It's time for another "Why Isn't Anyone Talking About This?" installment. So this time I'm talking about Senna Cosmetics Sketch-A-Brow. I ran across this on Frends Beauty and decided to give it a try. I don't know why because I'm more of an angled brow pencil lover. This is a very thin, thin, thin, mechanical pencil that reminds you a bit of the ABH Brow Wiz.
As you know I'm a huge skincare fan. Anything and everything, I like it all. Over the past few years my routine has expanded by quite a bit. Just by learning more about ingredients and different steps to take as you see different concerns. Through the process of that I've definitely got some brands that are my absolute favorites. One of those being Exuviance, which is a brand by NeoStrata. I hadn't yet had the opportunity to try the actual NeoStrata products theirself though. Well that opportunity presented itself through one of their best and probably most favorite products which is the Foaming Glycolic Wash. So before I get into the product itself I'm going to introduce you to the brand because I've enjoyed learning about them so much and that is no exaggeration!
Recently, I got the opportunity to try the new Hyla3D HA Activating Complex from Jan Marini Skin Research. It's a serum that houses an intricate formula of different forms of hylauronic acid, technology which will then activate our own HA, and also peptides and antioxidants. That complex is 3 fold basically. So you have the serum being hydrating itself on multiple levels of molecular weight to penetrate deeper and last longer once on the skin, then the serum technology activating the natural HA in our skin, and adding in those peptides and antioxidants to "boost collagen and elastin". To quote the company:
"As a result, Hyla3D restores hydration and 3-dimensional volume, while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for a more youthful, contoured look."
Haul Pt 1 Skincare.
First, this is a collective haul. I don't want you getting all upset that I had a big hoo-rah and bought a ton of stuff (which even if I did, what does it matter?). I give that disclaimer because you know how people are, they get offended or mouthy about anything and everything. So with that sass out of the way lets talk about this.
The reason I do "collective hauls" is because I like giving you my first thoughts on these things after I've tried them, or studied on them for a while or even for a few days. Where as in a video you just show it and you move on. That doesn't really work on a blog. I also like to have quite a bit of stuff to talk about before I consider it a "haul" but it needs to be recent. So this is over the past few weeks of accumulating stuff. So lets get into this.
No particular order
Ok so that's the skincare haul! I do have another one cooking up. I think it's already up to 11 or 12 products but to be fair some of those will be sent for testing purposes. The reason this is Part 1 is because Part 2 is going to be makeup. Maybe I'll do a "monthly roundup" of all my skincare and makeup that I've gotten. Perhaps that would be a better title than "haul".
So for the next "Step by Step" installment. We're going to talk about liquid toners. Now these toners are gonna focus on the benefits for the skin. Like AHA/BHA ingredients possibly or mattifying benefits. Not the conventional method of liquid toners which is getting off any left over residue of makeup, or cleanser. Typically, they are thought to be reserved for oilier skin types. However, they've come a long way since Clinique toners hit the market and they can now do things that go unnoticed but are super beneficial for your skin "behind the scenes".
First of all, let's just get this out the way, Astringents and Toners are two different things. Think Sea Breeze vs Clinique Clarifying Lotion. Astringents are much more harsh in my opinion and not in a good way because they typically have a more alcohol base or heavy on the chemicals. The idea is to tighten the skin, close the pores, remove oils, and cleanse the skin. A toner is, traditionally, to remove residue left over either from cleanser or makeup and help adjust the skins pH and "tone". Toners actually can come in a moisturizer, spray, serum, etc. Toner is just an "umbrella" term for a lot of different products. Growing up you think of anti-aging, tightening the skin, removing left over residue from pores, and so on. Which sounds amazing actually.
For a while toners were thought to restore the skins ph balance because cleansers were not properly ph'd thus the skins ph balance got out of wack. Turns out cleansers are mostly balanced now and even if they weren't the skin would balance itself out in most cases. So then it came down to, are toners necessary? My answer yes, as long as you're using the right ones. So I don't like one trick ponies, I need to see them do something. There is a big buzz around acid toning right now and we will get into that at a later date. These are going to be more mild than that but they do more than remove oil, and what have you.
