Lili’s 2022 Beauty Resolutions and Low-Buy

Today, I am sharing the details of my personal pledge regarding beauty purchases. I love the process of buying and testing new things, so this isn’t a complete no-buy. It’s just my attempt at a more realistic low-buy that may still seem like too much to most people, but will be quite the change for me. It’s all about having a more balanced approach, and I’ve come up with some things to remember to keep myself in that mindset when a shiny new thing is threatening to make me lose all reason and unleash the inner makeup goblin.

These were all the blushes, highlighters, bronzers, and contour products I owned as of September 2020. Many were decluttered since then but many more have been added to my collection. Photos like this are a motivation to stick to my goals this year.

Stance on Buying Multiples

When I love something, I tend to buy multiples, especially makeup brushes. If an item is special in some way, I want another version of it. This year, I want to restrict myself from buying a backup or getting other things from the line that I initially didn’t plan to buy the first time. Reason being, that one item I get will be even more special if it’s the only one I have. I will also get more use out of that one special item since I wouldn’t be splitting usage evenly between two or more other things from the line.
For instance, letting the Hermes Blush be my one makeup item from Hermes. Another example would be letting the Chikuhodo MK-KO be my one Makie series brush and the most expensive brush in my collection (even at the discounted price I paid for it).

Stance on Limited Edition and Limited Quantity Items

I want to save for things that are truly special, but sometimes I buy limited edition items for the sake of them being limited edition and fearing that I will miss out. For instance, every year brands release Lunar New Year items. Rather than purchasing the prettiest items each year from every sign, I should wait for 2024 when it has the most significance for me, as the Year of the Dragon. That being said, I did purchase my first Beautylish Presents brush this year (Tiger), but I successfully skipped the Koyudo Lunar New Year Brush. This rule of only buying Dragon Lunar New Year items is a resolution I want to keep forever, but Tiger, Rabbit, and Dog will be the most difficult to ignore. On the bright side, Dec-Feb is the peak time of Lunar New Year launches, so I just need to hold out for a little longer and then the temptation will be less when those releases stop being discussed.

Also, going hand in hand with limited edition makeup is the scarcity of raw materials like natural hair for makeup brushes and special pigments for eyeshadows. Some palettes made by indie brands have been discontinued because certain pigments are no longer sourced. And the supply of high quality natural hair has become harder to obtain, which is one of the biggest reasons brushmakers (even brands historically known for only making natural hair makeup brushes) are moving towards synthetic. These are some reasons I feel an internal pressure to buy special limited quantity items in case they are discontinued, have a long restock time, and/or prices get raised such as Koyudo and Wayne Goss’ brushes last year. Hakuhodo is raising theirs again on June 1st and Chikuhodo already raised theirs at the beginning of February. Most of the major Japanese OEMs are raising their prices this year. I’m not too concerned about the increases since the brushes in my price range are going up by a maximum of $5, but Hakuhodo is planning to increase theirs by 30%. If that was a brand I purchased from more, I’d be rushing to make last minute orders, but they’ve been out of my price range since their previous price increase a few years ago.

In the case of the makeup, there’s no point in hoarding things with an expiration date anyway. Regarding the brushes, they can potentially hold their value and be seen as an investment of sorts, but how long they last depends on how well I care for them. The hair can still snap and split or shed. If I wish to part with some brushes, they may not be in a condition someone would want to buy. So, it’s not a safe bet either. I have plenty of brushes as is, along with makeup, so my plan is to not let scarcity and the limited edition title to be a factor in the decision to make a purchase.

Stance on Buying Things at Full Price / The “I’ll only get it on sale” Mentality

I use sales as a justification for buying something. If I’m saying to myself, “I want this, but only if it’s on sale,” then that should be an indication that I know there are aspects about it that aren’t perfect for me. Perhaps it has too many colors that don’t interest me or it’s not intended for my skin type. Maybe it’s similar to plenty of things I already own and would be redundant in my collection. If I’m not willing to buy it at full price, then I shouldn’t get it. At the same time, it is smart to wait for a sale for financial reasons as well as giving myself time to ensure it’s something I still want and that I haven’t been sucked in by the hype. So the key is to implement both conditions. I’ll only allow myself to buy things I think are worth full price, but I will still wait whenever possible to get those items when they’re on sale.

Gift Cards, Cashback, and Reward Program Spending

In my past post about all the ways I save money when buying products online, I mentioned that I sometimes acquire products “for free” because it was paid for by credit I earned via cashback, gift cards, etc. I just want to make my stance clear that my Beauty Resolutions still apply in those cases that I didn’t pay money out of pocket. For instance, when I’ve accumulated enough points via Ulta’s Reward Program to be able to purchase all the items in my cart in full, I’m still not supposed to use it on products that are part of my No-Buy. The No-Buy is ultimately about adding less products overall to my collection. Saving money is the by-product of that. This ties in with the “waiting for a sale” issue, that even if the item I want is only a few dollars from the drugstore or is “free” via my points, it’s not about the money. It’s about getting fewer new things so I can get more use out of my current collection.

Stance on Buying Makeup from “New to Me” Brands

When it comes to designer brands with luxury makeup lines that I haven’t purchased from yet, I have the overall rule that I’m allowed to have my “first” of something, such as a first Gucci Beauty product, a first Christian Louboutin Beauty, etc. The formulas of their makeup seldom match what I like, so it has always been a little easier to pass on them, especially at those prices. Allowing myself to have just one will ensure that I’m ultra selective about which one it ends up being. So, I’m allowing this exception, while also cutting myself off from future purchases from those brands for the rest of the year or longer.

As for all other brands that would be new to me, I’m actually trying to avoid them this year. If I like something new from, for example, Sigil Inspired by Tammy Tanuka, then I would be too tempted to try their other products. I want to satisfy my curiosity, especially about different indie brands, but the overall allure is lower if I don’t know what I’m missing. That’s why I want to keep purchases from new (to me) brands to a minimum.

Knowing/Hearing Something Has an Amazing Formula but Isn’t Available in a Shade I Like

This category of a resolution is two-fold. I recognize my issue with wanting to buy everything that has a raved about formula. Just because something is good, does not mean I must own it. I already have nice things, so I need to remember that I’m not missing out by sticking with what I already deem to be great. Second, if the product with a raved about formula is from one of my favorite brands, I’m even more likely to buy it even if the colors aren’t what I’m looking for. For example, Nude Venus blush from Pat Mcgrath is quite light for me, but I wanted it anyway because between the two shimmer formulas of blush, Desert Orchid and Nude Venus, the latter was the only one with any hope of showing up on my skin tone. What I should have done, and will try to do in the future, is be patient and wait for the brand to expand the line and create something that will work for me rather than settling for something just because it’s a good product. If it doesn’t look stunning on me, I likely won’t reach for it anyway which defeats the purpose of buying it in the first place. Wanting to get it for review purposes isn’t a good enough justification for me anymore.
If the brand never ends up expanding the line, so be it. Someone else will create something just like it. Many brands share labs and formulas within the same parent company. Very few things in the cosmetics world are unique anymore.

Self-Tips to Avoid Temptation

Once I’ve decided I will not purchase an item, I need to skip watching videos (which I believe will likely be positive) about that item. For instance, I almost caved so many times on the Patrick Ta Blush palette that was released last holiday. Everyone says it’s great. I have no doubt it would be great and it even has a shade that is likely even more my style than the single cream and powder blush duo I have. However, I think in my head the fact that I have to apply two different products to achieve the look I want makes me think it will take longer to apply, so I’d rather grab a single blush. There’s also the fact that I hardly ever reach for whole blush palettes, so I doubt I would use it enough to justify the purchase, but seeing hundreds of reviews and photos in my various social media feeds kept the temptation alive. The same goes for the Charlotte Tilbury foundation that I decided will not surpass anything I currently have, so I should skip it, but the flood of reviews are tempting. Also, no one can get me to want a makeup brush like Alicia Archer (formerly KinkySweat on YouTube). So, as much as I would enjoy watching Influencer videos, if the pull of the product is too strong, I have to abstain from those videos.

I also noticed that I had a tendency to purchase products in 2021 that were made for deeper skin tones or from a black owned brand regardless of whether the product was actually the best fit for me. As much as I want to show support, I can’t be wasteful and buy things that won’t suit me. I have dark skin, but it’s still medium-dark, so not everything in the dark category will look flattering on me. My undertone also effects what shades look nice on me and which ones stand out too much. If I know it’s too deep for me then I need to skip getting it, just as I would if a product was too light.

Some of my other purchasing weaknesses are buying things as retail therapy (usually when I’m going through health issues) and impulse purchases in the early morning hours when inhibitions are low and I’m not thinking of consequences. Both are psychological and the toughest for me to fight, but knowing is half the battle.

The No-Buy and Low-Buy Categories

Essentially every makeup category has an exception because I’m trying to be realistic and allow myself some fun purchases as well, so I have a good shot at making overall better decisions. Allowing exceptions doesn’t automatically mean I will make a purchase. For instance, Charlotte Tilbury foundation releases are allowed, but after watching a few reviews, I decided I will not buy the newest one.

The categories with zero budging or exceptions* as a NO-BUY are: Mascaras, False Lashes, Face Primers, Brow Products, and Eye Primers. I have more than a year’s worth of products left in all of those categories, so I want to use up what I currently have.

*I do have an overall exceptions rule that products I intended to get in 2021, but could not due to it being out of stock at the time or unavailable in the US at the time are excluded from the No-Buy. For instance, the Essence Coffee collection was previously only available in Europe and the special holiday set of the Nyx Marshmallow primer I wanted did not get restocked, so I’m going to get the mini travel size of it.

When it comes to Lip Products, as mentioned in a previous post, the only exceptions are that I intended to buy additional Lip Clays from Kaleidos last year. I didn’t end up doing that purely because it wasn’t going to arrive in time before my six week trip. I decided to wait on buying those Lip Clays until the next Kaleidos launch caught my attention (the Smokey Nostalgia Collection). I’m also allowing myself to replace lippies with ones that may have gone bad, but I will purchase no more than 5 additional lip products in 2022.

Foundations are a NO-BUY unless it’s by Charlotte Tilbury, Pat Mcgrath, Make Up For Ever, MAC, or Nars. All of those brands (except PML) are ones who have made foundations I’ve loved in the past, and while I certainly have enough foundations to carry me into 2023, I don’t want to deny myself potentially trying a new or even old product from those trusted brands if they seem like they would be perfect for me. My overall goal is to buy zero foundations, but if those exceptions occur, I will not buy more than three for the entire year. I already have five listed exceptions, so I have to really think about which one gets to potentially be part of the three at the end.

Contours are a NO-BUY with Charlotte Tilbury and Pat Mcgrath Labs as exceptions. The raved about CT Contour Wands are something I’d like to try if she makes one that is dark enough to work for me and PML is just going to be an exception to every rule because I’m fascinated by the brand.

Powders are a NO-BUY except if Hourglass releases a single Ambient Lighting Powder to match me, but I doubt that one will happen. I’ve discovered I like finishing powders, but not setting powders, and I have enough of both so I will not get anymore this year. One other thing to mention is the Chantecaille Blur Finishing powder that I said last year I would repurchase in the Med/Dark shade if it became available for a significant discount and was not in the Flower Power packaging. I may still do that in the future, but that’s a low possibility.

Eyeliners are a NO-BUY except Stila’s liquid liners if they are half price or Sephora’s if I run out of Stila liners and just need an affordable but nice liner. However, I just bought a replacement Nyx liner during Black Friday, so with all that I currently possess, I should be set for the rest of this year.

Now, we’re getting to the toughest no-buys with the largest exceptions lists.

Bronzers are a NO-BUY except PML whose brand is due to introduce bronzers, Hourglass who is due for some deep bronzers, and CT if the brand creates a 4.5 shade between Tan and Deep. I have several powder and cream bronzers I really like and would love to make some dents in them. MAC, Make Up For Ever, and Nars may be too difficult to resist if they produce bronzers that are part of a special collection. As much as I want to try a lot more, I have to be realistic about the fact that bronzer just needs to add a warmth to my face, and there is an extremely limited amount of colors that can do that and still look natural on me. I have those shades already. Since Kosas, Huda/Glowish, and Benefit already make some of my favorite bronzers, I would have a hard time avoiding more from them, but those last three do not make my exceptions list. If I can end 2022 with under 3 new bronzers, I would still consider the No-Buy a partial success.

Blushes are a NO-BUY except MAC, Nabla, PML, Patrick Ta, Nars, Huda Beauty, Makeup by Mario, Rare Beauty liquid blushes in a mini form or if they introduce a powder version, Fenty, Clionadh, Oden’s Eye, Glossier, LYS Beauty, and CT. Technically, I made the caveat last year that I would allow myself to get a blush from Chanel and Dior, but I’m waiting for the perfect ones. I’m still very much on a blush kick. I want them all, but I don’t need a single additional one. The only way I can realistically curb my impulses to buy them all is if I have exceptions for my tip top favorite blush brands and/or the brands I haven’t tried many blushes from and am curious about trying more. The blush exceptions are mainly allowing for powder blushes. I have too many creams and liquids and will likely have to dispose of some this year, so that is my motivation to stick to powders unless the blush in question is in a mini size. Then I don’t feel quite as bad. I would be proud of myself if I could keep my blush purchases under 15 this year. That would be 82% less blushes than I bought last year when I lost all sense of reason and went blush crazy.

