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.


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!


The Eyeshadow Tag 2020

This tag was started by Samantha March and Allie Glines on youtube. As a way to continue analyzing and enjoying my collection, I thought I could try this as a blog post! There are so many palettes I haven’t featured here, so I set the rule for myself to not have any repeats for each category. I will include arm swatches and examples of eye looks for most of these answers.

Newest Palette

*Right half was taken with flash on.

Nabla Cutie Palette in Wild Berry This is just one of the three newest cutie palettes released. After several beauty gurus called this, “Nabla’s best eyeshadow formulation yet,” I decided to try the palette. As I’ve only had this palette for a week, I think I need a bit more time to decide how I feel. For now, I have mixed feelings. The matte shades swatch beautifully and smoothly. I like Blackberry and Botanic Juice a lot, but Venom is a bit tricky to work with as it moves a bit, making it look patchy when it shouldn’t. All of these shadows (especially the foils) have a lot of slip to them. It’s not as heavy to the touch as dimethicone, which leads me to believe one or more lighter weight silicones must be the reason for the texture and glide. I will have to do an extended wear test to see if Venom continues to move around (and I will update here in the future). My primers tend to be on the emollient side, so I may need to set the lid with powder first or use a drier base primer.

Incense is close to my lid color, so it only shows up on my skin if I’m using a white or very light base underneath, and even then, it is subtle. Bucolic Baby is a flattering pink on me because of its peach undertone and Alchemy 2.0 makes for a pretty shadow topper. For such sparkly shades, I was happy to see that there was hardly any glitter fallout.

Oldest Palette

Smashbox and Santigold Santigolden Eyeshadow Collage in Earth As We Know it – I had to redo this section three different times as I kept forgetting about the different palettes I have stored away on the too-sentimental-to-toss-out-but-too-old-to-use shelf in my closet. I purchased this, the Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary Pop-Up Party Eyeshadow Palette, and the Too Faced Semi-Sweet Palette in December 2014 when they were all on sale, so I don’t recall which one I was in possession of first. However, I believe the Santigolden palette is the older release. I thought the shades were beautiful, but I didn’t know how to wear this color combination, so I didn’t use this palette that often. I remember getting it at $13, so I was just happy to keep it for the gorgeous packaging and because I listened to Santigold’s music around that time as well. Just for fun, I’ll include photos of the other palettes as well. I would give an example of eyeshadow looks if these palettes weren’t so old. The missing Hello Kitty shade was where I removed the entire pan about a year after using it when I saw strange silvery dots in that shade. It’s most likely from the pigment not being mixed thoroughly enough, but I didn’t want to take any chances of it being something else and potentially spreading it to the other shades. Also, I depotted some of these shadows in the HK Palette, so a lot of them are not in the right spot.

Most Expensive Palette

Pat McGrath Mothership III Subversive – Although I have palettes with a higher retail price (such as the Natasha Denona Purple-Blue palette), this is the most expensive one I’ve paid for outright. The mattes are nice but not special enough for the price tag. I do like the shimmers, but the last four “special shades” on the right side of the palette are the ones hyped up, and for good reason. They are stunning! I do believe indie brands make better duochromes and multichromes for less money, but part of the appeal of PMG palettes are for the luxurious heavy packaging and for the experience. In my opinion, this palette is worth $75 maximum for the eyeshadow quality (marked up of course). It’s up to the customer to decide how much more the packaging and experience is worth.

Most Affordable

ELF Bite Size Eyeshadow Mini Palettes in Hot Jalapeño, Acai You, and Truffles – Does a quad count as a palette? If so, these are my least expensive palettes at $3 each. There isn’t a ton of product in each pan, so that contributes to the low price, but the quality is fairly good. My favorite one is Hot Jalapeño which performs very well. The gold and light green shimmers are pigmented and bright. The lighter green matte is decent and the darker green is good.

Acai You takes a lot more effort. The dark blue matte is patchy. The light blue matte isn’t very pigmented and needs a lighter base to pop on my skintone. The shimmer is okay but doesn’t pop as much without a glitter glue or being applied wet. The darker satin shade needs even more help to make an impact.

Truffles is a nice soft neutral palette for me. The mattes take some building up, but I like the defined yet soft and blendable look I can achieve with this. The lightest matte shade is too close to my skintone to show up, though. The shimmer in the palette packs just enough punch on its own without glitter glue or being wet.

