As a follow-up to one of my first posts, I decided to bump up a level with my lactic acid use and test out the 10% version.
In general, the product is not too significantly different. It comes in the same kind of container (glass bottle), same dispersing mechanism (glass dropper), the color of the liquid is pretty similar. The cost is even similar at $6.79 compared to $6.50 for the 5%. All all, if you’re wanting to make a change and move up a step with your skincare routine while still being gentle, this is not a bad option.
There are no specific claims that The Ordinary makes for this product on their website, interestingly enough.
All it really states is that it is an exfoliant, which is true. The rest of what they write is something that I would expect to be lost on someone who isn’t entirely sure of where to start, which makes me think this is intentionally a product for more experienced folks. It piques my interest they don’t really make any specific claims on their website; I can’t tell if that’s a deliberate marketing move to bolster their “scientific approach,” (which is a specific marketing tool in and of itself, much like the greenwashing of “natural” or “organic” products) or if it’s that they don’t want to make any claims they can’t deliver on. However, the Sephora website gives a little more insight into what it intends to accomplish:
So now that we have an idea of what this intends to do for your skin, I’ll share my experience and whether or not this actually managed to accomplish what it claims (at least, according to a mix of both The Ordinary and Sephora):
Chemical Exfoliant (or uneven texture): ✔️ Yes. I definitely do not have issues with my skin looking or feeling as flake-y when using this product. Within about an hour of initial application, skin feels very soft. Definitely true to my experience.
Uneven skin tone: ❌ For me, my skin tone has a lot of red/pink overtones and is reactive easily. Given the higher percentage of lactic acid, I would actually say this probably increased redness for me. That isn’t necessarily a knock on the product because this is an individual reactiveness, but this was my experience with it so I can’t give it a positive mark.
Fine lines and wrinkles: ❔ I don’t have wrinkles (yet) and I don’t have fine lines that are strong enough to determine the effectiveness of this, so I’m going to go with inconclusive for now.
Dullness: ✔️ Yes. I would definitely say this helped to brighten my skin and make it look slightly more radiant.
Compared to Sunday Riley Good Genes and The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + 2% HA
Now, compared to the other two, I’d probably say this one fits in the middle. By that, I mean the following: Sunday Riley Good Genes is…
More gentle, less reactive than The Ordinary at both the 5% and 10%. (Though, not significantly enough to warrant the cost difference at the 5%.)
On par with the 10% for brightening/radiance factors.
Slightly less effective at exfoliation than the 10%.
Ultimately, still not worth the cost differential of almost $100.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + 2% HA is…
More gentle than the 10%, but very slightly less so than the Sunday Riley Good Genes.
Less brightening/radiant than both Sunday Riley Good Genes and the 10%.
Comparable to the Sunday Riley Good Genes for exfoliation, but slightly less than the 10%.
Better as a first step at trying lactic acid/chemical exfoliation than 10% and Sunday Riley Good Genes.
Some other things worth mentioning about this is in the initial post, I remarked on how The Ordinary 5% had a particular smell. In October 2017, the formula was changed slightly for the 10% and the 5% where they changed the grade of lactic acid that had no odor and also removed the carrageenan from the formula (the carrageenan did not impact the smell, but the viscosity.) I suspect I had one of the newer ones because the smell on it is non-existent.
Next Steps from Here?
Now that I’ve made a comparison between the bigger players on the market, there are a few things I’d like to do once I finish off this and the exfoliant back-ups I have. Some things I intend to do next once they’re polished off:
Ren Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic: It’s in an 8.5 oz bottle with a pump (!!) and is a lactic acid exfoliant. This one should take me a while to burn through before I give a review, so it probably wouldn’t be likely until late(r) 2018 for a review on this.
Mandelic acid: this is supposedly an even gentler exfoliant, so I think this will be my next step after the REN.
I’m also sure between then and now, there will be plenty of new things added to the market for me to give a shot. But for now, this is what I expect to be doing and working on in the next several months.
For those unaware about Project Pan, it’s a challenge to use up products within your collection; the “pan” being the silver part that shows once the product has been used up. In 2017, I half-heartedly started a Project Pan that I barely indulged in; though, I did wind up panning the Burberry Lip Velvet.
This year, now that I have this space, I intend to take it a little more seriously. I have picked several products of different types, and her are the products I would like to do my best to finish off:
Lipstick: MAC Brave
Lipstick: Besame Red Velvet
Eyeshadow: MAC Omega
I chose these products for several reasons; partially, I wanted to follow through from last year. Some I would like to be able to use up and get out of my collection so I can try something new, but it isn’t something that I dislike enough to throw away. In other cases, I actually really enjoy it, but have struggled to finish products in full and want that satisfaction. Or, it’s an attempt to pare down items in my collection to something more manageable.
I’m someone that struggles with using up products; while some people work through a lipstick in a matter of months, I’ve had MAC Brave for almost two years now. As I don’t have a particularly large collection, this helps with using the products I have.
Ideally, my goal is to check in quarterly, and the last update to come at the end of 2018 with discussions on successes and failures and overall thoughts when completed. I will show progress through measuring (when able) and pictures of use for comparison with the date marked.
For now, I intend to focus on those three products. However, if in the process that either the product becomes unusable or can’t be finished, I will substitute something in its place.
In addition to this Project Pan, I’ll also be doing a Reverse Rouge Challenge with a few other ladies that blog. For as long as VIB Rouge at Sephora has been around, I’ve hit it every year. VIB Rouge is a status of buyer at Sephora that spends over $1000 per year. The perks are OK; free make-overs (so long as you schedule in advance), free 2-day shipping (though, as of 1/1/18, this changed to 3-day without any warning…), and early access to products.
This is something that I have decided I will not actively pursue obtaining again, but if it happens, it happens. This year will likely be largely repurchases and for a lot of the products that I do use and like, I can really only get them through Sephora (e.g. Make Up For Ever, Kat Von D, etc.)
The Reverse Rouge Challenge, on the other hand, will be using up at least $1000 worth of products at the end of the year. This includes makeup, skincare, hair care, nails, and other tools that you may use. Destashes also count towards the total. Again, much like Project Pan, I will intend to be updating this quarterly (though, it will likely get its own post going forward instead of being amalgamated with Project Pan.)
