of this product, it’s not one I reach for often, but I know that it’s an easy, reliable product that’ll get rid of redness, protect me from the sun, & maintain my hydration all at once.

CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion

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You’ve probably heard/seen at least a few things about CLĒ Cosmetics on my social media or on here – that’s because they’re such a great brand. They sell both skincare & makeup, & I have favorites from each category – but right now, I’ll be talking about one of my all-time favorite face makeup products: the CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion. Like a cushion foundation – except with SPF – this product “gives sheer to medium coverage with a healthy and luminous shine that feels feather light on your skin.” The initial $49 price tag might seem formidable, but don’t worry; a “refill cushion” (aka: another sponge soaked with the product) is included with the original cushion inside its refillable compact. My first cushion lasted a bit less than a year; I’m about to switch mine out for a new one – & the refills cost significantly less than the original.

I wear the lightest shade, “Light.” This has no sunscreen smell, no stickiness; it melts right into the skin & provides a luminous glow while managing to make you feel as though you’re wearing absolutely no face makeup whatsoever – quite the achievement. The SPF 50+ does its job well – & even on my sensitive skin (which is more prone to irritation from suncreens with higher SPF) doesn’t react badly to the added protection. This gives the exact amount of coverage & sun protection that I like when I feel like wearing “actual” face makeup. I’ll keep refilling this until I can’t find it anywhere any longer!

If you’re looking for a little more coverage than the Essence Air Cushion, CLĒ also has a CCC Cream, which works sort of like the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Color Correcting treatment, except it has SPF 45+ & has a shade range: Light to Deep. No sunscreen smell! Yay! Still, I prefer the lighter finish of the Essence Air Cushion – but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend the CCC Cream to anyone looking for something even a little more full coverage. Oh – both are buildable, too, so you can apply as little or as much as you like, as long as you blend it out. It’ll look even, don’t worry – & you won’t have to dig in your bag for the sunscreen you didn’t even need.

Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30

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What about your lips? What about your eyelids? The little areas that are too sensitive for a “regular” sunscreen – chemical or physical. Fresh has a nice solution with their Sugar Sport Treatment – packaged like a lip balm, it’s “a durable, water-resistant treatment ideal for on-the-go use that moisturizes and provides UV protection to the lips, face, and eye area during year-round outdoor activities.” I picked this up last year – I won’t lie, mostly because the packaging caught my eye – & I’m very glad I did. This stuff lasts forever, thanks to the balm-stick formula, it can be applied as “a highlight,” kind of like the Supergoop Glow Stick – except you can do even more with it! Apply it on the eyelids, on the browbone, on the lips, on the cupid’s bow…you get it. It won’t break you out – I promise – & the packaging is perfect for taking on a day-long outing.

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The bright orange packaging is eye-catching, & the stick is wide enough to find without a lot of digging (lip balm-type products are easy to lose, let’s face it) – this also makes it easy to gently glide over your lips, yes…but also wider areas of your face, like the browbone, eyelids, etc. It has the classic Fresh scent – citrusy & sweet, which I adore – & it contains moisture-preserving sugar (which is a natural humectant) along with a blend of oils, like avocado oil & black current seed oil, both of which are extremely nourishing, hydrating, & softening. It’s a product that falls right into the 30 SPF-50 SPF bracket, so you won’t have to worry about getting too little protection, it lasts forever thanks to the dense consistency, it’s easy to carry around, & it’s waterproof! You can cry over your summer fling; you can jump in a pool; you can survive a rainshower that’s followed by intense sun, & you’ll still be protected. The priority is to keep your skin out of harm’s way – aka, the sun’s UV rays. It’s still possible to have fun in the sun while protecting your skin!

That’s all I have for you, folks – what are some of your favorite sunscreens? I’d love to hear about them…I’m always hunting for more, more, & more.

Love,

Sofia

P.S. You’ll hear from me soon – sorry for the hiatus!

Glossier’s Latest & Greatest: Mascara…or…Lash Slick

Hey Glossier: you thought you were slick, didn’t you? Get it? Sorry.

I’ve had my eyes peeled for a Glossier mascara for a while now. Follow Annie (@annieokay) on Instagram? She’s Glossier’s Executive Editor. If you don’t, now might be a good time to hit that follow button – because I’ve gotten some pretty good clues about upcoming products from her Instagram stories & Instagram livestreams.

Quite a while back, Annie did a livestream where she was getting ready for some sort of event – I don’t remember the details, but I do remember that she applied the Tom Ford Patent Finish Lip Color (“a liquid lip color that combines a lip stain with an ultra-glossy finish”), which is a ridiculously expensive & luxurious lip product that I’ve been eyeing ever since…& that she did her brows with Boy Brow(brown) & then started applying mascara. She didn’t mention the name.

I commented: “mascara brand? I have Diorshow & love it but am always on the lookout for a mascara that’s even MORE holy grail.”

A few other people asked questions in a similar vein. Annie smiled, & said “just a mascara,” leaving it at that. A bunch of eye emoji comments rolled in, a few pleas for more details…but that was it! Annie was done talking. She finished her face.

