A Skincare Affair with Fresh, Caudalie and Sunday Riley

Let’s take a step back into 2008. President Barak Obama was making his way into office, Beyoncé released the epic feminist anthem, “If I Were a Boy,” and I was getting my first pimple. Dun. Dun. Dun.

At 13 years old, you can imagine my first pimple seeming like the end of the world. How would that boy in my class like me with a zit the size of Texas on my forehead?

I’m happy to say that not only have my priorities changed, but so has the condition of my skin. I’ve, of course, had my ups and downs through my skin journey. I’m grateful for all my humps in the road because it forced me to learn more about skincare.

With my finicky skin, I’ve developed a fascination with ingredients and how they meet different skin concerns. Also, as an avid reader I’ve always been a sucker for a good story. That’s why my visit to the Sephora Tysons Corner Mall was so special.

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I was invited to sit in and join reps from Fresh Beauty, Caudalie and Sunday Riley for an in-store pampering event. This included a custom mini-service, which included a double cleanse from one brand, mask from a second and a treatment and moisturizer from the last. I also got the chance to have story times with all of the reps from each of the brands. If it’s not obvious, I immediately jumped at the chance.

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I began my pampering session with Fresh from Sales and Education Coordinator for Fresh, Laura Arzate. Fresh is an amazing brand that uses a lot of natural ingredients, like seaberry oil, sugar, sake and more! Laura was incredibly sweet and started me out by testing my skin to really gauge my skin type. To my surprise, she marked my skin as “normal/dry.” I always thought I was just oily!

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The story of the brand is pretty amazing. It all started in their OG apothecary store in Boston, “Nuts about Beauty,” where they created and sold a number of natural beauty products, including their famous oval soap. Also, with some research, I found that the founders, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg, were the first to use sugar as an exfoliant! (Now we see sugar as an exfoliant for our face, lips and skin! Talk about a revolutionary innovation!) They’ve always been very passionate about skincare rituals, which shows with their lines that they’ve come out with to today. One bar of soap turned into some of my favorite products, like the Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask, Sugar Rosé Tinted Lip Treatment and more. This year, Fresh is celebrating 25 years of innovation.

We went into the double cleanse, where she started off with the Seaberry Skin Nutrition Cleansing Oil. She explained that she wanted to get my skin clean, without stripping my natural oils, which is why this was perfect. It really helped to cleanse my face and give me some (much needed!) hydration.

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Then she finished cleansing with the Soy Face Cleanser. (Did you know that Soy Skincare was first introduced in 1999?) Soy is rich with anti-oxidants, which are said to soften skin while maintaining elasticity. It’s also good for sensitive skin because it contains cucumber and rosewater, which are calming and soothing ingredients for your skin. I’m interested in trying this one out some more because I had a weird reaction several years ago when I first tried it. When we tried it this time around, I didn’t see any breakouts or irritation, so that’s a definite plus!

Caudalie

I scooted over to Caudalie, where we went into exfoliating my skin. I learned more about the brand from the rep, Amy Schaeffer! The story of Caudalie begins in France with a couple. What you would be surprised to learn is their products are very eco-friendly. You won’t find any preservatives or animal by-products. I even got to learn what the deal was with the grapes. Apparently in 1993, they met with Professor Joseph Vercauteren, who shared his amazing discovery. A special nutrient, called phenolic compounds, that were extracted from grape seeds, which are significantly more effective than Vitamin E. (In case you don’t know, Vitamin E is great for reducing wrinkles, nourishes, lightens dark marks and much more!)

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Over at Caudalie, we went into their Instant Detox Mask, which I have to say, I really love. It contains clay, but I didn’t get that tight, drying feeling that I’ve experienced with others. This has to do with the grape seed in it! My skin felt very soft when we got it all rinsed off. (I’m definitely going to purchase this for myself soon!)

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We finished off with a couple spurts of the famous Beauty Elixir, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. (Here’s where you can get the elixir with the special 20th anniversary packaging.) If you haven’t tried it yet, I’m going to advise you to immediately go into your nearest Sephora and try it out. I immediately fell in love with the toning spray because of its minty scent.

