Sunday, January 14, 2018

January 2018 Brand Focus: Smashbox

My next post will be back to an actual product review, but I wanted to share a look into my vanity this month- and my thoughts on this brand focus intiaitve I've undertaken.

I've decided to challenge myself in 2018 to become more familiar with brands I just haven't tried much from. It was the Shadow & Highlight Palette set from Holiday 2017 that piqued my interest in Smashbox.

My history with the brand has been meh at best. I've previously used up an entire 24 Hour Photo Finish Eyeshadow Primer and loved it. I'm on my second bottle of Photo Finish Primer Water. I bought the L.A. Lights Palette for holiday 2016 and don't use it. It's unweildy and not a formula I've liked.

One of the reasons why I haven't been posting is that I'm not not testing different products every day. As of today I've got 14 primer-type products (face and eyes), one foundation, one concealer, four Cover Shot eyeshadow palettes, two Photo Edit Eyeshadow trios, two Photo Op Eyeshadow Trios (yes, the old ones), one Photo Op Eyeshadow Single, one Always On Gel Liner, one mascara, a contour trio, one Spotlight Palette, one large blush/highlight palette, one soft Lights blush (yes, discontinued- unfortunately, this is the best product I've discovered yet!), one Always Sharp Lip Liner, two Always On Liquid Lipsticks, one Be Legendary Lip Gloss, seven Be Legendary Lipsticks, and one lipstick transformer that I'm currently testing. That's 43 products I'm mostly testing for the first time- with an Ulta run planned for later today because I got a coupon for $10 off a $30 Smashbox purchase. So that's where I've been.

I did purchase most of these at my local CCO- and more than I'd planned to originally- because of the crazy sales going on. Think 40% off of outlet prices... even on current items. For example, I purchased the Studio Skin Foundation yesterday at about 58% off of the current retail price. (That sale killed my resolve to not buy new foundation.... I left with two!)

I'm not going to try any powders from the brand due to the price and because I have powders that I already love.... and I'm fighting the urge to pick up some more liners, but that's a category I'm trying to seriously reduce in my stash.

I hope you're also having a wonderful day... I'll be back this week with some actual reviews since I've been using some of these daily for two weeks already now and I feel ok to do so.

Monday, January 8, 2018

2018: Let's Get Real

It's been a full week into 2018, and to be honest... until tonight I hadn't had the urge to blog. Ironically, this was my first day back in the office; two full weeks at home would've given ample blogging opportunities.

But 2018 is about being real. With myself, and with this space. I find myself again at that impasse where I'm worrying about purchasing enough items to have new content, looking at a giant pile of makeup, facing some seriously rotten comments that I won't approve... and I lack motivation.

So, I'm going to share with you a bit of a ramble- and what I've resolved to do- what I've resolved not to do. So far, I've done well with not breaking any of these.



In 2018....

I will be kinder to myself.

I will use this space as a way to express myself. My product photos may not always be pristine because I will use products when I want, instead of creating a depressing mound of "to photograph/to swatch" items.

I won't be a daily blogger.

I won't allow people to come to my online home and insult me, my life choices, or generally talk down to me. Negativity has driven me away before, and I won't allow it to do it now.

I won't go on a low or no buy, but I will be more mindful of my spending. Example: I dropped tiers at Nordstrom this year, and I'm ok with it.  I'll make VIB Rouge, but the goal is for that to happen after the Spring sale, not in February or March like most other years. Inevitably, I'll also make Ulta's new Diamond level- but I'm not gonna stress about it.

I will identify a number of products that are use or lose... and I've already purged one from my collection.

I will search out new brands- at least one per month, and reflect on my experiences in this space.


On the sillier end, I'll share what my "beauty resolution" for this year is. Last year, it was purge 1000 items- which I totally did.  2016 was all about learning how to put on false lashes. In 2018, I've got two.


