Let’s Chat About New/Upcoming Beauty Releases

I will be leaving Europe soon, which means I’ll need some time to properly test out all the new items I purchased and had shipped home to the US. In the week or longer that I might need a break in order to finish certain posts I’m still working on, I thought it would be fun to discuss the newest beauty products that have been released, and some that are upcoming. I guess this could also be considered a, “Will I buy it?” type of post in case anyone wanted to know whether to expect a review from me about certain products in the future!

Photo credit is shown in the screenshots and linked to the original Instagram accounts.


Makeup by Mario Cream Blush? Name Unknown

This was a last minute update to the post before it was published. Apparently we can expect cream blushes in the Skin Enhancer formula from Makeup by Mario. I would have thought it’s possible that the container is smaller than it appears and could be a color corrector line since the brand already has cream blushes in stick form, but that didn’t stop them from coming out with the original Skin Enhancers despite having cream stick bronzers too.

I never tried the Enhancers because I heard they were more on the sheer side, and for that reason I think I will be skipping this release. I tend to prefer medium or higher pigmentation with the ability to apply a small amount and blend it out to be on the more sheer or natural side. I don’t like to do the reverse with cream products where I would need to add more and more layers to build up to the amount of color I want, at the expense of it potentially feeling heavier or sticky/not setting to a dry finish. I have no idea how it would perform, but the other reason I don’t think I’ll buy it is because I already have a gorgeous color (Earthy Pink) in the Soft Pop Blush Stick line from them and I almost never use it anymore. I’d rather not spend money on another one for it to meet the same fate.

Nars Afterglow Liquid Blush

Dolce Vita and Brazen are the two most appealing shades for me out of the six, and especially Dolce Vita since I picked up that shade in the powder blush several months ago and find it to be quite pretty. Based on the claims of it being skincare infused, streakless, and transfer-resistant, I’m especially interested. The shiny and not fully opaque look to them reminds me of either two things: a lightweight buildable coverage product like the Glossier Cloud Paints that are a fantastic formula, or something dewy and serum-like such as the Colourpop Serum Blushes I hated. So, I could really love it or hate it.
Plus, I don’t really know how different this formula will be compared to the other liquid blushes from Nars that have extremely mixed reviews.

So, I will ultimately skip getting these. In my opinion, Rare Beauty and Glossier have the perfect liquid blush formulas for those who want pigmentation or those who want something buildable. Both of their products are in the $20 range, so I’d rather stick with something that can’t get any more perfect (other than shade color) rather than try something more expensive that could only hope to be just as good, if we let go of the extra skincare benefits.

Huda Beauty Lip Blush Lip & Cheek Stain

Every year, I steadily become a bigger fan of Huda Beauty and the sub brands. My positive experience with the brand is the only reason I find this release intriguing, because I am usually dissatisfied with products intended for cheeks and lips combined. At best, I tend to like them for only one of the two purposes. So, I wonder to myself, could Huda’s team have found the exception to the rule?
I won’t be the one to find out. I’d rather not make a purchase purely because it’s coming from a brand I like. If I took the Huda name away from the image and asked myself if this would be appealing if it came from the drugstore or a medium/high end brand I didn’t recognize…would I still want it? The answer is honestly no. So, for the sake of my low-buy I’m still attempting to keep in mind, I’m going to pass on it.

L’oreal Infallible 24H Fresh Wear Soft Matte Blush

I recently decluttered the L’oreal Infallible foundation that I was using as a bronzer (prior to the bronzer release), so it feels like I shouldn’t add another product from the line to my collection. However, with how soft and smooth that powder was, I can just imagine it being lovely in a blush form. In addition, this line has a coral and a rosewood that are two of my favorite types of blush colors. Considering the more “affordable” price compared to some of the expensive ones of late that I’ve purchased, I don’t think I’ll be able to resist this release for long. If I had zero experience with the Infallible line, I think I could have talked myself out of it, but knowing chances are very high that I’ll like it makes it even more difficult deny myself from getting them. And yes, I would likely get both Fearless Coral and Daring Rosewood unless it turns out the colors are inaccurately depicted.

