2016 Favorites

I’m sticking to last year’s annual favorites format because it worked well.

2016 Favorites - Garnier & Simple Micellar Water

Garnier Micellar Water, $7; Simple Micellar Water, $8

If I had to pick a single type of product to name as a favorite in 2016, I’d have to say micellar water is it. I like both of these and purchase whichever is a better value at the time. I’ve totally given up makeup wipes in favor of using this with cotton pads or a reusable makeup removing cloth.

Pantene Pro-V Stylers Mousse, $6

This mousse is my, “daily driver.” Out of the (average) 135 days per year I blow-dry my hair, this product is in my hair at least 95 of them. (The remaining ~40 is either hyper-lazy, product-free, or calls for the big guns.) It is accessible, inexpensive, and reliable – and it works well on my hair.

Gimme Brow

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Sephora Play June 2016

Sephora Play June 2016Sephora Play June 2016

Never having jumped on the subscription box bandwagon, in May I signed up for Sephora Play! I received my first box in mid-June, and finally have time to talk about it what I got!

Tocca Florence

I’m highly picky about fragrances. When I realized this was a floral, I nearly tossed it out without popping the cap off the vial. I decided that wasn’t fair, so I removed the stopper and…was pleasantly surprised! For the first time since the Marc Jacobs Daisy line, I’ve found a pleasant floral. That said, I’m not going to rush out and buy a full sized, $68 bottle of Florence. I will enjoy this sample vial, but juggling several bottles of perfume is not for me. I would consider buying a rollerball. If you like subtle florals and are in the market, give this a shot.


I’ve always thought that the packaging for Tarte’s sunscreen was cute, but I didn’t give the product much consideration. If I was going to drop $32 on a sunscreen, I’d probably go Shiseido, Clinique, or Murad…or I’d go with a BB Cream product. So far, I’ve used Tarteguard on my hands and forearms only – where it has done a good job. I was reluctant to introduce change to my routine so soon after finding a routine that my skin is responding well to (plus I <3 my Biore one!). Furthermore, the reviews this sunscreen has received have indicated a high incidence of breakouts in relation to use. Unfortunately it isn’t going anywhere near my face anytime soon. It DOES has a faint, pretty scent that I can’t place and none of that nasty, “sunscreen smell.” For what it’s worth, a fellow, makeup-obsessed friend swears by this stuff and reports that it doubles as a good primer.

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Noteworthy and New at Sephora

I was browsing, as I often do, and came across some noteworthy and new items on Sephora.com. I haven’t tried any of these products, but they’re interesting enough to talk about.

New at Sephora - Kat von D Shade + Light Contour Palette

Kat von D Shade + Light Contour Palette, $46

The KvD-branded makeup line has released a contour palette new at Sephora ostensibly as an Anastasia contender. It only comes in one set of shades (more similar to Anastasia’s lighter palette) and has spectacular reviews so far. Curiously, the darker pans (for carving out cheekbones and whatnot) contain more product than the highlighting/setting pans. KvD/Sephora also released this dual-ended HaC (that’s Highlight and Contour) brush to go with, priced at $36, though any you prefer, of course, will do.

New at Sephora - Hourglass Modernist Eyeshadow Palette

Hourglass Modernist Eyeshadow Palettes, $58

It is no secret that Hourglass repeatedly produces things of beauty. And I don’t mean beauty products; the products and packaging are beautiful, elegant, amazing. Their new eyeshadow palettes are features housing similar to their highlighter and blush trios, and the panless presentation of shades is a sight to behold. The collection, which is currently only available to VIB Rouge members, includes seven palettes with five shades each. I don’t think I could justify this purchase for myself, but they’re really fantastic to stare at.

New at Sephora - Benefit Puff Off!

