My Favorite Lip Balms

I have chronically dehydrated lips. If there's no product on them, they become parched and uncomfortable in no time at all. While I love wearing lip color, whether it be gloss, tinted balms or lipsticks, sometimes my lips just need some true TLC, and that's where these babies come in.

:: C.O. Bigelow My Favorite Night Balm ($7.50)
I've talked about this balm so many times on my blog, but in terms of an overnight lip hydrator, this is the best I've ever used. It's thick, almost goopy, but as a result, it just lasts and lasts. I can always feel it on my lips when I wake up in the morning. I primarily use it at bedtime, but when my lips are ultra chapped, I'll use it during the daytime too, just in smaller amounts, since it's so thick. I've gone through tubes and tubes of it, and you'll never find me without one on hand, with at least one in my back-up stash. There's always a promotion going on for these at Bath & Body Works, so I buy them in multiples. Did I mention it smells and tastes like vanilla cake?

:: Kari Gran Lip Whip in Tinted ($15)
This balm is the newest addition to my stash, thanks to Sephora's "checkout line of doom," but it's quickly proved its worth. Although touted as 'tinted,' it's really more or less clear on the lips. The tinted version I have is peppermint scented, while the original Naked one has a cinnamon scent. The texture is a really unique whipped one, but it still feels quite substantial on the lips. I was afraid it would be too airy and disappear quickly, but it certainly doesn't. It makes my lips feel pillowy soft, incredibly smooth and it lasts quite a long time. It works well enough overnight, but not as well as the one by C.O. Bigelow.

:: Yes to Coconut Cooling Lip Oil ($5)
I purchased this lip oil last year, but it's such a drugstore gem. Despite its name, it isn't oily and has more of a lip gloss consistency, without any stickiness. I was a bit taken aback by how moisturizing it is, and I love using it throughout the day in place of the C.O. Bigelow balm. I like to think of this one as the daytime-friendly version of the My Favorite Night Balm, as it's also supremely hydrating, but not nearly as thick. The coconut scent can only be described as delicious, and the cooling effect is subtle and fleeting.

:: Nivea Lip Butter in Caramel Cream Kiss ($3)
Let me just start off by saying that the scent on this one is just something else. It's so yummy! The consistency of this lip butter is a bit different in that it's thicker and waxier than other lip balms, and it tends to feel like it sits on the surface a bit more and takes longer to really soak into the lips. In spite of this, I still find it to be quite moisturizing, although I do have to use it sparingly during the daytime since it tends to leave a white cast on my lips. If a long-wearing lip product ever leaves my lips flaky, this is great at softening everything up so that I can gently exfoliate off the flakes with a toothbrush or lip scrub. It also works well overnight, though again, not as well as the C.O. Bigelow.


Butter London Bloody Brilliant Lip Crayon Review + Giveaway!

Butter London recently sent over their Bloody Brilliant Lip Crayons for me to try out, and although I'd not yet tried any of their makeup products before, their nail polishes are pretty top notch, so I had high expectations. These did not disappoint.

Butter London Bloody Brilliant Lip Crayons ($20) are available in eight shades, and I have seven of them, not including Ladybird, an orange-red. The formula claims to be 3-in-1, with the "precision of a liner, shine of a gloss, full coverage of a lipstick." These are not twist-up and need to be sharpened, but there is a conveniently located sharpener hidden in the cap. The formula is incredibly hydrating and creamy with medium to full pigmentation and a shiny finish. Despite its creaminess, it's not so slippery that the color bleeds, feathers or smears easily (my pet peeve with brighter and deeper lip shades). It has average lasting power, but I love how comfortable the formula feels on my lips, so I don't mind reapplying. (Just a word of caution: these can get pretty melty! The tip of Teddy Boy snapped off as I was applying it the other day, and that's just from sitting in my handbag indoors.) The seven shades I have are:

