POPSUGAR Must Have November Box

The November edition of the POPSUGAR Must Have Box recently landed on my doorstep, and I just had to show you guys everything that was in it, because it is such. a. good. deal.

The POPSUGAR Must Have Box includes carefully selected monthly must haves in fashion, home, food and beauty. Each box costs $39.95, which for me, is pretty pricey; however, once I started looking into the retail prices for some of the products, I was in shock. The box is worth so much more than $39.95. 

The products in the November box:
:: Michael Stars Wrap/Scarf :: 
Gorgeous pale grey scarf with black aztec print. It's also quite large/long (I personally love the slightly bulky scarf look) and really nice quality.
:: Illume Candle in Nice :: 
I've heard great things about Illume, so I was ecstatic to find this in my box. Nice is a sweet, yet soft, vanilla scent.
:: Land's End Wine Tote ::
One of the only things in the box I was indifferent about.
:: Maison de Monaco Strawberry and Blackcurrant Cream Preserves ::
I've been eating this on toast and it's YUM.
:: The Soap & Paper Factory Roland Pine Shea Butter Soap ::
Can't wait to try this. I love earthy scents.
:: Absolute! Nail Polish Remover Pads in Spring Fresh ::
Great idea, in theory, but these oil-based nail polish remover pads could barely get my polish to budge.
:: Barefruit Crunchy Sea Salt Caramel Apple Chips ::
:: $30 Canvas Pop Gift Card ::
I'd never heard of Canvas Pop before, but apparently they make canvas photo prints in just about any size. Sounds like the perfect Christmas/Valentine's Day/Birthday gift in the making...

Just to give you an idea of how much the box is worth, the scarf, candle and soap alone cost $65.75! Add in the $30 Canvas Pop gift card and the rest of the other goodies, and we're well over $100.

Michael Stars Wrap/Scarf

Canvas Pop Gift Card

POPSUGAR is offering my first 50 readers $10 off a 3-month subscription to the Must Have Box if you subscribe between now and December 11th. Simply use the code "NOVSELECT." 

The price for a 3-month subscription is normally $109.85, but after $10 off, each box would end up costing around $33. Imagine getting everything I got in this month's box for $33. Since this is my first Must Have Box, I can't say with certainty that every box will be as great a deal as this one, but, from what I can tell from looking at photos of past boxes, they all seem to be pretty darn good. And, since this is the season of giving (and not the season of buying more stuff for yourself that you don't need...I keep trying to remind myself that!), can I just say that I bet this could make an excellent gift for quite a few people this holiday season? It basically covers all the bases.

Disclosure: POPSUGAR Beauty sent me their Must Have November Box free of charge. I am a POPSUGAR Select Beauty Blogger; however, I was not obligated to review this box, nor am I getting paid for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are honest and based solely on my own experience.


Will Work for Makeup's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide: STOCKING STUFFERS

Part IV of the gift guide series focuses on slightly more affordable and/or compact gifts that would make great stocking stuffers. Though I aimed to find products that were around $25 or less, keep in mind these sets could also be split up to serve as small gifts for a few different people as needed to fit your budget.

Beautysets - WWFM's 2013 Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

:1: Nails Inc. Autumn Winter Collection $25 ::
This collection of mini polishes truly rounds up some of the quintessential colors of this time of year, including a vampy maroon and an earthy brown. The pale grey is a standout in my eyes, as it has some unexpected, yet subtle, pretty pink shimmer running through it.

:2: Caudalie Hand Cream Trio $25 ::
Anyone would be lucky to receive this set of luxurious, French vineyard-inspired hand creams, although I think one in each stocking would more than suffice. A rich and nourishing hand cream is a necessity this time of year.

:3: Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio $28 ::
This trio of cult favorites has all of her bases covered: a subtle nude, an everyday pink and a juicy red. Hydrating, sheer but buildable pigmentation and chic packaging? These tinted balms tick all the right boxes.

