Failed Low-Buy for 2022?

My next post will be a makeup review, but before this year is over, I wanted to do one final bit of reflecting.

When I took on the challenge of reviewing my monthly purchases, I did not anticipate buying so many products that it would take at least three months to properly test all the items and complete each post. I failed to finish my Low-Buy Series in time, but the review aspect was not my main goal. In today’s post, I’d like to revisit the points I made in my Beauty Resolutions to see which limitations I was successful at sticking to, which areas were my weaknesses, and what I learned during the course of a year. In this analysis, some products I still haven’t reviewed yet are bound to come up. I’d also like to iron out the details of my game plan for 2023 because I’m not going to stop buying beauty products, but I still need to cut back.

No Buy Items With Zero Exceptions: Mascaras, False Lashes, Face Primers, Brow Products, and Eye Primers.

These items were the easiest to stick to because they aren’t very exciting categories of makeup for me. To the best of my knowledge, I only bought one full-size mascara and two minis: the Colourpop x Hocus Pocus 2 mascara which I threw out because it was terribly formulated, a mini of the MAC Macstack Superstack with the Mega brush that I finished and a mini of the Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes that I finished. I also used up a decent chunk of mascaras in my stash, but I still own enough to last me the next two years! So, as well as I stuck to my goal, those few purchases did prevent me from getting through even more of the mascaras in my drawer.
I don’t think I wore false lashes at all this year, and that fact continuously kept me from buying more.

I used up three brow pencils and three eye primers were used up or needed replacing, so I replenished those, plus bought the Makeup by Mario Master Eye Prep & Set (which technically is replacing the MAC Foundation Stick I used as primer) and the Coloured Raine Eye Base (plus a backup). It’s more eye primers than I planned to buy, but not too bad. As for face primers, I did alright. I purchased on sale the Rituel de Fille Thorn oil, a mini of the Nyx Marshmallow primer (allowed as an exception), and a Benefit primer set. I used up most of my deluxe sample primers, so I will start using my new ones more regularly soon.

Overall, I was pretty proud of how I did with this one. However, those few purchases have me set for all of 2023! I will be back on my no-buy for these types of items and will allow no exceptions.

Lips: “I will purchase no more than 5 additional lip products in 2022,” is what I said.

I bought 4 Kaleidos Lip Clays right at the beginning of the year, but those were the allowed exceptions. From January to April I only purchased the clear Fenty Gloss Bomb as a replacement for my old ones (which was also allowed) and a Pat Mcgrath Bridgerton lipstick. So, right there, I broke my rule of 5 because even though I had exceptions that were allowed, they were still counting towards my five. May to August I didn’t buy any lip products, and I was so happy with myself. I don’t consider myself a lipstick aficionado, but I do love lip glosses, so I figured I would struggle a little bit in this category. However, I went on a little retail therapy binge in September and bought two Nars Afterglow balms, two Too Faced Pillow Balms (and later in the future the mini holiday trio set of them), and a Laneige mini balm set (I only kept one and gifted the rest). If I gave myself leeway and didn’t count the exclusions in my 5 lip products tally, by this point I would have hit my maximum. I wish I could say I stopped there, but it only got worse! From October and onward I bought a Nars Afterglow lip gloss and Nars Satin Lip pencil in Rikugien since I was happy to see that shade return and thought it was discontinued. I also bought the Colourpop x Hocus Pocus 2 black gloss, Colourpop Velvet Luxe Lip, the Colourpop x Winnie the Pooh lip care set, 3 Coloured Raine lip liners plus a backup, 3 Pat Mcgrath lip glosses, 2 Makeup by Mario Moistureglow lip serums, a Lunar Beauty gloss and a lip oil, 3 mini Tarte Maracuja balms, a Lisa Eldridge lipstick and a lip gloss, a Juvia’s Place lipstick, Suqqu Sheer Matte Lipstick, and 5 more Kaleidos lip clays. That’s 39 in total between 4 minis and 35 full-size lip products!

These technically aren’t even all the new ones I got this year since a few other lip products made their way to my collection as free gifts. I did so well in the beginning, but it’s really the last quarter of the year that I dropped the ball. I was tempted by all the Black Friday deals, so I know to really be extra careful of that next year because I’m absolutely going on a lip product no-buy again! I will put two exclusions though, which I know is a dangerous game, but I have to be realistic. There are some Lisa Eldridge lipsticks I wanted but they were sold out. I also had a Dior lip product on my bucket list for a long time, so if the opportunity arises for it, I may get it. Otherwise, I’m set for a long time. And I will be decluttering nearly all of the lip products I owned prior to this year. This is probably the most overboard on lip products I’ve ever gone in a single year, and it might seem like the no-buy had the opposite effect, but when I look at the dates of my purchases, it’s really just these last few months that did me in. So, it can be successful as long as I am properly prepared and on guard for the sales next time and seeing such small numbers.

Foundations: “My goal is zero, but I will not buy more than 3 foundations for the entire year (despite having 5 listed exceptions…Charlotte Tilbury, Pat Mcgrath, Make Up For Ever, MAC, or Nars).”

I didn’t think I did too badly in terms of foundation purchases until I had to compile this list. I purchased two different shades of Rose Inc Luminous Foundation Serum, two shades of the Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow foundation, a replacement Estee Lauder Futurist Hydra Foundation, one final attempt to buy my correct shade of the Uoma Beauty Say What?! Foundation (failed as the line is just too orange within the Bronze Venus category), MUFE Matte Velvet Powder Foundation, the Sephora Best Skin Ever Liquid Foundation, and MAC Studio Fix Fluid.

I would have preferred to have bought the best match from Rose Inc the first time or for Hourglass to have made the perfect shade for me, as that would have knocked my number down to seven this year. And once again, it wasn’t until the last quarter of the year that I got into trouble. I didn’t buy a single one until June, which was the initial shade from Rose Inc. I didn’t get the next foundation until September with the EL Futurist Hydra replacement. The third was the initial shade of foundation from Hourglass in October. It was once again Black Friday that I bought literally all the rest of the foundations, including the additional shades. The Uoma, MAC, and MUFE were impulse purchases trying to see if I finally had a decent shade match after various changes were made. I could and should have just left those a mystery. The Sephora foundation was at least something I had been curious about since it was released.

In the grand scheme of things, I didn’t do the worst, but I certainly could have done better. Next year, I don’t want to buy any foundations at all, with the exceptions of PML, MUFE, MAC, or Nars. I’m confident I will do better next year with this category and I will very much be on guard with foundations during Black Friday.

Contours: “NO-BUY with Charlotte Tilbury and Pat Mcgrath Labs as exceptions.”

Those two brands didn’t make contours and I did very well sticking to this one. It probably had a lot to do with me hardly contouring at all this year, or doing brontouring instead. I also am still very satisfied with using the Hindash Beautopsy palette for contouring. The only contour products I went out of my way to purchase were the Kaleidos Symphony Contour Trio and KVD ModCon Liquid-Gel Contour. I received a contour stack in my Melt Mystery bag, so technically that was partly paid to own. The two other contours I bought were duos that also came with bronzers that I bought mainly for the bronzers in them: the Wayne Goss Radiance Boosting Face Palette and Vieve Modern Bronzer Duo. So, the ones from Kaleidos and KVD are what I count (and the duos will count in the bronzer categories instead).

I did well! And I will continue with the no-buy with the same exceptions. I don’t need to own multiple contour products and I will be decluttering almost all my old ones not mentioned in this post. I can’t give myself too much credit though, as there were hardly any contour launches this year and I can’t be confident that I would have had as easy of a time sticking to my goal if more had been made. It’s still a relief to know I didn’t completely bomb my low-buy.

Face Powders: “NO-BUY except if Hourglass releases a single Ambient Lighting Powder to match me or if I get the Chantecaille Blur Finishing Powder in Med/Dark at a good enough deal.”

I did, in fact, get that darker Chantecaille powder and for $33. Hourglass did not produce any new powder singles, but I bought two of their Holiday palettes and am counting those in the Face Palette section. Other than sample minis, the only setting and finishing powders I bought were the Colourpop Pretty Fresh Face Powder and MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural. I’m quite satisfied with that outcome, and since I don’t always set my face, I have no need to buy additional ones next year either. I will still give myself an allowance next year of no more than 3, but aiming for 0. There actually were quite a lot of tempting powder releases and I’m pleased with being able to talk myself out of them.