Rose Hermès Silky Blush Powder

I like the Rose Feu matte blush I own from Hermes, but the fact that I barely use it was a strong enough reason for me to consider banning myself from buying more. However, the moment I learned that these additional shades had an “iridescent finish,” and that the Rose Cuivre shade has gold shimmer, instead of silver as I feared, my interest grew exponentially.
I can at least say that I will not be purchasing this in the compact. If I do choose to get this shade, it would have to be in the refill form and I would put it in a spare backup compact from another brand. I remember hearing something about the “refill” aspect not being as simple as they make it seem (like if they would have to be glued in if it’s not magnetic), but I have items I could use to deal with that problem if that’s the case.

So, this one is a maybe for me. I might get it if my willpower is low, but I am going to actively try to pretend it doesn’t exist.


Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Liquid Glow Bronzer Drops

I thought this would be an easy pass until I made the mistake of watching Tania’s YT video on them. It’s very true that I’m trying to avoid cream and liquid (especially liquid) blushes, bronzers, and most especially highlighters. They don’t last as long as powders and come in sizes I’ll never use up before the suggested period after opening date. The reason this is suddenly appealing is because I truly enjoyed the KVD Mod Contour, because when it looked perfect it was perfect, but when I applied it wrong somehow then it looked so bad I’d have to remove it, reapply foundation, and try again. I also loved the Glossier Solar Paints, but it’s just too sparkly/shimmery. So, the review from Tania saying it was so incredibly easy to use and blended in beautifully makes me feel a pining sensation at the idea of having something like those two I mentioned, but without the flaws. I have plenty of bronzers and have mentioned a few times on this blog that I don’t want to be tempted by more of them. However, I absolutely love a bronzer that melts into the skin, which is why creams and baked gelees are at the top of my ranking lists, and this product has the potential to do that. This is the biggest reason I’ve entertained the idea because it could potentially surpass my Charlotte Tilbury cream one if the color, depth, and formula work out.

Realistically though, this would add time to my routine. I’d need to either use a makeup palette or the back of my hand to drip the drops onto before applying it to my face. Then, I’d have to clean up the leftover drops. The only time this wouldn’t matter is if I was wearing my Rose Inc serum foundation, which I pump out onto the back of my hand and have to wipe off with some Bioderma anyway. And perhaps I’d be saving time if it’s as blendable as described, though I barely have to blend my top favorite bronzers much anyway. The price is currently the biggest deterrent. It wouldn’t be the most expensive bronzer in my collection, but there’s still a question of whether I’d actually get my money’s worth if I bought it. So, I’m going to get it, but I won’t be shy about returning it if it isn’t exactly what I’m looking for. Unlike liquid blushes that brands have nailed, it’s my experience that liquid highlighters can be quite hit or miss (tend to be too metallic looking for my taste, disturbs makeup underneath, or sets on the face like a stripe because it doesn’t blend in well enough). I’ve yet to find the perfect liquid bronzer either, so to have something unlike anything else in my collection makes the curiosity factor quite strong. And that’s why I ended up placing my order just before this review went up.


Beekman 1802 Milk Tint SPF 43 Tinted Primer Serum

I’ve been curious about trying Beekman 1802 skincare, so the fact that this is now branching into makeup is extremely appealing! This product is supposed to be a primer with SPF benefits, another appealing attribute, but I mostly was interested in using this as an actual skin tint for natural skin days. The color Rich looks best for me, however, the promo images for the shade Deep has me thinking this will not work out. The model using Deep looks lighter than me (but the photo also looks a bit washed out, so perhaps that’s the issue), plus the close up makes it look so grey tinged, milky, and light on her skin. It’s the same type of issue many foundations with SPF above 30 have in leaving a cast or unnatural tint on top of dark skin due to the specific active ingredients as the sunscreen.

