Sephora Play: The Beauty Remedy Edition.

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A few days ago, when I was taking the train into work on day three of yet another six day stretch, I checked my email, and had gotten one from Sephora announcing a new luxe Play box.  I jumped on it becuase I liked the last one so well.  Do I need this?  Strictly speaking, no.  Does it make me feel better about the fact that I am working like a crazy person and have no time off and am utterly exhausted and cranky?  Oh, hell yes.  I have one more six-day week ahead, and then a friend of mine arrives in town and I am taking some much-needed time off to hang out with her.

The theme of this box is “The Remedy Edition,” so it is filled with products that purport to be good for your skin.  There were two variations of this box, and four of the six products were in each of them, so it’s of no real benefit to purchase both, and Sephora was kind enough to list the brands contained in each box on their website.  I ordered the second edition variation because I knew the first edition box contined something from SK-II and was worried it would be their skin essence again.  I’m currently going through a terrible time testing it out already, and I loathe the way that it smells.  I think it smells like sweaty feet and I find it to be generally vile and revolting, and I’m getting a few tiny breakouts in places I don’t usually get breakouts.  I wasn’t going to take a chance on getting another bottle of it.  The second box variation that I ordered contained a YSL primer and an AmorePacific essence, so I figured that box would be the safer bet.

As you can tell from the photo above, Sephora messed up.  They sent me the other box.  When I first opened it, I saw figuratively saw red for a couple of minutes because it wasn’t the one that I wanted, and by this time both box variations were sold out.  I resolved to call and complain, and likely will still do that after I finish this blog post, but I eventually settled down and have grown to like this one.  SK-II essence is nowhere to be seen, and, truth be told, I’m still on the hunt for a good eye cream, so I guess this is an okay screw up on Sephora’s part.  I could have done without two jars of moisturizer, but that’s a strange complaint.  Can one ever really have too much moisturizer around?

I also bought this as much for the container it comes in as I did for the products inside.  This is an almost perfect travel case for a light packer.  It’s a hard shell square container that looks like a CD case that people about my age will remember carting around in junior high and high school.  There’s a pouch to tuck things into on one side and open real estate on the other.  This box is actually sturdy, and I can’t wait to use it.

But anyway, people are here for product descriptions, so here we go!

Giorgio Armani Beauty Ecstasy Shine 400 Lipstick:  This is a super moisturizing lipstick in a bright red (good thing I just got rid of a bunch of red shades since I got new one to add to the collection) that really impressed me with its staying power.  This box was delivered yesterday while I was at work, so I swatched everything after I got home last night.  While I wiped most of the color off before I went to bed, there was still a red stain on the back of my hand when I woke up nine hours later.  There’s still a small bit left as I type this, and I’ve taken a shower.  I’ll cop to being quite stunned by that.  I needed three coats to achieve an opaque look when I swatched this, and a single coat is pretty sheer, which I happen to like.  There’s some versitility in it, and it can take me from day to night.  It is considerably more shiny than a traditional cream lipstick but not as much as a gloss.  A 0.10 ounce tube retails for $38.00.  There’s 0.05 ounces in the sample, so that’s $14.00 of product.

Tatcha The Silk Cream:  I’ve only ever tried the enzyme powder from this brand, and I absolutely love it, so I’m looking forward to this one.  It’s going to be hard to top my newfound love for AmorePacific’s Rejunvenating Creme, though.  This bills itself as a firming moisturizer.  I tried it out last night, and it feels really nice and absorbs quickly enough.  A little goes a very long way.  I had to have used less than a quarter-size amount for my entire face.  This retails for $120.00 for 1.7 ounces (The sample size is 0.34 ounces, so that translates to a $24.00 value), which is a much less bitter pill to swallow when compared to the price of the AmorePacific cream I so dearly love, so I’m kind of hoping this one blows me out of the water with its effectiveness.  I’m also impressed with the sturdiness of the packaging on this sample.  It’s got some real heft to it.

Givenchy Le Rouge Perfecto Beautifying Lip Balm:  They’re not kidding when they describe this as a translucent pink balm.  It’s basically Chap Stick, but I’m not complaining about that.  I’m going to throw it in my purse and use it as such.  In fact, I’m wearing it now.  It feels like a nice, moisturizing lip balm, and it sort of enhances the natural pink color of my lips.  It looks very natural.  This is the kind of balm that is supposed to react with your body chemistry to create a perfect color just for you.  As best I can tell, it works as described.  It also claims to plump, but, that’s a total lie.  It doesn’t tingle, and my lips look the exact same as they did before I put this on.  This stuff retails for $36.00 for 0.07 ounces.  The sample is 0.04 ounces, so that’s $20.57 of product.  I don’t care how well this works, there’s no lip balm in the world worth that much money.  Not with the way that I go through lip balm.  This is a nice one, though.

SK-II R.N.A. Power Eye Cream Radical New Age: I know this brand has a cult-like devotion from people because of its essence, but I just don’t get it.  I mean, I hate that stuff.  I’m always on the lookout for a good eye cream, though, so I’m not angry (anymore) that Sephora messed up and sent me the wrong box.  This lacks the offensive smell of the SK-II Essence.  It contains Pitera–a byproduct of the fermentation of a special kind of yeast–like everything else in the line.  It’s also wildly expensive like everything else in the line.  It’s expensive to the tune of $135.00 for 0.4 ounces.  There’s 0.08 ounces of product here, so that works out to $27.00 of product.  I can’t imagine it blowing my mind enough for me to buy a full-size of this, but I did use it last night, and it feels lovely going on.  I’m adding it to the routine until the sample is gone, so here’s hoping it works.  I’ve been working like a madman and getting nowhere near enough sleep, so my dark circles are a little worse than usual, and I actually have a little bit in the way of bags under my eyes right now, so this stuff has something to work on.  Let’s hope it’s the miracle worker it claims to be.

