New skincare purchases & bits I’m loving

I haven’t written about skincare yet on here, which is probably a big shocker to a lot of other beauty bloggers. Truth be told I rarely change up my very basic skincare routine of eye cream, serum & moisturizer. Don’t skincare routines seem to be getting longer and more complicated as time goes on? It’s all very confusing to me. At the end of the day I think you should be guided only by what your skin needs and what it’s currently doing, rather than by what the new product releases are. By that rationale, I’m guided by my dry, sometimes flakey skin that needs as much moisture and illumination as possible.

I’m just not the biggest skincare connoisseur. I know what works for me and so I tend to be quite product-loyal (not necessarily brand-loyal). Historically, I’ve used both the Garnier SkinActive Ultra Lift Anti-Wrinkle Firming Eye Cream and the No. 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum for years now. (I was quite late to the party on serums in general; back in the day I just used moisturizer and that was it.) But I can’t resist sometimes changing the product line up. For instance, I will change up moisturizers from time to time. I was a big fan of the Chanel Hydra Beauty Creme for a while but then I discovered the more affordable Clinique Moisture Surge range, which is a firm favorite for life.

With that being said, I have made a few sneaky skincare purchases over the past few months that I wanted to talk to you about now. Some of these products have already become favorites, some I’m still testing, and one I haven’t even tried yet. That is how I’m categorizing them for this post. Let’s get into it!

NEW FAVORITES!

Belif The True Cream Aqua & Moisturizing Bombs – Shop here

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Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb
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Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb

I spoke about my newfound love of The True Cream Aqua Bomb (and a little about the Moisturizing Bomb) in my earlier post on beauty mini’s, which was a hit with a lot of you. To recap, I didn’t buy either because I redeemed some of my Reward points on two separate Sephora visits, but I would absolutely buy either formula in the full size. You can buy either the standard size (50 ml for $38) or the mini size (25 ml for $22.00) from Sephora.

Belif is a Korean skincare brand I believe (someone correct me if I’m wrong), that has exploded on social media recently. Their products already have reached cult status like that of Tatcha and Laneige. To that point, The Aqua Bomb and The Moisturizing Bomb are both considered ‘Bestsellers’ on Belif’s website. Everything is formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates & synthetic preservatives, synthetic dyes & fragrances, mineral oils or animal byproducts.

When I wrote my earlier post I didn’t realize that Aqua Bomb technically wasn’t formulated for dry skin; it’s more suited to normal, combo or oily skin since it has a very lightweight, gel-cream texture. I still felt it hydrated and plumped my skin quite nicely, however I used it during the very humid NY summer when my skin was probably at its best. I’m just about to finish my mini of the Moisturizing Bomb, which is indeed formulated for dry skin. It’s definitely thicker than the Aqua Bomb and is creamier as well.

BITS I’M TESTING!

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream – Shop here

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I just recently started using the Magic Cream after getting it at Sephora the day of the Charlotte Tilbury launch (and the day I met Charlotte herself!!). I deliberated for a while before putting this on my wishlist since it’s so darn expensive (50 ml for $100!), but I have to say the Sephora employees really talked me into this. The words “revolutionary” and “life-changing” were thrown around a lot, and while I’d like to say that I’m immune to all that sales mumbo-jumbo, clearly I’m not!

This is a very luxurious, thick cream that feels amazing to apply to your face and smells beautiful. The story is this is the secret weapon product that Charlotte formulated and used on models, clients and celebrities before they walk the red carpet. I think this will be a hero product for me going into the fall and winter months due to its richness. I tend to apply it at night before bedtime but you can also use it prior to makeup as Charlotte often promotes; I have yet to use it in that capacity. This gives a beautiful sheen and a feeling of plumpness to my dry skin. I really like it so far and it hasn’t broken me out at this point, but I’ve only been using it for about a week now.

(UPDATE 10/10/19 – sadly, I will be returning this product to Sephora. About a week after writing this post, I noticed little red bumps on my forehead, around my nose & my chin. I stopped using it for a few days to see if my skin would clear up and it did. Then I used it for about 3 more nights just to double-check and sure enough, the little red bumps came back. Such a bummer!)

On charlottetilbury.com there are 3 sizes available (150 ml, 50 ml, & 15 ml), although Sephora just seems to sell the 50 ml tub. The formula has SPF 15, and is gluten-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free & cruelty-free.

