Sunday, January 31, 2016

Valentine's Day Gift Guide: For Her

"Two to Tango" Notebook by Smythson $35 (personalization available)
Limited Edition Anna Sui Tumbler for Starbucks $22.95
Sugarfina XOXO Candy Bento Box  Set of Four $34 (individual cubes available)

The perfect Valentine's Day gifts to give your girlfriend, best friend, or even yourself...

Get hit with Cupid's arrow!

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Birchbox "Korean Beauty" January 2016 Review

Manefit Beauty Planner Cucumber

This mask has a lot of product on it and feels deeply moisturizing when you apply it to your face.  Admittedly, it does feel very cool when you first put it on, so make sure you're not a in a chilly environment! It has a really nice, natural smell that reminds me of white grapes. It's really easy to use - just cleanse your face and apply for 15-20 minutes. When you're done with the mask, just remove it and pat the excess product on your face until its fully absorbed - no need to wash it off. When I took the mask off, my skin felt very hydrated and smooth, albeit a little bit splochy (red) in places. If you're looking for a hydrating mask, this is perfect. If you're looking for a calming one, I might suggest another - perhaps one with chamomile or rose in it.

The only thing that was a bit confusing about this product is that the mask has two layers, a regular sheet one and a mesh one. The instructions on the packaging don't tell you at which side should be in contact with your skin. I guessed that it was the side without the mesh.

RE:P Bio Fresh Mask with Real Calming Herb

The first thing I noticed about this mask is how similar it smells, looks, and feels to the one I already regularly use - Lush's BB Seaweed Mask (minus the thick seaweed bits and the cooling effect since that one needs to be refrigerated). This one's really easy to use. You just apply it to clean, dry skin, leave on for 5-10 minutes, and wash off with lukewarm water. It has a really soothing herbal smell, mostly of Eucalyptus I think, so it is great to use before you go to bed at night. 

I actually tried the cleansing foam below first, which was not so great for my skin type. So, I was a bit hesitant to try this other Goodal product because of it. I have to say I'm so glad I gave this one a chance. The two products are like night and day and this one ended up being my favorite in the box. When you first take this out of the container it feels like a normal (albeit good quality) exfoliating scrub with medium-grain salt-like particles. However, once you apply it to your face it expands and foams up. It creates this incredibly unique mini-bubble texture that snaps and pops a bit (like Rice Krispies!). I felt the effects immediately afterward. My skin felt incredibly smooth and refreshed and my pores looked really clear. To clarify - I was a little confused by the name, but it's not a peel. It's sort of a wash-off cleanser mask hybrid. I would definitely like to buy this in the future, as soon as I use up some of the other skincare products I have right now.

Goodal Phytowash Yerba Mate Cleansing Foam

I was surprised how thick this cleanser is - both before and after you add water. It starts off as a sort of cream/gel and transforms into a very rich lather. It has a distinct botanic scent that's considerably stronger than the other products in this box. It's a very powerful product. Just a little bit goes a long way, and it took all my makeup off - even Tarte waterproof mascara! I have to admit it stung quite a bit even after I washed it off. My skin isn't usually very sensitive to product, so I'm afraid this one just wasn't for me.

Goodal Waterest First Essence

This product is refreshing and has a very pleasant botanic scent. I was surprised how much product I needed to use to cover my face - it was a good portion of the sample bottle! The effects were really too subtle for me to notice, but it did remind me a bit of a thinner version of my Be the Skin Botanical Toner from Peach & Lily, another Korean skincare product.

IPKN Flash Cream Radiant Primer

I've received samples for a few IPKN products before. Admittedly, I haven't purchased any because I have some other primers I like just as well that aren't quite as expensive. However, I have to say the IPKN ones are all very effective and pleasant. This one is great because it doesn't dry out your skin and really helps keep your make-up in place all day. I have a gel eyeliner I love to use that often "melts" and smudges a bit on my eyelids. When I used this primer, my eyeliner didn't smudge at all for the entire day and looked just as fresh as it did the moment I applied it!