Eyeliners: NO-BUY except Stila’s liquid liners if they are half price or Sephora’s if I run out of Stila liners, but I know I have enough backups that, “I should be set for the rest of this year.”

I bought two Oden’s Eye colorful liners, three Melt Cosmetics pot liners plus two that I got in mystery bundles, I got a Danessa Myricks multichrome eyeliner in a Trendmood box, and I bought a multichrome eyeliner from Kaleidos. However, when it comes to black eyeliners, which is what I had really focused on in the limits of my low-buy, I only purchased one. It was the One/Size x Disney Fantasia one on sale. This is a lot more than I anticipated, but I don’t have a ton of colorful liners and I still resisted buying a lot more of them that launched this year, so I think I did very well on this one. I used up two black liner pens and the fact that I only bought one new one is where I really feel I’ve been successful. Since I still have black eyeliner backups, I intend to continue being on an eyeliner no-buy in the new year with no exceptions.

Bronzers: “If I can end 2022 with under 3 new bronzers, I would still consider the No-Buy a partial success,” is what I wrote. Bronzers are a NO-BUY except PML, Hourglass, CT if the brand created a 4.5 shade between Tan and Deep. Other exceptions were MAC, Make Up For Ever, and Nars since they may be too difficult to resist if they produce bronzers that are part of a special collection.

Well, I certainly failed on keeping it under 3 bronzers when I bought two shades each of the Colourpop Super Shock Bronzers and the Jaclyn Cosmetics Sun Bathe Bronzers alone! I already mentioned the Wayne Goss and Vieve ones in the contour section, but those count here. I also bought the Melt Cosmetics Ultra-Matte Bronzer, a Huda Glowish Blurring Pressed Powder deep enough to use as bronzer, Charlotte Tilbury Cream Bronzer in Tan (which technically fills the role of being the inbetween shade I wanted), Nars Laguna Cream Bronzer, Rose Inc Cream Bronzer, Anastasia Beverly Hills Cream Bronzer in Terracotta this time, Nars Bronzing Powder in Punta Cana, Sigma Matte Bronzer, Fenty Sun Stalk’r Bronzer Palette, Gucci Éclat Soleil Bronzer, Covergirl TruBlend So Flushed High Pigment Bronzer, and Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt Transforming Skin Perfector for the bronzer strip.
If I remembered them all, that’s 18 new bronzers added to my collection.

Considering how many launched this year, I don’t view this as a fail, but I admittedly did pretty badly on this one. However, bronzing products have only been in my collection for a few years. It’s still a new category of makeup for me to play in, so I’ll cut myself some slack on having trouble sticking to a reasonable amount. I plan to do a declutter soon though and I feel confident in my ability to do better and keep it under 5 next year. I’m still going to aim for zero with Pat Mcgrath being an exception, plus bronzers falling under the Face Palette category.

Blushes: “I would be proud of myself if I could keep my blush purchases under 15 this year. My plan is to stick to powders unless the blush in question is available as a mini.” 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, CT, Chanel, and Dior.

I’ll cut right to the chase…I bought 65 blushes this year.
I knew this category would be my biggest fail, but counting it out was quite the shock. The very tiniest defense I have for myself is that I bought 84 blushes last year, so at least I bought less this year.

It never seems like much at first because I only buy 1-3 at a time and don’t pay attention to how many more shades I have from a line by the end of the year. Even after I do my reviews, I sometimes buy more. For example, I ended 2022 with 6 new Suqqu blushes, 6 Benefit blushes, 5 MAC blushes, 5 Colourpop Blushes, etc. That’s how they all just caught up to me before I knew it from among 28 different brands!

This was the year of the blushes. It seemed like every brand was coming out with cream versions or I bought additional shades of powder blushes. In the last two years it became my favorite category of makeup, even surpassing eyeshadows. So, I admit, this will probably be my hardest category to have a low-buy for next year. I will of course try my best to buy as few as possible because I have so many that I love and want to have the time to actually get around to using. I’ll be doing a blush declutter in 2023, though I haven’t decided if I’ll make a dedicated post about it or not. It would be quite the daunting task!

Out of the 16 brand exceptions, I bought blushes from 9 of them. So, next year, I don’t even want to give myself a set number or set brands. I’m just going to try and resist them all as much as I can! At this point, with my solidified favorite brands and formulas, I think I’m the most in danger of trying blushes from brands I haven’t had blush from for the first time, as well as additional shades being released in my favorite formulas. Otherwise, I am still hopeful I’ll get way less in the future.

Highlighters: “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.” These are a NO-BUY excluding PML, Dior, 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.

I also did worse than I thought for the highlighter category. I bought 43.

Five are Colourpop Super Shocks plus two powder ones, Four are from MAC, three from Melt Cosmetics, etc. So it’s easy to see how it got out of hand among the 24 different brands. 15 highlighters were from collabs and/or limited edition collections, so that exclusion didn’t contribute to as many additional highlighters as I expected. I think regular brand packaging (if it was pretty) and pan embossing were some of the biggest temptations.

What will make things different next year is that I have quite a few holy grails now, including the ones I was crazy about last year but got swept up in all the new releases and didn’t have time to play with almost at all. The fact that I have so many now that are neglected is making me really not want to add anymore to my collection, and I plan to do quite the declutter.

Face Palettes: “This category is a LOW-BUY, but 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. Uoma Beauty already had a face palette from 2021 but neither the light or dark palettes were really perfect for me. Hourglass makes 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).”

I got 12 face palettes. All things considered, that’s not too bad for me.

Charlotte Tilbury did not create one that met my needs, so that brand was not one of them. Uoma Beauty didn’t create a new face palette either. The two I bought from Pat Mcgrath were blush and highlighter palettes, so they weren’t exactly what I had in mind. In the instance of the PML x Bridgerton 2 Blushing Delights Palette and Divine Blush and Glow, I wasn’t the biggest fan of either highlighter and it was the blushes that I continue to reach for, so they technically belong in this category, but they are functionally just blush palettes for me. I got the Monochromance Palette from Hindash and put it in this category because I never use it for the eyeshadows, just as face products. Hourglass did not make the perfect holiday palette for me, yet I bought two of them to create a better mix. Out of the 12 face palettes I bought, the only one that truly suited my needs (as is) in shades and formulas I loved and had the blush, highlighter, and bronzer that I picture the perfect face palette should have, was the Sephora Collection Microsmooth Multi-Tasking Baked Face Palette in Captivate. I got that palette in April, yet I still continued to chase after more of them.

I really want to do some damage to the Sephora palette, so I’m planning to aim for zero face palettes next year, with the exceptions of CT, PML, Huda Beauty, and Hindash. When it comes to Hourglass, I still don’t want to buy another holiday palette unless it contains an actual deep bronzer with other shades that work for me, or it has the At Night blush plus everything else I think would be flattering on me.

Concealers: 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. 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.

As I expected, I naturally did not gravitate to many concealers this year because so few full coverage ones were released. I finished my KVD Good Apple Concealer that I bought in February and only recently opened my backup tube that I bought in March. That made me feel pretty good about having a backup handy. I’m also currently using my last backup of the Tarte Shape Tape. I did purchase the PML Concealer in shade 23 and tossed out my other two that had changed in consistency but were mostly used up as well. 23 is still too olive toned for my liking, so I won’t get anymore in the future. I bought a mini of the Tarte Flex concealer and hated the formula. I also recently bought the Sephora Best Skin Ever Concealer, but I can’t remember my thoughts on it. The Smashbox X Becca Under Eye Brightening Corrector technically falls under this category. I bought one near the end of last year and I recently bought a replacement for it.

In summation, I bought 7 concealers. I used up one of them this year and won’t reach for two others. So, I’ll be going into 2023 with 4 fresh concealers plus a few older ones I have left in my collection that will likely be tossed out soon. For that reason, I’m going to allow myself to purchase as many full coverage, non-drying, and low-creasing ones I can find in the future. Chances are low that anything new that’s out there will work for me, so I’m likely going to end up sticking with my favorites.

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.”

I stuck to my guns even better than I expected regarding only getting a few single eyeshadows from different indie brands, but I absolutely went overboard on the Clionadh shadows. First, with the positives, I purchased 7 Lethal Cosmetic Singles, 3 Terra Moons singles, and 3 Sydney Grace singles. Even though they are called “refills,” I technically did buy 5 Lisa Eldridge singles. For the holidays, I also bought a Charlotte Tilbury Pop Shot.