Those are the current ground rules I will be working off of this year for this Project Pan and the Reverse Rouge Challenge. Are you planning on doing a Project Pan or Reverse Rouge Challenger this year? If so, what are the products you’re planning on using up?
‘Tis the season for all the good beauty and pinup bloggers to give their riff on their resolutions going into 2018, and particularly inspired by Renee at Bad Outfit Great Lipstick, and so too, I throw my hat into the ring.
This year, one of my bigger goals is to get my finances in order. I have a car loan, student loans, and there’s plenty of things I know I can be doing to get my ducks in a row to be better prepared for any future emergencies, etc. Being in good financial health is one of the keys to being healthy, especially in America (and for those of us with high-deductible health plans!)
With that in mind, there are some key ways I intend to strategize to handle my expenditures and curb impulse spending in the next year:
1. For any new release, waiting at least 30 days and at least 2 reviews from “trusted” folks.
As far as beauty goes, there are few things that get me excited like a good new foundation launch or, sometimes, the occasional lipstick launch with colors that haven’t been heavily produced (still waiting on my retro, orange-based coral of my dreams…) And as much as I love my MUFE Water Blend, I also like trying other stuff and I fall prey to the mentality of “B-b-b-but what if I find something I love more!”
There have been times I have jumped the gun and bought something sight unseen before having the ability to try it. Living in Louisville (as opposed to my former home in the Chicago suburbs) means I will not get access to try all the beauty things my heart desires. With that being said, because I may not get access to try new products firsthand, I am forcing myself to wait at least 30 days after the initial launch and require at least 2 reviews from trusted folks.
While I generally don’t follow a lot of YouTube beauty folks, I do have a few on Instagram or other blogs that I follow. I find their reviews tend to be more comprehensive, tried for a longer period of time (as opposed to a single day), and test for more variation in formula. Additionally, I find their photography is less likely to be photoshopped or influenced by heavy lighting.
If after both of these situations have been met and I am still interested, ideally, I would like to be able to get a sample from Sephora or try out at Ulta before buying. And from there, if all is good–the purchase is allowed.
2. A set amount for true vintage clothes; $200.
I have a confession, my friends. It is not something I am proud of, but I have to cop to and get this off my chest. I–am terrified to wear my true vintage clothing. There’s several reasons for this: the pieces that I do have, I actually really love. They fit well, they’re cute, but–if I ever tear or wear them to excess, I will not be able to replace it.
And that’s ri-goddamn-diculous of me. That’s the entire point of clothes! To wear them!
So, for this year, I am putting a strong cap on my true vintage clothing spenditures. I have to get over this, and to do it, I’m going to force myself to actually wear them and get over that. And if I don’t, I have at least one or two people I know that will sell the pieces on my behalf. If I do wind-up selling, I’ll allow the amount it sold for to roll over and be added to the $200.
3. Try and explore more looks with makeup and being more adventurous
I am confident in my ability to do a cat eye (after many years of practice), I can apply eyeshadow relatively comfortably–but I don’t really do a lot of variation beyond that. One of the things I would like to do this upcoming year is do a monthly vintage look recreation–it will get me out of a rut and try and force my hand at learning new styles with my products I already have.
It’ll also tie my love of vintage looks with makeup and keep things a little more cohesive around these parts.
4. Quit the yo-yo weight bullshit.
For those unaware, I am 5’0″. When you are smaller, you tend to reflect weight easier. A pound difference gets easily reflected in my face, and also: on my hips. A pound makes the difference between whether I’m throwing an angry, teary hissy fit in the bathroom that I can’t fit into my clothes or whether I’m wearing a lot of the clothes I’ve bought that fit me when I’m <=110 lbs.
I’ve decided my new threshold weight will be 112 lbs.–any time I come creeping up on this, I have to go to the gym and eat better. This will allow me to fit into the clothes I have better, reduce a lot of the yo-yoing (my previous was 115 lbs.), and be more active on the whole.
I imagine for some people, this is one of those things where they’re rubbing their fingers together and rolling their eyes; it’s not lost on me. People don’t like it when someone who is generally considered petite waxes on about their problems, but it’s annoying to keep repeating the cycle and keep having those moments where all I can wear is jeans but I really want to wear the nice clothes I’ve bought.
When I can wear the pinup clothes I have–I feel better. I look better. This will also help me wear a lot more of my actual vintage clothes too, as a lot of them tend to be tighter fitting.
5. Focus on things I have by focusing on more outfit-related posts.
This one is more pinup-focused than beauty; I want to show off more of the outfits that I have instead of purchasing more than I actually need. I’ve done a pretty significant outfit cull this year to allow for room for the clothes I want to wear. I also inherited some clothing from my grandmother upon her passing, and would like to make some posts dedicated to her memory.
Additionally, now that I have a camera, I think this should be easier to accomplish by myself than needing to rely on other people to take pictures of me. (Which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to do more photoshoots; I definitely have people I love working with and would like to do a few more shoots with in the upcoming year.)
6. Make more purchases at Ulta than Sephora when possible.
Truth be told: I’m not a giant fan of Ulta despite their better rewards program. Their stores tend to be poorly maintained, poorly staffed, and poorly educated (not every Ulta is like this, but of the multiple I’ve been to in several states, this is a recurring issue.)
But given that they do have 20% off coupons more frequently and a rewards program that offers “cash” (as in points translate to money that can be redeemed on purchases, not actual money) in lieu of fancy deluxe samples, I am more inclined to spend there.
This means a better return on spending. So, for brands where I can get it at both places (e.g. Anastasia Beverly Hills, Bumble and Bumble, etc.), that’s where I will purchase from. However, many of my preferred brands (e.g. Make Up For Ever, Kat Von D, BITE Beauty, etc.) are all Sephora exclusives.
Right now, I have horded away enough points for a nice little spending spree, but I intend to save up for the Dyson hair drier.
7. Project Pan
There was a half-hearted attempt on my end to do a Project Pan in 2017 that got left by the wayside, but as I now have more of an outlet than Instagram for these things, it’s definitely something I intend to pursue harder. I will be posting about this and the items I intend to use in about a week or so.
