New masks reviewed–keep or return?

Masks are such an indulgence–but sheesh–I really love them! And with the Sephora’s recent 20% off sale, I grabbed some high profile products to try.

I’ve only used these a few times over the past couple weeks, but I definitely have some first impressions I thought I’d share, especially since masks make great gifts or ways to use the onslaught of Sephora gift cards that will hopefully be coming your way this holiday season. (or truly–you can just go to sephora and get samples–which is perfect for trying out new masks.)

All of these masks have received not only high marks on but also have logged a lot of reviews. Are they worth the cash? Do you really see a difference? Let’s find out!

OLEHENRIKSEN, Cold Plunge Pore Mask: Full disclosure–I got this one a few months ago but I’m not sure I ever wrote about it. Of all the masks, I’ve found this one to be the most basic, but also has the best and most reviews of all these options. It’s not terribly different than a clay mask you can get at Walgreens for a fraction of the cost. And from my POV–I’d save my money on this one. It’s kinda thick and gunky. It definitely has a cooling sensation. But I would not say it’s pore minimizing which it claims in the description. If you were having troubles with breakouts, this would definitely be your option in the bunch, but again, I think there are better options out there for the price.

Omorovicza Cosmetics, Deep Cleansing Mask:  This one is DEFINITELY the most expensive of the bunch. Like by a lot! I got it as part of a three-pack of products called, Omorovicza Heroes. All of these products, especially the mask are extremely lux. The scent is straight up spa. Does it work? It does. My skin really looks fantastic after using it. Very bright and fresh. There is a noticeable difference after using it that isn’t just temporary. My skin still looks good a few days after. This mask has great reviews and people are definitely obsessed–and I can see why. It also carries the Clean at Sephora™ designation and is CF, which makes me happy. Should you rush out and buy it? If you feel like your skin needs a wake up call or you need something that gives you a 20 minute spa experience–sure. But I would mainly recommend it in this setting and during a discount period.

Drunk Elephant, T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial™: Because if you really are having a skin emergency–dull skin, roughness, just general blah skin–this would be the product I would recommend more than any other. I’m having a serious Drunk Elephant moment and this product is another home run for me. I picked this up in the checkout line as a smaller trial size. While I’m sure the per ounce price jacks up an already pricey product sky high, I would definitely recommend going that route before spending $80 on a mask to make sure it’s a good match for you. It’s got a weird color but goes on easily. It does generate a tingling sensation to your skin and I would only use it at night. The trial size I bought came with a tiny vial of the virgin marula oil. It is recommended to put the oil on after removing the mask. I have been doing this, but any moisturizer will work. I do want to note thought–I actually don’t find it that drying even though it’s basically an acid peel at home. But it doesn’t hurt to load up on the moisturizer just to be safe. All Drunk Elephant products are also Clean at Sephora™ certified.

Summer Fridays, Jet Lag Mask: I’m struggling the most with this one. It’s extremely weird. Let me try to explain. The whole point of the mask is hydration. To be fair–I haven’t actually flown anywhere and worn it there like it’s name suggestions. (when I do fly–i tend to load up on an oil like Josie Maran, Kora Organics, Acure Organics or whatever i happen to have at that moment. anyway!) When you put it on, your face legit looks like you have a filter on it. It’s kind of amazing and also kinda weird. You have NO pores when wearing the mask. Yet, it’s not meant as a primer. It also feels like you have a seal on your face. Like wax on Gouda cheese. But it also doesn’t FEEL waxy. It’s like if you mixed a little wax or plastic into your moisturizer. It’s also a mask you don’t have to take it off. You can just wear it overnight. Like a souped up lotion. But you can also remove it after 20 minutes. I’ve used it both ways. Putting it on and sleeping in it and removing it after a spell with a warm wash cloth, as recommended. But here’s my complaint, when you sleep in it and wake up in the morning, it feels exactly like how it felt when you went to bed. But when I rinse it off in the shower, my skin doesn’t actually feel more hydrated than days when I just follow my overall routine. So it feels good on–but I just don’t know that it’s doing anything. With all that said–I also haven’t had any major redness or skin episodes that may call for a mask like this–however, I’m not sure I ever really do.  Overall–I think it needs to go back.