As for Clionadh Stained Glass Expansion shadows, I bought 25 and still haven’t even reviewed the newest ones yet, nor posted them on Instagram. I also bought both Fruitlighter highlighters from the Dragonfruit Collection which I use exclusively as eyeshadows as well. I also bought the Birthday Trilogy and Holiday Trio, which makes 6 standard eyeshadows too.

I think the best course of action is to actually put a limit on what I buy from Clionadh next year for budgetary reasons and for allowing myself time to actually use what I just bought. I always buy the Charity bundles, so that will likely continue. If they finally bring back their matte shadows, I will also get those too. Everything else in the single shadow realm is off the table, excluding for an allowance of only 1 or 2 Stained Glass shadows the same as all the other brands. And when it comes to other brands’ single shadows, I’m going to have the same 1 or 2 limit.

Eyeshadow Palettes: “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.”

I failed. I did so well in the beginning. I was right on target from January to October, having bought just 22 new palettes. I really could have reached my goal if I’d kept that same pace for the rest of the year. It just got completely out of hand from all the sales. Black Friday came and went, and my total became 49.

Side note, only 4 of them would have sold out if I didn’t get them at launch. So, I made the right decision waiting for a sale in most cases, but I overdid it. I held off waiting for them instead of properly talking myself out of wanting them. That was a crucial mistake. At this point, I can’t even say whether they were worth it because I haven’t even touched 24 of them! Four of those still haven’t arrived though (from PML and Melt).

Of the palettes I did try, I liked a lot of them, but so few were truly special. This is something I really need to hone in on next year, the fact that plenty of brands are making fantastic eyeshadows nowadays, so I’m very likely to enjoy all of it, but I should only buy the ones that are really going to feel like worthy additions to my collection and that I would actively miss if I skipped them. I should only have palettes that are inspiring and make me want to do tons of looks with it, not just the ones that are appealing because of the colors but aren’t something I’d wear. This kind of thinking did get me through most of the year, so I know I can do way better next year if I truly stick to my guns and don’t lose my mind when the prices start to drop.

Skincare, Hair Care, and Fragrances: “I’m on a low-buy for those and intend to buy as little new products in those categories as possible.”

I bought a few fragrance samplers and travel size perfumes, so the total fragrances purchased this year is higher than last year, but the total of it all was perhaps around $100. I don’t believe that’s too unreasonable, especially when what I really wanted was a travel size of the Tom Ford Lost Cherry which costs $80. Instead, I got a travel size Kayali’s Lovefest on sale, which has a cherry note that’s similar enough. I purchased hardly any new hair care and I kept the skincare purchases to a very reasonable and minimal amount. I’m quite pleased with how I did. I don’t want any new perfumes next year, but I want to keep the hair and skin products to my same small amount as this year.

Stance on Buying Multiples

  • Don’t Buy Backups
  • Don’t Buy Multiple Shades/Versions of a Product I Like
  • *Let the Chikuhodo MK-KO Be My Most Expensive Maki-e Brush

I did a fairly decent job of not buying that many backups of makeup, but not so much with makeup brushes. Technically, the Chikuhodo MK-KO is still my most expensive single brush (which I had bought in part with a promo code and reward points not long after it arrived at CDJapan), but the difference wasn’t by much when I bought the Koyudo Makie Gray Squirrel Powder Brush with the Cherry Blossom design and red handle that’s normally 300,000 YEN but I got it for 180,000 YEN while the exchange rate was at its most favorable for USD all year.
And as for not buying multiples of shades, I absolutely failed with this specifically in the blush category and technically in buying all those Clionadh Stained Glass multichromes.

I really want to double-down on this philosophy next year and only buy the one perfect shade out of a bunch of options. If I stuck to that, I wouldn’t have overdone it on blush purchases. I did also overdo it with the brush purchases because I wasn’t used to CDJapan having so many outlet brush options. Unlike my spending pattern for all the other beauty categories, when it came to brushes, I went on a spending spree in the beginning half of the year, but started to get a handle on it in the latter half. Towards the end, I was a lot more particular and thoughtful about the final brushes I bought and skipped several Outlet buying opportunities and passed on the last four or so promo code offers. I’m confident I will have my Fude obsession much more under control next year. I also still have so many more brushes yet to be reviewed and posted on this blog!

Stance on Limited Edition/Limited Quantity Items

  • Skip Birth Specific Things Except Ones Pertaining to Me (Lunar Dragon Sign, November-born, Water Sign, Scorpio, etc)
  • Don’t Buy Items Now to Avoid Price Hikes Later, Fear of Discontinuation, and Long Restock Times

I didn’t want to risk Clionadh’s shadows being out of stock during Black Friday, so I very specifically chose not to wait for a better deal for fear of a long restock when I bought all the Stained Glass ones that I did. I also placed multiple orders and wasted a lot of money in shipping fees because I couldn’t stick to just my initial purchase after narrowing the list down to my top 15 favorites of the new shades. So, that wasn’t very smart on my part.

There weren’t many birth specific things released this year, other than Lunar New Year items, so I was mostly safe on this front. The collection that I absolutely did not stick to buying the ones pertaining to me was when I purchased the Air and Earth mini palettes from Melt’s Bad Side Zodiac Collection. On the other hand, I did well by not buying the Water palette just because it’s my sign’s attribute when I had no interest in the color story.

I like bunnies, so we will see how well I fare in the Year of the Rabbit. I’m not feeling very confident about this one.

Stance on Buying Things at Full Price

“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.”

I purchased a lot more items from luxury brands this year, and it’s difficult to feel anything in that category is worth the price to me at full retail when I know the most desirable thing is probably the packaging. When I made this rule for myself about only buying products worth full price, I had affordable to mid-range makeup brands in mind. I didn’t anticipate how buying luxury items at mid-range prices was going to feel like I was living up to this rule. Many times, because of the significant discount, those luxury items were suddenly worth those mid-tier prices in my mind, so I went forward with buying them without stopping to think about whether I truly wanted the makeup or if I was just trying to get it at those prices while I could. For instance, the Guerlain Quads released this year are $85-$90 depending on the retailer. I got mine for $65 from Selfridges. Natasha Denona palettes (which I admittedly consider high-end and not mid-tier) are $69, so I reasoned it was fine. I didn’t think about how one has only 4 shades and the other has 15. Or that my rule was to acknowledge the worth at the original price first before waiting for the discount.

As I mentioned in the eyeshadow palette section, I overdid the Black Friday shopping because I was waiting for items to go on sale instead of spending that time figuring out if it was something I should really be buying, wanting legitimately, and then properly talking myself out of most of them. That way, when a sale did come around, I wouldn’t just buy everything that had been pushed onto my wishlist for later. My rules for myself on item limits kept going out the window once discounts became a factor. So, I need to focus more on talking myself out of things by looking through what I already own and pulling out dupes if necessary. I also need to focus more on the item number limits I set as a reason to not buy something instead trying to determine if it’s worth buying at a specific price.

Stance on Stance on Buying Makeup from “New to Me” Brands

  • Purchase Only One Item for the Year from a Luxury Brand I Haven’t Tried Yet
  • Avoid Buying From All Other Brands That Are New to Me

I don’t know if I did well or terribly at avoiding buying from brands for the first time, considering how many new ones popped up this year, in addition to certain brands having items that finally interested me enough to want to try them. Some of the new and new to me brands I purchased from this year are One/Size, Victoria Beckham Beauty, Olivia Palermo Beauty, Vieve, Florasis, Alamar Cosmetics, MOB Beauty, rms beauty, Valentino Beauty, the Beauty Bay brand, Lisa Eldridge, and r.e.m. Beauty. I even tried the Eihodo (outlet), Surratt, and Mizuho brush brands for the first time. I do regret bothering to purchase from 3 out of those 12. I spent a lot of money creating a custom palette of MOB Beauty products for it to not be absolutely perfect for me. The Florasis palette is beautiful, but it’s too beautiful for me to want to use and mess up the pan designs, plus I wasn’t thrilled with the formulas. The rms beauty blush is just okay. I don’t get the hype. MAC Extra Dimension blushes are way better. Also, in trying out One/Size and Lisa Eldridge, they became brands I couldn’t stop making additional purchases with and will continue to keep my eye on in the coming year. I also have no regrets buying solely one product type from r.e.m, the Interstellar Highlighter Topper, but I do wish I stopped at Miss Mars because that is the perfect shade for me and is one of my holy grail products now. Miss Saturn was the other shade I bought, which is nice, but I don’t think I’ll reach for it again now that I’ve got Miss Mars. Funny enough, regarding r.e.m., it’s one of the rare times that loving one item from the brand didn’t make me go down the rabbit hole of wanting to try everything else they’ve got.