8. Replacements only no buy until April
In the spirit of getting my finances in better health, I’ve decided to put myself on a no buy up until April (with replacements only being the exception.)
This is for a few reasons:
1. I generally have a small collection as is and want to use more of it up. This is the year I would generally like to finish both a lipstick and eyeshadow.
2. I have a nice amount of products that could stand to be reviewed individually and thoroughly, that aren’t products reviewed to death by the hype-osphere.
3. Saving money never hurts.
I’m allowing replacements only because I generally don’t stock myself with extras in most cases. I don’t have back-ups of anything except my night-time moisturizer and exfoliator. Everything else is bought after running out.
I did receive a gift card or two, so that is something I would allow myself to use because it’s not my own money, but in general, I am trying to keep my spending and unnecessary purchases low this year.
Those are my plans going into next year. What are your goals? Are you going on any specific plans or how will you be challenging yourself?
Today is the day that Beautylish opens its doors to allow people to get a “Lucky Bag.” It’s an idea inspired by the Japanese tradition, fukubukuro, where street merchants make bags of goods out of their stock and sell at a significant discount for the new year.
Beautylish has been doing this for several years now and I participated last year. It is possible that the general offerings may change going into next year, but it remained pretty consistent between 2016 and 2017 in what it offered.
There were two rounds offered this last year; a XL Beautylish Lucky Bag at $160 and the standard Lucky Bag at $75. I purchased the $75 Lucky Bag, and my contents were the following:
Clearly, I got well over my $75 price of admission in product value (which is over ~$100), but in retrospect: I only had two real things from the bag that I got personal value from, the Bioderma Sensibio (a staple for me; $6.90 for 100ml) and the Wayne Goss 02 brush ($35). The actual personal value I got from the bag was a total of $43.90; a significant difference of $31.10. Though I did wind-up selling the Modern Renaissance and Z-Palette, they also had to be reduced in cost in order to sell from the full retail value (/r/makeupexchange is a great place for buyers, not so much for sellers.) But with doing this extra step, I was able to get to $75.
I still have two of the products (IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream and the BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector) that I’ve not been able to unload and won’t be using (IT Cosmetics has a ton of silicones in it which my skin is reactive towards and the BECCA is not a shade that works for my skintone), but will probably pass on as gifts to friends that would be able to give them a loving home.
As far as whether or not I think a Lucky Bag is worth it, here’s things that help make it easier to make the decision if you are considering this:
If you are someone that likes surprises, this will be great for you.
If you are willing to try anything you receive (many bags gave out Jeffree Star products; a controversial brand due to the owner’s personality and attitude towards–well, a lot of people.)
If you have spare money to burn ($75 is a little pricy for a crapshoot of products you aren’t guaranteed to love.)
If you are OK with potentially not having a full personal value of $75 returned on your investment (see above, in my case).
If you are someone who likes to carefully decide your own products, this is not a good way to spend your money.
If you are very conscientious about which brands you support and purchase from, this is not a good way to spend your money. (Particularly if animal testing or animal products are a concern for you; the brushes, in particular, may use animal hairs.)
If you are not OK with not getting a full amount returned on your investment for both actual cost return and personal value return, this is not a good way to spend your money.
The Lucky Bags give items out at random, which means (and especially for people on each end of the skin tone spectrum), there may be colors in your bag which may not suit your skin tones or may cause reactions depending on skin sensitivities.
Personally, I will not be participating again this year. Between only getting two actual products that I would use (though, I do love the Wayne Goss brush!) and offloading the rest, this wasn’t a great decision for me, especially because I am someone who likes having a smaller collection. There are also plenty of people that also enjoyed their experience, but I think this is one of those things where you need to have a realistic grasp on your personality before knowing if you’ll be content or not. The Lucky Bag I got generally didn’t work out for me and my tastes, but that was a personal experience–yours may be different if you participate and you may get some things you really love.
If you’ve participated before, did you enjoy your lucky bag? Would you participate in future years? Let me know your thoughts.
Let’s be frank: foundation matching is a pain in the ass on the same level of paper cuts on the webbing of your hands, folding a fitted sheet, or making French macarons. Some of the difficulty is that depending on where you fall on the skintone spectrum, shades may not even be available or prevalent. Adding to this is making sure you have a reasonable understanding of your actual skin type to know which formulas are appropriate. There’s a lot that goes into a good foundation match, and I’m working on a guide to make it easier for folks.
Part 1 (this post) will be dedicated to determining skin type.
Part 2 will be dedicated to determining undertone.
Part 3 will be how to actually match a foundation.
Part 4 will be how I found my foundations that I use and things to consider when picking a foundation.
With this being said and noted, let’s get right into it.
Knowing your skin type is critical to knowing what kind of formulations work best for your skin. Knowing your skin type is also important to make sure you are treating and caring for it well; your integumentary system (skin) is the largest organ you have and is visible to the eye; you wouldn’t treat your respiratory system poorly, so why wouldn’t you take care of your skin?
There are roughly about 4 skin types with multiple conditions (e.g. someone may have dry skin as the skin type, but reactive or dehydrated as the condition.) I consider it not to be firm and to be on more of a spectrum.
Where I sit on this is on the dry portion of the spectrum, leaning into very dry territory. I was able to determine that I have drier skin in a few ways:
My first hint was that before having a regular skincare routine, whenever I put foundation on, it tended to look flaky and scaly on my skin, and never really quite looked like skin. It would remain sitting on the top and look like it was peeling off. Furthermore, some people may have skin that “glistens,” but mine never really does–it stays relatively flat and without a lot of dimension.
All skin produces oils to some degree, but dry skin types produce significantly less than oilier skins. When it comes to foundation, this is a problem because you want it to meld into your skin so it looks like–well, skin, obviously.
Given that I am most familiar with dry skin types, I’ll start there and move my way towards more oily skin types:
Dry skin is essentially the chronic loss of moisture (namely, oil) within the skin. It can be characterized as having some feelings of “tightness” in the skin (though, as someone with dry skin–I’ve never actually noticed this, so your mileage may vary.) Because of the loss of moisture, it means the skin barrier can be more susceptible to certain conditions and become more reactive/sensitive (such as eczema and infections.) Dryness can also be a condition, but if you have it chronically, it is more a skin type than condition.
