January 3, 2016

Cumulative 2015 Makeup Haul (A Year of Shopping for Olive Skin)

2015 Makeup haul
I started 2015 in a way different place than 2014, beauty wise and overall, I feel like I really improved both my makeup collection and spending habits this year. Obviously, improving upon myself in any REAL kind of way is too much of a feat. I think this is my fifth year in a row resolving to lose 15 lbs and get serious about learning more Russian. But if I involve beauty shit? It can be done.

For 2015, I had two goals for makeup: to shop for makeup that I didn’t “need” less and to shop consciously, with my skin tone in mind. For the former, I say “need” because obviously it’s not like I really NEED any makeup in the way I NEED to pay my rent so I can have a roof over my head or NEED to buy cat food to keep my pet alive or NEED to fill up my SmartTrip so I can get to work in the morning. But in terms of "Frivolous Spending, Makeup" there are things I want (a new eyeshadow palette, glitter for my Halloween costume, a new lipstick because I was having a bad day) and things I “need” (my foundation which is one of my bare minimum products I wear, a new mascara once I run out). I’ve been buying wants like crazy for the past couple years. I have something like 20 palettes which is like… what the fuck, how are you feasibly ever going to use all of that? I have 800 nail polishes and I haven’t even bought any in plural years by this point. It’s obnoxious and I have a whole IKEA Alex shelving unit holding them in my closet. It feels excessive. But then, how many eyeshadows do I have by now? PROBABLY 800. I wouldn’t be surprised. But because all my palettes “only” take up one drawer in my vanity, it feels like less. But it’s not!! Especially considering I have even less of a range of color in my eyeshadows. I’ll wear any color nail polish but on my eyes I wear browns, purples and nudes almost exclusively. No one needs that much! 

My “Holy shit, Vanessa, TAKE A LONG LOOK AT YOURSELF” moment was when the LORAC MegaPro palette came out in October of 2014. I set several alarms in the middle of the night so I’d be able to wake up, see if it had gone on sale and grab one before it sold out. I ended up getting one after spending my whole morning refreshing the website. After that I was like, “Wow, I even feel to old to be doing this at this point for concert tickets like I did when I was a teenager… why am I doing this for eyeshadow?” I went on a six month no buy starting that day. I gave myself some leeway: I could shop when I went to Paris because that was a one time kind of thing, I could repurchase any “necessities” (foundation, mascara, brow product, concealer) I ran out of if I had really run out and didn’t even have any backups, I could receive makeup for Valentine’s Day (but not Christmas or my birthday). So, for the first 3 months of 2015, I didn’t buy any makeup at all. After that finished up, my biggest goal was to quit buying products impulsively, like by walking into Target for toothpaste and leaving with 3 lipsticks just because they were on sale or shopping at Sephora because my week was shitty. It seems like you’re “just” spending $20 at the time but it adds up quickly, especially if a product doesn’t work for you and never gets touched anyway.
I should have never bought another palette after this.
Which brings me to the idea of shopping consciously. Shopping consciously was a resolution focused around the revelation I had in 2014. It only took me almost 24 years but I realized I had warm olive skin as opposed to just plain warm skin. Olive skin is such a bitch to work with but just knowing you have it is a whole new world. I bought a handful of olive friendly blushes and lip colors in 2014 and after that, most of my collection just looked wrong. I can’t even describe what having a lip color that matches olive skin vs one that doesn’t does for you. Wearing a color that doesn’t work for my olive skin just feels like I’m accentuating my features in entirely the wrong way. Like I’m taking a marker and just drawing a circle around my lips or just grinding up pink sidewalk chalk and dusting it on my cheeks or something. I can see more than ever how it looks garish and off, how the color coral is making my skin look sallow and sickly and my skin is making the color coral look radioactive and obnoxious. But if I wear a terra-cotta or a dusty rose, something that I hate the look of in the tube because, let’s be real, those are just detailed descriptions of BROWN? It makes my lips and cheeks look like they have life because it’s just communicating with the green in my skin is a way that’s not completely unappealing to the eye. I feel like a million bucks. So the problem once you know you have olive skin becomes
  1. Talking yourself out of buying a product just because it looks pretty on the shelf. I’m really drawn to Barbie pinks and blue purples and orangey reds but I have to come to terms with the fact that those will look like a mess on my skin. It will inevitably be a waste of money because I’ll never wear it.
  2. Similarly, you’re pretty done with impulse buying products. You have to research pretty much everything you buy. Study the names of products that work for color names that are reoccurring in things that look good. For olive skin, these are names like rose, terra-cotta, mauve, brick or peony. And brown. Always brown. Swatching becomes everything, too: looking at swatches online, preferably by people with olive skin for online shopping and drugstores without testers, swatching things in stores on yourself every other time. Any time you want a lipstick, you have to rub it all over your arm first and devote a half hour of your time to making sure it won’t look radioactive.
  3. And even if you’re careful, you’re still going to fuck up and waste your money on something that falls on the scale somewhere between “Ehh, this looks a little off, the color isn’t QUITE right” to “Holy shit, this color looks awful and makes my skin look like my liver is failing”.
So, I wanted to tread very carefully this year with my new purchases. Meanwhile, I put about 30 lip and face products into a box to give away so my makeup collection could be cleansed of anything that didn’t work for me and was just taking up space. My goal was to replace them with a small collection of products that I was confident I could reach for and feel good about how they worked with my olive skin. 
A selection of the day-glo pinks I've purged in the past few months. I have a type, apparently, when it comes to purchasing lipsticks that don't match olive skin.