Honey Belle Elixir Rejuvenating Facial Oil – Shop here

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I spoke about the Elixir Facial Oil and about Honey Belle’s backstory in my earlier post detailing my Indie Beauty Expo haul. At the time of writing that post I still had not received this product in the mail, but since then I have incorporated this into my nightly routine. I hadn’t used a facial oil in ages so I was keen to get on that bandwagon again. I found a way to incorporate this product that didn’t extend the time of my normal routine: I combine it with my moisturizer. So far I’ve only added it to the Moisturizing Bomb from Belif and not the Magic Cream; I think the Magic Cream has enough richness on its own.

The smell of the Elixir is quite strongly herbal and ‘homemade’ but I like it. It gives serious shine and glow to the skin which you would expect from an oil. It doesn’t stay tacky for long and seems to absorb into the skin quite nicely, but keep in mind I’m applying this right after my shower so my pores are ready to drink this stuff up. Is it doing amazing things for my skin? I’m not sure at the moment to be honest, but it’s a lovely product that I like using. As the colder months approach and my skin gets drier, I will probably be able to tell more of a difference.

You can grab either the mini size (15 ml) for $15.00, which is pictured above, or the standard size (56 ml) for $34.00. Very affordable organic skincare.

BITS I HAVEN’T USED YET

Fresh Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream – Shop here 

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I purchased this just recently and it’s currently waiting its turn behind my latest pot of the Garnier eye cream, which I’m about halfway through at the moment. This smells amazing and as the name would suggest, it’s got a gel cream texture (my favorite). I’m new to Fresh skincare but I have high hopes for this little guy. There’s 15 ml of product in there for $41.00 so it’s definitely not cheap; this is actually my first foray into luxury eye cream. According to Fresh’s site, this is a cooling eye treatment that promises oodles of hydration and illumination. Oh, and ‘30 hours of continuous moisture.’ Cool, sign me up! I’ll have to report back 😉.

Fresh products are primarily made from natural ingredients and are cruelty-free.

Have you tried any of the products on this list? What skincare products are you currently loving or trialing? I’d love to know!

Xo, Erica

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The best tinted moisturizer for summer?

If you keep up with my blog you know that I’ve spoken about my dry skin several times here. If you are a newer or first-time reader, well hello! I’m Erica and I have dry and sometimes rough-textured skin. It’s a key factor that influences how I shop and buy face products like foundations and concealers. So it stands to reason that I have been searching for the best tinted moisturizer for years.

In the past I was a big fan of the well-loved IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream, which I know is much more than just a tinted moisturizer. I loved the coverage, the finish it gave my skin and the intense hydration it offered. Unfortunately though I had to stop using it. Quick story time. If you’ve never used the IT Cosmetics CC Cream before, normally it smells faintly of lemons. However, I bought one tube from Ulta that smelled horribly as soon as I opened it. I returned it quickly and got a second tube: same horrible smell. I thought to myself, perhaps there’s a bad batch at Ulta. I’ll wait for a bit, use something else up, and then repurchase it. I finally bought a mini tube some time later that was fine for a few weeks, but then I went to use it again and that horrible smell was back. No joke, it smelled like I was spreading a fart on my face. Not cool IT Cosmetics. (Has anyone else had this experience by the way?)

I’ve been wearing Estee Lauder tinted moisturizers and BB creams for years now. Most recently I’m at the end of my Double Wear All Day Glow BB Moisture Makeup, which provides a lovely finish and glow to my skin but sadly not enough moisture for my liking. It seemed like the perfect lightweight moisturizing base always eluded me. So when my mother told me that the Bobbi Brown SPF 25 Tinted Moisturizing Balm was hands-down the most hydrating face product she had ever used, I was enthralled. She had bought a pot years ago and absolutely loved what it offered her dry skin: hydration, nourishment, & natural glow.

It’s all I needed to hear. I picked up a tub at a Blue Mercury store, but it was a little hard to track down to be honest. At Lord & Taylor they told my mother that the Moisturizing Balm is being discontinued, yet all the shades are still available for purchase on Bobbi Brown’s official website. I tried finding some additional information online but I couldn’t find anything that said this product is being phased out. It’s still available for purchase on Amazon as well, but it seems the stock is low so just be aware.

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Here is the official description, claims and benefits from Bobbi Brown’s official website.

Product description$60.00 for 1 oz./30 ml. 

A lightweight foundation alternative for dry, dehydrated skin, this formula is ultra-rich and blends easily, giving skin a dewy look with light coverage.

Who is this product for?

Those with dry skin who want an incredibly emollient tinted moisturizer with sun protection too that’s great for layering over other skincare favorites.

