PERKing up at Sephora

Want softer, brighter skin? You may want to take advantage of the Sephora PERK facial.

A few months back, I decided to take advantage of the PERK Hydrating Facial at Sephora in Tyson’s Corner. Let me tell you, it was a fantastic experience, especially for it being my first facial ever.

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What it is

In case you haven’t heard about it, Sephora has recently started offering 30-minute facials in select stores. While hydrating your skin, the facial will offer exfoliation and nourishment for your skin. It’s complimentary with a $75 purchase, which makes it a great opportunity to stock up on your skincare. You’re able to go do a walk-in or sign up online, which is super-convenient for anytime your skin needs a “perk.

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My Experience

Before getting into it, a Sephora consultant will measure hydration levels with what they call a “Moisture Meter.” Though I didn’t snap a picture of my exact number, I was informed that I had dehydrated skin. So, while I was oily, my skin was needing some moisture. Good thing I was getting a hydra facial.

To begin, my favorite skincare goddess, Laura Arzate, cleansed my skin. She used the Fresh Soy Face Cleanser – great for all skin types, as it doesn’t strip the skin of moisture, but leaves your skin feeling soft. For lack of a better word, it left me feeling – fresh. I have to be honest, at first, I wasn’t sure about how I felt about it, but eventually, I fell in love with it and it’s become a household favorite. My mom started to use it and she loves it!

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Then it was time for the actual treatment. The machine uses two steps to refresh your skin. First, the Sephora consultant will go in the Nourishing Solution. While nourishing the skin, the pen-shaped tool acts like a vacuum and sucks the impurities from your skin. As scary as that may sound, it’s not painful whatsoever. In fact, there are three different intensities that you can choose from. I decided to stick with the lowest setting as it was my first facial.

Next, we went in with the “Eye Replenishing Serum.” The serum offers hydrating nutrients that not only plumps the skin but moisturizes and replenishes the skin. It runs over your entire face, including your lips, and feels quite nice.

Final Thoughts

No matter how well you take care of your skin or how many scary movies you watch, nothing will prepare you to see what impurities are removed from your skin. After you complete your facial, the consultant will allow you to take a look at your “waste” and it may be a little shocking. Being able to actually see what comes out of your skin, while being completely gross, is very satisfying.

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Overall, I noticed a visible difference in my skin after the treatment was complete. My skin felt and looked fantastic afterward. It was much brighter and smoother than what I’ve ever accomplished by myself at home.

If you need to restock, it’s definitely worth it to take advantage of the Sephora PERK Hydrating Facial. You’ll be able to leave with bright, smooth skin and a bag of your favorite goodies.

A Date with Caudalie, Tatcha and Fresh

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by this absurd winter weather. *Knocks over my Fenty foundation as I raise both hands.* Yeah. Me too.

I’m not sure where you live, but I’ll give you a brief rundown on Virginia weather. Last week it was snowing one day then nearly 70 degrees the next. And no. I am not exaggerating.

So, with all of this finicky weather, my skin has been having a complete meltdown. That’s why I was so grateful to be invited by the lovely Laura to go visit the Sephora in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City for another skincare event. This time featuring Caudalie, Fresh and Tatcha.

My first stop was with Fresh Beauty, where I got to try out two masks. The first was the Lotus Youth Preserve Rescue Mask, which I might pick up later. It contains lotus seeds, seaweed flakes and red algae. I noticed that it gave my face a beautiful radiance, without a greasy feeling. The best thing–it only takes 5 minutes to work its magic.

The second mask we used was one of my favorites–the Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask. This was another hydrating mask because my skin has been feeling pretty dry recently. The “cool” thing about this mask is the fact that it has a cooling effect to it. (I have to admit that it freaked me out the first time I used it.) I found that I noticed clearer skin after using it as well. That was the case this time around as well!

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Picture taken by Laura Arzate

Next, I got pampered by the wonderful Amanda Lefaive from Tatcha, who taught me all about the brand. Did you know that all the products were inspired by ancient Japanese beauty rituals of geishas? You should know that geishas take much time to maintain the quality of their skin.

They have six steps to achieving their youthful glowing skin. These include purifying, polishing, brightening, nourishing, blotting and drinking Sake. The latter of which is optional, which means, I’ll be grabbing my glass of wine.