Kora Organics, Turmeric 2-in-1 Brightening & Exfoliating Mask: I weirdly really like this one. I’ve used it a few times in the morning in the shower and it really softens my skin and gives it a glow. It also has a tingling effect but it’s not annoying and doesn’t make my skin red. The reviews are also super strong on this one although there aren’t as many of them as the Cold Plunge mask. It’s a grainy mask with pretty big pieces in it. It doesn’t feel abrasive, it just really feels like your skin is getting a good clean. And it feels like you really accomplished something when you use it.  I’m a fan and I also like that it’s part of the Clean at Sephora™ collections.

There you have it! I wish I could take back the Cold Plunge but I think it’s been too long. The Summer Friday needs to be returned, but the others are all very solid masks just as the reviews state that I think I’ll be keeping. They all do sort of a similar thing but in different ways. If I had to choose just one, I’d go with the Drunk Elephant but the Kora Organics would be right behind.

Any masks you’re loving? Anything you picked up during all the sale periods you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Reviewing some new purchases: Flesh, Born to Run collection, Dose of Color and Essence

I’m so excited the weather has decided to return us to what our August SHOULD’VE felt like–sunny, 80s and dry–in September! It gives me an excuse to continue trying out looks and products I picked up at the end of the summer season so I can slowly transition my look into fall.

A trip to Chicago in July lead to a spontaneous Ulta visited where I grabbed some new to me lines: a Flesh Firm Flesh Thickstick Foundation (this name is ridiculous) in 10, Pudding “light medium beige, neutral undertones”and my first Dose of Color product, their Block Party Single Eyeshadow, in Shell We Dance “pink champagne base w/ platinum reflects.”

Another random Ulta visit put the Urban Decay Born to Run palette in my hands, along with two eyeliners from the collection: Double Life, a “reddish-brown metallic” and Overdrive, a “deep green metallic.” I had my eye on this collection for a while but felt like getting another palette and more eyeliners was absurd. Boy, am I glad I gave in and just got it!

my new pick-ups taking my look from summer to fall

Finally, I ended up ordering Ulta online–some deal or something I’m sure–a Dose of Colors, Matte Liquid Lipstick in Campfire “burnt sienna,” and another Flesh stick in 08, Custard “light, neutral undertones.” Plus I started trying out an Essence Satin Touch Blush in Satin Coral and Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara I had acquired along the way but hadn’t started using.

My summer has been dominated by all things peach. I love that fresh squeezed summer shade–really natural but with a little pep in its step. Mostly this summer I kept things pretty light with CC cream or really light coverage foundation, mandatory bronzer, brow gel, mascara, a single swipe of a peachy eyeshadow and a little peach blush and lipstick. (okay–that actually sounds like a lot of makeup–i guess it is!)

typical summer look–all things peachy

This new round of makeup has been a perfect addition to my summer favorites and will definitely carry me into the new season.

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A smattering of Milk Makeup products reviewed

There’s something about a stick. As you know–I really hate products in pots. Pumps are awesome and squeezy tubes are fine, but I’ve always loved products that are packaged in sticks.

My favorite foundation for forever has been a Tarte Colored Clay CC Primer, which I rarely mention because it’s ALWAYS on sale on the website so I’m certain it will be disappearing into the ether soon. (and why i hoard several for the future.) But it was the first stick foundation I ever tried and I’ve been hooked on sticks ever since.

Sticks are just so convenient. You swipe it on, rub it–and bam–you’re done! No mess, no brush, no worries. And they are really easy for travel–TSA-friendly–plus super fast to put on in the car. (not that you should apply makeup while driving…)

So Milk Makeup’s packaging really speaks to me. And there’s also something about the clear containers that look really fresh and make me reach for them regularly.

Back in September, I ordered the Matcha Toner stick. I don’t really understand toner, so I’ve never used it with regularity. The description for this product says “The world’s first solid facial toner removes oil and detoxifies pores.” Okay!

Here’s the thing–since I got it in September–I use it every day, twice a day. And you can see from the photo, there’s still some left and I got it months ago.

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Empties: some old favorites but new reasons not to repurchase

It’s that time again! Time to go through my trash with you, aka my empties.

Giovanni 2chic Ultra Sleek Body Wash, Brazilian Keratin & Argon Oil: This is my favorite body wash. Period. It’s exfoliating and moisturizing. Adn I blow through these. Luckily, they are pretty cheap. Only $8.99 and I can get it at Festival Foods. So yup–repurchasing.