La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream:  People swear by La Mer products, but I’ve never tried them.  I’ve never thought my skin needed something that intensive.  I’m still relatively young, and my skin looks great.  There’s no wrinkles and only the smallest of fine lines are just beginning.  This will be my first experience with La Mer.  It feels very creamy, and it absorbed faster than the Tatcha Silk Cream when I tried it out, so I’m hopeful it is something I end up liking.  It’s only slightly more expensive than the AmorePacific’s Rejuvenating Cream, so if I find it works better, I’ll be a La Mer convert.  In all honesty, I do hope this works well.  This brand has been around for so long, and people love it so much that I would hate to not like it.  Skin care is very personal, though, so we shall see.  A full-size jar is 1.7 ounces and retails for $170.00, so that means there’s $24.00 of product in this 0.24 ounce sample.

Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin Pure Perfume:  I seriously think I like every single perfume in this line.  At least, I like every single one that I’ve smelled, and that’s most of them.  Sud Magnolia is my favorite, but these are all long lasting on my skin and smell so fresh that it’s impossible for me to wear any of these and not find myself smelling my wrist throughout the day.  This one is no different.  It smells like bergamont at first and then dries down to smell mostly of cedar with hints of sandalwood and vailla on me.  It’s sweet and woody, and I am in love.  This is $250.00 for 3.3 ounces.  Yeah, that’s crazy expensive, but I strongly believe that you get what you pay for with perfume.  There’s 0.14 ounces in this sample, so that amounts to $10.61 of product.

Sephora has been doing these special boxes for about a year now, and I passed on the first one.  I’m not sure why I did that.  Overall, I now think that they are a great value and give me a chance to try out a ton of high-end products I would never try otherwise.  I mean, I’m not going to go out and drop $170.00 on La Mer cream without ever trying it out, but I will shell out the dough if I already know it works.  I know Sephora gets all kind of heat from people in the review section for items like this, but I really believe that if you just sit down and do the math, you are getting a fair deal.  If you have no intention of buying any of these, that’s fine.  You still get a good opportunity to try out some obscenely expensive makeup and skincare items.  If you’re like me, and could actually see yourself using some of these in a full-size, it’s the best opportunity you have to try them in a size that will allow you to determine if they actually work for you or not.  I can’t recommend these boxes enough.

I hope this was helpful for anyone who has been on the fence about trying out these luxury boxes from Sephora.  Like I just said, I can’t recommend them enough, and really do believe they are a perfectly fair deal.  That’s why I bought it even though I don’t need it.  This set me back $21.78 with tax, so that brings my yearly Sephora spending total to $1,033.01.

–Jackie

Sephora Play October 2017.

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Hey there, everyone.  I’m first going to start with a bit of a programming note.  Work has been crazy for the last few weeks, and shows no sign of slowing down for, at least, another two weeks, so posting may become a bit infrequent.  I’m working somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty hours per week, and what little downtime I have that isn’t spent sleeping is divided equally between trying to keep my apartment clean and sitting on the sofa doing nothing.  I generally spend one of my weekend days typing and saving all of my posts for the coming week.  Given that I’ve been working six day weeks and will be for the forseeable future, my lone day of free time will likely go to blankly staring at the television from my sofa and doing things that require as little of my cognitive ability as possible.  I’m a weird type of person, and I keep hand-written notes on all of the products I try out, and I really don’t feel like plowing through them until I get a chance to rest and restore for a few days.

Now, onto this month’s box!

I think all of the box variations for October were centered around products for your complexion, so (thankfully) mine was void of any hair products.  I love all of the products that came in mine.  A couple of them, I have tried before, and  the others I had been eyeing for a long time but had never committed to purchasing.  I’ve not done any serious wear tests on any of the products in this box, but I have formed a few first impressions.  Here it goes.

Urban Decay Optical Illusion Complexion Primer:  I was really excited when Urban Decay rolled out face primers because their shadow primer is the best I’ve ever used.  That excitement dissipated, however, when the reviews for them started to roll in, and most said they were okay, at best.  I never bought any to try out, so I’m really excited to get some.  This stuff feels really thick, and it does fill in pores and smooth things out a little.  In truth, it feels like it may be a little bit too heavy for me, and I hope it doesn’t clog my pores and make me breakout, but I’m going to use it because I love trying out different primers.  I can’t speak for how long it will make my makeup last, but I’m curious to find out if it really does work.

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation:  I wish this box had arrived a week earlier because I bought the Hourglass Foundation stick.  I’ve always wanted to try out this foundation, but was hesitant to do so because SO MANY foundations break me out, so I’ve sort of always stuck to my go to from Dior.  I know people rave about this product from MUFE, but I’ve just never committed.  Sephora sample sizes don’t last long enough to determine if I will get breakouts from a foundation, and by the time I know if I will get a breakout, it’s usually too late or I’m too unmotivated to return the product.  This is a great sample size that will probably last me close to a month if not more.  I’m wearing it today, and I a nice medium coverage that builds up, looks natural, and feels lightweight on my face.  In truth, if this doesn’t cause breakouts, this appears to be a great foundation.  Thanks, Sephora, for sending this one to everyone.

Tarte Fainforest of the sea 4-in-1 Setting Mist:  This says it’s a primer, setting spray, hydrating mist, and skin refresher.  I’ve used it before, and, for me at least, it does two of those four things.  I had pretty poor luck using it as a primer.  It was just okay as a setting spray.  I did love it as a skin refresher and mist when my skin just felt tired and tight.  I kept it in the fridge, and a quick spritz left my skin feeling calm and moisturized.  I loved using it when my skin felt out of sorts, but not enough to buy it again.  I’ll use this spritzer, but it’s probably not going to change my mind on purchasing this.

