One Size, Terra Moons, and Other April Purchases Reviewed

Welcome to my fourth low-buy check-in! This month’s three biggest hauls were due to Sephora’s Spring Savings Sale, me redeeming my points at Ulta for $125 worth of products, and the weakening of the YEN compared to USD enticing me to make several purchases from CDJapan and and Fude Japan. Most of these products were reviewed in posts prior to this one, and will be linked to open in a new browser tab, but there are still plenty to review for the first time here today.

SEPHORA COLLECTION Microsmooth Multi-Tasking Baked Face Palette in Captivate

This is allowed in the Low-Buy under the face product category. I am so glad I finally bought this because it makes for a fantastic travel palette! There are two versions available from Sephora and I heard wonderful things about the deeper palette called Captivate, but baked products can sometimes look lighter than they would appear on the skin, so I wasn’t certain this would work for me until I had help on this topic from Beauty Blogger, Nikki.

The bronzer is a fantastic shade for me in terms of both depth and undertone! Despite being a matte product, it leaves a beautiful natural finish and is very quick and easy to blend. I’m really impressed with it! The matte blush is one of my favorite type of red tones that reminds me of MAC’s Mineralize Blush in the shade Flirting With Danger. It can be built up to look intense, but I prefer to wear a very light application of it on my cheeks.

The shimmer blush is on the subtle side, but I still get a noticeable flush of color. It’s like a slightly lighter shimmer version of the matte shade in the palette. If I had to choose my favorite, it would be the matte one, but I still wear both. As for the highlighter, it’s not the most finely milled, but it’s still very pretty and if I chose to use this palette for the blushes or bronzers, I wouldn’t feel the need to reach for a separate single highlighter. I would just use the one in here.

The longest wear test I’ve had with this face palette is ten or eleven hours and only the shimmer shade started to fade at the end of the day, but I consider that to be a good result. The others remain looking nice until I’m ready to remove them.

While I was on a trip in April, I actually forgot to bring an eyeshadow palette, so I relied on Shade 3 for depth in the crease and Shade 1 was my lid shade. Considering I got this already relatively affordable palette for 30% off, I am very impressed and happy with the quality and have no issues recommending this palette.

SEPHORA COLLECTION 2-in-1 Brush-on Lash Adhesive – This was definitely supposed to be a No-Buy, but it had been on my list for a long time and when all Sephora Collection products were 30% off during the Sephora Spring Sale, I chose to buy it anyway.

I’m sorry that I don’t have an actual review for this item. For all these months, I have tried to get myself to test this out, but I just don’t want to. I haven’t been feeling like wearing false lashes in a long time and I really don’t want to open this product and start that timer ticking on how long it will last unless I’m ready to start wearing false lashes regularly again, or else this truly will be a wasted purchase. This was holding up my ability to get this post out, so I decided to just explain why there’s no review for this one and to publish it. When I eventually do, I will edit this post.

Patrick Ta Major Sculpt Contour Brush

It’s a bit ironic that in my post about “Synthetic Brushes I Bought in 2021,” I mentioned that despite liking some of the ones I bought, I didn’t plan on getting any additional ones, yet for the Sephora Spring Sale, I couldn’t help myself and got it after enjoying the Patrick Ta Blush Brush so much. This one is the perfect softness, head shape, and the bristles are packed at the right density to accomplish a fantastic sculpt that isn’t too sheer or too sharp. It’s the right balance of showing the product while also being nicely blended.

I love this brush so much for use with both my powder and cream bronzers and contours, that I was able to skip getting the Sonia G Lotus Base brush when that one was no longer tied to the full set. Being satisfied with a brush so much that I feel I can skip getting a similar Japanese version is a huge deal and shows just how highly I value this one from Patrick Ta.

Even though the Sonia G Mini Base is still my preference for cream bronzing and contouring, if the cream product is too sheer or too close to my skin tone and needs to be applied at maximum pigmentation, the Patrick Ta brush is my top choice. It’s also my favorite for powder formulas that need building up.

One/Size Cheek Clapper 3D Blush Trio Palette in Freaky Peach

I love this product so much! This is an all blush trio palette in three different finishes, but even though I can only use the shimmer one as a highlighter, I’m not counting it as a face palette. As a blush product, I was supposed to be limited on how many I buy this year, and I was also not supposed to purchase anything from new brands. This is my first ever One/Size purchase and it’s so great that I can’t regret it.

The peachy-coral cream blush, Rump Shake, is a very interesting texture. The closest I can compare it to in terms of formula is the LYS cream blushes. This reminds me more of a silicone balm than a traditional creamy emollient formula. It’s is very pigmented, blends easily on the cheeks no matter what type of tool I used to apply it with, it leaves a healthy sheen but it’s not dewy or sticky on the skin. Freaky is the name of the matte blush and it looks far too light for me in the pan, but One/Size face color powders deepen on the skin. So, it’s actually a medium toned shade of peach that is pigmented, yet buildable. I only need one dip in the pan though if I want to layer it on top of Rump Shake. I should also mention that tougher bristles can lead to a lot of kickup in the pan, so I use my softer natural hair brushes with the powder blush, and that also helps me to not overapply. I can’t emphasize enough that the cream and powder are quite pigmented, and me being able to use them both individually despite there being just one trio lighter than this one is proof of that. Whiplash is the shimmery golden peach blush topper/highlighter in this trio. It’s too shimmery for my taste as a blush topper, so I use it exclusively on top of my cheekbones. It’s a beautiful color, but unlike the other two products which give me zero issues with longevity, this one doesn’t want to stick to my skin for more than four hours. It lasts a few hours longer if I use it with a dewier foundation or wetter type of cream product, but six hours is around the time that the shine of the shimmer particles dulls down. So, for days I need my highlighter to last, I reach for something else. Considering I still have two other faultless products in this trio and the third is still usable, I’m very happy with this purchase and I do recommend giving this a try. For a long time, I was really tempted to buy additional shades, but I like the fact that each of these colors are distinctly different. Most of the other Cheek Clapper options are intended for monochromatic looks, and while I can still see the value in that, I feel like I’m getting more bang for my buck if I have different colors over different formulas. The cream blush isn’t the type I’d be afraid to wear in summer because it’s a little stiffer (as opposed to being super emollient) and the effect on my cheek isn’t that far from a matte look, which makes it not that much different of an effect as the powder blush. So, if I had the Rich Betch trio where the cream and powder look nearly identical, I would feel like I got a duplicate product. This is the only reason, other than my low-buy, that I haven’t purchased the two other Cheek Clappers that held my interest.