For this reason, I’m going to pass. Even if the casket-ready quality gets covered up with foundation, I didn’t intend to use this product properly as a primer, so I shouldn’t get it. Perhaps if it ever winds up in one of Ulta’s “Beauty Steal” deals for 50% off, I’d consider it. I don’t use primers enough to warrant getting full sizes, so mine don’t usually surpass the $35 mark.

Rituel de Fille 3 Drop Weightless Serum Foundation

Because I’ve been liking the Rituel de Fille Thorn Oil and have been considering buying an oil based foundation specifically to pair with it, this product definitely sparks my interest. After all the past issues I’ve had with the brand’s products (my lanolin allergy and their preservation methods) I took a long break from buying their products until I gave Thorn Oil a try last year. Now, I’m a bit more willing to test more of their offerings. I think Potion #180 might be the shade for me, so I’m planning to purchase a sample from their website (if that becomes an option) and see how that goes before committing to buying the full-size bottle. Even though I have dry skin, I need to make sure that it wouldn’t be too heavy or glowy on my skin. I only use 2-3 drops of Thorn Oil (the brand recommends 5-10 drops depending on the intended areas of use), because my skin takes forever to absorb more than that. So, I don’t know if 2-3 of Thorn Oil plus 1-3 of this foundation might be too much. This is why I’m a little more tentative about just buying it immediately.

Tarte Shape Tape Radiant Concealer

Considering the original Shape Tape concealer is the most repurchased makeup in my collection and I’ve gone through countless tubes in various shades, it’s no surprise that my ears perk up the moment something new with the Shape Tape name comes into existence. However, I absolutely hated the creamy version and even though I have Sahara dry under eyes, I still don’t tend to like the look of luminous or radiant concealers under my eyes (especially when it’s shinier than the rest of my face). So, right away, I’m not interested in buying this one. In addition, it’s described as being medium coverage, when the whole reason I liked the original was for its full coverage goodness.

Even though this is clearly not a release for me, I understand the move from Tarte wanting to reach the consumers who disliked the original because it was said to look too drying or too heavy. So, to those who are thrilled to now have this option, I’m happy for them and hope it works out.


Lisa Eldridge Skin Enhancing Treatment Cleanser, Luxuriously Gentle Cleansing & Exfoliating Cloths, and Skin and Makeup Enhancing Mist

I’m going to start off by saying I purchased the Cleansing Duo, which contains the cleanser and the cloths. This is one of the purchases I’m excited to try out when I’m able to open the package when I’m back in the US. I’ve been staunch in my belief that a cleanser shouldn’t be expensive since it gets washed off too quickly for any active ingredients to give skincare benefits. And for that reason, I’ve stuck to my decision to not spend more than $25 on a cleanser. However, there’s a first time for everything and in watching Lisa Eldridge’s video, I was able to rationalize why this one should be the exception to my rule.

The first reason is that, according to Lisa, the cleanser is clinically proven to remove all traces of SPF, intense makeup, and so on which removes the need to double cleanse. My version of double cleansing is to use either a makeup wipe (Skinfood Rice Brightening Cleansing Tissue pack of 80 for $12) or Makeup Eraser ($20) with my Bioderma ($18 or more for 500ml) as the first round of makeup removal. Then, I go in with a gentle cleanser or heavy duty one depending on how many layers were on my face (typically something in the $18-$25 range). I also own cleansers and face washes for non-makeup days that I keep in my shower that are also $25 or under. So, my full cleanser arsenal adds up to being way more than the cost of Lisa’s cleanser since I use multiple products. If I feel truly confident that this can replace several steps and several products, it could be worth it. Especially since I go through 2 Skinfood wipe packages and at least 2 bottles of Bioderma a year, so the bottle’s 200 uses within the cleanser bottle requiring probably 2 purchases a year still evens out.

