#NovemberFavorites: Layers on Layers – Both Clothes & Skincare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling – Green Tea 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Rice Enzyme Powder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tatcha Kissed With Gold Holiday Set 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser 

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

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

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

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

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Skin Freeze Frame Beauty Essence 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Balm Dotcom (Original)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Mask 

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

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

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

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

Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Facial Oil

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Lip Gloss / Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer 

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

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

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

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

Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Cream For Nails

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

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

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

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

Jade Roller 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Sofia ❤

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skincare 

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

 

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The tremendous trio of my September

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich 

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

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

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

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

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

Priming Moisturizer Rich. That’s all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossier Body Hero Duo 

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

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

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

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

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

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Makeup

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

Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb / Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Weirdo 

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

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

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

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

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

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Fenty Gloss Bomb on the lips!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Even at an angle, these buddies like to stick together

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

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

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

CLĒ Cosmetics Melting Lip Powder(s)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eye makeup

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

 

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Two eyeshadows, one mascara – all three incredibly affordable.

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

Vendome Paris Beaute Pearl Eye Shade in Espresso

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

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

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

L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara 

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

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

Colourpop Super Shock Eyeshadow in Arrow 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Earrings are Maria Black Jewelry; necklaces are Ventrone Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love (& happy autumn!),

Sof ❤

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Nights – fun. 

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

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

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

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15-year-old Sofia was a strange bird.

808s & Heartbreak – Kanye West 

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

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

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

Pure Heroine – Lorde 

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

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

Harry Styles – Harry Styles

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

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

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

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

Depression Cherry – Beach House 

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

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

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

Blonde – Frank Ocean

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

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

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

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

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ANTI – Rihanna 

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Oooh. Yes.

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

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

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

Yeezus – Kanye West 

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

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

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

Mind of Mine – Zayn Malik 

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

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

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

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At arcades, blasting Mind of Mine.

Melodrama – Lorde 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5:30 a.m…..
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…9:30 p.m.
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A “Supercut”

Love,

Sof ❤

Mini Review: Glossier Super Pure Serum

Welcome to something new I thought I’d start doing: mini reviews. I tend to go overboard with the writing so I thought it’d be fun to focus on one product, say what I love (& why) & post it up! Less work to read, but just as much of an opinion. More to come soon!

I try to be as forthright as I can about the Glossier products I do & do not like. I’m a rep, so I know some people are suspicious as to whether I’m being honest; I get that! That’s why I’ve done articles comparing The Ordinary’s serums to the Glossier Supers (serums).

In many previous posts, I’ve mentioned how well Super Pure works for me. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something in this little crystal-blue vial that works in mysterious & wonderful ways.

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I bought The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum, which is supposed to be the closest thing to Glossier’s Super Pure – they both have main ingredients of zinc & niacinamide.

But. But! The two do not work exactly alike. Like I’ve mentioned before, a lot of The Ordinary’s serums are tacky/sticky, & tend to dry down rather uncomfortably. This isn’t an issue with their Hyaluronic Acid, or their Ascorbyl Glucoside 12%, or even their Lactic Acid 5% (which I adore) – but for some reason, the consistency of the Niacinamide + Zinc serum makes me shiver.

What do these ingredients do? Well, niacinamide brightens & clarifies, & reduces blemishes & congestion in the skin. Zinc helps balance the skin, getting rid of excess sebum. That’s the point of both the Glossier & The Ordinary serums with these ingredients: clarifying, balancing.

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Like I said, though – these two are not the same. The Ordinary’s dries down tacky & often dries out my skin if used for too many days in a row. Super Pure has a water-gel consistency that dries down without a hint of tackiness. There’s no tingle, no burn – it’s incredible for sensitive skin. & yes, it manages to keep my skin clear – that’s its first purpose, of course. It also keeps my skin hydrated, reduces redness (especially under my nose) & works incredibly well in the mornings to reduce inflammation or breakouts that are already there. Plus – there’s no fragrance, so if any of you are sensitive to scents (including chemical ones) you may have found a really good fit.

My point? Some things can be duped, & some cannot. In my opinion, it’s impossible to dupe Super Pure – & while it’s about 4.5 times more expensive than The Ordinary serum, I’m willing to pay the price. I have other products I can dupe, but this just isn’t one of them.