A strange thing I noticed is that these shadows don’t apply as well when I use the ELF Putty Primer. Something with a little more slip, like the MAC paint pot, makes these more enjoyable to use. So, if you have a high quality eyeshadow primer already, these are certainly worth a try.

Everyday Palette

PERSONA Identity Two I rarely use the same palette twice in a row, but the closest thing I have to an everyday palette is this one, which is one of the newer additions to my collection. Overall, these shadows are so smooth, buttery, pigmented, and blends easily. Honest would be the perfect brow bone highlight shade if it had gold shimmer instead of pink. This does limit how often I’ll use it, but it works well in circumstances when I’m using the other shades in the red-purple family. Kind is a light cream shade with just enough warmth to prevent it from looking stark on my skin. Loyal is a light brown that doesn’t show easily on my eyes, so I use it to blend out the black eyeshadow if I’ve gone too heavy-handed with it. Limitless is an extremely pigmented onyx black, so a tiny amount goes a long way. Brave is a medium brown but deepens up a lot on a wet eyeshadow base. Even though it’s the second darkest shade, it’s still easy to blend out without needing to use Loyal. Independent is not a typical gunmetal shade as it has some blue tones to it. It would add a unique twist on a cool-toned smokey eye. Passionate looks like a dark peachy red in the pan, and an orange in swatches, but it’s described on Ulta’s website as a light maroon. Whatever color it is… I love this shade! I’ve been a lot more interested in peaches and pinks lately, so I got this palette at the perfect time. Unique is a brilliant gold. I wanted to do an eye look pairing the green with it, but I imagine a lot of people featuring this palette would have already done that color combination. Then again, I was unable to find anyone on youtube with my skintone or darker using this palette. And because eyeshadows look differently depending on your complexion, I could have done it without feeling repetitive. Both Unique and Emerald remind me of the quality of Coloured Raine eyeshadows, which is paying this palette a big compliment as Coloured Raine makes one of my favorite formulas. Confident is a little disappointing, as it just looks dark on my lid and doesn’t show the pretty purple tones very well on me. I haven’t used that shade as often as the others, so perhaps I could try to use a white base next time or to see if wetting my brush will somehow bring out the purple in it. I’m not certain how well the white base would work though because I think this shade (along with perhaps Driven) already has a black base in the formulation. Empowered is the type of reddish shade I don’t use that often, but it is a nice compliment to some of the other shades in this palette. Resilient is possibly my favorite Bronze eyeshadow, or at least ranked among my top three Bronzes.

I could easily take this palette traveling and feel satisfied with the selection available to me because I can do something colorful or neutral, complex, or basic. This is one of the few palettes I believe are worth the full retail price, but if you can get it for a reduced price like I did, that would make it even more of a win!

Colorful Palette

The Coloured Raine Vivid Brights Palette is easily the most colorful one in my collection. The reason the photo looks like that is because I immediately depotted it to put in my gigantic CR magnetic palette with my other CR eyeshadows. I have only used a few shades prior to this post because this is actually a step out of my comfort zone because of how intensely bright they are. I like colorful shadows, but I don’t have the confidence yet to use them regularly. For my eye looks I used a white base on the lid so the lightest colors (such as that yellow) would pop more. Crushin’ is a gorgeous neon peach, but it gave me a little trouble sticking to my lid over the Colourpop white concealer I used. Otherwise, I had no other issues with patchiness. One other thing to note is that Drip Drop darkens up noticeably over a primer. It is common for mattes to darken on the outer edges if a base is too wet, but in the case of Drip Drop, the entire shade darkens.

Smallest Palette

ND Mini Palettes in Lila and Gold This would be ELF again, but I chose this to avoid repeating an answer. I love the shades, but the quality of mini Lila deterred me from getting the full-size Lila palette because I didn’t think it would be worth it if it performed the same as the mini. The mini is okay, but nowhere near as fantastic as the larger version! Blue Dahlia is also the only shade from this palette that is somewhat unique in my collection. The mini gold is very good, though. I have no regrets purchasing that, and it ultimately gave me assurance that I’d like the full-size Gold palette too. One day, I’ll have to do a dedicated Natasha Denona post with updates and swatches all in one place. That won’t be anytime soon though. I have some older photos I took from when I originally bought these palettes to do a review, but never got around to it. I will include them here. As much as I recommend Mini Gold, you can see that both of these minis include brown shades that barely show on my skin without putting flash on. This seems to be the running theme among the majority of palettes in this post. To have a single shade that doesn’t show up out of such a small palette really limits things. The color story is already tricky to make looks using each exclusively without pairing other outside palettes with them, so the additional looks I created were inspired by Natasha Denona’s promotional images.