Ever since I saw that – & saw how careful Annie was to keep the packaging of the mascara out of site (even though it most likely was just in product development) – I’ve had my eyes peeled for more eye makeup from Glossier. I thought that that would be The Product of the year for Glossier: a mascara is a big product to launch, because it’s one of the most widely used makeup products. I was surprised to see the Lidstar shadows launch first (check out that review here) though I had been expecting to see some kind of eyeshadow/eye tint…again, thanks to Annie’s cryptic swatches that showed up from time to time on her Instagram story.

When Lidstar launched, I thought that that would be it for Glossier for a while. Eyeshadows are another big product to launch, & I expected a little more time to pass before we got our mascara. I was wrong. Less than three months after Lidstar’s launch, I got a mystery package from Glossier. As a rep, I sometimes get early access to products – this time, there was a single product box, similar in packaging to a Lidstar shadow or a Boy Brow brow gel. This one was labelled “Lash Slick.” I also got an email: don’t share photos or info before the product launches…but don’t worry, the product is launching soon! Glossier wasn’t lying. Just a few days after I received my Lash Slick, Glossier’s first mascara went live on their site for $16 USD, $20 CAD, & $14 GBP (don’t worry Frenchies: Glossier’s coming to you real soon).

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So – what’s Lash Slick all about? The name sounds a little racy, I won’t lie. Is that because it’s smooth? Is it a marketing ploy? Is it both? After trying it, I’d have to go with both – but let’s walk through some of the product claims & what I think about them after trying Lash Slick.

“248 formulations later: the perfect everyday mascara. Lash Slick curls and sculpts as it lengthens, enhancing the look of your natural lashes instead of clumping them together or spackling them in product. Teeny-tiny fibers coat lashes from root to tip to create a lengthened baby-extension, while flexible film-forming polymers lift and lock each fiber into place. And it’s water-resistant (not waterproof), so Lash Slick washes off easy with warm water at the end of your day.”

248 formulations sure is a lot. Glossier provided a lot of photos on their Instagram of various wands that were tried; various tubes that didn’t work & so forth & so on. It does certainly seem as though they’ve put a lot of effort into it – both from the product description &, ultimately, how I feel about the appearance & sensation of the product. Okay. So – Glossier’s been working hard on Lash Slick. Why’d it take this long to get here? What’s specifically special about it?

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  • It’s water-resistant, but not water-proofThat sounds dangerous – I thought that it would definitely run/flake if I started to cry or went in the rain…but that wasn’t the case. I tried both (mostly crying, but a quick CVS run in the rain happened, too) & the mascara doesn’t flake. It sticks right onto your lashes without feeling crunchy or stiff.
    • It still sounds dangerous – that’s because I’m paranoid of water-proof mascaras. I was wary that “water-resistant” would hurt/pull at my lashes. If I couldn’t cry it off, would I be able to gently remove it with warm water without yanking out some of my precious lash hairs? The answer to that: Yes. I can gently remove it with warm water without losing precious lashes. A pump of Milky Jelly Cleanser (my holy grail cleanser) massaged with that warm water works even more beautifully. I worked in gentle, circular motions with my warm water/MJC combination, & I had clean, dry lashes within a minute – no raccoon eyes here! That was a big factor in how much I ended up liking it. If a mascara is difficult to remove, I drop it quicker than a hot potato. This one fits my strangely specific criteria: “easy to remove – not waterproof – but doesn’t come off when crying.” Hard to believe that there’s something like that out there now, but here I am, claiming that Lash Slick did exactly that for me.
  • It’s…shiny?I know. That doesn’t sound great at first, does it? Hear me out: it doesn’t look like your lashes are coated in thick, greasy paint. It’s more of an enhancement. Your lashes don’t look shiny, but the “Natural Shine Polymers enhance the formula’s black pigment so lashes are extra shiny & sleek.” Basically, with that “natural shine,” Lash Slick is creating an illusion of longer, healthier lashes. That’s something I’m always here for
  • You don’t need a lash curler!!!!!!!If you know anything about my makeup routine, you know that 1. I hardly wear mascara in the first place 2. When I do, I always curl my lashes. I feel like I can’t get the lift that I want if I don’t curl them – I have long lashes, & though they curl upwards when I don’t wear mascara, they stick straight out when I apply (most) mascaras. The weight of the mascara is too much for my little lashes to handle while maintaining their curl. The closest I ever got to not needing a curler was Benefit’s Roller Lash Mascara (which is a big favorite all over the world at this point) but the brush felt too I poked myself in the eye a few times, then decided it wasn’t worth it (is it odd that most of my endeavors to love Benefit products – ex. their Gimme Brow! brow gel & their Roller Lash Mascara – led to me finding Glossier products that are cheaper & more effective?). I shelved Benefit Roller Lash over a year ago & switched to Diorshow mascara – just the original one, in Black. I blame Bella Hadid’s millennial marketing campaign for getting me to notice Dior’s mascara, but hey…that was clearly the point, & it is a good mascara. However, for me to get the maximum feathered & curled effect that I wanted (& zero clumps) it took a good curl, a coat or two of mascara, & then a careful brushing session with a spoolie. Effective? Yes. Time-consuming? Absolutely. If there’s an easier way, I’ll always opt for that…& Lash Slick has, so far, given me a cheaper, quicker, easier way to achieve a lash look that I actually enjoy. Less tools, less time, but just as good (if not better) lashes.=
  • Tapered Comb Brush (made of rubber)This application brush is described as “sleek, comb-like.” It separates your lashes, kind of like a spoolie brush would. It also grabs your lashes at the very root, lifting, curling, & defining. The rubber makes sure you don’t have too much product on your hands – which eliminates any danger of clumps. I know some people like that thick, spider-lash formula for mascara, & if that’s the case, this one isn’t for you (unless you layered something else on top & used this as a curling mascara). For me, however, it was a big plus. I prefer individual separate lashes, even when I’m wearing mascara. This one does what Roller Lash & Diorshow do combined.
  • Glossier used “Japanese Fiber Technology” to make Lash Slick look like eyelash extensionsThe technology creates miniscule fibers that hook onto your individual lashes – which creates the curling effect without a curler needed
    • The lashes get extra definition &, therefore, extra pigment. Your lashes are natural-looking, but are long, fluffy, & super pretty when you blink.
  • It really does last 12 hoursGlossier claims that Lash Slick will not run if in contact with light water (tears, rain, sweat, etc.) & will last up to 12 hours. They weren’t lying. Yours truly had a good few crying sessions in the two days I tested Lash Slick, & there was no runny mascara, no lashes that had nothing on them while others had excess…it doesn’t look like the typical mascara does – that’s where the water-resistant part really helps.
    • Sometimes, mascara can get a little too crunchy. This one was very soft at the beginning of the day but was getting a little stiff by the time I took it off (worn for 12 hours). It wouldn’t keep me from purchasing it, because I really only noticed it for the last 2-3 hours or so of wear. It’s not uncomfortable; it’s just noticeable if you were to touch your lashes (which I did while testing the mascara) it’d be stiffer by EOD than when you first applied it.

