march ipsy

finally got my first ipsy glam bag last week after being on the waitlist for almost 3 months! Ipsy is a beauty subscription service that is $10/month. You receive 4-5 deluxe samples or full-size beauty products in a cute reusable cosmetic pouch each month. Bags are customized to your preferences based on a quiz you take, with products ranging from makeup to skincare. I have had other beauty subscriptions in the past, such as Birchbox and GlossyBox, so I decided to give ipsy a shot. Subscription boxes/bags are such an affordable way to try out new products!

Here’s what came this month:

MarchGlamBagOf the 4 products, 3 are full-size {the lipstick is a sample}.

From left to right:
Be a Bombshell Bora Bora Eyeshadow Quad– gorgeous, highly pigmented colors!
bareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Get Ready– I’m not a huge fan of lipsticks but this one does seem moisturizing and is a pretty color.
Pixi Beauty Flawless Beauty Primer– I was pretty hesitant at first because the color of the primer is really bronzy {and I am not} but it sheers out nicely and leaves a glowy finish.
Nicole by OPI in Roughles- I’m not a fan of getting nail polishes in my subscriptions because I’m just not into collecting all the colors. And I’m super disappointed in this one. The color is a sky blue/turquoise mint with a rough, pebble-like matte finish. I do not like weird nail finishes and usually stay in the pink and purple undertone range. So I’ll probably give this one to my mom- she doesn’t discriminate.

So there you have it! My first glam bag! I look forward to the bag each month and will do an “unbagging” with you.

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sephora pore refining serum

This post should be short and sweet. Because this serum is disappointing.

Pore Serum 1

I didn’t see any results when using this serum to reduce the appearance of pores. The active ingredient, salicylic acid, does promise to reduce pores through chemical exfoliation, but the results just aren’t happening. Further research into the product explains why not.

Pore Serum 2

I also hated the sponge applicator. Though you can take it off to wash it, it made me feel dirty because it would remain moist. Ew.

Pore Serum

If you’re interested in pore reduction I would recommend a product with beta hydroxy acid (BHA).

maskcara IIID hac pack

This post has been a long one in waiting. One of my favorite beauty bloggers Maskcara came out with her own makeup line over the holidays and I have spent the last few weeks testing out the product and formulating my opinions.

Maskcara 1

My husband gifted me the complete pack, which includes HAC foundation, a blush, and an illuminizer. Maskcara has an awesome, unique concept, which is the namesake for the line: IIID Foundation. The idea is that when we apply traditional, one-toned foundation to our face we lose all the natural dimension and contouring, which we then have to add back in with contouring color, blush, and illuminizer. The foundation is two-toned, to provide such depth to your face naturally. Cara has some great information on her blog about her product, where to place it according to your face shape, what color to choose, and how it is best applied.

IIID2

First the foundation: It’s a cream foundation that has 2 varying shades, the lighter one has yellow undertones, while the darker one is a great contour color without being too ashy. The coloring was really really scary when I first saw it but it somehow magically blends out perfectly to achieve a contoured and brightened face. Though the coloring is right, the consistency is where it fails for me. No matter how I apply it {with a brush or beautyblender} it seems to always settle in dry, rough patches. I also find that it becomes cakey even when used sparingly. I have tried numerous combinations of moisturizers, primers, application tools, and setting powders/sprays but find that the product settles on top of my skin instead of melting into my skin for a flawless finish. All of this may be because this is my first experience with cream foundation, but I just can’t seem to master the learning curve. But all is not lost as I do like using some of the contour color with a beautyblender over my regular foundation.

IIID3

The HAC {highlighting and contouring} Pack is definitely redeemed with the other two products. This cream blush in shortcake is wonderful. It is highly pigmented but sheers out beautifully on the cheeks. I just dab a little bit on the back of my hand, then use a finger to apply to my cheeks.

IIID4

The same can be said for the illuminizer. LOVE! I apply it the same way as the blush to the upper check bones and it provides a beautiful pearly glow. Both of these are liquid and will last forever because you only need a little bit each time.

I love supporting Cara’s small business and look forward to seeing how her product line improves!

Here are some pics for ingredient/product info:

IIID5

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beauty randoms

Here are some random things that don’t have a home except on a randoms post:

1. My mom’s {and older sister’s} birthday is today {they share a birthday!} and she asked for a retinol night cream. My skincare obsession is rubbing off! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM & JAMIE!

2. I bought an eos lip balm in pomegranate raspberry and LOVE it. It doesn’t leave my lips needing more after using it like some chapsticks do, but I constantly reapply because it feels and smells so good.

3. I signed up for ipsy and am so excited! Maybe I’ll do unboxings?

4. Before I even consider a skincare product I research it on Paula’s Choice. Some products cost too much for no real ingredients or results.

5. My {identical triplet} sister and I are doing a 50-year longitudinal study of our skin and aging. To say that her facial skincare routine is basic is generous {sorry, hermana}.

6. I am in search of the perfect eyebrow pencil shade. I prefer a pencil over powder but have such dark eyebrows.

7. Vaseline has really helped some dry spots/a burned area of my upper lip {from cream hair removal}. Such a simple product but so effective.

8. I’m on book 2 of the Divergent trilogy. SO looking forward to the movie! {Ok, that wasn’t beauty-related but whatevs}

9. My coconut oil body butter has been so moisturizing.

10. My husband’s bathroom storage and counter space has been dwindling in size as I take over. Maybe he should just move to the other bathroom in the house?

Happy Monday!

diy coconut oil body butter

I have just started using coconut oil in cooking. I know, I know. I’m pretty late to the game. My sister gave me a huge tub of it and I have barely put a dent in it. I have also been reading about the many, many uses and benefits of coconut oil. If you peruse Pinterest you will find 100s of uses of coconut oil. I decided that, in addition to its benefits in the kitchen, it would also make a great beauty product. It’s a wonderful moisturizer, makeup remover, and hair conditioner. But to amp up the effect I decided to whip the oil into a body butter.