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After that, I finished off at Sunday Riley for some treatment and (Apparently much needed!) hydration! I got to learn about Sunday herself and her story when building her brand from Jennifer Hatton. (AKA the girl with perfect skin.) I thought it was so interesting to learn about how involved Sunday was with all creating all the products in her line. Sunday isn’t only the CEO of her brand, but she’s the formulator of her products!   Talk about total #BossBabe.

(Also, they just released the Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing Eye Contour Cream on Sephora.com for Rouge members ONLY, so check it out while you have the chance!)

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During story time, Jen treated my skin with some classic products. We started with the Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Tone. She used this specifically for me because I did explain that I tend to get pretty oily in my t-zone. It transforms from a green gel into a very thin and lightweight water oner that is said to help with tightening pores, clarify and remove oils. Looking into the ingredients, I understand how it’s going to do all of that. It contains Bentonite Clay, which mattifies, while the green tea and marshmallow soothes the skin. (Yeah, marshmallow!) I did like how lightweight it was so that was a definite plus!

Because I still have some issues with breakouts and texture here and there, went in with the U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil. I do advise you to be careful with this because though it’s a phenomenal product, it does contain Salicylic Acid, which, in some cases can cause dryness and peeling, especially if you overuse it. In case you want to try it out anyways, get a sample from Sephora and test it on a small part of your neck for a couple days. This should give you a better idea of if you’re sensitive to it!

We also went into the C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum with is basically the Beyoncé of Vitamin C’s. (I refuse to apologize for all my Beyoncé references.) This is perfect for lightening your dark marks and brightening your overall complexion. When she first applied it to my skin, I immediately smelled oranges, which I’m a big fan of. I’m also a fan of the glow that I got. I’m definitely interested in testing this out some more in the future!

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Last, but not least, we went into the Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream. It’s perfect for brightening (I sense a trend!) your complexion, which we could all use during this crazy Virginia weather. (I’m convinced Mother Nature just said screw fall and skipped right into winter.) It’s a thin consistency and absorbs very nicely into the skin and keeps you hydrated. I left Sephora extremely hydrated!

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All in all, I had a fantastic time during the Skincare Affair at Sephora Tysons Corner and would totally jump at the chance to go again. That’s why you’ll definitely see me on Saturday, December 9 during the Beauty Circuit with Hourglass, Fresh and Living Proof in Sephora Montgomery Mall! Will I be seeing you there?

Have you all tried out any of these products? I’d love to get your thoughts on them! Let me know in the comments!

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Monthly Favorites – June 2017

Some beauty favorites from the month of June, along with some tricks to using them.

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The fact that we’re already in July is absolutely crazy to me. I feel like we were just starting the new year, but alas that is not the case. With that being said, the start of a new month means a new monthly favorites!

Last month, it may come as a shock to everyone, but I surprisingly didn’t wear makeup for most of the month. For most of June, I opted for a bit of concealer and highlighter. For that, I used my trusty NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in “Caramel” as well as the Wet ‘n Wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder in “Precious Petals.”

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Hair

I don’t normally talk about hair because I am absolutely terrible at styling and taking care of my hair. However, I went out of my comfort zone and decided to test out some new products and completely fell in love with the EDEN Coconut Shea shampoo and the Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Soft Waves Sea Salt Spray. I found that the shampoo really made a difference in how smooth my hair was, which I was extremely surprised about.

I’ve also been a fan of really textured waves recently, but never really knew how to achieve it. Being the adventurous person I was, I knew I had to find a way to do it. I decided to curl my hair and then I went in with the spray, but not it the way you would think. Instead of spraying it in my hair directly, I went ahead and sprayed it in my hands and separated the curls by rubbing them in between my hands. I immediately got the look that I was hoping to achieve.

If you’re looking to achieve that Instagram-worthy beach hair, I would highly suggest this method.

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Skin

I was so excited to be part of the Splash Vox Box from Influenster. Inside, I received complimentary products, one being the Exfoliating Mud Mask from Tree Hut. I’d never used any products from Tree Hut, so I was excited to try it out. So far, my skin has really been loving this.

