The Sephora Birthday Haul 2017

Seems like I have been buying a lot of things recently – though it’s also true that I have been running out of things left right and centre. My birthday was a few weeks ago and as per my usual tradition, I’ve been to Sephora to pick up a few items as well as the free birthday gift. To be honest, most of these buys are pretty boring – I had to get another Sephora Collection Solid Brush Cleanser, and a Nails Inc. 45 Second Top Coat with Kensington Caviar, both of which are staples in my day-to-day routine. I also ran out of nighttime moisturizer so it was time to go back to my old faithful, the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask – it’s honestly the best for my oily/combo skin, especially as spring and summer are approaching.

The one new thing I did spring for is the Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser, which I had used a sample of while away. It’s a wonderful milky cleanser with some beads to help with manual scrubbing without being too harsh. Skin feels soft and clean afterward, which is awesome. This is definitely not a cheap product, but the bottle is gigantic and will probably last a good while. I’m also quite excited about theĀ  minis I got, a 100 point perk of the Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment, as well as the Caudalie birthday set.

What have you picked up from Sephora recently and what would you recommend?


The Travel Essentials

I’m jetting off on a week-long trip soon and I thought I’d share a few essentials I am bringing with me. Aside from being ridiculously cute, mini products are great for saving for these types of occasions.

For skincare, I’m bringing the Laneige Multi Cleanser, which is a creamy and lightly exfoliating daily face wash, then I’ll be using my mini of the Sunday Riley Martial Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner and then slapping on my absolute favourite Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, which works great for both day and night. For any breakouts that might happen (which often do when I travel, sadly), I have my trusty Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel. If that’s not strong enough, I can use a dab of the GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment, or use it all over the face.

For makeup, I’ve got the mini of the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard, which is great for under the eyes and around the face, which will be blended out with my Sephora Collection Pro Mini Airbrush #55.5 Brush. For adding warmth and contouring the NYX Contour Pro Single in Sienna is being packed away for its compactness – it’s also a great colour. For highlight, the cute little Benefit Watt’s Up is my favourite, and it doubles as a great cream eyeshadow. The Kat Von D Tattoo Liner is a perennial favourite, and having a mini-sized pen is just great for travel.

To take all this makeup off at the end of the day I have the cutest pot of the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, and to wash my brushes, I packed the Sephora Collection Solid Brush Cleanser.

What are your travel go-tos and what do you recommend?

More New Discoveries

The beauty lover’s life – it’s a constant hunt and chase for better products, cheaper alternatives, colour dupes, etc. “But aren’t you on a no buy this year?” Absolutely. But I’ve been using products up like crazy, so when it came time to replace them, it was no surprise that I found three more alternatives to products that have become staples in my beauty routine.

I previously posted about the Yes to Grapefruits Scrub, which I really like but the consistency of the scrub is quite watery, so it tends to dribble out of the tube quite a bit, which I’m not crazy about. So I decided to try a different scrub in the line – the Yes to Tomatoes Daily Pore Scrub for Combination Skin, which is a creamier, thicker formula with smaller particles – it’s a great scrub and the creaminess will be great going into the fall. I am really enjoying the Yes to! line, and am looking forward to trying more from the line.

Makeup remover is something I run out of frequently, and after having gone through several bottles of the same kind, I decided to try the Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil, which is an alright price ($19 CAD for 6.4 oz). I have been pleasantly surprised, as it works the best out of all the oils I’ve tried, and a major plus – it doesn’t sting my eyes or leave a weird film. The only complaint I have is that it smells kind of like chemicals and it often gets in the mouth, which is very unpleasant. But I would definitely repurchase this as it takes off all my waterproof eye makeup with hardly any effort.

Lastly, I’ve gone on and on before about the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, which I’ve gone through like crazy. I’ve been without for a while and not really loving the other alternative night creams I was pulling out of my stash, so when I was in the Korean grocery store last month, I picked up the Missha Near Skin Water Sleeping Mask, which I can only assume is a copycat version of the Laneige – it’s the same colour and a similar consistency. It doesn’t sink into the skin quite as well, but it’s been great so far and it’s a few dollars cheaper.

All in all it’s been a good month for new skincare finds. Have you tried any of these products and what are your recent skincare faves?

The Q2 Clearout

As promised, I’m keeping up with my quarterly clearouts – I think I actually did quite well this spring, with some good haircare/skincare/makeup empties that I’ve managed to use up and get rid of. As you can see, I’m a keen tube-cutter. There is tons of product left inside a tube, so I highly recommend doing this to get your money’s worth. Some highlighted products:

The Giovanni 2Chic Brazilian Keratin & Argan Oil Leave-In Conditioner is an interesting product – I’ve tried a different leave-in conditioner from them that was great, and this one was similar – I take a dollop on my ends after showering and it leaves my hair really silky and smooth. The downside to this guy is that it smells absolutely horrible, kind of like cat urine, if you’ve ever had the good fortune of sniffing that. I won’t be repurchasing this specific hair product, but I do like the brand in general.

I used up a lot of my favourites, including the Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, Laneige Water Sleeping Mask and the L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation in shade 103. All three are going to be repurchases for sure!

