#MaskMonday: Sephora Collection Lotus Face Mask

We all know I love face masks, and the standbys from Sephora are no exception.  We’ve tried out the Rose Mask and toned with the Ginseng Mask.  Now, I have a confession to make: I enjoyed the Lotus Mask back in May for Mother’s Day, but it wasn’t until this Father’s Day Weekend that I remembered — I needed to share it with you guys!

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My garden needs a little refreshing, as well.

The Lotus Mask refreshes tired skin, and by the advent of May I was feeling exhausted and my skin knew it.  I’m pretty sure I stopped using moisturizer in the mornings at this point, because I was too tired to follow my skincare routine.  I’ll pause while you gasp in horror.

When I pressed on the mask and leaned back into my pillow, my skin instantly relaxed and sent me a whispered ‘Thank You’ for the care it was receiving.  After 15 minutes, my face was smooth, refreshed, and calm.  My new summer promise to myself is that I will get back into the #MaskMonday routine.  Have you tried a mask lately that I need to look into?

Wet ‘N Wild Beauty POP! Collection

Since school just ended, imagine both my delight and horror (please stay forever, summer) when Wet ‘N Wild announced their limited edition “Back to School” POP ART! ColorIcon Collection.  This collection includes five lip gloss shades (POP!), two choices of false lashes (POW!), and matching nail polish (BOOM!).

My magic eight ball tells me that this collection will be sold out long before back-to-school crosses the minds of teachers or students everywhere.  I ventured to my lonely Walgreens in super-suburbia, and the collection’s display was pretty small and already close to selling out.  I snagged the last lip gloss in each shade to try out.

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These gloss formulations remind me of the NARS Andy Warhol collection from 2012, except the two purple shades modernize the needs of trendy lip smackers everywhere.  The red has a pink undertone that is sure to be universally flattering, and the coral can almost pass as a summer nude.  Each lipgloss broke the bank at only $1.99 each (and oddly enough, one of the purples rang in at a mere $0.96 …. not sure why?)  Under $10 for an entire lip gloss collection — why are you still reading this?  GO! GO! GO!

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Which is your favorite?

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Check out my full adventure on Youtube (including swatches),  and let me know if you get your hands on these!

#MaskMonday: Farmacy Hydrating Coconut Gel Mask

Yay!  Winter is over, and with Spring comes the luxury of making some moves with skin care, especially hydration.  For this #MaskMonday, I was able to try Farmacy’s Hydrating Coconut Gel Mask.  The brand has an entire coconut line; this particular mask is ‘Soothing’ – thanks to the power of kale!  Just like the Exfoliating Grains that I tried back in October, Farmacy once again did not disappoint.

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Echinacea = supports natural collagen!

This mask is ideally suited for ‘stressed, tired skin’.  Ding, ding, ding!  That’s my past month in a nutshell.  We went through a cold, dry spell here in Virginia, and it sucked every ounce of moisture from my skin.  I applied this gel mask and I took a deep soak in the tub.

This is actually the first time I’ve tried a gel mask (we all know about my sheet mask obsession; mud discovery; cream mask phase….)  The directions call for a two-step process: remove a blue fabric layer, apply mask to skin, and then remove the outer layer. The blue tone seemed to permeate the entire mask (which was incredibly saturated with product, so they company definitely doesn’t skimp) so I simply removed both sides, applied the gel mask from the middle, and had no issues with application.  I found that the mask definitely stayed in place better than some fabric masks, which was a plus for multi-tasking.

As far as smell, there is a light scent upon application, but no smell during use.  I was actually pleasantly surprised by this, and anticipated that it would perhaps have a coconut aroma.  I even prepared a coconut candle to enhance the experience!

Overall, my skin was brighter, tighter, and my pores were minimized.  At $24 for 3 masks, it’s definitely worth picking up a set the next time you’re at Sephora.  That’s $8/mask, which is comparable to the Sephora brand, and quite a steal for the quality.  I’ve already restocked.

Have you tried any of the masks from Farmacy?  Any other gel mask recommendations?

 

 

The Art of War … Err, Shopping

I went to war, and I came out victorious.

Let’s rewind a bit, and you will understand.  Grab some tea, it’s story time.