Tarte Sea Power Flex Concealer (Mini) in 53S Deep Sand

I bought this when Tina (The Fancy Face) raved about it in several of her YouTube videos. Even though concealers are allowed to be purchased in my low-buy, I didn’t want to take the chance of wasting a product if I didn’t like it, so I just bought the mini. That turned out to be a good decision because I hate this product. The shape of my tear troughs is such that products that are too creamy don’t stay put in the lines of my under eyes, so the concealer moves, creases, or does both even when set into place with powder. Because I have almost the opposite issue with Tarte’s Shape Tape, I didn’t expect their Power Flex to be a creamy intensely creasing product on me. The finish of it at least looks pretty and hydrated, but the negatives outweigh the positives.

The biggest issue I have with this product is that it offers medium buildable coverage, but I cannot get the maximum full opacity I need. The shade match is perfect, but my dark circles are still visible underneath even when I use 3 times the amount of my normal concealers. The Power Sea Flex is marketed as being full coverage, but the fact that it isn’t is reason enough to be unwearable for me. Unfortunately, I can’t even use it in other areas of my face because it doesn’t do a good enough job concealing my hyperpigmentation and scars.

This situation is very specific to me because many people don’t have the intensity of skin discoloration as I do, nor the amount of lines. So, those who have youthful and moderately blemished skin could find themselves loving this product.

Ellis Brooklyn Scent Diary Fragrance Discovery Set – It has been ages since I purchased anything perfume related! I’m unofficially on a no-buy with fragrances, but I can’t regret getting this since I rarely buy full-sizes anymore. I also hadn’t done a perfume post since 2015, so I decided to make one dedicated to this and other perfume samples that can be found HERE.

Sol de Janeiro Beija Flor Elasti-Cream with Collagen and Squalane (Travel Size)

After experiencing the terribly smelling Bom Dia Bright cream that the brand previously released (mine smelled like potent olives instead of plums), I was too skeptical to purchase a full size of the Beija Flor even though the product claims sounded fantastic. The smell of this is at least pleasant, but a bit strong. It’s not surprising that parfum is listed as the third ingredient. I don’t know how to describe the scent, but it has been hyped up a lot by people on social media saying it smells like Baccarat Rouge 540. I’ve never smelled that fragrance myself, so I cannot confirm or deny if this is true.

The texture of this is very thick, yet it doesn’t feel as moisturizing as my other skincare products. It’s at least occlusive, so I like that it prevents my skin from drying out further. I haven’t noticed any other benefits when used on my body, like the advertised skin firming and cell turnover, but I still intend to use this up. I prefer the moisturization level of the brand’s Coco Cabana Cream, so perhaps I can apply that first and this new one after to seal it in. I believe I left my Coco Cabana in Germany, so unfortunately I cannot test out that combination anytime soon.

Farmacy 10% Waterless Vitamin C Serum

I was pretty shocked when I found this serum for such a low price on Mercari literally days after it launched at Sephora. Then again, this is one of those products that were sent to quite a lot of people in exchange for a review, so someone was bound to not want theirs.
I’m on a skincare low-buy, but I’ve been on the hunt for a good Vitamin C serum with a stable formula that will last longer than six months after opening. I believe that this has an airless pump mechanism and there are two holes under the bottle that support my theory. If it is indeed an airless pump, combined with the waterless formula, I anticipated that this could limit the issue I have of Vitamin C serums oxidizing and losing their efficacy before I can finish them.

The consistency of this is very runny and feels greasy initially, but this is also an oil-free formula. The brand says that propanediol ingredient is the reason it feels this way, but it does dry down on the skin after a few minutes and is no longer greasy, but I am left with a tiny bit of residue on the face. If my skin is especially dry, I don’t feel anything at all. Ultimately, this doesn’t matter since I put a moisturizer and other products on top afterwards anyway.

When I apply it to my skin, it instantly has a warming sensation. The first time I used it, my face was approaching almost burning level, but that only lasted a few minutes. It has never been hot like that again, and just continues to have a mild to moderate amount of warmth in the first minute that I apply it.
General skincare advice for Vitamin C usage and other acids is to start small, like around 5% depending on what the active ingredient is, and gradually increasing it over time as needed. I hadn’t used a potent version of Vitamin C in a while, but it was still in my routine enough that I didn’t expect to get a burning sensation from just 10% of L-ascorbic acid. So, just as a reminder, this could potentially be too strong for someone new to using Vitamin C or with sensitive skin, and consider how often you may be using other acids in your routine as well.

This serum with its additional ingredients are intended to brighten and even the skin, combat dark spots and hyperpigmentation, and keep it hydrated. I use this in cycles, so it’s hard to tell how much this serum alone is contributing. The two other products I rotate through have been giving me slight gradual improvements over time and adding this one to that cycle has not given a noticeable boost above the norm. So, there are three possibilities I can think of:

  • The serum is as effective as my current products, not better or worse.
  • The serum isn’t contributing at all and the benefits to my skin are from the other products I’m using.
  • The serum could be more effective, but I don’t use it consistently enough.