Product benefits

Broad spectrum SPF 25 helps protect skin against damaging UVA/UVB rays. Argireline® peptide boosts skin’s natural collagen production and clary sage ferment strengthens skin’s protective moisture barrier. Water-in-oil emul­sion creates a uniquely rich and emollient balm texture that helps promote immediate and long term moisturization.

How to use the product

Apply as you would a moisturizer all over the face using your fingertips or the Foundation Brush (sold separately) for a more finished look.

How I use the product

I apply just as described above. Using my fingers, I swipe and blend in the product all over my face just like I would with a moisturizer.

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My thoughts on…

Packaging: I feel two ways about the packaging; a slightly weighty glass component that’s sleek-looking with a matte black cap. On one hand, I think it’s quite beautiful and chic. On the other hand, I think it’s totally inconvenient and cumbersome. I’ll never travel with it unless I decant some of it into another container, which I never, ever bother doing.

Rating: 3.5/5 ⭐️

Application: It goes on like a dream and blends right into the skin with a few swipes or circular motions of my fingers. As the brand claims, it’s extremely emollient and feels much more like a moisturizer than it does a base product. I have not used this with a beauty sponge or makeup brush, so I cannot attest to how the product would apply then. I also should mention, this product has a pronounced scent when you first apply it which may or may not be a problem for some. My mother describes it as being reminiscent of Noxzema products, so think of camphor or eucalyptus. The smell definitely dissipates after you apply the product. I love the smell personally.

Rating: 5/5 ⭐️

Coverage: This does not provide much coverage at all, but then again it doesn’t claim to do that. “Lightweight foundation alternative” and “light coverage” are right in the product description. It just subtly evens out your skin tone, so if you have problem areas or blemishes you will absolutely need a good quality concealer to pair with this. Personally, light coverage is not a negative for me. Overall my skin is usually well-behaved, so whatever base or foundation I’m using tends to be lighter coverage anyway. I reserve my medium-to-high coverage products for concealing.

Rating: 2/5 ⭐️

Finish: What this lacks in coverage it makes up for in the finish. After you apply it all over your face, you’re left with beautifully moisturized skin that radiates with this natural, healthy glow. There’s a subtle sheen that bounces off the product that’s just perfect in my opinion; unlike any other face product I’ve used before. The product definitely has some tackiness to it that doesn’t completely 100% dry down. That being said, if you blend it in really well it will feel the same as if you’ve applied a really nourishing moisturizer a few hours before. You can still feel the softness or slight tackiness but the majority of the product will have dried down.

Rating: 5/5 ⭐️

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Swatch of Alabaster Tint

Shade selection: There are 7 shades in this range: Alabaster Tint, Extra Light Tint, Light Tint, Light to Medium Tint, Medium Tint, Medium to Dark Tint, Dark Tint. When inclusivity in the makeup world is as important as it is now, this is not an ideal scenario. Brands, both high-end and affordable, are expected to produce fuller ranges of base products that cater to a wider spectrum of complexions. It would be preferable if Bobbi Brown would offer more colors in this range, however, remember again what kind of product this is. It wasn’t formulated to be a true foundation but a “foundation alternative.” It’s a very specific product that is not intended to perfectly match your complexion in order to provide coverage; its primary role is to offer hydration and some SPF to dry skin.

I will say though that the colors run quite dark and quite yellow. I first tried out the Light Tint in store, which if you had told me was the Medium Tint I would have easily believed you. I ended up going with the lightest shade, Alabaster Tint, which is still yellow but at least much lighter than the Light or Extra Light Tint. To be honest, the yellow undertone doesn’t show on my skin either in natural light or in photos, again proving the point that you don’t need a perfect match to use this product. I would recommend trying this in-store if you can, as the color swatches online are misleading.

Rating: 4/5 ⭐️

Longevity: Surprisingly this has more longevity than you’d expect from such a lightweight product. I wore this out on a sunny, warm day for several hours and when I returned home and looked in the mirror, I still could see the effects of this product on my skin which was truly impressive. I’ve tried this both with and without a primer underneath; the base primer really boosts the longevity, as you would expect. So if you want this product to last the longest it can, use your favorite primer underneath.

Rating: 4/5 ⭐️

Price: This stuff is super expensive at $60.00 for 1 oz. or 30 ml. of product. There’s no way around that. While I truly love this product, I don’t quite understand why it is as expensive as it is. If you compare it to another higher-end tinted moisturizer, like the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer for instance, you get 1.7 oz. or 50 ml. of product for $45.00. I have not used the Laura Mercier product so I cannot attest to its effects or quality, but you can’t deny that the difference in quantity & price between both products is significant.

