The Skincare Products I Wish I Didn't Need But Really Do

Listen, beauty blogging is a lot more glamorous when we're talking about lip glosses and sparkly eyeshadows, but sometimes you have to talk about the not-so-pretty stuff too, ya know? I wanted to talk about some products (one in particular) that have helped me combat breakouts on my back and chest, because I know some of you may be suffering from the same problem. 

No one wants to walk into Sephora and say, "Excuse me, could you help me find a product to help with my bacne?" but at the same time, it sucks to not feel comfortable wearing certain things, especially in the warmer months, because you're embarrassed. Believe me, I get it. I went to a wedding a few weekends ago and right before I stepped out of the car, I decided to check my makeup in the mirror and realized I probably needed to extend my concealer onto the spots that managed to pop up on my chest in the day or two prior (proof below). Sigh. 

Even in a fuzzy, front-facing camera quality photo, you can still see some of the spots near my collarbone.

Murad sent me a few of their acne-combating body care products recently, and when I opened the box, I literally said, "Yes! An acne body spray!" Yes, I'm sad. I know. Although I'm not much into using face wipes these days, the Clarifying Wipes ($18) for blemish-prone skin are fantastic post-workout or after a day at the pool or beach. I love how clean they make my skin feel, and I like using them to quickly freshen up my face and body after something sweat-inducing when you can't jump in the shower right away. These are great to keep stashed in your pool/beach/gym bag. Since they're meant to be clarifying, they're fantastic at removing sweat and oil, two things that love collecting in pores and causing unsightly breakouts. 

The Acne Body Wash ($40) with 1.0% salicylic acid has a slightly menthol scent, a cooling effect once applied to the skin and a sugar scrub-like texture. I reserve this for use on my "problem areas," like my chest and back, and use my regular body wash for everywhere else. It makes my skin feel refreshed and soothed.

My favorite product of the bunch, hands down, is the Clarifying Body Spray ($40) with 0.5% salicylic acid. I spray it across my chest and back once I've dried off after my shower, and I give it a minute or two to dry before getting dressed. It's a light mist that is completely clear, so it feels like nothing on the skin and doesn't get on clothing. I sometimes use it at night before bed, too, and I haven't noticed it drying out my skin whatsoever. Similarly to the body wash, the menthol provides a cooling effect that is really refreshing. The spray bottle even works when held upside down, making it easy to reach more difficult areas like my back. 

With consistent use of the Acne Body Wash and Clarifying Body Spray, I noticed the skin on my chest and back cleared up completely after about two weeks, and it's stayed breakout-free ever since. In my mind, I've attributed more of this to the body spray than to the body wash, simply because the spray is a leave-on treatment that continues to work throughout the day. While I like the wipes and the body wash, my must-have is the body spray. It's definitely a product I plan on purchasing once I run out.

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.


ColourPop Cosmetics Lippie Stix in Rocket and Scandy

When I placed my ColourPop Cosmetics order for Nillionaire eyeshadow, I knew I had to at least try a couple of their Lippie Stix too. I'd heard great things about their satin and matte formulas, in particular, so I settled on Rocket and Scandy, both satins. In retrospect, I maybe should have gotten at least two different finishes, just so I could compare, but oh well. 

ColourPop Cosmetics Lippie Stix in Rocket ($5) is a bright, warm coral, and Scandy is a neon, cool-toned fuchsia. They both look a bit creamier on the lips than what I would consider to be a true satin finish, but they're not glossy either. The Lippie Stix are pigmented! They're opaque in one pass, and they glide on during application without tugging at my lips. I find the slim, slanted lipstick shape makes it easier to achieve a precise application as well. Both Rocket and Scandy last about 6 hours on me, without needing any touch ups. They wear away nice and evenly (no settling into lip lines here), and they're hydrating enough to make it comfortable to wear, even for longer periods of time.

ColourPop Cosmetics Lippie Stix in Rocket (far left) and Scandy (second from left)
*all other products swatched here will be in separate posts
Wearing ColourPop Cosmetics Lippie Stix in Rocket (left) and Scandy
Both Rocket and Scandy are bright! They're great summer shades, and at only $5 each, I don't hesitate at all in recommending them. For my next ColourPop order, I have my eye on a few more muted lip shades in a variety of different finishes as well. 


blotterazzi by beautyblender

Sometimes I buy stupid things that are a waste of money. This is one of those times.

