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June 2, 2016

May 2016 Favorites

Confession: I’m a summer-hater. Yep, I hate the warmer weather, and the long days spent feeling like I’m trapped inside the house because it’s too hot to do anything outside. I’m a fall/winter kind of girl. I want cloudy skies, the crunch of dead leaves (or better yet, snow! but good luck finding that in Vegas), and curling up under a blanket to binge-watch Netflix, burn candles, and crack the window to let in a bit of the crisp air. Every summer month that I can check off the list is one less month of tortuous heat, and one step closer to the few blissful months of cooler weather. So am I sad to see May go? Nope, not at all. Ok, maybe a little bit, but only because we’ve had an extraordinarily mild spring and early summer. Up until last week, it was still cool enough to leave the windows open. Ahh, if only it was like that all the time. Another good thing about the end of the month? New favorites! I’ve got some great products to talk about today, so let’s get to it.

 

Missha Near Skin pH Balancing Cleansing Gel

If you’ve been following my Instagram (@hey_itscristine) for the last 2 months, this first product will come as no surprise. I post my skincare routine most nights, and this cleanser has been featured almost every night since I first received it in a Jini Beauty Box (reviews and additional information about Jini Beauty can be found here). In terms of the greater K-beauty landscape, make no mistake, this is a kinda boring cleanser. But it works wonderfully, which is the most important part when you have skin that likes to act out on a regular basis. The Missha Near Skin pH Balancing Cleansing Gel is a low pH cleanser (raise your hand if you’re riding that #lowphlife wave), foams gently, doesn’t strip my skin but still leaves my face feeling clean, and it has also helped to get my acne under control. Since using it, I have fewer breakouts, my skin tone is more even, and my skin is striking a more even balance between oil and hydration. Bonus: the scent is totally non-assaulting. It’s a soft herbal scent (garden herbal, not Woodstock herbal) and it’s not strong enough to be headache inducing unless you’re super sensitive to fragrance. My skin is acne-prone, clog-prone, and oily-dehydrated (man that was a lot of hyphens), so I tend to end up in a weird skincare limbo with many products. Products that are geared toward oily skin tend to be too harsh and make my skin feel like a raisin, and products aimed at dry skin often leave me feeling like a grease ball. Finding the right balance for my skin sometimes feels like a bit of a mythical quest, but I feel like I just leveled up with this cleanser. Just before this cleanser arrived, I had been buying up low pH cleansers left and right. I now have a cabinet full of low pH cleansers, but most days, this is the only one I even consider reaching for.

From Beauteque:

Ingredients: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Water, Lauramidopropyl Betaine, PEG-8, Dipropylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Glycerin, Sodium benzoate, Spring Water (?), Licorice Extract, Diospyros Kaki Leaf Extract, Ganoderma Lucidum (Mushroom) Extract, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Silk Amino Acids, Quillaia Extract, Sapidus Mukurossi Peel Extract, Yucca Schidigera Root Extract, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Citric Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizinate, Sodium Hydroxide, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Butylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl glycol, Ethylene glycol phenyl ether, Disodium EDTA, Chlorphenesin, Fragrance

Mmm, just look at those extracts. This is a total under-the-radar product, likely because of its lack of bells and whistles, as well as it not being carried by many of the major Western shops, but I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a good one.

Where to find it: Beauteque $20.99+shipping, $15.99 eBay via RubyRubyStore (one of RoseRoseShop’s eBay stores), VutyDesign $16.45+shipping

Marc Anthony 3 Day Smooth Perfect Blow Dry Cream

This next item is as much of a surprise to me as it is to you. I received the Marc Anthony Perfect Blow Dry Smoothing Cream in an Ipsy bag a few months ago, and to be honest, I kind of rolled my eyes at it. Another smoothing cream that was going to do basically nothing for my problem child hair, I thought. I was so wrong. Well, kinda. Its smoothing powers are about on par with every other smoothing cream, serum, or oil I’ve ever tried: it kinda smooths my hair if I heat style it, but it’s no miracle worker. I still end up with the world’s least regal lion’s mane, but like, zoo lion instead of wild lion. Think the before picture of Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries. My hair is poofy and frizzy no matter what, unless I heat style it or don’t brush it. I’ll let you guess which one I usually choose. So if it didn’t do much to tame my hair, then why is it a favorite?