This heavily inspired products like the Rice Enzyme Powder. It’s an innovative powder product is actually a cleanser. It’s a powder that is activated by water. When you work it into your skin, it transforms into a beautiful lather that gently exfoliates your skin. After rinsing off, I felt clean and hydrated.

For moisturizing and treatment, I got to sit with the lovely Amy Schaeffer at Caudalie. Before starting, she had me give a brief rundown on some of my skin concerns. After going on and on about how shocked I was to learn that I had combination skin with some dry patches, she was able to give me some recommendations.

We started with the Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum. It was a perfect choice for my skin. While it contains hydrating ingredients like, Hyaluronic Acid and grape water, I didn’t feel like it left a greasy layer over my skin. My skin just felt plump and hydrated.

Next, we hydrated with the Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet. This is another interesting product from Caudalie. It starts off as a gel and as you work it into your skin, it melts almost into water. The Vinosource line is really amazing because it all really sinks into your skin, without leaving you feel greasy or sticky.

We wrapped everything up with the Premier Cru Eye Cream, which she described as the “crème de la crème” of eye creams. She wasn’t lying. I have dark circles under my eyes, both hereditary and from lack of sleep. When we applied the cream,  I noticed that everything looked a bit brighter. I’ve been using it ever since.

What I love so much about these events is the fact that each of the reps of each brand are so knowledgable about their products. It’s so important to make sure you understand the products and ingredients you’re putting into your skin, which is why these events are so important. I even had some good friends of mine join in on the fun and they said they felt the same.

If you want to join Laura for a Skin Soirée, a little birdie told me she’ll be in Short Pump this Saturday, January 27th.

What are your thoughts on the Skin Soirées? What about your favorite products from these brands? Let me know in the comments!

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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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Products That’ll Never Get Old

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The month of August has been extremely hectic. With a new freelance writer position at Alloy.com and running back and forth between Richmond and NoVa, it’s been a hectic month. With bouncing around from jobs and interviews, I found that I’ve gravitated towards a couple of products for a classic go-to look. I’m sure I’m not the only when I say that I have my fair share of staple products that never get old.

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Let’s start with the base. The Laura Mercier Silk Crème Moisturizing Photo Edition Foundation has a beautiful finish that leaves my skin looking quite natural, while covering up my imperfections. I was a bit thrown off by the word moisturizing, but I promise it doesn’t leave you looking like an oil-slick.

How to Use:

Before you even think about applying it, make sure you shake the bottle up well to properly It’s a medium-to-full, buildable foundation that is best used with a brush. I wouldn’t suggest using a beauty sponge because it’s a fairly runny foundation, meaning it’ll easily be sucked into your sponge. Opt for a dense kabuki brush to blend it out in circular motions.

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As for the glow everyone loves, I love the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Bricks. They offer you a beautiful dewy look, without looking like you stuck your head in a a bag of glitter. I’m all for a bit of shimmer in my highlighter, but full on glitter isn’t in my everyday routine.

Another oldie but a goodie is the Benefit They’re Real mascara. It’s a cult classic for a reason! Mascara is all about the brush, TBH. The applicator on the They’re Real mascara is great for separating and lengthening, which is what basically everyone looks for in a mascara.

How to Use:

To apply your highlighter, grab a fluffy brush, like the E.L.F. Highlighter Brush, swirl it around your product and dust it on the highest points of your face. (And the brush is only $3!) For a natural-looking glow start towards your temples and sweep it towards the center of your face as opposed to starting on the highest point of your cheeks. It will give you a natural-looking glow.

As for the mascara, apply it as you normally would. I just advise you to never pump the mascara. It will dry out the product quicker.

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The Kat Von D Ink Liner in Trooper is another cult classic because it’s one of the blackest liners you will ever use. It’s matte as well, so you don’t have to worry about that shine that you get from other liners. A classic wing goes great with any look you may want.

How to Use:

Follow your bottom lash line as you flick the liner up and out towards the tail of your brow. Also never get scared while putting on liner because I am convinced that liner can smell fear. The moment you start holding your breath is when you accidentally hit your lid, making a large, unwarranted stroke.

What are some of your personal cult-classics? Is there anything that you have to have in your makeup kit at all times? I’d love to try it out!