So, initially, I wasn’t expecting much as I was pulling out the new makeup I acquired this year. I was rooting through my vanity, like, “I’ve BARELY bought makeup this year, I shopped SO consciously and hardly impulse bought.” But as a variation of that Jurassic Park quote: “Makeup… uh… finds a way.” 

On to the goods.

Single Eyeshadows
Urban Decay Lounge, Urban Decay Solstice, Urban Decay Scorpio, Colourpop Bae, Urban Decay Naked, NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Himalia
Urban Decay Lounge, Urban Decay Solstice, Urban Decay Scorpio, Colourpop Bae, Urban Decay Naked, NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Himalia

Urban Decay Lounge, Urban Decay Solstice, Urban Decay Scorpio, Colourpop Bae, Urban Decay Naked, NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Himalia
Urban Decay Lounge, Urban Decay Solstice, Urban Decay Scorpio, Colourpop Bae, Urban Decay Naked, NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Himalia swatches
Urban Decay Lounge, Urban Decay Solstice, Urban Decay Scorpio, Colourpop Bae, Urban Decay Naked, NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Himalia swatches
Colourpop Bae, NARS Himalia, Urban Decay Naked
Urban Decay Lounge, Urban Decay Solstice, Urban Decay Scorpio, Colourpop Bae, Urban Decay Naked, NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Himalia swatches
Colourpop Bae
Urban Decay Lounge, Urban Decay Solstice, Urban Decay Scorpio, Colourpop Bae, Urban Decay Naked, NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Himalia swatches
Urban Decay Lounge
Urban Decay Naked: I debated not including Naked at all because that was a purchase born out of necessity - I’ve used up this color completely in about 3 separate Urban Decay palettes. For light olive skin, this is a great contour and eyeshadow transition shade. I use it every time I do my makeup. I only purchased it in November and have panned it pretty significantly.

Urban Decay Lounge: Both Urban Decay Lounge and NARS Himalia were in the Sephora Superstars box set. Lounge reminds me a lot of MAC Blue Brown pigment but is a lot easier to work with just because it’s already in a pressed form.

NARS Himalia: AHHHmazing and something I reach for all the time. It would have been worth the $29 price had I bought it on its own. NARS is so hit or miss - when they’re good, they’re amazing but when they’re bad, they’re pigmentless chalk - and this is definitely one of their better products.

Colourpop Bae: My Colourpop order only came in right before Christmas and I haven’t tried this eyeshadow yet but it’s a bestseller and sparkly. That's my review. I heard it's good and it's shiny. This is me.

Urban Decay Lounge, Urban Decay Solstice, Urban Decay Scorpio, Colourpop Bae, Urban Decay Naked, NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Himalia swatches
Urban Decay Lounge, Urban Decay Solstice, Urban Decay Scorpio, Colourpop Bae, Urban Decay Naked, NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Himalia swatches
Urban Decay Lounge, Solstice, Scorpio
Urban Decay Solstice: Both Urban Decay Solstice and Scorpio are from the Moondust line (irresistible to me, my favorite color is sparkle) and were new for 2015. I love Solstice, especially for the summer - it’s like a lighter, pinker version of MAC Club. 

Urban Decay Scorpio: Scorpio was more of a disappointment, I was expecting it to be sparklier rather than just looking like a black with gold glitter suspended in it. As a November birthday, the name honestly factored in a bit there. I was hoping for a gold/black duochrome which would have made for a perfectly mysterious Scorpio eye look.

Urban Decay Solstice Look
Urban Decay Solstice in action back in May, just all over the lid with Urban Decay Naked in the crease. A relatively no fuss way to have obnoxiously shimmery eyelids.

Palettes
Too Faced Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar: There are a billion swatches of this so I’m sure no one needs to see any more. My one “real” palette acquisition of the year. I feel like the Too Faced Chocolate Bars have reached the Naked palette tier in terms of mainstay, high performing, neutral palettes.

KIKO Color Fever in 101: I went on a trip to Paris and I think I went to 4 different KIKO locations looking for this palette. It had been sold out everywhere in Italy when I visited the year before and it was my goal to not leave Europe without it. I think I found it after walking miles out of the way in a rainstorm. It was all very dramatic. And then I felt like an idiot afterwards because 2 or 3 months later a KIKO store opened up in America. 10 minutes away from me. SMH. I was that gif of Doc Rivers when I visited my mall and saw the storefront, the one where he's just staring with his mouth open as the camera slowly zooms in on his dumbfounded face.