Because this stuff holds my style better than literally anything I have ever used. I have a metric shitton of hair, it’s heavy, stubborn, and you betta believe it doesn’t hold a curl for more than a few hours, and that’s if I’m lucky. I first began to realize that this was holding my style during my last trip to San Francisco. I had straightened my hair before I left Vegas to keep it more manageable for the next couple of days, but at the end of the day, I’m all about that #bunlife. When I let my hair down the next morning, my hair was less dented than usual, and I could actually get away with leaving my hair as it was rather than having to fire up my flat iron to straighten out the kinks. At this point, I thought maybe I just hadn’t twisted my hair as tightly as usual, or that I hadn’t managed to squish my hair into the hotel pillow as violently as I do at home. I began to realize it wasn’t all in my head when I braided my hair the next day, let it out later in the day, and still had perfectly formed waves at dinner. I can get my waves to stay if I braid my hair when it’s wet, but never when it’s dry. The icing on the cake didn’t occur until I got home and decided to curl my hair one day to test my hypothesis, which ended up being correct. It held my curls all day, and if I’m careful about the way I put my hair up at night, I actually have the mythical, magical, second day curls. I never in a million years thought I would have second day curls. Back in the day when I was still using a curling iron with a clip instead of the clipless curing wand I use now, I could barely manage to achieve second hour curls. Hair spray, no hair spray, didn’t matter, my curls always fell, even if I clipped them to cool. The Marc Anthony Smoothing Cream holds my style without making it feel crunchy or caked with product, which is important to me because I run my hands through my hair a lot. It smells like vanilla, which isn’t my favorite scent in the world, but the scent doesn’t hang around and compete with my perfume after it’s dry, so it really doesn’t bother me. I’m so, so in love with this product. I can finally curl my hair without feeling like I just wasted my time!

Where to find it: Ulta $8.99+shipping, Drugstore.com $8.99+shipping

Thierry Mugler Alien Eau de Parfum

Speaking of perfume, I can’t believe I haven’t included this one in a favorites post yet. I remembered to include it in this one because when I was at the movies two weeks ago, the woman working behind the counter seemed like she was ready to climb over the counter and start following me around, Pluto style.

 

For the record, this is also how one of my cats, Nicholas, sniffs things. That’s how he’s ended up snorting ants and getting stung in the nose by a bee.

During the brief transaction, she must have told me I smelled amazing at least 3 times. I can’t blame her, I felt the same way the first time I smelled Alien by Thierry Mugler. It’s a truly unique scent. It’s sweet, metallic, slightly woody, reminds me of raw crystals before they’ve been polished, and somehow smells a bit like sunlight, which is part of the inspiration behind the fragrance. It’s powerful without being overpowering or dominating, yet sweet and approachable, like meeting someone who’s kinda famous, but not like, famous famous. There’s something wildly intoxicating about it, something that’s equal parts cozy and exciting. It’s a wonderful fragrance, and after wearing it most days for the last five months, I’m still completely in love. You’ve got to smell this fragrance, and make sure to spray it on your skin for the full effect. It smells nice in the air or on paper, but on skin, it’s magic.

Where to find it (1 oz refillable bottle): Sephora $80, Ulta $80, Macy’s $29 roller ball, $80 1 oz

Paqui Haunted Ghost Pepper Tortilla Chips

You may be wondering why there’s a bag of chips in the main image for this post. No, they’re not a beauty product, but I need to talk about them anyway because these chips are fucking amazing. I love spicy food and have yet to find anything that’s actually too spicy.  I’m a hot sauce on ‘errthang kind of gal, and if something is hot enough to make my eyes water, it’s a keeper. When I tried these chips, I just about died from happiness. They’re tortilla chips coated with a blend of spices that includes ghost peppers, with a hint of smokiness. They’re so gloriously spicy, but still flavorful. I had tears streaming down my cheeks from the spiciness, and kept muttering “They’re so good…” over and over again to my sister, who was looking at me like I had lost my mind. Paqui is a smaller company, so these chips may be difficult to find in your area (there’s a store locator on their website, see below), but if you love spicy food, these are so, so worth the effort to hunt them down. I have to go out of my way to get them because they’re not sold at my regular grocery store, but for these chips, I’ll do it. I’m so in love with these chips, I held on to the empty bag for two weeks. Yeah, I’m in a committed snacking relationship with these chips.

Where to find it: Paqui.com $3.99, Store locator

Nyx Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade

Another new addition in my life is the Nyx Tame and Frame Tinted Brow Pomade. For the past couple of years, I’ve been using Anastasia Beverly Hills brow powder, but recently I’ve noticed I have a few stubborn spots that don’t hold onto powder well. Brow pencils would have been the most simple, logical solution, but they kind of freak me out. I like my brows to look natural, but they can go from 0 to ‘please make your eyebrows stop staring at me’ with one wrong move, which lord knows my resting bitch face does not need. Power brows are not a good look on me.

This pomade seemed like it would be a great solution to my problem because it’s not crazy opaque like the ABH Brow Pomade and doesn’t give the harsh line of a pencil, but sticks to the skin better than powder. I’m so glad I tried this product, because not only has it solved my problem, it’s also made doing my brows quicker and easier, plus I’m able to shape my brows (especially the tail) more. I love having that added bit of control. The highs have been getting into the 90s in the past two weeks, and so far the Nyx Tame & Frame has stayed in place perfectly without smudging or fading. A common complaint that I hear about the ABH Brow Pomade is that it’s too intense, but that’s not a problem with this product. My brows look perfectly filled in without being too over the top. Love it!