:4: Boscia Pink Peppermint Blotting Linens $5 ::
Boscia's blotting linens are a favorite among many that suffer from dreaded midday shine, and the sparkley pink packaging with linens made from natural leaf fibers might provide a bit of insight into why. As for the pink peppermint scent? It doesn't get anymore festive (or refreshing) than that. Don't be rude - buy her multiples.

:5: Travalo Touch Rollerball $20 ::
This device makes it possible for her to decant her normal, spray perfume into a convenient (not to mention chic) on-the-go rollerball. That way, she can have her gorgeous perfume bottle sitting prettily at home on her vanity while still being able to enjoy her favorite fragrance on the road. Who wouldn't want the best of both worlds?

:6: MOR Lip Macaron Set $25 ::
Another set that is perfect for splitting up. With flavors like Lychee Flower, Rosebud, Passionflower and Cassis Noir, I wouldn't be surprised if one of those "went missing" into your personal makeup bag before ever reaching anyone's stocking.

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My Favorite Look This Week #5

It wasn't exactly intentional, but I realized sometime this week that I've been slowly incorporating more fall tones into my makeup little by little. My favorite look this week was a bit heavier and smokier than some of the other MFLTW looks, and it's a favorite for a few different reasons:

Firstly, I'm wearing the base combination I talked about in this post, and the fuller coverage has been a nice change of pace for me. It doesn't hurt that the lasting power is phenomenal either. 

Secondly, the eyes. I had been using my Laura Mercier Artist's Palette almost exclusively since acquiring it a few weeks ago, but I started missing my LORAC PRO Palette this week, so I took it out for a spin. It's still my favorite eyeshadow palette at the moment, without a doubt. It's not easy finding a palette where you literally love every single shade. I opted for a smokey, taupey-purple in this look.

Lastly, I'm infatuated with Illamasqua Lies' glossy pink sheen. I have quite a few highlighters, but definitely nothing quite like Lies.

LORAC PRO Palette (I used Nude, Pewter, Mauve, Sable and Garnet)
Bobbi Brown Blush in Berry
Chanel Les Beiges Powder in 30
Illamasqua Cream Blush in Lies (it's more of a highlighter than a blush)
Hourglass Immaculate Foundation in Shell
Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Powder Foundation in 120 Neutral Ivory
Jordana Twist & Shine Balm Stain in Honey Love

Glossy, icy pink sheen on the tops of my cheekbones, courtesy of Lies. I like using my ring finger to tap it into the skin.

I've played around a lot more with Bobbi Brown Berry blush, and I think I love it even more now than I did when I reviewed it, probably because I've gotten the application down. Now, I can apply it in a few seconds just like I can with any other blush. I think it just took some practice. I've been using the e.l.f. Blush Brush lately, and I've learned how to tap the brush in ever so gently in order to pick up the perfect amount of product each time. I don't even need to dust the brush off on the back of my hand before applying anymore! If you're on the market for that quintessential fall/winter blush shade, I'd highly recommend picking up Berry.


Will Work for Makeup's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide: THE GIRL WHO HAS EVERYTHING

Part III of my holiday gift guide is for the beauty lover who can often be overheard justifying the size of her makeup collection to herself while maniacally repositioning the lipsticks in her makeup drawer in a last-ditch effort to get it to close. These are some of the tougher ladies to buy for, as you can probably imagine, and you really have to think outside the box a bit. A Naked palette just ain't gonna cut it.

Beautysets - Will Work for Makeup's 2013 Gift Guide: TGWHE

:1: Deborah Lippmann Big Bang $78 ::
Deborah Lippmann has one of the best luxury nail polish formulas out there, and this selection of crรจmes, glitters and shimmers is downright drool-worthy, to say the least. Any polish fiend would be delighted to find this set wrapped prettily under the tree.

:2: NEST Eau de Parfum Coffret $38 ::
While I definitely think that, in general, gifting fragrances can be a bit dicey, a collection of five very different and distinct scents would make it awfully difficult for her to not fall in love with at least one. And can we just take a second to appreciate the gorgeous designs on those bottles?