TONYMOLY Delight Tony Tint

The first things I noticed when I opened this product were the sweet smell and the unique applicator (sort of like a fuzzy mascara wand). The scent is actually pretty nice. It reminds me of Smarties or Sweettarts candies. The color is extremely long-lasting. It is most definitely a stain not a gloss. The pigment is extremely saturated - literally blood red! Unfortunately I felt this color (#2 Red) just wasn't for me. I wasn't able to apply it very evenly since it's a stain. Your lips are naturally a different shade in different spots and I find that since stains seep in, they accentuate this; whereas a gloss or lipstick typically sits on top of your lips more and makes them look like a more uniform color. Because if the deep color, I actually felt like this tint made my lips look like they were bleeding! I think it would be a nice shade to use on your cheeks as well. Since my skin tone is quite fair I think it would be too dramatic for me, but suitable for almost any other skin tone.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

My Carry-On Essentials: Jet-Set Comfort & Style

Admit it - you love to travel but long flights are never as glamorous as they seem. It's hard to keep a beauty routine going when you've been breathing in stale cabin air for 7 hours and haven't had enough time for a proper night's sleep.

Today I'm sharing with you a few in-flight essentials I like to stow away in my carry-on bag whenever I have a long-haul trip. These little luxuries make me look and feel like a million bucks, even if I'm jet-lagged!

As you can tell, skincare is an absolute essential for me while traveling. Flying on an airplane for any extended period of time can take a serious toll on our skin - especially if your skin is already very dry, like mine.

Laneige is a fantastic Korean beauty and skincare brand that recently launched in the USA. It has a wonderful range of luxury products that are offered at a great value (the line is predominately sold nationwide via Target stores). The brand is owned by AMORE PACIFIC, the luxury line that has already made its way to the USA. In many ways Laniege offers a similar range to its luxury parent brand, just at a more accessible price point.

For daily use, the Laneige Water Bank Moisture Cream ($32 at Target) is hard to beat. This cream gives your skin an instant surge of moisture. It's unscented and goes on thick enough for you to really feel, but quickly absorbs. The active ingredients are Hydro Ionized Mineral Water and Biogen, which deliver 6 moisture-maximizing minerals deep into the skin. The moisturizing effect really does last all day and helps strengthen your skin's moisture barrier.

One thing I love about Laneige products is that they come with a plastic scoop you can use to remove the amount of product you need for each single use. That way, you don't have to worry about contaminating the rest of the jar with your hands or a makeup sponge.

The Laneige Water Sleeping Mask ($24 at Target) is the perfect way to relax your skin at the end of the day and is my favorite product in the Laneige line. This gel mask has an immediate cooling effect and goes on your skin more smoothly than any other skincare product I have ever tried. It's silky smooth and seeps right into your skin immediately upon application. It has a lovely botanic scent because it's infused with Orange Flower, Rose, and Sandalwood. The scent is extremely soothing and actually helps you get to sleep at night! Other active ingredients include Hunza Apricot Extract, acting as a brightening anti-oxidant, and Chestnut Extract for retexturizing.

This product is very easy to use, just apply evenly across your face after using a toner.  Once the product is absorbed completely, leave the treatment on overnight and rinse off in the morning. It's recommended to use this product once or twice per week.

The Laneige BB Cushion Compact ($34 at Target, includes refill) is the most natural looking foundation I've found on the market. It is also the best foundation for dry skin because the cushion compact retains the moisture in the product and gives your skin a dewy glow. My skin is pretty fair, so I used the "Light" color. However, I recently received a sample for this product in my Target Beauty Box, which included mini cushions in all 4 of the shades on offer: Light, Medium, Medium Dark, and Dark. Since the product blends in your skin so naturally, the 4 shades are easy to match with any skin tone.

This product also has some serious sun protection capabilities. Not only does it apply coverage like a foundation, but it is also a SPF 50+ broad spectrum sunscreen! This is perfect to bring along for any trip you're taking - skiing in The Alps or hitting the beach in Mexico.