Highlighters are a NO-BUY excluding PML, Dior (a stipulation from last year), and if there’s a Limited Edition collection of something that I’m absolutely salivating over to purchase from, but there’s nothing in the collection I would actually use except the highlighter. This caveat I definitely need to be careful about because it ties in with my self-warning about limited edition products. But I’m trusting myself to be firm on this because I am most dissatisfied at how many highlighters I buy that are the same shades so many times over. I want to keep my highlighter number as close to zero as possible. That’s the goal, without putting an actual figure cap on it.

Finally, we’ve reached the LOW-BUYS! I must be careful not to overdo these, but I’m so picky about the products in this category that I don’t think I will have too much trouble being selective:

Face Palettes are a LOW-BUY allowing for brands like CT, PML, Huda Beauty, Uoma Beauty, Hindash, and Hourglass. I’ve always wanted one of those CT Instant Look in a Palette or face quads but there hasn’t been one that would suit my skin tone. PML would be an immediate purchase. Huda Beauty always interests me with face products, but I kept holding out for the perfect one. I wouldn’t want to deny myself if I finally saw one I thought was worth buying just because of this project. Uoma Beauty already had a face palette from 2021 I was interested in, but I was waiting to get it at a lower price since neither the light or dark palettes were really perfect for me. Now, Uoma is only on the exception list if they release a third better fitting face palette. Hourglass made the exceptions list because of their annual holiday palettes, provided they still make one this year and if it’s truly dark-skin friendly (but also not too deep for me).

Concealers are a LOW-BUY, but realistically, I’m content with the ones I have and I will likely only buy two additional concealers this year: Tarte Shape Tape when it’s half price and Pat Mcgrath’s shade 23. I have 22 and 24, but since I’m running low on both it makes more sense to just try 23 and get it while on sale. That shade has been sold out the last two times I tried to get it though, so we’ll see how long it takes. The only concealer I already purchased in 2022 was the KVD Good Apple concealer. Concealers are my least restrictive category because my needs are so particular that so few out there meet all criteria. So, I don’t mind buying several of them if I can actually find some to match all my personal requirements. Concealers are also the number one makeup items I use up regularly (out of the ones that suit me).

Lastly, when it comes to eyeshadows, I will likely only get one or two single eyeshadows from different indie brand collection launches because I’m pretty satisfied with my single eyeshadow collection. Clionadh is the only exception and I will just trust my self control and not get everything from them. However, I do have a rule on Eyeshadow Palettes, which is that I will purchase no more than 2 each month (and yes they can roll over). In 2020, I bought a whopping 52 palettes which is basically one a week. In 2021, I bought somewhere between 38-40 palettes. This year, I’m hoping to make it no more than 24. I consider a palette to be anything with 4 or more eyeshadows.

Regarding skincare, hair care, fragrances, etc. I’m on a low-buy for those and intend to buy as little new products in those categories as possible. I purchased very few new skincare items last year anyway. Also, I’ve technically been on a fragrance low-buy for years and I try to make use of all the free samples I get and the ability to buy travel sizes of perfumes.

So, this is my plan for the year! I intend to do some decluttering too. I also have some ideas of picking 4 blushes, 2 highlighters, 2 bronzers, and 2 eyeshadow palettes to use every month in order to get more use out of my collection! Or I will pick entire brands for the month. It’s like a “Project Pan” but without expecting to actually hit pan on any of the products. I’d be satisfied with some dips though! Please, wish me luck!

-Lili

Anti-Hauling the Beautylish Lucky Bag 2022

This year started off differently when I forgot to purchase a Beautylish Lucky Bag. It has been a tradition since 2016 that every other year, I would purchase the biggest available Lucky Bag. I missed it due to the time difference while I was overseas, but I had long considered skipping this year because of my earnest desire to purchase less and get more use out of my current collection. After seeing what the most common items were in the regular and XL Lucky Bags this year, I’m confident I made the right decision in skipping it. I may start purchasing them again in the future if Beautylish begins to find value in giving a dark skin option for the XL bags, the same way they find value in having a dark skin option for the regular bags. Lucky Bag posts have always been my highest traffic attracting posts, so for those who have been looking forward to seeing it from me, I’m sorry.

From now on, instead of getting Lucky Bags, I’ve been toying with the idea of doing an annual Anti-Haul or “Mock Lucky Bag” involving the products I already have in my collection that end up in that year’s Lucky Bags. It will be quite the reminder that I am already fortunate enough to have the kind of products Beautylish puts in these, with the added bonus of avoiding duplicates and saving money. Plus, I will be able to see how little or how much I’ve used those products and judge whether or not it would have been a good idea to purchase a collection of items I could have ended up with from a Lucky Bag. This is my first attempt at a post like this and I’m not sure how well it will be received, so I’m posting on Thursday as a bonus for the week! I hope you like it!

“Concept” Lucky Bag 2022

Hindash Beautopsy Palette $70
Wayne Goss The Essential Lip Pencil in Mauve $14
Smith & Cult Nailed Lacquer in Pillow Pie $18
Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner $14
Hourglass Vanish Blush Stick in Revel $46
Sonia G Builder Three $32

Regular Lucky Bag Cost: $85 (US shipping included)
Mock Lucky Bag Retail: $194

The first three items are examples from an XL box from YouTuber Smiley Shani who was rightly displeased at having items in her box that did not show up on her skin tone, instantly lowering the value of her box. She did a follow-up video explaining why it was so disheartening, one poignant quote being, “It’s another reminder that a lot of brands and companies don’t think about people who look like me…and I forgot that I had to remember that.”

In the beginning, XL bags tended to be more universal, so I accepted the fact that they didn’t feel the need to give shade options. However, my 2020 experience was borderline an issue with a bronzing oil and blush/highlighter palette as my “big ticket item.” After seeing Shani’s experience in 2022, I think it’s safe to say to Beautylish either needs to be more thoughtful about the XL bag products and/or they should add shade options if they care to improve on the bags. Or perhaps this falls under the “fun of trading” Beautylish expects people to do for items that don’t work for them. More on that thought at the end of the post.

There were Good Molecules products in pretty much all the bags, which makes sense as a Beautylish produced brand. Here is another example of someone’s XL bag via Instagram, though it includes the Good Molecules Glycolic Exfoliating Toner. I chose to feature the Niacinamide Brightening Toner because that’s what I got in my 2020 XL Lucky Bag and never used it. That’s right. I never used it. That’s no one’s fault but my own. I purchased the Pineapple Exfoliating Powder around the same time (didn’t start using it until a year ago) and have gotten at least some use out of that one. Good Molecules products are nice, but they only have value if I actually use them!

This person had the Hourglass Vanish Stick Highlighter, but I replaced it with the blush instead. Lastly, AmyLovesMakeup had the Sonia G Builder Three brush in her XL bag. It’s a great brush and one that I own because it was in my 2020 bag.

Although I chose all items from XL bags in this mock up, I saw these end up in the regular Lucky Bags for 2022 as well. I’d also like to note that some of my “replacement” items were exact products in the 2021 bag. I always keep up with what are in each year’s bags even during the years I don’t participate. I used to be so obsessed with these bags that I had to whip out Excel to keep track of what items I saw and how frequently I saw them.

Analysis of Use

I already mentioned I hadn’t even tried the Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner. I was bombarded with skincare in previous years and was still trying to use up my stash, so I just hadn’t gotten around to it. Had I gotten the Good Molecules Glycolic Exfoliating Toner from this year though, I don’t think I would have tried that either. I’ve had two Glycolic Toners from The Ordinary sit unused in my collection for years before I tossed them, so it would likely have been a bust. I’d be more interested in repurchasing the Niacinamide Toner so I could actually try it since it’s something I’m more interested in now than I was at the time I got it. The Hindash Beautopsy Palette and Sonia G Builder Three Brush are both items I featured in my favorite products of 2021, so of course I’d be over the moon to receive a bag with those two products in it. I used the Wayne Goss Lip Pencil for a while when I initially bought it in May 2020, but I prefer retractable pencils, so I hardly reached for this one. By now, the waxy smell radiating off it leads me to believe it’s time I toss it out. Speaking of things to toss, I’ve had my Smith & Cult nail polishes since 2015, but I barely used them and stopped doing my nails entirely. I’m not a nail polish person. I keep buying polishes wishing I could be that person, as evidenced in my one and only nail polish post on this blog, but I can’t be bothered. I like my natural nails. That being said, the polishes were so expensive that I couldn’t bring myself to toss them, even though they look terrible in the bottles. I’m sure others would be pleased to have an item like this in the Lucky Bags, but it would be a waste for me. The final item is the Hourglass Vanish Stick. I like the blush that I have, though I’ve only used it less than ten times in the nearly five months I’ve had it. The shade of highlighter stick I saw in the Lucky Bags looked like something I would wear, but if I’ve barely used a cream blush, this powder highlight lover is very unlikely to get more use out of a cream highlighter.

Final Conclusions

Even though I like every item in my Faux Lucky Bag, time has proven that I don’t use them enough to justify getting them. The Hindash Palette and Sonia G brush are exceptions to this, but that would bring the total to $102 paid outright for those items and theoretically I would have paid $85 for them plus the other items. That’s a good deal from the perspective of a 17% savings with free extra items, but as someone who wants to only add items I will use to my collection and not have to deal with trying to sell or trade things, I wouldn’t have missed out much by skipping it and just getting the two things I love.

Whether I replaced some items in my mock bag with a different eyeshadow palette, brush, or some other skincare product, there is nothing I saw from the 2022 Lucky Bags that I would have gotten more use out of than what I showed as my concept bag. At least, not without being “extra lucky” and getting items beyond Beautylish’s 15+ bag variations. From my past observations*, those who lived on the West Coast got the best bags (or at least the newest and most popular items rather than those that aren’t selling well). I don’t live in California where Beautylish is based, nor in a West Coast state, so statistically my chances of being extra lucky are even less probable. I didn’t check for locations this year, so it is possible they finally changed that.

*Observations gathered from knowing where YouTubers said they lived, the profile bios/location tags on IG, Locations listed on the Facebook profiles from beauty group members who showed off their bags, etc.

The factor that cannot be calculated is the worth of discovery, the ability to try new things that I wouldn’t have, which could have led to potentially finding a new “holy grail” item. It’s not unheard of considering the Sonia G Builder Three was never on my radar until I actually had it in my hands and tried it. Then again, I recently found an interest in the Builder Pro thanks to the review from Nikki and between the Builder Pro and Mini Booster, those two brushes in my collection can cover the tasks that the Builder Three accomplishes, so I’d eventually have had an alternative. The point I’m trying to make is that I cannot put a price on discovery, but the value of that isn’t worth as much to me now as it would have in the past.

For these reasons, looking at everything, I’m glad I forgot to get a Lucky Bag. I hope this can be helpful to those who missed their chance to get one or to feel confident in choosing to skip it. This post isn’t intended to take away joy from those who receive and love their bags. I just have to remind myself that the chances of me being “Extra Lucky” isn’t very high for me in my situation and now isn’t the time for me to take the gamble. When I emailed Beautylish questions about the bag before getting my first one in 2016 they said to me, “Another part of the [fukubukuro] tradition is also trading with friends to add to the fun, so if you aren’t keen on something you received or already own it, trading is part of the fun!”

So, this bag is ultimately intended for people who think it’s fun to trade or give away items after having spent $75+ or $150+ on products and not liking what they got. One has to have the “oh well” kind of mentality. As they told me, if this isn’t my mindset, it’s not something I should participate in. This is the time I’ve taken their advice, even if by accident.

To clear up any confusion for those who haven’t read my “About Me,” my real name is Lian and Lili is my nickname.

That’s all for today! What are your thoughts on Lucky Bags or just Mystery Boxes in general? I actually bought the Melt Cosmetics one during Black Friday, though I’m not sure if I will end up doing a full dedicated post on that or just feature some of the items in future reviews. What made the Melt one different is that all the boxes were the same, so seeing one review was enough to know exactly what I’d be getting and if it was worth it to buy. I think that’s the kind of situation I’m likely to partake in going forward if I get a mystery box again.

-Lili

Favorite Makeup Products in 2021

In 2021, I made “shopping my stash” a little more of a priority and got to know, enjoy, and rediscover some older favorites. However, I didn’t get to know as much of my collection as I wanted, to the point that I considered skipping doing a “Best of Makeup” post for the second year in a row. By now, this far into 2022, I’ve concluded some of the things I used last year and still love today deserve a spotlight, even if I don’t have a favorite in every category. So, rather than just sticking to products launched in 2021, I’ll be discussing the beauty products I loved that year, regardless of the release date.