:3: Buxom Shimmer & Shake Show-Stopping Collection $59 ::
These smooth, plumping and long-lasting glosses are some of the best on the market, and with an array of 15 shades to pick and choose from, even the girl who has everything is bound to find a few new favorites in the bunch.

:4: BECCA The One Perfecting Brush $49 ::
This innovative goat hair brush boasts perfect, airbrushed application of just about every product and every step imaginable in a makeup routine, from liquids to powders, concealers to bronzers, all the while without absorbing all of the product in the process. This may just be one brush she doesn't have.

:5: Too Faced A Few of My Favorite Things $56 ::
Twenty versatile neutrals and enticing jewel-toned eyeshadows, two universally flattering blushes, two bronzers, a mascara mini and a plumping lip gloss? This is undoubtedly one of the best all-around releases this holiday season.

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Made to Last.

When you have combination skin, or oily skin for that matter, it can often be a struggle finding ways to make your foundation last all day. My main problem area, as far as midday shine and foundation/concealer breakdown are concerned, is my t-zone, so when I found out I had a particularly long day of work scheduled last week, I made it into an opportunity to try something new.

I always use foundation primer on long days anyway, even if I'm planning on wearing a long-lasting foundation, like the Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation (Shell). The velvety finish of the Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, in particular, creates the perfect base to allow Hourglass Immaculate's soft powder finish to glide on effortlessly. I usually get a solid 8 hours of wear time with this combo alone, but seeing as how I was looking for my makeup to last an extra few hours on this particular day, I knew my usual go-to pairing wouldn't cut it. At this point, I was faced with a conundrum - Do I go one step further and powder a powder-finish foundation? After all, how much is too much?

So, yeah. I ended up reaching for the powder in the end - Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Multi-Use Powder Foundation (#120 Neutral Ivory) to be exact. (Tip: Gently blot all over after applying your foundation, but before powdering, to soak up any excess oil from your moisturizer and foundation. This will help powder to apply more smoothly and wear longer.) I opted for just a light dusting of powder with a fluffy brush in an attempt to avoid cake-face, and as I brought the brush up to my face, I thought, "This could be a huge mistake." Thank goodness it wasn't. The powder set my foundation beautifully and added additional coverage to create the most flawless, natural, full-coverage complexion I've seen on myself in a very long time. And this may surprise you (it did me), but when I took a peek at my skin up-close in the mirror, it was smooth, poreless, and perfect. No cake in sight. 

Intermittent restroom breaks throughout the day yielded reactions that became progressively more surprised each time I looked in the mirror and realized I still didn't need to blot. Brilliant. I took one last, good look at my makeup that night before taking it all off, and it actually pained me to see it go. So, does this mean that sometimes more is actually more? Who knew.


Will Work for Makeup's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide: THE MINIMALIST

Part II of my gift guide showcases a selection of products carefully chosen with that minimalistic beauty in mind; you know, the one who slicks on a touch of gloss, gives her brows a quick groom through and calls it a day? Yeah, her. These gifts will simply enhance what her mama gave her, sans all the bells and whistles.

Beautysets - Will Work for Makeup's Gift Guide: MINIMALIST

:1: Urban Decay Ocho Loco 2 $59 ::
Even if she's not an everyday wearer of eyeliner, every girl needs at least a few solid liners in her arsenal she can rely on to add definition and drama to her look when the occasion arises. The inclusion of the bright liners is just the cherry on top.

Sephora Collection Deluxe Antibacterial Brush Set $60 ::
This set of seven brushes contains all the key players to cover most all of a minimalist's beauty application needs, including face, eyes and brows.

:3: Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfectors Set $40 ::
Three full-sized, moisturizing tinted lip gloss/balm hybrids for less than the price of two? Go ahead and snag an extra set for yourself...I won't tell ;) And, did I mention they smell like sweets?

BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector $41 ::
This skin illuminator comes in four shades (Moonstone is pretty universally flattering), and the stuff is basically foolproof. Faking that dewy, radiant glow has never been easier. Don't worry if she's not a fan of foundation - this can work its magic on its own.

:5: LORAC PRO To Go Eye/Cheek Palette $38 ::
Six neutral eyeshadows suitable for both day and night looks, two gorgeous blushes and a bronzer? Buy her this, and she won't need much else.


The Morning & Nighttime Cleansers.

My morning and nighttime cleansers recently underwent a bit of a switch-up after I used up both my Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser and Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm. Although both of those products are absolutely fantastic, I decided against re-purchasing them at this time in favor of trying something new. My picks? Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel and Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm.

I start off my mornings with one pump of the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel (£32.50 for 5 oz/150 ml) massaged onto dry skin, transforming the gel into an oil-like cleanser, before gently removing it with a warm, damp washcloth. The Renaissance Cleansing Gel is packed with pumpkin enzyme to purge the skin of dead cells, vitamin A to promote elasticity, vitamins C and E to protect against free radicals, starflower oil to promote firmness and sulfur to detoxify and reduce inflammation. It leaves my skin looking brighter and feeling clean, soft and hydrated. Whereas I felt that the Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser was more light and refreshing, this rose chamomile-scented cleanser is luxuriously warm and soothing, making it perfect for cold winter mornings. I mean, just take a look at that description: "illuminating vitamin facial cleanser" - who wouldn't want that?

The Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm ($28.50 for 3.8 oz/125 ml) has been my new obsession as far as the nighttime skincare players are concerned. It has quite a solid consistency in the pot (seemingly very un-balm-like), but the second it is massaged onto dry skin, it melts into a silky, never greasy, oil consistency that breaks down all forms of makeup like nobody's business (my Stila waterproof mascara included). Although Clinique claims the balm should be rinsed off, I always use a washcloth and never experience any residue left behind. Nevertheless, I still follow it up with a second cleanse for good measure (I've been loving the Osmia Organics Black Clay Facial Soap lately).

Compared to the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm, which I loved while it lasted (I went through two tubs!), I'm actually surprised to come to the conclusion that I think I might just enjoy Clinique's version more (and my wallet thanks me). Although I never had adverse reactions to the EH, Clinique's is free of fragrances and essential oils, making it perfect for even the most sensitive of skin types. It's also worth noting that both balms can be used around the eye area without causing any stinging or irritation. The Clinique balm could certainly be used for the second cleanse, as I did with the EH balm; however, I enjoy using it first simply because it is such an effective and fuss-free makeup remover. In my opinion, the EH feels more luxe simply due to its beautiful fragrance, but in all honesty, the Clinique is just as effective, and I actually prefer the consistency of it (not to mention the price, ahem) over the EH. 

The Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel (£32.50) can be purchased from Cult Beauty, and the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm ($28.50) can be purchased from Sephora.


The Affordable Beauty Box: Beauty Box 5.

I'm not sure where I stand as far as monthly beauty boxes are concerned. On the one hand, I think it can be a great way for people to try out new brands and products that they might not otherwise be introduced to, and at a relatively minimal cost. On the other hand, if the selection of products in the box fails to impress, you could potentially be left with a box of duds hanging around your house gathering dust. When Beauty Box 5 offered to send my one of their monthly beauty boxes, I decided to take a look around their site to see what they're all about and noticed that their boxes cost a mere $12 a month. Pretty reasonable, I thought, considering some other companies' beauty boxes run around $20-30 a month. So, I took them up on their offer.

Beauty Box 5 is a beauty box subscription service that allows subscribers to sample five products monthly that include a great mix of high-end, drugstore and eco-friendly products from brands such as BECCA, Ellis Faas and It's a 10, to name a few.  

Upon opening my box, I was quite impressed as three of my five "samples" were actually full-size products. The products I received were:

Model Co Black Eye Liner Pencil (full-size) :: This black pencil is quite a pigmented, true black, and it glides on smoothly enough. However, when applied on my waterline, it smudged and smeared within an hour. Brownie points for a cap that doubles as a sharpener though!