The one item I had to get rid of due to age was the Revlon Brow Fantasy in shade Dark Brown. This is the first and only brow pencil I’ve ever bought in my life, and as you can see, it didn’t get much use – I had originally bought it for the gel on the other end, which has long dried up. I just found that because my brows are quite low maintenance, there wasn’t really a need for a pencil – any other tinted brow gel will do, and tons have been released into the market since I bought the Brow Fantasy.

Which products have you tried and do you regularly clean them out?

The No Buy Sephora Haul

A Sephora haul – right at the beginning of a no-buy year?? That can only mean one thing – my birthday is just around the corner, and while I did dedicate myself to not buying unnecessary stuff in 2016, I can’t say no to free! Case in point, the annual Sephora birthday gift. They have two choices this year, and I chose the Marc Jacobs mini set that includes a tiny mauvey-nude lipstick and one of their gel eye pencils, which I’ve always wanted to try. With that, I also picked up a free set of Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Formula pads, which are supposed to help with breakouts, oil, wrinkles and dullness – quite the claim, so I’m excited to try these.

What I actually spent money on was pretty boring and stuff I actually needed – a new top coat, since I’m running out, so I’ve decided to go back to and try the new re-branded (and more expensive) Nails Inc. 45 Second Top Coat with Kensington Caviar, an old staple. I also needed a new pair of tweezers, so I went with the trusty Mini Slant Tweezers from Tweezerman. The one thing I ‘treated’ myself to was a sample kit of La Neige minis, which contains a couple items I’m currently using/have tried, as well as some new stuff to try.

All in all, I don’t think this was a bad effort or overspending too much, so in spite of my no-buy I’m really pleased with this year’s birthday haul, and so is my wallet.

What have you tried recently from Sephora, and what would you recommend?

2015 Favourites: Skin Care

Following last year’s precedent, it’s only right to do a post on my most-loved and used skincare favourites from 2015. It’s been an interesting year for skincare – some old, some new, but also a lot of the same stuff I’ve been using for a while. That’s the thing about skincare. It’s much more finnicky, although I’m hoping that now I’m coming closer to a finalized skincare routine, at least in terms of ingredients, if not specific products.

One of my favourite cleansers of the year has to be the Philosophy Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash, which I have used on and off since around 2009. This is either my third or fourth bottle of the stuff, which is creamy and gentle and exfoliates the skin with the teeniest beads ever. I use this every morning. After work in the shower, I’ve decided to give my Clarisonic a bit of break and just go back to using a simple cleanser. The one I’m loving right now is the Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Facial Cleanser, which is gentler, more moisturizing and has slightly bigger beads than the Philosophy. I’ve had samples of this cleanser in the past and I am definitely glad to finally have the full-sized product in my arsenal. To remove makeup, nothing can beat the Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil – it’s fast, efficient and affordable, and removes every scrap of waterproof eye makeup imaginable.

Other faves have been the Clinique Superdefense Age Defense Eye Cream SPF 20, amazing for all year round, and my most-used night time moisturizer, the LaNeige Water Sleeping Mask. I’m on my third tub of the stuff, but only really started using it daily in 2015.

To set all my makeup on the daily, I’ve found a cheaper alternative to the Urban Decay Setting Sprays – L’Oreal’s Infallible Pro Spray & Set Makeup Extender Setting Spray, which is under $15 and lasts ages. I can’t live without the stuff and am down to the last couple of sprays in my second bottle.

For the body, my lifesaver is the Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, which is thick but sinks into the skin instantly, and does not leave a greasy finish. I apply it every night to hands, feet and elbows when needed. Also, as a little indulgence, the Laura Mercier Creme de Pistache Souffle Body Creme is incredible, used as a lotion or as a perfume. The texture is amazing and the scent lingers all day. Worth the splurge, in my opinion.

What have your skincare/body care faves been in 2015 and what are you looking forward to trying most this coming year?

Winter Moisture and Radiance

I’ve been on a skincare kick recently, due to the real settling in of winter recently. We’ve been lucky this year – it hasn’t been too cold or windy most days, so I’ve been able to delay the onset of flaky and dull skin.

Despite having normally very oily/combo skin, I definitely do tend to get dry patches during this time of year, usually around the nose, on the tops of my cheeks and sometimes even my eyelids (gross). To make things worse, my t-zone is still oily. It’s a wonderful combination………….not. So to keep things looking a bit plumper and brighter around these parts, there are a few products I immediately go to when I’m feeling the colder temperatures.

The first one I’ll quickly mention since I’ve talked about it at length here and here. The Laneige Water Sleeping Mask is my go-to, nighttime moisturizer every single night, but it’s light enough to use during the daytime as well. If you have oily skin, this is a must for keeping your skin hydrated, end of story. If I’m feeling like I need something extra moisturizing, I occasionally reach for the GlamGlow ThirstyMud Hydrating Treatment, which is a bit of a thicker, creamier consistency that has a lovely coconut scent. It definitely helps with the moisturizing, but it’s something I’d confine to using at night.

Another one that is great for nighttime is the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Overnight Mask, which is supposed to brighten and hydrate the skin overnight. It definitely hydrates, and it stings a tiny bit going on where I have blemishes or dry patches, which may not mean anything at all, but always makes me think it’s doing something about my problem areas! Another helpful brightener is the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, which I mostly use as a 15-minute mask to soothe and hydrate the skin if it’s feeling irritated.

What are your favourite moisturizing treatments during the winter?