Though this one was sent a few days before release to test, I will be refilling my Lash Slick, because this one mascara does everything I want & used to need to achieve that effect. It’s a cheaper, more effective way to do your mascara. I haven’t done the “swipe on mascara & go” look with Lash Slick, simply because I never have made that my “emergency” makeup routine. However, the way Lash Slick looked with eyeshadow…I’m curious to see how it’d look by itself. I think that’s going to be in my next round of new things to try.

IMG_2169IMG_2177I’d call this the Boy Brow of mascaras. It’s effective, it’s easy, it’s affordable. I’m glad it took Glossier hundreds of attempts & more than a year to develop: for me, this product is absolutely living up to its claims – doing better, even – while not pricing high as a Benefit mascara (mid $20s) or Diorshow, which is almost $30. This gives me a combined effect of the two, in fact – & I will only have to fork over $16. I’ll take ten more right now, actually.

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No enhancements besides Lidstar in Herb & Moon, Boy Brow in Brown, & Lash Slick

I’ve never finished a tube of mascara before because I don’t wear it often enough – it dries out before I get to the bottom. However, there’s a first for everything, & Glossier’s made a few “firsts” happen…let’s see if this is the first one you’ll see me finish. History might be made!

It’s now possible to make an entire eye look just out of Glossier makeup: Lidstar for eyeshadow, Lash Slick for mascara, & Boy Brow for brows. Done.

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Lash Slick, Lidstar in Moon, & Boy Brow in Brown 

Have you tried Lash Slick yet – or if not, will you be buying it? Let me know!

Love,

Sofia ❤

Lash Slick is cruelty-free cruelty free, paraben free, fragrance free, hypoallergenic, allergy tested, dermatologist tested, ophthalmologist tested, suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers, & non-irritating.

Check out my review of the Glossier Lidstar shadows right here!

#MiniReview: My First & Most Favorite Blush Was Orgasm. By NARS. Here’s Why

It’s common knowlege that I’m not a big fan of blush. I’m very fair, & in my opinion, even a little tap of most blushes make me look like a clown, & not in a cute way. I’ve gone a bit out of my comfort zone with the Glossier Cloud Paints (they’re easy to blend & very sheer but buildable – so they work nicely on my almost-transluscent skin) but before those were released last spring, I hardly wore blush; emphasis on hardly. There was one exception to that: NARS blush in Orgasm.

IMG_6013IMG_6017I think I first came across the blush in some beauty magazine, way before I even thought of putting makeup on my face – I was strictly eyeshadow-only until my senior year of high school: no foundation/BB cream, I didn’t even know what highlighter was yet (gasp), & I certainly didn’t think of putting blush on my face. Still – 15-year-old Sofia’s attention was caught by the NARS cult classic. Why? Obvious: name. Part of me wondered if it was even allowed to be sold at Sephora (it is). It’s marketing at its finest. Older folks might chuckle or sigh; younger folks might feel a little…risqué at checkout? Who knows. I didn’t even think of buying it – like I said, I didn’t know how to & didn’t want to know how to apply blush – but I definitely lingered on the page longer than I might have had the blush name been Dolce Vita, for example (another blush by NARS). With that, the NARS blush – & its brand – had planted a seed in my head. I started seriously looking at the blush after I swatched it in a Sephora store, years after I first saw it in a magazine. I glanced at the product description: “peachy pink with a shimmer” & dipped my finger in, giving it a go. The result? A very sheer, glowy finish that was most definitely a blush…but wasn’t overpowering – not even on the back of my wrist. It was like a highlight…except a blush. A highlighting blush. That was immediately more appealing than most other blushes I saw, which looked matte in the pan & harsh on my skin. They were difficult to blend out; Orgasm looked natural & dewy on my already-dry skin. It was one of a few exceptions to my “no powder products” rule. I knew this even with a wrist swatch. I put it on my “loves” list, & decided that since I was 19, I’d passed the age of embarrassment, & I could safely name the product on a birthday wish list for my mother.