I use liquid toners in the morning after I've cleansed my skin. If you'd like to know my favorite cleansers then I will direct you to my other blog post. I have a few that serve different purposes. So let's get into my top 5:
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution with a pH of 3-6. This is really inexpensive and it's 8 oz for $8.70. I actually love this as a morning mild AHA.. I use stronger AHA's at night. AHA's help with texture and making the skin brighter. I feel like this does that and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to try acid toning in the form of AHA. I'm not sure I'd recommend it to those with problematic skin because AHA's tend to be better for dry, dull, and aging skin. If you're in your teens, have acne, an oily skin type, the next toner will be better for you I think.
Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3. This is 6.7 oz for $14.50, but there are other sizes available. Clinique is notorious for not providing their ingredients so they're not easily accessible. There are actually 5 toners but only 4 on most stockist sites. My choice for every skin type is Lotion 3. It does a combination of things. It removes residue and takes care of excess oil. It also exfoliates dead skin and dull skin and then helps manage breakouts. It's really stood the test of time in my opinion. I think it's a great option for teens and early 20's.
Botanics Shine Away Toner. This is at Ulta. It's 8.4 oz for $9 (on sale right now at Ulta for $7.19.). This is also available at Target as well. This is cool, you have to shake to activate because it has powders in it that mattify the skin. I use this specifically on hot days where I need my makeup to last, well.... any day that I need my makeup to last. Then I use it especially under dewy finish foundations. It really does work. Botanics is a very few ingredients and more of an "organic brand" all the way around. This product resembles that because there are very few ingredients, it doesn't say it's organic though. This keeps my T-Zone matte for most of the day and I love it. Plus you have the added bonus of clarifying the skin as well.
Caudalie Grape Water, which has changed since I last bought it. It's $22 (it was $18 I swear) for 6.7 oz. I find this a good antioxidant and hydrating toner. For those of you that are super dry. It has good skin care benefits being antioxidants, not necessarily a targeted treatment say for clearing up blemishes and acne. This is an aerosol spray which I love and it is very hydrating and refreshing. It's a no bells and whistles so it's not for you if you're wanting a product that "multi tasks",this is my only one trick pony. Only because it does provide antioxidants and it's an aerosol spray so it's easier to use or more convenient I should say.
Apsara Rosewater and Turmeric Facial Toner Spray. This is $22 for 4 oz. I find it lasts quite a while. I use this the most at night or after treatments. OR to help with "cake face". This is obviously refreshing, suited or everyone but marketed for normal skin types. Rosewater is naturally an "astringent". This spray is very soothing and brightening in my opinion. The soothing part is why I use it after treatments that are intense. It's fast and easy. It also minimizes the look of pores. In general I like a rosewater spray but this is my favorite. I really like their Rosedew one as well it's for combo skin. Apsara is a natural brand and this is non-alcohol based. It has only 7 ingredients 3 of which being Essential Oils so if you're sensitive to EO's then avoid this one.
So there ya go, sometimes I do use "toners" more than once a day, like if I need some hydration or need my makeup to look less cakey, or if I'm using it underneath foundation specifically to help keep away shine through out the day. I'll use my Glycolic Acid 7% toning solution every morning and then who knows what the day will hold from there on, so I might have to use more than one. Like I said I will get into my AHA's which are acid toners for the skin but right now I'm working through the day time skin care steps and then I'll add the night time steps.
So to recap so far we have:
Step 1 Cleansing and Pre Cleansing ( if needed)
Step 2 Liquid Toner
I hope you're enjoying these. I've been doing a lot of skincare posts lately and that is just how the cookie crumbles right now we have a lot of skincare to discuss. I am going to get up some reviews on some more makeup products soon and hopefully there will be a good mix of stuff.
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Talk to you soon!
So for this post I thought I'd give you a beauty hack of mine that makes a difference on prolonging my foundation, and keeping it as flawless and luminous as possible. Without being oily.