:: Tea With The Queen - peachy nude
:: Trout Pout - peachy coral
:: Teddy Boy - mauvey rose
:: Primrose Hill Picnic - fuchsia
:: Disco Biscuit - blue-based lavender pink
:: Ruby Murray - deep red
:: Toff - vampy, brown-tinged purple-wine
L to R: Tea With The Queen, Trout Pout, Teddy Boy, Primrose Hill Picnic, Disco Biscuit, Ruby Murray, Toff
Clockwise from top right: Tea With The Queen, Trout Pout, Teddy Boy, Primrose Hill Picnic, Disco Biscuit, Ruby Murray, Toff
I was on a matte lip kick for a while, so I wasn't sure how I'd feel about these lip crayons and their shiny finish, but I'm actually a huge fan. Teddy Boy is currently my favorite of the bunch (it's like a my-lips-but-better shade on me), although Trout Pout and Primrose Hill Picnic will undoubtedly be on current rotation too, especially in the summer. Ruby Murray and Toff are welcomed additions to my lipstick stash, as they are shades I don't already have, and I cannot wait to wear them non-stop in the fall and winter months.

The best part about these? Butter London sent over an extra set of the seven Bloody Brilliant Lip Crayons, and I'm giving them away! Good luck!

Disclosure: The products in this post were sent to me for consideration for a review. The giveaway prize is courtesy of Butter London. I am not affiliated with the company, nor am I getting paid for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are based solely on my own experience with the products.


Holy Grail Material? CoverGirl The Super Sizer Waterproof Mascara

I've mentioned once or twice (or a hundred times) that Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Volumizing Mascara has been my holy grail mascara for the past three years or so. I've tried others during that time, but nothing provided as much volume, length and most importantly, held a curl, on my pin straight, sparse lashes even remotely as well as it could. Though it's certainly not a mascara that would work for everyone, on my puny Asian lashes, it was everything I could want. Its only downfall was that, despite being waterproof, it had a tendency to smudge a bit from my top lashes onto my lower lash line, but I was willing to work with it.

After having gone through literally tubes and tubes of that mascara with two currently sitting in my back-up stash, I was wary of trying something new, mostly because I doubted anything could surpass my love for the Stila. I'm not sure that I even know what made me want to pick up CoverGirl's newest mascara offering, The Super Sizer Mascara (I got the waterproof version), but I did, and my, oh my - I may just have found my new holy grail.
CoverGirl The Super Sizer Waterproof Mascara ($6) boasts volume, and lots of it - 400% more, to be exact. That's a pretty bold claim, but after trying it, it's tough to deny that it's incredibly volumizing. It takes my thin, sparse lashes and makes them look noticeably fuller, without being clumpy. Although I'm able to get a bit more volume out of the Stila, that one has a tendency to border on tarantula lashes if I overdo it, even just a little. The two are about equal when it comes to their moderate lengthening capabilities. What impressed me the most about The Super Sizer is its ability to hold a curl. I thought the Stila was the bees knees when it came to this, but The Super Sizer has got that one beat in the curl department. The curl of my lashes literally looks exactly the same from the second I curl my lashes until the moment I remove my mascara at night. Exactly. The. Same. 

Another area in which The Super Sizer beats out Stila is that it doesn't smudge at all. None whatsoever. I've also cried while wearing this mascara (I mistakenly clicked on some sad YouTube videos...) and can confirm that it is, in fact, waterproof....which leads me to my last point, and also the only downside to The Super Sizer - the removal. Being an avid waterproof mascara wearer, I'm used to a more difficult removal, and I expect it. However, even with my usual cleansing oils, removing all of my mascara at night is a new struggle I've never encountered before. I'm typically only able to remove about 80-90% of it, and I just accept that waking up with some degree of raccoon eyes is the small price I have to pay for have great looking lashes throughout the day. Sigh. I'm avoiding the inevitable, but I think I may finally need to invest in a waterproof eye makeup remover.