I’m going to play the long game on this one and just continue to use it the way I have been and if I run out of the product and I notice its absence, I will consider repurchasing it at that time. However, based on past experience, I just don’t think Vitamin C is that effective for me. I get better results from AHA’s like the Farmacy Honeymoon Glow AHA Resurfacing Night Serum. Even that hasn’t rid me completely of my hyperpigmentation, but it noticeably faded those areas and the smile line that gives me trouble isn’t quite as deep as before. I’ve been relying on AHAs and BHAs well over a year, and in a cycle, so it’s not a fast process. I had improvements right away within the first week, two weeks, and then month, but after that achieving anything further has been a very slow process as adhering to a consistent skincare routine has never been my strong suit.

Lastly, as shown in the photo at the top, this product “leaks” in the sense that it always has the tiniest of droplets around the pump when I open it, even if I wipe it down along with the cap after using it. The droplets are so minimal in size that it doesn’t bother me much and I don’t consider the amount enough to feel like I’m losing product. However, I’ve seen some photos online of other people having a more significant leaking problem than me. I always keep mine stored upright, so perhaps this is why I don’t have as much of an issue as others do. I recommend avoiding putting this in a bag, flat in a drawer, and don’t take this traveling.

Dior Backstage Glow Face Palette in 002 Glitz

I really should not have bought this, breaking my highlighter no-buy aside, because I heard these highlighters would be sparkly and I don’t like visible glitter specks in my highlighters. So, I can’t explain why I was so determined to buy it.

This was yet another Mercari purchase. I make it a point not to review products I’ve purchased from a third-party if I purchased them too long from the launch date to be assured of its authenticity, but I also wanted to show what I purchased in April for low-buy purposes. So, I guess take this particular section with a grain of salt. I do believe this is the real quad, especially with that typical Dior scent these have. Below is how the shades look on me.

The highlighter named Peach is the only one without glitter that I would call a true shimmer shade, but unfortunately it’s too light for me. Because Bronze is closest to my skin tone, the glitter isn’t as obvious as the others. I didn’t have any issues with wear time or fading, but this palette isn’t for me and I may eventually declutter it.

Florasis Floral Engraving Odey Makeup Palette (The Encounter)

I forgot this wasn’t even the Florasis palette I wanted (the Floral Engraving Phoenix). I was just so excited to be able to grab a completely unused and untouched one of their stunning looking palettes at a reduced cost off of Mercari. You know a brand is doing well when people want to make dupes, but I was still surprised to come across one such dupe on Amazon. In any case, I am happy with the results of this palette but I wish the blue shade wasn’t in this because it contains PET (plastic glitter) which isn’t safe to use in the eye area. I also don’t think anyone wants to see glass listed as an ingredient in their makeup.

The “glass” probably refers to “glass microspheres” which are apparently so tiny that they aren’t dangerous. However, there is still PET, so I have chosen not to use or even swatch that blue shade. Also, I can only guess that the numbers start from left to right and top to bottom. Not all countries have writing in that direction, but I assume this is the same as English.

Florasis is a Chinese brand, so I can’t help but compare them to Zeesea. This palette is made of cardboard, but Florasis typically has very luxurious packaging, similar to Zeesea. However, Zeesea doesn’t currently have eye shadow palettes with as intricate of pan embossings as the ones from Florasis. This price point of Florasis products are also much higher.

The website states that this palette is mutli-functional and the formula of the shadows certainly contributes to that. It’s listed as a powder formula, but they feel like a matte lipstick to the touch; like a stiff cream essentially. Applying with a brush was tricky because it wants to stick and dry to the bristles.

So far, I’ve stuck to my rate of two eyeshadow palettes per month so I adhered to my low-buy with this purchase (even though I said I wouldn’t buy from brands that are new to me this year). In addition, some of these eye shadows can be used for contouring, blush, and highlight, so it counts as a face palette too.

I haven’t touched this palette since I completed my initial wear tests. I could not even remember how I did the eye looks above because it was so long ago. Considering I never reach for this, the versatility aspect still didn’t make this a good purchase for me, but I just couldn’t let go of the idea of trying out at least one Florasis palette. My curiosity has been satisfied.

Terra Moons Cosmetics Chameleons in Terrestrial and Spring Equinox Multichromes in Galactic Blossom and Vela Supernova

If you’ve used Terra Moons chameleons and multichromes before, these work the way you’d expect. All three are super sparkly looking with large glitter particle size and the colors are intense. The formula is smooth to the touch, but when applied to the eye without a tacky base or being applied with a brush that has been sprayed to wet it, it can get messy. So, I do recommend something like the Nyx Glitter Primer to keep them applied precisely and minimize fall out.

Terrestrial was a pre-order item that didn’t begin shipping until May. I used my points saved from their reward program in order to essentially have the shipping paid and part of the item. BadtoTheBrow noticed it was similar to Bloodline, and I am obsessed with how Bloodline looks in photos and on everyone else, but the base color doesn’t show through on my eyes. So, rather than buying a second Bloodline to check if it was a fluke, I wanted to try the one from Terra Moons in the hopes it would be more of what I wanted from Clionadh’s multichrome.

Unfortunately, Bloodline and Terrestrial basically are the same shade. I can bring out a little more of a pink look if I pair it with another pink shadow around it and I can always pat a red multichrome on top to manually create the red-toned look I want, but I wish it was naturally the way it looks in swatches on me and didn’t require extra effort on my part. I didn’t bother to show comparison swatches between the two because the swatches looking slightly different on my arm doesn’t show the issue of them looking identical on my eyes. And for whatever reason, Terrestrial’s shifts are easier to detect on my camera than Bloodline, so comparing eye swatches wouldn’t be a fair representation for Bloodline either.