It was one of those late-night online shopping kind of moments. Those will be the death of me. But anyway, I was just in one of those 'I want to buy something' kind of moods. I'd heard beautyblender had just released this new thing called blotterazzi, a reusable alternative to blotting sheets. "I have an oily t-zone. I blot my face a lot. I need these," I thought. And so I bought them, and quite literally, ten seconds after I did, I wondered if it might have been a mistake. Yeah, it was one of those purchases.
It's not that I hate them. It's just that they don't even work as well as the brown Starbucks napkins I always have on hand and currently use (what? I go to Starbucks a lot and I have an oily t-zone, so naturally....), and mind you, these cost $20 (please refer back to the opening line of this post). 

blotterazzi ($20) comes with two tear-shaped blotting sponges that are made from the same material as beauty blenders. You're meant to use them dry and dab them onto any oily areas and they absorb the oil without disrupting your makeup. That part is true, actually. I notice that when I use these, they really do leave my makeup intact and I don't really see any transfer onto the sponge. However, compared to a napkin or tissue paper or traditional blotting sheet, these don't absorb nearly as much oily, in my experience. It's nice at first, because it takes down a lot of the obvious shine without completely mattifying the skin, but then I noticed I'll need to blot again a short time later (maybe 30 minutes to an hour?), whereas I could normally go for considerably longer periods in between blotting with the other types.

A positive about blotterazzi is the case. The compact is really adorable and perfect for carrying around in your handbag, and the mirror is awesome. Also included is a clear teardrop-shaped plastic sheet that says "don't toss me; keep me" as it's meant to separate a used sponge from a clean one. The bottom surface of the compact has holes to allow ventilation, so presumably, the used sponge should be kept on the bottom. Before I realized this, I kept mine on top and noticed my mirror got oily. #gross The sponges themselves are reusable and can be cleaned with the beautyblender soap (or probably any brush soap).

Final verdict? The oil-absorbing properties of blotterazzi are mediocre, its ability to not disrupt existing makeup is fantastic and the design of the compact is great, but as a whole, it's nowhere near being worth the $20 price tag. 

In my next life, I hope I don't fall for gimmicky products so easily. One can only hope.


The Toner That Is Dehydrated Skin's Best Friend

During one of my frequent browsing sessions of the 'Just Arrived' section on sephora.com, I noticed the addition of a new skincare brand - belif. After a few weeks and a couple reviews started trickling in for their products, I noticed a common theme - they all had really good reviews. Although I didn't intend on trying anything just yet, as my skincare stash was already overflowing as it was, the belif Bergamot Herbal Extract Toner ($28) piqued my interest when I saw it in-store. As someone with a combination skin type who suffers from a very oily t-zone but skin that can otherwise tend to feel dry/tight/dehydrated, a toner formulated specifically to balance normal to combination skin types sounded right up my alley.

The two main ingredients in the belif Bergamot Herbal Extract Toner are bergamot, intended to balance and soothe, and sage, for hydration. It has a gel-liquid consistency that is more viscous than your typical liquid toner. Using a cotton pad, I apply it once or twice daily (always in the morning, sometimes at night too) on cleansed skin, and the soothing properties are instantaneous. Once dry, it leaves a veil of hydration atop the skin that you can literally feel if you touch your skin. It really helps to lock in the moisture from my moisturizer that I apply after it, and it doesn't disrupt other skincare or makeup products that sit on top of it. It's gentle enough to be used twice a day, and I can feel the difference in my skin when I don't use it.

In the past, the types of toners I tended to go for were those that had more clarifying and oil-controlling properties, but as my skin changed over the years, my focus has switched to those that are more balancing, and the belif Bergamot Herbal Extract Toner does a wonderful job at that. I love how it envelops my skin with a veil of moisture without making my t-zone more reactive. In fact, it actually helps to tone down my oil production by pulling my skin out of its dehydrated state and creating a more balanced one.

So yeah, you could say my dehydrated skin and I are fans.