How do I use Super Pure? One dropper-full patted into my face every morning – never more than once a day. This regular, every-day usage results in me having to replace it every month & a half or so. But again – I don’t mind. It works, I have no problems with it, & it continues to be replaced. I even have a backup – & when I have backups, I know it’s good. Really good.

FullSizeRender.jpg-23FullSizeRender.jpg-21Glossier’s Supers were the first serums I ever tried. I had always been confused as to what to do with them – or how to use them. Face masks are easy, right? Find one for your skin type, slather it on, leave for 20 minutes, rinse, then go on with life. Not so with serums. They’re not so user-friendly, & it can take some real research to find ones that work for your skin type.

Glossier made serums easy & accessible for me – & while I’ve found dupes for two of the Supers, Super Pure continues to remain a favorite, & I will stand by it loyally until someting better comes along…& honestly? I doubt that anything will.

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Get the Super Pack for $65 & save $19 here…or just try Super Pure on its own here. Or – get none of them! Your choice. 

What’s your favorite serum (or serums)?

Love,

Sof

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

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

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

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask – $25

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

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

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

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

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask -$20

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

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

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

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

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

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Lip Balms

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

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

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

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

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WINKWINK CALM Mask – $40 (*PR-gifted)

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

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

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

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The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 – $6.80

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Milk Makeup Holographic Stick in "Mars" - $28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday Skin Featherweight Daily Moisturizing Cream – $47

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Sof ❤

The Ordinary: Are They Dupes? Are They Not? Are They Good? Here’s My Thoughts:

“Have you tried it?” “Does it work?” “So cheap!” “There are dupes for everything!!!

The things being said in the opening questions are most likely about the line called The Ordinary. You’ve probably heard of it in the past half year or so, right?

DECIEM, a larger brand that carries several lines – all have different prices & effects. DECIEM by itself is described as “The Abnormal Beauty Company.” They carry one called Foundation & White RX, to name a few. Their most popular, however, is The Ordinary.

If you haven’t heard of The Ordinary by now, I might be a little surprised. I’m not quite sure how DECIEM pulled this off, but with virtually zero online/paper advertisements, The Ordinary became a cult-favorite line in the skin care community. Serums for $5! Oils for $7! DECIEM “Monkeys” (customer service employees) help you map out a personalized skin routine over email – for free. No one could figure out the catch. It seems that there is none. It’s good for beginners; good for old-timers, too.

I was introduced to The Ordinary thanks to an anonymous message on my Tumblr, telling me I should check out the brand’s prices. I was intrigued, of course – who can resist claims of $5 serums?! – but skeptical. I kept my distance for a while – but everyone else was way ahead of me. I watched the photos of these little bottles whisk down my Instagram feed. I tried to figure out what their “Advanced Retinoid” meant. Then…I started to hear that some products carried by The Ordinary contained some of the same (almost exact) ingredients as the Glossier Supers (Glossier’s famous trio of serums released last September).

Look – I love Glossier! (Duh) & I love using their products. But…no one can ever say no to trying a dupe that might be better than the real…right?

Still, I balked. I just didn’t feel like it. & then I got some Sephora sample rewards one day, & discovered Sunday Riley’s Good Genes. I was (obviously) floored…the results were incredible & an overnight difference was evident.

Buttt…Good Genes is over $100 for a not-very-big-bottle. I don’t have $100+ to spend on a single product. I wish I did! But I don’t. So, I started doing my research. I figured out what lactic acid was, what it did, & what it didn’t do.

A few months later, I was doing my nightly routine, browsing online as I waited for a mask to finish… & I came across (& read a review) of the Lactic Acid 5% on Into The Gloss – a serum I’d been happily using for over 2 months!

When ITG says it’s good, it’s good. When the Lactic Acid 5% got the ITG stamp of approval, I decided to give some others a go. I decided to get the Super Pure & Super Bounce “dupes” – as well as something completely unique.