Dermalogica, Antioxidant HydraMist: I know we talk A LOT about the Mario Badescu spray–and for good reason. But I have a secret love for this mist. I bought it several years ago after getting a facial at Indulge Spa on the eastside and loving how it smelled. But then I didn’t love it when I got home. So I texted Pamela to see what the deal is with the spray and how to use it. (this whole talking products thing has been going on a long time, folks!) She gave me a nice primer on it–use it sparingly and give it time to soak in before going on to a next step. Since then I’ve been hooked. But because it’s kinda pricey, I only use it in the mornings and I’ve been using it just as a post makeup spritz to make it look a little more fresh and less make-upy. Pamela has recently told me I should use it as a toner and spray it on after washing my face at night–so I’m doing that now, too. I love this stuff. And it has already been repurchased.

BareMinerals, Oil Obsessed Total Cleansing Oil: : I’ve already told you how much I love this and that I already repurchased it!

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Eye Swirl Gel Cream Treatment: So yeah. I’ve had this for a minute.

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My Ulta 20% off purchases reviewed

Yesterday, I ventured into the west side Ulta to make some returns I’d been sitting on since their 20% off sale. I had been holding out because 1) I was still trying some things 2) I was afraid of holiday crowds 3) I’m a horrible procrastinator.

But I finally got it all together and went to make the return–only to find I was 2 days past the 60 day deadline. They still let me do it, but it was an ordeal. So note to self–and to you–get on those returns!

So what made the cut and what didn’t? Here you go!

NYX Lid Lingerie Eye Tint in Rose Pearl

First off–these are $6.99 without the 20% off–so it’s not a big investment. I just wish I liked it more. I might try other color and see if it’s better but I don’t really like the Rose Pearl and I kinda forgot I even had it until just now.

NYX The Skinny Mascara

Yeah–this is good. I use it on my lower lashes and it’s the right size. And it’s cheap. A good buy.

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Empties: sleeping masks, hair products and fancy face creams

I’ve used up a bunch of stuff–what did I think, would I repurchase, should you get on board?–let’s find out together!

Sudzz, AquaFix® Hydrating Conditioner: I’ve been using this conditioner for years! I’ve tried other samples and things but I always come back. I get it from my salon, It has already been repurchased.

DevaCurl, WAVE MAKER™ Touchable Texture Whip: I kinda liked this stuff. It was easy to pack when I traveled for work and was really light but kept my hair manageable. I haven’t repurchased yet because I have a ton of hair stuff right now. But I would pick it up again.

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First impressions–the Subculture palette–is it really that bad?

I love the Anastasia Beverly Hills eye shadows so much. Not only is Modern Renaissance my must have pick from the past year, I’ve been slowly building a pretty nice collection of ABH single shadows to fill my Tarte magnetic palette.

So like everyone else–I was so excited when Subculture launched.

I posted this photo on our Facebook page–and number of the comments went right to the Subculture palette hiding in the mix–so I know I’m not alone.

And why shouldn’t we be curious?! ABH has a stellar track record on shadows.

One of the main selling points for me is the palette features my new eye shadow color obsession: green.

I have never liked my eye color, swampwater hazel. But over the past year, I’ve found that if I go with a green based smokey eye, I can almost make them pull more green than orangey weird.

In fact, one of the first shadows I picked up for my magnet palette was ABH’s Emerald single shadow. It’s a beauty.  The only downside is it’s a shimmer and I tend to prefer matte shadows.

Subculture features three green based shades: Untamed – Ultra-matte tarnished green, Axis – Ultra-matte blue-green, Destiny – Ultra-matte sage green

Not only green, but matte.

But they are also unusable.

I’ve watched a few YouTube reviews of this palette and they basically all eviscerate it. Is it really that bad?

Yeah. It kind of is.

One of the main critiques is how powdery or soft the shadows are–I’ve seen examples of shadows falling apart in the pan when they put a brush in them.

I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. Mine isn’t quite so bad.

But they are still a mess.

I took this photo this morning. I’ve used it three times since I traveled with it last week and I cleaned it up when I had it at the hotel.

So that’s how much powder kicks up when you use it.

residue from tapping the powder off my brush. and i use a light hand.

And the powder isn’t just messy–it’s hard to control when you try to use it.

I actually really like two of the orange/peach transition colors: Dawn and Roxy. The problem is to apply them, I have to carefully tap my brush in the pan, then tap off the excess powder, then rub off more of the powder on the back of my hand and then actually put it on my eyes.

That’s too many steps. And those are the easiest shades to use.

The green ones DO. NOT. MOVE. I just can’t get them to blend. So even if I set what I think is a decent wash to my lids, when I go in with one of the green shadows to add some dimension in the corner, it’s impossible to blend. So the shadow just sits there and looks like you’ve been punched in the eyes and the bruise is starting to fade.