KIKO Custom Clics Palette and Infinity Eyeshadows: 229 (coral pink),270 (olive) and 251 (blue lavender) (I owned 246 already, the pearly wisteria color). Another purchase from Paris when I was thinking, "When will I get to a KIKO again? A year? Longer??" Again, I could take a leisurely walk and be there within an hour. I'm never been so mad about anything that conveniences me so much in my life. I love these custom palettes KIKO sells, where you buy the pans individually and casing individually and snap the colors in and out. However, I definitely would have been a bit pickier with my shade selections if I knew I'd have access to the store in America - I probably would have only purchased 270 just because the other colors are a bit too cray-z for my olive skin and hazel eyes.

Urban Decay Urban Vices: A 500 point perk from Sephora from back in November. I didn't swatch this because I feel like it's low key kind of rude of me to swatch anything that isn't available anymore. Urban Decay eyeshadows are such a weakness of mine so this was worth cashing in a bit of my hoarded points.
KIKO Infinity Eyeshadows in 251, 246, 270, 229
KIKO Infinity Eyeshadows in 251, 246, 270, 229
KIKO Color Fever 101 palette
KIKO Color Fever 101
Cheek Products
Colourpop Supershock Cheek in Butterfly Beach, BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector in Rose Gold, Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder in Highlight 01, KIKO Soft Touch Blush in 106, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Incandescent Electra
Colourpop Supershock Cheek in Butterfly Beach, BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector in Rose Gold, Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder in Highlight 01, KIKO Soft Touch Blush in 106, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Incandescent Electra
Colourpop Supershock Cheek in Butterfly Beach, BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector in Rose Gold, Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder in Highlight 01, KIKO Soft Touch Blush in 106, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Incandescent Electra swatches
From the bottom to the top: Colourpop Supershock Cheek in Butterfly Beach, BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector in Rose Gold, Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder in Highlight 01, KIKO Soft Touch Blush in 106, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Incandescent Electra

Colourpop Supershock Cheek in Butterfly Beach: I’ve been looking using illuminating products as blush this year and this is super glowy (especially with the creamier formula) without being too red, pink or orange. I love this product for my olive skin. It's brown and just champagne-y enough without looking wrong. 
BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector in Rose Gold: BECCA is getting a ton of hype for their highlighters so I decided to check one out this year. I was a little disappointed that BECCA doesn’t carry anything more olive friendly than this. I love the formula, the way it applies, how you get such a big pan but only need to use a teeny bit (aka this will last forever) but it’s a littttttle bit too orangey on my skin. Just a click too gold. You can see this next to Butterfly Beach pretty well. I try to remedy this by using an extra light hand just because I love the product so much but I know I’m not being entirely ~true to myself.
Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder in Highlight 01: This Laura Mercier highlighter came in the Sephora Superstars set. I like it but wouldn’t have purchased it on it’s own just because I’m sure I could get a highlighter that performs just as well for a fraction of the price. 
KIKO Soft Touch Blush in 106: I picked up this blush online during the KIKO 50% off sale this past month - super pleased with how well it works for my olive skin for something I ordered without swatching it first.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure: These blushes, especially this shade, are another product getting a ton of hype in the makeup community. I was expecting it to be a lot more plummy rather than red but I think I still like the look for my skintone. I think I’ll probably end up needing to use a much lighter hand with it for my NC15/MUFE 117 skin to make it work.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Incandescent Electra: I honestly think I’ll be returning this Hourglass blush - you can see in the swatches how jarringly bright it is compared to the olive friendly colors. Even though this is definitely a blush for warm skin, it looks kind of clown like on me - way too pink and orange at once. This was just a miss for my olive tones although it’s really pretty. This is just a lesson in what happens when you’re too impulsive in Sephora. 

Face Products
Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water, Tarte The Sculptor Contour sample, beautyblender
Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water, Tarte The Sculptor Contour sample, beautyblender
All of these products were included in the Sephora Superstars set so I'm still feeling them out. I can say that I love, love, love the beauty blender, though. You can see it's filthy because I've been using it a ton. It's one of those products that I held off on purchasing because the price was off putting ($20 for a foam sponge?), used once and was like, "Uhhh, well, I should have bought this years ago, why did I sell myself short here?" 

Eyeliners and Other Eye Products
Elf Cream Liner in Coffee: I impulse bought this in a TJ Maxx checkout line because it was a dollar and I don’t think I’ve used it once. This is the kind of purchasing I was trying to be smarter about in 2015 but I wasn’t 100% immune. That’s a dollar that should have been spent on McDonald’s or something rather than a product that’s just taking up space in my vanity. Think of how many chicken nuggets I could have had instead. Like, four.
KIKO Long Lasting Eye Shadow Stick in 38: Another product I picked up during the 50% sale. I’d been wanting to try these for awhile but hadn’t been $10 wanting to try them. I jumped at the $5 sale price point, though. I’m really happy with this - it goes on smoothly and smudges nicely and will create a nice base for any purple eye looks.
Lancome Drama Liqui Pencil Liner in Noir Intense: I can’t really wax poetic, it’s black pencil liner. In the Sephora Superstars set.
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner in Black: My favorite eyeliner for creating wings, pretty much an essential of mine at this point. I think I'll always end up buying a new one when I run out.
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencil in Lush: I like these pencils for creating smudgy liner, especially because they go for $10 on sale all the time. I found this purpley dark brown at Nordstrom Rack just because I needed a basic brown pencil liner.
StretchX Mascara: In the Sephora Superstars set, haven’t even tried this yet. I think mascara is a conspiracy and they all essentially work the same anyway, whether they're drugstore or Dior. Maybe I'm just biased because of my short stubby eyelids.
Urban Decay Heavy Metal Eyeliner in Gunmetal: My mom got this for me as a stocking stuffer. Because glitter.