The rule about only buying one item from a luxury brand, I stuck to with Victoria Beckham Beauty and Olivia Palermo Beauty, but it wasn’t of my own accord. Had the brand created other items that interested me or put up a good enough sale, I’d have purchased additional things.

This rule stopped me from trying out a decent number of other brands for the first time, so I think it will still be necessary to keep this one for next year. I’m just not sure the one item per luxury brand thought process is sound anymore. It was intended for me to cherish that one product, but if that first one was a dud, that should be enough to make me more cautious naturally in the future without feeling like I have to punish myself by only getting to experience that one product for the rest of the year that I won’t be cherishing anyway.

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

  • Remember: “Just because something is good, does not mean I must own it.”
  • Wait For the Brand to Expand the Range for a Shade I Actually Love
  • Don’t Buy Things for Curiosity’s Sake or Reviewing Purposes

The first two rules did successfully help me in some cases, as I discussed in my Anti-Haul post, but hearing something was good and not buying it only worked until the product dropped in price. Then, I felt like I was missing out by skipping the deal and a good formula. Of course, very few things were actually revolutionary, so I really need to remember most things will be as good as what I already own and almost none will surpass it. That means I should just stick to what I already have and not keep buying more of the same.

As for waiting for a brand’s range to expand, I kept that in mind a lot and it did help me to stick to my low-buy. My bigger issue, ironically, is that brands were more inclusive this year and many times there were too many shades that I really wanted! That’s how I ended up buying so many blushes at a time. I only regret 10 out of 65, because 7 were me not needing those shades and I could have skipped them without actually missing out, whereas only 3 of the 65 didn’t work on me. Waiting for the perfect shade is a good rule because I’m having greater success with getting products I like, but I like too many things, so I have to really work on the whole “just because something is good doesn’t mean I need to own it,” mentality.

Self-Tips to Avoid Temptation

  • If I Decide Not to Buy Something, Stop Watching Videos About It
  • Don’t Buy Things That Don’t Suit Me Just to Support a Cause/Brand Owner With A Specific Background
  • Don’t Make Purchases as Retail Therapy
  • Don’t Make Purchases in the Early Morning Hours

Not watching videos about items I planned to anti-haul ended up being helpful in limiting my exposure to the product’s hype, but also a detriment when I was in a random shopping mood and didn’t have a list of negatives accrued from videos that would have aided me in talking myself out of making the purchase. Of course, I wasn’t supposed to be making retail therapy purchases at all, but there were three specific moments this year that my will-power wasn’t strong enough. One was post-surgery and another was after Hurricane Ian when power was finally restored but my boyfriend and I were sick. I at least did better at avoiding early morning shopping by convincing myself to make the purchases later in the morning when inhibitions weren’t so low.

When it came to deciding to buy something at full or near full price, that’s when supporting a cause or brand owner/collaborator with a specific background played a role. However, I was much better this year at not buying things that I knew weren’t my preference just to be supportive.

Final Thoughts

My low-buy efforts were abysmal in specific makeup categories, but I wouldn’t call this a complete fail because I was in the ballpark of my goals for the rest of the categories. In taking on this project, I learned even more about my consumer habits and personal impulses. I have to give myself some credit for doing well up until the remaining few months of the year, which was also the most difficult part of the year on a personal level emotionally and physically after my surgery.
I’ll need to be a lot stronger at saying no to the shiny new things next year, and I am certain I’ll do better. I still have so many products that haven’t been reviewed from my collection that I want to get posted to this blog in 2023. So, despite going on another low-buy, there will be plenty of beauty content to come! Thank you for reading and I wish you a very happy New Year!

-Lili

Anti-Haul: Hyped Up Makeup I Skipped Buying And Why

We had a plethora of new launches in 2022. I found myself caving and buying a ton of them despite my low-buy efforts detailed in my Beauty Resolutions post. In fact, I felt as though I was constantly having to mention in my reviews that I had broken my low-buy over and over again, whereas I never spoke about all the times I actually did hold strong.

So, for a change of pace, I’d like to talk about some of the most hyped up products that were released this year and how I was able to talk myself out of buying them. My goal with this discussion is to point out the ways I tried to rationalize making a purchase that I knew I shouldn’t make, so that myself and anyone reading who is on a no-buy/low-buy/or just wants to consume less makeup can see the ways to counteract that kind of thinking and recognize the signs when the next exciting product inevitably catches everyone’s attention.

Disclaimer: This is an anti-haul, so it’s safe to say I am not being sponsored to talk about the products in this post. I put the retailer logos on the images as a way of showing whose websites those images were taken from to give them ownership credit. I also chose the websites based on where I would most likely have purchased the items myself based on where I’d have gotten the best deals on them.
There is only one link in this post that is affiliated, and that’s the Bisyodo brush near the bottom of this post. Non-highlighted links in bold blue font (Example) are regular standard non-affiliate links. Links marked in bold black font with a light blue background (Example) are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to get a commission if purchases are made directly using my link.

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Beautifying Face Palette

I’ve been wanting a face palette from Charlotte Tilbury for ages! The ideal palette for me would be the ones with a blush, bronzer, and highlighter. I even added a CT face palette to my exceptions list for my low-buy. So, when the Pillow Talk Face Palette in Medium/Deep was sneak peeked, I was instantly swept up by the hype and caught up in the excitement of having one intended to suit me. However, when I saw the swatches and the way the palette looked on the cheeks of purchasers of my skin tone and darker, I didn’t think the top two shades would work for me.

I have learned in the last year or so that just, “showing up on the skin,” doesn’t equate with being flattering. There is a reason that the majority of pastel eyeshadows don’t flatter me, and that’s because so many have a strong opaque white base to them. This gives the eyeshadows a chalky look on dark skin, the deeper the chalkier. This is the reason Clionadh Cosmetics came out with their Deep Iridescent line of multichromes with a tan base, because of how their original line of multichromes looked on those with dark skin (I had to blend them in super well to get the white to not show).
This issue crops up again with blushes. If the color is too light for someone, it can look chalky or ashy, but if a brand’s blush has too strong of a white base, it will also look chalky (like those Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate Blush Duos). So, even though I’ve worn blushes with the same depth as the lighter blush shade from Charlotte Tilbury, it wouldn’t be to my preference based on how it appeared on the cheeks of other ladies with deep skin. There are some people who like that effect because it gives a “soft appearance” the way pastels are soft muted colors, but it’s not how I want blush to appear on me. When I see that arm in the promo images, none look nice to me except that deep red/pink, though I think the deeper highlighter looked way prettier in the reviews on YouTube that I watched.

So, my brain wanted to rationalize the fact that I would at least enjoy the bottom half of the palette. I could get this for $60 from Selfridges versus $75 at US retailers. Charlotte’s single blushes and highlighters start at $40, so I would still be getting a savings on having two usable products, plus being able to mix them with the other two shades. However, I had to think about my preferences again. I have the hardest time reaching for face palettes that don’t have every product perfectly suited for me.
When I’m in a rush (which when I’m putting on makeup, I’m almost always in a rush), I think of a single favorite shade and then grab it. I don’t think about blush palettes or face palettes because they usually contain other products that didn’t work, which puts a mental note in the back of my mind that this product isn’t as great as I thought. So, when I’m going off instinct trying to quickly think of what I want to grab, I think of that single product that I have already made a mental note, “Yes, this one is perfect.” That’s what I grab instead. There are only two palettes in my entire collection that became a go-to: my custom palette of MAC blushes and the Hindash Beautopsy Palette. The custom palette works because I made sure every shade in there is a favorite. Beautopsy works because I can do nearly every makeup task with it.