Largest Palette

BH Cosmetics Zodiac Palettes in the Original, Love, and Crystal – These aren’t too thick or wide, but they are tall. There’s a lot of wasted space, but the palette design was part of the reason I bought the original one. I’m always surprised by BH Cosmetics powder products, including their eyeshadows. I always expect them to be patchy or powdery with a talc smell (because of the price) but they are pretty decent products and the Zodiac line is particularly good. I recommend the original, and perhaps the Love Signs if you like the color story, but the Crystal one is just a gimmick. The swirls just make those shadows extra icy/silvery, which isn’t the most flattering on me. I feel that the 1st Zodiac palette is the most pigmented and overall best quality. The Love palette shimmers are a bit sheerer, but the matte quality is pretty much the same. The look I created reminded me so much of what I can create with the ND Metropolis palette, so that’s a bit of a compliment to that palette. The Crystal palette is okay but not as good as the previous two. I don’t recommend it unless you can get it for a decent discount.

Technically, my largest palette is the KVD Mi Vida Loca Remix Palette, but I have that one stored away due to age. In my experience, KVD’s shadows change in performance fairly quickly. I suspect it might be due to their particular vegan formula. Anyway, these are looks from the Zodiac Palettes.

Most Memorable Palette

MAC Archie’s Girls Spoiled Rich (Veronica) Palette – This is the oldest palette release in my collection (Spring 2013) but it was not in my possession until November 2015. I didn’t start getting seriously into makeup until early 2014, and I was quite upset when I first learned that there was an Archie makeup collection that I had missed out on. I’ve been reading Archie Comics since the 4th grade and still read them on and off. Archie Comics are something I’ve discussed numerous times with my loved ones. They made a small impact on my life and there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the nostalgic wholesome classic digests.

In one of the facebook beauty groups I’m in, a friend was at her local CCO and saw a few palettes available and remembered that I had previously discussed missing out on the collection. This was before I knew about Mercari and I wasn’t an ebay shopper back then, so for her to let me know about it and offer to buy it for me (I reimbursed her) was so awesome! The joy of not having to deal with FOMO anymore and the excitement of finally having my hands on it was very memorable. I still feel that excitement again whenever I look at the palette. The shadows are so old that I never applied them to my eyes, but I wanted to have them as a makeup lover and Archie fan.

Worth the Hype

Natasha Denona Metropolis Palette – I was dying to say the Clionadh Stained Glass Collection, but this is about premade palettes. I already did a mini review of this in my Lucky Bag post, but I love the shadows with the cream-hybrid formula, the shimmers, and the greens and blues. There are some shades that are so similar that I feel I don’t need them, even though the finishes are different, but overall, this is a fantastic palette that I’m so happy to have! The only downside is I’m used to having a dark brown to deepen things up. The darkest brown in the palette is barely dark enough to add depth to my eyes. So, this presents a bit of a challenge to switch up how I would normally do things. I have to put more thought into the look I’m going for, which can be fun as long as I’m not in a rush.

Not Worth the Hype

Tati Textured Neutrals Vol 1 – I’ve discussed this palette and posted swatches already in my review and since then, I haven’t reached for this except to refresh my memory on what this is like. I still love the four shades in the palette that I depotted for traveling (the palette itself isn’t travel friendly due to the incredibly heavy mirror), but I’m debating finding this palette a home with someone else who would use it more. Even if I ignore my main gripe of several colors blending too much with my skin, the reasons this palette isn’t worth the hype is because the entire Poet column looks terrible on me, there’s a row of unsafe glitters, and the sequin shadows are essentially a duplicate matte row. This is still a good quality palette, but because I would only use 9 out of 24 shadows for their intended purpose, this was the only palette I could think of to place here. I do own palettes that I genuinely don’t like, but they were never hyped up to begin with, which is why I couldn’t choose those instead.

While trying to decide if this palette was worth keeping, I looked through my collection for some dupes to the shades I would use.

Here are the photos of me playing around with the shadows late at night (I was in a rush and didn’t bother trying to make them look that great).

Colourpop’s Onyx looks identical to Metallic Memory on the lid, except that the Onyx side has a lot has less sparkle. For the gunmetal look, I actually want more sparkle, so I think I would actually miss having this shade in my collection. This is the same situation where I found nothing that came too close to Metallic Story (everything was light orange with gold or pink with gold, as opposed to medium orange with gold). The closest dupes were brighter, shinier, and/or smoother in texture, yet I still wouldn’t want to give it up. *As I was about to upload this review, I remembered Black Metal from my PMG Mothership III palette, so I included a comparison and I still don’t want to give up the shade from Tati’s palette!