Lip Products
Here’s where I went crazy this year.
Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip in Chilly Chili and Tulle Lippie Stix in Grunge, Mosh Pit, Baewatch, Choker, TGIF, Too Sexy
Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip in Chilly Chili and Tulle Lippie Stix in Grunge, Mosh Pit, Baewatch, Choker, TGIF, Too Sexy
Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip in Chilly Chili and Tulle Lippie Stix in Grunge, Mosh Pit, Baewatch, Choker, TGIF, Too Sexy
Colourpop: Ultra Matte Lip in Chilly Chili and Tulle
Lippie Stix in Grunge, Mosh Pit, Baewatch, Choker, TGIF, Too Sexy

I waited until I was making my Christmas list to get on the Colourpop hype train. I was mostly interested in the lip products, although I had heard they were kind of drying. I haven't had any problems with that and overall love the formulas and colors.
Colourpop Chilly Chili Olive skin
Colourpop Chilly Chili (lips) and Butterfly Beach (cheeks), Laura Mercier highlighter and Urban Decay Naked as a contour also included
Olive Ski Lip Products Suggestions Tips Shopping List NARS Dolce Vita
NARS
Sheer Lipstick in Dolce Vita: My holy grail "my lips, but better" lipstick for light olive skin. Something you can just slap on while riding the bus or 3 drinks in in the bathroom of a bar or something without having to worry about being too precise.
Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dolce Vita: I'm slightly annoyed by the color difference between all of NARS' Dolce Vita products. I haven't tried the lip gloss (or nail polish) yet but this lip pencil makes me a bit nervous. It's a lot less brown and a lot more watermelony than I'd like for the green tones in my skin.
Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien and Cruella: A year where the Sephora birthday gifts were NARS pencils. What a time to be alive. Rikugien is a bit too frosty and pink for me but I love Cruella. I don't normally wear a red lip but I feel like this one is suitable for a lot of skintones. Protips: 1. Don't put this on BEFORE putting on a beige sweater unless you want red smears all over the collar and 2. If a 2 year old you're supervising so much as uncaps this you better have cat like reflexes because she's about to draw all over her face. And this stains. In both situations.

Olive Ski Lip Products Suggestions Tips Shopping List KIKO Crystal Sheer Lipstick in 414 (the first two swatches are this, one swipe and then multiple), Luscious Cream Lipstick in 513, Velvet Mat Satin Lipstick in 610, Smart Lipstick in 813, Smart Lip Pencil in 704, Precision Lip Pencil in 302, Intensely Lavish Lip Pencil in 02
KIKO
Crystal Sheer Lipstick in 414 (the first two swatches are this, one swipe and then multiple), Luscious Cream Lipstick in 513, Velvet Mat Satin Lipstick in 610, Smart Lipstick in 813, Smart Lip Pencil in 704, Precision Lip Pencil in 302, Intensely Lavish Lip Pencil in 02

All of these lipsticks besides the Smart Lipstick are a struggle to open - you have to push on the bottom like they're a Push Pop and then yank the lipstick out of the casing. I'm also not sure how good ANY of these lipsticks are for my skin, especially Luscious Cream in 513 (yikes, the perils of ordering online come to life). They're all a bit too shimmery and a bit too pink. I was patting myself on the back this year for quitting my habit of popping into drugstores for a drink and leaving with a handful of lip glosses - but I still clearly went to the KIKO store near me and made just as many $5 impulse purchases. Lesson learned - if I'm going to shop there I need to spend so much time swatching that the employees become suspicious that I'm a shoplifter and start hovering around me.

However, I love every lip pencil that I picked up from KIKO this year. I feel like the swatches next to each other show the variety you can get in your lip products while staying in olive friendly territory. I fill in my entire lip with these, as seen below with the Precision Lip Pencil in 302 (excuse the worn off application) and even more below with the Smart Lip Pencil in 704:
Olive Ski Lip Products Suggestions Tips Shopping List KIKO Crystal Sheer Lipstick in 414 (the first two swatches are this, one swipe and then multiple), Luscious Cream Lipstick in 513, Velvet Mat Satin Lipstick in 610, Smart Lipstick in 813, Smart Lip Pencil in 704, Precision Lip Pencil in 302, Intensely Lavish Lip Pencil in 02
Olive Ski Lip Products Suggestions Tips Shopping List KIKO Crystal Sheer Lipstick in 414 (the first two swatches are this, one swipe and then multiple), Luscious Cream Lipstick in 513, Velvet Mat Satin Lipstick in 610, Smart Lipstick in 813, Smart Lip Pencil in 704, Precision Lip Pencil in 302, Intensely Lavish Lip Pencil in 02

Olive Ski Lip Products Suggestions Tips Shopping List Lipstick Queen Saint Nude
Lipstick Queen
Medieval, Trance and Saint Nude
This set was a splurge for me this year. I definitely balk a little at the price point of these lipsticks but I'm still always on the verge on impulse buying them. I just love the company. It's named Lipstick Queen. They have a butterfly collection. They have a lipstick (Medieval, above) that's meant to mimic the look of lemon juice patted onto your lips in the way Medieval beauty addicts would do things. They're pretty and sheer, but buildable. The packaging is gorgeous. Like, stop, I can only get so aroused.