Dry skin can be caused by your genetic makeup, climate changes (e.g. shifting into winter; and to compensate, heating and AC), harsh soaps, medications (particularly some contraceptives), and age. Typically, as you get older, the drier your skin will become.
If you were to blot your skin and have minimal oil on the paper, you likely have dry skin. For those of us with this skin type, here are things I’ve come to learn that might be helpful for you:
Avoid powders! Powders tend to suck up more moisture to adhere better to the skin; when you have dry skin, you need all the moisture you can get.
A good skincare regimen is really critical, especially if you want to avoid looking flaky.
For foundation recommendations, stick with liquids and creams. Mineral-based foundations can work for dry skin, but will require substantial preparation.
Silicones can work for certain dry skinned ladies, but in my experience, I have found them to contribute to dryness and aggravate my skin. I typically avoid silicone-based formulas whenever possible.
Another ingredient to avoid otherwise include denatured alcohol (tends to dry out the skin further); this does not include fatty alcohols (unless you know your skin reacts poorly, but this is an individual case-by-case issue).
Occlusives are awesome and are the best at replenishing moisture back into the skin.
AHAs are your friend! If you have sensitive skin, lactic acid and mandelic acids will be much kinder than glycolic acids, but if your skin can handle it, glycolic acids will also do the trick.
Drier skin types are more likely to be sensitive, so be wary of products with denatured alcohol and fragrance!
Water consumption is important and will help get moisture back, but it will not cure it if it is a chronic issue.
I have previously wrote about my skincare routine, for anyone with dry skin and wanting to get an idea for what products to research or look into for themselves.
Normal is the phrase that gets thrown around, but perhaps the better explanation of it is “Balanced.” People with this skin type typically have skin that doesn’t veer too oily or too dry; were it to be a scale, it would rest right in the middle.
Generally, people with this skin type may have conditions, but there’s not a real underlying issue otherwise. Their pores typically tend to be smaller, skin can be radiant, and in short: they generally won the genetic lottery.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t things people with normal skin types should (or shouldn’t) be doing, but given that the balance is there, there’s fewer things to worry about.
Generally, may need some extra moisturizer but can adjust products to preference
Despite not needing to treat a certain skin type, sunscreen should still be utilized for skin exposure to the sun to avoid anti-aging if you plan on being outside for extended periods of time.
Keep track if any problems arise from certain products (and this goes for any skin type.)
Can generally use any type of foundation successfully; dependent upon preference.
This skin type can be aggravating for those that have it and typically presents with issues of both dryness and oiliness. Most people have it manifest in their T-zone area (oily T-zone, dry face otherwise), but it is dependent on person and can be present anywhere. Pore sizes may be different depending on the area, as well (larger in the oilier areas, but smaller in the drier spots.)
Combination skin can be caused by genetics, climate conditions, and several other factors.
“Multimasking” might be the trend made for combo skin types; this entails placing masks (or it could be other products) intended for dry skin on your drier areas and masks intended for the oily portion there and rinsing off at once.
Gels, light-weight creams, or serums are best suited for combination skin types
Liquid and mineral foundations may work best for combination skin as it can work for the drier and oilier areas; powders may be too much for the drier areas (depending on how dry), but creams may be too emollient for the oilier areas.
Oily skin is largely determined by genetics, but can be influenced by medication, diet, climate, and incorrect product use.
Avoid emollients! This may lead to pore blockage and blemishes.
BHAs are the exfoliants you are looking for and may help reduce the appearance of pore size.
Much like dry skin, oily skinned folks may want to avoid certain ingredients like denatured alcohol and other drying ingredients as it may trigger further oil production.
Liquids, lotions, serums, and light gels are the type of moisturizer formulas you should be looking into.
The best foundation types for this skin type include liquid and powder formulas; minerals should work too provided they do not contain ingredients that upset your skin.
Some ingredients that can be helpful (ymmv) for oily skin include clay, honey, green tea, and snail mucin.
Given the length of this post as is, I would be remiss if I didn’t also include a little bit about certain conditions for skin types. As with all of this, it is important to note: for any treatments, consult your primary care provider (PCP) or a dermatologist first.
This skin condition is typical for those with drier skins (but can be present in any skin type). It can be triggered by medication (in my case) that causes the skin to react to the presence of certain ingredients, and can manifest in the form of hives, blemishes, or other means. In my particular case, I know heavy silicone-based formulas tend to aggravate my skin, so I avoid them whenever possible.
This skin condition indicates that the skin is prone to acne responses. This can be very painful and cause self-esteem issues. It can be treated with skincare or may need medical intervention (i.e. medication), but a good dermatologist will be able to diagnose and help with this for those affected.
Dehydrated skin, much like dry skin, exhibits a lot of similar characteristics so it is unsurprising that it can be confusing to determine. Though, the big tell with this condition is that skin can be both oily and dry feeling at the same time, and when this is the case, it is a good indication that the person has dehydrated skin.
This wraps up this section of the guide. For any questions or concerns, or things you’d like to see (or because this is the internet, any complaints), put it in the comments section.
In a few days, one of the most anticipated sales of the year will begin: the 20% off Sephora sale (for VIB Rouges and VIBs, at least) that only happens once a year. For weeks before hand, people scramble to find out the date and it’s a mad rush to determine the shopping list before it goes down. Inspired by Bad Outfit, Great Lipstick and Faceonomics, this is going to be one for this holiday season as well.
Much like the previous pin-up based anti-haul (expect to see another one coming up in the next few weeks with the onset of the holiday season!), this one will follow the same type of perspective. As a reminder, “the purpose of an anti-haul isn’t to be mean to brands and businesses (there are some I don’t like and won’t purchase from and there are plenty which I do like, but will not be buying because I’m going to be smart about what I do spend on!), but to be smart about what you do choose to spend your money on. Unlike a wishlist of things to pine over, these are things I know I will not be purchasing and why I will not be spending my money on it.” You may also disagree with my reasoning behind why I’m not purchasing something–that’s cool. You do you.
Here’s the list of what won’t be going in my cart this season.