By the end of 2018, I want to use up all of those damn sample packets I have. I'm working hard on that already. The only exceptions are a couple I've put in my travel kit- and if I haven't traveled by December 15, I'll work on those, too.

By the end of 2018, I want to have used 365 sheet masks. Given that when I purchase, I buy at least 50 at a time and I have a drawer full (I should really count, right?), it seems a good way to figure out what I really like.  To be honest, I'm already behind. But I have ways of catching up... like using a HA mask before my AM skincare on a super cold day, etc. Eye masks totally count, too.

ETA: I've done the maths and I feel slightly sheepish. I'd like to reduce the size of my overall stash by about 80%, since I like to have specific types of masks on hand- HA, Red Wine, Tea Tree, a couple of primers, a couple of Vitamin Cs, a couple of Shea, a few eye masks, etc.  I knew my drawer was full.  I started 2018 with 262 masks on hand (none expired): 157 sheet- face, 11- lips, 3- foot, 1-hand, 86-eye. In theory, I could not buy a single mask and I'd finish what I own September 19th. I'll still get my staples, to be sure. Ay yi yi.

So, that's it for now... I've had so many false starts that I look forward to not burdening myself with deadlines.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Essence Advent Calendar 2017


Today I'm happy to be sharing yet another advent calendar that I did. Today is Essence's offering. It's 24 days and allegedly all full-sized products. I purchased mine from the Essence website, but when it was offered for 50% off the $39.99 retail price.


This had a cute interior design.


Each of the doors has an adorable saying in the inside.





Here's the breakdown by day:

Day One: Nail Buffer Block
Day Two: I Heart Trends Mini Nail Polish-Me & My Snowflake
Day Three: Longlasting Lipstick in 16 I Am Yours!
Day Four: Gift Bags
Day Five: Concealer & Makeup Sponges
Day Six: I Heart Extreme Mascara
Day Seven: I Heart Trends Mini Nail Polish- hohoho my love
Day Eight: Kajal Pencil in 01 Black
Day Nine: Pencil Sharpener
Day Ten: Gift Tags
Day Eleven: Balmy Kiss Moisturizing Lip Care
Day Twelve: Tweezers
Day Thirteen: Eyebrow Designer Pencil in 02 Brown
Day Fourteen: Nail Stickers
Day Fifteen: I Heart Trends Mini Nail Polish-the xmas nail story
Day Sixteen: All About Matt!  Fixing Setting Powder
Day Seventeen: Hand Cream (0.8 fl oz)
Day Eighteen: I Heart Trends Mini Nail Polish- Santa Clause's Surprise
Day Nineteen: Invisible Kiss Transparent Lipliner
Day Twenty:Matt Matt Matt lipstick in 05 Red-y or Not?
Day Twenty-One: Hair Ties
Day Twenty-Two: I Heart Trends Mini Nail Polish- Hello Nice to Glitter You
Day Twenty-Three: Hand tattoos
Day Twenty-Four: Mini hair brush

Here's a look at the nail polish:



And the makeup:


The holiday items:


The hair items:


And the other items:



Essence is a brand that I'm interested in diving deeper into, so this seemed like a good opportunity. I'll be honest, $40 seemed steep but I'm thrilled to have it at the $20 price point. I'd purchase in 2018 if I could get it at a similar price.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Target 12 Days of Beauty



Happy Boxing Day to those who celebrate- or, Day After Christmas to some of you, or December 26th to others. I'm going to continue with the rest of my Advent Calendars.  Next up, Target's 12 Days of Beauty- which retailed for $15.


I'll admit that this was a bit flimsy- see how the doors all wanted to rip off? This was an assortment of makeup, skincare and haircare.

Here's a closer look at the doors:


They each come with some info on the product, and some tips from Target's Beauty Advisers. I thought this was a nice touch.

Just as a warning, they made it quite clear what's inside on the back:


To make it easier on you...