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Skin Booster:  I’m a little unsure how to use this, so I’m being unusually dependent on instructions from the company on this guy.  Sephora says it’s a “skin-perfecting serum that plumps, smooths, and hydrates your skin for flawless makeup application.”  I like the feel of serums, but typically use them at night before I go to bed, so the use issue just stems from my accepting that I put it on before makeup application and not before I crawl in bed at night.  It’s got hyaluronic acid and argan oil in it, so I fully expect it to do what it claims and plump up skin and make me look like I might have actually gotten some sleep the night before.

Dr. Brandt PoreDermabrasion Pore Perfecting Scrub:  I’ve used this before, and I feel like it could almost be used interchangeably with ExfoliKate.  They work the same way, and both work well.  With this one, you rub it on your face for minute or so to physically exfoliate then let it sit for another few minutes for a chemical exfoliation.  I feel like you need the slightest bit more of the Dr. Brandt than ExfoliKate, but it’s still a pretty negligible amount to achieve results.  It works well, I like it, and I’m almost out of ExfoliKate.  This one will go in the shower when I do finally run out of the Somerville stuff.

Tory Burch Bel Azur:  This is my favorite of the Tory Burch perfumes, but I feel toward it the same way that I feel like other Tory Burch perfumes.  They smell nice, but a bit generic.  This one is citrusy, and there’s vetiver and bergamont in it, and really does remind me of the South of France and the Mediterranean.  This one doesn’t smell bad, and I’ll keep it around for a handy purse spray, but, for my money, there are better options out there.

This brings my yearly total to Sephora to $1,011.23.

Anyway, I’m off to eat cheese balls and Swedish meatballs at the seventies-themed cocktail bar up the street from my apartment before going home to binge on The Wire.  Speaking of that show, I realize I’m fifteen years late, but where have I been?  It is so well done, and I can’t recommend it enough!  Have a great day, lovelies!

–Jackie

ABH Subculture and ABA Prism Palettes. Congrats on the Promotion, Chicklet.

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I have been working like CRAZY the last couple of weeks.  When I say that I’ve been working like crazy, I mean I’ve worked eleven of the last twelve days and have logged WELL over 100 hours of actual time spent at work.  I’m exhausted, I’m cranky, and I’ve never been more thankful to have two days off than I am right now.  Everything has taken a back seat to work and sleep.  Basically, I wake up, I go to work, I come home, I crash.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I missed my three-year wedding anniversary last week.  My best friend was in town over the weekend, and we didn’t even see one another, and he was staying at my apartment.  Today is my first day off in what seems like forever, and I’m spending it blogging and drinking lots of coffee at my local coffee shop.  Later I’m probably going to take myself for a pizza date and maybe a fancy cocktail at the bar next door to my coffee shop.

Somewhere in all the chaos of the last couple of weeks, I got a promotion.  I had one day off, spent it sleeping and making a vain attempt at cleaning my apartment, and when I got back to work the next day, I got called into the office and promoted.  I’m a chef now.  The cooks have to call me chef (actually, I don’t let them because I think that sounds weird).  This is a pretty good cap to a year that started off really shitty, if I’m totally honest.  I also like the timing.  My old boss is out promoting his new cookbook that I wrote, and it comes out in the next few days.  My finances took a huge hit writing that, and he was such an a**h*le about the entire process (and about the thousands of dollars I’m convinced he wasn’t going to pay me for the work), that I can’t help but remark on the timing of everything that just happened.  I’m excited for the promotion, and I celebrated with a reward purchase of two eyeshadow palettes I sure didn’t need but definitely feel like I’ve earned.

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Yes, I bought Prism and Subculture.  I knew I wanted Prism as soon as I saw it.  I mean, seriously.  Just look at Throne and Osiris.  I was on the fence about Subculture, but since I’ve always tapped my brush into shadows and not swirled it around like a person who just wants to waste product and get powder everywhere, I went for it.  I know people either love or hate that palette, and I happen to love the way the mattes look in it.  These two look like they will complement each other nicely, and, hey, I just worked 100+ hours and got a promotion.

As far as Prism is concerned, the quality is what you expect from Anastasia Beverly Hills.  The metallics in the palette feel almost like a gel when you touch them.  The mattes are a little bit chalky, but they still blend out nicely, and there is a ton of pigment in the majority of the shades.  Sphere is the most chalky of the bunch, but it’s still workable.  It’s a neon, and there’s a ton of white in it, but you’ll still need a white base under it to see the full intensity.  I think it will look brilliant as an inner corner highlight or underneath the eye.  The only real dud is obsidian.  They’re saying it’s black, but it’s certainly not the blackest black I’ve used, and it’s a little patchy when swatched to be honest.  It’s certainly not a deal-breaker, as I have many different blacks in my collection.  Swatches on me and descriptions from the website are below.  Ignore my burn scars.  I’m not a cutter–just a cook.

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Left to right:  Lucid (duo chrome white gold with pink reflect), Eden (ultra-matte coral pink), Unity (ultra-matte nude ochre), Sphinx (metallic warm bronze), Osiris (duo chrome midnight violet with red reflect), Sphere (ultra-matte electric green yellow), Obsidian (ultra-matte deep black), Dimension (duo chrome silver grey with pink reflect), Parallel (ultra-matte truffle), Pyramid (metallic yellow gold with green reflect), Throne (duo chrome blackened blue-green with multicolor reflect), Saturn (ultra-matte terracotta), Eternal (metallic violet copper), Lure (ultra-matte ashy lilac)

Now, here’s what I have to add to the descriptions:  Eden is your standard peachy pink shade.  Sphinx is a super creamy bronze with purple shimmer.  Obsidian, as I said earlier, is more grey than black.  Dimension is a very sheer silver with a pinkish-purple shift that I think will look amazing on my green eyes.  Pyramid is a true gold with green shimmer.  Throne (my favorite) is a green with a black base and multicolor shimmer.  Eternal is a copper with almost the same purple shimmer as Sphinx.