The final point I had to remember was the motivating reason for wanting a Charlotte Tilbury Face Palette in the first place. I like a lot of Charlotte’s products and my dream palette from her would be something I could do most of my face with and not ever have to purchase additional palettes because I’d have my perfect one. Had I bought the Pillow Talk Face Palette with only blushes and highlighters, I would absolutely want to purchase another one if Charlotte came out with a version that had at least a highlighter, blush, and bronzer with all three suitable for me. So, then what would happen to the Pillow Talk Face Palette? I’d completely abandon it in favor of the better one. It makes no sense to buy something that is kind of what a want when I should just wait to get something that is everything I want. It’s a lesson that has a hard time sticking with me when I’m really drawn in to a pretty shade or I’m in a retail therapy type of mood or I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out on the biggest/hottest product of the year. But chances are high that the same palette I foresee as being perfect for me in the future will have plenty of other people hyping it up and buying that one too. So, I won’t be missing out if I just wait for a better one.

I don’t want another Hourglass situation where I keep buying the holiday palettes when only some of them work for me and the others don’t, so before I know it, I’ve ended up owning four of them. That’s why I depotted mine to create a version I’d finally get use out of by having it conveniently in one place!

I really agonized over getting this face palette, but eventually the hype died down. I saw it end up in several “2022 Beauty Favorites” videos, but I hardly saw it being used after the first few months of it launching. I have my doubts on how long it will continue to be talked about starting next year, and especially because the brand is bound to release another one of these in 2023 and the old will be forgotten.

Gucci Luminous Matte Beauty Blush (Blush de Beauté Cheeks and Eyes Powder)

Packaging tends to be my kryptonite, but I’m thrilled to say I don’t find the packaging of these appealing. I love stars, but I prefer dynamic intricate patterns like some examples I found via a Google Search.

What had me second, third, and quadruple guessing my decision to pass on this launch is the fact that the formula was said to be comparable to my favorite blushes! People were saying these were guaranteed to be on a lot of end of the year favorites lists because they were said to be incredibly soft, smooth to the touch, and “blend like a dream.” Plus, I could get it from Selfridges for $41 each instead of $49 at US retailers.

Initially, what stopped me from buying one was my uncertainty about the shade range. I wanted a medium pink or coral, but I doubted if any besides the deepest shade, Warm Berry, would work for me. Even when I saw the blushes applied to the cheeks of those around my skintone, sometimes Radiant Pink would look better or too cool toned for my preference, and on some people Bright Coral looked better or it didn’t show up enough on the skin. The safest bet would be Warm Berry, but I have so many shades of that similar color. It’s gorgeous, but when I have Rose Latte from Fenty, Paradise Venus from Pat Mcgrath, Yoiurushi from Suqqu, and a few others that I love and want to use up, it wouldn’t make sense to get Warm Berry when I still don’t have a holy grail formula for peach, coral, or medium pink blushes.

The next step in my thought process was to take a chance on buying Bright Coral anyway. What helped me to resist was the fact that I had already gone through the same anti-haul process with the holiday blushes from Dior. I saw enough reviews to feel confident that Cosmic Coral could work for me. However, I still preferred the tone of the Fall 2021 Blush that I missed out on called Coral Flight. So, I felt very silly buying a blush now that I knew still didn’t compare to a blush I wanted before and had talked myself out of. It would have felt like I was settling for something worse, and I didn’t think I would be able to appreciate Cosmic Coral if I was viewing it as the consolation prize. Then, Galactic Red was again too similar to blushes I own in abundance and looked as though it contained silver sparkles, which I really don’t like in a blush. The fact that Cosmic Coral and Galactic Red looked so similar to Bright Coral and Warm Berry, and I already had the strength to turn down that launch, helped me be able to turn down the Gucci one as well.

What makes me feel secure in my decision is thinking about how hyped up the Hermes blushes were last year, yet I’ve only seen them talked about less than a handful of times this year. I also really enjoyed the performance and the Hermes blush was a precious thing to me. I even wanted more shades, but ran into the same issue as many of these luxury blush collections where there’s only one clear shade that will work for those with dark skin and the rest are iffy. And despite me liking it in 2021, even more exciting blush formulas and shades have been released this year that I prefer to use over that one. It stands to reason that the Gucci blushes would have ended up the same way if I caved and bought them.

Natasha Denona Retro Glam Eyeshadow Palette

This particular photo isn’t the most flattering picture I’ve seen of this palette, but it helps to illustrate the point I try to remind myself about, which is to consider my personal tastes before buying something. I love greens, and that’s all I could initially think about when I first saw this palette. Evergreen, Oz, Jazzy, Sage, and Belle were the shades calling to me the most. But, as I mentioned before, I’m extremely selective when it comes to pastels, and this palette has a ton of them.

Unlike the Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Face Palette, opinions from the dark skin ladies and gents were split on this one. Quite a few said too many shades looked ashy on them or that the deepest shades in the palette were just mid-tone on the lids and lacked the ability to create depth. One of the biggest issues for me was the redundancy. YouTubers across the skin tone spectrum said that quite a few of the shadows looked too similar to one another when applied to the eye and not just the way they look in the pan, especially Jazzy and Maxi plus Marlin and Oz. If those with light skin tones had trouble building depth and feeling the color story was repetitive, there was just no way I’d have better success.

Ultimately, when I really thought hard about it, there were so many other green palettes that I loved and bought. Did I really need another after purchasing the Anastasia Beverly Hills Nouveau Palette, Nars Climax Eyeshadow Palette, and Bobbi Brown Jadestone Eye Shadow Palette? Considering my struggle to make pink and green go together when I bought the Colourpop x Tinkerbell Sprinkle A Little Magic Eyeshadow Palette, I had no business even considering buying the Retro Glam. In the end, even my love of the Cream Powder shadows wasn’t strong enough to outweigh the serious reasons why buying a palette with so few shades I actually liked would have been a bad idea.

Isamaya Industrial Colour Pigment Eyeshadow Palette

I saw this palette sneak peeked before knowing the price. The aesthetic was so cool to me and my immense interest in the greens and browns made me want this palette badly. However, once I discovered the price, I just couldn’t justify it. I’ve never paid full price for a Natasha Denona $129 palette or Pat Mcgrath large mothership palette, and those brands have been around long enough to prove their worth. Even with the $95 Selfridge price instead of $115, I couldn’t bite the bullet on a brand new makeup company where I had zero clue how good their shadows were. Knowing Isamaya was professionally connected to Byredo didn’t help, considering the fact that I hadn’t tried their shadows myself either and reviews were mixed between people saying it was or wasn’t worth the price tag. So, the price alone deterred me. However, at one point I could have gotten it for $80.50 using a 30% off discount code I found via the Google Shopping tab. Suddenly, the excitement at the possibility of owning it returned once I knew it was a little more attainable. I tried to reason with myself about how it was only a few dollars more than the Hindash palettes or that Guerlain and Tom Ford charge more than that at full price for only 4 eyeshadows versus 14 from Isamaya. I had it added to my cart and ready to go, but just before I checked out, I vaguely remembered the Hannah Louise Poston video on the brand and how that had helped to stop me from feeling like I missed out the first time I initially thought I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on the palette. I watched it again as a refresher, but I was suddenly reminded of the deeply troubling formula and performance issues she mentions in her video. For anyone having issues resisting this palette, I recommend giving it a watch because it thoroughly cured me.

Byredo Purple Echo Eyeshadow Palette

Another video saved me from disaster, and that was by Lexi Jong. However, I still give myself credit for holding off on buying it for as long as I did prior to watching her video. What made it appealing in the first place is that absolutely stunning packaging! My goodness, how I yearned to buy it for the packaging alone! I’d have just assumed it was out of my price range until I saw the note in the pre-launch post on IG that it would be available for $58 from Selfridges when their palettes are normally $75 at US retailers. Interestingly enough, Purple Echo isn’t currently available online in the US, other than purchasing it from the Selfridge US website. It is listed as a Limited Edition palette, and when I saw the brand’s own swatches, there was a brief moment that I wondered if it was limited edition because the quality was bad. I quickly dismissed that musing.
Swatches don’t tell the whole story, just like the case with Viseart and their poor swatches but much better quality. There’s no way a big luxury brand would release a terribly formulated palette for that high a price tag, right? Well, from the few videos I’ve seen (and not just from Lexi), this palette is atrocious! They get hard-pan. Some shadows don’t want to stick to the eyes while others don’t even want to be picked up with a brush or fingers. To be honest, these tones of purples aren’t even the kinds of purples that I like. The power of the packaging was the most at play with this one, but I just could not bring myself to spend that much on what would end up being a glorified paper weight. In addition, I have a weird aversion to using palettes with long thin rectangular pans. I could hardly use my Urban Decay Naked Palettes for that reason, and this one would have been the same even if the eyeshadows were good. Anyone else have a quirk like that too?