Galactic Blossom and Vela Supernova were pre-orders that were supposed to begin shipping in June, but I got lucky and had mine arrive in the middle of May. According to my Low-Buy rules, I’ve pledged to only purchase a few single indie eyeshadows per collection, so this was definitely allowed. My only regret is that I didn’t buy these two with my order of Terrestrial in order to save on shipping costs and time.

Photos showed Galactic Blossom as a strong pink-gold, and in some cases, shifting into literally a rainbow. I’d never seen a multichrome shift to so many colors, so I absolutely had to get it. Unfortunately, on my eyes it looks mainly yellow, and on camera it looks limey yellow-green with some pink. It’s not what I wanted, but I do like how it looks in person. On my arm, at sharp angles I can see that rainbow towards the edges, so it’s not false advertising. It really can shift that way, but it doesn’t look like that on my eyes and I want others to be aware of that possibility that it’s not going to look the same on everyone and how it looks depends largely on the curvature of the eyes and lighting.

As for Vela Supernova, the colors are what I expected, but ironically, I like it the least of the three. It’s not as unique of a purple shade as I anticipated. I admittedly can’t think of multichrome dupes myself (Temptalia says Roseline, Cerise, and Mosaic) but the shade of purple looks like what I have as some of my purple shadows without the shifting ability.

I don’t get fading, dullness, or any other longevity issues with these multichromes. Terra Moons really stepped up in their multichrome offerings to the point that I think they’ve tied with Devinah for the #2 spot of best indie multichromes (from North America at least). Clionadh is still holding that #1 spot in my eyes.

PAT McGRATH LABS x Bridgerton 2 Blushing Delights Blush + Highlighter Palette and PAT McGRATH LABS x Bridgerton 2 SatinAllure Lipstick in NÉGLIGÉE – The dedicated post to these products are HERE. Technically the Blushing Delights Palette is a face palette, and therefor allowed in my no-buy. The lipstick makes 5 out of 5 in my goal to end the year without purchasing anymore lip products.

Billie Eilish Eilish Eau de Parfum Travel Spray – The review for this is in the same post HERE as the Brooklyn Ellis perfumes. This was part of my Ulta points redemption, so I did not pay anything out of pocket.

MAC Wild Cherry Glow Play Blush Color Peaches ‘N’ Dreams and MAC Mini Macstack Mascara – These two were also part of my Ulta point redemption order and have already been reviewed HERE. I said I wasn’t going to get another Glow Play blush and I resisted for about a month or two, but my interest in peach blushes (especially in my favorite formula) got me again! As for the mascara, which I am on a year long no-buy for, I at least feel better that it wasn’t a full size purchase and that I’ve stuck to the mascara no-buy pretty well so far. However, I want to continue to stick to it and not purchase another in 2022.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Serum SPF 60+

Left are the active ingredients of the discontinued Neutrogena Ultra Sheer versus the active serum ingredients on the right.

This is the only Ulta point redemption item I have left to review! I did have one other purchase in my order, but they kept sending me the wrong shade so that product was returned. In any case, I was the biggest fan for 7-8 years of the Ultra Sheer Liquid SPF 70 Sunscreen until it was discontinued. The fact that this is supposed to have 60 SPF protection while also being in a thin formula intrigued me. I planned to either wear it alone or wear it to help boost the effectiveness of my current sunscreen, the Round Lab Moisturizing Sun Cream SPF 50++.
I don’t think double-sunning (I just made up that term…can we please make “double-sunning” a thing?) is that bad of an idea, because in one of Dr. Dray’s videos, she said the Round Lab is fantastic for a variety of reasons, but she views it more as a moisturizer that happens to have a very good sunscreen in it due to it not being waterproof (and therefore not as reliable in occasions where one will be sweaty). This serum isn’t waterproof either, but I feel like I’m doubling up, in theory, by having both this serum and moisturizer/sunscreen with high spf. This serum leaves no cast on me and although it’s slightly greasy looking as I start to apply it, that look doesn’t remain when it’s fully rubbed in. I do have dry skin though. This serum isn’t a fluid consistency like my previous holy grail sunscreen, but it’s very lightweight and easy to rub in, unlike the Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch that I despise. It’s like a good middle ground between the two.

I’m on a skincare low-buy, but sunscreen is an exception since it’s vital that I have a good one. The kind of acids I’ve been using make my skin more sensitive to the sun, in addition to living in Florida with an extremely high UV index the majority of the time. It’s imperative that I keep my skin protected.

I haven’t had any issues with pilling while wearing this serum, plus the Round Lab Sun Cream, plus makeup, so I’m happy with this product. I don’t know if it will be completely necessary for me to continue repurchasing it in the future if I find a waterproof sunscreen that I end up liking, but we will just have to see!

Nars High Profile Cheek Palette – This was a limited-edition holiday release in 2021 that I intended to purchase, but so many reviewers commented on how similar the blushes looked to each other. So, when I found one on Mercari that was barely more expensive than a single full size Nars blush, I decided it was worth getting at that point. By the time I bought it, I had already finished my Rediscovering Nars Blushes post, but I had to admit I was curious to try this gel powder formula to see if it would give me an additional finish from Nars that I could like besides their mattes. The review is HERE and as a palette with a highlighter along with the blushes, I think I’m going to allow myself to count this as being allowed in my low-buy.

SUQQU Melting Powder Blush in 07 YOIURUSHI – This and all my Suqqu purchases have been reviewed HERE. Suqqu was definitely not on my list of exemptions to the blush low-buy, but I was curious how this new formula stacked up to the usual powder formula.

MAC Surrounded by Stars Extra Dimension Skinfinish Palette – The review can be found HERE. MAC’s Magnificent Moon Collection is supposed to be in celebration of Ramadan and was released worldwide first before coming to the US. I purchased mine from Selfridges since it was there first, I was waiting for something to add to my cart to get the Suqqu blush, and I had free shipping via the annual global shipping program I signed up for with Selfridges. Since it’s a split highlighter and blush quad, it’s allowed in my low-buy.