Also, I’d like to note that I put the finishing touches of this post together very quickly while I was on vacation. I currently have six drafts that are all missing either a few more pictures or one more test in order to finish the reviews and I did not bring the necessary items with me, so it was either post this early or not release a post at all this week. If there are any grammatical errors I missed, I apologize.

EYE PRODUCTS

Eyeshadow PalettePersona Identity Two

Given my deep love of eyeshadows, this should have been the toughest category to choose from but there weren’t many well rounded exciting palettes for me in 2021, so I chose the one that would have been named my favorite in 2020 and is still a love. The mattes are so smooth, blendable, and pigmented (but not overly so). The shimmers are easy to use and creamy. I love the tones of these shadows. There’s enough depth to do complete looks without having to dip into other palettes. I’ve made actual dents in the pans from use, which is rare for me. I’ve taken it traveling and I even loved it so much that I bought the original repackaged Identity palette in the hopes that it was the same formula in order to expand on what I already have. The only aspect missing for me is the lack of colorful mattes. They’re all very neutral which I guess matches the brand’s aesthetic. Of course, the Hindash Beautopsy palette is my star product of 2021, but because I tend to only use a shade or two in my eyeshadow looks, I didn’t want to put it in the Eyeshadow Palette Category.

Single EyeshadowClionadh Cosmetics Stained Glass Collection

I absolutely could not get through a favorites post without including the eyeshadows that I’ve been flat out obsessed these past few years. These shadows brought me so much joy and helped me amp up any eyeshadow look I created. I don’t want to spend too much time gushing about them since I do that enough already, but these are just phenomenal. In my opinion, their multichrome formula is the pinnacle. It doesn’t get better than these.

Devinah Cosmetics Multichromes are an honorable mention, as they also create beautiful shadows that are the closest to Clionadh’s quality that I have found between them, JD Glow, Terra Moons, Sydney Grace, etc. They have some fun and interesting shades that Clionadh hasn’t released yet, and although they don’t have Clionadh’s mirror finish, their metallic finish is still very enjoyable to use and look at.

Eyeliner Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner

This is a rediscovered favorite. I’ve used this for many years, took a small break from it, and began loving it again this year. The tip makes it easy to draw a very pigmented and precise line. Once dry, it’s pretty much waterproof, though my regular makeup wipes are enough to remove it.
It leaves a shiny finish, which is something to consider if you’re looking for a matte liner. The caution I have is when using this over Nyx Glitter primer. If too much of the primer gets on the tip, it clogs the porous spots and makes it very difficult to get the product out from then on. This means I have to be very careful when using it over a multichrome. A pencil liner, gel or cream pot liner, or liquid liner with a brush are better in those instances. Stila liners typically last me 6 months to a year, depending on how well the tip stays clean and if I’m using it alongside other liners.

MascaraEssence Volume Stylist 18hr Lash Extension Mascara

If the formula is good, I tend to really like mascaras with lengthening fibers like what is in the Essence Mascara. It makes my lashes look longer and voluminous. There are times when I’ve felt my eye looks weren’t pretty enough without false lashes. I don’t get that feeling as much as I used to with this mascara. In addition, this is one of the rare mascaras that makes my lower eyelashes look good. My lower eyelashes are so fine that other mascaras don’t latch onto the hairs properly. They just glide right over, leaving the most minuscule layer that can’t be seen without making at least ten passes with the brush. By then, the lower lashes will get a random mascara clump or turn spidery towards the ends but look like there’s nothing closer to the roots because I couldn’t get the applicator close enough to the roots in enough layers before the tips clumped. With this Essence mascara, I can finally and easily have visible lower lashes! I also love that this is so affordable. I previously bought backups at even lower than the $5 retail price!

Another favorite is the Sally Beauty The Works Wow Effect All-in-One Mascara COL-LAB. This is another one that keeps me from missing false lashes. I can get nice length and volume with this, although the formula is a little on the thick side and will definitely not give the lashes a curl on its own. My lashes can stick straight up if I apply too much to the ends.
I like the brush applicator which has a standard bristle side that I use to get the product on the lashes and a flared side that sticks out, like the L’oreal Butterfly mascara, which I use to comb out the lashes for length and making them clump-free. The wet formula being a bit thicker means I can use fewer coats to quickly get the amount of product I want, but it also means there’s more product to remove. It takes a bit of time to make sure the mascara is fully off my lashes, but I still like it enough that I would have bought several more if I didn’t prefer the Essence Mascara.

CHEEK PRODUCTS

BlushMAC Blushes

In 2020, I would have said the Hourglass At Night Blush was a close second, but the clear winner for 2021 for blushes is MAC. I can’t even name a specific shade because I use and love all of them that I have in different formulas and finishes. I purchased 84 different blushes in 2021, quite a few of those being from MAC, (I’m insane I know) and this is why it was so difficult to decide which one was the best. I still haven’t used 10% of them, only tried some of them a few times, and the rest I enjoyed so much that I couldn’t choose how they ranked over each other without prolonged use. However, I’m always using at least one of my MAC blushes every two weeks. That certainly means something which is why I’ve chosen for them to win the blush category.

HighlighterHatice Schmidt Labs Highlighter in Medium

I am rating this as my Highlighter of the Year because it surpassed the Nabla Highlighter that was my previous holy grail product. However, I still have a few highlighters with a formula that I suspect could rise through the ranks if I used them more often. They just tend to be in shades I don’t wear as much. I plan to have a definitive answer on that in 2022’s rankings, but for now I don’t mind honoring this highlighter for its smooth, reflective formula that blends into the skin and adds glow without being too much.

FACE PRODUCTS

FoundationEstée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Foundation in 5N2

I thought for certain the Nars Soft Matte Foundation would win, but in the back half of 2021 up until now, I’ve used the Estée Lauder foundation nonstop. I love the finish, how it spreads, and how it wears. I was beginning to skip wearing foundations until I got my hands on this one. It definitely wins for me, even though they don’t have my perfect shade. 5N2 is the closest match and good enough, especially during Winter since my skintone is a bit lighter now.

ConcealerTarte Shape Tape in Deep

Again, I thought the Pat Mcgrath concealer would take this spot but I’m back on the original Tarte Shape Tape train. It just gives me the least amount of trouble and wears the best, especially if I use the MILK Hydro Grip eye primer or Becca Under Eye Brightening Corrector with it.

Bronzer Kosas the Sun Show Moisturizing Baked Bronzer

Kosas wins this category, despite having some stiff competition from new favorites like the Huda Beauty Glowish Bronzer and Danessa Myricks Cream Bronzer. I like the shade, the radiance it imparts on my skin, the depth, the blendability, and smoothness. The only downside is still the awful smell of the product itself which hasn’t faded in all the time I’ve had it. And for those who are into the “Clean” movement, I believe this bronzer is part of that category.

Face Palette Hindash Beautopsy Palette

These are the shades I use the most in this palette and after nine months the shades haven’t gotten mixed up or messy and it looks barely used! There is so much product in each pan!

Beautopsy is my product of the year and ultimate holy grail makeup item. I’m very happy that Beautylish now carries the brand so that it can be accessible to a lot more people. Other than concealer, which I would always wear to cover dark under eye circles, this is the only other product that I use every single time I put on makeup. For months. Consistently. It’s unheard of for me and I’ve raved about it endlessly on this blog. For my very in-depth initial review, I recommend clicking here. I put this in the Face Palette category, but this was a challenger for best blush, best bronzer, and best contour. The Kills shade is very similar to Nars’ Exhibit A in formula and color. The time it takes to mix the bronzer shade, plus me preferring a slight sheen, is why I didn’t list it as the best bronzer, and I stopped contouring in the latter half of 2021 which is why I kept that category off the list. If there’s anything I wish for everyone to try, it would be this palette.

Finishing PowderDior Backstage Face and Body Powder No-Powder

This product threw me for a loop. It took me a while to realize how smoothing, and flattering this made my skin look. My ideal color is somewhere between shades 4 and 5 as 5 worked great for half of the year, but when winter came I needed to repurchase shade 4. It was worth having two because I never want to be without a powder like this again. I nicknamed it “The Fixer” because of its blurring capabilities.

I recently started using the Laura Mercier Candleglow Sheer Perfecting Powder, which is another stunningly beautiful sheen bestowing powder, as well as the powders in Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting III trio, but I haven’t used them enough to decide which ones should be honorable mentions. As of right now, the Dior is still my top powder and has been for the past eight months or so.

TOOLS

SpongeTati Beauty Blendiful

RIP to the Tati Beauty brand. What an absolute shame that it had to be closed due to litigation and drama. My Blendiful sponge is super old and perhaps due to the sponge on the inside, I should probably toss it, but I’ve kept the outer cloth material very clean and it’s in amazing condition considering how long I’ve had it. It was said this could be washed via machine, but I always washed it by hand with a random cocktail of various cleansing soap products I own (Beautyblender Solid Soap, Dr. Bronner’s, Neutrogena Facial Cleanser, SigMagic Brushampoo Liquid, etc). There are zero tears in it and while I’ve always had an issue with the $18 price, nothing spreads and blends my foundation quicker or better than this. I saw whispers around the internet that this material is Minky/Minkee fabric, so I may try to make my own version one day. I have other tools to get perfectly blended foundation, but not in fifteen seconds like with this. I have been able to use the Blendiful to apply other types of makeup, but I prefer to use it exclusively for foundation, since my other tools do the other tasks faster and better.

Face BrushSonia G Cheek Pro

This wins as the overall favorite face brush because it’s the one I’ve used the most this year. Of all my fude, blush brushes are what I have the most of and the fact that this stands out among them speaks volumes. This is what it looks like after 16 months of use, which is pretty good considering how much I’ve put this brush through. I’ve always been tempted to buy a backup and the Lotus Cheek wasn’t close enough. I still want another, not out of fear of ruining this one but purely in case the price ever goes up, it ever gets discontinued, or I somehow lose it. I am trying to hold off though for a special edition handle in the future.

Eye BrushSonia G Builder Three

I chose the Cheek Pro as the winner because I used it the most, not necessarily as my number one favorite face brush (though it is one of my favorites). When it comes to the eye brush winner, this is the brush I used the most in 2021, but it’s also my absolute favorite eye brush in my collection. I definitely put this brush through a lot these past two years and in December I caved and bought myself a duplicate even though the Lotus Builder was supposed to be my backup. I have realized I prefer Sonia G’s dyed Saikoho Goat hair bristles over the undyed.

Anyway, those were all my favorites in 2021. Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Makeup I Traveled with and Purchased in Germany

I love “What’s in My Travel Makeup Bag?” type of posts for only one reason: wanting to see which products someone couldn’t be without. The products I took with me traveling were chosen for so many other reasons besides that one, so I reconsidered making this post. However, I thought about how I was able to pack the least amount of products for the longest trip I’ve been on and realized this could be useful to those wanting ideas of what to take with them and things to consider for extended stays. I will also discuss what I learned about shopping for makeup in Germany and I’ll review the items I purchased while there.


Anything Will Do

When it comes to lips, brows, and face primers, I find that pretty much any products in those categories will get the job done. They all work well, but I could have replaced them with any others in my collection. I chose the 15ml travel size of the Good Molecules Silicone-Free Priming Moisturizer because it can double as a primer and moisturizer, which saves space with its compact form and from having to bring a second item. The ELF Instant Lift Brow Pencil could have been swapped out for my Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz or the Benefit Precisely My Brow pencil, but the $3 price made it ideal so that if I misplaced it, it wouldn’t be much of a financial loss. The Tower28 Gloss was chosen because I am on an unofficial project pan and want to see if I can use it up within a year. Otherwise, I would have taken the Fenty Gloss Bomb or my other mini glosses with me instead. I did a lip declutter earlier this year, so any lip pencil in my current collection could have replaced the Mented Nude La La Lip Pencil, but I chose it because it’s the one I’ve used the least, is a shade I could use all over the lip and not just as a liner, plus it doesn’t require a sharpener.

Backups/Replaceable Items

Choosing the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner was an easy decision because it was my holy grail eyeliner for a long time, it will last through different changes in weather, and I have multiples of them in my collection because I always get them at half price during Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty sales or during the holidays. I knew I would be going back to Germany this year, so I didn’t want to bring a used eyeliner and have to worry that when I went back it would be dried up or run out on me. I also recently became reacquainted with my old holy grail lip balm, the Nuxe Reve de Miel, and went overboard buying three jars in total when they only have a 6 month shelf life once opened. So, I figured I could keep a spare in Germany as well. As for the brown mini lipgloss tube in the initial post photo at the top, I decided that I could use one of the empty tubes I had from my days of making custom products to store foundation in there. The tiny gift with purchase sample I had of the Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation lasted me six months, so I knew the amount I squeezed in there would last through multiple trips. If you have a foundation in a glass bottle, it’s a great idea to store some in a small squeeze tube that helps limit the exposure of the foundation to air, has a small enough hole so that you won’t squeeze too much product out at once, and is of course more compact and won’t break during travel.