I did – she laughed, & guess what I got on my 19th! I tapped a little on my cheeks, then applied some highlight over top/around that area. I looked luminous & glowy; healthy, but not feverish. Instantaneous fan.

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A little blush goes a very long way on me – so I experimented a bit with Orgasm. I tried it as an eyeshadow; it looks gorgeous if you’re into the pinky/red eye looks like I am. If you have deeper skin, it’d probably look beautiful as a dramatic highlight. I’ve dusted a little on my cupid’s bow/used it as a lip topper, & it’s a winner there, too.

Speaking of lips: after I got Orgasm blush for my birthday, I started looking more into the NARS blush collection; they have the shade Albatross, a white-gold used as a highlight (& an old YouTuber classic), they have Exhibit A – “a brilliant red” matte shade that I’m scared to purchase to this day…& they have the other “sexy” ones: Sex Appeal (a soft peach), Super Orgasm (peachy pink with gold glitter)….& Deep Throat (“peach with shimmer”).

I don’t wear enough blush to justify getting any of these, & though it’d probably be fun to have a whole collection like that – again, I don’t wear enough blush to justify getting them. I did peep the Super Orgasm lip gloss – a gloss that matches the Super Orgasm blush – at Christmas time last year, & I decided to go for it.

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A little goes a long way; I hadn’t purchased a NARS lip gloss before, & they’re very creamy. It’s definitely a glossy finish, don’t get me wrong – but it’s definitely a creamy texture/finish as well. Nothing wrong with that, especially not during the winter months. I thought the extra glitter that put the “Super” in Super Orgasm would make the gloss gritty, but it didn’t. There are glosses with less glitter that feel grittier to me (some old Sephora Collection ones, & a few Anastasia Beverly Hills ones, too).

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To me, Super Orgasm gloss has a texture similar to the Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb. They’re both really creamy, they stick on my lips all day, & they don’t make my lips feel dry or flaky, like many glosses do – especially in the cold weather. The Gloss Bomb & Super Orgasm are completely different if we’re talking shades, but the textures are very similar to me. If you have one & enjoy it, you’d probably enjoy the other. I will say that Gloss Bomb comes first for me, because 1. Rihanna 2. it’s more universal. Still, Super Orgasm gloss is pretty universal, too. You’ll get that pink tint – it’s pretty obvious in the packaging – but despite the thick texture, it goes on sheer…& just like its blush sister, it’s flattering on all skin tones.

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I haven’t picked up my Orgasm blush for a while, & now that it’s super cold & dry, I still might wait a little while; I just remembered I had it the other day while packing up for school, & made sure to put it in my “going with me” pile. Ever since the Glossier Wowder Brush dropped, I’ve been using that as my multi-purpose powder/blush/highlight brush,  & the super-fine, super-soft bristles make it easy to apply without any harsh edges. I barely have to blend out when I use blush with the Wowder Brush; I know that’s not its original intent, but hey – it works really well.

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Despite the eyebrow-raising name, the blush gives a gentle tint to the cheeks that could be sexy, sure – but if you go gentle, it can be sweet, too. Give her a go this year!

Do any of you have any items from the NARS “risqué” collection? If so, what’s your favorite?

Love,

Sofia ❤

Finally, Glossier Has The “Solution” For Redness, Texture, & Acne

It’s hard not to make a (bad) word play when a product is literally named “Solution” – & that’s the name of Glossier’s newest product, which had been hinted at in this Into The Gloss article, published (very) early this year.

In the article, gTEAM member Manouska talks about her life-long struggles with acne, & how a mysterious product (hint: Glossier Solution) has helped her skin look & feel better than it ever has in her adult life. A few weeks after this article was published, Manouska took to Glossier’s Instagram story, giving us all a closer look at the mysterious product. Still in its developmet packaging, all I could tell was that it was a toner-type product – & that it had a very cool dispensing pump.

Finally, Glossier Solution was dropped this past Wednesday. I was curious to see how it would be described – & Glossier calls it “a daily face exfoliator.” Meant to be used only once daily, Solution is a chemical exfoliant that “gently sloughs dead cells away through chemical exfoliation, dissolving the bonds gluing problematic dead cells to the healthy skin beneath.”

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“exfoliating skin perfector”

I know – the words “chemical exfoliation” sound scary & dangerous, when in reality, they’re better for your skin than physical exfoliants, which can cause micro-abrasions. Micro-abrasions invite more bacteria into the skin, which often leads to increased breakouts, texture, sensitivity, & redness. I wrote a whole piece about acids/chemical exfoliants here, which might be valuable if you’re still feeling a bit confused about the whole thing. If you don’t have the time, just know this: as someone with sensitive skin, I was initially nervous about the whole chemical exfoliation thing…until I gave it a try. Since I’ve started using chemical exfoliants, my skin is brighter, clearer, softer, & smoother. Needless to say, I was very excited when I saw the ingredients in Glossier’s Solution – they’re right up my alley.