For anyone who owns Modern Renaissance and has touched the shade Vermeer, then you know how the metallics in here feel.  Texture-wise, this palette is very similar to Modern Renaissance, so I anticipate that it will be much easier to work with than Subculture.

Speaking of Subculture, here are the swatches on my arm and descriptions from the interwebs:

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Left to right: Cube (duo chrome pink pearl), Dawn (ultra-matte sand), Destiny (ultra-matte sage green), Adorn (metallic bronze), All Star (ultra-matte vintage wine), Mercury (ultra-matte slate grey), Axis (ultra-matte blue-green), Roxy (ultra matte muted coral), Electric (duo chrome lime-gold), Fudge (ultra-matte warm bronze), New Wave (ultra-matte citron orange), Untamed (ultra-matte tarnished green), Edge (ultra-matte gold mustard), Rowdy (ultra-matte blackened purple)

Cube is the almost nonexistent shimmery shade on the far left that is closest to my wrist.  It has potential as a topper, but not much otherwise for me.  Overall, I find the descriptions of these shades to be very true to my results.  These behave almost like a softly pressed pigment.  The blues and greens in Subculture are very intense.  Axis stained my arm and made for some difficult removal.  Untamed and Rowdy were not far behind it in that respect.

The color payoff in Subculture is superior to that in Prism, but Prism is by no means bad.  If anything the shades have more slip to them and blend easier than those in Subculture.  The colors in Subculture do not seem to be firmly pressed in the pans, and even just moving my fingers around to pick up color for swatches dislodged quite a bit more product than was necessary before I got the hang of how to handle the eyeshadow.  I don’t know how travel-friendly these would be, and I don’t intend to find out.  It seems like a good drop could shatter them.

(Edit:Two days after typing up my initial draft, I wore several shades in Subculture for a night out. Here’s my takeaway of eight hours of wear over UD Primer Potion. A VERY light hand yielded intense color payoff.  A working knowledge of color theory is a must when dealing with these colors.  I used Axis and All Star beside one another and and was very careful to not mix them lest become a muddy gray brown color. Rowdy on top of All Star works fine. That lightened All Star and the shade became an orange-ish pink. Cube actually made a cool highlight when light hit it.  I didn’t find the shadow itself to be difficult to work with, but I went in knowing if I barely tapped a brush into a pan, I would have plenty of product for my needs. My big beef with the palette is the shadow began to wear off along the crease of my eye.  This doesn’t generally happen to me. By the time I got home I had a semi-circular line on each lid where the shadow had just disappeared from. Everything else looked fine.)

I know some people are saying that these palettes look the same, but I honestly don’t see it.  I’ll concede that Roxy and Eden are dupes for one another.  So are Fudge and Parallel, but those are neutrals, so who really cares.  As far as everything else, the undertones look different to me, and the shimmers in some similar-looking shades are quite different when worn.  I don’t think these palettes look the same, but I do think they were designed to play really well with one another.

Here are side by sides of all the possible dupes I could think of in the palettes:

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Left to right:  Eden (Prism), Roxy (Subculture), Unity (Prism), Dawn (Subculture), Sphinx (Prism), Eternal (Prism), Adorn (Subculture), Parallel (Prism), Fudge (Subculture)

Eden and Roxy are virtually identical, but Roxy is more intense.  Unity and Dawn look similar in the pan, but Dawn shows up more mustard than Unity.  Sphinx and Adorn are similar, but Adorn has more gold in it, and Sphinx is more purple.  Parallel and Fudge are basically the same, but, like I said, it’s a brown neutral.  Who cares.

Here’s a shot of all the shades side by side:

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Top (left to right):  Lucid, Eden, Unity, Sphinx, Osiris, Sphere, Obsidian, Dimension, Parallel, Pyramid, Throne, Saturn, Eternal, Lure
Bottom (left to right):  Cube, Dawn, Destiny, Adorn, All Star, Mercury, Axis, Roxy, Electric, Fudge, New Wave, Untamed, Edge, Rowdy

I will say that I love the shade range and color variety here but hate the layout of these palettes, but that’s neither here nor there for me since I’m going to depot them anyway.  I’ll just put them in a Z-palette in a way that inspires me, but each is cohesive if you think about it with some color theory in your reasoning.  I just hope the shades in Subculture don’t shatter when I try to remove them from the palette.  I use an induction burner to depot my shadows, and the method is pretty idiot proof, so if anyone is curious, you can read about how I do it by clicking here.

I certainly don’t think that anyone needs BOTH of these.  They’re $42.00 each, and if only one of them is speaking to you, just buy one.  The cost of this purchase with tax was $91.46 bringing my yearly Sephora total to $1,000.34.  That’s still not enough to reach VIB Rouge status because Sephora doesn’t include tax in their calculations like I’ve been doing.  I didn’t set out to reach VIB Rouge again this year, but at this point, I’m so close that I’ll just buy the Hourglass primer that I’m out of and one or two other things and be there.  Yeah, that’s a ton of money, but I have to reiterate that I spent nearly four times that amount at Sephora last year.  I’m still calling this exercise a win, and now I’m off to play with my new array of shadows.

–Jackie

The Foundation Purchase that Turned into a Mini Haul.

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I’ve been getting low on foundation for some time now, and I’ve been going back and forth on what kind I should buy.  I’ve used Diorskin Nude since 2008 or so, and it’s amazing.  It works extremely well, doesn’t break me out, and I always come back to it after I try anything new.  The coverage I get from it is medium but buildable, it looks natural, and it lasts all day on me.