Speaking of broken things, I contemplated what to do with my repressed pan of Huda GloWish Soft Radiance Bronzing Powder in the shade 04 Tan since I was sent a replacement item. Although I got too dark on the trip to be able to use it, I figured I could keep the spare in Germany. Lastly, I only have one MAC Studio Fix Soft Matte Foundation Stick, but this item is replaceable in the sense that my holy grail eyeshadow primer is the MAC Paint Pot. This performs similarly to the Paint Pot but works better specifically with the Hindash Beautopsy palette I planned to bring with me. Also unlike the Paint Pot, it’s not in a breakable glass pot. Plus, I could use it as concealer in a pinch, though it isn’t dark enough for me to use as actual foundation. But if someone else traveling wanted to really pack minimally, the Foundation Stick could be used for all of those tasks.

Must Haves

If I wasn’t the type that loves having a variety to choose from, even on trips, I could have skipped bringing an eyeliner, brow pencil, blushes, and bronzers entirely because I took the Hindash Beautopsy Palette with me. I did skip bringing a contour and setting powder because I had this available. I use Beautopsy for so much more than eyeshadows and I’ve been raving about this palette for good reason. It could be a bit nerve wracking to take such an expensive product, but the packaging is intended for makeup artists, which means it should be durable enough to travel with anywhere. This is a must have for minimalists, but I took this because it’s such a staple in my makeup routine now that I didn’t want to be without it. Especially considering the fact that I got a little darker on the trip, my ability to customize the depth of shades came in handy and I used it more than all the bronzers I had with me. The only area which the Beautopsy palette lacks is having no shimmer options. I knew I would miss having shimmer shadows, so I used a custom magnetic palette to store my Devinah Cosmetics Eyeshadows. When selecting the colors, I wanted shades that would pair well with each other, could be used in subtle daytime looks or dramatic nighttime looks, as well as giving me neutral and colorful options. Of course it was tempting to want to bring my absolute favorite Clionadh shadows, but Devinah makes extremely similar quality of products with the added bonus of being made in the US with quicker restocks. This means that if for some reason my shadows broke irreparably (like the particles got mixed with each other and could not be separated), I’d probably have a replacement in weeks up to 2 months, as opposed to 1-6 months or more. Devinah shadows are also slightly lower cost per shadow with cheaper shipping for me. This choice was a combination of wanting my favorite eyeshadow quality while factoring the travel element. Of course, when using special shadows, the Nyx Glitter Primer is essential for keeping them in place and helping the shades pop. I always have replacement tubes (which is a good thing because my tubes keep busting at the top) so I brought this along as a necessity that happens to be inexpensive and replaceable.
What is definitely not inexpensive is the Dior Backstage Face & Body Powder-No Powder, but I absolutely had to bring it with me. I discovered that this powder is so fantastic for smoothing out the skin and blurring imperfections, which was crucial to have for this trip. The lighting at my boyfriend’s place was extremely tricky to see what I was doing while applying makeup. The lighting was either dim or yellow, which showed things differently than the LED lights in the main room’s 9-foot high ceiling, also different than the highly fluctuating natural light peeking out from grey and dark clouds most of the time I was there. Depending on the light, I could look like I had no bronzer or too deep of bronzer, no blush or looking like a flat out clown. When on a trip, you’re often in a time crunch, and I couldn’t keep waiting for the natural light to be sunny enough to complete my makeup. Having the Dior powder gave me confidence that the end result looked nice and fixed anything that needed fixing, even if the resulting look was more subtle than intended.

This may seem a bit extra, but I took two mascara tubes with me. Rather than just relying solely on a mini size for the trip, I needed a mascara like the Essence Volume Stylist 18 hr Lash Extension Mascara that would give me a false lash effect because there was no way I was going to bring falsies traveling. This is a very affordable mascara, so I could leave it in Germany and it will still hopefully be good when I get back. With a mini, I had no idea how many uses I could get out of it (considering I was there for three weeks), but it’s a good option to consider for those packing lightly. I happened to have a sample of the Benefit Bad Gal Bang mascara and I brought it with me because I remembered liking the original Bad Gal Lash mascara and hoped it would be good. The Bang version is even better! I love that it darkens and lengthens my lashes easily and without leaving any clumps. The brush also makes it so the lashes are separated and fanned out like a doll. I can also build up a little volume. It’s not as dramatic as the Essence mascara, but it’s enough to look like I’m naturally blessed with long lashes.

I have to name the Nabla Skin Glazing Highlighter in Amnesia as an honorable mention for a “must have” product on a trip, even though I didn’t bring it this time. I have taken that highlighter on all other trips since I first purchased it. It’s on the lighter side for me, but it still works beautifully on my skin tone to give me a subtle highlight or an intense one. It also matches both warm and cool toned makeup looks. The only reason I left it behind was because I ordered the Hatice Schmidt Labs highlighter in the Medium shade, which looked like a very close dupe and I did not want to have two nearly identical products on the trip, especially as I already had a usable highlighter in the Kaja Bento box I brought with me. Now that I have two similar products, I will likely bring the HSL on trips from now on because it’s slightly darker, slightly warmer, and with a slightly more transparent base which makes it that much more suited to my skin tone. It also has a mirror, which was helpful in the moments I was running around trying to see how my makeup was looking in alternate light sources. If I was more concerned about the weight of the products or the price of the products, the Nabla Skin Glazing would be a better choice. However, if something happens to my HSL product, I wouldn’t feel as upset knowing that I have the Nabla as my backup.

Made To Be On-The-Go

I could have put several of the products mentioned above in this category, but the ones I’m discussing here don’t really fit in any other category. For example, the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer is my holy grail concealer, so I purchased the travel size for the trip. It was ideal for it’s compact size (though at one tenth of the size of the larger one, it’s certainly not cost effective) and the assumption it would last me two trips. However, I suspect that the formula in the mini is not as full coverage as the full size tube. I had to use a lot more product to get the coverage I needed. Perhaps this is another situation of the lighting being an issue. I also brought a mini of a lighter shade in order to mix my perfect color, like usual, but there was no need to this time as Deep didn’t look as dark as the full size either. That’s why this is in the “made to be on-the-go” section instead of “must haves.” I have also mentioned that I like mixing the Shape Tape with Pat Mcgrath’s concealer, but that one is in a glass tube which I did not want to bring with me. In the future, I’ll just carry my regular full size Shape Tape on trips, especially since I also get them for half off during Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty. In a past review of the Kaja Play Bento Sculpting Trio, I mentioned that this product was ideal for traveling, so I felt obligated to bring it. Honestly, the fact that I have the Beautopsy palette though makes it pretty redundant as I can make a bronzer out of that palette and create a similar blush shade. I love the cream bronzer, but I don’t trust wearing a cream product while on a trip for fear of transfer onto clothing or sweat. The highlighter is nice, but I will always want a more intense option too. I took this traveling with me because I wanted to test the durability, as well as having those other options, but I only used it once during the three weeks (besides keeping it in my small purse as a mirror). However, if someone doesn’t have a face palette or wants something more affordable, lightweight, compact, and travel friendly, this is still a good option.

In my photo at the top of the post, I have a mini bottle of the Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water, but it’s actually filled with Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water. They make a mini version, but I didn’t want to buy one when I could just reuse a smaller thinner bottle in my possession by transferring it in from one of my many larger size bottles. I also have mini versions of the Original Makeup Eraser Cloth, but I brought a full size one with me on the trip. I also filled an empty package of SkinFood Rice Cleansing Wipes with some from a larger package. That way I could use a makeup wipe on a heavier makeup day that I was too tired to double-cleanse and also not carry a whole heavy package which has 80 wipes in there.

Lastly for this section is sunscreen. It’s not makeup, but it’s essential. I brought what I thought was a mini size of the Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream which came in the box with the full size sunscreen I bought. It turned out that the mini was the non-SPF version and I didn’t figure it out until I was back in the US. Since I was testing it out for the first time, I also brought my usual Neutrogena Ultra Sheer 70 SPF Liquid Sunscreen too. The Ultra Sheer is small enough that it doesn’t take up much room in my carry-on bag and is airport compliant at 40 mL out of 100 mL. I have since used the actual SPF version of the Round Lab and I like that it doesn’t leave a cast. It makes my skin look a little dull on the darker spots of my face with hyperpigmentation, but it’s barely noticeable on my bare face and it’s definitely not an issue under makeup. The Round Lab is twice the price at only 10 ml more, so I would have continued to purchase the one from Neutrogena if it sadly hadn’t just been discontinued a few months ago. I had been using it for seven years and was quite sad to learn it was gone before I could purchase one final backup. Since I haven’t even tested the Round Lab during a true Florida summer, I’m not ready to recommend it yet. When it comes to something as important as sunscreen, I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending it unless I’d tested it through at least two summers.

The Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunscreen in the Sensitive version is not the same since it’s a mineral sunscreen which relies heavily on titanium dioxide, which is the main culprit that leaves a cast on dark skin. The Dry-Touch version of Ultra Sheer is definitely not the same (leaves a white cast on me), as well as other sunscreens from Neutrogena. I picked up several trial packets and sunscreen minis recently, so I will be checking to see if I can find anything that’s as lightweight and doesn’t leave a cast while also thoroughly protecting me from the sun. So far, the Round Lab is the best I currently own.

Additional Tips

When I was deciding what to pack, the first thing I did was write a list of all the makeup categories I could think of and filled out which products I would want to bring most. Then, in order to condense the list, I went back over my answers and thought about what things I owned that could accomplish more than one task to reduce the number of products I had to bring. I thought about which things I owned or could buy in mini sizes to save space and decrease the weight of what I’d have to carry. I kept in mind which items were easily breakable, replaceable, and what I would miss too much if I didn’t have it. I also debated about what items I could just skip bringing entirely and buy while abroad. One thing I forgot to consider was that even though I was leaving a lot of makeup behind in Germany, all the new products I purchased weighed so much more than what I initially took with me, so my makeup bag was heavier coming back. I could have skipped bringing the Kaja Bento as a backup if I thought about the fact that I was going to buy a highlighter and three blushes.
I also made the decision to skip bringing cream products. Although I knew it wasn’t likely to be hot in Germany, I was required to walk a lot more and figured I would probably work up a sweat. I intended to do a lot of hugging as well, so I didn’t want to risk taking anything that could transfer or sweat off. It was also windy at times and I wore my hair down a bit more than usual. Balmy products on the skin that don’t dry down would have been a bad idea. Thinking about how the makeup items will be affected by the weather and the activities on the trip is something to consider. Nothing I brought with me needed a setting spray and none of them (besides my eyeliner) were waterproof, but that might be necessary for someone else to pack.

Here is a sample list of the categories of makeup to think about when packing:

  • Face Primer –
  • Eye shadow Primer –
  • Foundation –
  • Concealer –
  • Color Corrector –
  • Eye shadows –
  • Brow Product –
  • Eyeliner –
  • Mascara –
  • False Lashes and Lash Glue –
  • Setting Powder and/or Finishing Powder –
  • Setting Spray (keep TSA requirements in mind) –
  • Blush –
  • Bronzer –
  • Contour –
  • Highlighter –
  • Lip Balm/Gloss/Stick/Liner/Stain/Plumper –

One other thing I wanted to mention is that I was paranoid about the possibility of having lost luggage, so I packed some of my makeup products separately. The more fragile items, such as eyeshadows and pressed powders, I kept in my carry-on. My eyeliner, the full size mascara, the lighter concealer, etc were kept in my suitcase.

Douglas and Got2B Makeup

When I was shopping for makeup in Münster, I expected to discover plenty of German founded cosmetic brands that I hadn’t seen before. Perhaps this exists online, but when it comes to makeup at retail shops, the brands under the umbrella of major parent companies like L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, and LVMH dominate worldwide. It’s one thing to always hear that and quite another to actually see it for myself.
When I stopped in the Douglas shop, ARTDECO Beauty and ANNAYAKE (as well as the actual Douglas brand of makeup) were the only ones I hadn’t seen in the US. It was the same for drugstores, that only the actual store’s brand of makeup (such as dm of dm-drogerie markt) is unavailable in the US.

Of those unfamiliar brands, my purchasing options were limited to universal products like eyeliners and mascaras, as the complexion ones weren’t deep enough for me. I did snag a blush from Got2B. I was familiar with the brand’s hair products, but I had no clue until that moment that they made makeup as well! I tried to find out when they launched the cosmetics, and I believe it was in July 2021, so just a month before I got there, but I don’t know for certain. The ARTDECO products didn’t appeal to me, so I decided to try the Douglas brand of makeup as well, which is of similar quality to the Sephora Collection brand of makeup.

