Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sephora Birthday Gift 2016: Marc Jacobs lipstick and eyeliner

It's the end of the year, and I just wanted to give a quick update on the Marc Jacobs birthday kit from this year. To be honest, I always regretted not picking up the Fresh rose mask and soy cleanser in place of this item, as I'm more of a skincare than a makeup product.

The lipstick is really cute, as it's super small and a very nice and wearable color. The eyeliner is a bit tough to apply, but does have incredible staying power (almost too much in fact, as I found I had to scrub quite hard to remove)

The one large disappointment with the eyeliner is that I had it in my travel makeup bag daily, and then one day it just suddenly became unusable. Not sure if it broke or something but literally one day I tried to turn the stick up and it was like the entire stick had disappeared. 

All in all a very nice and generous gift from Sephora, but I'd only recommend this pack if you are a major makeup or Marc Jacobs fan. I found it quite average. 

Shiseido Retinol Eye Mask and Gift with Purchase

This was from a while back, but I purchased two packs of the Shiseido Pure Retinol Eye Mask back when they were doing a free gift with $35 purchase, which worked out to a great deal given the bag and goodies it came with (see below).

The mask itself was fine, though I can't say I noticed much of a difference after using it. Retinol as a whole is meant to be quite effective against wrinkles, and I'm always wary of fine lines below the eyes. The material of the mask feels rather cheap, like rough cotton, unlike the Tony Moly gel eye mask I tried recently. It sticks on well to the eyes and the product is quite pleasantly scented.

The gift came with a very large make-up bag in a shiny metallic pink, plus sample sizes of the Power Infusing Concentrate, WrinkleResist emulsion, eye cream, makeup remover, and moisturizer.

The moisturizer was the biggest disappointment, as the packaging didn't allow for more than a few days use - it seemed to run out very quickly. The concentrate and emulsion feel quite nice and moisturizing, and the eye cream is light and effective. The makeup remover isn't one I'd really recommend as the packaging was awful (it kept getting all over the cap when you shook it to mix it up, despite tightly placing the cap on), and its makeup removing power was quite average, requiring rather rough swipes to remove.

I like Shiseido and would recommend this during another of their product promotions.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ipsy: May 2016 Glam Bag Unboxing

Another month, another Ipsy, and I'm really becoming a big fan. May featured some products which I've now been able to take the time to adequately trial. There was a good mix of luxe and usable products.

Formula 10.0.6 Pores Be Pure Skin-Clarifying Mud Mask

I'm honestly not the biggest fan of mud masks, mainly because I have dry skin and rarely if ever see any noticeable results. I suppose they may help a bit with breakouts, but I've never really seen success with that, and my view is the only way to prevent breakouts is to have a thorough daily cleansing routine and not overdo your skin with too many pore-clogging moisturizers.

That said, this mask has a lovely berry smell, which is quite unexpected. It goes on smoothly and performs about par. Nothing of note, but nothing bad either.

 SLMissGlam Small Contour W07 Brush

This brush is soft, though fairly small. The brush is about the width of my thumb, and is a good size for contouring the cheeks and such.

BellaPierre Cosmetics Nude Gel Lip Liner Pencil

This product has proven to be quite a dud. The main reason is that try as I might, I can't figure out how to get the rest of the product out of the tube. Or maybe the tip is all the product that you get? I'm not sure what's going on, because otherwise I quite like the color and texture of this lip liner. It's a subtle my-lips-but-better shade of pinky nude.

The other negative is that this is manufactured in China, so who really knows what ingredients are in it.


Jersey Shore Cosmetics Lavendar Moisture Rich Balm

While not the most exciting of products (it's just a stick of clear balm), I quite like it. The scent is a mild lavendar, it's super rich and moisturizing on the lips, and while I wouldn't use it anywhere else (too rich), it's quite a good lip balm.

Smashbox Cosmetics X-Rated Mascara

I unfortunately haven't given this a whirl yet as my mascara stash is a bit out of control, but it certainly looks good. Will follow-up if it's worthy of a mention.

Nubian Heritage: African Black Soap

African black soap has been on my to-try list for years now, and I must say I'm enjoying using it so far. This Nubian Heritage soap features all-natural ingredients and a fairly strong fragrance. I don't mind it so much, especially as it doesn't really leave any smell when you use it, but just a warning for those who might be sensitive to scents.

What I really like about this product is how well it lathers up. I use it as a body wash and on my face after first cleansing with an oil-based product. I've found that if I only use the oil-based product, I will often get breakouts afterwards. If I instead use this or another non-oil cleanser after, I'm much less likely to get a reaction. 

So far I would say this is no miracle-worker (but really no skincare product is), but it's enjoyable to use and does the trick in keeping my breakouts at bay. For reference, I have dry to combination skin, with a tendency for breakouts in the chin area. I still get a couple now and again, but this has made a difference. I'm definitely a fan. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ipsy: April 2016 Glam Bag Unboxing

April was a very good Ipsy month, with plenty of lovely, usable products and a beautiful watercolor zipped bag. Note that I forgot to include the blusher brush they gave me in the above image.