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Worth it or Not? — Sephora Favorites

We all check out the Beauty-to-Go section in Sephora while we’re waiting to go check out. Is that item worth it?

We all check out the Beauty-to-Go section in Sephora while we’re waiting to go check out. (If you’re anything like me, you end up letting the rest of the line go in front of you so you can check out every item.) While you’re waiting, your eyes come across the Sephora Favorites: Give Me Some Lip and you probably aren’t sure if it’s worth the $28 or not.

Well I’m here to tell you, it definitely is worth it.

Before we get into the contents of the kit, let’s talk about the adorable packaging. It’s in the shape of lips and I’m kind of embarrassed to say how long my sister and I gushed about how adorable it was.

The price is also fairly reasonable. I know some may think that it’s not, but let’s think about it. A full sized lip product, such as the Too Faced Melted Longer Lipstick (Deluxe size included!) is $21. In the Sephora Favorites kit, you’ll get multiple products for just $7 more.

Inside, Sephora includes around six deluxe-sized lip products. The products can be a hit or miss, depending on the theme. This particular Give Me Some Lip Kit was definitely a hit.

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Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in “Lovecraft”
This is a beautiful mauve color that’s perfect for fall time. It’s creamy and very pigmented, much like many other Kat Von D products.
The full size retails for $21.

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Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment with SPF 15 in “Rose”
This is a high-end chapstick. It’s not my favorite chapstick, but the thin formula is great to keep your lips moisturized underneath your matte lipsticks. (Bonus: it smells great and leaves a slight pink tint on your lips!)
The full size retails for $24.

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Too Faced Melted Longer Lipstick in “Melted Chihuahua”
If you haven’t tried the Too Faced Melted Lipsticks, stop everything you’re doing now and run to your local Sephora now. These are very creamy and leave a beautiful shine to your lips. I really do love the formula.
The full size retails for $21.

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Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick in “Stepping Out”
This is my favorite product in this whole set. The color is absolutely perfect for my deeper skinned makeup lovers. Also the formula is perfect. It’s extremely comfortable on the lips and long-lasting. This is definitely a must-have and I can’t wait to purchase other colors.
The full size retails for $24.

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Nars Satin Lip Pencil in “Rikugien”
If you got last year’s birthday present from Sephora, this is the same lip pencil that was included. It glides on easily and the color is easy to wear everyday.
The full size retails for $26.

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Lancôme Juicy Shaker in “Boom-Meringue”
This by far is the weirdest product I have ever tried. You can use it as both a lip and check color. To use it, you need to shake it and the oil (top layer) that you see will combine with the  color (bottom layer). I am equal parts intrigued as well as I am confused by this product. I can’t give a full recommendation to buy this, but I do have to say it’s very nourishing on the lips.
The full size retails for $21.

So final thoughts?

highly recommend that once the next Sephora Favorites Give Me Some Lip sets. For only $28, I don’t think you can beat that. Though this particular set is not available in Sephora stores anymore, these individual products are still on the market. So makeup lovers all around, be sure to take advantage of these when you have the chance. You don’t want to miss out on the next set!

Have you tried any of these products? What did you think of them because I’d love to get your thoughts!

Friday Finds! August 19

As much as we love makeup, we don’t always love the price tag.

Hello Beauties!

Thank God it’s Friday because you know what that means: It’s time for me to get you up-to-date on the the latest beauty deals.