The second reason I decided to break my own rules is that this is supposed to be used on the skin for longer than a normal cleanser (at least 2 minutes if used as a treatment mask) and was clinically proven after 2 minutes to increase the skin’s hydration by 75%. So, there is time for this cleanser to have some additional benefits. Lisa’s details about the ingredients that make this special, the efficacy, sustainability of packaging, no added fragrance, etc. is why this could be a holy grail skincare situation for me. We shall see!

As for the cleansing cloths, they looked to be a comparable size to the Makeup Eraser cloths (though square shaped instead of long and ovular), but you get two for $12 versus one for $20 (or $10 when it goes on sale at Ulta). If this turns out to be just as good as the ones I’m used to, or better, I’ll be thrilled. As part of the cleansing duo, they’re basically 2 for $6 and double-sided just like the Makeup Eraser, so that seemed definitely worth trying out.

I decided not to get the Skin and Makeup Mist because I’m very set in my ways. For the skin, I love the Skin House Aloe Water Mist (though I wish it was fragrance free) and for melting my makeup I like the MAC Fix+ and those two products combined are less expensive than Lisa’s product. Although she talked about what made hers special in the video, I didn’t feel like the extra benefits that made it better than what I’m already using was worth the increased price I’d be paying. In addition, even though I do go through mists and sprays, it takes me a super long time. I don’t go through them quickly, so my semi-newly repurchased ones are going to last me the rest of this year. I don’t need anything except maybe a setting spray to actually make my makeup last longer. Now, if Lisa’s brand comes out with something that locks in makeup (like Urban Decay All Nighter) or makes it nearly waterproof without needing to resort to alcohol or other harsh ingredients, that would be the kind of innovation that would make me jump up and buy it.


Chantecaille “The Cosmos” Collection

Prepare for a rant on this one because I’m salty! I’m salty and jealous! Do you see the gloriousness of that bronzer’s packaging? Stunning! The highlighter packaging is pretty as well. Lip products are something I can usually pass on (when I haven’t randomly lost my mind and gone on a lippie buying spree), if it doesn’t have some kind of ultra conditioning property to them. Plus, the most expensive lipstick I’ve ever bought has never surpassed $40 and I don’t intend to break that streak, especially for a sheer product. However, the bronzer and highlighter are products I would desperately want to own if they came in shades I could use.

I feel exasperated seeing the brand repeatedly release only 1-2 shades per category of product (with a repeat to boot). This bronzer is essentially the equivalent of their Sirena shade. They’ve only had two colors in their powder bronzer line for ages and decided to use the same one again instead of expanding. And why they chose another light highlighter (granted it appears more golden and a little darker in swatches than it looks in the compact) after having just released the pale highlighter from the Lotus Collection is beyond me.

I believe the only product from Chantecaille that I ever reviewed on this blog was the Perfect Blur Powder because it’s the only thing (until a few months ago) that I’ve purchased from them that worked out enough for me to keep. Technically, this occurred after I sold the original shade to pay for the purchase of the Med/Deep color when it was eventually released. Of course, I was unhappy that the new color didn’t come in that gorgeous Hummingbird packaging, but I was glad to have at least avoided the Flower Power packaging that I despised in favor of the pebbled permanent one that came 6 months to a year later.

July 2020 was when I purchased my first ever product from Chantecaille. The beautiful Radiance Chic Cheek and Highlighter Duo which was insanely hard-pressed (to this day the hardest press of any product I’ve ever owned) and I could hardly pick up the product with any of my brushes. During the second use, the highlighter completely popped out of the compact (even though I wasn’t even using the highlighter at the time). That went right back to Chantecaille and I didn’t end up ever reviewing it.

Then I purchased one of the Philanthropy blushes and had a reaction to it on my cheeks, so I got rid of that. I purchased the bronzer in Goa and it was so grey that I couldn’t even use it like a contour. I looked like I had one foot in the grave, so that got decluttered too. The deeper face powder was the first success I had until recently, but it’s not worth full price to me. It’s nice, but I like the Dior Powder-No-Powder way better. The only product from Chantecaille that I actually love is the Sunbeam Cheek and Eye Shade in Ray, which makes a gorgeous highlighter for tan and deeper skin tones, a pretty eyeshadow or bronzey blush for those medium and lighter.