It contains charcoal, which you guys know I love because it helps draw out impurities from your skin also helps keep oils at bay. Also the fact that it’s a mud mask means it’s also perfect for those of you with oily skin. Mud helps suck up the oils from your skin, which I’m always looking for, considering I have extremely oily skin.

The last thing I love about this are the small exfoliants that get that layer of dead skin off. If you have sensitive skin, I wouldn’t suggest using this or possibly using this only once a week or every other week because it could irritate your skin.

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Face

When I did go full-faced glam, I opted for my trusty Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer and the NYX Total Control Drop Foundation for my base.

If you buy one of these, I would highly suggest the NYX Foundation because it’s only $14 and it’s going to last you a long time because a little goes a long way. I find that with four drops, I get a fairly nice amount of coverage. I just suggest using this with a brush because a lot of product will be sucked up by a beauty sponge.

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Lips

I have perpetually dry lips, so when I apply something on my lips, it has to be something moisturizing or I’ll end up taking it off in an hour. I found that I’ve really been loving the Kopari Coconut Lip Love as a lip balm. It’s been super moisturizing and I love the fact that it smells like coconuts. Also, I’ve been loving the Revlon Ultra HD Matte LipColor in “Seduction.” Thought it’s matte, I don’t find that it dries my lips out, which I love.

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Eyes

When I did wear eye makeup, I gravitated towards the Huda Beauty Textured Eyeshadow Palette – Rose Gold Edition. There’s not much I can say about this other than the fact that the shades blend out beautifully and they all are extremely pigmented. When you are using the textured shades at the top of the palette, I would suggest using your fingers because you’ll get the best payoff.

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Brows

I have been talking about these two products for so long, but only because I am so truly in love with this combination. The ColourPop Brow Pencil in “Black ‘n Brown” and the Benefit Gimme Brow in “#3” have been my favorite brow combination for quite a while now. The ColourPop pencil is so nice and easy to use because it’s not too thick and it’s easy to get thin, hair-like strokes. The Benefit Gimme Brow helps define the hairs I already have, making everything look more natural.

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Lashes

Lastly, my mascara is the one thing that I found I’ve changed up a lot. Recently, Ive been loving the Maybeline The Falsies Push Up Angel mascara and the L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise mascara. I’ve been loving combining the two for long, voluminous lashes.

If you like the voluminous mascara you are currently using, but you’re looking for more length, try layering a lengthening mascara over it. If you’re looking for the opposite, then vice versa. Don’t be afraid to layer it up!

With all of that being said, that is everything that I’ve been loving in the month of June. Please let me know if you’ve tried any of these and let me know what you were loving last month.


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Purifying Black Mask Review

My candid thoughts on the Soo Ae Purifying Black Charcoal Mask.

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Last week, while going through some things I got at BeautyCon NYC, I decided to try out a face mask from Soo Ae. The particular one that I tried out was the Purifying Black Charcoal Mask. I was initially drawn to it because  it contains charcoal, which does wonders for purifying and removing toxins from your skin.

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Other than the fact that this mask made me look like an old-school burglar, I think it did everything that it said it would. It gave me a lot of hydration, but since I’m oily, it was a bit too glowy for me. It did draw out some of the impurities in my skin as well. I noticed some bumps on my cheeks the next morning, but I did expect that because of the charcoal.

If you have sensitive skin, I wouldn’t recommend this only due to the fact that I got a pretty intense tingling sensation while I put this on.. then again, I did leave it on for a bit longer than the recommended 15-20 minutes. Afterwards, I sprayed some of my Mario Badescu Facial Spray and my skin felt a bit better.

Overall, it’s not a bad mask, but personally, I don’t think I’m going to use this again, mainly due to the fact that it’s not intended for those with oily skin.  It’s definitely more geared towards those of you with dry skin concerns.

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Another mask that I can definitely recommend is the Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Cotton Sheet Mask. It’s soothing and doesn’t leave me too gloomy. So if you’re looking for something on the other spectrum of things, I’d highly recommend that.

Origins Influenster VoxBox

Thoughts on some Origins products.

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Although people tell me time and time again to take it easy with my skincare, I’m very open to testing out new products. (Don’t do this. You’re skin will hate you!) With that being said, I was very excited to learn that I had been entered to receive the newest Influenster Originis VoxBox.