Olive Ski Lip Products Suggestions Tips Shopping List MAC Whirl Kylie Jenner
MAC Whirl
I bought this because of Kylie Jenner and I’m maybe only 5% ashamed about that. Kylie Jenner wants to look like Kim Kardashian pretty bad and as a result is really trying to trick everyone into thinking she has a more olivey skintone. I don't even know what kind of messy process she's going through to pull it all off. I just know it makes keeping tabs on her shopping list super beneficial if you have olive skin. She's like a purveyor of the brown or brownish mauve matte lip which is a great companion for olive tones. I hope she continues to be super stylish this year so the whole warm, browny lip trend keeps on keeping on. One of the only fashion trends from 2003 that I look back on in horror is glossy, pink lips. That was a bleak time to have olive skin. I hope that's not coming back. Let's stay obsessed with Kylie Jenner while she stays obsessed with becoming her older half sister.

Olive Ski Lip Products Suggestions Tips Shopping List YSL Rogue Volupte 3
Olive Ski Lip Products Suggestions Tips Shopping List YSL Rogue Volupte 3
YSL Rogue Volupte #3
This was definitely my treat yo self moment this year. I bought this lipstick as a birthday gift to myself. I only paid $3 for it after cashing in my spare change from the year to Coinstar for a Sephora giftcard. Genius move, feel free to steal it. It was a feat because this thing is $36, almost as much as my $42 foundation which I ABHOR. $36 is obscene for a lipstick. I was prepared to return it if I wasn't the least bit satisfied with it but god fucking damn, this is a $36 lipstick. I cannot even describe how creamy and smooth it is, how easily it applies. It feels like you're applying something as hydrating as a lip balm but fancier because it also smells faintly of roses. I'm so, so happy with this. I wanted a really nice, wear anywhere lipstick that actually matched my olive skin and this was the perfect choice. It's the perfect rose color and has a perfect, creamy formula all in a gorgeous casing. 
Olive Ski Lip Products Suggestions Tips Shopping List YSL Rogue Volupte 3

 Things I Forgot I Bought When I Was Initially Writing Out This Post And Had To Take Pictures Of Afterwards
Creme False Lashes in 102: I bought a bulk set of cheap fake lashes from Amazon. They're so long and full that I've only been able to wear them by cutting them into thirds and wearing them on the outer edge of my lash line. Even on Halloween.

ELF Flawless Finish Foundation in Almond: I bought the same concealer, primer and foundation this year every time I ran out but I consider all of those to be "needs" in terms of my makeup budget. I don't really experiment or stray from the products in my face routine. The only real difference between this year and any other is that I bought this cheapo $5 ELF foundation to mix in with my regular foundation for the summer. I actually got tan enough this year to do that! It's like winning a New Jersey merit badge.

My analysis of my 2015 makeup acquisitions
  • I’m really surprised by how much shit I was pulling out of the crevices of my vanity because I was like, “Wow… I really don’t remember buying this much.” The thing is that I didn’t… I just ended up asking for makeup as a gift for every possible occasion. Or cashing in my Sephora VIB points for productsI was really surprised at how it added up - asking for the Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar and some eyeshadows for Valentine’s Day, asking for the Sephora Superstars Set for my birthday (about a dozen of my new products are from that set alone), making a list of the Colourpop items I wanted to try out - that was about half of all of my makeup “purchases” this year. Math is hard but I counted up 54 new products and only bought about 26 of them, 21 if you don't count things packaged together in sets (the Lipstick Queen lipsticks, the KIKO Clics palette). Theoretically, I saved money but still, I ended up with a ton of products that I didn’t necessarily need. I don't count any of the olive friendly products I ended up with against me but I don't know that I did a stellar job of not buying shit I didn't need, even without those.
  • A good thing is that aside from a few of my KIKO purchases, all of the purchases I made myself were either on sale, purchased with a giftcard or purchased at a store where they were marked down (like Nordstrom Rack).
  • That being said, I'm obviously still pretty susceptible to thinking, "This is only $5 so obviously I need it" at places like KIKO and TJ Maxx. That's money that could be thrown away on Starbucks lattes or something.
  • This really hammered home my resolution to not buy (or ask for) any eyeshadow this year - I haven’t even panned any that I’ve gotten in the past 12 months, how could I need any more?
  • I really did a much better job this year of purchasing products that work for my olive skin rather than just pretty blue pinks or corals that look nice in the lipstick tube but awful on me. Still, I had a few misses and there’s definitely room for improvement. I should take better care to really swatch every possible cheek or lip purchase I make to see if it looks off in the slightest. Ordering online isn’t convenient if it means I end up making a trip to the brick and mortar store to return things half the time. But, I feel like I have a well curated collection of lip colors that work well with the olive tones in my skin after this year.