Day One: Maybelline Great Lash Mascara
Day Two: elf Lip Exfoliator in Mint
Day Three: Hask Argan Oil Cream
Day Five: Pixi Glow Tonic
Day Six: Vichy Mineral 89 Face Moisturizer
Day Seven: NYX Bright Idea Illuminating Strip in Lavender Lust
Day Eight: Nexxus New York Humectress Intensely Hydrating Masque
Day Nine: Honest Beauty Everything Organic Facial Oil
Day Ten: Real Techniques Beauty Sponge
Day Eleven: Eyelure No. 31 Eyelashes
Day Twelve: Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash


I thought the products were really nicely sized


This is the only calendar that gave me a full-sized sponge and lashes, so that made it different from the rest- and somehow quite the value.

I like this calendar, and I may repurchase next year. I've always wanted to try the Pixi without investing, and between the Eyelure lashes and RT sponge you've almost got the value back. It's nice to see a range of Target brands.

These are also very generous samples- well, done Target!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Ciate London Mini Mani Month



I thought for the second Advent Calendar of this Christmas Day, I'd feature the Ciate London Mini Mani Month ($59, Sephora). This 24-day kit was all about nails- there's only one product that wasn't a mini polish. In total, there were 22 minis (2 topcoats), 1 full sized polish, and one mini nail file.



I'll be nabbing this (if the formula works on my hands) and the makeup advent calendar next year. It's clear that these UK brands get beauty advent calendars.



This is adorable- there were 24 mini boxes, each with a different saying on the back.



I'll be keeping a couple of them.



Yes, this is my motto.


Of course, I LOVE this one:



Now, if you're wondering, this is how the kit broke down:

Day One: Midnight  in Paris
Day Two: Cabaret
Day Three: Gelology Top Coat
Day Four:Part Time Mermaid
Day Five: Locket
Day Six: Moonlit Whispers
Day Seven: Beach Please!
Day Eight: Desert Lights
Day Nine: The Naked Truth
Day Ten: What the Shell?
Day Eleven:Cosmic Love
Day Twelve: Big Top
Day Thirteen: Moondust
Day Fourteen: Nail File
Day Fifteen: Palm Springs
Day Sixteen: Reign Supreme
Day Seventeen: Nail Superhero
Day Eighteen: Maybe Baby
Day Nineteen: After Party
Day Twenty: House of Mirrors
Day Twenty-One: Champagne Kisses
Day Twenty-Two: Roll Up, Roll Up
Day Twenty-Three: Mostly a Minx
Day Twenty-Four: Showtime (full size)

Here's the cremes:



The shimmers:



The glitters:



And the other products:



All in all, this is going to be a great way to get to know the brand.  Two thumbs up!

Yes, it's expensive but everything about this makes me interested in next year's version. And the makeup version.

NYX Lippie Countdown Advent Calendar 2017



Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! I'm happy to be sharing another of my advent calendars for Holiday 2017. Let's go drugstore with this one- this year's advent calendar from NYX Cosmetics.



Last year's calendar was also 24 days but was 12 eyeshadows and 12 lipsticks. I honestly didn't get much use out of any of it- but I was ready to try this year's version.


Welcome to the NYX Lippie Countdown, which originally retailed for $65- but was again an Ulta Black Friday deal for $29.99. NYX's lip line is so diverse that it was awesome to sample a bit of all of them.