Without further ado, here’s the list of products by The Ordinary that I already own; I’ll include a small wish list at the bottom & explain why each would be a good choice for my skin

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5%+ HA 2% /Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%

I first bought the Lactic Acid because of my sad inability to regularly purchase something like Sunday Riley Good Genes. I quickly became grateful I’d found out about this product – even if I knew nothing about Good Genes.

The serums are either light yellow or a dusty brown rose color; the 5% is paler because it is less concentrated. Both have a gel-like consistency – not watery at all. It’s something I like putting between my hands then gently patting into my skin, kind of like an essence.

The serum smells rather odd – plastic-y yet sweet? – & has a tacky consistency even after it’s dried. That’s the only thing I don’t like about the serum(s); bad smells don’t matter to me – as long as a product works, it’s fine!

I noticed brighter, fresher skin & fading dark spots & scars. This got better as time went on. As with all acidic products, I take extra time to ensure that my face (& body) are protected. Remember – AHAs & other peeling products make your face more sun-sensitive!!!

After I used about 3/4 of the 5% serum, I decided to go for the stronger one to see if it would make a difference. I should say: I don’t think it does. The 10% is slightly more jelly-like in texture, & is a darker color. It might tingle a bit more, too The end result, however, is exactly the same as I have seen using my 5%.

I’ve gotten many questions as to whether the 5% vs 10% have different/better results. I’d have to go with no. perhaps, if your skin is less sensitive or oily-type, you could go for the 10% to start off – it might penetrate more easily. For me, however, I saw no difference in the strengths, & next time I refill, I’ll probably go with 5% again. It feels the same, is gentler on my skin, & I can’t notice a difference in results. All good!

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The two Lactic Acids. Excellent – but one is not better than the other

The AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution/ “The Vampire Facial”

 Described as a “10-minute peeling solution,” you may have seen this on various Instagram stories – more as a joke, since it’s hard to take an attractive selfie with this stuff on your face; you’ll end up looking like you were in battle.

Despite all the blood/vampire jokes (seriously, make sure you’re wearing something you don’t mind getting stained, just in case) this stuff works. It may be a great introduction to those curious about products like the Herbivore Blue Tansy Mask, or the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial – but those who don’t want to spend $40-80 just out of curiousity.

If you’re looking for a cheap, effective resurfacing masque, this one might be the one for you.

I will say it feels more intense on the skin as opposed to the Herbivore or Drunk Elephant products – & the results aren’t necessarily as good. Still – when I use this, I look & feel brighter/softer in the following days. I just have to be careful to leave it on for only ten minutes (the stuff burns) & to wash all of it off. When using this masque, I only find it necessary to use once a week. It’s that tingly! It can also be a bit drying. If you have dry/sensitive skin, I wouldn’t say it’s a product that gets a hard “no” – I’d just say tread carefully!

This product has barely any scent to it, & the liquid, although thick & gel-like in texture, dries down on the face very quickly. The only two things truly noticeable about the product are its color – & its burning (yet) effective sensation.

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I said “vampire”….
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….& I meant it. If you are squeamish to blood…this one may not be for you. Still, don’t worry – only needs to stay on 10 minutes

 Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

This was what everyone was telling me to get as a replacement to my Glossier Super Bounce. I’ll admit it – I was doubtful at first. Eventually, however, curiosity took the better of me & I ordered a vial about 2 weeks ago.

Firstly: oh boy, is it great!!!

Secondly: I feel like a fool not to have purchased this earlier.

This serum is truly great – probably my favorite thing by The Ordinary that I’ve tried. It has no scent to it – it’s just cooling, hydrating, soothing – I could go on. It has a slight tackiness when it dries down, but I’ve found this to be the case with most (if not all) Ordinary products I’ve tried.

I had a bit of a reaction on my face last week & I cut my routine down to the essentials…I added this on, however. I’m convinced my face calmed & cooled down more quickly because of this product. If a Glossier Super can be duped, this is the dupe for Super Bounce Serum. Good product, good quantity, low pricetag.

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Cooling, scentless, & hydrating – worth every (less-than-$7) penny

 Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Again, I was told, another perfect Glossier dupe – this time for Super Pure Serum. Some of you may know that Glossier’s Super Pure Serum is something I use every day, no matter what – it’s a holy grail for me, it’s improved my skin exponentially – so I was doubtful when someone told me that this serum was a dupe for it. I was also curious. Super Pure is $28, right? If a $6.80 serum felt the same as Super Pure, & had the same results, I’d certainly be reconsidering my favorites. So – I got it. & I used it for a week straight.