I found that one cushion lasted me about a month. However, each cushion compact includes a refill too! So, it's actually a really great value and each purchase will last you a long time. Target has a special deal on right now for these compacts. With any $20 select skincare purchase, which would include any of these compacts, you will receive a $5 Target gift card!

The full-size versions of these products (what I've reviewed) should all meet TSA-approval for carry-on toiletries. The Water Bank Moisture Cream is 1.6 fluid ounces, the Water Sleeping Mask is 2.7 fluid ounces, and the BB Cushion Compact is .52 ounces. The perfect complement to Laneige's luxurious skincare routine when I'm "wheels up"? I brought along my Color Club nail polish and Fragonard fragrance towelettes so I could look, smell, and feel completely refreshed on a long-haul flight!

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This is a sponsored post. Laneige provided me with the Water Bank Moisture Cream, Water Sleeping Mask, and BB Cushion Compact for free for review purposes. I have since purchased another BB Cushion Compact and plan to buy more of their products!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Birchbox "All Wrapped Up" December 2015 Review

The last Birchbox of 2015 was a pretty great one! Here's my (somewhat delayed) review from after the holidays. The sample choice this time around was for a few different color variations of the Coastal Scenes Pallette. I chose the "Style Eyes" green and gold one because I thought those were two perfect shades for Christmas parties!

My box contained: JUARA Coconut Illipe Hand & Nail Balm(Full-size, $20), Kate Spade Live Colorfully Spray (Full-size, $95),Coastal Scents® styleEYES Palette(Full-size, $12),COOLA® Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face (Full-size, $32), and Benefit They're Real! Tinted Lash Primer(Full-size, $24)

JUARA Coconut Illipe Hand & Nail Balm
This lotion has a nice texture that is relatively deeply moisturizing and not runny at all. However, I did feel like it left a bit of greasy residue. I wasn't fond of the scent though which smelled too artificial to me - like one of those pre-mixed pina coladas in plastic bottle.

Benefit They're Real! Tinted Lash Primer
I love the Benefit They're Real Mascara! The primer is very similar - and the same price too. The main difference I noticed is that it is brown instead of black and that it's a thinner consistency, which is actually a good thing IMHO because the mascara can get a bit clumpy after several uses. This gives you a similar voluminous curled look but without the black pigment, so it looks more natural. When combined with the mascara, it really makes your eyes pop. However, I think I'll stick with using it on its own. It creates a nice effect, very similar to the mascara, and I can't quite imagine paying around $24 for both when I'm perfectly happy with just using one or the other.

COOLA® Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer I was so excited to get a Coola product this time because I was about to go on a trip to Puerto Rico and only wanted to bring a carry-on bag.  This little sample was just what I needed to be sure I kept my face safe in the 85 degree weather under the Caribbean sun. Admittedly, I got burned just a little bit on my nose and cheeks even after using this, but otherwise I thought it had great coverage, blended well with makeup, was fairly odorless, and had a nice texture that rubs in easily.

Kate Spade Live Colorfully Spray
This scent can be a bit overpowering but overall I think it's lovely & feminine, floral but energetic. The scent reminds me of grapefruit and lily of the valley. It's definitely a powerful scent, so you only need to use a very small amount. It will last throughout the day too! It's very youthful and I would say better for spring/summer than fall/winter. If you're a fan of this scent, I saw a really cute limited edition bottle at Nordstrom Rack recently that's navy blue with gold constellations on it (photo here)!

Coastal Scents® styleEYES Palette
The gold is really nice. It's kind of a rose gold and adds a subtle shimmer like a highlighter would. It's great on its own or layered on top of another color. The green also has a lot of shimmer but it is also a more concentrated hue. I like that because with eyeshadow, I'm usually all or nothing and I hate having to put on layer after layer after layer to achieve my desired look. The palette does loosen up really easily though, so these shadows can end up being a bit messy.

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