My skin has decided to be unusually cooperative for the last couple of months, so I’ve not had many acne scars or discoloration I’ve had to worry about.  I started using tinted moisturizers for work (I favor Tarteguard) because I see no point in wearing foundation to work when it costs fifty bucks for a bottle, my skin already looks good, and I’m just going to sweat off whatever foundation I came in with by the end of the night.

I got a sample of the Vanish foundation stick from Hourglass in a Play box a couple of months ago and was blown away by how good it was.  To my pleasant surprise, the shade they sent was a perfect match for my skin, so I’ve been using it to death.  The coverage I get from this foundation is extremely full, yet so natural-looking and so lightweight when it’s blended that I can’t understand how it works.  I used the sample all over my face, blended it out with a brush, and went back in to use it as a concealer under my eyes and around my chin.  It works as a concealer yet looks completely natural.  It’s bizarre.  To be sure, there were a couple of cons, so I went back and forth on deciding between Vanish and Diorskin Nude for a month before I took the plunge and cheated on my old, faithful foundation.

To be quite honest, this stuff ain’t cheap.  It’s $46.00 for a quarter ounce versus $50.00 for an ounce of my usual from Dior, but given how full the coverage is, a little should go a long way.  I also refuse to wear this to work because it HAS to be set with powder, and I don’t wear powder to work.  I find it gets a little slippy on me, otherwise, so I’m just going to stick to Tarteguard for work and Hourglass for my days off.  That will buy an even longer product life.

Part of what also influenced my decision is that Sephora online was running a limited time special and threw in a mini of the Veil Mineral Primer for only a few bucks more than the foundation stick.  A mini of this retails for $19.00, and I got both for $52.00.  I’ve tried it before and hated it at first, but after the second deluxe sample I’ve gotten of it, I think I kind of like it.  The mini version here should give me enough product to form an actual opinion on this.  Like everything from Hourglass, a full-size isn’t cheap.  It’s $54.00 for an ounce, and I already love their Ambient Light primers, so I doubt I’ll commit to a full-size of Veil.

I also bought the mini version of a hair tool I’ve been looking at for months.  I’ve wanted the Amika straightening brush since I saw it ages ago, but couldn’t commit.  The mini one popped up in Sephora’s “Just Arrived” section, and I jumped on it.  I figured if this works decently, I may just buy the full-sized one.  It was $35.00.  There’s a review of it coming in the next few days.  It’s changed my life, and I love it.

I also used 100 points for an UD Naked Skin liquid highlighter in the shade Sin.  I’ve heard mixed reviews on the highlighters, so I’m happy to get a smaller size to try, and Sin is one of my favorite shades of all time from the brand.

I rarely get the 500 point rewards because I think most of them are marginally okay, at best, but I decided to spring for one from Boscia:

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It has a number of products that I’ve already used and knew that I liked and the Charcoal Pore Pudding that I’ve had my eye on for some time.

Included in the reward are the following items:
–Luminizing Black Mask (love it)
–Thermal Black Cleanser (love it)
–Porefecting White Charcoal Mattifying Treatment Primer (like it)
–Revitalizing Black Hydration Gel (love it)
–Charcoal Pore Pudding (new to me)

I’ve already taken a hard dive into using the things in the reward box, so I’ll post reviews as I finish them up.

The total for this online shopping trip was $94.73, so that brings my yearly total to $908.88.

–Jackie

Lancôme Drama Liqui-Pencil Long Wear Eyeliner. These Things Rock.

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I freely admit that I’m a loyalist when it comes to Urban Decay eyeliners.  They don’t come off.  The shade range is extensive, and I just love them.  However, I bought a blue green shade of the Drama Liqui-Pencils about a year ago, and, I’m here to say, I’m slowly becoming a convert.

These may be the smoothest pencil liners I’ve ever tried.  There’s no skipping or tugging.  The colors are intense, and they do. not. fade.  Removal is hard even with eye makeup remover, but I don’t care.  They last all day, and they don’t irritate my contacts, which has started to become a problem for me over the last three years.  I can’t use certain shades from Urban Decay anymore because I’ll turn into a teary-eyed mess.  Perversion is out.  Woodstock is no more.

These are great, too, because I like the amount of time I get to work with them before they set.  I find I get about a minute, which is enough time for me to smudge one eye and move onto the other.

I adore the metallics in this range, which is why I picked up two when I was in Sephora the other day.  They were on sale, and no, I didn’t need them, but the price was just too good to pass up.  Ampoulé is the metallic purple I’ve been dreaming about (Bright purple! Pink micro-glitter!), and Forêt Enchantée is a dark green metallic with micro-glitter in it.  I can’t wait to try them out.

I have no real complaint about these liners in general.  My only minor gripe is that they can be a little difficult to sharpen if you’re using an old and/or dull pencil sharpener.  The product is really soft, and before I bought a new sharpener, my first one would just kind of break off in the sharpener before I could get a decent tip on the pencil.  That’s not something I was happy about given the $23.00 price tag on these puppies.  I replaced my sharpener on a whim one day, and the problem magically went away the next time I used my blue-green liner.  That put them right back in the running for the best liner ever.

I picked these up for $15.00 each, so with tax I spent $32.66 on my last outing.  That brings my yearly total $814.15.  I’m almost out of foundation, so I’m going to have to get some soon.  I’m quite torn between my usual one from Dior and the stick foundation from Hourglass.  Suggestions? Anyone?

–Jackie

Sephora Play September 2017.