I know the formula of Chantecaille’s powder bronzer is great, so I’d love to have one from them in a color that actually works for me and is in pretty packaging. I just don’t know why the brand insists on taking two steps backwards after every attempt to take one step forward towards being inclusive. They’re worse at this than Hourglass.
I hoped that with a new CEO and the brand being acquired by Beiersdorf that there would be an opportunity for Chantecaille to make changes for the better last year, but either it takes longer than I expect or they’re sticking to the status quo.

So, will I be getting the highlighter? I have my doubts that I could pull off a shade that light, even though the shimmer is darker than it looks. And honestly, I’m happy enough with the highlighter from them I currently have.
Will I be getting the bronzer? In the past, I’ve saved some bronzers intended for those with light skin and used them as highlighters, so the thought crossed my mind because of how enamored I was with the packaging. However, I think the base color may be too pigmented for that, and I have too many amazing bronzers and highlighters to spend anywhere between $35-$84 (whichever price it may be discounted to in the future) in order to find usefulness for a product from a brand that is quite exclusionary in its range and pricing.

And, by the way, doesn’t the pattern look more like a geode/crystal than a galaxy (especially the pink one) or an acrylic pour painting? Calling this launch a “cosmos” collection that should be all about vastness and grandeur, while using the most restrictive and uninspired makeup options is quite bold of them.

Enjoy the cosmos with the tiny demographic you care about, Chantecaille.

Final Summary

I will probably get two L’Oreal Infallible Blushes, I might cave and try the Hermes Blush in Rose Cuivre eventually, I already ordered the Armani Liquid Bronzer in the deepest shade, plus two of the three Lisa Eldridge skincare products. Everything else I’m definitely skipping or have a very low probability of buying.

That’s everything for this week. Thank you for reading.


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!


Catching Up With Colourpop: Hocus Pocus 2 and More

Happy Halloween to all who celebrate it! Halloween used to be the holiday I was most excited about, and the original Hocus Pocus movie was one of my favorites. I still haven’t watched the sequel, but I was drawn to several items in the collection which I will review here today. In addition, I have two shades of Super Shock bronzers I’ll be reviewing along with two of the three Winnie the Pooh Super Shock highlighters.

One more thing to note before we discuss the products is that there are two items missing today. Colourpop surprised us all on October 28th by restocking the adorable Winnie the Pooh Hunny Pots. Since I was already placing an order, I added a Hocus Pocus 2 lip gloss to my cart. It takes at least two weeks for me to get my orders from Colourpop’s website, so there’s no way it would arrive in time for Halloween. Rather than delaying this post, I decided that it would be better for me to just update it in a few weeks with product photos and a demonstration of the lip gloss on my lips. I’ve reviewed Colourpop lip products in the past, and these are just new shades and scents, so I don’t expect there to be anything significant to say about them. If you’re interested in those two specifically, please revisit this post by the end of November at the latest (unless something goes wrong with the shipment).

UPDATE: Nov 10th, 2022 – The missing items are here! I’ve continued the trend of picking something from the Hocus Pocus 2 Collection that is completely out of character for me…a sparkly sheer black gloss! Boys Will Love Me in the So Glassy Lip Gloss formula feels great on the lips, is shiny, and gives me a “wearable rebel” vibe to my look! There’s no fragrance in it but it has a slight chemical smell.

The hunny pots with the plastic honey dipper applicators are the cutest things! I’m so happy I was able to snag these when they restocked. The lip mask smells deliciously of honey and they added a slightly sweet flavor to it. It feels so soft on the lips. I forgot how nice these lip masks from Fourth Ray/Colourpop are! The lip scrub has finely sized sugar particles, the kind that don’t do very much exfoliating for my lips, but I like that the formula it’s suspended in comes off my lips easily enough without leaving my lips feeling oily or sticky.