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This started as a Wednesday like any other.  Except not, because it was a Snow Day, so there was no early morning alarm.  I leisurely arose around 7:30am, tended to breakfast, to chores, to social media.  Met my husband for an Indian buffet at lunch.  We parted ways shortly before 1pm, he to return to the office, unsuspecting of the events his wife would face in a mere fifteen minutes.  I jokingly responded to his query about how the rest of the day would unfold: ‘Oh, you know, walking around Starbucks’.  Starbucks is in our mall.  We all knew that was Agent-speak for ‘covert shopping operation underway.’

As I pulled into the parking lot at Fashion Square, I had a different motive in mind than what would transpire.  I did indeed mean to stroll to Starbucks, follow up my chicken curry with a hibiscus tea, and mosey down to Sephora.  My goal: a sample of the Kat Von D Lock-It concealer; I wasn’t sure which shade I needed.  The winter season under-eye struggle is real.

As the coffee kiosk came into view, it was clear that everyone wanted some of Seattle’s finest.  Briefly debating whether or not to Mobile Order in the stealthiest of line jumps, I decided instead to walk past Charlotte Russe.  I haven’t actually purchased anything from the store in the past decade, but I’m on the hunt for the perfect slip dress.  I’m also on a Smart Buy, so I felt like it might be a safe investment were I to find one there.  What is a Smart Buy, you ask?  It’s essentially a No Buy, but my husband knows that a No Buy leads to me breaking down and purchasing something extravagant, like $300 worth of planner stickers at Michael’s, or a $600 rabbit fur vest (it’s the bomb).  With a Smart Buy, I’m allowed mini-purchases with minimal judgment, and we’re both happier for it.

As I disappointedly strolled through the high school club mecca that Charlotte Russe has become, I heard murmurs of excitement in the atrium and went to investigate.  Oh, looks like NY&Co is having a sale.  Well, I’ll just do a jaunt around the store like I usually do, risk free.  Enter —- WAR ZONE.

As soon as I stepped through the door scanners, I saw the sign.  Everything was $2.  Not $2 and up, or divided by discounted sections.  Everything.  Was.  $2.  Upon this realization – confirmed by overhearing a young girl ask a grandmotherly figure if the hundreds of signs declaring this could indeed be accurate – my shopping soldier gear immediately kicked in, and I scanned the perimeter.

Most of the women seemed to be struggling over racks of costume jewelry, camis, and scarves.  I, however, was raised on public broadcasting and American game shows, so I immediately initiated a battle plan.  Quick, what are the highest-priced items in NY&Co based on RTV?  In supermarket showdowns, it’s meat.  In fashion retail, it’s outerwear, blazers, and pants.  The outerwear was nowhere in sight, but I quickly spotted some blazers being ignored.  Grab.  Grab.  Off to the side, high up on the ceiling hooks, were trousers and runway-cut pants.  Jump.  Jump.  Secure.  Then into the trenches – the dress racks.  Several women were cooing over maxi dresses.  Amidst the chaos, I spotted an $89 jumper that I had eyed in a window but would never pay retail for (there’s a reason everything is marked down – the store is going out of business, remember?)  Now’s the chance.  Bam!  And then….

…Like a soldier who spots the #1 enemy operative on the battlefield, I spied a corner of Eva Mendes for NY&Co items.  Would I wear bright orange & lime green sheath dresses in my everyday life?  Debatable.  But they were $2.  These $90 dresses were virtually risk-free.  They were a Smart Buy.  Yet, there was an obstacle in the way.  The victory was not mine yet.  A mother with a 13-month old toddler was slowly going through the rack.  Having watched Kerry Washington in The Americans, however, I knew what to do: ‘Oh, he’s so cute!  He’s around a year old isn’t he?  My youngest daughter turned 1 in December’ Nudge closer…nudge closer.  ‘Hi there, little cutie.’  Toddler runs further away, just like I wanted him to.  ‘Aww, he’s so sweet’  Mother makes small talk while sauntering after the toddler, now on the run.  Hoo-rah!

I beamed as I secured the final victory.  I turned to go to check-out when….what?!?  The line stretched out the door.  Securing the items was only part one of this battle plan.  Next came survival.  I joined a line of about twenty other women, and much was to transpire over the next two hours.

If you’ve ever held 30 items of clothing (many of them jeans) bundled haphazardly in your arms for two hours, you know how it goes.  Everything is okay to begin with.  Then the burns starts in your shoulders.  You reposition, but perhaps that was a mistake.  Then you do the squat.  You look like a turtle, but everyone understands.  Man, I should have went with the Starbucks.  But no!  Because with Starbucks I would only have one hand, and this was a two-handed, arms-all-in mission.  Carry on, shopper!