Be a Bombshell Lipgloss in Taupeless (full-size) :: The formula is quite thick and a bit sticky, which also makes it long-lasting. It looks and feels more like a liquid lipstick, more so than just a gloss, because of its medium-opaque coverage and slightly heavier texture. Though I initally thought Taupeless wouldn't suit me at all, it turned out to be quite a flattering warm nude.

Tree Hut Shea Sugar Body Scrub in Coconut Lime :: I've actually used this scrub before (and the Coconut Lime scent is my favorite!), so I already knew I'd like it. It's an incredibly effective scrub without being abrasive, and the shea butter leaves skin feeling nourished.

Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion Sunscreen SPF 30 :: Aveeno claims it can be used on both face and body, but it's quite heavily scented, making me wary of applying it to my face. Nonetheless, it has a light texture that absorbs quickly and doesn't feel greasy.

Be a Bombshell Eyeshadow in Dancing Queen (full-size) :: It's a shame that I find silver shades absolutely vile on me, because Dancing Queen has the most gorgeous, buttery smooth texture with great color payoff. 

L to R: Model Co Black Eye Liner, Be a Bombshell Dancing Queen Eyeshadow and Taupeless Lipgloss

Beauty Box 5 offers three different subscription plans: monthly, quarterly, and yearly. Obviously, the quarterly and yearly plans are better deals than the monthly plan. Also, shipping is free for the US and Canada!

Monthly: $12/box
Quarterly: $30 for 3 months = $10/box
Yearly: $99 for 12 months = $8.25/box

I personally was not completely blown away by the products I received in my box, but I still think Beauty Box 5 is a great deal. The full-size Be a Bombshell eyeshadow and lipgloss would have costed me $28 alone, although I think it would have been nice to receive five products from five different brands in order to keep things a bit more interesting. Though I won't be subscribing myself, I think Beauty Box 5 could make a great gift for some of the younger ladies out there who are just getting into makeup. Conveniently enough, Beauty Box 5 offers the option to gift 3, 6 or 12 boxes for $30, $60 and $99, respectively. 

You can read more about Beauty Box 5 on their website.

Disclosure: Beauty Box 5 sent me this beauty box 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 honest and based solely on my own experience.


Bourjois Java Rice Loose Powder.

The beautiful Jessica from Jessica Beautician recently offered to pick up the Bourjois Java Rice Loose Powder for me after my many sad, failed attempts at locating it online. What drew me in to this powder, despite already owning enough powders to last me a lifetime and then some, is the classic, vintage packaging, complete with french writing I don't understand in the slightest, but it sure looks nice!

The Java Rice Loose Powder is Bourjois' current take on an old cult classic. It's a fairly heavily scented pale pink loose powder with shimmer. The powder itself is extremely light and finely milled and sets makeup beautifully and delicately without looking cakey or heavy. Once blended into the skin, the pink-toned powder has an overall translucent effect on the skin and would likely suit fair to light-medium skin tones best. I fear it could start to turn ashy on darker skin tones.

Swatched heavily

Although the shimmer is quite evident when looking at the powder in the pot, when applied lightly and blended well, I find that the shimmer allows the powder to provide the skin with a radiant, illuminated finish, rather than a sparkley or glittery one. In my opinion, the effect of the powder is much too sheer and subtle to serve as an effective highlighting powder, even when applied with a denser brush.

I like to use the Java Rice Loose Powder to set my makeup, and it also works brilliantly to set under-eye concealer due to its soft and light texture. Although it doesn't claim to, it seems to offer fair oil-control in my t-zone as well, which is an added bonus. Overall, the ultra-light and semi-matte, yet radiant, effect the Java Rice Loose Powder has on my complexion has impressed me, earning it a spot in my daily makeup rotation for the past few weeks.

Unfortunately, the Bourjois Java Rice Loose Powder is not easily attainable in the US at present time, but I would recommend checking Asos often in case they start stocking it!