CLIONADH HAUL – I decided that I would do a dedicated post to this haul, found HERE, but as a Thursday bonus instead of my usual Monday postings. I’ve mentioned endlessly how much I love Clionadh eye shadows and multichromes, so there isn’t much to say about the formulas and it’s just a matter of showing them off and possibly doing comparisons to other indie brand shadows.

FUDE JAPAN HAUL and CD JAPAN HAUL – I believe the brushes I purchased in April have already been reviewed HERE, with the exception of the Hakuhodo brushes which are still being tested.

That’s all for today! If you’d like to see previous posts in the low-buy series, as well as sneak peeks for the upcoming ones, I created a dedicated page to it HERE. If you’d like to see more content from me, be sure to click follow via email or to return back every Monday at 11:30 am EST! Thank you for reading!

-Lili

My February Purchases Reviewed: KVD, Essence, Tarte, etc.

I wish it was possible to have reviews for my February purchases up quicker, but two of the orders were from international brands, which took nearly a month to arrive. I then needed adequate time to test out the makeup, but I was away from home quite a lot in the month of April. So, here we are now!

Some of these items have already been reviewed by now, so in order to give the unreviewed products their time to shine and not be repetitive, I will just add links that open a new tab to the locations of the previously discussed products.

KVD Beauty Good Apple Lightweight Full-Coverage Concealer in 167

This feels like old news by now since so many reviews have been released about this super hyped up concealer, but I may as well give my take on it too. This product, in terms of performance, has surpassed the identically priced and beloved Tarte Shape Tape Concealer! I have to use it in specific ways though in order to get it to last all day.

This product is full coverage but spreads very easily within the first half minute or so. The applicator feels lovely on the skin, but the amount it picks up is too much for my entire face, even when I scrape the excess product off the tip. With the scraped off amount, if I try to blend in the same spot, it still spreads outside of the brush zone, so I have to continue blending out the edges to get it to seamlessly fuse with my foundation, which can lead to it moving too far. How I minimize this is by applying a thin layer of concealer to the areas I need coverage, but I leave a little room on the edges and try to avoid my under eye lines. Then I wait at least 45 seconds to let it start to dry. Then I start blending and tap my brush onto the wettest parts that haven’t settled yet and use that to spread and cover all the blank spots. If I’ve lost some of the coverage by then, I dot the tiniest bit of extra product to those areas and smooth it out. This technique allows me to use the least amount of product, but prior to this, I learned it’s better to apply the concealer in two light layers rather than one heavy one. It also helps that I use the Sonia G Jumbo Concealer brush which doesn’t trap the product in its bristles or pick it back up off the face.

I don’t follow the inner and outer corner concealer application spots, the concealer triangle, or other shapes beauty gurus show because my dark circles and discoloration are unique and must be applied in the way that suits my face. I was in a bit of a rush when I took this picture, but that initial application doesn’t have to be perfect. The key is to cover most, but not all, of the undereye darkness and discoloration so that even less product will be able to settle into those lines later when I blend in the rest of the concealer. This is the method I use exclusively with the KVD Good Apple Concealer.

I’ve also been content with leaving my concealer as is and not setting it with powder, though without powder, I’d need a decent amount of product in order to keep it lasting all day. Denatured Alcohol is fairly high in this concealer, as the fifth ingredient. This probably helps with the quick dry down/partial self setting aspect, but it does concern me as someone with dry skin to have a drying ingredient in it. However, I decided I will continue using this concealer, at least until I’ve used it up because I like it so much. I love that it’s so lightweight but builds up to full coverage and looks a little more hydrating under my eyes than Shape Tape, even with the alcohol. It’s also longer lasting than Shape Tape. I think it’s important to prep my under eyes, but if I use a moisturizer (I don’t use eye creams anymore) with too many oils, it will break down my concealer quicker than usual. I’ve had better success using my primers/priming moisturizers like the Bobbi Brown Face Base, Tatcha Silk Canvas, Touch in Sol Pretty Filter Glassy Skin Balm, MILK Hydro Grip Eye Primer, etc. If I use something under my concealer, that’s when I make sure to set it with powder.

Regarding the color options, I recommend paying close attention to the swatches because some of the shades are randomly darker than the swatch above and below. Several shades are also essentially the same depth, but just have different undertones. When I was trying to figure out which one to get, it was quite confusing. If KVD created something between 173 and 177, that would be my ideal color provided it’s actually darker than 167 but lighter than 177. My current shade works under my eyes, but it’s too light for the hyperpigmentation around my mouth and gives a grey look when I cover it up. And for those who don’t know, I prefer having a concealer shade that matches my face, rather than being a few shades lighter. The dollops of product depicted for each shade are also much deeper than in reality, so I recommend going by the swatches or seeing these in store to be safe. My nearest Sephora never has anything new but both malls closest to me are closing, so I know that’s not possible for everyone to do.

For those curious, here are some swatches and shade comparisons. I only have a mini of the Deep Shape Tape right now, which I suspect is lighter than the full size, so I would say take that with a grain of salt, along with the Pat Mcgrath concealers which are nearly used up and also changing in consistency and should probably be tossed out. I typically mix PML’s 22 and 24 to get a better match and Lancome’s 460 and 495 to get a better match as well.

One thing to watch out for though is that after using it for a month, the color seemed a little darker than when I first got it. I think it’s due to repeated exposure to air. I will continue to monitor what happens with this concealer as time goes on and update this post if necessary.

Nyx Marshmellow Smoothing Primer (Mini)

I was always intrigued by the idea of this primer, but I held off buying it until I tried a sample of it and loved how it gave me what I wanted out of the Touch in Sol Pretty Filter Glassy Skin Balm, but with more of a shine to my skin. The sample I got was perfectly blended and mixed, but in my $8 mini, the oil and rest of the product is partly separated so much that it leaks out of the tube every time I open it. I know this is common in some products, but it’s quite the annoyance trying to apply it evenly to my face and not get too much oil in one spot. Before every use, I rotate between shaking the tube and massaging the packaging a few times to try and get them to mix back together.