Fenty Beauty line
When Fenty Beauty hit Sephora earlier this year, people lost their gotdamn minds–and with good reason! I’m not knocking Fenty Beauty by having it here, I think it’s awesome she’s another brand that is providing 40 shades in a wide variety of undertones and depths. She also has products that are getting a lot of love by people who are typically left out, and that’s a great thing.
But I won’t be purchasing anything from the line. It’s not just that there isn’t a color shade option for me (though, this is true. The line tends to run towards pinker skin tones for the undertone range I would fall within, whereas I’m a pretty high saturation yellow.) The entire foundation line is strictly meant for oily skin types, which rules my very dry skin out. I suppose I could using a nourishing primer, but why do extra work when there are other foundations out there that get the job done already? I don’t need to buy something for the sake of having it.
But there are other products, you’ll say! And I am aware. The reasons I am not going to buy them are practical–I’m in a professional graduate program and while I don’t have a front-facing position, wearing a heavy amount of glitter at work would really be distracting, so how often would I actually wear it? The answer is, maybe once or twice a year, and that’s not enough to warrant the $20 for the eyeliner or the $59 on the eyeshadow palette.
And just looking at the palette alone–it’s entirely glitter. That might be nice if you already have some matte or other palettes to round it out, but being completely honest: are you really going to use an entire palette of colorful glitters on the regular? Is this also the formula you’re willing to commit to? Looking at it alone, I wouldn’t use most of the colors in it. So for the 5-6 I actually might use, that is a pretty tall order for spending $59 on only 5 eyeshadows. Whereas, I could get similar singles from MAC for significantly less *and* have the added bonus of being able to add them to my MUFE magnetic palette and take them with me in addition to my other singles.
Similarly, the highlighters and Match Stix run into a similar line of thought. Sure, there are some really pretty colors in each. Lord knows that Amber in the Match Stix is actually relatively tempting, especially having swatched it in person. It’s definitely something I thought about, and managed to talk myself out of buying. Here’s the thing: I know my makeup usage habits and I know, realistically, buying a cream product (Match Stix) is inherently a bad idea because it will probably dry out before I actually get close to using it up. I know I don’t contour every day, so having a cream product isn’t a good idea for me. Powders last significantly longer, and as such, the Match Stix wouldn’t be a good fit for my collection.
The highlighters are lovely, but again: I wear highlighter even less than I do contour. And while these are in a powder, they’re also not colors I would personally use. I also don’t use highlighter enough as is, so I definitely don’t need ones with two different shades in them. For the two solo ones, only the Metal Moon might work, but for $34, I could buy a single pan highlighter that I could easily magnetize into my MUFE single palette to take with me when I travel, would be significantly cheaper, and would be less of a hassle in working with for depotting.
In short: the Fenty Beauty line as it stands now is not something that really fits in with my makeup habits or personal style, and it’s not anything I would add to my collection.
La Mer The Introductory Collection
First of all: La Mer is that one skincare line that everybody has seen celebrities using and costs at least a kidney on the black market to use on the regular.
Second of all, even if you’re OK with spending the money for La Mer–why would you ever bother with this set? Let’s break down the cost on this one per oz of product.
The Treatment Lotion is regularly sold at $145/5 oz, making it approximately $29/oz. You get 1 oz within this set.
The Revitalizing Hydrating Serum is sold at $195/1 oz. In this set, you get 0.17 oz, making it $33.15.
The Eye Concentrate is regularly sold at 0.5 oz for $205, making it (a rough estimate of) $410 per 1 oz. In this set, it is available at 0.10 oz for about $41 of the cost.
Last, the Moisturizing Soft Cream which comes in at a few different sizes (but it is $170/1 oz), but there is a “travel size” form available at $85 for 0.5 oz on the Sephora website.
In total, for this entire set, the cost of the products added up alone is $188.15, making it a decent deal at about ~20% off the normal prices per oz, all things considered. I can absolutely see how this would entice someone, but I’m not the type to fall into this. And when paired with the Sephora sale prices (another 20% off if you’re a VIB Rouge or VIBs, and 15% off for Beauty Insiders), I can see even more people being interested. But, as Kimberly Clark points out: buying something just for the sake of because it’s on sale is a terrible reason to buy something. You’re still spending a lot of money on a bunch of minis because of the brand name.
Half of the set has products under 0.2 oz; although you will likely not be using a lot of the eye concentrate, the sizes are small enough that it would be difficult to have a grasp on the performance of the products before they are used up. Skincare takes time to see its effects; it’s not makeup where it generally appeals to instant gratification.
There are better holiday sets out there for skincare that are much friendlier on the wallet than the famed La Mer, if you insist on one of these. For those reasons, this isn’t worth it and I won’t be buying it.
Besame Cosmetics Mini Lipstick Set
I am going to get accused of hating Besame one day, and I want to be upfront and say explicitly: it’s not true. I actually really love Besame. What I don’t love are things like this set.
Besame does red lipstick very well. In fact, of any red lipstick on the market, I tend to think their formula is easily in the top 3 best and that’s including liquid lipsticks. They are exceptional formulas that don’t run into a lot of other problems you see with other lipsticks, like bleeding, feathering, and easily smudging. Red is an exceptionally hard and high maintenance color, so the fact that their formula is this exceptional is definitely worthy of praise. That being said–
There are 3-4 (depending on your coloring and perceptions) red lipsticks in this set. Even if you are the pinup type: why? Yes, I see that there is a very dark red, a brown red, a blue undertoned red, and a neutral red, but realistically speaking: how often do you wear reds to warrant having even 3-4 mini lipsticks of it? Are you really going to wear them all? Be honest, average makeup consumer–probably not.
Now, for other skintones, these may not appear as red, and if that’s the case, I can understand how the set would be appealing.
But if you have warmer undertones, at least 3/5 of those lipsticks are going to clash (if this is something that matters.) So, given that 60% of the $25 you’d be shelling out would be unusable–is it really worth spending the money? Even if you have pink or neutral undertones, do you still really need 3-4 red lipsticks in your collection, even if they’re minis?
I can understand how this set might be appealing to someone looking for era-appropriate makeup or even to try and discern their “perfect red,” but it’s still spending money on extra things you don’t necessarily need, especially if it’s unlikely you’ll actually use it in your collection.
If you’re going to spend the $25 on lipstick, get a shade from Besame that you know works with your undertone and keep your collection manageable.