I was excited to receive this because Origins has products that are not tested on animals, and use natural ingredients that are supposed to do wonders for your skin. Inside, I found five sample skincare products. These included two moisturizers, (day and night) a face wash, mask, as well as an eye cream. The one thing I was disappointed about was the fast that we didn’t get an exfoliant.
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I’ll begin by saying that the stand out product was without a doubt the Origins Purifying Charcoal Mask. I’ve heard some people rave about this and I was excited to try it out, especially being that it’s a charcoal-based mask. It’s a typical mask that you let sit for 15 minutes then rinse off. (Sorry peel lovers!) I use this once a week, at night and find that my skin is much softer the next morning. If you have congested pores, I would look into this because charcoal works well to detoxify your pores and clear out the bacteria. I would definitely purchase a full size of this.
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The Checks and Balances Frothy face wash was pretty interesting. It has a bit of a minty, refreshing scent, but the thing that I really like about this is the fact that it does give me a nice lather. This may be a mental thing, but when soaps and face washes foam up, I feel as though I’m getting a deeper cleanse. I found that I have do go in twice to wash off my makeup, but I don’t have a problem with this, due to the fact that this wasn’t advertised as a makeup remover.
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The GinZing Energy boosting moisturizer is something that I’m not too sure how I feel about. Does it keep me moisturized throughout the day? Yes. Is it energy boosting? The smell definitely wakes me me. This has a very poignant citrus scent, which isn’t something I would recommend for those of you with sensitive skin. When looking through some reviews, I saw that people have explained that this caused them to break out. Fortunately, it did not happen to me, but I just wanted to make sure you all are aware of that. I did like the consistency of this, but I think I will probably back to my Belif Aqua Bomb.
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Sticking to moisturizers, let’s discuss the High-Potency Night-A-Mins Mineral enriched renewal cream. Much like the GinZing energy boosting moisturizer, this has a citrus scent, which concerns me for those that have sensitive skin. This is a thicker cream that contains Vitamin C and E, which is great for brightening your skin. Unfortunately, I’m not the biggest fan of this. Though this is oil-free, I found that my skin did produce a lot of oils throughout the night with this. I generally produce more oils while I sleep, so I’m going to continue to monitor this and just ensure that I’m not just being extremely picky when it comes to this.
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The last thing is the GinZing Refreshing eye cream. Like the moisturizers, this also has citrus scent, so those of you with sensitive skin: proceed with caution. I’ve used this every night for the past two weeks and I haven’t noticed any drastic changes. I’ll be honest and say that I don’t have really bad dark circles, but they are there and I haven’t noticed a lightening effect on it. As for depuffing, I’m probably not the best to discuss this. I have hereditary bags under my eyes, so it’s hard for me to really differentiate puffiness and bags. Overall, I’m going to continue to use this because it does have some good ingredients that I would like to keep in my skincare regimen. Also those of you with deeper skin tones, this is not a clear cream. It does give me a bit of a white cast, looking a bit ashy, so if you do purchase this, I would suggest you keep this in your nightly routine.
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Overall, I’m very grateful for everything I received in the box. I even was invited to an in-store event! Thank you so much Influenster and Origins for sending me this box. I’m definitely going to look into buying full sizes of the charcoal mask and the frothy face wash.
Please let me know your thoughts on Origins and these products. I’d love to get your thoughts on it! Also let me know if you’d want me to dedicate a blog post exclusively to Influenster on what it is and how to use it. I’d love to help you guys score free makeup.

 

April 2017 Favorites

A new month calls for a new monthly favorites and I have a few things that I’ve really been loving.

I can’t believe how fast the days are flying by. We’re already in May! (Cue Justin Timberlake.)