Douglas Cosmetics Caramel Nudes Eyeshadow Palette mini

The full size Caramel Nudes palette reminds me of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam palette. I didn’t see it available in-store, but the mini was there, which I thought was perfect to try out the quality of Douglas shadows without making a big price commitment. The eyeshadows swatched evenly on my arm and clearly looks pigmented on those with a lighter skin tone. I find the shadows to be on the thin side and I found myself craving a little more impact from the shimmers. The mattes blended nicely and were opaque with a satisfactory amount of pigmentation. I was also glad that the cream shade did not look ashy like some lighter shades can appear on darker skin. This palette lacks a color that can add depth for me if used on its own. This is more of a one and done type of palette. I did not use the tiny dual ended brush it came with, which is a miniature version of the brush that’s in the full-size palette. Overall, the quality is decent and I could see myself actually using this palette every so often if I’m in the mood for a soft look.

Douglas Cheek Me Up Cream-Like Powder Blushes in 02 Rosa Carolina and 07 Hollyhocks

I chose these blushes with the help of the staff at Douglas. They were very friendly and polite. Even though my boyfriend was there to translate, they didn’t solely rely on him for help and tried to speak as much English to me as possible. I also appreciated the fact that they didn’t try to sell me anything that clearly would not work for my skin tone, just to make a sale, as has happened to me in the past at other retail shops in the US. They were upfront about which lines they carried that had options for my skin tone. The two shades they picked for me were the ones I would have chosen for myself, and as a bonus they were heavily discounted, so even though they were similar shades, I decided to just get them both.

I used Hollyhocks quite a bit on the trip and figured it would be my preferred shade because I like brownish-pink type of blushes that look more natural on my cheeks. However, I still like the bright flush Rosa Carolina gives to my cheeks and how just two dips with my brush gives me easy color payoff. As I started to get darker, I began to favor Rosa Carolina more because it was easier to see on my skin, though they both show well on me and are easy to blend. They’re decent blushes that get the job done, and at 4 euros each, they’re some of the least expensive blushes I own. I have so many wonderful blushes though, that as nice as they are, they’d still rank in the lower middle of my collection.

Shoutout to my boyfriend for being my light arm model! Not that he volunteered. I swatched shades on him while he played World of Warcraft, haha.

Got2b Cheeky Bloom Blush Powder in Pink Velvet

The inner pink circle is a slightly shimmery pale pink that I can use as a highlighter/blush topper. The outer bright pink ring of blush is what I try to pick up with my brush to use all over the cheeks. I like how soft the powder is and that there isn’t much kickup in the pan, but it still feels and smells powdery when I apply it to my cheeks. It’s definitely lower quality than I’m used to, which is a shame since it was 8 euros, but it’s not terrible. And because it has slightly more sheen than the matte Douglas blushes, it’s more flattering on my dry skin. It still looks nice on my cheeks, lasts as long as I need it to, is as lightweight as it’s described on the packaging, and contains nourishing ingredients like Macadamia Oil and Vitamin E, though I don’t know in what amounts. I’m still intrigued by other products from the brand, but for now my curiosity is quenched.

That’s all for today! I appreciate so much anyone who has taken the time to stop by and read my posts. Thank you. I hope this has been helpful!

Also, I wrote nearly all of this post months ago, but I kept pushing the publish date back because of new exciting makeup I wanted to review as soon as possible. I’m actually going back to Germany in a few days and won’t return to the US until the end of January, but I’m not sure if I will even be back home until sometime in February. For now, I am still on track to continue with regularly scheduled weekly posts, but if at any point this changes, the next eventual post will be on a Monday.

– Lili

Products I Changed My Mind About (for better or worse)!

If I have a strong negative or positive opinion about something, you can expect that to stay the same. This post will mainly center around the items I had mixed or indifferent feelings about in my reviews, but I’m now definitively on one side.

Dior Backstage Face and Body Powder No Powder

I remember saying that for my personal needs, I wasn’t certain if this powder was worth $40. I initially didn’t notice that much of a blurring effect because if I take my time blending and concealing all my problem areas, the powder doesn’t make much of a difference except adding a flattering sheen. However, it’s when I’ve been in a rush to put on makeup that I have noticed a dramatic difference! The blurring effect is so much more noticeable from blending out harsher lines of bronzer or contour, toning down a blush, adding some life to a look that’s too flat or dry looking. This has saved me so many times from having to restart a makeup look. I’ve grown to love this powder so much and wholeheartedly recommend it now because I think everyone has those moments when we just don’t have time to make things as smooth as possible, which this powder helps with, assuming it works with your skin type.

All foundations eventually settle into the smile line on the right side of my mouth. This powder fills and smooths it over so that you can’t even see it! After several hours it starts to be visible again, but the fact that it can make this dramatic of a difference at all is amazing to me!

The left side of the photo shows my mouth area after six hours of wearing the Becca Dewing Skin Tint as foundation. It had not been set with powder all day. The right half of the photo shows what the area looked like after I applied the Dior Powder-No-Powder to that spot. It completely freshened up the area.

Rituel de Fille

I was already at a disadvantage with this brand because of my sensitivity to lanolin (which so many of their products contain). When I discovered mold growing around the outer rim of one of the Nectar Balms, I decided that I am no longer interested in any products from this brand that are not powder based. That eliminates practically everything they sell. That Nectar Balm was only 8 months old and I only used it a few times. Then 6 of those 8 months it remained clasped shut and inside a resealable pouch. So, I do not trust how the brand preserves ingredients (it’s supposed to last 12 months after opening), on top of the lanolin issue and the waxiness of other products and certain items being overpriced.

Kaleidos Space Age Highlighters

These were on the cusp of me liking them, as having visible glitter particles is not my preference, but they weren’t so sparse for me to stop using them altogether. However, I’ve embraced my highlighter preference as there are so many reflective illuminating smooth products that suit me, so I decluttered all three of them. If the glitter/shimmer in a highlighter isn’t fine enough, I will just not continue to use them. I have decluttered other highlighters that don’t fit my style such as Fenty’s Trophy Wife Killawatt Highlighter and the Oden’s Eye Solmane Palette.

Tarte Shape Tape Ultra Creamy Concealer

Other than this Instagram post, I haven’t shared my finalized thoughts about this concealer until now. Unfortunately, I really do not like it. I decluttered both from my collection. My love of the original Shape Tape runs pretty deep because I practically need Spackle to cover my dark under eye circles. The main downside to Shape Tape is that it can look dry, so the Ultra Creamy version seemed like the perfect remedy. The finish is nice, but it provides way less coverage than the original, creases significantly, and is not long-lasting. The only thing I find similar about them is the packaging. Even the original 53N Deep and Ultra Creamy 53N Deep have different undertones despite them both being labeled neutral. The original leans golden, which I like, but the ultra creamy leans pink.

Mixing the new and original concealers together improves the performance, but the combo is still worse than if I used the original on its own. Even in reviews I watched where people said they liked it, to me, their under eyes did not look as nice as usual. So, I definitely don’t recommend it.

Final Thoughts

It would have been nice to end this post with a list of five products in total, as five is a nice number, but I could only think of these four. There still a few things I haven’t made up my mind about, such as Makeup Geek eyeshadows (which I will officially review at some point this year), and Viseart shadows after being unimpressed by the Dark Mattes Edit Palette in my last Viseart purchase, but I need a bit more time with them in order to decide.

As a sort of honorable mention, I can say that the ELF Instant Lift Brow Pencil has reclaimed the top spot as my favorite brow product over the ELF Ultra Precise Brow Pencil. I liked how thin and easy it was to draw those realistic brow hairs, but I still missed the Instant Lift after I used it up. Then one day, when I went to use the Ultra Precise, I don’t know if it dried out but the whole product just slid right out. It was unusable at that point. I don’t know if it was just a fluke or if that tends to happen with the Ultra precise, but since I loved the Instant Lift anyway (and it’s cheaper and I know I can use up the entire pencil without issue), I decided the Instant Lift deserves the crown and I’m now on brow pencil #2.

That is all for today!

I have one review scheduled for next week, but my consistent return to Monday postings will not begin until September 13th. I hope you all are doing well!

Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Secrets to Saving Money on Beauty

I’m a bloodhound when it comes to finding a good deal. I get such a rush out of it that I think even if I was wealthy, I would still try to avoid paying full price for anything online. Today, I’ll discuss the different ways I’ve been able to save money over the past seven years. All it takes is a little time (which is admittedly precious), patience, and consistency.

I don’t know if the websites I use are restricted to US-residents only, but there may be similar versions of cashback, discounted gift card, and promo code sites for other countries.

RAISE

I’m starting with the one that I have rarely heard anyone talk about. Raise is a website/app for buying and selling gift cards. I use the website to purchase discounted Ulta and Sephora gift cards, which are typically around 5% off, but occasionally there are sellers who are eager for the cash and will sell upwards of a 20% discount. This means a gift card worth $25 at Sephora would only cost $20 to buy. In addition, Sephora allows customers to use up to two gift cards per order. So, if I have an order that will cost me a total of $50 and I happen to have two $25 gift cards that I paid $20 each for, that means I would have only paid $40 out of pocket for that order!

How it works is that I purchase the gift card I want to buy. After my payment is processed and finalized, Raise emails me the link (it will also show on the account details page) with the gift card number and pin.

When I’m checking out at Sephora, I input the gift card details in the “Payment Method” section. If my subtotal exceeds the amount on the gift card, I can still add a second form of payment to cover the rest. If my subtotal is less than the amount on the card, I can use what’s leftover again later. That’s it!

Email links usually come quickly for me. I think the longest I’ve had to wait was a few hours. I’ve also never had an issue with the gift card amount being less than specified, or having leftover funds on the card go missing later.

According to my Raise history, I’ve saved $211.31 to date. It may only be a few dollars off at a time, but it adds up. Periodically, Raise will release promo codes that knock an additional 5 or more percent off a Raise purchase. So, that 20% discount from one seller could turn into 25% off with a promo code. There are other kinds of deals that Raise offers, such as Raise Cash, but that gets a little more complicated and it’s best to learn about those avenues directly from them. Also, I believe all Sephora and Ulta cards are for electronic delivery, but Raise also offers physical cards for stores that only allow gift cards for in-store purchases, so always check that before paying.

Using a discounted gift card is just the start of how I stack up savings. I believe there are other websites that sell discounted gift cards, but I only have experience using Raise. MyGiftCardsPlus is another place I buy gift cards sometimes, but it works differently.

Rakuten, Swagbucks, and MyGiftCardsPlus

I’ll start first with Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates. Rakuten is a cashback website/app, meaning you get a certain percentage of money back with every purchase. I think of it as though Rakuten is an Influencer who companies have paid to entice me to make a purchase, which Rakuten then gives me a portion of that back.

The cashback rate from specific makeup brands tends to stay the same, but Sephora and Ulta fluctuate more frequently, generally between 2-6%. Rakuten also has random days when hundreds of websites get a boost in the percentage of cashback, along with designated times for “15% off week,” like for their site anniversary and holidays. There are plenty of websites that offer this kind of service like Mr. Rebates and Ibotta, but I haven’t looked into them because managing two is plenty. I don’t want more than what I currently use. And yes, they do require some monitoring.

I find it easiest to use browser extensions for cashback purposes because if you linger too long on a website, it can deactivate, which you wouldn’t know if you merely used the cashback link. Sometimes during the payment process, if the website has a hiccup in loading, it can also cause deactivation or it not going through as having used Rakuten (or Swagbucks). So, I tend to check the list of store visits to make sure it went through, otherwise you have to contact customer service to get it fixed. It’s easy to contact them via Rakuten (though I haven’t had to do that since they used to be Ebates, so I don’t know if this is still the case), but Swagbucks is a bit of a pain. Their customer service sends general responses without even reading the details of the case half the time and it makes me wonder if it’s worth the few dollars, but I’m stubborn about certain things and this is one of them.

So, how it works is if I go on any website belonging to an affiliate of Rakuten, the browser extension will notify me. I just click to activate cash back and it will redirect the page. I know it worked when the icon becomes blue and says it’s activated. With Swagbucks, the symbol with a yellow circle turns into a green circle. You cannot have more than one cashback site activated at a time. The browser extensions also show promo codes that can be used at checkout, as well as list different products on sale. Raise is actually affiliated with Rakuten (and sometimes Swagbucks), so you can get a little cashback (I’ve only ever seen 1%) when buying a gift card from Raise!

I’ve gotten $654 from Rakuten since signing up in August 2015. They have a referral program for everyone and an ambassador program for influencers, but my savings total is purely from my own cashback spending. They’ve had different sign up bonuses over the years and the photo below shows the current one. I know how referral programs work, in theory, but I don’t have any first hand experience with them.

An important thing to know about Rakuten is that you only get paid 4 times a year (every 3 months). You can choose to have the money sent in the form of a check that will be mailed to your home address or via PayPal.