Matte Memory didn’t have an exact match, but after seeing how black that Kaleidos shade was, I didn’t bother continuing to look. That one can be replaced. The same goes for Matte Story, which can be easily replaced by two beautiful Viseart oranges.

The Matte versions of Soothe, Aura, and Ritual, along with Metallic Soothe and Aura are not unique shades. I have plenty of similar enough looking shadows to replace them, which I already knew before buying the palette, but does the quality of those shadows surpass the dupes? To quote Marie Kondo… this just doesn’t bring me joy. I will probably depot Metallic Memory and Metallic Story, then rehome the rest of the palette.

Favorite Palette from a Favorite Brand

The Coloured Raine Power PaletteMy favorite brands don’t make eyeshadow palettes with color stories that appeal to me (hence relying on depotting or resorting to purchasing their single shadows), or their eyeshadow quality is lacking. It would make sense that a brand who I have the most eyeshadow palettes from should be the answer to this question, but I don’t have brand loyalty to them. So, this palette I chose is my best answer. The matte quality isn’t quite the same as their other mattes, but they’re still good. The shimmers are fantastic, and the white duo-chrome shade is unique and gorgeous. I was also happy to get this for at least 40% off during a sale.

Most Used Palette

Jacyln Hill x Morphe Palette from 2017 (with the updated packaging that was released three months after the initial release) – For all of 2018, this palette had my love for three shades in particular: Beam, Silk Crème, and Chip. I mix Beam and Silk Crème to create my favorite brow highlight and Chip is my favorite crease shade. There are times when I’ve literally just used Chip with some liner and mascara and felt confident with that alone. In 2019, I barely used makeup. After doing this tag, I have rediscovered my love of this palette! There are shades that didn’t interest me before, that have suddenly caught my attention! This palette also has nice transitions, deepening shades, and a few pops of color for the lid, or something neutral. It’s a very well curated palette that works for the majority of skintones and I had no idea I’d enjoy it so much when I bought it! There was a time this used to be my everyday palette, and it might reclaim that title from my Persona Two Palette.

I’m not a fan of Jacyln Hill, so I was ultimately persuaded to buy this based on the glowing review from JenLuvsReviews. Ironically, her updated review (on the palette changes Morphe made) is what stopped me from repurchasing this. As mentioned, this palette is from 2017, and right as I was debating whether or not to buy a newer one, it was revealed that what’s available in stores isn’t the original formula. So, I will continue to enjoy this palette while it’s still good. And my goodness is it good! With the exception of Roxanne, which gave me a lot of trouble swatching but applied nicely on the eye, and Creamsicle, which isn’t as vibrant as it looks in the pan,  these still work just as great as when I bought them.

That’s all for now! Thank you for reading! Stay safe!


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!


XL Beautylish Lucky Bag 2018 Comprehensive Review

What is it?

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

How do you get one?

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

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

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

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

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

What did you get?

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

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

Wayne Goss #19 Precision Blending Brush – $23.

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

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

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

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

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

Skindinavia Makeup Finishing Spray – $29.

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

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

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

Bioderma Cleanser – $6.90.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

Maximum (individual pricing) Retail Value – $450

Actual Retail Value – $423.90

Actual Savings – $258.90

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading.

– Lili

Decluttering: Lip Products

lipcollectionThere comes a time when every makeup lover has to invest in better organizers or scale back on future purchases. I decided to do a little of both! I purchased a 36 slot acrylic lipstick holder and decided that I would only store as many lip products as I could fit on that tray. This meant I had to rifle through my collection and find the items that needed to be given away, sold, or tossed.

Lip Balms

balm1 balm2cThe amount of balms I saved is still excessive but if I had to keep only one it would be the Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm. It creates a barrier which locks in moisture and reduces the appearance of peeling lips better than anything else I’ve tried. It has a hint of a honey scent and it stays matte. I keep this in my purse at all times. I should also note that I kept the Arrow Lip Balm although it isn’t pictured here.

Lip Tints

liptints1 liptints2Every one of the tints I’m keeping were from subscription boxes. My favorite in this category is also the newest. I got it in my Birchbox and it is the TonyMoly Delight Tony Tint. Some people say it doesn’t produce enough color, but it shows very well on my lips. The best part is that the color doesn’t skip! It lasts quite a long time as well.