Then women in front of you start looking at their watches.  They’re late for work.  Their bosses are phoning.  They have 3pm meetings.  They might be fired.  Is an armful of $2 scarves worth it?  For some, yes.  For a few, no.  They break ranks.  The line creeps forward.  The woman behind you starts motivationally speaking: ‘You’ve came this far, don’t give up.  It will be worth it.  You won’t regret this.’  She has one cardigan.  Surely you can hang on for shopper kind everywhere.  Your loot is worth more.

Then, magically, the women in line band together and realize that time would be optimized if we took the items off of the hangers.  The cashier is having to do this on her own, and it’s tripling the time it takes for each customer to ring up their stash.  Teamwork begins in the trenches.

Around this time, the ‘friend who was hanging out at a different mall location’ saunters in, towards the front of the line, to chat up her soldier-friend.  Someone notices that she has items in her hand.  Someone interprets this to be an illegal line jump.  Someone loudly starts an altercation, pointing out that we have all waited two hours for our prizes, and no one is going to unfairly jump in line and make that 2.5 hours.  The other women look down at their feet, silently removing themselves from the fight, but all the while cheering the confrontation.  It’s okay, war changes people.

More people leave for work, after making it to the coveted ‘Top 5’ spots in line.  The rest of the line looks on with pity as they make their loop of shame, although silently rejoicing at the quarter-hour it might have shaved from their wait-time.

I finally reached the counter.  While standing there, the stifling hot air of the trenches is lifted.  You feel free – for freedom is near.  The cashier begins to ring up the piles of clothing.  She wears a fatigued look on her face, but her eyes express thankfulness at the lack of hangers with which to contend.  If only she didn’t have to remove each security tag.  The register crawls slowly along.  Finally, the last item.  $79.  $81.90 with tax.  The neighboring registers ooze with a similar conversation. ‘How much did you spend?’ ‘$48.’  ‘You got all that for $48??  That’s probably a cool thousand in merchandise.’  I make a mental check to calculate RTV as part of my Smart Buy conversation with the husband.

The exit walk is not one of shame, but of glory.  As those in line make eye-contact, you can feel the looks of pride that they share.  You made it through the line.  In doing so, your walk also signifies forward movement of their own.  You are their hope – you waited in the trenches; they can do it!

When I returned home, exhausted, with heaping bags tearing under the weight of war booty, I did calculate the RTV.  I snagged $2416 worth of clothing for $81.  I went to war, and I came out victorious.

#TryItTuesday: Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Radiance Lotion

I always have amazing results with Fresh products.  I first tried Fresh’s Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask last January, and it remains one of my all-time-favorites.  So I knew I needed to give a slot in #TryItTuesday to a newer Fresh product, the Lotus Youth Preserve Radiance Lotion.  This line from Fresh is infused with the brand’s ‘Super 7 Complex’, which protects and illuminates skin.  Since January’s resolution has been all about ditching dryness, it seemed to fit right in.

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Combat winter depression by taking a moment to BREATHE and pamper yourself

What does the brand claim?  Fresh describes this lotion as a ‘light-weight daily formula’ that delivers ’24-hour moisture’.  They suggest that after cleansing, you ‘apply a thin veil on the face and neck’ and say that it can be used ‘daily, morning and night’.

Thoughts on cost?  Full-size, this product is $33 for 1 oz, which is actually really great for a product from such a sought-after brand.  If you’re in the product for a light moisturizer, this might definitely be for you.  I recently discovered the benefits of using a moisturizer that comes in a pump (vs a jar), so bonus points for that design.

Thoughts on smell?  This has a nice, light odor, very similar to cucumber.  The one downside to my current moisturizer is that it has more of a clinical smell (even though it goes away as soon as the moisturizer absorbs), and I’d definitely make the switch with only a $7 cost differential.

Do you need to use it twice a day?  This is what Fresh recommends, but I find that incorporating it into my morning routine is enough for me because it really does hydrate for 24-hours (unbelievable, right?).  I stick to night creams for the bedtime routine.

Chances of a full-size purchase: 4 out of 5.  I don’t think this is something I need right away, because I am happy with my current product, but when it’s time for a refill I think I’ll make the switch.

Have you tried the Lotus Youth Preserve Radiance Lotion?  What are your thoughts?  Do you use a different moisturizer I should try?