As of right now, I'm considering another no buy, especially considering I have a Sephora order from December 31 en route as I type. This post doesn't even contain my "necessities" like foundation, mascara, concealer, individual fake eyelashes, primer and brow products and there's still a really aggressive amount of products listed here. I stopped buying nail polish cold turkey back in 2013 - maybe 2016 should be my year of that for makeup.

Maybe.

November 8, 2015

The Power of K-Beauty Products - Haul and Review of My Beauty Diary Sheet Masks, Elizavecca Milky Piggy Bubble Mask & More

Guys, I'm in love. I'm in love with Korean skincare.

Before this love affair began, all the way back in April, I thought French skincare was going to be The One for me. I spent ten days in Paris in the spring (which I will blog about... eventually) expecting to have a love affair with French skincare that Baz Luhrmann could direct a musical about. I was so, so wrong.
Bioderma cleansing water
Bioderma is this cleansing water that is super hyped in the beauty community. You've probably seen it mentioned at least once if you've ever watched a night routine video or a European haul. Lisa Eldridge, who is like the patron saint of informative and unbiased beauty videos, even recommends it. It's incredibly popular because you just squirt a little on a cotton pad and wipe your face with it and voila - your skin is cleansed AND all your makeup is removed in one shot. It's a product that allows you to be lazy but feel fancy while doing it because, hello, it's French. Coming home from a bar and being too lazy to take off your makeup AND wash your face in two separate steps is unacceptable but if you're using a product that says "Dermatologique" on it to skirt the issue? You're good. You're still sophisticated. It's all around praised by dermatologists, beauty gurus and consumers for its effective, yet gentle formula. What could go wrong?

So, while vacationing in France, it was at the top of my brain to purchase some Bioderma. Luckily, we were staying about a block away from a store that essentially seemed like a French Target. There was food and accessories and, mostly importantly, lots and lots of drugstore beauty products. They were selling a double pack of Bioderma for 13 euro which I bought because what a savings! When will I have the opportunity to buy another bottle? I'll obviously need another one because everyone loves this stuff and I will too! I get home and use it the first opportunity I get to remove my makeup and I'm honestly very pleased, initially.

Then I wake up and I see that my skin freaked the fuck out. I've never seen anything like it on my skin before.

I had CLUSTERS of tiny little breakouts, patches along my cheeks and chin just composed of a dozen zits. The areas were red and dry and just generally inflamed and angry looking, too. I was kind of at a loss - like what the fuck, this can't be a reaction to this beloved beauty product?? I told myself my skin was just reacting poorly because the product was too good and my skin was purging or something, maybe?? Right?? The nonsense I tell myself to justify using a beauty product, I swear. I continued to use it for another day or two and my skin just got worse. It wasn't following it's normal MO for breaking out and just kept developing these dry, red patches. I decided Bioderma and I needed a break. I quit using it for a couple months and just resumed use of my Clinique Take The Day Off cleansing oil until I ran out of the bottle. After that, I couldn't justify purchasing a whole new bottle of makeup remover - I already had a thousand ml of Bioderma stored in my closet.

I used the Bioderma for about two weeks. My skin instantly became inflamed, with my chin getting covered in a layer of scaly, lizard skin. It was easily the worst my skin has looked in three years. I went out and just bought a package of Neutrogena makeup wipes and my skin calmed down almost instantaneously. The breakouts cleared up, the redness went away. Makeup wipes are awful for your skin. The harsh ingredients and the pulling you're doing as you wipe is just bad news. My skin really hated some ingredient in that Bioderma if it was reacting so positively to wipes by comparison. I could sit down and analyze the ingredients list to try and figure out what it was but I decided to treat it like every other failed relationship. Just by cutting it out of my life, outwardly pretending I never cared in the first place. And by listening to bitter Spotify playlists and smirking to myself whenever I find out they've encountered some kind of obstacle in their life. I plan to text you one word responses that may include "k." WITH THE PERIOD, Bioderma, forever. Hope your hairline recedes.

I'm kidding, Bioderma really is a case of "it's not you, it's me" because just... it doesn't add up. It's such a well loved product, especially by people with sensitive skin. I have no clue why I had such a bad reaction to it. I scoured beauty communities hoping for someone to post about a similar problem with cleansing water but all I read was nothing but praise. Who knows.

At this point, I'm just trying to pick up the pieces of my life and fix the giant, scaly splotches on my skin. It's priority #1. My foundation can't cover them because they're too textured and try and I'm getting borderline ashamed of how my face looks. It doesn't look like normal acne but looks like I have some kind of flesh eating disease that's slowly working it's way up my face by the way of my chin. I decide there are two routes I can take - exfoliate the patches off or moisturize my skin within an inch of its life. I went with the latter option, just because my skin was so irritated and upset with me that I figured chemical exfoliation or harsh scrubbing wasn't the way to go.