The uniquely shaped plastic brush of CoverGirl The Super Sizer

Top to bottom: Before and After

Top to bottom: Before and After
Keep in mind, my lashes in their natural state are nearly undetectable because they're incredibly sparse, thin and straight. The fact that you can actually see my lashes in the 'after' photo shows how great the mascara is. In the comparison directly above, even though I'm looking down, you can clearly see how lifted and curled my lashes are with The Super Sizer on, compared to the 'before' pic where they're pointing straight down.

So where does this leave me, in terms of which mascara I deem to be my holy grail? As much as it surprises me to say this, I think my Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Volumizing Mascara has finally been dethroned. Though not quite as volumizing as its predecessor, CoverGirl The Super Sizer Waterproof Mascara holds a curl better, provides more overall lift and has proven to be completely smudgeproof and less clump-prone, making it my new favorite mascara. I'll just go ahead and add 'waterproof eye makeup remover' to my shopping list then.


L'Occitane Does Tinted Lip Balms

This post contains PR samples
I'm a big fan of easy, swipe-and-go lip products, so tinted lip balms are definitely something I go for. Seeing as how my lips are dry more often than not, products that are hydrating and nourishing will always stand out to me. When I heard L'Occitane was releasing new tinted lip balms, I was super excited. I've loved so many of the L'Occitane products I've tried, including their Shea Butter Cleansing Oil, which is one of my all-time favorite cleansing oils. You could say I had high expectations.
Right off the bat, I noticed the packaging of the L'Occitane Pivoine Sublime Tinted Lip Balms ($16) was very similar to that of the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments. They're metal, color-coordinated and have twist-off lids. It's definitely aesthetically pleasing. Each with SPF 25 and a delicate peony scent, the collection contains four lip balms inspired by the hues of peonies: Transparent, Rose Nude, Rose Plum and Rose Amber.

L to R: Transparent, Rose Nude, Rose Plum, Rose Amber
The transparent one is exactly that and offers no color whatsoever. I was most excited to try Rose Amber, hoping it would make a great throw-on nude shade that I could keep in my handbag for applying a hint of color and hydration on-the-go. Unfortunately, I found the shade to truly be more amber (yellow-brown) than nude, thus appearing a bit off against my complexion. It just seems to age me or something. I'm not sure. Then, I tried Rose Nude, a pinky rose shade. This shade suits me more than Rose Amber does, although I noticed after trying these two that the pigmentation seemed a bit more sheer than I was expecting, which is neither good nor bad, as it is a tinted lip balm, after all. 

Having come to this conclusion regarding the pigmentation, I swiped on Rose Plum one night, sans mirror, and when I happened to look in a mirror some time later, I was a bit shocked. This one is surprisingly pigmented, much more than the previous two, and seeing as how it's also the deepest shade, I basically did a double-take in the mirror, trying to recall when I had applied such a statement lip (and so badly, at that!). This is the thing about bolder shades in lip balm formulations: they tend to slip and slide around more than I'm comfortable with, and it's difficult to keep the edges clean, you know? I tend to steer clear, though the color of Rose Plum is very, very pretty. Definitely my favorite of the three tints, color-wise.

L to R: Rose Nude, Rose Plum, Rose Amber
As far as the formula is concerned, I'm afraid I'm just meh on these. Perhaps I set my expectations too high, as I love L'Occitane products normally, and I thought these would be very similar to the Fresh lip balms, but I just don't find these to be nearly moisturizing enough on my dry, chronically dehydrated puckers. Compared to the Fresh lip balms, which are notoriously soft and prone to melting, these feel much more solid. The texture feels incredibly thin and lightweight on the lips...almost too lightweight, if I'm being honest, where it doesn't feel substantial enough to really coat and nourish my lips. Contrary to its 8-hour hydration claim, these last maybe an hour on me before I need to reapply, which doesn't surprise me, considering the texture.

All is not lost, however, because I appreciate that these offer some sun protection. I'm planning on keeping either the transparent or Rose Nude one in my beach/pool bag to protect my lips while I'm out in the sun. I'm hopeful these will fare a bit better in the heat than some of my other lip balms have.