Swagbucks works like Rakuten regarding the cashback process of making a purchase through an activated link and getting credit for it. However, Swagbucks only pays in the form of gift cards, not cash, though a PayPal gift card is also an option.
Everything is listed in SB. Every 100 SB is worth $1, and I can claim a gift card technically at any time, but gift card redemptions start at $5 or more, depending on which one I try to get. It can also take minutes to several days for the gift card link to be emailed, though it’s usually a day or two.

The cashback process from Swagbucks is a small part of what they do. They offer surveys for SB, viewing videos/ads/websites for SB, playing games for SB, in-store purchases, bonuses for downloading certain apps or signing up for different subscriptions, using their search engine instead of search engines like Google and Mozilla Firefox, entering codes found via their social media, a daily poll for 1 SB, different team events, raffles, etc. Over the years, the different ways to rack up SB have gotten to be so overwhelming that there’s plenty I still don’t even know about, even though I’ve been using Swagbucks longer than Rakuten. The site has gotten more complicated to use as well. For quite a few years now, I’ve basically just claimed my daily SB and used the cashback feature if it’s significantly higher than what Rakuten is offering. All the other avenues are just too much effort to be worth the time for me.

One other way I gain additional SB is when buying a gift card via MyGiftCardsPlus, which was started by Prodege LLC, the company behind Swagbucks. If I know there’s an event coming up that I’m likely to spend a decent amount of money on, such as the Sephora VIB sale or Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty or some upcoming holiday event, I will sometimes purchase a gift card ahead of time. Unlike Raise where I spend less money for the gift card, with MyGiftCardsPlus I’m buying the gift card at full value, but I get SB added to my account. This can sometimes be the boost to being able to then redeem another gift card from Swagbucks, if for instance, I currently have 700 SB and the MGCP purchase would give me 300 SB added to my account. Then I would have 1000 SB and be able to claim a $10 Sephora Gift Card. Gift Cards purchased from MGCP have taken minutes to days to be emailed to me, though mostly minutes to an hour.

But as I said before, this is only if I know I’m going to be spending money soon. I’m not saving money if I buy a gift card just because it gives an extra few cents bonus or there’s suddenly 3% more cashback at a retailer. Because if I do that, I’m likely going to buy things I normally wouldn’t. If I know I want to place an order and then activate cashback or buy a gift card prior to completing that order, that’s when I’m actually using these sites to my advantage rather than being tempted into extra unnecessary purchases. I know I personally have to be careful not the be tempted by any and every sale or discount that comes my way.

RetailmeNot and other Promo Code Websites

RetailmeNot is a promo code browser extension/website like Honey and Karma (Karma was previously named Shoptagr) that cycles through their list of company and user submitted promo codes to check if you can save any additional money off your purchase and/or if there is a better promo code than whatever you entered on the website.

I always check for promo codes and in the past I’ve saved up to 40% off on deals I didn’t realize were going on and wasn’t informed about despite being on different brands’ email lists. I’ve gotten free shipping, free items, bonus reward program points, etc. Promo codes have saved me a ton of money over the years and it’s actually shocking to me when I’m unable to find one at all.

RetailmeNot used to be my #1 source in the past, but since I’m buying more from indie brands and less from mainstream ones, I don’t use it as often. Plus, the promo codes listed via Rakuten tend to be satisfactory to me. I’ve noticed that Karma tends to have more indie brand promo codes than the others, which is especially useful since it’s mainly mainstream brands and huge companies that are associated with cashback sites, so it’s nice to still get a discount in those instances.

I used to have Karma in order to build a wishlist and get notified as soon as the item on my list changed in price. However, I’ve been unable to get that feature to work properly after I disabled and re-enabled that browser extension. In addition, Karma started to get very annoying, like whenever I clicked the button to close it and it would reopen the site in another browser tab (as if activating its cashback feature despite me trying to use Rakuten or Swagbucks), so I changed the settings so I have to manually click the extension icon in order for it to pop up. I am much happier with it now.

If all else fails, I do a general google search to see if any other coupon site has a valid promo code. Sometimes I get lucky, but usually if it’s not on RetailMeNot or Karma, I won’t be able to find one elsewhere.

Remembering Common Sale Dates

Oh, how it drives me nuts when I pay for an item and then just days later there’s a sale. It has happened enough times for me to start paying attention to when all businesses will likely have a sale, like Black Friday or specific holidays. I also try to keep track of when specific retailers and brands have their friends and family sales or anniversary sales.
Ulta’s Platinum/Diamond tier Appreciation Day tends to be in August or September. The 21 Days of Beauty starts at some point in mid March and again in early September.
Sephora tends to have their Spring sale in either March or April, as well as an end of Summer Sale in August. Occasionally they also have a “Sale on Sale” when items in their sale section get an additional 20% off.

There also tends to be great deals during one’s birthday month. Knowing these kinds of dates enables me to estimate if I should get something or wait a few weeks, provided the item I want isn’t likely to sell out. However, it’s not uncommon for certain items from Sephora to suddenly go “out of stock” just before a big sale and end up returning during the last few days of the sale. When that happens, make sure to select the option to be notified when the product is back in stock.

The absolute ultimate money savings combo is when I buy a discounted gift card, activate cashback, use a promo code for additional savings, and top it all off with an additional price deduction when using a company’s reward program. Plus, if you get cashback or rewards automatically on your credit card purchases via your credit card company, that’s an extra win! This has happened to me a few times, though I can’t remember which orders were the best ones at the top of my head, but here is an example. Some of the products in my order were deeply discounted because Ulta wasn’t going to carry them anymore, plus I used a promo code, I activated cashback, and I redeemed 2000 points. I paid about $36 for $170 worth of products at the sale price, not even including what the total would be at full retail.

Anticipating when to wait for a sale is helpful, but sometimes brands spring them on us without warning. In order for me to not miss a sale going on, I periodically check the Featured Deals at the top of Temptalia’s blog. I also follow beauty deal Instagram accounts like BeautyDealsBff and TrendMoodDeals. There’s an ongoing Sephora forum thread keeping track of deals as well, called “Deals Too Good to Pass Up” that I used to check a lot until I followed those IG accounts. Here is the current iteration as of today.

Another more recent example of utilizing a combination of money savings and perks of reward programs is when BeautyDealsBFF posted about the Nars Cheek Quad that was released early for Platinum and Diamond Tier Members at Ulta. There was a 20% off influencer promo code going on that would bring it down to nearly the same price as a single blush (which I almost purchased the day before). Each blush in the quad is nearly the same size as a full-size pan too. All four shades in the quad were colors I debated purchasing at one time or another, so I jumped on the opportunity.

First, I went to Raise and saw they had a “Black Friday in July” 5% savings bonus using the code JULYBF. So I paid $22.40 to get a $25 Ulta gift card.

Then I went to Ulta and added the items to my cart (including the current Ulta Nars Free Gift with Purchase).

Overall, the total would have been $41.18 with tax included. The promo code BeautydealsBFF shared brought it down to $33.38. For the remainder of the balance, I paid it with the $25 Raise gift card and $8.38 leftover was paid via a VISA gift card that I got from my credit card company as part of the credit card reward program. I didn’t pay that Raise gift card in full so, I essentially spent $22.40 out of pocket to get the Nars Quad, three Nars minis, and because I activated the 1% cashback for Raise and 3% cashback for Ulta via Rakuten, I’m getting cashback for those as well. And as Diamond Tier at Ulta, I get free shipping on orders over $25 so I didn’t have to pay for that either.

Utilizing Point Systems/Reward Programs

I could talk about different reward programs for ages. Some are better than others. For instance, one that bugs me is that Coloured Raine’s program allows you to exchange points for a coupon of $5 off a $30 purchase, $10 off a $40 purchase, or $15 off a $75 purchase. If you claim this coupon, you have to use it in place of a promo code. Coloured Raine’s sales are usually between 30-50% off, but instead of marking down everything on the site, you have to enter the sale code in the promo code spot, which is always going to give a higher discount than the reward program coupon will give. This means that the reward program coupon is only good for full price items, but why even bother using the coupon when you know you can get the item for even less money during the next sale? It’s nearly pointless except for new launches, which are few and far between with Coloured Raine. Puritan’s Pride is a health site, but I like that when I get enough points to redeem a discount, I can do it and still use a promo code.

My favorite kind of reward programs are the ones where I can exchange points for a certain amount of money off my order total. I don’t think anyone does it better than Ulta with their periodic 5-10x points events, offers to add a certain number of points to your account if you spend a specific amount of money, etc. I’ve talked about Ulta’s Reward Program before, and how you get the most money for the points at the 1000 ($50) and 2000 ($125) marks. I try my best to save up to 2000 points, but in the event that I really want something but am over budget, that’s when I will redeem 1000 points.

Ulta’s success forced Sephora to completely revamp their reward program and allow point for cash options too. However, it’s much harder to accrue points at Sephora since they don’t have point multiplier events above 4x and it’s usually on skincare or perfume, not makeup. 2000 points at Ulta could only take $200 on a 10x day, but 2000 points at Sephora really is closer to having spent $2000 (or I guess $500 if you really love skincare and expensive perfumes).
2000 points at Ulta gives $125 and could take $200-$2000 spending to accumulate.
2000 points at Sephora gives $100 and could take $500-$2500 spending to accumulate.
We can clearly see which program is better. At Sephora, the value is worse at the more achievable level of getting $10 off a purchase in exchange for 500 points, but you’re not even allowed to do that during a VIB sale. I know because I’ve tried. Ulta hasn’t been giving out 20% off coupons like they used to, but in the past I would wait for that coupon and then use my reward points. Oh, how my wallet thanked me.

Even though the 2500 point option at Sephora is better than the 500 point one, I’m not waiting an eternity for that to happen. So, I have redeemed the $10 off several times since it’s so rare that anything in the reward section is of interest to me or attainable. Here is an example of when I put it to decent use. When I ordered The Pat Mcgrath Paradise Venus blush, I activated cashback, exchanged the 500 points for a $10 discount, and used a gift card that I got from Raise which was a promotional deal that I spent $3 to obtain a $15 gift card. So, I paid $18 out of pocket for the $38 blush.

It cannot be forgotten that reward programs aren’t free money. I still spent money in order to gain a little back, so I have to be careful not to buy things just to earn more points. Spending less will always be the best way to save the most money, but if I’m going to make a purchase, at least I can do all I can to make it count!

*DISCLAIMER: This post was not created to endorse any of the money saving websites discussed. I don’t know what (if any) ramifications there could be by filling out a survey with semi-private information or having browser extensions that keep track of every online store I visit and every purchase I make. I am just sharing the strategies and resources I found to spend less on my online purchases; they’re resources I’ve used for many years with little to no issues.
Also, the links in this post are normal non-affiliated links. Everyone who signs up to websites like Rakuten, Raise, and Swagbucks, automatically get referral links generated for their accounts. I did not link mine because that is not the purpose of this post. I shared my tips solely to be helpful.
Also, I did my best to explain how to use these websites, but reading the FAQ and/or TOS of each site will ensure you know anything I may have forgotten to mention.

That’s all for today! I wanted to post this before August because a lot of the big sales start from August onward, but I will be out of the country by that point. Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Beautylish XL Lucky Bag 2020 Review

What It Is

The online retailer, Beautylish, offers package deals on mystery beauty products the day after Christmas and ships them out in the following New Year to celebrate the Japanese fukubukuro tradition. Although the items in each bag are “chosen at random,” the only thing we know for certain is that foundations and concealers are excluded.

This is my third year reviewing these lucky bags. You can click these links if you’d like to see what I received in 2016 and 2018. Some differences I noticed between my previous review and this one is that shipping fees have increased on the Original Bags from $7 to $10. Beautylish also included a Buy one, Give one bag. If you choose that option, you will spend $150 to receive an Original bag with at least $150 worth of products, and another Original bag with a minimum of $150 worth of products will also be donated to Alternative Family Services. In looking at previous screenshots, I also see the XL bags were once guaranteed to have $350 worth of product instead of the $300 now. I should have taken that as a hint…

How To Get One

You’ll want to sign-up here to be on the email list for 2021.

Unlike 2018, where the XL boxes sold out during priority access (given to customers who spent at least $1000 that year), Beautylish did away with that and just kept early access. This gave everyone an equal opportunity to buy the bag of their choice. I like this change!

Customers across social media can confirm the XL bags still sold out between 9:02 a.m. and 9:03 a.m. PST. This is just minutes after the options became available! I believe the Dark-Deep Original bags sold out within the early access hour and the remaining bags sold out within the day.

As I happened to be one of the people who snagged an XL bag, I’ll share my tips here:

1) Have your payment details saved on your Beautylish account prior to the lucky bag launch. This will save you precious time when checking out. Between me clicking on the XL bag and checking out of my cart, it took perhaps 10 seconds. If you don’t want to keep your card or PayPal info stored, you can always delete it off your account afterward.

