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.


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).

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 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.

glamglow supermud mask

The GlamGlow Super-Mud™ Clearing Treatment Mask is all the rage among online beauty bloggers. The mask claims to “fight all common skin concerns” {um, vague much?}. The description goes on to say the following:

“NEW ACNECIDIC-6™4.4% the first 6-Acid AHA & BHA Blend for mind-blowing faster results. NEW Pore-Matrix™ with Activated-X Charcoal & New K17-Clay™ for deep pore vacuum extraction, encapsulation & seemingly poreless skin. Bio-Life-Cell-Science™ uses the complex natural occurring skincare benefits of green life for Advanced results. NEW TEAOXI®Patent Pending release technology with real Eucalyptus Leaf in our formula for Magical Glowing Skin.”

Umm… what? With those fancy words and scientific jargon, this mask must be special, right? One things is for sure: this mask is especially expensive. It’s a favorite among Hollywood stars {who can actually afford the treatment-$69 for 1.2 fl oz!}. Luckily for me, my sister gifted me this mask so I can put these claims to test. 


*Before I start let me state that I have normal skin, with occasional {hormonal} breakouts and blackhead issues. I sometimes have “sun spots” pigmentation from the Florida sun. As with every skincare product, this mask may not be suitable for your skin profile.

A thin layer of the mask on the skin will suffice for coverage. The mask is muddy, with larger flakes of something {?}, and a charcoal color. To me it smells like mint chocolate chip ice cream {not kidding} but it’s probably just the peppermint plant extract found in the ingredients. Once on the face it tingles the skin and, as other masks, tightens as it dries. After 10-15 minutes wipe the mask away with warm water {do this before it becomes too hard- at this stage masks begin drying out your skin}.


As the mask dries you can see that dots appear where your pores were enlarged and/or clogged. This seems to be the pore extraction function of the mask, clearing out your pores as the mask dries. {I will spare you from seeing the pictures of the mask on my face, but here’s what I’m talking about}:

GlamGlow Pore-Matrix

So gross cool, right? A close-up of your skin after the treatment does reveal smaller pores but not all blackheads are extracted. The mask does make my skin feel smoother and tighter, but I didn’t get the poreless appearance the product claims to deliver.


My final thoughts:

  • I’d like to think that the pore extraction really works, but I’m not convinced since it only works on some of my blackheads.
  • As a treatment for an active breakout, it does reduce swelling and redness, as well as dries out the problem area.
  • The post-mask feeling of smoother, tighter skin is great but easily replicated with cheaper masks.
  • I do not like the packaging of the mask. It comes in a jar with a plastic overlay {see picture above} that you have to use to keep the product from drying out {remember, it is mud}. Since I use my fingers or a spatula to get the mask out of the jar there is a chance that those special ingredients are compromised by bacteria and oxygen. A tube would have been a lot better.
  • While the mask claims that you can get 17 full-faces or up to 1000 spot treatments out of one jar, the price tag is hard to justify such little product. I usually do full-face {or rather, just t-zone}, which means each masks costs me $4! Gasp!

There are other GlamGlow masks available {hydrating, exfoliating, and brightening treatments} and all can be purchased on their website or at Sephora. 

I don’t think I will be repurchasing this product since the benefits don’t outweigh the costs {literally, the cost}. However, I will continue to use it for special occasions since it’s so luxurious.