Back to the main review!

Hocus Pocus 2 (Partial) Collection

Sol Body Find the Book Shimmering Highlighter

I stopped purchasing highlighters in unnatural colors, but made an exception for this one. The texture of this “liquid-powder” is similar to the Super Shock formula, which is one of my favorites because of how smoothing they apply and look on the skin. This also got me in the nostalgia feels because it reminded me of the Becca Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfecter in the shade Golden Mint, just with a more intense green tinge that nearly glows.

The highlighter has the typical Sol Body beachy/coconut type of scent that is pleasant enough, but I’d prefer if it wasn’t in the makeup at the very least. The smell is thankfully not as intense in this product as it is in their cream bronzers. It looks white in the pan head on, but the base color is actually an iridescent type of pale “opal” pink shade and at an angle it reveals the gold and green shimmer. It’s basically a duochrome highlighter, but I haven’t seen one before with such a glowing green shade. It’s so beautiful, I had to try it as an inner corner highlight and it was perfect for that! It was easy to apply there and stayed on. However, when I tried it as an all-over lid shade, it was far too creamy on my eyes. It wouldn’t stop moving and creasing, so I took it off once the photos were taken. Because of the scent and the ingredient PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene which is still a microplastic), I probably shouldn’t be using this in my eye area anyway.

Is this shade too light for me? Technically, yes. The pale opal-pink leaves a cast on my face that’s visible wherever the light isn’t illuminating the green shimmer. However, the cast is less noticeable if I pair it with a neutral pink blush (the lighter the better). Also, the fact that I’m wearing a duochrome highlighter means it’s intended to stand out. So, I think it’s fine that it’s not exactly one with my skin. I won’t be fooling anyone into thinking my cheekbones naturally glow green! If anything, I think the liquid-powder formula helps to make this kind of highlighter as natural as possible in the texture and blending department.

For times that aren’t Halloween, I learned that when I want something unique yet wearable, I just need to put on a deeper highlighter (like Colourpop’s Mind Over Matter) and add Find the Book on top of it. This combination does change the color a bit. Green is still present, but the bronze-orange tone in Mind Over Matter mixed with Find the Book really intensifies the gold. I decided to show that very example in the two photos below. They have been cropped to just show the cheekbone highlight because the day I took the pictures was intended to just be an eyeshadow palette testing day when I often just put makeup around my eyes and leave everything else alone. On this particular day, I skipped foundation and did not conceal the hyperpigmentation around my mouth, so I didn’t feel comfortable showing a full face.

Find the Book is intended for face and body use, but I have not tried to wear this anywhere else. I can’t stand wearing body makeup, so that will not be demonstrated today. As I mentioned earlier, it moves and stays too creamy on the eyes. On my cheekbones though, it does dry down but it’s not transfer-proof. I still get sparkles that come up on my finger when I touch my face.

Butcherson BFF Mascara

The shade of this mascara is “rich plum,” and typically burgundy and maroon type of colorful mascaras look nice on those with brown or green eyes, so I had high expectations. Color-wise, I was extremely happy with this mascara but that’s where it ends! According to Colourpop, this mascara is made to be buildable and “instantly volumizes, lifts and dramatically lengthens…with zero clumps or flakes.”
The first time I used this mascara, the only issues I had with it were minor flaking and that it took a bit of time to fully coat my lashes. The formula was a little dry, but I got the results I wanted in terms of color, though I noticed no length or volume. I don’t know if in that first use it took so long to apply that while the tube was open it dried out further, but the problems intensified right afterwards. The next time I went to use it, the performance was far beyond what can be considered “buildable” and it was a hassle to get the mascara off the bristles and stick to my lashes. Even when I was using the tip that had excess product on it to try and coat my lashes, it was like the formula was too waxy to want to stay in place and not just come back off once I combed it through with the brush. In the photo below, I demonstrated the differences when I applied this mascara on top of another one (a fiber one, so it’s to be expected that the lengths will be different) versus applying it to my bare lashes. It looks so much better applied on top of another mascara. On bare lashes, it didn’t give me much extra length than a basic mascara, but also it’s definitely not voluminous enough for my taste.