A new month calls for a new monthly favorites and I have a few things that I’ve really been loving.
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In April, I found myself reaching for the Tarte Tartelette in Bloom palette. It’s raved about for a reason. This classic has a variety of colors that are pigmented, easy to blend and smell like chocolate. What more can you ask for?
Though I am late to the game on this primer, I have to say I’m very excited about this discovery. Last month, I picked up the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer and I haven’t put it down ever since. I was genuinely surprised at how much I really love this. I didn’t realize that this was highly rated by people with oily skin when I picked this up. It’s not necessarily going to leave you matte, but it will leave you with a smooth base for your foundation.
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Another eyeshadow palette I’ve been using has been the Too Faced Sweet Peach palette. I’ve captured a lot of pictures of this on my Instagram page, but it’s only because I really do enjoy it. I find that the colors are fairly easy to blend and you can get many uses out of this single palette from everyday to bold looks. The only downside is the smell. Sometimes it’s a bit too potent, making me want to forgo it, but once it’s on the lids, you won’t smell it throughout the day. I struggle to support this palette, especially with all of the controversy going around Too Faced currently, but I have to admit that I did use this palette quite a bit in the month of April.
Back on a lighter note, the Total Control Drop Foundation by NYX Cosmetics. I’ve talked about this on the blog before so I won’t go too in-depth about it. I can layer it up and I don’t find that it gets cakey once I do. I don’t find that I produce more oils throughout the day with this, which is a big plus!
The next product is actually a repurchase. This is the Black N’ Brown Brow Pencil from ColourPop. I ran out of this pencil and I thought I could use something else in its place, but I found myself really missing this pencil and I immediately reordered it once I realized. It’s not too creamy, nor is it too stiff. I find that It’s the perfect size for me to get thin, precise strokes for my brows.
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I’ve briefly touched on the Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Kit here on the blog. I’ve really been loving this. A lot of contour shades for deeper skin come across red on my complexion, which is great for bronzing, but not ideal for contouring. This gives me the best of both worlds and I like to mix the two deeper colors to give me an all over bronze.
Another thing I’ve been loving has been the Wet N’ Wild Megaglo Highlighting Powder in “Precious Petals.” I’m surprised that I don’t hear people raving more about this. It’s a fantastic formula that is very smooth to the touch and you can build it up to an intense glow. (Which is what I normally do.)
The last thing is something that I don’t talk about very often, which is the E.L.F. 19 Piece Brush Set. E.L.F. has really stepped up their game and it really shows with these brushes. They’re extremely soft and apply my makeup with them has been a breeze. I haven’t experienced any shedding since I was given them on Christmas. Though they’re a little pricier for E.L.F., it’s much more affordable than some other brush sets on the market. I highly suggest these.
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That was quite the list! I’m really loving all these products, but I’m excited to try out some new ones in the month of May. Please let me know some of your favorites so I can test them out! I look forward to hearing them!

NYX Total Control Drop Foundation

The newest edition to the Beauties Beholder foundation collection.

I’m usually one to splurge on foundations, so when I come across a good one under $20, I know I have to share it with the world. The NYX Total Coverage Drop Coverage Foundation is only $14 and I can say truthfully that I get a whole lot of bang for my buck. 


I would say that this is a medium-to-full coverage foundation. The drops are heavily concentrated with pigment, allowing you to build up to a full coverage. I found that I don’t get cakey when I try to build up the foundation, which is definitely a major plus. I have some texture in my skin, so the last thing I want is for my foundation to cake up, bring more attention to those areas.

Do note that I have oily/combination skin, so if you’re dry, we may have a difference in opinion. I’m not sure how it stands up to dry patches.

It comes in a variety of shades. 24 to be exact! So there’s a good chance that you’ll find, if not your perfect shade, something pretty close to it. 


How to Use: I prime my skin, using either the Make Up For Ever Step 1 Mattifying Base or the Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer. Which I’ve been loving at the moment.

I add a couple of drops to dense blending brush and use a combination of patting and circular motions to work it into the skin. I don’t suggest using a BeautyBlender for this, due to the fact that this foundation is extremely thin. You’ll find that BeautyBlender will suck up a lot of product. Stick to something like a kabuki brush or something similar.

I, then, go ahead and set it with my trusty Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder in “Translucent.” After that is done, I’m good to go, and ready to take on the day! I found that the foundation stays put for several hours on end, without me having to touch up. So if you’re out and about for hours on end, like me, you’ll really love the staying power of this!


Have you tried the foundation yet? If so, I’d love to get your thoughts, especially if you have dryer skin. I’d love to learn how it works on different skin types. 