Lip Glosses

glosses1 glosses2The majority of my glosses were gifts from friends or from subscription boxes. I can’t remember how I got the BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lip Gloss in Maverick. It’s a shade I never would have purchased for myself but I’m happy to have it. It’s a brownish pink gloss which looks lovely on my bare lips and on top of light pink lipsticks. In fact, whenever I get a lip product that is too light, I apply Maverick over it to see if it can become more wearable. My favorite glosses are swatched below.

zglossesswaLip Liners

lipliners1liplinerswaSince my lip liners are different shades, I decided to keep them all. I purchased the Palladio liners purely for their affordable price but they’re actually very good! They are also on sale at Ulta fairly often. I prefer the retractable (as opposed to the regular pencil liners) because it’s more convenient.

The Nars lip liners were from Sephora’s free Birthday Pack last year. Because Rikugien has a creamy texture, I enjoy using it all over my lips like a gloss.

Stick and Liquid Lipsticks

liquidlip1 liquidlip2I’m fairly new to the Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick scene. The only shade I own in the collection is Unicorn Blood which I felt compelled to get as soon as I saw it on NikkiTutorials from Youtube. Unfortunately, I forgot that lip products look different depending on the natural lip color. I still like the shade but not quite as much as how I wish it looked on me.

*UPDATE: This post was before I knew who Jeffree Star was and before I learned about his past controversies.

Tube Lipsticks

lipstick1b lipstick2In the process of reducing my lipstick collection and working on this post this week, I still managed to buy another lipstick!

gwenThis is the only Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Collaboration item that I bought for myself (I bought Spiderweb for a friend and kept Rock Steady).zgwen2

My initial thought is that I like the color but I haven’t worn it enough to give a full review.

Extra swatches: Ravishing REDSzredswa

Extra swatches: Pretty PINKS/CORALzpinksswa

Tutti-Cutie is the only coral color I kept in my collection. As much as I love corals, they’re too light for me to rock comfortably. This one works because the sheer peachy-coral color enhances my lips without becoming too bright.

Another shade that is extremely light for me but still works is the ModelCo lipstick.

Extra swatches: perfect PURPLES/BROWNzberriesswa

Reds were my favorite color range in 2014. In 2015 it was, and still is, the berry family that I favor most. One such favorite is Glam Life from LOC which is an very comfortable matte shade.

Another color which truthfully fits better in the red category, but looks very purple in the tube, is Frank-N-Furter. For the longest time I kept it as a collector’s item but in doing this post I realized I needed to either sell it or use it. No more hoarding! As you can tell, I decided to keep it.

It saddens me to say that one of my favorite natural-looking lipstick shades, Shiraz, is no longer available. Bite Beauty Luminous Crème Lipsticks were discontinued this year in favor of the Amuse Bouche line. On the bright side, I’m crazy for this new release but I will discuss that at the end of this post.

Picking Favorites

top14I was able to narrow my favorites to a Top 14…then 10…

top10ztop10favbMy Top 5 was extremely difficult to select-

top5-but Top 3 was impossible to rank. Below are my favorite 3 lip products in no particular order.

top3Shiseido Lacquer Rouge in Nocturne is just a deluxe size sample but it has lasted me quite a while. It is a flattering and very opaque classic red. It goes on smooth and is long lasting.

zshiseMake Up For Ever Artist Plexi-gloss in 406 Burgundy is a shade I talk about frequently. As demonstrated in swatches further above, the shade and intensity is dependent on how much product is applied. It is an opaque high-shine gloss which I can be seen wearing in several youtube videos, my current youtube channel photo, and my “About Me” photo here.

headshotMy newest favorite to make Top 3 has been kept secret for several months (even in this video)! Now that it has appeared on the Sephora website, I think I’m finally allowed to talk about the Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Jam. A friend of mine gifted this to me before the official release and I’ve been in love with it as soon as I got it! It is so gorgeous and hydrating with an intense color payoff (almost staining). As a citrus fan, I’m obsessed with the fruity-citrus scent of these new lipsticks. Like the MUFE lipgloss, this also looks slightly different depending on how much is applied. It also differs based on lighting.zbiteamuse

The darker purple is closer to how it looks in person.zbitejam

The full collection isn’t available for purchase yet but I cannot wait until the rest are out! I believe Bite Beauty fans are going to love this formula as much, if not more, as the previous line.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


❤ Lili