Benefit Puff Off!, $29

I can’t shake the, “Oh look, another gimmicky item from Benefit!” feeling I get when I look at this. This eye gel has a cutesy clothes-iron-shaped applicator for, “ironing out,” any fine lines or puffiness. Personally, I’ll leave my skincare to the skincare companies, but this will be at home in the collections of Benefit fans. This isn’t only new at Sephora; Ulta has this, too.

New at Sephora - The Stunningly Ridiculous and Actually Kind of Offensive $675 of Christian Louboutin Nail Polish

Christian Louboutin Starlight (via the Wayback Machine), $675

OH LOOK, more nonsense from the shoe brand. How lucky that they have a few shoe models in such a low, low price-point! Aside from its mere (annoying) existence, this item’s ridiculosity (yes) is compounded by the fact that the polish is the very same that I wrote about a couple months ago…its just that the bottle is adorned in Strass crystals. Not diamonds or anything, just…swarovski. So not just nail polish, but tacky nail polish in a gift box. Yay! Seriously, seeing this stuff on sale at Sephora makes me roll my eyes. How many of these are they actually selling? It has to be the single most expensive item they carry (not talking about sets or kits).

New at Sephora - YSL Volupté Tint-In-Oil

YSL Volupté Tint-In-Oil, $32

A new twist on lipcolor, Yves Saint Laurent delivers color suspended in oil as an alternative to a more-traditional gloss. Surprisingly, a lot of the reviews report that it is actually drying. Not sure what to make of that – I’d certainly have expected it to be hydrating. I wonder if other brands will enter the fray?

New at Sephora - BITE Smashed Agave Lip Mask

BITE beauty Smashed Agave Lip Mask, $26

Bite’s highly-touted lip treatment now in a rosy-red hue. I’d probably go for the original because I’d wear it to bed (don’t want pinkish red on my pillowcases, after all) but it is really nice to see brands responding to what consumers have been asking for.
New at Sephora - Dior Cheek & Lip Glow

Dior Cheek & Lip Glow, $37

Look! Dior’s making Benetint! Just kidding. I’ve never tried Benetint, but I know if this product preforms as well as the Dior Addict Lip Glow appears to (at least according to sales), it’ll have a cult following in no time.

And, let’s end on a positive note, because that’s a nice thing to do…

New at Sephora - Sephora Teint Infusion Ethereal Natural Finish Foundation

Sephora Teint Infusion Ethereal Natural Finish Foundation, $24

That’s a mouthful, but this is Sephora’s foray into the serum-foundation game (like bareMinerals bareSkin, Perricone No Foundation Foundation Serum, YSL Fusion Ink, etc). Sephora foundations, at least since I’ve been paying attention to prestige-level makeup, have gotten pretty good reviews and at only $24 the price is pretty damn nice (especially considering that some drugstore foundations are as high as $15 now). My main complaint is that currently this is online only – makes getting a color match pretty difficult. I’m not sure if this serum foundation’s shades are configured for ColorIQ matches, but I intend to find out because I really, really want to try it. It’s honestly my favorite (taking into account I haven’t tried any of this) of what I’ve found new at Sephora.

Have you seen anything new at Sephora – or anywhere else! Anything beauty-related – that was noteworthy?

Worth it? Benefit they’re Real Push-Up Liner

The internet went a-buzz when Benefit Cosmetics started leaking information about their they’re Real Push-Up Liner. They did a couple advanced sales between their site, Sephora, and Ulta and then everything was kept mum until its official release on June 27.

I am already a gel liner user – I find using an angled-bristle brush with gel gives me the most control and best results. I also like gel because it is pretty smudge-proof and long lasting. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was intrigued when I heard about Benefit’s they’re Real Push-Up liner. For $24, however, I decided that I would pass for the time being; although I like to try new things, I was already happy with my liner and didn’t want to drop that kind of money on a single eyeliner.

I actually made a Sephora order for other things on June 27 and to my delight found that one of the samples they were offering (via promo code) was a Benefit they’re Real Push-Up Liner deluxe mini. Of course I got it, we need to try it for science after all, especially considering all these top bloggers/vloggers got it early and are losing their minds over it. It is really innovative and clever, but it is that good?