My trick plain is simple is I mix together difference primers with not just different benefits, but different textures also. The ones I mix together are for my T-Zone and the areas I get the oiliest. Now the luminizing part comes in with using it only on the perimeter of the face. I don't mix luminizng primers because I do not feel that would be beneficial since it's going around the outside of the face.
My luminizng primers that I rotate are:
Smashbox Radiance Primer
Dr Brandt Pores No More Luminizng Primer
The Smashbox is almost like a cream highlight, it's a golden hour effect. It's a bit thicker and I use it with a beauty blender. I really enjoy it. It's also a moisturizing primer due to the Hylauronic Acid that's in it. So it's got more benefits that just a pretty glow.
Dr Brandt Pores No More Luminizing Primer, is a pearl shade but basically invidible one the skin. It really does make pores vanish and it is luminizng. In the most subtle way. It gives foundationa a satin finish and it's nice to mix into foundation as well. It's a typical lotion style primer therefore it's easy to mix it into other liquid and cream foundations. Of coure you could do that with the Smashbox one but the peach tint would change the color some in the foundation and the Hylauronic Acid would make the foundation more moisturizing. If that's not something you need because you get oily, or oily in your T-Zone, I would avoid mixing the Smashbox Radiance Primer with foundation.
Now the primer mix that I do consists of primers that have these benefits:
This is the little custom cocktail that I put in my t zone only because that's where I get oily. I don't see the point in putting these potent products in areas where you don't get oily. Now most primers that will control oil will also smooth lines and texture but I like to be extra. So I use 3 usually and they all have different textures. Which I think that's why it works because sometimes a primer can be fantastic but if it's not tacky enough it doesn't have the staying power. Get what I'm sayin? It may also be smoothing but if it's too thin and like a lotion it's going to absorb into the skin more than it should. Another reason why I do it, is because primers that have a ton of silicone (dimethicone, etc) in them, for some reason, my makeup slides off my face if I use it by itself. Honestly, it does. A great example of that is Smashbox original primer, that is like a cult favorite, the one that started them all. Yea, makes my makeup slide right off.
So what I like to do is get travel size or deluxe samples of primers when there is a promo for one or whatever because: 1) I do mix them, so I don't need much product 2) it's easy for me to find ones I may really like that way without spending tons of money and having a bunch of duds. Recently the ones I've been mixing, have been:
Smashbox Pore Minimizing Primer (always in there because of the thick texture)
Becca EverMatte (always in there because it's the most mattifying primer I've used)
NARS Pore and Shine Control Primer (This is because of the thin consistency and it has the benefits I want)
Alone the NARS isn't enough. It's too thin. Alone the Smashbox one will work on pores but it doesn't control the oil and it doesn't keep my makeup on. Alone the Becca is enough to keep me matte and keep my makeup on for sure but I still have the noticeable pores and lines issue. So therefore instead of have a quest where one can do it all I'd rather mix less than a pea size of samples or travel size and use those for months on end. I really think the key here is having one that is thin as well. So bear that in mind if you're gonna try this. Have one that's thin so that it'll mix them properly for you and have a good consistency. I really like mixing in the Smashbox Pore Minimizing (it's the purple one) because it's so thick which is why it works to fill in pores and lines but at the same time it's almost too thick to blend out, thus we thin it out.
Some people layer primers and I think that's fine especially if the primers are thin or like a lotion for the most part. Like I know some who use the Smashbox Primer spray and then use the Nivea After Shave Balm (which is a good primer by the way). Then my friend Alaina layers a color correcting actual cream not primer (for redness), the Cane and Austin primer and then the Becca EverMatte on the more oily areas for her skin, with EverMatte being on top. Which is perfectly fine because the thicker consistency is on top. Where as if it were in the middle or something it would start to ball up. Which is the other reason why I mix these and apply the mixture because some primers will ball up on the skin with too much blending and/or rubbing on the skin. Also they can ball up when you go in with foundation as well if you blend that in too much, depending on what primer you've used, so again that's why I apply a mixture. Sometimes I will apply the Nivea Shave Lotion over top of what I've already done or mix it into the other primers because it is a very tacky finish which makes foundation stick like glue to the face.