2) Be on the website at least a minute prior to the launch but preferably 5-10 minutes ahead of time. The early access emails are released staggered and not all at once. Some customers report getting them at 9:01 (like I did) or as comparatively late as 9:07. Some did not receive an email at all. I can confirm that the other email address I signed up with did not get the early access email, but I did get a reminder that only a few bags were left later that day.

I was on the early access page before 9:00. When I continued refreshing at the launch time, I noticed the message changed to include a link. Because I couldn’t actually click it and had to copy and paste the web address in another browser tab, I’m not certain if that was meant to happen or not.

I finished checking out just seconds before my early access email came. And I received my order confirmation at 9:02.

3) Don’t forget to do that early access sign-up! Even if you end up not buying a bag next year, at least the option will be available to you.

4) Already know which bag you want ahead of time so that you can immediately make your purchase without having to spend time thinking about it or second-guessing yourself. It’s not a fun feeling to have an item sell out while in your cart!

5) Going along with the previous tip, remember you can only buy one bag. It’s one bag per customer (account), the form of payment, and address. If you try to buy a second bag with any of the same information, they will cancel your second order. So, know which ones you want ahead of time!

What Was Inside

Ordinarily, I would give a brief review of every product. However, there were so few items I wanted that I didn’t swatch or use any of it. I kept 2 and traded everything else for the item I hoped I would get the most.

NATASHA DENONA Diamond & Blush Palette in 01 Darya $89. I’ve seen this for $53.40 on ND’s official website on Black Friday. Beautylish also had 30% off ND items during their one and only sale (that I’ve ever seen). This palette is beautiful, but I don’t use shimmery blushes and considering this was the highest value item in my bag, I didn’t want to swatch this and saved it instead to sell or trade.

CHARLOTTE TILBURY Starry Eyes to Hypnotise $75. The green shade was calling out to me, but I did not keep this either. After not being the biggest fan of CT’s eyeshadow formula from the quad I received in my 2016 box, I decided I didn’t want to risk trying it and being disappointed again.

HOLIFROG Kissimmee Vitamin F Therapy Balmy Wash $42. I didn’t mind receiving this item and would have tried it if I didn’t need it for the trade.

SOL DE JANEIRO Copacabana Bronzing Glow Oil $35. This type of product isn’t intended for already dark skin. Lol. Regardless, I’m not into shimmery body products.

BECCA Hydra-Mist Set & Refresh Powder $39. I’ve seen this sold for $19.50 multiple times during Ulta’s 21 days style events. I have a deluxe sized sample of this powder that I still haven’t used yet, so it made no sense to hold onto the full size.

SONIA G. Builder Three $32. Although this wasn’t on my list of Sonia G brushes I wanted to try, I was happy to have at least something from her line.

JOUER COSMETICS Long-Wear Lip Crème in Guava $18. I didn’t try this since I’ve been mainly wearing lip glosses and lip balms for the past two years. I still never even used the Jouer Lippie from my 2018 Lucky Bag.

GOOD MOLECULES Niacinamide Brightening Toner $14. This and the Sonia G brush are the only two items I kept. I’ve been using the Good Molecules Discoloration Correcting Serum, which I think has been helping in certain areas, so I’m happy to try this out.

Final Thoughts

Total Retail Price of items in my XL Lucky Bag – $344

Total at Discounted Pricing – $256.9

Practical Savings (Cost of items I would actually buy $46 – $165 that I paid) – Loss of $119 without selling or trading.

This ended up being my real Lucky Bag this year. Thankfully, I found a trustworthy person willing to take my up-for-trade items worth $298 retail for a $129 Natasha Denona Metropolis Palette shipped directly from Beautylish. I don’t care about the price discrepancy because products are only worth as much as you’re willing to pay for them. I did not want to keep items I wouldn’t get enough use out of. I paid an extra $17 for shipping out of pocket, but it was worth it to me. Plus, it made someone else happy in the process.

Total Retail Value of My Revised Lucky Bag – $175

*Final Practical Savings – Loss of $7

* In this case, the practical savings is the retail price of the items in my new bag I would buy ($175) minus what I paid originally ($165). That gives me a surplus of $10. However, I paid $17 to ship the trade items, which leaves me with the $7 loss. Much better than before. I’m happy with that. But do I want to go through this process again? Absolutely not.

2019 saw a rise in anti-consumerism/pro-minimalism, reducing excessive product purchasing for environmental reasons, No buys, Low buys, Project Pans, and Anti-Hauls. I saw the most sales ever from Ulta, Sephora, Macy’s, etc. These sales (beyond their annual ones) are an indication that people weren’t buying as much in 2019. I was able to get pretty much everything I wanted for much lower prices, which means there wasn’t as much wiggle room for being pleased with the items in my bag. However, past XL Lucky Bags always (with rare exceptions) had an eyeshadow palette valued at over $100 in each box. That’s why I was willing to get this again, thinking that at the very least I would need to sell only one or two items to outright buy what I want. I knew they wouldn’t put the large ND 28 pan palettes in the bags for the 4th year in a row, however, I don’t own a majority of her $100+ palettes, nor any of the Viseart Grand Pro palettes. With those things in mind, it appeared to be a safe bet getting another XL bag this year.

But this year, they didn’t do things the same way. I scoured Instagram and Youtube daily, seeing everything people received in their XL bags. About 10% of what I saw were Viseart Grand Pro 3 (mainly in the XL bags that shipped out first 🤔). 10% Natasha Denona Metropolis. Perhaps 5% received the ND Gold Palette. The remaining 75% had items I’d expect to see as the big item in the regular bags: Jeffrey Star/Shane Dawson Conspiracy Palette, Charlotte Tilbury Starry Eyes to Hypnotise + ND Diamond and Blush or one of the Dominique Cosmetics Palettes, etc. There were also more skincare items this year than ever before. Some XL bags had an eyeshadow palette in the $40 range paired with the Sulwhasoo Time Treasure Renovating Cream, Oribe Gold Shampoo, or Uma Oil as their high-value item.

This year’s lucky bag is also not as “random” as they lead us to believe. I’ve seen maybe 10-20 different combinations of the same products. Some being higher valued than others. The ones that appeared to be “extra lucky” would have been considered normal in previous years.

The bag I received did not have bad items, they just weren’t popular ones. I’ve always praised Beautylish for not doing what all other companies do with grab bags: only include old or hard to sell inventory. Beautylish still did that with a few items in the past, but not to this degree! The going rate for the items in my bag on selling apps and sites would have required me to sell 3 items for a discounted high-value palette that I could only hope was authentic. Or sell nearly everything to get it from an authorized retailer. I didn’t anticipate this happening for an XL bag, and this new precedent is why I decided to no longer get them in the future. Without that “big ticket” guarantee, it’s too risky.

I honestly don’t consider my bag variation to be the worst one. But as I am trying to only buy products I will use and love, I won’t be getting regular lucky bags in the future either. Mystery boxes don’t guarantee a happy result, and I don’t want to either waste my money or go through the hassle of buying/trading again. So, this ends my every-other-year Lucky Bag tradition! I tried to balance my disappointment with positives in this review, but… the majority of 2020 XL Lucky Bags were duds!

Lili

XL Beautylish Lucky Bag 2018 Comprehensive Review

What is it?

This is the annual New Year mystery boxes modeled after the fukubukuro tradition from the online retailer Beautylish. The purchasing options have changed since my previous post on this topic. In 2017, they introduced the XL bags which are $165 (shipping included) for $350+ of products. The price of the regular bags are the same $82 (including shipping) for $150+ of products, however they’ve added two complexion choices: Fair-Medium and Dark-Deep. Customers have been asking for this change for years since products like bronzers, contour powders, blushes, and even lipstick shades can be unflattering depending on the skin tone. Beautylish does not put foundations or concealers in the bags, so if properly executed it could increase the likelihood of getting usable products.

How do you get one?

The 2018 Lucky Bags are no longer available but the 2019 notification list can be found here.

On December 23rd, Beautylish sent an email explaining that customers who spent $1,000+ in 2017 would get priority access on December 26th 9am PST. Everyone else who signed up for early access would get the sale page link on that same day at 11am PST and everyone else could order at 3pm PST.

What actually happened was that early access began at 10:00 am instead of 11:00 am. I clicked my email link at 10:04 and saw that no XL bags were available, so I think those bags sold out during the priority access time slot.

I remembered that in my earliest experiences with Beautylish I had a beauty rep, so I decided to reach out to them and was informed that the XL bags would be restocked in limited quantities at the original early access start time (11 PST). The restock sold out just as quickly, so huge thanks to the Beautylish customer service team! I would not have been able to get the XL bag otherwise.

Regular bags were delivered to those closest to Beautylish (San Francisco) on January 11th so there were already posts popping up on IG, Twitter, and Youtube but none of the XL bags shipped until the next day. My package was delayed due to weather conditions and arrived January 19th.

What did you get?

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Mask  – $12, if priced individually.

I’ve looked at hundreds of photos of unboxed lucky bags via #luckybag2018 and #beautylishluckybag2018 on Instagram and 90% of the regular and XL bags I saw contained 1 of 2 possible Sulwhasoo masks.

Wayne Goss #19 Precision Blending Brush – $23.

This brush has been on my wishlist for months! Funny thing is that now that I have it, I realized I’ve had an identical brush all along: the Hakuhodo J146.

With this in mind, I’m still very happy to have what is essentially a backup of my Hakuhodo brush. I’ve been wanting to get additional smaller sized eye brushes so this is perfect.

Oribe Travel Essentials Collection– $98 ($124 if each item was purchased individually).

This set contains the travel size Gold Lust Dry Shampoo, travel sized Gold Lust Shampoo and Conditioner, the Rollerball Perfume, and the full size Balmessence Lip Treatment. The balm was another thing I wanted to try but not for full price, especially since I’ve learned how to make them myself. In fact, the texture is very similar to the first one I ever made. Mine contains yellow beeswax so it’s the slightly yellow one on the left and the Oribe balm is on the right.

I’ve had the chance to test the balm over the past 24 hours and I can say it has a hard wax-like texture that takes a little warming up with the finger to become usable. It feels like a lightweight and less greasy version of Vaseline. It doesn’t have much of a smell, which is fine by me. It creates a thin moisturizing barrier that I can feel when I touch my lips but I wouldn’t call it tacky/sticky. It helped soothe my dry lips but it has an average wear time. I wouldn’t spend $35 on it when my less expensive jar of Nuxe Reve de Miel works better. I intend to try the shampoo and conditioner at a later date and I’ll give the dry shampoo and perfume to a friend. For anyone who wants to try a set like this but not spend $100, just know that there’s an Oribe Gold Lust Set from Birchbox that’s $55 and contains the same size shampoo, conditioner, and lip balm. It doesn’t have the perfume or dry shampoo but it does have the Gold Lust Transformative Masque instead. *The links in this blog post are not affiliate links and not sponsored.

Skindinavia Makeup Finishing Spray – $29.

I haven’t tried this yet but I’m looking forward to comparing it to the Urban Decay All Nighter. Since Skindinavia produces both products, I’d love to see for myself if there’s a noticeable difference between the two.

Jouer Skinny Dip Lip Topper – St. Tropez $16.

This looks really pretty in the tube but I’m not going to swatch it. I’ll be giving it to a friend. I like shiny lips but not shimmer/glitter on myself.

Bioderma Cleanser – $6.90.

I’m keeping it in the bubble wrap because I’ll be giving it to a friend as well. I love bioderma, and they sent me the version that I can actually use, but I already have the full size.

Natasha Denona 28 Pan Eyeshadow Palette – Purple Blue $239.

This was the last item I pulled out of my box and I was ecstatic! I had an NP 5 Pan Palette in the past but I gave it up (which I regretted shortly after) because I barely used it. I’m so happy to have ND eyeshadows again! I’d forgotten how smooth the metallic shades were and the color selection of this palette is amazing! For the past few months I’ve been experimenting with different formulas/color combinations for making my own pressed eyeshadows. The purples and blues in this palette are exactly what I’ve been trying to create for myself because so few palettes have the colors I want!

Here’s an example of some of my works in progress for anyone curious.

The photo below depicts finger swatches without primer and in different lighting.

Creating my own eyeshadows has given me a bigger appreciation for the work that goes into a palette like this. Purples truly are a pain to get right, so seeing completed purples that work this well is #goals!

I’ll do a swatch post in a few months (I’m being realistic with my posting schedule, haha) and an updated review, but swatching these reminded me how much the metallics are above reproach but some of the pearls and mattes are problematic.

Final Thoughts

Maximum (individual pricing) Retail Value – $450

Actual Retail Value – $423.90

Actual Savings – $258.90

Practical Savings (price of items I like minus what I paid) –  $161

Even without the monetary aspect, I feel like my bag was a winner! I technically didn’t get anything that I already own. As far as I know, none of the items in my bag have been heavily discounted at other retailers, unlike the ABH, Becca, Kevyn Aucoin, By Terry products that were among the most common items in the boxes. I didn’t get anything complexion based, which was a fear of mine, and I also didn’t get products from controversial brands. That seems pretty lucky to me!