Will Work for Makeup's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide: SKINCARE

Yes, I'm aware it's only mid-November, but if I've learned anything in my many years of being a suffering shopaholic, it's that holiday shopping procrastination leads to unnecessary stress and ultimately, sold out products. So, for this reason, I'm posting my first gift guide of the season now. Enjoy :)

Beautysets - Will Work for Makeup's 2013 Gift Guide: Skincare

Includes a full-size bottle of the Perfect Cleansing Oil Face & Eyes and minis of the ProGenius Treatment Oil and Cellular Renewal Moisturizer. I haven't personally tried the cleansing oil, but the treatment oil and moisturizer are top notch.

:2: Pai Rosehip Collection: Intensive Nourishing Facial Set $50 ::
Includes a full-size Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil, a limited edition Rosehip BioRegenerate Face Mask and one of Pai's highly praised muslin cloths. All I can say is, if the mask is even half as good as the oil, I'm sold.

:3: African Botanics Marula Intense Skin Repair Body Balm $55 ::
This luxurious multi-use balm soothes, heals and hydrates all in one, and it's 100% natural and contains no preservatives or chemicals. Perfect for dehydrated, sensitive and irritated skin, as well as burns, dermatitis and eczema. Pretty sure that covers just about everyone.

:4: Osmia Organics Detox Exfoliating Mask $50 ::
This life-changing mask (not literally, but almost!) is a must-have in everyone's skincare line-up. You've never experienced true silky smooth, baby soft skin until you've tried this mask.

:5: Lollia Shea Butter Hand Creme $25 :: 
These fresh, sophisticated and whimsically scented hand cremes (Breathe is a personal favorite) contain an ultra-nourishing formula that comes housed in beautiful, vintage-esque tubes that would also serve as the perfect decorative touch to any dressing table.  


The Monday Post #5

Monday is by far the gloomiest day of the week for me, followed by Sunday simply because it precedes Monday. Hopefully, The Monday Post will give you some beauty inspiration and help you get through the week! 

Favorite beauty read/viewing: I've basically been spending all of my free time this past week scouring A Model Recommends' channel and watching (and re-watching) all of her videos. Obsessive, much? I love her taste in beauty products, and her channel has a great balance of makeup and skincare.

Beauty goal: Stopping buying stuff. 'Nuff said.

Product Rediscovery: Call it boredom, but I've been reaching for a different blush nearly everyday recently. MAC Hang Loose Mineralize Blush, however, was deserving of a few consecutive days in the rotation. I like to swirl the baby pink and shimmery lavender together to create a girly, doll-like flush.

Beauty lust: With all the purchases I've made recently from Sephora and beauty.com, I'm actually surprised there's anything left on my wishlist. Tarte Amazonian Cream Eyeshadow in Shimmering Bronze stole my heart yesterday when I swatched it in Sephora, but alas, I chose to walk away from temptation. Doesn't mean it won't be mine one day though...

Most looking forward to: Christmas shopping! I love thinking of what my friends and family might like and buying gifts for them. I'll be heading home to California in less than a month, and I'm determined to wrap up all of my Christmas shopping before then in order to save on sales tax. If that means going shopping every single weekend until then, so be it ;)

Hope you all have a great week!


Laura Mercier Artist's Palette for Eyes

I certainly didn't need another eyeshadow palette, but seeing as how the Laura Mercier Artist's Palette for Eyes is one of the most talked about makeup releases this season, I simply couldn't resist.

This is the second version of the Artist's Palette, and although I wouldn't be able to get my hands on last year's version even if I wanted to, this year's shades are much more up my alley. Neutrals with a few pops of purple? I'm sold.

The palette contains twelve 0.03 oz eyeshadows and retails for $48, which makes each shadow worth just $4. Can you say crazy good deal? To compare, Laura Mercier's single eyeshadows each contain 0.09 oz of product and retail for $23.