I know this is a lot of information and kinda confusing but the jist is: if you're primer is not working for you like it should, be it pores are still noticeable, makeup isn't lasting like it should, you're getting oily, etc. Get some samples or what have you and try mixing different ones and see if that helps the situation. Focusing the mixture on the problem areas while using a different one if you want around the perimeter of the face that doesn't cause you any issue typically.
If you're reading this the day when it's posted (4/15) or early the next day, there is a complete GRWM on my Snapchat where I explain the tips and tricks and why I do this and that. Along with other tips.
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Benefit Cheek Parade palette is by far one of the best DEALS that I've seen this year. You get 5 full sized powders and brush in a very cute and stable packaging for $58.
In the palette you get the following powders:
Hoola Lite *NEW*
I checked and double checked, you do get the same size of each powder as you would if you bought the individuals. Which again comes out to a great deal. An individual powder is $29 and you get 5 so that's $145, individually. This is $58 and thus a saving of $87. What I thought was strange was some of the powders are quite a bit different in size than others. Same individually. For example, Galifornia and Rockateur are .17 oz. Hoola and Hoola Lite are .28 oz. Dandelion is .25 oz. And yes, just to confirm, I did check the palette AND the individuals and it was the same. So if you bought Rockateur you'd get .28 oz of product for $29 and then if you bought Hoola you'd get .17 oz for the same price ($29). It's not a big deal it's about a 3 gram difference though.
So like I said this is a really really good deal there is no denying it. Here's my issue, which I feel bad for even saying cause it is such a good deal. I bought it because I really didn't have an Benefit powder products except for a few. I love them but they just aren't ideal for storage. They're quite bulky. I digress, this palette is much easier to store, I got to try two new powders, one blush I hadn't tried before (Rockateur), and I get two that I already know I like Hoola and Dandelion. I only have those two in the mini version. So I was sold.
When the palette came it was beautiful, heavily fragranced though. Which I don't mind. Just be warned it's really heavily perfumed. I looked at it and it was goreous. The duochrome on Galifornia was so stunning because it wasn't chunky glitter it was just a sheen of gold over coral. The with Rockateur is was stunning as well with a more shimmery finish to it. The rest were as expected since they are all matte.
When I finally went to use it for the first time, after I was done just looking at it lol, I went in for Galifornia. Turns out in my palette, that golden sheen was a golden over lay. Like a spray of gold on the top layer and not throughout the whole powder. Also turns out that it's not very pigmented. I was super bummed so I swatched the rest of the shades really quick and they all have good pigmentation (even Rockateur did great when applied although it swatches on the more sheer side). So I did what I could with Galifornia but ultimately had to finish it up with Dandelion, because you could not see it except one cheek had a golden sheen and the other did not.
The next time I used it I went for Rockateur because I wanted to know if it was an overlay of shimmer. It was not, it's actually my favorite because I love plum-y blushes and it's a buildable blush as well. So it swatches kinda subtle but it applies beautifully and you can control how deep it gets so easy, plus it's great combined with cooler toned contours. So, I tried Hoola Lite the other new shade and it had very nice pigment. I don't particularly care for the shade of it, but it's the true shade and there's nothing wrong with the formula that I can find, it just doesn't look right on my skin tone. Obviously I love Dandelion and Hoola.
So I will provide finger swatches, brush swatches won't be helpful in my opinion with cheek products because you just dust blush on, you don't pack it on like you do on an eye lid. All in all because I love the other shades, I do love this palette and will keep it. It's a bummer that Galifornia is a dud because it looked stunning in the pan. If you're wondering yes the gold sheen is gone from the blush so it really was just an over spray or something. I wouldn't even be that irritated if the blush at least had pigment because I genuinely like the corally pink color but it doesn't unfortunately.