The most important part of Glossier Solution is the blend of AHA, BHA, & PHA – three types of acids that serve as chemical exfoliants. AHA = alpha hydroxy acid, & can be found in lactic acid or glycolic acid. BHA = beta hydroxy acid, & is most commonly found in salicylic acid. PHA = polyhydroxy acid, a less potent version of an AHA. It exfoliates, but it also moisturizes & conditions the skin. It’s one of the reasons why Glossier Solution works well even on sensitive skin!

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I’ve been using & loving chemical exfoliants, particularly AHA/BHA blends for about a year now. My first introduction to an AHA/BHA product was the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, a weekly treatment that I adore to this day. Once I saw for myself that no, acids did not burn off my face – & yes, they really do eliminate texture & keep the skin baby-soft, I was sold. I started trying out various chemical exfoliants, figured out which ones I liked best (& why), & marvelled as my face became brighter, clearer, & softer.

So – now that I’ve tried Glossier Solution, what do I think of it, as someone who’s been using & loving chemical exfoliants for about a year?

I tried Solution for the first time yesterday, so I can’t say how it’ll feel or look in the long-term, but I can give my “after 24 hours” impression of it – which is when Glossier says you’ll start noticing positive results. Just a disclaimer: this product is good, but no exfoliant will “cure” or clear your skin overnight. These things take time, & Glossier makes sure to let you know that. On the Glossier Solution product page, there are “after 24 hours,” “after 1 week,” “after 2 weeks,” & finally, “after 4 weeks” results. To sum it up: give Solution about a month to work its finest magic.

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As someone with sensitive skin, I was worried that something like Solution would be too harsh for me; I thought it might burn or dry out my skin. Usually, if a product does this, I’ll know within 24 hours. I made sure to do my research on Solution – & Glossier made sure to answer that pressing question within the first day of releasing Solution. “Can I use Solution if I have sensitive skin?” Glossier says: “Yes! Solution was formulated to be gentle enough to be used daily by all skintypes. The acids are balanced with calming, replenishing ingredients like aloe, glycerin, and niacinamide.” Glossier made sure to include people with sensitive skin in the testing process, so I wasn’t too nervous when first trying Solution.

Glossier makes sure to say “use once daily.” Why? Simply because your skin doesn’t need it twice daily. Too much of a good thing can lead to bad things. Even if you have oily skin, acids can still dry you out if you use them too much. I’ve been using Solution in the morning, because I use the Drunk Elephant Framboos serum (an AHA/BHA serum) at night. Again, too much of a good thing often = bad things.

When I opened Solution, I was really excited to see the dispenser that we were given a sneak peek at. It’s very cool: push down on the pump with a cotton pad, & product will dispense directly onto the cotton. No pouring, shaking – just press down. I’m always here for sanitary (& fun) packaging, & Solution’s packaging is both fun & sanitary.

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A closer look at the (very cool) packaging

Ingredients? I already knew what they’d be, but I got more detailed information. I saw lactic & glycolic acid listed as main ingredients, which led to a cheer – like I said, my skin likes these best of all! Lactic acid reduces dark spots/scarring, & glycolic acid breaks down dead skin cells, which improves skin tone & texture. I was a bit nervous about salicylic acid – my skin doesn’t hate it, but my skin definitely prefers lactic/glycolic acids. Salicylic acid reduces acne & unclogs pores – not a bad thing, but it’s not something I generally purchase, after several bad experiences when I was less educated…also known as: “Oh no! I have a blemish! Let me douse my dry, sensitive skin in this Proactiv product with a high concentration of salicylic acid!” Needless to say, nothing good happened there (& it took my skin a while to recover) – but I used it in the wrong way, & Proactiv was never meant for my skin type, anyway. My fears were qualmed when I saw the final acid used in Glossier Solution: the PHA gluconolactone, which exfoliates – but also moisturizes & conditions. Finally – “Anti-Stress Complex,” which is a blend of aloe, glycerin, & niacinamide. All three of these are soothing & help reduce redness (side note: a lot of people asked if it’s okay to use a niacinamide serum – like Glossier Super Pure – along with Glossier Solution. Yes! Niacinamide is a calming ingredient, & it will not burn or dry out your skin. I’ve used Solution & Super Pure together with no negative effects).

Okay – that’s a lot of information on the product itself…but how did I like it? What were my first impressions? How did I use it, & when? Let me break that down right now.