Always a skeptic.

Because it arrived when it did, I didn’t have much time to fuss with it. I took a few photos of the product itself, but didn’t bother trying to apply it. I did poke at the silicone tip to get an idea for just how flexible it is – too much flexibility could cause me to make a ridiculous mess on my lids, so I wanted to know what to expect. On Wednesday I played with it, and Thursday I actually used it for the day!

I found that you have to turn-click the product’s base several times before product comes to the tip. It is important to do this slowly, especially for your first use. You don’t want too much product on the silicone, “AccuFlex,” tip, or else you’ll end up making a mess when you apply (unless you wipe if off first, but that’s wasteful – and I don’t know about you, but I’m not trying to waste any of a $24 product). So I clicked it up until it was about flush with the silicone AccuFlex tip – it protruded ever-so-slightly, but I think even a millimeter would be too generous an estimate of how far. You may not get as lucky with your and may have to tap or wipe yours even.

Here’s how it looked when I applied:

Benefit they're Real Push-Up Liner - 7AM

Yes, I realize my head is tilted, sorry. You can at least see the left wing well!

I had the best luck with this, which seems to be what Benefit recommends for they’re Real Push-Up Liner – and it is about the same method I use for regular lining:

  1. Twist product up (we’ve covered this).
  2. Press the tip along your lash-line three times, stamping the product at the beginning, middle, and end of your line.
  3. Connect the stamps.
  4. (Optional) Create a wing by placing the shorter side of the AccuFlex tip closest to your lower lashline and angle the longer edge outward as if you are ‘continuing’ or following the (imaginary) line of your lower lashline. Stamp again and pull inward to the outer corner of your eye.
  5. (Optional, required if you do step four so you don’t look foolish), connect the upper, outer part of the wing with the rest of your liner by sweeping the AccuFlex tip over towards it.

Stamping is super easy with they’re Real Push-Up Liner, and just like with gel and a brush, it is way easier to connect a series of three shorter points than it is to completely free-hand it. There’s less room for error, this way; these innovative silicone tip and these instructions really make this aspect of application of this matte gel liner very user friendly.

Here are a photo of the liner, eye nearly closed:

Benefit they're Real Push-Up Liner - 7AM, another angle


That’s about where the good things about this product end, unfortunately.

Application is not like butter. I found the formula of the gel to be rather dry and to skip and tug a bit, so I would have to pull it away and twist-click more product up, risking blobs near my lash-line. This might not be an issue if you like a thicker line, but for day-to-day, that isn’t for me. I am not a raccoon, after all. It took some work and going back over it several times to even out sparse areas as a result of the skipping – I figured this was preferable to risking smeared blobs, as I had heard it dries quickly. I found that much was true, and it actually made it a little difficult to even out the line.

Once I was satisfied with how it looked (finished at 7 AM, wings and all, I set about my day. I work in a reasonably low-humidity office and do not rub my eyes throughout the day (thanks glasses!). Around 11:30 AM, however, I noticed a black speck on my glasses.


Part of my left eye’s wing had flaked and literally just fell off. What?! Especially since there’s all this hype about how it’s soooo good, so long lasting, not flaky, amazing, perfect, etc. I was right to be skeptical – I’ve never had eyeliner just decide to spontaneously disconnect itself from my eye. Here’s a picture, because it definitely happened. Oh hey, random gap:

Benefit they're Real Push-Up Liner flaked4.5 hours into wearing Benefit they’re Real Push-Up Liner a noticeable section flaked off

At this point, I was not impressed and frankly, kind of annoyed. I touched it up right away, and went back to this:

Benefit they're Real Push-Up Liner post-flake touch up

Another big thing about this product is that purportedly, its staying power is so dang good that you just have to buy their special cleanser to remove it easily. Your regular makeup remover simply won’t do it quickly and gently, they say! I didn’t definitely didn’t believe this, based on the flaking I experienced. That night, I went to remove my makeup and lo and behold – they’re Real Push-Up Liner came off even easier than my other gel liners with a Ponds wipe. I didn’t need to use three of them, I didn’t need to tug or scrub. Don’t waste your money on the cleanser.