Here's the contents of the calendar:


Now, here's a closer look at them, by day:

Day One: Matte Lipstick in Eden
Day Two: Liquid Suede in Soft Spoken
Day Three: Simply Vamp Lip Creme in She Devil
Day Four: Lip Lingerie in Push Up
Day Five: Soft Matte Lip Cream in Paris
Day Six: Butter Lipstick in Seashell
Day Seven: Intense Butter Gloss in Berry Strudel
Day Eight: Butter Gloss in Creme Brulee
Day Nine: Matte Lipstick in Up the Bass
Day Ten: Lip Lingerie in Corset
Day Eleven: Soft Matte Lip Cream in Sao Paolo
Day Twelve: Matte Lipstick in Indie Flick
Day Thirteen: Liquid Suede in Vintage
Day Fourteen: Butter Lipstick in Root Beer Float
Day Fifteen: Butter Gloss in Raspberry Tart
Day Sixteen: Lip Lingerie in Embellishment
Day Seventeen: Simply Red Lip Cream in Russian Roulette
Day Eighteen: Liquid Suede in Stone Fox
Day Nineteen: Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen
Day Twenty: Matte Lipstick in Shocking Pink
Day Twenty-One: Lip Lingerie in Exotic
Day Twenty-Two: Intense Butter Gloss in Tres Leches
Day Twenty-Three: Butter Gloss in Sugar Cookie
Day Twenty-Four: Butter Lipstick in Ripe Berry


Now, let's look at the contents a bit closer.


There are four matte lipsticks:


I've tried two of these so far- Eden and Up the Bass. Believe it or not, I've never tried the formula before.


The three Butter Lipsticks are a bit more mellow- and more my speed.


I keep reaching for Root Beer Float over and over- I have a feeling I'll be purchasing a full size before the year's up!


There are three Butter Glosses. I already love this formula.


Creme Brulee is my favorite by far.


The two Intense Butter Glosses couldn't be more different.


I think you all know which one I favor.


I wasn't impressed by these Lip Lingeries. Look how they swatch.



The Soft Matte Lip Creams were uneven as well.


Two of the three perform well.


Luckily my full size Paris performs better than this- and I didn't own the others before now.


The Liquid Suedes performed better.... but these aren't my colors.


Although the formula worked better, these are unique shades.

Lastly, there were two stick lipsticks.


They're nice, but they do move around.



Pros: Unlike last year, these are all lip products- and these are all generously sized.
Cons: Box spoils the surprise on the back (they're in order) and on the panels- you know the color family and finish just by looking at that day's door; I found the liquid lips to be really hard to swatch.

Would I buy this at full price ($69)? Nope. But did I find it a value at $29.99? Yes, unequivocally so.

I've already worn a number of the items in this set and look forward to pulling them into my lip wardrobe in 2018. I've counted at least five I'm pretty sure I can use to completion.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Laura Geller Baked Blush n Brighten in Peach Delight


Today's post is emblematic of the types of products I want to take the time to review but always get lost. I actually purchased this during the Spring 2017 Ulta 21 Days of Beauty, but haven't had time to talk about it until now.

I went on a Laura Geller bender this past winter and spring. After testing about 80% of her line, one of my favorite products is the Baked Blush n Brighten baked blushes. Today I'm sharing with you one of my favorites- Peach Delight.


Let's talk basics first. For $28 at Ulta or the brand's website, you receive 0.16oz/4.5g of this baked powder blush that was made in Italy (standard for the brand). On Ulta, I see a total of six shades; LauraGeller.com has 11 listings although not all are in stock.

Peach Delight is described as "vibrant pink flecked with peach shimmer." I think it's more like the color of a nice, ripe red grapefruit on the inside.


The small mirror included in the packaging pulls it a bit lighter.

I've tried a number of these blushes and several of them produce a similar sheen on the cheeks. I'm a big fan of the line, especially for a more natural flush. If you don't like shimmery blushes (or only do matte), steer clear.

I find these to produce a soft effect on the cheeks. This swatch gives you a good idea:


I think it's just an effortless look- which is what I've come to appreciate about the line as a whole. They last during the workday for me, but don't confuse these with an ultra-pigmented, ultra-longwearing blush. They're just right for a polished look though.


Bottom Line: These aren't matte. These also can look somewhat similar. You can probably achieve a similar look to many shades if you look at the Milani baked blushes, but I think investing in your favorite shade is a worthwhile splurge.