Elevate your Drugstore Experience

I recently had the chance to try the new COVERGIRL Plumply Mascara by BlastPRO and new COVERGIRL Colorlicious Oh Sugar!  I’m not, by any means, a noob when it comes to mascaras from the brand.  In July, they sent me the SuperSizer mascara, and I was quite happy with the results.  Sometime in the fall, though, I switched over to Benefit’s RollerLash, which was a little underwhelming, so now’s the perfect time to again spice up my routine.  2016 is a year of discovery!

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You might have heard that the East Coast is experiencing a Snowpocalypse of sorts.  My overhead lighting went out, but let’s work with what we’ve got…..

Not only am I switching my products for 2016, COVERGIRL is undertaking a major revision of their offerings.  Without raising prices, they are utilizing premium ingredients, elevating their design, and upgrading packaging.  It’s hard to pin-point a difference between this ‘drugstore’ brand and the products you’re going to find at Sephora or department store beauty counters.

The real win for me with the mascara – aside from the fact that the wand doesn’t touch product until you want it to – is its ability to actually create voluminous lashes.  The problem I’d been having with my everyday mascara was that it was clumping without giving me any color benefits.  This mascara enhances your natural lashes in much the same way you might experience a lip plumping gloss.  Stupendous.  (They claim that it provides 50X more volume….I’m unsure how you could really measure that, but it’s certainly not hyperbole to say you are guaranteed lashes that look both darker and fuller.  And really, that’s all you need.)

The color of my lipstick – Cinnamon – is striking in itself.  Moreso, I loved that it works as a nourishing, vitamin-infused lip balm.  So many matte shades dry the lips, which is heightened by the wintry weather.  I need something to moisturize and heal my lips while providing color-payoff, and this is it.  The ingredient list reads like a skin moisturizer:  grapeseed oil, avocado butter, Vitamins C & E….

So don’t be afraid to save some change & revamp your routine with some drugstore products from COVERGIRL.  Have you tried either of these beauty finds?  Let me know your thoughts.

#MaskMonday: Extended Weekend Edition

I’ve essentially had a four-day weekend, although it has been jam-packed with home necessities and chores, but irregardless I am unprepared to return to the daily grind tomorrow morning.  I know that I won’t be able to enjoy a similar respite until April perhaps, so I wanted to make the most of this #MaskMonday and truly relax.  I also realized that my last #MaskMonday post was in July; rest assured that this was not due to a lapse in mask indulgence – I was merely repeating several of my favorite masks, such as the Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask.

My January goal has been to Ditch Dry Skin, and a recent winter sickness has sucked the moisture from my face.  Luckily, I’ve had good results with the Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Cotton Sheet Mask.  It’s very similar in application to the Sephora masks, but I find the quality to be far superior.  In fact, it was an Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner for 2015.

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The hubby gifted me this bamboo bath tray for Christmas, and it is a DREAM.  I don’t know how I managed without it.  Candle: Malin & Gotz.  Far left: Stardust Bath Bomb from Lush.

The directions recommend that you apply the mask for 15-20 minutes, and then massage excess serum into your skin.  I found myself wrapped up in a Drew Barrymore’s ‘Wildflower’, so I left it on for extra time.  I think the best result from the mask is that it hydrates the eye area, which is normally problematic for me.

This is the first Dr. Jart mask that I’ve tried, but I’d say it’s a definite win.  Cost is $7.50 for one mask, but if you’re lucky you can find a 5-pack for $32.  I’ve heard some buzz surrounding the brand’s hydrogel masks – I haven’t tried any gel masks before, so I might add those to my wish-list.

Have you used any Dr. Jart masks?  What are your thoughts?  Any other faves that I need in my life?

 

New Hues for 2016 with butterLondon

Is it too early to start working on an eye look for Valentine’s Day?  Spring?  I can’t help myself.  In doing so, I’ve been playing around with some eye shadows from butterLondon.

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Clutch Shades: Linen, Citrine, Quartz, Camel, Leather, Camo

I’ve been a huge fan of butterLondon nail lacquers for quite a while now.  In fact, they’re pretty much the only brand I use, because of the vivid colors, amusing names, and high-quality chip protection.  I’m sure you’ve seen a butterLondon color pop up in my monthly Instagram faves a few times.

I hadn’t strayed into the butterLondon makeup game until recently.  (But as I type this, I’m looking at a drawer full of LIPPY and WINK products, so you could say I dove right in).  I received these particular shadows before the holidays, but I had put them aside on the way out the door for a cross-country wedding trip and only recently came back to them.