I did some internet sleuthing and my timing was pretty perfect for developing an intense moisturizing plan that would deliver quick results. Asian, specifically Korean, beauty products seem like they're gaining popularity pretty quickly in the west and their philosophy towards skincare seems to be moisturize until you feel like you can't moisturize any more and then moisturize just a tiny bit more. Sephora has recently started to stock some Korean lines that are hugely popular in Asia and stores like Urban Outfitters have been carrying them for awhile now, too. I'm hopping right on that hype train (choo choo) - Korean skincare is incredible. I spent an entire Sunday online shopping and I made a big order of popular Asian products from a variety of brands and I'm obsessed with every single one of them. This is just the tip of the iceburg, I fear, because all of this stuff is just too good and if Asian products keep having their moment and becoming more accessible in the west then I'm just utterly screwed financially.

So, before the legitimate skincare products, let me just mention the novelty products that I purchased. This is truly the worst part of shopping for Asian beauty products. As a rule, in addition to being super passionate about moisturizing, the brands are very focused on creating cute and fun packaging which is always great, in my opinion. That Marie Kondo philosophy of only owning things that inspire joy is something that I've always believed in, and this is multiplied ten fold when I shop for beauty products. I've only recently distanced myself from the idea that packaging or a gorgeous color should be the biggest selling points rather than, you know, actual product performance or colors that don't read as garish on my skin. You can probably gather as much from this blog but I'm just a freak for aesthetics. Asian lines feed into this in the worst way because it takes things like a hand lotion from "there's no way I need this, I already have a generic one from CVS and it does the job fine" to "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!"

The brand that seems the most over the top about this is Etude House - their speciality seems to be in transforming virtually anything into something frilly and sweet. Their storefronts in Asia literally have faux plastic, pink shingles like they're a Barbie dream house filled with girly makeup. I imagine their corporate office has cotton candy as insulation in the walls and that everything is painted pale pink and that you'll be fired if you have your morning coffee without using a doily.


Etude House My Beauty Tool Headband
Asian beauty Korean skincare k-beauty sheet masks My Beauty Diary Tony Moly Etude House Elizavecca
I'm compiling a disgustingly huge list of princess-y items that I plan to order in the future but for now, I only own one Etude House product. My new favorite thing, my spa headband, which just so happened to arrive on National Cat Day! Blessings all around. It's just a regular terry cloth-y headband to wear in conjunction with your face masks so you're not getting serum all over your roots - but it has cat ears! Needless to say, this is the most necessary thing that I've ever purchased, ever.

Asian beauty Korean skincare k-beauty sheet masks My Beauty Diary Tony Moly Etude House Elizavecca
TWINS.

I'm crazy about this headband and invent reasons to wear it. I should probably put my hair back every single time I do my makeup, right? Every single time I get out of the shower? Every single time I exhale?

Sorry, sorry for using Snapchat photos to display products. I am truly the worst blogger ever.

Tony Moly Anti Aging Peach Hand Cream

Asian beauty Korean skincare k-beauty sheet masks My Beauty Diary Tony Moly Etude House Elizavecca

The next "my sole motivation for this purchase is cuteness" K-beauty purchase is Tony Moly's peach anti aging hand cream.

Asian beauty Korean skincare k-beauty sheet masks My Beauty Diary Tony Moly Etude House Elizavecca
I'd seen these Tony Moly hand creams at Urban Outfitters as long as a full year ago (they also have apple and blueberry versions in respective apple and blueberry casings) but passed them up because I didn't "need" peach scented hand cream inside a peach shaped container. But like most things you don't "need" it reared its adorable head when I was browsing for other products and I figured I might as well. There's not too much to say about this one. It does its job as a hand cream, it smells very strongly of peach tea Snapple and just be honest, the selling point is the packaging. It's cute. It's a lil' peach!

On to the things that I bought for reasons beyond poor impulse control.

Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask
Asian beauty Korean skincare k-beauty sheet masks My Beauty Diary Tony Moly Etude House Elizavecca

Asian beauty Korean skincare k-beauty sheet masks My Beauty Diary Tony Moly Etude House Elizavecca
My pores are constantly clogged so I like to use a clay mask, like Glam Glow or Queen Helene, once a week. Unfortunately, my skin is also super sensitive and dry so even just infrequent use of clay masks shrivels my skin right up. Enter Elizavecca's Milky Piggy mask - carbonated clay masks are a way to get the pore cleansing and tightening effect of clay but without leaving your skin feeling totally stripped afterwards. You apply the mask and you would apply any clay mask (they include a little spatula, but fingers or an old foundation brush work). The mask then fizzes on your face and bubbles up off of your skin instead of drying on top of it and sucking away the moisture.

I think this mask looks so god damn funny on me, mostly because I already have a really round face and the extra two inches of foam puffiness are borderline undistinguishable as a mask. Like, it kind of looks like it's form fitting or something and I've just had my wisdom teeth out or something. Very reminescent of being a toddler and giving yourself a bubble bath beard in the tub.
Asian beauty Korean skincare k-beauty sheet masks Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Mask My Beauty Diary Tony Moly Etude House Elizavecca
My nose has entirely disappeared, like I'm a bubble Lord Voldemort.