Coconut 1

Using my stand mixer I dumped about a cup of the solidified oil {not melted} in and beat it on medium until it became thick and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Whipping air into the oil makes it lighter and a crisper white color. I transferred the body butter into a small mason jar and store it at room temperature on my bathroom counter.

Coconut 2

I love multitasking products!

facial oils

Happy Monday! Today let’s have a chat about facial oils. Please remember, as always, I am not a professional beauty anything. These are only my opinions coming from personal experience and my research/learning from the internet.

OilsFor Christmas my mom gifted me Sephora Favorites Beauty Oil Essentials {LOVE but no longer available}. I have taken the last 2 months to sample 3 of the oils. I was so tempted to jump into all 12 products, but with skincare it is super important to slowly add products to determine their effectiveness and/or any irritations. This was my first time using oils as moisturizers, after getting rid of my false pretense that using facial oils make you oily. This goes for oils used for cleansing and moisturizing. I haven’t dabbled far into oil cleansing {OCM- oil cleansing method} but I have enjoyed the use of oils as moisturizers. The idea is that adding natural oils to your face tricks your skin into thinking it has enough oil already, thus shutting down your sebum {oil} production. {If you already use the OCM an additional oil moisturizer may not be necessary}. Simple, right? This is certainly the ideal situation, but not every oil actually absorbs into the skin, without resting on the surface leaving your skin feeling greasy. So considering this, here’s my thoughts on 2 facial oils and 1 body oil.

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The first oil I have been using is the Josie Maran Light Pure Argan Oil. This oil is the lightweight, quick-absorbing version of Josie Maran’s Pure Argan Oil, which has a cult following. The oil comes from argan trees in Morocco, and contains Vitamin E and essential fatty acids, which claim to provide healing, conditioning, and repairing properties. Though I am unsure of such claims, I am sure of the moisturizing benefits of this argan oil. However, even though this oil claims to be lightweight, it still feels heavy on my skin. Because of this, I reach for this as a nighttime moisturizer.

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The Tarte Maracuja Oil, unlike the argan oil, absorbs quickly, leaving the skin plump but not greasy. I wear this oil during the day, either on its own or under makeup. Maracuja oil comes from passion fruit to produce firmer, brighter, and smoother skin. The oil contains vitamin C and essential fatty acids to rebuild and repair. Again, I have no idea if these claims are true, but the moisturizing results are significant on its own.

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The last oil I’ve tested over the last few weeks is the Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil. As the name implies it is a body oil to treat stretch marks and increase skin firmness. But once again, I can’t confirm such claims. Further exploration of product reviews discredit such claims, stating that actually the key ingredients are potent irritants. Plus the smell is really herbally. Ew. I’m staying away.

I’ll be trying out the other 9 oils over the next few months and will definitely be reporting back! Do you have any great facial oil moisturizers?

Facial oils are best absorbed when skin is damp. And the moisturizing properties are a definite pro. However, overall, these products are too costly {though there are cheaper versions online} to provide a one-ingredient treatment/moisturizer for your skin. There are other well-formulated moisturizers that provide numerous benefits to either supplement oil moisturizing or replace it.

skincare: is toner really necessary?

Toner

Toner has become less popular as a skincare step since being associated as an alcohol-containing, skin-drying, acne-fighting treatment for only those in that skin category (read: hormonal teenagers). But this is so unfortunate! Toner has so many great benefits that are suited for any and all skin types. But in the same way, it certainly is not required in the same way that cleansing and moisturizing is. But if you’re up to adding a short step to your routine, the results will definitely be noted! I’ll try my best to synthesize all the necessary information about toners and list my recommendations for your skin type.

Toner should be used following cleansing. Cleansing removes the skin’s surface oils and dead skin cells, and a toner can help clean up what is left over. Active ingredients in toner help restore and repair your skin surface, providing a younger, fresher, and smoother face. Soak a cotton pad with the toner and gently stoke over face and neck after cleansing.

There are three major categories of toners:
1. Alcohol-based formulas contain a high percentages of alcohol and astringents. These products are over-drying, and can cause damage and irritation, even for those with oily complexions. Such products can also impede your skin’s ability to repair itself. Not pretty. {Read the ingredient list carefully: SD Alcohol, Ethanol, or Isopropyl Alcohol are to be avoided as these are true alcohols. Cetyl Alcohol or Stearyl are not the type of alcohols being referred to here.}
2. Water and glycerin or glycol-based formulas with fragrant extracts are often labeled as fresheners or clarifiers. These are often overly fragrant, causing much irritation to the skin.
3. Water-based formulas are recommended. These products should contain beneficial ingredients, such as beta and alpha hydroxy acids, antioxidants, and anti-aging ingredients.

Choosing a water-based formula for you skin-type will help maximize the benefits of your toner. Here’s a quick guide:
-Acne-prone/oily skin: look for products with beta and alpha hydroxy acids {salicylic and glycolic acids}, which work as exfoliants to get rid of dead skin cells and promote new cell generation.
-Dry skin: moisturizing toners with aloe and vitamin E are most helpful.
-Sensitive skin: anti-inflammatory ingredients such as vitamin B5 and Allantoin.
-Aging skin: products with antioxidants such as vitamin C and retinoids are most effective.

I have seen fantastic results from toners, including reduction of hyperpigmentation and increased skin smoothness. With so many benefits, why not add such a simple step to your skincare routine?!

{The toners in the photo above are toners that I have used and liked. I am still searching for my holy grail but these are a good starting point}.

Information sourced here and here.