Between the price, the skipping application, random flaking, and lack of longevity-as-promised, Benefit they’re Real Push-Up Liner is just not worth it – not in its current form, anyway. I love the innovative applicator; I think it is really cool to bring engineering into makeup to improve our experiences with products…but the formula of the liner itself is lackluster at best. My Maybelline Gel Liner kicks its arse, and I will continue faithfully using it instead. Hopefully Benefit will improve the formula of the gel that makes up they’re Real Push-Up Liner (research shows that I am not the only person with these complaints) because the applicator (AccuFlex Tip) is pretty neat…which is amusing, because my prediction was that I would love the formula, but find the silicone tip weird. If it cost about $10 less than it does, I might be a little more willing to work with it.

Birthday Haul

The last month – sheesh! A great giveaway, my birthday, Independence Day, my freaking wedding, and another giveaway! I cannot believe how busy I’ve been.

Birthday HaulBirthday Haul

Pictures/descriptions aren’t in order. Bear with me!

Sephora Birthday Haul

I had a gift card from a friend that I took for-ev-er to decide what to use it on.

Purity – I’ve tried a tiny sample of Purity cleanser by Philosophy, but I wanted to try it a little more, so I got a little duo of two 2oz bottles to try. So far, I dig it.

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light – Because it is summer and I think the regular stuff might be a little heavier than I liked, I got a bottle. I was hoping I can use it for daytime – I can, but not on full-face days.

Benefit they’re Real! Push Up Liner – This is a deluxe sample and I am so dang lucky to have got it before they ran out. I have only tried it once so far, early in the morning and in a rush; but I am really excited to play with it more and share my thoughts with you guys once I have. So far, I can definitely say it is a very unique product.

Deborah Lippmann – in Boom Boom Pow (not pictured) – I didn’t have an obnoxious yellow gold glitter. This one was on clearance for $5, is 3-free, cruelty free, and all that jazz.

Beauty Insider Birthday Gift from MUFE – Unboxed already, they give you an eensy mascara and a little Aqua Rouge lipstick. I like the color, not the formula.

Ulta Birthday Haul

Lorac Pro Palette 2 – You’ve already seen it but though I gave one away, I likely would not have gotten one if not for my (then upcoming) birthday. Really though, it rocks, you basically need it, and congrats x1000 to the winner.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream – in Stockholm (not pictured again because I am a spazz) – This is my third SMLC so far, and I still love how they wear. This one is nude on me without corpsifying my face. Woot!

Real Techniques Retractable Lip Brush – I didn’t have a lip brush! I needed one for tomorrow.

Ulta Rewards Birthday Gift from Calvin Klein – Engineering? In MY mascara? I haven’t cracked this sucker open yet, but the wand has a dial that you can use to change the configuration of the applicator’s bristles. Amazing.

Bonus: Amazon

ORLY Go Deeper (not pictured) – I got this over a teal-blue polish during a recent pedicure, and it is only the second color, to date, that I have purchased due to having had it used at a salon. I. Love. It. I redid my pedicure last night with it. Cameras have a hard time picking up how complex and awesome the glitter is in this ORLY FX polish, and the other great thing is that the glitter isn’t super-gritty – it lays pretty flat, only one layer of top-coat to cover! Basically, you need it in your life if you are into any kind of glitter polish.

Disclosure: Hey! Some of the links in this Birthday Haul post are affiliate links (not all of them, of course) – this means I may get a very small percentage of the sale if you decide to buy something. I only recommend products I’ve tried and verified as awesome. Ethical blogging FTW.