This has a light marshmallow scent to it. There are quite a few claims on Ulta’s website like, “This primer smooths, softens, extends makeup wear for 16 hours, hydrates, soothes, evens tone, minimizes texture, blurs lines, adds a soft focus finish AND keeps makeup fresh.” After several wear tests, the longest being ten hours, I can only confirm the skin softening, minuscule amount of line blurring, and keeping makeup fresh. I hoped that the initial shine I got on my skin when first applied would continue throughout the day, which it does sometimes, but at other times this primer actually partially mattifies my skin. I would not have noticed if I hadn’t done several wear tests using the NYX primer only on one side of the face. Sometimes it goes on perfectly clear and at other times it leaves a slight white cast, which at least is undetectable once foundation is on top, but still it’s quite the strange phenomenon. The only explanation I have is the separation of the formula and me being unable to consistently mix it back together in the tube. So, on those matte days, I don’t know if my skin is actually being hydrated. It at least feels hydrated, so that’s a good thing for me.

I don’t wear makeup for long enough to know if it would last 16 hours and I have no idea what a “soft focus finish” from makeup would look like in real life, so I can’t confirm or disprove those claims either.
I still like this primer, but not enough to repurchase it unless I somehow start noticing the other supposed benefits like a more even tone, minimized texture, and an increase in the blurring power.

Essence Coffee to Glow Highlighter Beans

Calling this subtle wouldn’t be the right wording, but it gives more of a sheen or glow than a blinding reflect. It lasted a full eleven hours without fading during my longest wear test and with my best primer. The worst performance of it when combined with different base products left me with a very subtle sheen by the nine hour point. I’m quite shocked at how similar it actually is to the Guerlain meteorites in terms of performance, though it’s a little more toned down than those and the Guerlain is a little more friendly to texture.

It smelled like coffee when I first bought it, but a month later it smelled faintly like coffee but mostly like pencils. It’s the type of smell that is detectable when I put it on, but I can’t smell it after I finish blending it. According to Ulta and Essence’s websites though, these are somehow fragrance free. I skimmed several videos to see what others had to say about the beans, and theirs had a smell too, so I don’t know why this is the case if they aren’t supposed to be scented. Maybe it’s the foam or packaging itself that’s scented and not the makeup.

There are way less beans in the cup than I expected because there’s a foam layer that fills most of the space, as can be seen in my product photo far above. I don’t mind this since I’ve never gotten even a quarter of the way through a highlighter.

It is easier to get powder from the lid rather than trying to pick up product off the beans because I have occasionally gotten crumb size pieces between the bristles of the brush and when those fall to the floor it makes a mess. The beans stay mostly intact if I rub my brush over them, but they are not difficult to break. One shattered between my fingers when I tried to swatch each of the three colors against my arm and it got everywhere!

Considering I did not enjoy the Essence Pure Nude Highlighter Palette, I’m shocked how much better these are and how much more I like them. For those who like subtle highlighters and don’t mind scented makeup, I’d recommend trying these out if they’re still available. Also, those of a lighter skin tone can remove the darkest beans if there is a concern of this leaving a dark cast on the face. Conversely, those with a darker skin tone can remove the golden yellow beans if there is a concern of it being too stark, but I think it may be less of an issue for those on the deeper skin tone spectrum as can be seen here in this YouTuber’s video.

Essence Coffee to Glow Eyeshadow Palette

I should note that these two Essence products and the Nyx primer are all allowed in my low buy under the stipulation of “products that I intended to get last year but was prevented from doing so for one reason or another.” I tend to prefer colorful eyeshadow palettes, so the only reasons I wanted this palette were for the glossy and swirl shadows. I felt like it would somehow give me a taste of Huda Beauty’s Naughty Palette which has those types of shadows in it.

The #5 gloss shadow has a hard gel layer with all the pigment pearls at the very bottom, so I had to crush it down to the pan in order to get any color out of it. I expected it to just be a gimmick and it would certainly have been pointless wearing it on its own on my eyes if I hadn’t mixed it. It’s supposed to be a “universal eye shadow topper,” but that isn’t my makeup preference. Instead, I use this as a base primer and it greatly increases the longevity of the shimmers I apply on top, as I saw in an eleven hour wear test. I almost always get creasing on my eyes, and using the gel as a base does deepen the creases, but it also keeps my shimmers in place and prevents the transfer that I get from my lid to my crease when I use a regular eyeshadow primer.

With regular primers like the MAC Paint Pot and Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas, my eye looks using this palette are still fine past ten hours but the shimmers aren’t as intense. As for the mattes, I was impressed with the color payoff. They blend sufficiently. I just wish Essence included a deeper shade because I can’t get much depth out of shades #1 and #8 which are the two darkest colors in this palette.

I always use #3 to blend out the edges of the other mattes in the crease. For the inner corner, I use #2 or #6 but my favorite thing is to use them together for the inner corner highlight because #2 has the best reflect but it can be a bit dark depending on how much of the darker swirl is used, whereas #6 is lighter but not shinier. Those two shades don’t last as long on my eyes because I do touch my eyes frequently throughout the day and these are easily removed by touch, no matter what primer I use.

#4 is a nice metallic shade and both #4 and #6 feel like normal shimmers with some slip, but the #2 “bouncy swirl” shadow is quite creamy/wet feeling.

This palette is only $8 and is unscented. It was definitely worth me purchasing, even if it was purely for the fun of playing with some of these uncommon textures and formulas. The lightweight packaging feels like recycled cardboard and the palette is tiny and fits in the palm of my hand, but what it lacks in packaging quality, it makes up for with the eyeshadow formula.