When you're finished laughing alone in your apartment at how strange you look, you kind of just mash the bubbles down with your fingers and then wash the mask off. You'll definitely need a washcloth because water, your hands and even soap alone aren't going to cut it. The end result is really smooth looking skin, like your pores have been blur tooled IRL. My favorite aspect is that my skin doesn't feel all tight and dry after I use this mask, as it does when I use most clay products on my dry, sensitive skin. Everything just feels smooth and soft instead of like I'm made some kind of ritual moisture sacrifice in order to cleanse my pores.

My Beauty Diary Sheet Masks

Finally, the star of the show when it comes to my Asian beauty product haul has been sheet masks. Sheet masks are THE definitive K-beauty product and with good reason. They're effective, inexpensive and deliver instant results. That last point is the biggest seller for me. There's a reason my freezer is full of Amy's frozen pesto tortellini bowls and why I quit my squat routine after 3 days - I want instant gratification. Sheet masks are something that you can apply, leave on your skin for a half hour and then see that your skin is brighter, luminous and moisturized.

Seemingly every Asian beauty brand makes their own sheet masks, which are fabric masks presoaked in serums. The most popular and affordable seem to be the My Beauty Diary masks. Wal Mart has even begun to carry boxes of these in the US. There about a dozen different varieties with ingredients ranging from strawberries to cactuses but they all basically aim for similar outcomes - brightening and hydrating your skin. Don't worry, brightening doesn't mean bleaching or anything like that but rather alleviating dark post acne spots and giving your overall face a nice glow. I own two My Beauty Diary masks - Apple Polyphenol which claims to minimize the appearance of your pores and Imperial Bird's Nest which is allegedly the best for the combination brightening/hydrating effect. Each box contains 10 masks for ~$11/$12, putting each individual mask a little above $1 apiece.
Asian beauty Korean skincare k-beauty sheet masks My Beauty Diary Tony Moly Etude House Elizavecca
 My Beauty Diary Apple Polyphenol mask

Asian beauty Korean skincare k-beauty sheet masks My Beauty Diary Tony Moly Etude House Elizavecca
My Beauty Diary Imperial Bird's Nest mask

These things are super easy to use. Rip open one of the individual package, remove the fabric mask from the pouch, position it over your face, remove the adhesive backing and pat down. Leave on until dry. It's foolproof. You can even add the extra step of squeezing off the excess serum as you're removing the mask from the pouch, pop it in a baggie and save it in your fridge to apply with a cotton pad later. The whole process is so soothing and simple.

The masks are a one size fits all kind of deal with holes for your eyes, nose and mouth and they look WEIRD on.
Asian beauty Korean skincare k-beauty sheet masks My Beauty Diary Tony Moly Etude House Elizavecca

I generally feel like that character on NBC's Hannibal whose face got eaten off by dogs.
"Less have ah bahbe, Mahgoh."

Or like Dwight Schrute after he cuts the face off the CPR dummy on The Office.
These sheet masks were my lifesaver last weekend for Halloween. I'm almost 25 and that means I can't hang any more. I can have 3 drinks in one night, tops, and for the next 4 days I'm going to look like I'm going to crawl out of your television and kill you for watching a cursed video tape. Alcohol is a succubus. I was kind of fretting about going out 2 whole nights in a row for Halloween weekend, all while putting together a look that didn't make it look like I was going for the undead version of my costume on night 2. On Friday I was a cat because I'm lazy and slept in my makeup because things happen.

Halloween cat make up
There's really nothing better for your skin than sleeping in your makeup, especially super heavy makeup that involves having eyeliner rubbed all over your cheeks and nose. When I woke up, my skin looked like I had been drinking the night before, like I had stayed up until 3AM and like I had slept in my makeup. Just dull and and dehydrated.

The first thing I did after I got home and showered was apply a sheet mask and marinate in it for almost an hour. That's it, nothing else. That's all it took. I removed the face mask and my skin looked new and refreshed, like I had been drinking green smoothies instead of tequila sodas and gone for a jog before turning in early. I was able to go out on Saturday looking like the lazy version of Cheryl from Archer instead of the zombie undead version of Cheryl from Archer.

They're definitely one of the top ten beauty products I've ever used in my life. I have zero complaints. I'm going to repurchase these over and over and they're already a staple in my weekly routine. The Apple Polyphenol turns my pores into pinpricks and the Imperial Bird's Nest is beyond refreshing, like a mini spa treatment. Remember what a nightmare I was going through with my skin due to the Bioderma? Two My Beauty Diary masks and the dry patches were gone. Like they never happened. I wasn't expecting results that fast and I was in no way expecting them to improve my general skin as much as they did. My post acne marks have faded considerably since I started using these sheet masks and my skin just looks healthier even though I haven't made any other changes to my routine. I'm literally using less concealer and foundation because my skin looks brighter and a lot more uniform.

I ordered my products from this Amazon storefront and this website. They arrived fast and were authentic. As I've mentioned, stores like Sephora and Urban Outfitters carry select K-beauty lines as well and Wal Mart has about ten different types of the My Beauty Diary sheet masks for sale on their website.

The things I purchased are only the teeniest selection of Asian beauty products and Korean skincare. There's still a ton of brands I'm looking into, products I want to try and things that I think would look adorable sitting on my vanity. Still, if you're just getting started too then I recommend all of my purchases to start your own love affair with Asian beauty.