I should’ve taken a picture of yesterday’s look. I really tried. And it took way more time than I’m willing to spend in the mornings on eye shadow. But it was still a mess.

In fact, it was so bad, I took this picture of myself last night after I washed my face. And there is still green shadow hanging out around my rims. It does not move!

Today, I decided to use the color All Star, a reddish plum color. It was a little better than the greens.

Not as much fall out, and I was able to control it a little better.

I couldn’t get good light for a decent picture, but the point is–at least it’s not all over my face and doesn’t look like I hurt myself.

So there are two main problems for me with this palette:

  1. I bought it for the greens, but I can’t make them work.
  2. I’m not good enough, patient enough or care enough about eye shadow to take the time necessary to put a decent look together.

If I had hours to spend on eye shadow–first of all, I still wouldn’t–but maybe I could get those greens to blend. But I don’t.

My recommendation–as sad as I am to say it–is to pass on this palette.

I’m hoping NYX or some other brand sees all the enthusiasm for these colors and puts together a dupe palette with green matte shadow options.

I’ll be returning my palette to Sephora–along with a number of other people, I’m sure–and dreaming of perfectly formulated green shadow palette while continuing to use Modern Renaissance.

Did you get Subculture? What did you think? Were you able to make this palette work? Do you have a hack that I should try before returning it? I’m all ears!

Per usual–I spent my own money to try this palette. Money it looks like I’ll be getting back.


Pretty good actually: current drugstore makeup favorites

While it’s true—I just spent way too much money during the Sephora spring sale—there’s been a lot of drugstore items I’ve been using in heavy rotation lately.

I have my tried and trues that have already been mentioned.  We talk about the Maybelline Eyestudio® ColorTattoo® 24HR Cream Gel Eye ad nauseum,  I’ve posted about my love for the Maybelline® Instant Age Rewind® Eraser Dark Circles Concealer + Treatment on our Facebook page (are you following? you should!) and the L’Oreal Voluminous Million Lash Mascara will always be in my makeup bag.

But lately I’ve ventured out and found some drugstore products—some new releases, some just new to me—that I’m totally digging.

Makeup in rotation

Here’s just a few:

Physician’s Formula ® Bronzer Light:  This bronzer has been a YouTube favorite for a while, but I hadn’t tried it until a recently. CVS had a little sale going (still does) so I picked it up. It is exactly as promised—perfection! I don’t generally wear bronzer because the color always seems wrong on me and I feel like I look too made up. (always an issue for me—loving makeup but being more comfortable with a no-makeup makeup look.) Since I picked it up, I’ve been wearing this daily. I love it.

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First impressions: Girlfriend Collective leggings

I’ve mentioned before that I rarely go on Facebook.  Maybe once a day.  And I certainly never click the ads when I’m on FB.  But then there was this “free leggings” ad.  Free leggings from Girlfriend Collective. The ad looked nice, pleasing to the eye.  The leggings pictured looked flattering and actually like they could be kind of expensive – like the original Nike legends or Lululemon wunder unders – both of which I have had in the past and loved.  But ok, free?  What’s the catch?  So I clicked.  I proceeded to read all about these free leggings.  They’re eco friendly (made from recycled plastic bottles.) High waisted (12 inch rise that sits above your bellybutton). Shaping with a perfect amount of compression, but comfortable as the fabric responds to your body heat and molds to your body.  All this with a high end look and feel.   Ok, but still what’s the catch?  Their retail cost is $70, but during this pre-launch campaign they’re FREE with a shipping cost of $19.95.  Ahh…. ok.  So, not free.  Why $19.95 shipping though?  Because this pre-launch batch of leggings is coming directly from their factories in Vietnam.  Ok, seems legit.  I was intrigued, so I kept reading.  They have a serious amount of very specific information on their website!  And I suddenly found myself convinced that they were going to be the best leggings I’ve ever owned.  And what’s 20 bucks anyway?  Add up the cost of all the stupid leggings that I’ve gotten from Target and Forever21 that fit like crap and are faded and gross…. and that equals WAY more than $19.95.  So I pulled the trigger.  The thing is though, it would take about three months to get them. So three months went by, and yesterday I finally got them!  And I wore them last night to yoga.  Not to practice yoga but to teach, so basically I was walking around in a hot room wearing them.  Having worn them for only just that one time, allow me to share my thoughts and feelings…..   Continue reading