Rephr Hydration Cream 1.0

I purchased this when rephr was offering a “set your own price” option where one could pay even as low as $0 to get it, plus the shipping cost. When I first used it, I applied way too much to my face and continued to get dewier throughout the day. In many subsequent uses, I learned that if I applied a smaller amount, it fully absorbs into my skin and is fully hydrated without leaving a trace of shine, which is fantastic for non-makeup days! I only like a little dew to my skin when I have a full face on; I don’t want to look shiny when I’m barefaced.
I’m also impressed by this formulation because it meets the requirements of my dry skin as a powerful moisturizer that is also lightweight. Rich/Heavy products tend to clog my skin. It’s not the easiest to find something that lets my skin breathe while also lasting all day.

Some highlights about the benefits of this moisturizer are that it’s fragrance and essential oil free, it’s made in Korea, it’s made of recyclable lightweight aluminum packaging, and it contains:

  • Niacinamide (5%)
  • Dimethicone (3%)
  • Glycerin (3%)
  • Centella Asiatica Complex (2%)
  • Meadowfoam Seed Oil (1%)
  • Panthenol (0.5%)
  • Algae Complex (2.0%)
  • Soybean Complex (1.5%)

Other lightweight moisturizers for my face that can do the job are the Innisfree Jeju Cherry Blossom Jelly Cream ($25 for 50ml), Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Cream ($15-36 for 80ml), Laneige Water Bank Hydro Gel ($38 for 50ml), Saturday Skin Waterfall Glacier Water Cream ($39 for 50ml), etc. So, rephr is offering quite the deal at $26 (listed price) for 100ml. The only one of those I mentioned that I like better than this one is from Round Lab, though I believe the rephr cream may be more occlusive.

I’m terrible about keeping to a consistent skincare routine, so I can’t say how this product performs on a regular daily basis, but I’ve used it enough these past few months to be able to say that it’s great and hasn’t caused me any issues.

Colourpop Pressed Powder Blush in 4ever Yours – That review is here.

This is was the first official breech of my low buy this month. I’m not supposed to buy blushes unless it’s one of the brands on the exceptions list, which this is not. Considering how similar it is to the heart shaped blush I bought from Colourpop last year, I should have stuck to my guns and not gotten it.

Colourpop Super Shock Highlighter in Champagne BB

According to the rules of my low buy, I should not have gotten this either. It’s the classic case of wanting it because I like the formula, but I don’t need anymore, especially when I have them in shades I already like. My only defense was that I at least removed the other highlighter and three blushes I had out of my shopping cart, but I just ended up buying those anyway in March. Oops!

This shade looks a bit too dark for me in swatches, but when it’s diffused onto the skin, it looks like the perfect depth and still brightens the area due to the sparkle. It lasts on my cheeks all day and I can’t even regret this purchase because it’s great! Unfortunately, this particular Super Shock has already been discontinued.

Oden’s Eye x Angelica Hela Palette – The review is Here.

This fits in line with my two eye shadow palettes per month rule. I’m doing quite well with that so far!

Kaleidos Lip Clays (plus Smokey Nostalgia Tin Box) in Skinship, Cognac, and Bare – The review is Here for both the Lip Clays and Blush listed below.

I purchased the custom bundle which requires 4 lip products, but the fourth was a gift for a friend. So, I’m not counting that last one as part of my lip no-buy and my total is currently 3 lip products out of the allowed 5.

Kaleidos Smokey Nostalgia Blush in P03 Sanguine – The review is linked above.

This is another purchase that technically goes against my low-buy. Kaleidos isn’t on the exceptions list for blushes, but I have always wanted to try one from them and couldn’t due to the shades not being suited for my skin tone.

MAKE UP FOR EVER Electric Brushes Set

This set with tax came to $36 from Nordstrom. The original price was $69 and has a retail value of $150. It includes :

  • 106 Foundation Brush: a brush for applying and blending all kinds of foundation for an even result.
  • 124 Powder Kabuki Brush: a brush with a short and slender handle for ensuring smooth and even application of all powders to create a lightweight, flawless result.
  • 152 Highlighter Brush: a brush for easily and delicately highlighting your face and body with its soft fibers.
  • 228 Precision Shader Brush: a paddle-shaped, flexible brush for applying, blending and smudging all types of eye products quickly.
  • Brush case

Today’s review will be about the foundation, powder, and highlighter brushes, but I’m going to give someone the shader brush. I rarely like synthetic eye brushes, so it would be a waste for me to even bother trying it. In general, I prefer natural hair brushes, but I’ve always wanted to try these, just not at full price. It was still very early in my exploration of makeup when MUFE decided to make their brushes fully synthetic. Regarding my no buy/low buy, I’m unofficially on a makeup tool low buy. However, I didn’t set any restrictions in writing.

The Foundation brush, I had seen in action during a Rouge event many years ago when a MUFE representative did my makeup and I wanted it ever since. I typically don’t like paddle style brushes, but this one works just as well as I remembered. I get zero streaks using this brush. I’m able to apply and spread foundation easily and get around edges and small corners with ease as well. I have a background with painting ceramics, and painting on canvas is an occasional hobby, so I can’t be sure if that plays into why this brush is so easy for me to use, but it is.

This brush can also apply a crisp line for cream sculpting products, though the shape of the tip isn’t the best for blending, but I can still do it with this brush.
It costs $36 which ended up being the price I paid for the entire set. I personally think it’s worth $25 at most, but having this brush made the whole set worth it.

I find it so strange that this is listed as a Highlighter brush considering it’s bigger than my Smashbox Cream Cheek brush and many other blush brushes.