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This day has been a complete and utter bust, so allow me to wallow for just a bit before I start talking about this month’s Play box.  More than likely, I mean yesterday was a bust, since I’m probably finishing this up, putting it away, and editing it when I wake up in the morning.  Right now, all I really care for is a beer and doughnuts.  If you don’t want to read this part, skip down a ways.  I promise I won’t be offended.  How can I possibly be offended when I’m sitting above a doughnut shop?

I’m sitting down to type this about seven or eight hours after I planned on typing it, and I’m neither at my house nor my friendly neighborhood coffee shop on my day off work, so let’s talk about how I arrived at a tea shop across from the Time Warner Center on a rainy day instead of sitting at home doing the periodic lip product purge I had planned on undertaking today.

A couple of days ago, my husband had a stitch break in his eye.  You see, he had a cornea transplant about ten years ago, and the stitches are permanent.  Every few years, one will go, and he has to go to an eye surgeon and have it removed.  Sunday he woke up with a red, scratchy eye and immediately knew what was going on.  He had to work yesterday as he was the only chef in the restaurant, so he sat in the office during his down time with his scratchy eye and looked for a surgeon to go to who would take our insurance and would allow him in today and not some time in October (Thanks, Columbia Presbyterian), and ended up at the outpatient eye clinic at Mt. Sinai this morning.  They weren’t taking new patients until February, but they did allow walk-ins.  He got there around 10:00 a.m.  I abandoned my day-off plans to take him a phone charger (sometimes I’m a nice person) around 4:00 p.m. because he still hadn’t seen a doctor, and ended up sitting there until around 6:00 p.m. with him until they finally took him back to dilate his pupils and check everything out.  When he came back out to wait for the eye drops to start working, I said goodbye and went to the Sephora at Union Square.  He sent me a text later to say that it actually wasn’t a blown stitch, and the doctors don’t know if the irritation was just from some extremely dry eyes he had or if it’s an early sign of rejection of the cornea.  They sent him on his way and told him to come back if he has anymore problems.  By this time I was feeling really jittery and kind of manic, and I just really needed to buy things at this point.  I get this way sometimes and ANYTHING looks appealing to me.  Tools for the KitchenAid?  You got it!  Four hundred dollar toaster oven?  Sure!  If Jared really wants a RoboCoupe, he should know by now to ask me when I get the way that I was this afternoon.  (For those unfamiliar with kitchen lingo, a RoboCoupe is a food processor that has enough power to run a boat, and will outlast the apocalypse and will set you back about a grand.  Basically, it’s not really something you need outside of a professional environment, but my husband really wants one because they’re cool.)

Sephora didn’t have the Smashbox holiday set that I want in stock, which, in retrospect, is probably a good thing, but I was annoyed and hungry, and it was windy and rainy, and I just wanted to buy things.  I decided to swing by the Columbus Circle Sephora on my way home because they usually get the new releases pretty early, but first I HAD to eat.  Fried chicken is my go-to when I’m stressed and feeling kind of manic, and that was in the cards today–calories be damned.  I stopped for chicken strips and gravy on the way to the train, and they were over-fried and gross, and they were out of gravy.  Fail on all counts, but I was starving, so I ate it and got on the train.  At least the rain had stopped.

I took an M to the 57 Street and 6 Avenue stop and was greeted by rain when I got aboveground.  The wind had picked up again, too.  Fun fact about living on an island as small as Manhattan that is made of concrete and steel canyons set up in an orderly grid system:  umbrellas are useless most of the time.  The wind manages to somehow come from all directions.  By the time I got to Seventh Avenue, I had given up and put the umbrella away.  At last I made it to my second Sephora only to be told that they didn’t have what I wanted either.  I went to the restrooms in the Time Warner Center and looked in the mirror.  I had never planned on being out this long, and I didn’t have on that much makeup.  My mascara was runny, my hair was frizzy, and I looked like I would just rather be home.  At least with the Sex Pistols shirt I have on today, the look seems like it may have been planned, but, I assure you, it wasn’t.  When I walked back outside, it was still raining, and the wind was having a go at my hair again.

At this point, I gave up on buying makeup.  I forgot all about instant gratification.  If I decide that I still want this thing in the morning, I’ll buy it online.  I walked across the street to the Argo Tea, bought a cup, and planted myself in a chair by the window.  I’m watching it rain as I type this and hoping it stops before I’m done with my tea and have to leave because I am OVER THIS DAY.  I feel exhausted, and I haven’t even really done anything.

I connected to the Internet here and decided to give blogging a try.  Between it and this delicious tea I’m drinking, this is the first time my nerves haven’t been on edge for hours.

This month’s Play box arrived a few days ago, so I’ll give Sephora credit where credit is due:  they did well with the shipping time this month.  I’ve tinkered around with the contents of the box over the last day or two, and I’m going to say I think they did a good job choosing the products this month, as well.  The idea of this box is to get you ready for a makeup revamp with the onset of fall, and the product selection is a decently wide range of things.  Let’s get started:

Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel in Medium:  This is the slightest bit dark for me, but not so much that I can’t overlook the color discrepancy.  It’s designed to tint your brows, make them look fuller, and hold them in place.  I’m wearing it right now, and can attest it has performed quite well in the water-resistant category.  My brows still look as dark as they were when I left the house today, and I’ve been rained on three times.  It doesn’t look quite as natural as my go-to–ABH Brow Wiz, but it still doesn’t look like my brows are painted on.  It doesn’t feel crunchy once it sets, either.  I think I may like this.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Black:  I love Stila’s Stay All Day line of liquid lipsticks, and this liner seems like it has been around forever, so I was kind of excited to see this in my box.  After swatching it, though, I’m a bit less excited.  I prefer actual brushes for my liquid eyeliner application, and this comes with a felt tip applicator.  I still seemed to get good control, though, and I like that this makes it pretty easy to vary the thickness of the line.  I’m not about to call this waterproof, however.  The marks I made on the back of my hand came off with soap and water and very little effort on my part.  Will I use it?  Yeah, it’s black eyeliner, duh.  Will it replace my Kat Von D Tattoo Liner?  Not likely.  When they call that stuff waterproof, they mean it.