NARS Rising Star Cheek Palette

Nars releases cheek palettes annually, sometimes even multiple times a year, and often times with repromoted shades. This makes them having a limited edition palette that much easier to resist when you know that even if you skip one, they’ll just come out with another one that could possibly be even more to your taste. When it comes to this color story, I was in love with the way it looked in the promo photos, but how it looks in person is completely different! The shades are much lighter, vibrant, and cool-tone. The two on the bottom left turned out to be far less likely to work for my skin tone, and the top right blush shade is literally a hot pinky purple shade I despise.
So, had I purchased this immediately when it released, I would have been disappointed. Especially because I saw several videos where one of the blushes popped out of the palette. One such example is in the video by Morgan Turner. It’s one of the things that drive me nuts about baked products on a plastic mesh because so many pop out on me after a few uses or during shipping. It’s so much rarer that I have a product pop out of a metal pan, unlike plastic mesh.

Also, the same way I wasn’t impressed by the simple star pattern of the Gucci blushes, I don’t find this packaging to be appealing either.

The ultimate reason to skip this palette came down to how seldom I reach for blush and face palettes, and more specifically, how infrequently I reach for my two other Nars cheek palettes. One is now on my “retirement shelf” because it’s so old and probably went four years untouched before I remembered I had it. The other, I lost after reviewing it and only recently found it again. I told myself that I need to prove to myself that I’ll actually use one of the Nars cheek palettes before I’ll be allowed to buy another one. However, that pact doesn’t pertain to this holiday launch. This one is fully being skipped, but I might potentially buy another in the future if all shades in it are the types of colors I wear.

Tom Ford Eye Color Crème Eyeshadow Quad in 38 Velours Kaki

I could have sworn I very briefly saw this available at Selfridges for $68 instead of $90, but it was taken off the website after a few days and has not returned to the Selfridges US site since. However, this wasn’t much of a factor in skipping this quad because the Tom Ford palettes that don’t sell well or are overstocked end up at the Cosmetics Company Store (aka CCO or CCS) for a significant discount, and I can expect at some point this will be more affordable.

The real reason I decided to talk myself out of getting this forever are the shade choices. I love greens, but the two deepest ones on the bottom half look so similar on the eyes. That gives even more limitation on the different types of looks one could do with these few of shades. In addition, I have to admit that something like the Dior Backstage Khaki Neutrals palette with their greener greens and extended shade variety makes me far happier than this one likely would. When a brand produces tons of palette that are uninteresting to me, I sometimes get swept up in the excitement when one finally catches my eye, and I tend to ignore the fact that it has colors I don’t want in there as well, which makes it less worth the price to buy. My curiosity with a formula I haven’t tried from the brand, in this case the creamier ones, is another enticing aspect. This is the first time I’ve been interested in a color combination in this finish from Tom Ford. However, it would be much more satisfying if I waited for my perfect quad. With so few shade options, every one should be something you like if you’re going to buy it, out of pure principle.

Urban Decay Wild Greens Eyeshadow Palette and Urban Decay Naked x Robin Eisenberg Eyeshadow Palette

Oh, how I really wanted that Wild Greens palette! It was released early enough in the year when we weren’t as bombarded with green palettes. Several things made me hesitate on buying it: knowing it will highly likely go on sale for half price if I wait long enough, the abundance of green palettes I already own, the lack of a deep matte greens in this palette, and the darkest shade not being as deep as it looks in the pan and therefore lacking the ability to create the depth on the eyes that I want. The Robin Eisenberg collab palette was so exciting and colorful for an Urban Decay Naked palette, so I was instantly drawn in and planned to buy it when it would be inevitably 50% off. However, the more I looked at it, the more I realized it was only exciting because it was part of the Naked series. Had this color story been put in a different palette form for Urban Decay, it wouldn’t have been as intriguing to me. Plus, I am still in a phase of not being interested in blue eyeshadows, and this palette has so many of them. I also still have that hangup of the long thin rectangular eyeshadow pans and my aversion to wanting to use them.

So, for the same reasons I’ve talked myself out of the other palettes, I was able to apply it to this situation. As of right now, both palettes are indeed on sale for 50% off at Ulta, Sephora, and other US retailers. In fact, I had the option to get the Wild Greens Palette for only $17 via Amazon! However, waiting so long for a sale gave me time to think it over and carefully consider my options. I realized I liked the color stories of other palettes more than this one. Also, the quality of Urban Decay eyeshadows isn’t what it used to be. The Foxy palette that I did end up getting this year is nice enough, but isn’t stellar. I would much rather use the money I’m not spending on these to go towards a different makeup item that will bring me much more excitement to own.

Danessa Myricks Beauty Lightwork Vol. IV: Transcendence Palette – Illuminating Eye & Face Pigments

This was perhaps the most difficult eyeshadow palette to anti-haul this year. My love of multichromes is endless and I like the Danessa Myricks brand. I know how expensive these types of eyeshadows can be, so the whopping $125 price tag isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds, especially considering the price of PML palettes where usually only 1 or 2 “special” shades from her 10 pan mothership palettes are a true multichrome and for the same palette price.

The issue is that I already own more multichromes than a normal person should, and several shades are near dupes to each other when compared to my multichromes from other brands. So, I’m really not missing out. I shades I own are close enough to these.

Image credit to LBD Beauty on YouTube in her video reviewing the palette.

All of the shades above are from Clionadh, with the exception of Paradise, which is an actual shade from the Lightwork IV palette. I got it as a sample in a Trendmood box and only used it once because I rarely enjoy the “scattered effect” type of look in any form of makeup. Surprisingly, I had an easier time getting the shadow on my eyes than getting it to apply smoothly on my arm (perhaps because my eyelids are oily, but my skin is dry elsewhere), but I hate the actual large flakes within this. So, I know I would enjoy the Velvet chromes, but the larger pans in the middle of the palette would go virtually unused in my collection.

I don’t just want to cut down on my purchases because of money. I want to feel like I’m getting enough usage out of the products I buy and if I buy something that I have one or several duplicates of, it will prevent me from making a dent in any of them. I like having my makeup in clean condition by wiping off the surface of the compact or palette, wiping around the rims of the pans, and picking up the product in different sections of the pans with my brush so it gets used up in a more even fashion. However, I don’t want them to actually look untouched. By purchasing less, the chances are much higher that I get to spend adequate time with at least my top favorite products.

When I want multichromes, that’s what having my Clionadh collection was for…and my Devinah shadows…and my Terra Moons. I also have them scattered among several mainstream palettes. When is enough going to be enough? I hope that time is now.

Bisyodo Grand Series G-P-01 Powder Brush

Bisyodo is one of my favorite Fude brands, but I only have their goat hair brushes. Then, for what I believe is the first time, Bisyodo released their line of Gray Squirrel brushes in the new Grand Series with their pretty gold ferrules and gorgeous ebony wood. Of course I wanted one of them, but this series is even more expensive the the Chikuhodo Z series, which I consider the crème de la crème of gray squirrel brushes where they give the best quality for the most reasonable prices, and anything more expensive is either due to the price of upgraded/pricier materials, more bristles, or paying for the brand name. In this case, the (possibly plated gold) ferrule and ebony wood differ from Chikuhodo, but isn’t worth the price difference in my eyes, especially with the comparable shapes or comparable functions of the brushes from Bisyodo having less hair than the Chikuhodo Z alternatives. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After looking through the whole series, the one brush I felt might be worth saving up for was the G-P-01 because it has a round ferrule and brush head (which is my preferred shape in a face brush) and isn’t quite as drastic of a price jump, unlike the smaller brushes in the line. In addition, I don’t have a brush in this shape from Bisyodo, but I have similar goat hair versions from Bisyodo to the highlight and blush brushes. That’s how I ended up with only this brush on my wishlist since it came out in July ’22.

These were the prices on December 25, 2022. They change day to day because of the exchange rate and are subject to overall price increases by the brand. Please view the website for the most accurate cost information.

I just couldn’t bring myself to blindly buy it, so I waited for a video and Alicia Archer came through. The collage below are images from her video.