The Flashiest Neutral Eyeshadow Ever

It's impossible to not have heard all the buzz surrounding ColourPop Cosmetics at this point. Everyone's been raving about their eyeshadows and lippie stix so much that it was only a matter of time before I caved. I placed an order for an array of different products that I'll review in a few different posts, but first up is the only eyeshadow in my order - Nillionaire.
Nillionaire ($5) is the reason I placed my order, and what pushed me over the edge was seeing it on EmilyNoel83 in this video. Holy gorgeousness. This one certainly did not disappoint. It's described as a warm bronze with gold and multi-colored glitter with a metallic finish, and that's really spot-on. It's so flashy and reflective that I had to figure out how to capture all the different colored glitter particles in it, because that's what really sets it apart and makes it eye-catching and unique. You definitely won't be reaching for Nillionaire when you want a subtle, subdued look.

I apply it by patting it on with my finger over eye primer, because I don't want to risk the glitter traveling anywhere. It's pigmented, but not 100% opaque, which is fine with me, since I bought it for the glitter and sheen and not necessarily for the pigment itself. My intention was to use it on top of another eyeshadow for some added sparkle, but it definitely has enough color and pigment to be used on its own.

The swatches below are both somewhat out of focus because I wanted to capture the sparkle. See the purple glitter particles in the right swatch?

Wearing ColourPop Cosmetics Nillionaire on the lid
Needless to say, I'm absolutely smitten with this eyeshadow. It's all kinds of beautiful and then some. In a sea of neutral eyeshadows that essentially make up my entire collection at this point, Nillionaire stands out in the best way possible. I love how just a touch of it can spice up even the most snooze-worthy of neutral shadow combinations. The formula is surprisingly long-wearing and easy to work with, using my fingers. It definitely impressed me and has me curious to try more of ColourPop Cosmetics' eyeshadow finishes. Did I mention it's only $5?


Just When I Thought I Didn't Need Another BB Cream...

Unlike many beauty bloggers who tend to feel otherwise, I'm actually a fan of BB creams. I think of them as an alternative to tinted moisturizers and enjoy slapping this type of product on during the daytime for an easy dose of hydration, coverage and often times, sun protection. I already have a few BB/CC cream-type products that I like and wasn't really on the market for another, but when the new(ish) L'Occitane Imortelle Precious BB Cream SPF30 found its way into my makeup bag, I obviously had to give it a try. 
L'Occitane Imortelle Precious BB Cream SPF30 ($45) is available in three shades: Fair, Light and Medium. At the time when I received these, I probably matched closest to Light, so as luck would have it, I was sent only Fair and Medium. The former is far too pale and pink for me, and the latter was far too dark. Luckily, after being out in the sun on a few different occasions recently (always wearing SPF, of course!), my complexion got a bit of color, making the Medium shade more workable. If I had to guess, I'd say Medium is about NC30-32ish, which makes me scratch my head, since it's the deepest shade they offer.

I really love that the L'Occitane Imortelle Precious BB Cream SPF30 offers substantial sun protection. It's perfect for daily use in the summertime. The formula itself is neither drying nor hydrating. I apply it with my fingers over moisturized skin, and I prefer this method of application over using a brush or sponge in order to not take away any of the light-medium coverage. Upon initial application, Medium appears to match my now NC27 complexion perfectly, but it oxidizes by the time I'm done with the rest of my makeup and settles into what is more of an NC30-32. It evens out my skin beautifully, and the dewy finish makes me look radiant and glowing. I love the finish. It reminds me a lot of the finish my beloved IT Cosmetics CC+ Creme gives, except this one feels lighter on the skin. I definitely still need concealer on my blemishes, but that is to be expected, considering this is only a BB cream and not a high-coverage foundation. I have to set at least my t-zone with powder, due to the dewier finish, and I find the lasting power to be average - not extraordinary, but definitely not horrible either. The dewiness would perhaps not be best suited for oily skin types, but all others could make it work, I think.

Before (left) and After
Wearing L'Occitane Imortelle Precious BB Cream SPF30 in Medium
Besides my qualms regarding the shades (Why only 3 shade options? Why is the darkest shade only Medium?), my other main concern is the price. At $45 for a 1.3 oz tube, the L'Occitane Imortelle Precious BB Cream SPF30  costs just as much as the Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme, although the Dior only contains 1.0 oz of product. I know L'Occitane is a high-end skincare brand; I'm just a tiny bit surprised they would price their BB cream so high, especially since it's their first foray into makeup products.