  • The packaging of the bottle is very cute. It’s the signature #glossierpink, but the bottle is sparkly! Very Kirakira friendly.
  • I used Glossier Solution in the morning. You can use it morning or night – but don’t use it more than once a day, because overloading the skin is never a good idea. I chose to use it in the morning because I use the Drunk Elephant Framboos Night Serum in the evening. If you don’t use a serum like that in the evening, feel free to plop Solution into your night routine. It’s truly up to you – the results will be the same.
  • I used a Shiseido cotton pad with Glossier Solution. You can now buy Glossier Cotton Rounds, which were designed especially for using with Glossier Solution…but at the end of the day, it’s cotton. If you’re happy with what you’re using now, stick with it.
  • A lot of people have asked where Solution fits into a skincare routine. It would “replace” your toner – so, after cleansing, before serums (which are optional) & moisturizer. Be sure to moisturize after applying Solution, & be sure to wear sunscreen. AHA/BHA/PHA blends make the skin more sensitive to sun. This increases risk of skin cancer if you don’t stay on top of it & apply sunscreen! Be sure to do that no matter what, but be especially sure if you’re using chemical exfoliants like Glossier Solution (or Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, or any other chemical exfoliant). Wear! Your! Sunscreen!
  • I was pleasantly surprised to experience no burning, tingling, or dryness. I was also pleasantly surprised by the scent. It’s not artificially sweet, but it’s not horribly chemical, either. It’s hard to describe, so I’ll just say that it’s subtle & pleasant – not something you’d expect from a chemical exfoliant.
  • The pump is so much fun to use. I know – it’s just packaging – but packaging is a big deal to me. The pump convinces me that you can take it wherever you like without worrying about spilling a single drop. Also – the product will stay free of contamination, because you don’t have to touch any part of the bottle to dispense it. No bacteria! No infections! Yay!
  • After 24 hours, I looked in the mirror to see if I could notice a difference. Short answer: yes. Long answer: my skin felt softer & smoother, it looked noticeably brighter, & I had no dryness or redness. I was especially surprised by zero redness. Usually, I expect redness under my nose when I wake up in the morning, especially during the cold, dry winter months. Not after Solution! This was a big factor in my “final” first impression of Glossier Solution.

Final first impression? This is sensitive-skin friendly, it works like it says it works, & I’m excited to see how my skin will look after one week…then two…then three…then four…& so on, & so forth.

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It’s nice to see Glossier put out a product that specifically targets acne! One of the larger complaints about Glossier was that they did not have anything for acne-prone skin/oily skin. Glossier’s Wowder was the first answer to those kinds of complaints – it helps eliminate shine – & this is the first big skincare product by Glossier that claims to help reduce acne. I had a lot of friends with oily skin/acne-prone skin who were very excited to hear about this. Best of all, Glossier tested on “real” people – & there are untouched photos on the Solution product page of “before Solution” & “after Solution.” It’s really transparent & honest – untouched, just like the before & after photos.

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That’s all I have for now. I’ll be sure to update my thoughts on Solution, but until then, here’s to chemical exfoliants that reduce texture & redness while boosting clarity & glow – all while being packaged in a sparkly pink bottle with a very fun dispenser.

For the first two weeks of Glossier’s Solution release, get free shipping when you add the (also new) Glossier Cotton Rounds to your order & use the code SOLUTION at checkout.

Has anyone else tried Solution yet? If not, will you be giving it a go? Let me know!

Love,

Sofia ❤

Why I Went for the “G.I. Jane” in 2017

I’m a 90s kid, but I don’t remember 90s culture – I’m only 20, so I was born in ’97 – by the time the 90s had closed, all I remembered was that I wore a lot of cute rompers.

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I’m on the cusp of the turn of the century, so while I’m categorized as a “90s kid” I wasn’t aware of the culture, fashion, & political issues going on at that time. That’s because I was under 4 years old.

The 90s were groundbreaking in many ways – & I won’t turn this into a history class, but hear me out: the first supermodels were born, universal healthcare became a widely discussed topic…& Natalie Portman shaved her head for the role she played in “V for Vendetta.”

Natalie Portman was not the first woman to get her locks chopped; she most certainly wasn’t the last, either, but she was one of the first people that popped up on my Google image search when I looked for buzzcut inspiration back in 2016. Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman – two powerful actresses that shaved their heads in the 90s for film roles.

But…how about we skip back a few years, to a name I never heard (I know…shame on me) until I started really looking into buzzcuts: Sinéad O’Connor.

Sinéad’s buzzcut was done a few years before Portman or Theron made the call to go bald – & she didn’t do it for a film role, either. O’Connor’s look was admittedly “edgy” – the singer/songwriter burst in on the scene, looking like someone no one had ever seen before…& love it or hate it, O’Connor was different. She garnered attention for her buzzcut. She was “more interesting” because of it.

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After I buzzed my head, I got a lot of “you look like Sinéad!” comments. I don’t really see that close of a resemblance; Sinéad & I don’t have the same face shape or eye color, & while we’re both fair-skinned with brunette buzz cuts, I wouldn’t call us twins. Still – the continued comparison to O’Connor picqued my interest, & I looked a little further into what Sinéad was all about. I wasn’t around in the 80s, & I never listened to O’Connor. I came in pretty unbiased; all I knew was that she was bald, & that she liked being bald.

I saw that O’Connor was extremely open about her mental illnesses & her past with sexual harrassment & assault. It seemed evident to me that her shaving her head (& continuing to do so) was one of many ways to cope with her traumatic past – but it was also a way for her to break barriers; a way for her to assert herself in Hollywood, an industry that we all know by now is rife with misogyny.

I came across an interview O’Connor did for “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” One of the questions addressed her being a young woman in the Hollywood/music industry, & how her buzzcut helped her “keep safe”:

“They wanted me to grow my hair really long and wear miniskirts and all that kind of stuff because they reckoned I’d look much prettier,” she told Oprah – “so I went straight around to the barber and shaved the rest of my hair off.” O’Connor went on to say that she felt as though her buzzcut protected her in many ways. “I always had that sense that it was quite important to protect myself — make myself as unattractive as I possibly could,” she finished.