Product Empties

I was going through my makeup stash and found that I had finished a fair share of products. I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts on these products and hopefully get your thoughts on these items.

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First, lest talk about the Boscia Detoxifying Black Cleanser. This is actually the second bottle that I’ve purchased, so that should tell you a lot about my thoughts on this. I talked about this in my Best of 2016 post, so I won’t go too in-depth. However, I will say that this is one of my favorite cleansers that I have ever tried.  And trust me when I say that I’ve used my fair share.  I really enjoy the warming sensation that you get when you work this into your skin. That along with the active charcoal ingredients make my really feel like that I’m getting rid of all the toxins in my skin. If you’re on the hunt for a detoxifying cleanser, I would highly recommend you to get a sample of this from Sephora.

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Next, we have the Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Cleanser Gel. Much like the Boscia cleanser, this contains active charcoal which is great for getting impurities out of your skin. The only thing different is it does not have the warming effect as the Boscia cleanser, but it still foams up into a nice lather, making me feel like I’m getting a nice cleanse going. I’m a big fan of incorporating charcoal into my skin routine because I really feel that it helps to get all the toxins out, as I explained previously.

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Another empty product is the Smashbox Brow Tech Matte Pencil in “Dark Brown.” I prefer brow pencils that twist up like this, rather than crayons because I feel like I waste less product, being that I don’t have to continuously sharpen it. I enjoyed this pencil, but I have to admit that it’s not my favorite. If you need something to compare it to, it’s similar to the Anastasia Brow Wiz, but this is much more stiff. I found this helpful when trying to get those really precise, hair-like strokes. At the beginning, I really enjoyed this and would have probably said that this was my favorite brow pencil on the market, but towards the end it crumbled up on me as I went to fill in my brows. I may give this another try, but as of right now, I’m not going to repurchase it.

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The next product is the cult favorite, Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in “Caramel.” This has been raved about on nearly every blogger’s page so I’m going to keep this short. This is a great, buildable medium-to-full coverage concealer. You definitely need to set this, or you’re going to crease up. It sits nicely on the skin and I love it so much that I have already repurchased a backup.

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This product is technically not empty, but I thought I should include it because I have such a small amount left. This is the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick in “Warm Almond.” I also touched on this in my Best of 2016 post. I bought this back in September and I completely fell in love. It’s such a beautiful foundation. It gives off a nice, natural finish and it is a medium-to-full coverage. The finish leads me to believe that it would be great for both dry and oily skin. It’s perfect for both everyday and glam makeup. I strongly suggest that you go out and purchase this foundation because it has honestly changed my life.

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I know a couple of people that don’t really like this, but I’m a big fan of the Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara in “Deep Brown.” I found that this keeps my brow hairs in place for the whole day and I don’t have to worry about them going AWOL. Albeit, the brush can be a bit difficult to work with, but once you get the hang of it, you love it! I use it both alone to amp up my brows on my “no makeup” days or over a brow pencil on days I opt for heavier makeup.

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I have another skincare item. This is the Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask. I snagged a sample of this product from another blogger and I instantly fell in love with it, which breaks my heart, considering the full-sized version is $92. After I use this, I find that my skin looks brighter, smoother and all-around healthier. I used this at night and in the morning, I saw that my breakouts have visibly reduced in size. It has a tingling sensation, so I wouldn’t recommend this for  those of you that have sensitive skin, being that it may irritate your skin, but if your skin isn’t really sensitive, you will love this.

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The last thing I found was the LUSH Ultrabland Facial Cleanser. Let me tell you that this completely revived my winter skin. I had an issue a couple months back where my skin reacted poorly with another product that I was testing. My skin was completely dried out and flaky and being that I typically have oily/combination skin, I had no idea what to do. I walked into my local LUSH and they referred me to this. Within a week, my skin was restored. It’s perfect for using as a daily cleanser, removing makeup and moisturizing your skin. I highly recommend this.

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For the most part, I’ve really been enjoying the products that I’ve ran out of and I’m going to be repurchasing most of them. The only product that I’m kind of iffy about is the Smashbox eyebrow pencil.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these products or learn about some of the products you’ve been trying out. Let me know what products I should try out because I’d love to test out new items!