The brush doesn’t match my preference with it being so easily splayed like that, so it’s not dense enough for my liking and I can’t help but feel like they skimped out on the amount of hairs. It doesn’t look uniformly bundled as it looks like it’s staggered up in parts to the section that tapers around. One section in particular looks choppy and not perfectly round, as if someone took a pair of scissors to the side of it. I’m sure the hair itself is ridiculously soft, since that other brush in the photo compared to it has hair that looks so fragile at the base and I can see that stray hair that’s coming out of the top.

If this was an inexpensive brush, the way the hair looks would be fine, but if I actually paid for one that looked like that, I’d be disappointed. Alicia was sent the brush set by Fude Beauty, and I would think that the absolute best would be sent in PR, so that makes me a little afraid that if I tried to buy it at any retailer it may look better or even worse than that one. That’s quite the gamble. These brushes are handmade, so not every one of them will be identical, but I decided that it would be best for me to anti-haul this particular line. I made this decision when the exchange rate between USD and YEN was much more favorable to dollars and the brush was as low as $139 or $142. Now that it’s back up to $158, It’s absolutely a skip. Part of me wonders if I missed my chance on getting it for as low as it was ever going to be, but I have plenty of beautifully crafted gray squirrel brushes from other brands in my collection, including outlet brushes that only have tiny cosmetic flaws but are otherwise perfect. I also considered just saving up my own points I earn through purchases, along with the points I get when others have so kindly used my links when purchasing from CDJapan, but I couldn’t bring myself to use those points on something I may not like. I’d rather spend it on something I know for certain I will cherish.

So, these are the reasons I ultimately decided to skip this one. And I can guarantee there will be other opportunities to buy different and equally beautiful brushes from Bisyodo in the future. I can be a fan of them (at least with their goat hair brushes) without needing to own everything they make.

In the event that someone would still like to purchase this brush or any other item that’s available at CDJapan using my affiliate link, it can be done by clicking HERE, and if so, thank you for monetarily supporting this blog!

Sonia G Niji Pro and The Hinoki Set

Sonia G is another one of my favorite brush brands (Chikuhodo, Sonia G, and Bisyodo are the top three). Every launch of hers is tempting, even if it’s for brushes that aren’t my usual style. When it comes to the Hinoki Set, I loved the detail of the cranes on the handles and I really wanted the uniquely shaped smaller brush. The larger brush head was not as unique, but was a shape I enjoyed. I just had to think about my preferences and remember that I tend to not like the undyed goat hair from Sonia G. Yes, the bristles are super soft, but the way they splay out after being washed and their tendency to be wispier than their dyed counterparts is what I don’t like about them. To me, it’s as if the dyed hairs are thicker, but I don’t know if it’s a coating or perhaps if the thicker hairs are selected intentionally to withstand the dye process. Or maybe she intentionally chooses undyed hair brushes to be the airier brushes. I don’t know for sure, but I remember how I ended up giving my Lotus Cheek to my friend because I preferred the denseness of the regular Cheek Pro (so much that I have a backup of the Cheek Pro too after the Lotus Cheek didn’t have the same performance benefits). Had the Hinoki brushes been available individually, I might have purchased the smaller one. However, it’s my rule that I shouldn’t buy full sets of brushes if I don’t like nearly all of them, unless I intend to sell the ones I won’t use. I did that once with the Lotus Set prior to them being available individually and I don’t want to have to do that again. These brushes are not just tools; they are like art to me.

The rationale for keeping sets bundled is that it’s a way to keep the cost lower (the way eyeshadow palettes are cheaper per shadow than a brand’s singles cost individually) or that these more intricate designs are intended for collectors, which implies people having the finances to afford more extravagant and luxurious brushes. Granted, there are plenty who fall into that category. However, there are some who are like me and consider themselves fans enough to be a Fude Collector that will skip out on buying other things (like jewelry, designer clothes and shoes and accessories, etc) in order to fund that collection. It would be nice to have the option to solely buy the ones we can love and use without being stuck with additional ones that aren’t going to get any love. I think it’s okay to own a collector piece and have it on display for its beauty and not for use, like art, but it’s another thing to own a collector item and not appreciate it enough to want to display it and not want to use it either, so it just sits in the back of a drawer or in a box serving no purpose. That feels wasteful considering all the time and effort by the artisans to create it and the ever growing limited resource of that animal hair. It would be a shame to have something I don’t want, when it could have been purchased by someone else who would have actually cherished it if only they had the option to buy it as a single too. After all, the Hinoki set is limited edition and for each person who buys the two without loving them both, that potentially takes away from someone else’s ability to own it.
No judgements to those who have. It’s just what keeps me from doing it too.

Regarding the Niji Pro, the salt and pepper look of the hair is beautiful! There is something so pleasing about it. I like this type of shape for bronzer and contour, but I thought it looked a bit too large. I had already sold my Lotus Base. I owned the Scott Barnes #65 Flawless Face Brush and the Patrick Ta Contour Brush. Just because this is a gorgeous mix of dyed and undyed Saikoho goat hair and would be a more luxurious addition to my collection, doesn’t mean I need to own it. I can admire it from afar is what I told myself. It was hard, but I’m glad I did, because eventually Sonia released the Jumbo Bronzer brush which, based on the descriptions, is even more suited to me than the Niji Pro! The Niji Pro is denser for a heavier application and stronger buffing power. The Jumbo Bronzer brush has a good amount of density while still giving an airy result due to the flexible and longer hair. When I want something more precise or to use with a more subtle product that requires packing, I have my Patrick Ta Contour Brush for that. However, with use of my powder bronzers that are a little deep and need a lighter application combined with good blending ability, the Jumbo Bronzer is everything I wanted. So, I was rewarded for waiting for my ideal brush rather than settling for one that sounded nice, but wasn’t filling any voids in my collection.

There are a few more items I considered adding to this list, but truth be told, I might cave on those if the price is right. There are also some new launches that I’m planning to anti-haul, like the Colourpop Sage the Day palette (which is too similar to The Child palette plus I swore off buying CP Palettes because I never use them), but it’s too soon after the launch to feel like I successfully got that one out of my system. I have held strong to what I wrote in that post though and haven’t purchased another one since. I also haven’t used a single one of my CP palettes since that post either, further reinforcing the point that I made the right decision to stop buying them.

That’s all I’ve got for this week’s post. I wish you a very happy holiday! Thank you for reading.

-Lili

10 Things I Purchased Purely For The Packaging

I can list too many examples of times I’ve wanted makeup and the look of the packaging swayed me into purchasing. There are also times I really wanted the packaging, so I chose whichever version would look best on me out of the options. The products I’m discussing today are the items in my collection that I bought purely for the packaging with the complete knowledge that the makeup inside didn’t suit my tastes. In this post, rather than reviewing the items, I’ll be looking deeper into why they attracted me so much.

Also, some of these photos were taken as long ago as October 2020. I’ve had the idea for this post for ages, but the fact that these items were always intended for the packaging and not the product inside, I kept dragging my feet on reviewing them. That’s why it took so long for me to finally complete this post.

Nostalgia Purchases

Glamlite Concha Highlighter

I believe Glamlite was founded at the end of 2017, and although I was interested in their products, my fears about online security made me extremely hesitant to purchase from anywhere but retail websites until 2019. I was even more selective about purchasing from relatively new indie brands, which I considered Glamlite to be. When I found out that Glamlite had a concha highlighter, all fears were thrust aside and I didn’t care that it wasn’t on sale and that I would have to pay full price for shipping. I wanted it and it was the only thing I bought in that first order!

The reason I had this kind of reaction is two-fold. For starters, my dad was a horticulturist from my childhood to teen years and commuted to and from the Tampa area for work, which has a large Hispanic population. The majority of the employees at the company were Mexican and would bring traditional dishes to the workplace. When I was a kid, my dad would sometimes bring me a concha that he got from someone selling them at work. I wasn’t allowed to have desserts and snack foods often, and I grew up with food as a reward system, so I was always so excited to be able to have one, especially the pink ones which were my favorite!

So, psychologically, I associated conchas with good behavior. I think this is the top reason I wanted to have that pretty packaging because it appealed to that desire to reestablish that feeling of being rewarded if I had it in my possession. The highlighter is too light and icy for my skin tone, but I needed it anyway.
The second reason is that I haven’t eaten a concha in like twenty years. I miss them. I don’t have access to them anywhere nearby. So, purchasing the highlighter was like my way of holding onto one forever. Ever since buying it in August 2020, I took the one photo pictured above and then never touched it again. It’s just been chilling in my highlighter drawer, but it brings me an inexplicable joy just knowing it’s there.