It applies far too much highlighter for my preference, so I consider this a blush brush instead. That being said, I’m not the biggest fan of this brush for that purpose either. There’s so much bristle for such a flimsy floppy splay that doesn’t feel like I have much control of the blend. It’s like it smears blush across the skin like a mop rather than buffing in the blush. When I use easy to blend and pigmented blushes, this brush works perfectly fine. However, with a sheerer blush or lower quality one, it takes forever since it’s lacking firmness and makes things look patchier. I figured if this is problematic with powders then maybe cream blushes will be better for this brush, but that’s not the case. It doesn’t allow me to fully work the cream products into my skin and it just sits on top of it. With even more emollient creams, it has the issue of spreading product too far out.

This retails for $37, which I don’t think it’s anywhere near worth that. If I had bought this #152 brush individually, I would have returned it. I don’t recommend this one.

The retail price for this one is $52! I can’t recall if I ever paid over $40 for a synthetic fiber brush, so it’s no surprise that I wouldn’t normally buy a brush like this. The handle on this one feels even sturdier than the others in the line.

It’s the most dense at the very center and looser packed around the edges. When I put this brush handle side up against my palm, it sinks in at like a centimeter before it forms what feels like a wall. It’s so solid that I can’t get the bristles to splay, it just stiffens. This does the same thing when I apply a powder to my face. If I grip the handle and use a normal amount of pressure to spread powder on my face, it feels incredibly firm to point that it offers very little movement and the bristles drag heavily across my skin.

The way I like to use it is holding it in a looser grip and just blending with the tips without applying pressure. This method still gives me a strong blend without feeling like I’m using the world’s densest brush or attempting to exfoliate my face. I’m not saying that these brushes are scratchy. The bristles on all of them are soft, just not the softest synthetic I’ve felt, especially when pressure is applied and it drags on the skin. These fibers actually remind me a bit of pony hair, but softer. Now that I know the trick to using this brush, I do like it and I’m happy it’s part of the set. It can’t compare to my natural hair powder brushes, but I use those for an airier and more blended finish. This brush is one that I’d use when I want to actually load on a thin solid layer, like with face powder, before blending it out.

Even though I’m not planning to use this brush, I wanted to show how it looks through the plastic. The retail price is $25.

I feel like I got an absolute steal on this brush set! Even though I don’t want to purchase anymore synthetic fiber brushes, I can’t regret buying these.

MAC Glow Play Cherry Blossom Blush in HD Cherry Tree – The review is Here.

Considering how many MAC blushes I own, this shouldn’t be on the exceptions list, but it is because I don’t have the willpower to cut off the brand that ranks number one with blushes for me. So this purchase is still allowed according to my Beauty Resolutions.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Best of Cheek Set (Holiday 2021)

This set went on sale for $22 on 2/22/22, so with tax it came to just under $24. I always wanted to try this formula of Tarte blushes because people have been raving about them since I started getting into makeup and they always said that despite the holiday items being notoriously lower quality, this formula from Tarte was always great. After trying these minis out for myself, I can understand why these are such beloved blushes! The longevity is insane. I’ve done several wear tests with the longest being eleven hours and by that point the blush still looked freshly applied!

I used the maximum amount of Exposed, a moderate to heavy application of Charmed, a heavy application of Captivating, a moderate amount of Delight, and a light to moderate amount of Fantasy on the cheeks. Charmed and Delight had more room for building up.

I bought this expecting to only be able to wear the darkest blush in the set and just test out the formula of the highlighter, so I was pleasantly surprised to see everything show up on me! Exposed is described as a “nude pink” and admittedly barely shows because the brown tones blend into my skin. The pink is what makes it visible, though it’s on that cusp of being too light for me, so I will probably find a new home for that shade.
Charmed is a limited edition “bright pink” that I consider a light-medium tone that works for me if I spend a little time really blending it into my skin. The one that I’m actually shocked that I can wear because it’s even lighter than Charmed is the “bright peach” shade called Captivating. It looks crazy at first, but it warms up as I blend it in. I love the look of peach blushes, but they are usually ashy on me, which is why I go for corals as my closest equivalent of peach. It excites me to no end to have found one of the rare peach shades that I can pull off!
The last blush is another limited edition shade called Delight. It’s a “deep rose” that’s a cross between Exposed and Charmed, but darker. It’s the most natural looking of the shades on my cheeks and it’s the only one I don’t have to build up for depth of tone reasons and not pigmentation reasons. All of these blushes have a good amount of pigment.
As for the highlighter, the limited edition “rose gold” shade Fantasy is too light for me. Beyond the shade match, the way it reflects in the light emphasizes texture in a way that other highlighters I’ve used that are even lighter than this one don’t do. I don’t have enough experience with Tarte Highlighters to be able to say if this is indicative of their formulas, but I have an upcoming review where I tried another one that I liked much better and did not have the reflect and textural problem. That one went on smoothly, whereas this one sticks in places and takes a bit of blending in, so I think it’s just an issue with this particular highlighter.

So, in this set of five travel size products, I intend to continue using three of them. That makes the usable items worth $8 each in my eyes based on what I paid, plus the knowledge I gained in learning that I really like the Amazonian Clay blush formula! Each compact contains 1.5 grams of product, so the three I’m keeping equals 4.5 grams that I paid $24 to have. A full size blush from tarte is 5.6 grams for $29.
For these reasons, it made the set worth it, but I wouldn’t have felt the same way if I paid the $39 full price. Tarte lists this as being a $75 value, but there’s a combined product weight of 7.5 grams, which means the set should actually cost $38.84.

This is why I always recommend waiting for Tarte’s holiday items to go on sale. Then it has a chance of actually being worth buying if the products are not 100% suited for someone.

We’ve now reached the end of the post! I had so many products to review, which I expected would slow down my purchases for March, but it did not! It worked in the beginning of March but halfway through the month things got a bit crazy. I would estimate that post won’t be ready until August. I hope you’ll visit my blog again soon! And if you missed January’s purchases, they can be found here.

-Lili