On top of a black mascara, it’s admittedly harder to see the plum color, but I prefer having that subtle touch to the look.

I would gladly continue using this product if it wasn’t for the intense flaking issue that occurred upon the second and last uses. The third time I used it, pictured below, I laid down on my bed and one of the mascara flakes/crumbles got in my eye. When I used my finger to take it out, the other side of my finger touched the upper lashes where parts of the mascara turned out to be still wet. So it smeared on my finger even though it had been thirty minutes since I first applied it. Then I noticed all the rest of the flakes under my eyes, even wider spread below my face not seen in the picture below. I tried to wipe a particularly large flake away and that smeared the plum color, so I grabbed a Makeup Eraser and my Bioderma solution to remove it all.

Other than that first application, this mascara is hard to apply, is completely lacking in length and volume, flakes terribly (some of the dots in the outer corner of the eye photo aren’t all moles they are flakes too), is “dry” but somehow doesn’t fully dry down if too much is applied even after thirty minutes and will therefore smudge. Once a product has the risk of getting in my eyes, it’s an absolute no for me. So, I won’t be using it anymore. This is quite the shame considering how much I really like the color and the packaging is cute as well. I’m debating between putting it on my retirement shelf (makeup not to be used but kept for collector purposes) or tossing it. The experience was so bad removing the mascara because of the smearing and trying to get more of it out of my eyes that I’m 90% sure I’m going to just toss it. I was so shocked by the positive reviews on Colourpop’s site that I thought maybe I just got a bad one or the time it took for me to build it up dried it out too much, but the reviews on Ulta’s site tell another story (linked here but they may eventually remove it from their website).

There are plenty more of the negative reviews on Ulta’s website and it’s currently sitting at 2 out of 5 stars for a reason out of 24 reviews. The only other positive thing I can say is that it did not clump for me, but that’s because I could barely even get the mascara to coat my lashes. Because plenty of other people are having issues too, I absolutely cannot recommend this. I’ve tried one other mascara from Colorpop and that didn’t go as poorly but there was no benefit either, so no more of them for me.

Give Him Fur Hair Clips

I’m not a cat person, but somehow over the last five years or so I’ve acquired the “Kitty” nickname which I’ve fully leaned into by now. I own cat headbands and clip on cat ears, so this product certainly appealed to me not just for Halloween.
I think they look great! The fur is soft and the cloth ears are soft as well. I feel obligated to point out some of the flaws though, as these aren’t the highest quality. For example, part of the fur lining came unglued from the handle, a tuft of hair came out already, the inner portion of the cat ear peeks out beyond the stitching, and because the handle end of the clip isn’t exposed and the fur strap goes past it, I have to be careful how I place my fingers to open the jaw of the clip so that I don’t potentially tear anything off. In addition, the clip is made of a very thin metal and whatever paint coating they used gives it a plastic feel.

I don’t believe these flaws would be noticeable to other people. As long as I continue to handle these carefully, I think I’ll be getting my money’s worth out of them. I foresee the fur strap coming more unglued to the claw over time, but at that point I can just glue it back down.

This entire Hocus Pocus 2 Collection inspired me to create a Fall-Halloween type of look and step out of my comfort zone, so there are no regrets. Even though the mascara didn’t work out for me, it was fun to give colored lashes a try again.

In the Halloween look above, I’m wearing the Butcherson mascara on the tips of the lashes, Find the Book highlighter (on the top of the cheekbones and inner corner of the eyes), and the kitty ears. The third photo on the bottom was taken with my cell phone to show the brightness of the highlighter that I struggled to capture with my regular camera.