At the end of the day, I really, really like this BB cream (the finish is beautiful), but I don't love the shade match on me (I hate when products oxidize), and I'm not sure I like it enough to shell out $45 for a tube. I'll just have to enjoy mine while it lasts.

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.


New glo minerals Eye Shadow Shades!

You guys know I'm a big fan of the glo minerals Metallic Smoky Eye Kit. The bronzey quad has some of the most buttery shadows I've ever tried, and there's absolutely no need for eye primer because they're incredibly pigmented, long-wearing and crease-proof on their own. I actually included that palette in my Overrated or Underrated? post, obviously as a product that's completely underrated. Suffice it to say I was curious and excited to try some of glo mineral's eye shadow singles to see how they compared. I was sent four of their new shades for summer.

Clockwise from left: Vintage, Coy, Dove and Graphite
L to R: Vintage, Coy, Dove and Graphite
The first three are matte. Vintage is a mauve-brown. It's similar to MAC Quarry, except it's warmer and more pink. Coy is a peachy-tan, and Dove is a stone gray with a hint of lilac. Graphite is shimmery navy-charcoal.

Formula wise, I find these are not quite as buttery as the shadows in the Metallic Smoky Eye Kit, but they're still really smooth in their own right. These blend effortlessly, and the pigmentation is meant to be light but easily buildable, which I can vouch for. With one layer, the color is sheer, but you can pack on the color to increase the pigmentation to full intensity as well, without it ever looking heavy or packed on. I wore Dove for the first time without primer, and I found it had significant fading (but not creasing) by the end of my work day. Over primer, however, these last beautifully all day without budging.

I've been loving Coy as a crease blending shade, and it's quite a bit peachier than any similar shades I have in my collection. I love a bit of warmth in my shadows, so this one is perfect. Dove is a shade I didn't think would suit me, as gray shadows tend to turn blue on me, but surprisingly, it works because it still has a bit of warmth in it. Being a fan of purple tones, Vintage is one of my favorites of the bunch, and I like that it tends to lean more purple than pink on me. Graphite isn't a shade I'd typically gravitate towards, but I found a good use for it in using it as liner. The blue undertone really suits my brown eyes.

Wearing glo minerals Dove on the lid and Coy through the crease
Wearing Bobbi Brown Cement on the lid and glo minerals Vintage through the crease
The lovely people at glo minerals are offering all of my readers 15% off your purchase on glo minerals' site with code WORK4MAKEUP. I'm really enjoying these single eye shadows, but if I had to recommend something, I would absolutely recommend the Metallic Smoky Eye Kit and their Suede Matte Crayons (reviews here and here). Happy shopping!

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.


A Rare MAC Love

It's not that I don't love MAC, because I do, but I'm not nearly as obsessed with their products as I once was. I don't often use many of my MAC products anymore, and a purchase at MAC has become few and far between. Technically, I didn't even purchase the product in this post - I Back to MAC'd for it - but I would've gladly bought it as well, because it's so damn pretty. The star of this post is MAC Lipstick in Kinda Sexy.
Stupid name aside, MAC Kinda Sexy has really been floating my boat lately. I love it applied full on (like in the photo above), but it's also lovely dabbed into the lips and topped with a nude or peach gloss. It's described by MAC as a "neutral pinky-rose," but I find it has some peach in it too. It's a matte formulation, which I was afraid of because MAC's mattes can sometimes leave my lips feeling extremely parched and flaky, but I don't have any issues with Kinda Sexy. It doesn't drag as you're applying it, it's not chalky and it doesn't suck out all the moisture from my lips. Win, win, win. It's a step up from a nude because it's neutral with just a touch more liveliness to it, but it still suits an array of different looks. I haven't heard too much buzz surrounding Kinda Sexy, but it's definitely one to look into for an everyday matte lip.

MAC Kinda Sexy
So that's my rare MAC love at the moment. It's kind of ironic, but some of my most loved MAC products are lipsticks I Back to MAC'd for, and not ones I necessarily paid for. I guess I tend to do more research into shades and finishes before letting go of my six empties :)


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.

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