Pat McGrath Labs Mothership Eyeshadow Palettes
For $125, this eyeshadow palette better wash my damn car, take my dog out for a walk, and figure out a way to teach my dumb ass how to get Veronica Lake waves, because WHY.
Look, I have no doubt that there is probably a high quality attached to that price tag. I’ve seen the Temptalia swatches and I won’t lie, the purples on Mothership III look incredible, and I’m generally not persuaded by color. I also think these palettes have generally a nice mix of workable neutrals with straight up color.
But that $125 price tag? Even with 20% is still going to be $100. I don’t know about you, but there is no single eyeshadow palette worth $100 in my book. It is something that will be removed in hours. There’s something to be said about whether higher-end brands are worth it when drugstore brands are getting to be better in terms of quality than they were even just 5 years ago.
Additionally, even if I were to get Mothership III (the one I was most attracted to), I know there’s at least 2 eyeshadows I wouldn’t use which makes it all the more insulting I would drop $100, with $20 going unused. With that $20 I’d have spent on that, I easily could purchase 3 MAC eyeshadow refill pans (at $6 each) with similar-ish colors to what I would use there, and I already have a decent set of neutrals, and have $2 leftover.
In short, this isn’t worth it and I’m not going to buy it.
That wraps it up for this Sephora Sale Anti-Haul. Tell me all the things you won’t be buying this round!
My ideal life would be lived in a small tank with a decent amount of humidity and a warm rock to lay on, much like a lizard. Unfortunately, I do not get to live that best life, but much like a lizard: my skin can get scaly. It also gets compounded with the dry air as we move into cooler temperatures and heat getting pumped out the vents, it’s time to discuss how to make my skin less like a vintage alligator handbag.
There’s a few ways I try and make it less so, one of them is by having a tried and true skincare routine. There’s a lot that are out there; some have a ton of products built into them (e.g. Korean skincare routines) vs. less detailed ones. After having done a lot of experimentation and trial and error with many products, this is the one that works best for me. As with any beauty product, your mileage may vary–what works for me, may not work for you.
As a reminder (and as you can read from the title), I have dry, reactive skin. I’m on medication which has made my skin a little more sensitive than it normally would, but this is an expected side effect.
Water on face for cleaning
I generally don’t do a deep cleanse in the morning. Some people might find this gross, but when I do this, even if it is with an oil cleanser or something moisturizing, it leaves my skin drier. I prefer just to do a little water to get the job done and also help my skin with the next step.
belif Creamy Moisturizer Deep Moist
Price: $38/4.22 fl. oz. (making it approximately $9.00/fl. oz.)
Non-human Animal Tested?: No, belif does not test on non-human animals and this product is free from animal origin ingredients (per label on bottle)
The unfortunate name aside, it’s a solid day-time moisturizer. The bottle is nice, though difficult to determine when you are running low as you would have to open it to determine how much product is left. The bottle is fairly hefty and the pump is a very nice touch. I find I have to use two pumps to get the adequate amount of moisturizer I like to use for my drier skin. I’ve been using this for over two months now and have not had any issues with it causing my skin to break out.
While it is a nice formula and adds moisture back into my skin, it isn’t exactly as nourishing as its heavy-hitting counterpart, the True Cream Moisture Bomb. I don’t think it is as strong at extending the moisturizing over an extended period of time. This being said, it is also a lighter formula, so I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect that it would. Daytime moisturizers aren’t as heavy to play nice with makeup, but the drawback is that they don’t impart as much hydration back into the skin over an extended period of time.
This being said, the cost is actually not terrible for a mid-to-high end brand for the amount of product you get. It also plays very nicely under makeup, wearing well under both my beloved Make Up For Ever Water Blend and the Tarte Rainforest of the Sea foundation.
I know I will definitely use this one up and from that point, determine if I will be repurchasing. As of right now, I haven’t decided if I will, but I know I like it enough to at least use it up.
Those are my only two skincare steps for the morning. You may notice the lack of sunscreen, which I know is important for combating skin cancer. The truth of the matter is: I don’t really use it. When I go into work, it’s dark and I’m generally at my desk all day and not near a window. I’m generally outside for less than 15 minutes in a given day, so it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Non-human Animal Tested?: Yes, when required by law.
I’ve been using this loyally for well over a year now at this point. One balm will last me roughly 6 months with about daily use. I use this by getting my beloved Shiseido cotton pads a few swipes in the pot, getting it wet, and then removing facial makeup. I will also use this for waterproof eye makeup as well (though I don’t think it’s as effective as straight up oil (coconut or extra virgin olive oil; coconut is comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores and cause blemishes in some people.))
This is one of those few, rare products that I think would genuinely work for any skin type and wouldn’t have an issue recommending it for anyone. While I generally side eye the claim that Clinique is one of the best skincare lines out there, they do have some stellar products and this is one of their all-stars. It’s strong enough to remove stubborn face products, but gentle enough to not strip the skin of moisture.
I’ll one day sing longer praises for it, but in my routine, it’s got holy grail status and I don’t intend to remove it any time soon. It’s too good, effective, and relatively wallet-friendly for me to pass up on it.
As you may be already aware of my feelings on The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid, this is the stronger version of the 5%. The things I don’t like about the 5% (a dropper for applying product, getting exposed to air, scent, etc.) still remain, but at the price it is at and the effectiveness of the product, it’s just too good to pass up for anything else.
I decided to recently make the jump to the 10% for the reason that I know we are not going to be as fortunate as last year with a more mild winter. The ingredients are largely the same, but there’s some difference in the location (and therefore, amount within the product). For example, compared to the 5%, the 10% has arginine (an antioxidant) in a much higher content. I’ve only used this a few times, but it definitely has upped the brightness in my skin.
I’ll have an extended review on this when I’ve finished it up, but for now, it serves as a souped up version of the 5% in my routine and serves to continue the step of being an exfoliant and removing the dead skin cells. I also only use this every other night to avoid over-exfoliating and making my skin redder than it needs to be.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair
Price: $16/0.24 oz (the travel size is approximately $66.66 per oz, but it also comes in the size of $65/1 oz and $95/1.7 oz, making the 1.7 oz the best price per oz at ~$55.88)
Non-human Animal Tested?: Yes, when required by law.