DevaCurl Melt Into Moisture Matcha Butter Conditioning Mask:  My initial reaction when I pulled this out of the bag was, “Oh great, another hair mask that I’ll never use.”  When I started reading the instructions, though, I discovered you could do a three-minute quick application of it, so I got really excited.  I used it in the shower last night, and up until I got rained on today, my hair looked great.  It felt really soft and smooth and manageable.  This stuff smells amazing to boot–exactly like matcha tea, which the tea drinker in me enjoys.  I may have found the first hair mask that I actually like.

Laura Mercier Velour Lovers Lip Colour in Happy:  Every subscriber received a lip color this month to help them find a new shade for fall, according to Sephora.  I put this on today before I left the apartment, and I wouldn’t call it a “highly-pigmented” pink.  The pigment is decent enough, but I had to work at it to get the color to build up.  What I do love about it, strangely enough, is the GLITTER in it!  It’s a uniquely fun color, and the glitter particles are fine enough that I don’t feel like I’m walking around town with a sign around my neck that says, “Stare at my lips, EVERYONE.  If I turn my head just so, you can see them from space!”  It feels nice–more like a lip balm than a lipstick.  For my taste, this shade is a little too pink for a something I would wear late into fall, but I’m going to keep it in rotation for the next month or two.  It’s lovely.

Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb:  I love, love, LOVE The Aqua Bomb.  It’s been my go-to for the last year or so.  I always keep a jar on hand.  This cream seems more suited to dry skin than the Aqua Bomb, but I’m curious to see how I will take to it.  It doesn’t absorb quite as readily as the Aqua Bomb but still feels nice.

Stella McCartney Pop:  I know this has been out for a year or two, but I confess that I’ve never smelled it.  I can’t believe I’ve avoided it for so long, since I read the scent notes on this one and fell in love when I spritzed some on last night.  It’s right up my alley.  One of my favorite scents is Fracas by Robert Piguet, and I’ve been obsessed with tuberose since I discovered that one many, many years ago.  It’s one of my favorite scents in a perfume.  It’s almost guaranteed that if a perfume contains tuberose, I will love it.  This one has middle notes of violet, tuberose, and plumeria, and believe me when I say you can smell the tuberose.  It is divine.  The top notes are tomato leaves, violet leaves, and green mandarin, and the base is sandalwood, cedarwood, and musk.  The problem with tuberose is that it can get overwhelming if it isn’t done properly (and one might argue that Fracas is overwhelming), but that’s not the case here.  This is a bright floral, and it is beautiful.  I would consider buying a bottle of this if I didn’t already have so much perfume lying around.  It’s glorious.

Well, there you have it.  There’s the recap of my terrible day and the low-down on this month’s Play box.  I’ve been quite happy with what I’ve received the past few months.  Earlier in the year, I was so unhappy with the offerings that I was considering canceling my subscription.  Now, I’m glad that I stuck it out.  I feel like Sephora has worked the kinks out, and they have consistently been knocking it out of the park.  Even if I end up not liking some of the products they send from month to month, I no longer feel like the choices were phoned in.  If you haven’t already signed up for Play, I would suggest giving it a shot.  Like I just said, they’ve gotten pretty good with their product selections now.

Well, I’m about to venture back into the wilds of Manhattan.  The rains seems to have stopped for now even if the wind hasn’t, so maybe I can make it home without getting rained on for a fourth time, and the urge for beer and doughnuts seems to have passed.  The makeup purge will have to wait for another day.  I think I’m just going to call for pizza delivery and call it a night.  I sort of fell off watching Game of Thrones a couple of years ago, so I have been binge watching the old seasons so I can have some clue what’s been happening before I finally watch the latest season that everyone keeps talking about, and tonight seems like a good time to blaze through another half season.

Goodnight to all, and may your tomorrow be wonderful (and may you not get rained on…three times or even once)!

Total spent at Sephora this year: $781.49

–Jackie

Edit:  It’s the next day, and I’ve had time to think about the Smashbox gift set that I trooped all over town in the rain yesterday to acquire.  If I buy it, and that is an IF now that I’ve had time to cool off, I’m going to do an eyeshadow declutter.  There’s no reason for me to buy more when I have a dozen Z-palettes around here full of shadows I don’t use.  There will be a blog post to accompany this, and maybe a (gasp) video of me looking panicked that I’m forcing myself to get rid of pieces of my security blanket and making swatches and trying to justify keeping things I never use.  This is a big step for me.  Lipsticks and liners and other things I can toss without much thought to it, but shadows are harder than hard for me to get rid of.  They really are like pieces of a colorful security blanket that has taken a ton of time and thousands of dollars to stitch together. Anyway, that’s for another time, but considering the Smashbox set is a holiday item, I had best make a decision soon.  Where are my friends?  They could be getting a ton of unused makeup quite soon.

Sephora Play All-Star Edition.

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Allow me to briefly recap the last week and a half of my life.  At the start of things I was super pumped because I ran nine full miles.  I was so stoked because I agreed to run a half marathon in a little over a month, and for the first time, I felt like I might actually be able to complete said task.  So, anyway, that was on a Thursday.  The next day I woke up with a monster of a sore throat that just wouldn’t go away.  Then came the fever, and I’ve been under the weather ever since.  I’m stubborn by my very nature, so I decided to still try running through most of this.  I resigned myself to give it up until I got better when, last Wednesday, I went out and couldn’t even go three miles without stopping to hack up my lungs.