A couple things here: I don’t think Sinéad for one moment felt “ugly” when buzzing her head – at least, that’s not what it seems like to me, particularly because she’s been very vocal about continuing to shave her head…perhaps until the very day she dies. In a 2010 interview with Patrick Barkham for The Guardian, she said: “I don’t feel like me unless I have my hair shaved. So even when I’m an old lady, I’m going to have it.”

Clearly, O’Connor enjoys the way she looks with no hair…& I do as well. In researching O’Connor’s past, how/when/why she shaved her head, I found a lot of parallels between the two of us.

I initially shaved my head in the summer of 2016, when I really wanted a tattoo. At the time, I couldn’t get one – my blood counts (thanks, chronic illness!) were too low to ensure that I wouldn’t get an infection. I was frustrated by this; it felt like just one more affirmation that I was not in control of my body, & it made me feel incredibly angry & sad at times.

I came across a few models on my Instagram explore page with freshly shaved heads around that time. I looked, & I flipped away. I went back to look again. & again. By the end of June 2016, I was heading to Supercuts.

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The initial buzz – June 2016

The initial reception I got from my very short hair wasn’t all positive. Many were confused; a few were angry. That made me confused – all of a sudden, I was wondering: is my beauty/value placed solely on how much hair I have or don’t have? After all, my face looked the same. I had no permanent ink on my body. I just had (very) short hair.

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Because of the somewhat mixed reception, I shaved my head two more times that summer (just to touch up) & let it be by the time I went to school in September of that year. By the end of the year, my hair was curly/wavy, & I looked a bit like Finn Wolfhard (yes, from Stranger Things).

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September 2016
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November 2016
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December 2016
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January 2017 (starting to feel like Finn Wolfhard)
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March 2017
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April 2017…
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April 2017…
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…& April 2017

I didn’t consciously make the decision to grow out my hair; I think that I subconsciously told myself: people don’t think this is attractive. You’re probably going to get weird looks. Just grow it out – it’s hair, it’s not a big deal. So – I grew it out.

Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t feel as though any stage of my “growing-out process” was awkward or ugly. I enjoyed seeing my hair change – & it changed quite quickly. First it was a fluffy pixie, then it was a flat pixie, & by the time February 2017 hit, I could pretend as though I was just slicking back very long hair (thanks to lots of bobby pins) I could make a quiff, or I could leave it be & look like Harry Styles, 2013 era. I didn’t ever hate my hair – let me make that perfectly clear.

But – but! June came around. It was summer 2017, & I’d just had a very scary doctor’s appointment on my birthday (fun, I know). The information I was given was incorrect, & I was in a full-fledged panic attack. I was told that if I didn’t have X surgery or Y procedure, I would surely die. This was incorrect, but a doctor was telling me that. It wasn’t something I could just brush off – lots of research & careful decisions needed to be made before I “broke up” with that doctor.

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Early June 2017

In the meantime, my mind was in shambles. I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself in the days between that initial appointment – & the decision I finally made (which ended in me departing from the practice). Not everything is 100% clear in my mind around those 10 days or so, but I remember sitting in the car on the way back home (my mama driving) both of us crying, & me thinking over & over again: I need to shave my head. I need to shave my head.

That evening, my mama went out with a friend (it’s what she deserved) & I went to supercuts. I took a before photo – my eyes look sleepy & dull, & I look very sad. Then there’s an after photo, taken the moment I walked out of Supercuts (I was sitting on the curb when I took it). The outfit is the same, the photos were taken 30 minutes apart – but I truly believe my eyes look happier & brighter once my hair was off. You can see:

At that moment, getting rid of my hair was one of the most empowering decisions I could have made. It was me telling my mind that no matter what happened to me, I still had some control over my body. My body is my body, no matter what – & I am in control & ownership of it.

I’m not sure if people knew I intended on keeping it around this time, but it was my full intention to do so. In fact, about a month later, I bought my own clippers & started shaving my head myself. Initially, it took about three hours – the end result was uneven (& that’s me being kind) & my parents were mad, because I left a big mess in the bathroom. I don’t blame them.

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I’m better at shaving my head now. I’m also better at cleaning up the mess.

I kept redoing my head, & as with most things, it got easier. I kept getting asked why I wanted to keep doing it. I was often asked if I shaved my head because of my illness, or whether the medications I was on caused hair loss.

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The answer to that is no! I do not shave my head because of my medication side effects. I do shave my head because of my illness (at least, it’s one of the reasons why) but it’s not because I would have a patchy head of hair if I didn’t shave it.

Another question I get: Did you “pull a Britney? Is this a mental breakdown?”

First of all – no, I didn’t “pull a Britney.” Even if I did, it’s insulting to use an actual mental breakdown as an expression/jokey slang. Spears clearly was going through a lot when she shaved her own head, & perhaps it helped her cope – perhaps it didn’t. That’s not the point, though. Although I shaved my head to cope, it wasn’t because I was in imminent danger. It was simply a way for me to replace past negative coping mechanisms with a positive one.

I had a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms for the past two years when trying to wrestle with my illness. Some of them fall under the category of self-harm. Others just made me feel badly about myself. I tend to fiddle with/twist my hands or fingers when anxious. That only made my arthritic symptoms worse. I would have panic attacks, & would not know what to do with myself – so I would run around, I’d hit the floor, I’d punch my stomach, hoping that something bad would happen.