I love the concept of the ShadowClutch.  This is more than just pretty packaging (which, let’s face it, we all are suckers for).  This clutch is actually customizable.  So not only is it eye-candy, I can make it functional.  It currently holds the ‘Natural Charm’ palette, which includes six primer-infused (woohoo, skip THAT step), oil absorbing, skin-balancing shadows.  The clutch also holds its own dual-ended brush, which is fantastic, because I always get overwhelmed when traveling with brushes.

I’ve been mixing the neutral tones with two Wardrobe Duos: Moody Blues (which is wonderful if you’re trying to accentuate Pantone’s ‘Serenity’ hue) and ‘Fancy Flutter’.  My recommendation would be to snag ‘Up All Night’, which has a nice black shade that would enhance a smoky eye, or even ‘Sassy Pants’ (I say this because I created a wonderful purple smoky eye and I’m not sure if there’s any going back).  You can view these colors here.

Check out my Instagram for photos of my looks, and let me know if you’ve tried any butterLondon products.  Which are your faves?

Innovative Primer Options for 2016

If you’re going to take the time for cosmetic application, chances are that you hope the finished product will at least make it through the day.  An excellent primer is the go-to way to ensure your flawless finish lasts from 9-5.

I talk about primers all of the time on the blog.  And I’m also not a newbie to Smashbox; you might remember my successful foray into the Smashbox primer world in 2014.  But I’ve started sampling three Smashbox primer products that are worth raving about:

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The first primer pair was a Black Friday grab, part of the Art. Love. Color. collaboration with breakthrough artist Yago Hortal.  This set included Photo Finish Primer Water and Photo Finish Foundation Primer.

The primer water came as a 0.16 f. oz. sample, which is not bad for a $5 deal.  Full-size it is $16 for 1 oz or $32 for 3.9 oz.  The water is silicone-free, alcohol-free, and oil-free.  I usually gravitate to gel or cream primers, but there was something so effortless about spritzing this on, and you could feel it hydrating the skin.  It’s also light enough to use at the end of your make-up routine as a setting spray.  Less to travel with = win-win.

The foundation primer worked just as well.  The sample size was 0.25 fl oz; full size is $36 for 1 oz, $49 for 1.7 oz (Value Size), or $16 for 0.5 fl oz.  (Since the pair was only $10, I think I really lucked out compared to the normal travel size).  As with the primer water, it is oil-free.  Using just the tiniest bit will blur fine lines and ensure smooth foundation application.  If you own one product from Smashbox, it should be this.

The third primer product is new to the brand: Photo Finish Primer Oil.  I received a 0.13 fl. oz. sample as a VIB perk from Sephora.  It packs all of the benefits of the primer pair, but also claims to increase your skin’s natural moisture within 4 weeks if applied morning and night.  I’ve only been using it for a few days, but I do feel the difference.  You can purchase the 1 oz size for $42.  The full-size comes with a dropper, which is definitely a bonus.  This might be the Holy Grail product for ditching dry winter skin, at least as far as your skin face is concerned.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of these three options, or if you’re using a different primer option as we start 2016!

New Year’s Resolution: Ditch Dry Skin

Maybe it’s the crazy weather cycle this year, maybe it’s the time spent indoors in a dry environment – whatever the case, I seem to be experiencing dry skin more this year than in winter’s past.  So my New Year’s Resolution #1: get rid of it.

Sure, there’s moisturizers and balms and so on and so forth, but after having success last year with epsom salt baths, I decided to dive into the world of salt body scrubs.

This idea didn’t completely come out of the blue.  I began using a lip scrub from Lush last year, and determined that true healing can’t happen without the important first step of exfoliation.  Isn’t that what ditching dry skin is all about – not just getting rid of the desert patches but rehydrating and rejuvenating?

So I found this wonderful-smelling salt body scrub from Philosophy: Candied Pecan (yum!).  You can use it in the shower or the bath, and I actually prefer the bath because it’s nice to double-up on the epsom if you’re so inclined.

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As the scrub exfoliates, the hard skin gives way to moist skin underneath.  Basically, you’re both increasing circulation and unclogging pores – leaving a pure, healthy glow.  I find that it evens out my skin tone and gives a nice, youthful vitality that I am desperately clinging to: since 2016 means 30 is just a mere 9 months away.

A bonus is that the Candied Pecan scent is hubby-approved, but I have a feeling that’s going to significantly decrease its lifespan.  Do you have a salt body scrub that you’re currently using?