Pur~lisse Blue Lotus plus White Tea Sheet and Blue Lotus plus Seaweed Masks 

I tried one and gave the other to a friend, and while it wasn't the most amazing mask I've ever used, it was hydrating and comfortable to wear. I wasn't too impressed with the ingredients list (which features mainly glycerin with some fairly cheap herbal extracts) so would rather stick to my The Face Shop masks from Koreatown.

Swatches from left to right: Starlooks eyeliner, Trust Fund Beauty Highlighter, Tarte Lipsurgence in Wonder

Tarte LipSurgence lip creme in Wonder

This was probably my favorite item of the whole bag. I love how pigmented the Tarte Lipsurgence products are, and also needed a bright red (see swatch from earlier). It's a gorgeous color that applies easily and with a slightly minty taste and feel.

Trust Fund Beauty That Glo Tho Face Highlighter

This is a total wannabe copy of Benefit's Watts Up (which I also own), and unfortunately isn't nearly as good as the latter. It's disappointing as I love the packaging, which looks high-end and features a beautiful design on the outer box. Seriously, this product barely shows up when you apply it (just look at the swatch above, which took several coats to get), and what does show up are chunky pieces of glitter. It's ok, and at least usable, but I wouldn't go out and buy it.

Starlooks Luxe Longwear Eye Pencil in Jet

I love how smoothly this applies, but unfortunately it smudges like crazy (see how easily it smudges in swatch below) - even if I don't touch my eyes, it becomes a smudgy mess after a couple hours. Use this to get a smoked eye look, not for a sharp line. I stick to my Tarte eyeliner for that.

Crown Brush C427 Duo Fiber Blush Brush

Finally a brush from Ipsy that's actually soft and usable! This is one of those brushes with an uneven cut, meaning that there are fewer bristles up top so you won't be at risk of picking up too much product when you dab it on a pan. This makes it perfect for picking up and applying blusher. It's super soft, and I absolutely love it.

As mentioned, I was pretty impressed with all of my Ipsy picks for April, as for $10 it really can't be beat.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Ipsy: March 2016 Glam Bag Unboxing

March was a great month for me on Ipsy, as I wound up with a batch of good, useful products. 

Beau Gachis Eyeshadow Brush

This was the one dud in the bag. I needed an eyeshadow brush, but the bristles on this one were just so rough that they feel like they're scratching my lids, and thus makes it pretty much unusable. My recommendation for soft brushes are The Body Shop, and I'm still using that one.

Manna Kadar Eye Shadow in Fantasy

This is a beautiful shadow, and is absolutely perfect to sweep all over the lids. I mean, just look at the swatch above - so rich and shimmery and with a slight deep shade that's flattering for most skintones. 

NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in color 04, Soft-Spoken 

I've only used this a handful of times, but was surprised by how flattering this deep shade is (I normally go for brighter lip colors). True to NYX's reputation, this product is incredibly long-wearing, even after drinking and eating. The only thing is I prefer more natural ingredients in my lip products, and this definitely isn't it.

Pixi by Petra Beauty Blush Duo in Rose Gold

While the packaging for this is beautiful, the pigmentation is pretty weak and the texture is rather chalky. You can barely see the pink upon application (as above). It works well though for a subtle highlighter.

Marc Anthony Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco 3 Day Smooth Perfect Blow Dry Cream
Heat protectants are always useful for me as I regularly blowdry and heat style my hair, so this was certainly a useful product addition at the very least. I can't say it works any better than any of the other heat products I've tried. It comes out a light white cream and has a subtle scent. Not bad

Overall, March was a solid Ipsy month and I was very happy with the products I received.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Best Tinted Lip Balms: Burt's Bees Tinted

This has truly been a life-changing discovery for my lips, and I don't say that lightly. I have the worst dry lips ever, which seemed to always get flaky during the day no matter what balms I put in. Traditional lipsticks usually would make them worse, and cause them to start peeling.

But not with these Burt's Bees lip balms. These were so hard to track down as they were sold out in almost all drugstores, and for good reason as they're truly an amazing product. The pigmentation is incredible on the lips - I know it's hard to tell from the swatches since I used a fairly light hand on them, but on the lips they are rich and vivid, better than most lipsticks. Even better, they never make my lips chapped. In fact, after a week of regular use, my lips actually improved in texture, and I stopped getting so much flakiness! I'm not exaggerating either - try it out!

From left to right: Rose, Zinnia, and Hibiscus

I love that Burt's Bees products are always made of natural ingredients, which is especially important for the lips since you wind up eating most of the products you apply.

From top to bottom: Rose, Hibiscus, Zinnia
I can't recommend these enough. My favorite color out of the three I've tried is Hibiscus - it's a beautifully rich pinkish red shade that's so flattering on my Asian skintone. Rose is also good, though oddly enough is less pigmented upon application and more of a warm red relative to Hibiscus. Zinnia is close to my natural lip color and makes for a nice nude shade. They all have a faintly floral scent and give your lips a slight shine. For those who are also not fans of the pepperminty feel of the original Burt's Bees balms, don't worry as that's not present here.

Overall I plan to stock up and use these for years to come.