First impressions: same texture as super pure: a watery gel. There was no strong scent to it; no overpowering chemical scent. It feels very cooling & refreshing when first applied.

Then – & this is what I don’t like about the serum – it dries down tacky.

This is the big difference between Super Pure & Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Yes, they contain an extremely similar list of ingredients. But the Ordinary’s “dupe” dries down tacky, & doesn’t reduce inflammation or redness as well as Super Pure does, in my opinion. It’s also slightly drying – Super Pure never dries out my skin. That was another thing to consider. While this is a great clarifying serum, it is more drying than Glossier Super Pure & it does not reduce redness as well. I think by itself, it’s a good serum…but it’s not close enough to the Glossier Super Pure to be called a dupe. Dupes are supposed to perform almost identically to the original product. In my opinion, this one does not. If you want a dupe for a Glossier Super, go for The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid – it’s a great dupe for Super Bounce.

So…let’s go back to the question I’ve been getting all the time lately: “What do you think of The Ordinary?”

I think they’re an amazing company. They’ve grown exponentially in a very short time. They’ve kept their prices lowest of the low. This allows “skin care newbies” to feel comfortable. It’s very intimidating when you’re new to skin care & only see talk about products that are over $40. The Ordinary is a great source for those new to the skin care scene because of their inexpensive yet effective products.

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The supposed Glossier Super Pure “dupe” – good, but different. I’m sticking with Super Pure – might add this one in, though

It’s also great for people who’ve been “into” skin care forever. Who can say no to a bottle of 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oilfor less than ten dollars?

 I would recommend The Ordinary as a brand to anyone – & I often do just that. I would, however, advise you to regard The Ordinary as their own brand. Might you find some dupes for more expensive products? Absolutely! But don’t expect everything to be a copy. I think The Ordinary is very focused on its own message. You don’t to be looking for a dupe to shop their products. They will provide you with quality skin care (& customer service) no matter what. They’ll help you come up with your first-time skin care regimen…or help you refine/add to it. It’s just a great, affordable brand that’s been getting a lot of buzz – for very, very good reason.

What’s on my wish list for The Ordinary?

Well, as I type this, I am adding The Ordinary’s Rose Hip Seed Oil – the Marula Oil is also on my eye…as soon as it’s back in stock. Those are the two I have my eye on…especially the Marula. Drunk Elephant sells one for $70 – The Ordinary’s is under $10…which is why it’s always out of stock. A girl can dream, though!

Rose Hip Seed Oil reduces redness & calms inflammation – a great thing to have on any top shelf! I’m was using a Mario Badescu rosehip oil that was much more expensive than The Ordinary’s. I can’t wait to give this cheaper one a go – my sources say it’s incredible.

Like I said – I have absolutely nothing bad to say about The Ordinary! They provide quality service & products; they make everything easy to read/learn about on their site; they give good recommendations. They keep rolling out new products: their foundation drops were all the buzz about a month ago, & they’re coming out with some very cool-looking Vitamin C products that I’m very excited for. Because of all this buzz, shipping can be slow – especially when a new product drops. It can take up to two weeks to get a product.

Once I noticed Beautylish was carrying The Ordinary, I started shopping that brand through Beautylish. Shipping is slightly faster – but my favorite thing about Beautylish x The Ordinary? The stickers that come with every order (as seen in cover image). A small sheet contains labels like “1” “2” or “3.” Some say “Niacinamide” or “Vitamin C.” It’s great for someone trying to build a regimen who has trouble keeping track of the steps to their skin care. It’s great for me too – I’m a Glossier aficionado, after all. Who doesn’t like free stickers with a skin care order?

Love,

Sof ❤

What Ordinary products have you tried? What are you thinking of trying? Are there any favorites – or hates? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

High & Low – My Favorites of Each

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

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

Drunk Elephant Babyfacial – $80

 

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

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

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Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream – $46

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

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

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

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

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The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% – $6.79

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

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

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

Love,

Sof ❤

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