I did notice several changes between this year and past boxes. There were more skincare products this time. There were also more duplicates. About 10% of the boxes I saw didn’t come with an eyeshadow palette, which was quite shocking to see since so many of us expected that to be a guarantee. There were quite a number of items from last year that popped up again this year. Every XL bag last year had one of the ND 28 palettes so most customers were expecting a different large eyeshadow palette as the “big ticket item.”

With the deep-dark boxes, I was shocked to see so many Jeffree Star liquid lipsticks. Yes, it was in a flattering orange color and JS did apologize for his past racist remarks, but that doesn’t mean everyone has forgiven him and to have so many JS products in the deep-dark regular boxes was hugely disappointing to quite a few people. I was also surprised to see the By Terry Sun Designer Palettes and Charlotte Tilbury Face in a Look palettes which are advertised as being able to work for a wide range of skin tones but come now… how do you sculpt with a powder that’s lighter than your skin tone or smoke with a shade that is practically invisible?

Whether a bag is “good” or “bad” is subjective, but I saw a deep-dark bag that had a natasha denona body glow in medium. It’s the equivalent of giving someone with chronically dry lips a very drying ultra matte liquid lipstick. Anyone can literally put any makeup product on but it doesn’t mean it will look good.

I still think Beautylish’s lucky bags are by far the best mystery boxes on the US market (XL bags only ship to the US but regular bags are open internationally). However, I think I’ll continue the pattern of purchasing a bag every other year. 2020, here I come!

Thanks for reading.

– Lili

Ulta Expanding Their Reward Tiers

*Updated 01/02/18 at the end of this post.

What are Diamond Ultamate Rewards?

As I was checking my email this morning I noticed this portion which was a link to a countdown.

Upon clicking it, I saw “Diamond Ultamate Rewards” as the banner name.

At the time that I’m writing this, Ulta has yet to make an official announcement and no media outlets have posted but I believe Ulta is adding an additional tier to their reward program! Diamonds fit the “sparkly” hint and the countdown goes to January 1st which is when the year to date spending gets reset for everyone.

Their current Platinum tier is fantastic. I frequently get set 20% off coupons, there are days when certain brand items go for 5x or 10x the points, sometimes those even stack with other platinum multipliers or specific item multipliers like the one I received today:

For spending $450 in a calendar year you get these perks plus special platinum only deals, early access to certain product releases, an automatic .25 extra points per dollar in their reward program, etc.

Their points can be redeemed for the equivalent of store/online credit and they are worth more as you save more (especially at the 1000 and 2000 point levels). Plus, when you redeem points you can combine them with 20% off coupons for even more savings!

What could Diamond Status mean for customers?

The biggest thing customers have been asking for is free shipping (beyond their current $50 purchase minimum or sometimes $35 minimum). Other possibilities could be increased percentages on prestige coupons, even earlier access to products, more point multipliers, etc. There is no way to tell until they announce it but this is already such exciting news!

I can also only guess that it might take $750 or $1,000 in a calendar year to reach Diamond Status. I will certainly update this post once the full details have been officially announced. My biggest hope though is that the current Platinum Status won’t change and that Ulta won’t take away perks from Platinum and transfer them onto the higher Diamond Tier. It would be great to see the new Diamond Status only add to the amazing perks Ulta has to offer.

UPDATE: JANUARY 2, 2018 – Ulta has confirmed their new Diamond Tier and it’s much higher than I anticipated for less perks than expected. $1,200 gets customers 0.25 more points per dollar than platinum and daily free shipping with $25+ purchases.

UltDia1

UltDia2

I think I’d rather buy myself an actual diamond.

Lili

 

Moschino x Sephora Limited Edition Makeup Collection

These beauties look like they came straight out of a build-a-bear shop! Amidst the drama, both positive and negative surrounding this collection, I expected someone else to have noticed the similarities between the B-A-B store colors and the packaging of these bears, but I may be alone on that!

Worst Launch Ever or Clever Business Tactic?

*Note: Feel free to skip this section if you’re just looking for the product review further down below!

Sophie Shab aka Trendmood generated a ton of buzz when she released sneak peeks of this collection. Moschino fans and makeup lovers were particularly excited by the chance to obtain Jeremy Scott’s creations at relatively affordable prices via the company’s collaboration with Sephora.

The initial US release date was Aug 11th but only the bear mask was made available that day. It was rumored that Sephora employees had a temporary 50% off discount on all Sephora Collections, so the beauty giant allegedly pushed the launch date to the 18th when the promotion ended. I’m not a Sephora employee so I can’t confirm whether or not this is true, but I’m more inclined to believe that a shipment was delayed. Some would call it another indication of delay and scarcity tactics being used on consumers.

On August 17th at approximately 11:50 pm PST the complete collection was released online. The large bear palette and highlighter duo had the ‘sold out’ banner within the first 30 minutes, but the status continued to fluctuate at random between ‘sold out’ and ‘only a few left’ for the next 12 hours. The following day I saw them become available again for a maximum of 90 seconds before going out of stock again.

The first error I got was a red ‘add to cart’ button which once clicked would then read “sorry this item is out of stock.” I had no issues obtaining the brushes and lip glosses but my biggest challenge was checking out fast enough to complete the highlighter order before it could sell out whilst in my cart.

8/18 11:29 AM EST

8/18 3:50 PM EST

8/20 7:53 pm EST

Everyone who refreshed the pages long enough throughout the day noticed that at least once every hour the items would come back in stock. I’m not sure if that was purposely done on Sephora’s part to combat resellers. If it was, I doubt they would ever admit it considering the amount of frustration some people felt over this method.

I find it interesting as well that the “notify when in stock” button was removed. It was available when the web page was first created before the launch, but by the 18th it was removed. Considering available online stock was being released in trickles, I’m sure people would be even more annoyed if they received email notifications only to find it out of stock again by the time they clicked onto the page.

Part of the added frenzy was the fact that although the collection became available in stores on Aug 24th (Aug 25th for Canadians), Sephora JcPenney stores are not carrying the collection, which is a huge problem for people who don’t live in or near metropolitan areas. My nearest standalone store is 45 miles away and many other people have standalone stores even farther away than that.

I thought the ordering issues would deter customers but somehow it fueled the frenzy! The situation was very reminiscent of the Epic Fail and Extraordinary Reward point redemption events, but this takes the cake as the strangest collection release to date!

MOSCHINO + SEPHORA Bear Brush Set

Price: $54

*Note: I will be comparing this set to the previous limited edition brush set I purchased from Sephora.

All-Over Face Brush – blend and buff pressed powders or powder foundations

Cheek Brush: blend blush

Highlight Brush: precision highlighter application and blending

All-over Shadow Brush: apply and blend eyeshadow

There was an extra long hair on this one!

Crease Brush: apply and blend eyeshadow into the crease

I was surprised to discover that, just like the ferrules, the bear heads/entire handles are made of metal! They aren’t plastic like Tarte’s Make Believe In Yourself Collection nor did they have an odd holographic spot nor threads poking along the ridge between the handle and ferrule from being improperly glued. I regret buying that set, even though I didn’t pay full price for it. The Moschino brush set is much better quality but also $14 higher in price.

The bristles in the Moschino collection are definitely not loosely packed but they aren’t very dense either and tend to splay/flop under pressure around the outer edges a bit more than I’d like. A careful read in the “what it does” section on Sephora’s website confirms that these are “semi-dense synthetic fibers.”

If you want to get this set to display the cute handles on your vanity, just remember that if you store them with heads up then your bristles will get crushed on the bottom of your container. However, if you intend to have the bristles upright then the bear heads won’t be seen unless you lay them flat, keep them in a brush tree, or house them in a clear storage container without beads/sequins/objects. The bristles are soft but there’s nothing super special or innovative about them. E.L.F and Real Techniques are just a few examples of brands that make brushes that perform the same way for a much better price. When buying this collection you’re essentially paying for the designer name and handles, which is perfectly fine, but just something consumers should be mindful of and acknowledge. That being said, I like them and I think the price is fair.

MOSCHINO + SEPHORA Bear Lip Gloss Chain

$32

The chain is relatively light but the bear attached is HEAVY. I get neck pain, due to a past injury, and there is no way I would be able to wear this on a night out. It’s so heavy that I have a hard time imagining anyone else wearing it for an extended period of time either. That being said, the bear is adorable and I bought it mainly for decorative purposes so there’s no way I’m parting with it! I like that I can put a lip gloss in its head, and once done, it looks like a bear honey bottle. The chain is 24k plated gold, which is a nice bonus, but it’s not detachable from the bear. The bear’s left ear has a soldered on ring from which the entire weight of the chain hangs. Because it’s not connected evenly from both ears, the bear sits tilted unless the chain is placed in a specific ways to counterbalance the weight.

The lip glosses are 0.049 oz / 1.4 grams each. That’s a bit on the small side considering a Buxom deluxe sample from Sephora’s Reward Bazaar is 0.07 oz and the Sephora x Disney collection had five 0.1 oz each lip stains; although the Minnie collection didn’t come with a hefty accessory.

I can tell by looking at the vials that three of the six glosses are not my kind of shades, so I won’t be trying on Malibu (pink-nude), Paris Pink (true pink), and Miami (hot pink). I’ll find homes for them with someone else.

Soho

This is my favorite shade in the collection. It’s a beautiful burgundy color which I find super flattering and it’s highly opaque for a lip gloss. The foot of the applicator could have benefited from being a little smaller but the initial dip from the tube is more than enough to cover the entire lip. These photos are single-dip lip swatches. I wanted to show how pigmented they are from using the bare minimum.

Milano

I consider this type of red to be universal even though it has a tinge of fuchsia to it. The shade isn’t too cool toned as to be unwearable for those of us with yellow undertones. In fact, it looks just a touch orange in the wrist swatch photo below (I think it’s my lights) but it’s a true red shade. I really like it!

Hollywood

I love the look of glitter but the side effect of having loose glitter particles that stick on the skin all day, despite washing the area, is a pet peeve of mine. This shade is stunning but upon my first time wearing it I discovered that removing a glitter lipgloss in a room with a fan is a bad idea! Once the emollient layer was gone the glitter particles started spreading across my face! I learned my lesson and my second time wearing and removing this gloss was not an issue. Soho has some shimmer in it but the glitter is bigger in Hollywood and I’d consider that a negative. It’s also less pigmented than the other two but still impressive for a gloss.

All three of these feel hydrating, buildable, and spreadable but they’re also easy to transfer and cause color-bleeding/feathering the longer they’re worn, especially if extra layers are added. I can feel the oil when I put it on but I wouldn’t go as far as to call it oily. At the same time they also feel and smell waxy. It’s very confusing to see it partly spread and partly stick to the lips. Soho and Milano passed the meal test but those two stain the lips so perhaps they produced an illusion of potential staying power. I will be trying out Soho and Milano again to see if there is a better way to wear them (perhaps over a lip primer, lip liner, or lipstick).

Also noteworthy is the fact that these share similar ingredients with other Sephora branded glosses but the arrangement is different enough that they can’t be called the same formula. Based on the amount of product in the tubes, I’m getting the equivalent of 1-2 full size lip glosses plus the bear necklace for the $34. I consider that a good price!

MOSCHINO + SEPHORA Bear Highlighter

Price: $22

Since this is a gift for my friend, I won’t be swatching it. Quite a few photos of broken highlighters have surfaced, so be aware that these highlighters are a soft formula. I was lucky mine arrived intact but the inconsistencies around the edges (and even that small dip on the bottom) hint at a possible pressing issue during production. This product looks like it would be too dark as highlighter for very fair skin tones (although it could make a nice shimmery blush) but I think those with light to dark skin tones will really like this. I appreciate seeing a limited edition product that can compliment as large a variety of complexions like this one.

Anti-Haul (The YT Trend Started by Kimberly Clark)

I decided not to get the incredibly adorable Bear Palette because I have all those colors in my collection and some of them are extremely similar to each other within the palette as shown on Trendmood’s instagram.

The other reason I decided to skip this is because the palette is too large to be kept flat in the drawer and would look bulky even if stood vertically on my vanity. I have very little vanity space to begin with!

Of the remaining items, I think the mask is overpriced whereas the shopping bag eyeshadow palette and compact mirror weren’t unique enough to catch my attention, especially the compact because $4 more gets a gold bear instead of a brown one and actual makeup with a mirror instead of just two mirrors.

Moschino and Sephora created something truly eye-catching that succeeded in drawing me in far more than I intended or expected. As I was about to post I noticed this from a moderator on Sephora’s Community forum.

I hope my review has helped you if you plan to purchase in-store or if you couldn’t get your hands on it I hope the anti-haul portion helped make the fomo (fear of missing out) much less.

❤ Lili

UPDATE: As of December 8th, 2017 Sephora has restocked the entire collection (perfumes included) online only.