Jared let me buy this after that failed run because he knows I’m a sucker for packaging (Hello, iridescent bag!), and he hoped it would make me feel a little better about being sick.  He was correct about both of those things.  This was a $20.00 box that Sephora offered to showcase some of their more high-end brands.  I was quite happy when it arrived in the mail, so I ripped open the box and have been playing around with it for the last few days.  I had already tried half of the items in there, but there was nothing in it that I wouldn’t mind receiving again (save for one, but we’ll get to that).

Here’s a play-by-play of the contents:

Diorshow Mascara in Black:  This stuff has been in rotation in my makeup stash for years, and for good reason–it’s really good.  The brush is massive, and it builds volume like few other mascaras I’ve tried.  You can apply quite a few layers before you start to get the spider-lash look, and I can get pretty good length from this.  The wear time will get me through most of the day, and when it finally does start to smudge, it doesn’t do it badly.  I don’t end up looking like a raccoon, but it does look like I spent most of a long night partying with a rock band–a look I don’t happen to mind.  I don’t buy it much anymore, since I tend to favor travel size mascaras these days, and this stuff is expensive if I’m just going to throw half the tube away at the end of six months (and I am madly in love with Blinc’s mascara at this point in time).  I love that I have a pint-size tube of this around the house again.

Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Creme:  I admit that I’m not familiar with this stuff, so, to me, at least, it just seems like another facial moisturizer, which I’m not complaining about.  It seems light enough, and doesn’t feel greasy, so I’ll certainly use it.  It doesn’t have much of a smell, but that could also just be because my nose is still super stuffy, and I’m not one to rely on if you want to know about smells right about now.  My favorite moisturizer is the Aqua Bomb from Belief, and given the price tag on a full-size of this, and my total devotion to Belief, there’s not much of a chance I could be swayed into buying this in the future.  I see similarities between the two moisturizers, specifically, they both feel light and absorb quickly, but I’ll have to use the Amore Pacific longer to form a better opinion on that.

Tom Ford Lip Color in Indian Rose:  I’m not one to buy Tom Ford lipsticks.  I did one time, brought it home, and took it back two days later without ever opening it.  Tom Ford lipstick is $54.00, and, yes, they are amazing.  Seriously, genuinely, amazing.  They’re creamy and pigmented.  They don’t dry out my lips.  The way they glide across my lips as I put them on is hard to describe, and I’ve not found another lipstick that quite performs the same.  They almost live up to the hype.  I’m not going to buy it because I have NEVER found a lipstick that is honestly worth that much money.  My go-to brands are (in order) Bite Amuse Bouche lipsticks, Marc Jacobs Lip Creme, and Urban Decay Vice lipsticks.  Yes, the Tom Ford ones are good, but if price is taken into account, they are not twice as good as the Bite or the Marc Jacobs ones.  For that reason I just won’t spend my money on them.  Now, if someone wants to give me a Tom Ford lipstick, great!  Indian Rose is a lovely, rosy, pinky neutral color that I’m going to use the hell out of until it is gone.  Then I’m going to go back to my Amuse Bouche lipsticks.  There’s nothing that could persuade me to pony up for a full-size of this.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence:  I’ve never quite understood how essences work, so I’ve never bought one, so I’m happy to finally have one in my possession, and this one seems to have a cult-like following.  I’m not sure if that’s because it actually works or because it’s SO EXPENSIVE that your mind is willing it to work.  This touts itself as a miracle skin cure-all.  It’s good for dullness.  It’s good for uneven skin tone.  It’s good for wrinkles.  It’s supposed to do it all.  Their miracle ingredient is Pitera–a by-product of a special kind of fermented yeast.  I’m actually really excited to try this out.  If it is the miracle worker they claim, I’ll cheerfully pay for this and get rid of most of the rest of my skin care routine, but, needless to say, I’m not about to get my hopes up.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer:  I’ve tried this before, and the first few times I used it I hated it.  I hated the way it slipped over my skin, and I thought it didn’t do much to make my makeup last longer.  The more I played around with it, though, the more I realized that it was the user who had the problem and not the product.  This is actually a pretty good primer.  I still prefer the Smashbox Photo Finish primer and the Ambient Lighting Primer from Hourglass to this one, but I’ll definitely use it.  It doesn’t extend the life of my foundation like the Smashbox one, but I can get eight hours or so of wear time with this one on.  It never caused breakouts on my face, and I’ve gotten used to the feel of it on my face, so I don’t mind it.  I don’t know that it would ever replace my favorite primers, but I’m not going to throw it away.

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb:  I’ve gone over this before.  I love the way this smells in the bottle, but it is terrible on my skin.  I sort of hate that Sephora loves it so much since I have so many samples of it lying around.  This one is a generous size, and so I’m just going to pass it on to a lady that I work with.  She’s a sweetheart and who doesn’t usually treat herself, and I hope it works out for her.

In addition to the Play box, I got the following:

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Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Verbena:  This was a freebie with purchase, and, as I said earlier, I love these lipsticks, so I always get more when I can even though I probably own half the line.  They’re just so good.  Super creamy, moisturizing and pigmented–they’re lovely.  Verbena is described as a rose terracotta.  It’s a rosy neutral with a bit of a brown undertone to it.  I’m pretty sure I have a full-size of this around the house somewhere and am now inspired to use it again. (Side note:  If that sentence isn’t an indication that I need to stop buying makeup, I don’t know what it.  I, literally, have no idea what is in my collection anymore.)

Sephora Blue Clay Mask:  Again with the packaging!  I love masks, and this was too cute to pass up.  I used it last night and it did make my skin feel very smooth and moisturized, and based on how much I used last night, I’m going to get more than four uses out of the package.

This purchase brings my yearly Sephora total to $770.60.

–Jackie