  • Morphe Brushes
    • Morphe is currently on HauteLook, featuring products, such as the 35OM and 350S palettes, which we all have been eyeing since they first dropped. There are also tons of brush sets, like the Gun Metal set, which all the beauty bloggers and vloggers have been raving about. (I’m definitely considering the 18-piece vegan set!)
  • Stila
    • Stila Cosmetics is also on HauteLook and I’m completely loosing my mind. HauteLook is featuring Stila’s Vinyl Lip Glosses, Jewel Eye Shadow Singles and Got Inked Eyeliners. If you don’t have a HauteLook account, definitely check out the Sale page on StilaCosmetics.com.
  • Benefit Cosmetics
  • Ulta Beauty 
    • Remember that $3.50 off your $15 purchase coupon I wrote about last week? Well, it’s still going on. You can use the coupon online with code 407893. You can find the printable coupon that you’ll be able to use in-store here. There are a list of excluded brands that you can find on ulta.com/coupons. Don’t let that scare you away from using it, there are a number of other brands that this applies to.
  • Sephora
    • Free Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Lolita II with $25 purchase. Use code LOLITA2.
    • Free deluxe sample of Pop-Start HydroBlur Moisturizer with $25 purchase. Use code HYDROBLUR.
    • Free deluxe sample of Detox Dry Shampoo with $25 purchase. Use code DETOXIFY.
    •  Free travel-chic black Givenchy tote with the purchase of select Givenchy fragrances. Use code JET2PARIS.
    • Free Paco Rabanne pouch and cologne mini with purchase of select Paco Rabanne fragrances. Use code INVICTUS.
    • Free Urban Decay All Nighter Liquid Foundation in your shade of choice with $25 purchase. Use code ALLNIGHT.
    • Free Kate Spade Walk On Air rollerball and lip gloss duo plus a pouch with the purchase of select Kate Spade New York fragrances. Use code WALKONAIR.
    • Free deluxe Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover Foundation in your shade of choice with $25 purchase. Use code HDFOREVER.
    • Free deluxe sample of your choice from Shiseido, MDSolarSciences, Josie Maran, COVER FX, or Colorscience with $25 purchase. Use code SUNSHINE.
    • Free deluxe sample of Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Quinoa Frizz Control Gel with $25 purchase. Use code CURLGEL.
    • Free Kate Spade Live Colorfully rollerball and pink lip gloss duo plus a makeup bag with the purchase of select Kate Spade New York fragrances. Use code LIVEPINK.
    • Free pink and black color block pouch plus a body lotion with the purchase of select Narciso Rodriguez fragrances. Use code THINKPINK.

Those are all my major finds for this week, but make sure you come back next week to find some new deals for the week. If you have any deals that I may have missed, be sure to comment them down below to save a makeup addict’s life. See you on the next one.

Friday Finds! August 12th

As much as we all love makeup, we don’t always love the price tag.

As much as we all love makeup, we don’t always love the price tag. Because of this, I’ve gone on the hunt for some great deals of the week that you may want to check out this weekend.

  • tarte Cosmetics
    • tarte is currently on HauteLook. For those of you that may not know, HauteLook is a really amazing website that features a variety of brands with prices for up to 75 percent off. The event will be ending in two days, so DEFINITELY don’t miss out on the sale!
  • Benefit Cosmetics
  • Sephora
    • Eight free skin care samples from Tidal, Luna and more with code SCOUTED.
    • Free Urban Decay foundation minis with $25 purchase. Use with code ALLNIGHT.
    • Free Kate Spade duo and makeup bag with code WALKONAIR. Includes lip gloss duo and pouch. Free with the purchase of select Kate Spade New York fragrances.
    • Free Versace mini rollerball trio with code VERSACETRIO.  Free with the purchase of select Versace fragrances.
    • Free Burberry Cat Lashes Mascara with $25 purchase. Use code CATLASH.
    • Free Rebel eyes mini duo with code REBELDUO. Comes with Giorgio Armani metallic eyeshadow and Lancôme gel-cream. Free with $25 purchase.
    • Free Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation with $25 purchase and code HDFOREVER.
    • Free choice of deluxe sample of five different sunscreens. Free with $25 purchase and code SUNSHINE.
    • Free Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Quinoa Frizz Control Gel with $25 purchase. Use code CURLGEL.
    • Free Kate Spade duo and makeup bag. Comes with Live Colorfully rollerball and pink lip gloss duo plus a makeup bag. Free with the purchase of select Kate Spade New York fragrances. Use code LIVEPINK.
    • Free Colorblock pouch with body lotion.  Free with purchase of select Narciso Rodriguez fragrances. Use code THINKPINK.
  • Ulta Beauty 
    • $3.50 off your $15 purchase with code 407893 online. You can find the printable coupon that you’ll be able to use in-store here. There are a list of excluded brands that you can find on ulta.com/coupons. Don’t let that scare you away from using it, there are a number of other brands that this applies to.

Do you have any beauty finds for this week that I haven’t listed? Comment them to help save a beauty-lover’s life.