My thoughts are it's still a good deal, if you like the other shades, even if mine (I won't say all because who knows maybe I have a dud, it's happened before.) had just four or even three good powders and one that wasn't because I will use those powders for sure. I might exchange it for the same palette and see if it's the same case because in reality I would love to be able to use Galifornia, however I might just leave it as is. It's not like I don't have that shade in some other blush. I won't tell you to go buy it or save your money because it's personal preference, I'll leave that up to you. I will say I'm not exactly happy, but it's not a complete loss. So I wanted to get this review up before the sale on the 18th in case you were planning on getting it. My recommendation is possibly swatch it in store if you can.
Swatches down below
So from the top to bottom we have one layer of:
Now this was taken with the flash on. Dandelion looks pretty light, because it is a paler pink of a blush and I have pale skin but it's very noticeable in person and does great on the cheeks. Rockateur is a darker blush in the pan but it's a buildable blush with a sheen to it and that's why I love it. It's very noticeable on my skin when I apply it and I don't build it up much at all. It's also not glittery on my cheeks. Hoola Lite doesn't fair to well with my skin tone. Hoola is lovely. Galifornia doesn't show up at all on my cheeks no matter how much I layer.
This is my palette now. Taken with flash as the one on top was of when I first opened it. You'll see that the golden sheen to Galifornia is completely gone and Rockateur being the other non-matte shade still looks the same and has the same sheen or shimmer to it after using it several times. I just wanted to add this so that you could visibly see that the golden sheen was completely gone without the pattern being disrupted at all from over use, or tampering with it.
So it's Saturday Night....I always think of that song Jimmy Buffet covered: "another Saturday Night and I ain't got no body, I got some money cause I just got paid. How I wish I had someone to talk to, I'm in an awful way....". Fun fact: it was released by Sam Cooke (which is quite different to what we're used to), then re-done by Cat Stevens and then Jimmy Buffet. It is Saturday night but none of the rest of the lyrics pertain to me. lol
Anyway, it's usually Saturday Night Sheet Mask. However, this time it's just Saturday Night Skincare with a mud mask. This mask I'm using is the Apsara Papaya and Sugar Exfoliating Mask. This is a finely milled powder mask that you add water to, which is really my favorite way to do mud masks. It's also a natural AHA due to the raw sugar which is a natural source of Glycolic Acid. When you see sugar in the name though, you think it'll be a scrub. Not the case here.
I love Apsara, I genuinely do. I'm a huge fan of there Neem Cleanser and Rose facial sprays. This mask is no different I really love it. I think this is more mild than Aztec Healing Clay as far as how it feels on the skin, but I feel like it has better/more instant results. So it's like "less reaction more benefits" My skin is so soft. Yet it's matte, but not to be confused with dull. My skin is not shiny like it is with peels, vitamin c, and so on. Not to say that it takes away a glow. It just leaves the skin feeling so soft and instant results as far as blemishes being either gone or unnoticeable (small ones, let's not get dramatic). The skin is not stripped as it can be with masks that "detox" or "purify" the skin which leave the skin feeling tight and dry as the Sahara like, "PLEASE GOD SOMEONE GIVE ME SOME OIL, MIST, CREAM, ANYTHING!!!" to put on the skin. This leaves the skin looking great, as well as feeling great. Soft people, soft skin. I just wanted to add that in there again.
Ok I think you got it. The ingredients are as follows:
"Kaolin, bentonite, Carica papaya (papaya) extract, Saccharum officinarum (unprocessed raw sugar), Curcuma longa (turmeric), Azadirachta indica (neem)."
No wonder I love it, because it houses 2 of my favorite ingredients which are Neem and Turmeric. You mix one tbsp. with water or rosewater and mix into a paste. I don't find that it's a smell I love but I don't use skincare for smells, I mixed mine with water and not rosewater but I'm curious to see what that would be like. I think it'd be very useful added benefit for the skin. This is $22 for 3.3 oz.
It kinda looks like baby diarrhea on my face....but I'm cool with it.