Sola Look Charmed Palette

I learned about the Charmed Palette in July of 2020, but Sola Look had even fewer products available than Glamlite, which made me super nervous as to the brand’s legitimacy. I still signed up for their emails, so when I was notified a few months later about their 50% off labor day sale with free shipping, I was sold.

The original Charmed television show came out in 1999, but I didn’t hear about it until somewhere between 2002-2004. I was fascinated by the concept, but it wasn’t until one of my best friends bought me the first season on DVD that I was hooked! Absolutely hooked! After the final season, I rewatched the show in its entirety on an annual basis until around 2016. My friend and I were such fans of the show that I even made her a 167+ page photo album and recreation of the Book of Shadows, which required me to scour every episode of all 8 seasons to find wherever they showed a page of the Book of Shadows and type it up. It took months! I miraculously still have a copy of the typed pages and even though I intended to make one for myself too, I never ended up doing it. Instead, I have this palette to represent the Book of Shadows!

At the time that I bought the palette, Prue, Paige, Belthazor, and Piper were the only colors I was interested in having. This was far too neutral for me in 2020, but I can appreciate the shade selection a bit more now. I could have sworn I actually started a written review for this already when I did eye looks, but I couldn’t find anything on my computer except those swatches. I had to replace my harddrive last year after some of my files were corrupted, and I didn’t have everything on the cloud like I thought, so perhaps this was one of the missing things.

In any case, I described how much of a super fan I used to be, but the reason it holds so much importance to me is because the main characters were so relatable. I had a lot of lonely years and seeing these super powerful women and witches not always have their lives together, but be able to overcome it with the power of sisterhood, faith, love, etc really appealed to me. The relationship between Piper and Leo was my ideal dream romantic relationship. I would watch the show and say to myself, “That’s the kind of man I want.” The relationship between Phoebe and Cole/Balthazor also taught me that sometimes love isn’t enough. Love should never cost you to give up who you are and your ideals to make it work. It’s a painful lesson I had to learn in my real life and seeing the Charmed ones all make incredible heartbreaking sacrifices that would cause them pain, but they were better off doing, gave me the strength to make certain decisions as well. There are some dark themes in the show but also, the scenarios the characters got into were so entertaining and made me laugh during times in my life when I was really struggling with my mental health. The show helped me through those times in a way I can’t explain. That’s why I so badly wanted to combine my admiration of Charmed and my love of makeup together. That’s why I couldn’t resist eventually getting a palette with such a core important symbol of the show.

This palette is no longer available as Sola Look closed in February 2022.

The Cuteness Factor

The Creme Shop Hello Kitty Macaron Lip Balm

I talked about these in my lip balm post already, and how I expected the formula to do absolutely nothing for my lips, but I wanted it for the cute packaging! I love macarons and have even made some macaron clay jewelry (as well as the dessert), so there’s that. I didn’t watch the Hello Kitty show(s), but she’s so cute that I frequently want Hello Kitty themed things. I have no idea why I’m so drawn to her! There’s just something so intriguing about her being this cute character I see everywhere and know nothing about, even to this day. Hello Kitty has a die-hard following and I keep buying these items because I want to experience that excitement they have and be part of that club too!
I looked into why the design of Hello Kitty tugs at the heart and according to an article, “Branding expert Dorie Clark puts Hello Kitty’s popularity down to her simple, mouthless design. ‘She’s stoic, she’s expressionless, and people can put onto her almost any kind of emotion…she can mean almost anything to anyone.'”

ETUDE HOUSE x NESTLE: HERSHEY’S Play Color Eyes Mini Eyeshadow Palette

The idea of having makeup that looked like food that someone could pick up and get confused to find out it’s not edible was something my mischievous side always wanted, but there aren’t many that look realistic enough to trick someone or the item is too large and cumbersome to store. This release seemed perfect for me, but the adorable squares that looked just like the ones from a Hershey bar are what ultimately got me. I didn’t have the heart to even swatch the pans for fear of ruining it, and I don’t plan on trying it anytime soon either. I want it to remain pristine.

Too Faced Glowver Puppy Love Highlighter

2020 (above) vs 2022 (below)

I love gold packaging, gold tone highlighters, and I’m a dog person. This would have been a match made in heaven if the highlighter wasn’t way too light for me, but I wanted it anyway. It doesn’t look too crazy on camera if blended in properly, but it’s more obvious in person. The shiny packaging with an adorable puppy face outside and imprint on the inside were too much to resist, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay full price for something I wasn’t going to use. It launched around May 2019 and I patiently waited for a sale that could justify the purchase. October 2020 it dropped to half price on Too Faced’s website, which is when I finally snapped it up! I really wanted this because it’s so cute, but it equally fits in the second category as a luxurious looking product because of that gold compact.

Looks Luxurious

Too Faced Diamond Light Multi-Use Diamond Fire Highlighter in Canary

This seemed a lot more luxe to me in photos than when I got it in my hands, but I still really loved the unique octagonal shape of the packaging that held the all too glittery highlighter. It’s a bit bulky as well and even though it’s not on the level of me wanting to display it like I originally intended, I still don’t have the heart to get rid of it. At the very least, I would want to repurpose it in some way, like clean it out to be used as a keepsake box or jewelry box but at some point I think I will just end up decluttering it. The fact that it still reminds me of gems and luxury is what lured me in.

Smashbox + Hoodwitch Crystalized Highlighter and Cover Shot: Crystalized Eye Shadow Palette

I don’t believe I was aware of these products when they were originally launched in 2019, or I must not have thought they were worth getting at full price. In any case, when I eventually discovered these on Mercari, I purchased them for zero purpose of ever actually using them. I wanted to clean out the packaging to put my own DIY eyeshadows and face powders in them, but when I saw how pretty the gem design was inside the highlighter, I couldn’t bring myself to destroy it. So, both of these have been sitting untouched (by me) in my collection. I might still one day repurpose the eyeshadow palette, but the packaging for that one feels flimsier than the highlighter.

Pat Mcgrath Lunar Nude Sublime Skin Highlighter

I’ve reviewed this product already, but this is one of those items I had to include here too because I knew ahead of time that I would find it too stark for my skin tone, but the gold packaging screamed luxury as well as the stunning crown embossing on the inside. Whenever Pat Mcgrath veers from the permanent black packaging, it’s incredibly difficult to turn a blind eye to it. Of all the products in the “luxury” category in this post, this one actually is luxurious, rather than just looking expensive. In the past, I hardly splurged on makeup beyond the high end category, so I was drawn to items that looked luxurious that was also within budget. I learned that it still won’t fulfill me to have fancy packaging if I can’t actually use what is inside. So, that’s something I’m trying to keep in mind now.

Bésame Cosmetics 1959 Sleeping Beauty Eyeshadow Palette

I bought this deeply discounted from Besame’s website and intend to keep it in pristine condition. None of these eyeshadow colors spoke to me, but I have a fascination with book-like packaging. This obsession of mine paired with the luxurious aspect of the gem pattern and top edge gilt/gilded page edges made this a must-have.

Fulfilled the FOMO

I Heart Revolution Teddy Bear Eyeshadow Palette Honey

When the gold teddy bear Sephora x Moschino collection was released, I did a full review about the difficulty people had obtaining the items, as well as created a section specifically stating that I was anti-hauling the bear shaped palette. The reasons I cited were the repetitive colors both within the palette and among the shades in my collection, as well as the huge bulky shape that would take up too much vanity space. I did end up regretting not getting it, so when Makeup Revolution created smaller teddy bear palettes in various colors, I purchased this gold one in order to combat the FOMO I felt from missing out on the Moschino palette. Even though I’ve never used the makeup inside of this one and I don’t have any intention of doing so, somehow just having this in my collection for the very low price succeeded in making me not miss it. I probably wouldn’t have used the Moschino one anyway, so at least this takes up less room, wasn’t as much out of pocket, and fits on my vanity.

Although I try my best to avoid purchasing things purely for the packaging, I’m sure I will become susceptible again. In analyzing the traits that specific products have that succeed in getting me to buy them, I can recognize the signs and hopefully be able to rationalize with myself why I shouldn’t get them.

That’s all for today!

-Lili

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