Disclosure: The products in this post were sent to me for consideration for a review. I am not affiliated with the company, nor am I getting paid for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are based solely on my own experience with the products.


Glowy, Luminous Skin Without Highlighter

I'm not sure there are many people out there who aren't fans of glowy, luminous, healthy-looking skin, but depending on your skin type, achieving it can be a struggle. Dry-skinned gals may find their skin drinks up product (and the glow), while oily-skinned ladies may find themselves tiptoeing the line between luminous skin and greasy skin. I can only speak for myself and my combination skin type (normal with an oily t-zone), and these are a few of the products I've been loving lately for helping me to perfect this look so flawlessly, I've forgotten all about highlighter.
For my base, there are two that have won over my heart: IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream Illumination* and Physicians Formula Nude Wear Touch of Glow Foundation. I've spoken about the CC+ Cream Illumination here (I have shade Medium), and I actually love it even more now than when I originally reviewed it. Although it's absolutely hydrating enough on its own that I could skip my moisturizer, I find I achieve a more dewy finish if I apply it over already prepped skin. I prefer applying it with my fingers, as I would my moisturizer, and I can have my base done in 30 seconds flat. It has high coverage, but its finish is what keeps it from looking cakey or mask-like, always maintaining a look that's natural. It's quite dewy, so I have to make sure my t-zone is powdered to keep it in place.

Physicians Formula Nude Wear Touch of Glow Foundation was recommended by Jenny (sistergolden on Instagram), and it's goooood. Like the CC+ Cream, it has a dewy, luminous finish, but it sets a bit more that I don't have to powder if I don't want to, and unlike the CC+ Cream, it doesn't contain any shimmer. The major pitfall of this foundation, however, is the pitiful shade range (there are only two (!!)  shades), and I have shade Light/Medium, which is the darker shade and about NC27-30. It's too dark for me, but still try to make it work because I love how it makes my skin look. If you can find a shade match with this one, I'd definitely recommend it, as it's one of the nicest drugstore foundations I've tried.

For cheeks, I've been loving IT Cosmetics CC+ Radiance Ombre Bronzer. I picked it up because I can't resist a good ombre design, but the product itself is also beautiful. Not only does the ombre go from light to dark, but it also goes from shimmery to matte, making it an incredibly versatile product. Swirled together, it warms up my complexion with the perfect amount of glow thrown in.

For a pinch of color, the Clinique Cheek Pops (pictured is Heather Pop) are perfect for those who want the glow without the shimmer. The BECCA Beach Tint Shimmer Souffle is one of my more recent acquisitions that I've fallen head over heels in love with (I have shade Lychee/Opal). If you love their Shimmering Skin Perfectors, these are a must-try. Some of the shades are quite light, but if you can find one that speaks to you, they are beautiful. It's shimmery and glowy without being over the top, and it blends into the skin so nicely. Lastly, a longtime drugstore favorite: Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso. This glowy peach blush is a must-have. The BECCA and Milani blushes essentially function as highlighter and blush in one, while the Clinique blush is more subtle on the glow front, but still gives the skin just enough, if you know what I mean.

Wearing Physicians Formula Nude Wear Touch of Glow FoundationIT Cosmetics CC+ Radiance Ombre Bronzer and BECCA Beach Tint Shimmer Souffle in Lychee/Opal
Highlighter, who?
So, those are the products I currently have on rotation for giving me the glowy, luminous skin I've been craving. See what I mean when I say you don't even need highlighter? My main tips for perfecting this look is to make sure your skin is adequately prepped and moisturized (this will vary greatly, depending on your skin type), and use shimmer and sheen purposefully and effectively. Overdoing it on highlighter does not result in glowy skin that's believable; it results in a shiny, disco ball face. 

I'm not sure how many times someone can say 'glowy,' 'luminous' or 'dewy' in one post, but I might have set the record. My apologies :)

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