So I want to start a Step By Step Series where I break down each step in my skincare regimen and give you my top 5 products for each step. Hopefully each step will have different price ranges for every one. I'm going to do cleansing tools last because they'll be a little more in depth, they're gonna need some explaining.
So we're gonna start with cleansers. I'm going to give you Top Five Pre Cleansers and Top 5 Cleansers in this post. Now second cleanse is relatively new to the skincare community. It stems from Korean skincare techniques I believe. I like it if I've worn makeup that day. If I've not then I go straight into my cleanser. This is obviously done in the evening. The idea is to get the majority of your makeup off before you go in with your actual cleanser, therefore letting that cleanser penetrate the skin better and really get everything else off. As well as exfoliating the skin a bit no matter what skin tool you're using. A lot of Pre Cleanse right now is "balms". That's what's really popular. In my eyes they don't have to be.
Top 5 Pre Cleanse
You can use oils to take off makeup as well. I don't recommend Coconut Oil just because it clogs my pores. Some love it and that's great. You can use whatever oil you want though whether it's olive oil, facial oil, almond oil, etc.
Next onto you're actual cleanse. I don't feel like cleansers should have tones of extra benefits aside from cleansing the skin. I think it's like 80% of the cleanser gets washed off so it doesn't really benefit you to buy fancy cleansers in my opinion unless you just want to. That being said I've tried some pricey cleansers that are very very nice. So it's all in your preference.
Top 5 Cleansers
So those are my two Top 5's for cleansers. We'll be getting into some more intricate skincare as we go along but these are my tried and true.
Sephora's Spring VIB Sale is coming up. So per usual I'd like to provide you with a buying guide of things I think would be good choices to pick up. I prefer to buy more expensive items during these sales to take the sting off the price a little bit. Keep in mind you can return stuff to Sephora even if you've used it, they have a wonderful return possibility. It's also a great time to pick up things you use constantly or that you know you love and will use. These are the only sales that I actually "plan out" to get the most bang for your buck and to buy smart and use it to your advantage.
I feel like skincare is the biggest expense and also the bigger concern so I prefer buying skincare during these. So I will have a skincare suggestions list, and a makeup suggestions list, and some honorable mentions at the end.
Starting with skincare, I like buying value sets. You get to try more stuff for a better price and for things you aren't positive if you'll like, you get to sample it first kinda.
Also it's a great time to buy skincare tools. I recommend the PMD Personal Micro-dermabrasion set, a Clarisonic, or a Foreo Luna. All of those especially the cleansing devices make a huge difference in your skin and hardly ever need to be replaced.
Makeup is often times more exciting and fun for people. I felt the very same way. Where I like to buy skincare sets in these sales I don't like to buy makeup sets because I'd rather buy full size of something I know I'd use. I generally go for foundation, which is what I will do this time as well. A nice eye shadow palette, not gimmicky. Something that blends beautifully and gets the job done. I often buy palettes a lot come to think of it. I also buy stuff that I use constantly that I need to stock up on.
So for some honorable mentions:
Brush sets, especially the Natasha Denona one.
Dyson Hair Dryer that is ridiculously expensive.
Too Faced Natural Love Ultimate Neutral Eye Shadow Palette. Lots of neutrals and in matte and shimmer formulas.
Becca Shimmer Skin Perfector Pressed
Primers, ie: Smashbox, Hourglass Veil, Dr Brandt Pore Minimizing, Becca Ever Matte.
MUFE Star Lit loose powders
Stila Magnificent Metal Glitters
Dr. Jart Ceramidin Moisturizer
If you wanted to try LaMer now would be a good time but so far I don't care for much of it but they do have some sets available.
So those are just some things that I suggest. Of course it's not the Gospel people, you're free to buy whatever you want.
**I hear that the sale is the 7th of April but I haven't had that confirmed and usually the spring sale is 10%-15% depending on what tier your on with the Beauty Insider**
I'm from Tennessee. I'm a makeup and skincare lover. I have always enjoyed creating looks but I love to help people with product knowledge and application even more. I've been able to do these things because God has seen fit to bless me with the opportunity.