Super Shock Bronzers in Dream Vacay and Paradise City

The original line of Super Shock bronzers were discontinued in 2017, but these 2022 versions are supposed to be an improved formula. I have no idea how the originals were received, but these new ones deserve to be hyped up! They are amazing! They are so smooth to the touch and look smooth on the skin. They blend effortlessly. They last all day. They look so natural on the skin. These are everything I could want from a cream (or cream-like) bronzer! These are way easier to use and are more pigmented than the Sol Body Cream Bronzers.

Packing on Dream Vacay produces a very subtle bronze on me, but it doesn’t take much effort if I use my dense Patrick Ta Contour Brush to apply it. If I use something a bit softer like the Sonia G Mini Base, it has to be built up in multiple layers. If I want a deeper bronze, I use Paradise City and blend it out with the Mini Base or use the tiniest amount with my Patrick Ta Contour Brush. Paradise City is deep enough on me to give a slight sculpting affect, but I will sometimes add Dream Vacay back on top to lighten it up if it gets too intense.

I’ve had these open for three months now and they haven’t dried up, formed a film on top, nor changed in consistency. There’s also no scent to them unlike the Sol Body Cream Bronzers, so I’m especially happy about that. Right now, these are among my top 5 favorite non-powder bronzer formulas.

Also, Kudos to Colourpop for having an even deeper shade available called Summer 4ever. We love an inclusive product range! There are also three bronzers lighter than Dream Vacay.


Winnie the Pooh Super Shock Highlighters in 100 Aker Wood and Mind Over Matter

I’ve reviewed Colourpop’s Super Shock Highlighters so many times on this blog. I love how smoothly they apply and melt into my cheeks. They don’t stay feeling slippery on the face and they can look subtle or intense depending on the application process. Some observations I noted that make these stand apart from the others I own is that more than just having a strong yellow base, I can see micro green and gold shimmer in 100 Aker Wood that stands out on my skin, in addition to Mind Over Matter having some larger bronze sparkles that make the skin look more textured than normal. The tone in 100 Aker Wood isn’t anything like Fenty’s Trophy wife, but it’s still slightly too yellow to match me despite me also having a yellow undertone to my skin. Depending on the foundation shade I’m wearing, it looks more natural if I pair it with a more yellow or olive foundation, but if I wear my summer foundations which are more of a golden-orange, then the yellow in the highlighter becomes more obvious. More often than not, I end up mixing 100 Aker Wood with one of my darker Super Shocks like Mind Over Matter or Champagne BB.
I applied a light amount of 100 Aker Wood below. As for Mind Over Matter, the tone matches me really well to the point that I had to build it up in the demonstration photo below in order for it to be seen on my cheeks. Adding more also emphasized the amount of glitter specks that can be seen. The extra sparkles aren’t so much to stop me from wanting to use this highlighter though. I have only worn these over natural and dewy foundations. I can attest to these melting better into my skin the dewier my face is.

I’m including a comparison of the current “natural” shades of Super Shocks in my collection. The photos were taken at night so the non-flash photo is washed out whereas the flash side is slightly intensified in color.

Flute Punch is too light for me but I bought it to mix with Champagne BB. Champagne BB on its own is slightly too dark for my face. Mind Over Matter is close to that one in depth, but just slightly lighter and closer to matching the brown tones in my face. Parasol and Got Glow are still the best ones I have for highlighting purposes, but Got Glow is better because it’s the tiniest bit more golden and darker. The shimmer particles in Parasol are lighter than Got Glow, so Parasol can look too light from the shimmer reflecting more harshly in contrast to my skin tone at certain times of the year. The downside to Got Glow is the mix of multiple colors in the pot that doesn’t always look as complimentary depending on how much of the darker or lighter colors get picked up and applied.

As much as I love the Super Shock highlighters, there has to be a stopping/satisfaction point and I think I’ve reached it. I will continue using all of them and mixing them if necessary to continue getting enjoyment out of these products.

That’s everything for today! Thank you for reading and Happy Halloween!


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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