Rating: 3/5 ⭐️

Final thoughts

I have to say my mother was right about this one. This is absolutely the most hydrating face product I have ever used. I love it so much because I feel like it was formulated just for me and my skin needs. I like lighter coverage products that offer moisture and glow to my skin, and this does it all. So is the Bobbi Brown SPF 25 Tinted Moisturizing Balm the best tinted moisturizer for summer? For me, definitely yes, and perhaps for others with dry or dehydrated skin who don’t mind splurging a bit. I just wish the packaging was a little less bulky and the price was lower. I will most likely continue to use this into the fall and winter since my skin will only become more dry as the weather becomes colder.

Would I repurchase this in the future (assuming this isn’t being discontinued)? Despite my love for it, I’m not sure at this point. I would like to try some more inexpensive tinted moisturizers to see if they could give me the same level of glow and hydration at a lower cost. If anyone has any affordable tinted moisturizer recommendations, please, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to know!

Have you tried the Bobbi Brown Tinted Moisturizing Balm? If so, would do you think of it?

xo, Erica

 

 

Top 5 cream blushes you need in your collection

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know that cream products are my ultimate preference when it comes to makeup textures. I think creams look the most natural on the skin; they offer softness and dewiness, and as a person with dry skin they provide a certain amount of hydration as well. If you’re oily or have acne, your skin’s chemistry may not agree with creams so powders might be better for you.

Continue reading “Top 5 cream blushes you need in your collection”

Which colors best suit you: Understanding color theory in makeup

Now that we’ve completed our discussions on some often-asked foundation questions, let’s move onto another challenging area for some: color, specifically in the form of eyeshadow (and a little bit blush and lipstick). There is what seems like an infinite amount of eyeshadows, eyeshadow palettes, and lipstick colors available to us to purchase. It can be so completely overwhelming for those who are new to makeup or just starting out to know what colors best suit their hair, complexion or eye color. It’s a question some of my closest girlfriends ask quite frequently. This is where color theory can provide an effective framework for reference.

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How to shop for the right foundation: Understanding skin type. Plus bonus cheat sheet!

This is a continuation of my previous post linked here about how to shop for the right foundation, a subject that some often struggle with. Skin tone and undertone were covered in detail in my last post, and now I’ll cover skin type here. Specifically how it can affect how you shop for foundation.

I defined skin type in my last post as the texture or the chemistry of your skin, i.e. whether you are classified as dry, oily, normal or combo skin. It’s important to be aware of a few things. These 4 categories are buckets that in them contain a wide degree of variation. No two people’s dry skin or oily skin is exactly alike and exhibit the same symptoms. That’s why it’s always important for you to do your own research whether it be when shopping for new skincare or new makeup. No one knows your skin better than you, or perhaps your dermatologist. Also, skin type can vary within your lifecycle depending on a wide range of both external and internal factors. Your environment, hormones, medications, age, diet, and stress levels all can play into influencing your skin’s chemistry. And this is in no way an exhaustive list.

*For the sake of transparency, I consulted a few online resources in writing this post since I am not a credentialed skincare expert. Mainly trusted skincare brands like Paula’s Choice and Eucerin.

Here is a list of the typical characteristics that define each skin category. (The T-zone is defined as the forehead, nose and chin.)

Dry skin – generally less oil production

  • Tightness
  • Dullness
  • Roughness
  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Flakiness/scales

Oily skin – a general over-production of oil

  • Large pores
  • Shininess
  • Pimples with accompanying redness & bumpiness
  • Varying degrees of acne

Normal skin – well-balanced skin between oily & dry

  • Smooth-textured
  • Brightness
  • May have slight shininess in T-zone

Combination skin – mix of oily & normal to dry textures; typically oily in T-zone, with normal to dry cheeks and outer portions of face

  • Larger pores in T-zone
  • Shiny in T-zone
  • Possible roughness or redness on cheeks if dry

Since this is not a post about how to care for your skin type, all I’ll say here is that good skin makes for good makeup. That doesn’t mean you have to have the best, brightest, or smoothest skin on the planet to wear makeup. Who does? It just means that it’s essential to take care of your skin needs, whatever they may be, from your skincare up. Makeup can horribly exaggerate skin problems that aren’t being tended to. For example, I’m prone to little dry patches on my face. Just the other day I applied a dab of concealer on my chin that emphasized a dry, textured patch of skin that I hadn’t properly exfoliated. Every time I looked in the mirror after that, it was all I could see!