On the nights where I don’t use The Ordinary Lactic Acid, this gets substituted in its place instead. I will also use it on the same nights if I tend to have a blemish, because I find this really helps to put the gas on clearing it up without leaving a scar.
Given that I’m right on the cusp of turning 30, I decided it was maybe about time to work in some anti-aging products that might be helpful for other things. After reading multiple reviews, that’s where this product came along. I use it for anti-aging prevention, but it also works to help reduce blemishes, reduce dullness, and I find it also adds a little bit of brightness back into my skin. Although it says it helps for dryness and dehydration, I don’t really experience a whole lot of moisture with this product after using it. That may be more apt for someone with oilier or combination skin types than someone with chronically dry or dehydrated skin.
Again, given that it is a pricier product, I generally don’t use this every night. It typically gets used every other night or whenever I feel needed. It’s just a little something that helps up my skin game.
If there is any one thing in my routine that I would recommend hands down with no reservations to anyone with dry skin, this is it. I’ve been using this night-time moisturizer for over a year and it (along with moving to a more humid climate) has made the biggest difference on my dry skin.
I wouldn’t recommend it to people with oily or combo skin (though, the Aqua Bomb is what I would substitute in its place), but for dry skin, you can’t find a more effective moisturizer on the market short of pure oils. (I know, because I’ve tried almost everything.)
It has a very slight fragrance, but overall, when I wake up in the morning, I can feel that my skin is still soft from applying it the night before but without looking greasy or oily-feeling. It is thicker than Aqua Bomb and heavier in comparison, but it isn’t heavy enough to be distracting or annoying. I find that the thickness imparts the nourishment my skin is craving.
As a side note, this is also surprisingly cosmetically elegant; I’ve tried it under a few different foundations (e.g. MUFE Water Blend, Tarte Rainforest of the Sea, Cover FX Natural Finish, etc.) and all have worked nicely with this, but it will depend on the formula you use and how finicky it is in general.
This is my very last step in my skincare routine every night, but it’s a staple and it’s earned its place as a holy grail moisturizer. If you’re looking for a good night-time moisturizer to wake up to softer skin–this is what you’ve been looking for.
For now, that is my skincare routine as we go from fall into winter. What do you guys use? Anything this lizard woman should be aware of? Let me know if I’ve been missing out on anything.
It is a good time to be a chemical exfoliant fan, particularly if you enjoy lactic acid. In the last few years, lactic acid has been becoming more and more prevalent among exfoliants, which is great if you happen to have more reactive, sensitive skin. Lactic acid also tends to be excellent for drier skins as it helps retain moisture.
Both of these products that are getting focused on today are fairly well-esteemed in the chemical exfoliant niche. However, I do not believe you need both. I tested out both of these products over several months and as promised in my prior Instagram post, I thought I would give an update on my review and offer a comparison between these two products in the beauty zeitgeist of the moment.
After I completed my first bottle of The Ordinary 5% Lactic Acid + HA 2%, I went and got a sample or two of the Sunday Riley Good Genes from Sephora to refresh my memory and to see if my results would be replicated. Normally, I use an AHA/lactic acid every other day rather than every day. In this period and spacing out the products, I went 3 days without using a chemical or physical exfoliant (this is the time frame I’ve managed to figure out through multiple means of being really damn lazy and not using skincare that the effect from a chemical exfoliant stops working on me and I start flaking.) This was to see if the results would be different between the two so I could narrow down what the differences were between products.
With the exception of the samples, I paid for both products and used both; Sunday Riley Good Genes (SRGG) lasted me from early January to mid-April. This was during winter, although the winter this year was fairly mild, with few days of dry coldness. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% (TOLA) lasted me from mid-April to late June, in a very humid period, so I would not expect my dryness to be worse in this period.
Now, with that out of the way, I can get to the nitty-gritty on these reviews.
Sunday Riley Good Genes (SRGG)
Price: $105 per 1 oz (Note: I bought this on a post-Christmas sale for 30% off, so it was approximately $78.75; Also comes in a 1.7 oz bottle for $158 making it slightly cheaper per oz at $92.94/oz in that size.)
Purchased: Anthropologie (can also be found at Sephora and DermStore.com)
SRGG has a cult following, and I can understand the appeal behind it. It really is an excellent but gentle chemical exfoliant. It comes with a pump (which I love, personally) and is in the form of a cream rather than a liquid. Although I don’t buy based on packaging alone, it is a nice-sized, stand up bottle made of glass. It looks fairly elegant and while I’m not the biggest gold lover, it gives it a nice appeal.
The product has a noticeable and strong scent. The scent itself does not fade away quickly on me and could take up to an hour before dissipating. I found it unpleasant at first, but over time, I came to appreciate it. It’s got a very light lemony smell, but also smells of chemicals which–well, yeah, it’s a chemical exfoliant. No shit, Sherlock.
For those that prefer to only purchase products that do not involve animal testing, the brand does not test on animals.
The product promises to do the following according to the advertisement on the Sephora website:
Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment is formulated with high potency, purified grade lactic acid that immediately exfoliates dull, pore-clogging dead skin cells, revealing smoother, fresher, younger-looking skin. Fine lines appear visually plumped while the skin looks more radiant. With continued use, the appearance of stubborn hyperpigmentation and the visible signs of aging are reduced for a healthier-looking complexion. Perfect for all skin types and all ages, this treatment is enhanced with licorice for brightening, Good Genes clarifies, smooths, and retexturizes for instant radiance.
Here’s what I found to be in my experience, both initially and after giving myself a refresher after trying it again:
Exfoliant: ✔️ This did an excellent job of keeping flaky skin at bay and making my skin feel soft without being too harsh.
Fine Lines: ❓ It’s hard to say on this one. Since my initial review, I was able to find a few on my face, but I don’t know that this product necessarily prevented them or if they occurred after using. I’m doesn’t really seem like this did a lot on that front, so I’m going to have to consider this one inconclusive.
Radiance: ✔️ Initially, this one was inconclusive for me but after going a second round, I do think this product adds radiance and a brightening effect.
Hyperpigmentation: ❔ As I don’t have hyperpigmentation, I can’t speak to this one and so it will remain inconclusive on my end.