Close-up of the packaging

In general, all the shades are of really great quality - smooth, long-lasting, pigmented and blendable. The textures of a few of the shades like African Violet, Kir Royal and Primrose seem just slightly inferior to others, like Truffle, which is unimaginably silky and buttery, but the palette certainly does not contain any duds.

Half of the shades are matte (Plum Smoke, Violet Ink, Vanilla Nuts, Fresco, Truffle and Espresso Bean), while the others have varying degrees of shimmer (African Violet and Bamboo being the most shimmery). There is a fairly good mix of lighter and darker shades and neutrals and color, which makes the palette incredibly versatile. Day and night looks are equally attainable with the selection of shades included in this palette.

Today, I'm wearing the first five shadows in the bottom row - Primrose all over the lid, Fresco through the crease, Bamboo and Truffle on the outer third of the lid, and Vanilla Nuts on the brow bone.

If the shades in this year's Artist's Palette are your cup of tea, you really can't go wrong with having this beauty in your collection. It's an excellent deal, and the quality of the shadows is fantastic.

For those who are able to partake in Sephora's VIB sale that ends tomorrow, online stock of the Artist's Palette seems to have been depleted several days ago, but I would recommend checking in stores. My local Sephora had at least three palettes still in stock when I checked earlier today - Good luck!

Laura Mercier Artist's Palette for Eyes is available from Sephora (no longer online) for $48.


My Go-To Cleanser for Spotty, Blemish-Prone Skin.

I've expressed my adoration for Osmia Organics a few times before, and I'll just quickly reiterate that if you have not yet tried the Detox Exfoliating Mask (reviewed here), what are you waiting for? Do yourself a favor and order a bottle now, or at least add it to your holiday wishlist. Trust me.

Another Osmia product I've been trying out for the past few months has been their Black Clay Facial Soap. I was initially hesitant simply due to the product name containing the word 'soap,' something I've learned to associate with dry, stripped skin, but I just went with it because I trusted the brand that much, and you know what? I'm glad I did. It has quickly become a staple in my collection because no other cleanser I've tried can do what it does.

The Black Clay Facial Soap contains black Australian clay and deep sea mud that draw out oil and impurities and cleanse the skin, while organic almond, avocado and castor bean oil condition and moisturize the skin. Although the soap does create a lather, it does so with the help of coconut milk rather than SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), which is a common ingredient in many other soaps and is known to strip the skin of moisture.

After wetting the soap, just a few swipes of the soap in my hands provide enough lather to cleanse my face. I'd imagine that the Black Clay Facial Soap will last me quite a long time, despite its size! I do experience a tiny bit of the squeaky-clean feeling after rinsing the soap off, but my skin doesn't feel tight or stripped of moisture post-cleanse. It's important to note that the Black Clay Facial Soap is best for normal, problem or combination skin types, and those with drier skin types may fare better with Osmia's Rose Clay Facial Soap.

Now, why has a soap become a staple in my skincare routine, you ask? Let me tell you. Several weeks ago, I experienced a terrible bout of breakouts that all started as painful, under-the-skin blemishes. I tried slapping on hefty doses of my usual overnight spot treatment for a few days to no avail. They kept progressing and showed no signs of stopping any time soon. Then, I decided to start cleansing my skin with the Black Clay Facial Soap morning and night. After one day (I know it sounds ridiculous, but it's the truth), I noticed a significant improvement. My blemishes felt much less painful, were noticeably less red, and had gotten a bit smaller and looked like they were finally starting on the decline. Two to three days later of cleansing with the soap and my skin had finally calmed down and was back to normal. I was in awe.

Since then, any time I feel a spot coming on, I start back up on the Black Clay Facial Soap twice a day routine to stop it in its tracks. Works like a charm every time. When my skin is blemish-free, I tend to use other cleansers simply because they feel more luxurious and hydrating, especially in the colder weather, but I would never even think about not having the Black Clay Facial Soap on hand at all times. Spotty skin, be gone.

Osmia Organics Black Clay Facial Soap is available on their website for $22 (2.25 oz).

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