The bottom line is to shop for your skin type, not against it. I must say I’m skeptical of foundations that say they are for “all skin types.” This seems like a huge generalization that assumes skincare is a “one size fits all” kinda thing. It’s anything but.

Here is a link to my cheat sheet that touches on all the information from these last two posts in an easy-to-digest format. This also includes buzzwords to look out for when shopping: Foundation Cheat Sheet.

Dry skin

Go for liquid, cream or cushion foundations, BB creams or tinted moisturizers that provide hydration and glow to the skin like the Revlon ColorStay for Dry/Normal Skin, or Estee Lauder Double Wear All Day Glow BB Moisture Makeup (longest name ever in humanity!). Also serum or whipped textures tend to be good for drier skins. I used to not see the point of primers for dry skin, but I’ve seen the light now and I go for the ones that, you guessed it, provide moisture and slip to the skin, like Smashbox Photo Finish Radiance with Hylaronic Acid or my beloved MAC Strobe Cream.

Oily Skin

Go for powder, stick or liquid foundations that will provide an overall mattifying finish to your skin. Ideally you want a product that will help to minimize the amount of oil that breaks through to the surface of your skin, although no foundation can ever completely block oil. I’ve read that the Estee Lauder Double Wear Light is quite good on oily skin. The original Estee Lauder Double Wear is by nature very mattifying, waterproof and long-wear, which I can attest to. If you struggle with blemishes or acne, try to hone in on the foundations that specifically target and treat these issues like the Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup. Just be aware of potential irritating ingredients in any foundation formula, and perhaps consult with your dermatologist or skincare specialist if in doubt.

Ultimately, what will work for you all depends on your degree of oilyness, the kind of primer you’re using, and a certain amount of trial and error in finding the right combination of products. Speaking of primers, Zahra from ZHAST just did a really comprehensive blog post on primers for every skin type. Go check it out here for more info!

Normal Skin

Since normal skin tends to be quite balanced, not too dry or oily, you have your pick of which foundation texture to buy based on how your skin is currently behaving. If you’re more dry, choose a foundation labeled for ‘Normal to Dry’ skin, like the Revlon ColorStay mentioned above. Or if you’re more oily, simply go for something more matte. However, I think you’re best going with a hybrid of the two, something with a satin or demi-matte finish like L’Oreal Infallible Pro Glow Foundation or Estee Lauder Double Wear Nude Water Fresh Makeup.

Combination Skin

The usual combo skin cocktail is an oily T-zone and normal to dry outer regions along the cheeks, jawline and hairline. Foundation choice then completely depends on your degree of oilyness. Brands often clump certain skin types together, like ‘Normal to Dry’ and ‘Combo to Oily.’ Refer to the section above under ‘Oily Skin’ or the Foundation Cheat Sheet above for more info and suggestions.

What skin type do you have? Do you have any foundation recommendations? I’d love to know!

xo, Erica

 

 

 

How to shop for the right foundation: Understanding skin tone and undertones

Have you heard this lament before? “When I go into a department store or drugstore, I have no idea how to pick the right foundation shade for myself.” All of us have been there. You think you know your foundation shade, you buy a color and then take it home and it looks too light, too dark, or too orange. Please keep in mind and accept that matching is not an exact science. There’s always room for error due to a variety of factors. Skin color and texture can often change up throughout the seasons, so what works in summer on your skin may not work in winter. Artifical lighting in stores is different to natural daylight so what you see in an Ulta or Sephora may look different when you step outside, etc. So it can definitely be tricky and overwhelming, but there are some tips on how to make it easier on yourself which we’ll delve into in this post.

Continue reading “How to shop for the right foundation: Understanding skin tone and undertones”

Can we hit pause on highlighter, please?

After a few years, highlighter is still having a huge moment in the makeup world. It’s everywhere I look when I shop for makeup, in every conceivable form: powders, creams, gels or liquids in big pans, small pans, palettes, bottles, & mini’s. And in almost every color from gold to pink to peach to purple and blue. I would say every second or third tutorial I watch on YouTube or Instagram, or ad image I see online, features highlighter prominently. Either it’s slathered onto the skin so it can be seen in heaven or layered on top of creams or liquids to give an almost supernatural effect. (To read more about my thoughts on Instagram makeup, click here). “Blinding” skin is in and matte skin is BAD, people. Or at least that’s the message I’m getting.

Continue reading “Can we hit pause on highlighter, please?”