Redness Reduction: ✔️ So, they don’t say anything about this in the description, but I do have to share this because it did work very effectively for me at reducing redness. It didn’t clear it up completely, but it definitely reduced it significantly.
Anti-Aging: ❔ This is going to be another inconclusive for me. As I look very young as is, you could argue that it kept me looking young, but that’s–probably not the intended purpose to keep someone looking 14.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% (TOLA)
Price: $6.50 per 1 oz.
Purchased: Beautylish (also available through Skinstore.com, ASOS, and the brand’s website)
TOLA is one of those products that’s flying off the shelf and it’s not hard to see why; The Ordinary is a very affordable but effective product line. It doesn’t shy away from using effective chemicals (a plus in my book because I don’t buy into the hype around organic being best.)
Like Sunday Riley, this brand also does not perform any animal testing. It’s also a vegan product. (These two things are not necessarily the same; Ethical Elephant explains it very well if this is a concern for you.)
The product itself is in a small, clear glass container. It’s minimalist, but does not seem to have anything to deflect UV influence on the product, which is interesting to me because I would think it would degrade the product faster. Another quirk about this product is that it has a dropper as opposed to a pump. Given that the product is liquid rather than SRGG’s cream, this makes somewhat more sense.
The Ordinary has gone and explained why they use a dropper as opposed to a pump, and it largely comes down to a functional purpose despite being less cost efficient. While I appreciate the conscious effort on their end to not waste product/money, I still do prefer a nice pump at the end of the day. Not to mention, for someone like me, I’m prone to losing at least 15% by being a clumsy asshole anyways (as evidenced by how much faster I used this product up comparatively.)
Much like SRGG, this one has a scent too. The first few times I used it, I longed for the lemon chemical stench of SRGG, but I’ve come to tolerate it. It does fade quickly despite its strength (within 10-15 minutes.) It’s hard to describe what this smells like; it’s got a fruity underbody to it but it just reeks of chemicals.
Now, here is what the Beautylish website describes it as:
This treatment gently resurfaces the skin to promote a bright, even tone and a smooth, soft texture.
If nothing else, I appreciate the brevity. Here’s how I find my first go round and second go with this product:
Exfoliant: ✔️ It keeps flakes away and leaves skin smooth after application.
Brightness: ✔️ It does, to a degree. I definitely find my skin looking bright right away, but by the middle of the next day, it has faded some.
Redness Reduction: ✔️ Again, it does reduce redness. I find it’s actually very red upon application but when I wake up, the redness has gone away. This is likely due to my skin being more sensitive.
As this product does not indicate anything about fine lines or anti-aging, I am not judging it for that. Not that I really could anyways, since those are difficult things for me to pin down on my skin.
No one needs both of these products. Although I find the SRGG is more effective at keeping redness away longer and slightly more effective at reducing redness, it isn’t enough to warrant the $98.50 price differential.
Here’s what I would recommend: if you are needing to look good for a special day, really need that anti-aging or fine line reduction, or have the budget to not break the bank by buying it regularly, it may be worth splurging to get SRGG.
However, for most people, it’s really unnecessary. TOLA does close enough to the same thing at a significantly lower cost. Considering skincare is something that should be as regular a habit as brushing your teeth, for me, it’s a no brainer: The Ordinary wins this one for me.
I believe in many things; that your favorite sandwich tells a lot about you (mine is BLT for those wondering), that “positive vibes only” is a whole lot of fair-weather bullshit, and that taking care of your skin is basic care for everyone. Your skin is your largest organ; treat it as you would any other part of your body. You wouldn’t let your cardiovascular system go uncared for, so why would you let your integumentary system?
I will be the first to admit that all things considered, I am genetically #blessed with “good” skin. I rarely develop blemishes (and those that are tend to be either reactive to something I have worn or due to my bad habit of touching my face when frustrated), I generally don’t have a lot of discoloration, no acne, and the actual worst of it is some persistent redness.
I didn’t develop a skincare routine until I was 23, but even before this, my years of being a teenage hermit did me some good in the fact that I rarely exposed myself to sun and kept out of skin cancer and photo-aging’s way. But as I am now (said in Wayne’s voice from Wayne’s World) a little bit older and a little bit wiser, I do have a skincare routine set in place that I will eventually expand upon. It is not much of a routine, but it exists.
Today, though, are what I’ve gone through thus far this summer, now that I have a few things.
As I said before, I don’t have a particularly extensive routine and I generally don’t follow the Korean Beauty line of using 10-11 products in a given night. However, when I do use is tried and true for me and my dry, reactive skin. None of what I say here should be taken as a comprehensive review, but I’ll share what these products do for me and what role they fill in my skincare routine.
Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm – Facial Cleanser
I tend to use two cleansers to remove makeup or to clean my face. This particular one serves as my cleanser for removing facial makeup. I use a little bit of the Shiseido cotton rounds and swirl it in the tub (usually at the ends rather than the center), wet it, and begin to remove my makeup. I find this is not particularly drying and does a great job at not irritating my skin but doing the job in which it was intended when purchased.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% – Chemical Exfoliant
As a lizard woman, it is important for me to have a heat rock to digest, but also a chemical exfoliant to keep my flaky skin at bay. I prefer lactic acid to glycolic acid because it is much gentler and is much more effective at reducing my redness. I also tend to prefer a chemical exfoliant over a physical exfoliant out of concern for micro-tears in the skin and the simple fact it’s much easier to deal with; I just use the dropper (not my favorite method) onto a cotton round and lightly press into the skin and let it sink in for 20 minutes before moving on.
belif The True Cream – Moisturizing Bomb – Night Moisturizer
There are many things I generally do to keep the scale-skin at bay; I use a chemical exfoliant, I use moisturizer, I (sometimes) use oils, I use a nourishing primer, I use a water-based foundation. While all these things are nice, this is the only product that has really made a difference in my skin’s moisture levels (well, that, and actually drinking water.) I use it at night-time because it is a thicker cream, but once it’s on the skin, I don’t personally find it to be particularly heavy.
At some point, I will be doing a more thorough review on each of these products. All three of these are staples of mine and it certainly won’t be the last you hear of them from me.