Thankfully, nothing did. I’m lucky nothing did – but that’s just a small peek at some of the very unhealthy ways in which I “tried” (& failed) to cope with my illness. Self-harm only brings greater mental anguish; sometimes, it can be life-threatening. I’m lucky I’m alive today, & I am grateful that I’ve moved past that toxic mindset & replaced those toxic behaviors with healthier ones.

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Now, when I’m anxious, I rub my head. It feels velvety & soft; it’s like having a stress ball – except the stress ball is my head. I’ve found that I do this more now. I don’t twist my hands. I don’t hit my stomach. I just “fuzz my head,” as I call it.

So – one of the biggest reasons I shaved my head in the first place (& continue to do so) is because it helped me find a healthy coping mechanism; one that would soothe me rather than harm me. I find now that shaving my head is very ritualistic. Since I do it myself, I have a whole routine. It used to take three hours; now, it can take 30-45 minutes if I do it right. I like to shave my head the evening before some serious testing or a big medical procedure. It’s a reminder to myself: this is my body, & no one can take that away from me.

Let’s move back to Sinéad for a second.

When I read that O’Connor shaved her head to protect herself; to make herself look as “ugly” as possible – I started seeing a lot of parallels between my behavior & hers.

As someone who now ID’s as lesbian, maintaining my buzzcut makes me feel “gayer.” Does one need to have a shaved head to “feel gay?” No – absolutely not. Personally, however, I feel more confident, more assertive, & more myself. I feel comfortable with my identity, & my very short hair helped me come to terms with my sexual identity. Sinéad’s explanation pretty much nailed it: I wanted to avoid the male gaze. Cishet men do not typically find women (or non-binary folks) with buzzcuts sexually appealing. Never say never, of course – & I’m not trying to imply that it solves the problem of being approached in a sexual way by men, because when a man wants to catcall, he will – but it helps. It’s an outward way for me to say: Hey – this is who I am. I feel very comfortable like this. 

Would I be any less gay if I didn’t have my head shaved? Of course not! If I grow out my hair in the future, will I be less gay? Of course not! Right now, though, it’s what I need. With the help of my $50 WAHL clippers purchased at Walgreens, I’m maintaining my own G.I. Jane, reaffirming my identity to myself every time I look in the mirror – & I think I look pretty great, too.

When asked: Are you keeping your hair this way forever? I don’t have an answer, because I don’t know. I do know that every single time I shave my head, I feel comfortable, calm, & at peace with myself. It’s an incredible coping mechanism for me – it’s a healthy one. It’s not putting me in danger. It makes me feel freer, more assertive, & more willing to put myself out there. It’s been integral in helping me feel more comfortable with my identity as a chronically ill lesbian.

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Post-shave (just a few days ago)

Buzzcuts have been breaking gender norms on & off the runway in the past few years. Although many of the models sporting a buzzcut identify as cisgender heterosexual women, just as many do not. LGBT model Ruth Bell got her career kickstarted when she shaved her long blonde hair. Adwoa Aboah (model of 2017) has had a buzz for quite a while, & Sudanese models (& runway icons) Ajak Deng & Grace Bol have had them for even longer. Off the runway, Rihanna & N.E.R.D. “broke the internet” with the music video Lemon. The song Lemon (by Pharrell) features Rihanna rapping (the first time we’ve ever heard Rihanna rap) & the music video (watch it here) features Mette Towley, a dancer who got her head shaved on camera by Rihanna (!!!) who proceeds to dance for the remainder of the video. That sparked even more interest around the buzzcut. When Rihanna’s involved in a project, the people pay attention. I have no doubt we’ll continue to see even more buzzes pop up after this.

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The acclaimed hair stylist Guido Palau had this to say on the return of the buzzcut (as told to Allure): 

“[A buzzed head] makes you feel that a woman is strong, she has her own mind, and wants to let people see her the way she wants to be seen.” says Palau. “I often find that when I do buzz cuts, girls would change the way they dress, the way they stand, their whole attitude.”

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A sentiment I’m on board with – followed by a video of Mette dancing for a Beats x Nerd advertisement 

I couldn’t have said it better myself. My fashion, my stance, & my attitude have made leaps & bounds ever since I consciously made the decision to maintain my buzzcut. As someone who struggles with body image, thanks to chronic illness, that’s incredible to experience. It’s an incredible existence to live. & it makes me feel more comfortable with my sexuality.

So – sorry, everyone! If you don’t like my buzz, it’ll be staying around for at least a little while. I don’t have any plans to grow it out at the moment. Who knows what the future will hold, right? In the moment, I’m grateful to my clippers, my own personal growth, & my Instagram explore page for initially introducing me to the style.

Have any of you thought of buzzing your hair? Let me know if you have already done it, if you’re planning on doing it – or if you’re just not sure! I do get this question a lot: “Will a buzzcut look bad on my face shape?” To that, I say:

Do men wonder the same thing before getting a buzzcut? Do little boys? There are always a few exceptions, but the overwhelming majority would probably not worry about it. Remind yourself of that – & if you still want the buzz after that, go for it. Be free.

Check out my YouTube video on shaving my head here – & check out my other video on why I did it here!

Stay bald.

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Love,

Sofia ❤