Where to find it: Ulta $6.99+shipping, Nyx $7.00+shipping

Essence Make Me Brow

Another possible brow dupe I’ve been investigating is the Essence Make Me Brow as a possible alternative to the infamous Benefit Gimme Brow. I absolutely love the Gimme Brow, but I noticed the Essence Make Me Brow as I was scrolling through Target’s beauty section one day, and thought I’d give it a try since it’s so much cheaper. I love Essence’s lip liners and their All About Matt powder (though I won’t repurchase that because the packaging fell apart on me >.<), so I was pretty optimistic about trying the Make Me Brow. Luckily, Essence didn’t let me down.

The two products are almost identical, the main differences being that the Make Me Brow is slightly more wet, which gives it a better hold, and the ‘Blondy Brows’ color is just a touch warmer than its Benefit counterpart. This is actually perfect for me because I need that extra bit of warmth to counteract the ashy tones in my eyebrows and help them match my (dyed) red hair. I also feel like the Make Me Brow does a better job of holding my brow hairs in place without making them crunchy. The one advantage that I feel like the Benefit Gimme Brow has over the Essence Make Me Brow is the amount of fibers each contains. The Benefit Gimme Brow seems to have more fibers, making it easier to make brows look full and voluminous. However, this could just be because I only have a sample size of the Benefit Gimme Brow, which could mean that the fibers are more densely packed than they would be in a full sized product. I would totally recommend this product if you’re looking for a good tinted brow gel, and especially if you’re trying to find a cheaper alternative to the Benefit Gimme Brow.

Where to find it: Target $2.99+shipping, Ulta $2.99+shipping

Benefit Dew The Hula

Benefit makes some of my favorite products, so it’s really no surprise to me when they knock another one outta the park. I snagged the Benefit Dew The Hula liquid bronzer as soon as it was available as a sample at Sephora, but quickly did a double-take when I saw it in person. When I first pumped it on the back of my hand, I thought there was no way in hell this bronzer was going to work on my pale skin.

Turns out, it’s a gorgeous bronzer on pale skin, but the downside is that it pretty much only works on fair to light-medium skin, even medium-deep skin is a bit of a stretch once it’s blended out. I really hope they make some darker shades of this so that everyone can use it, because it’s an awesome product. The way it blends out looks so natural, and reminds me of watercolor. You can see it in action in the photo below:

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My favorite way to apply it is to stipple it on with a MakeupGeek Cheek Highlighter Brush, then go over it with a damp BeautyBlender to really press it into the skin. A lot of liquid products dry too quickly, making them difficult to blend out, but I haven’t found that to be a problem with this. The one problem I have with this (other than the color selection) is that it’s not sweat-proof. It’ll hold up through a normal day’s wear just fine, but if you live in a hot/humid climate, it’ll come off as soon as you start sweating. Other than that, I absolutely love this product. I think it’ll work best on a yellow or olive undertone, it would probably look orange if you have a pink undertone or are any lighter than MAC NC 15, which is the shade I wear.

Where to find it: $28+shipping at Benefit, Birchbox, Sephora, Ulta

ColourPop Smokin’ Whistles

What goes better with bronzer than a bangin’ highlight? Answer: nothing. I’ve had the ColourPop highlighter in Smokin’ Whistles for several months now, and I just keep falling more in love with it. I have trouble finding a highlighter that contrasts enough with my pale skin that it really stands out, but doesn’t look too icy. Even though I’m quite pale, I have olive undertones, which makes anything that’s too icy look super weird against my skin, and golden highlights blend in to my skin color too much to really give that wet look.

Smokin’ Whistles has a slightly beige undertone that makes it work well on my skin tone, plus a ton of super fine microglitter that makes it pop, especially in the sunlight. It goes on super smooth without looking chunky, and sinks into the skin like a cream, but has the durability and finish of a powder without looking too dry.

It’s absolutely stunning, and something you should definitely consider picking up if you have fair to medium skin. You can see it in use in the photo below.

Where to find it: ColourPop $8+shipping (listed as Smoke N Whistles on the website, but the label on my product says Smokin’ Whistles, so that’s what I usually refer to it as)

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SocialEyes Minx Lashes

When I first ordered the SocialEyes Minx lashes, I had no idea what I was going to do with them, I just knew I wanted to try something a bit spikier since it was out of my comfort zone. I’ll be honest, I was totally intimidated by this style at first. I was worried they’d look too chunky, and I didn’t know what the hell to pair them with. As I was putting the finishing touches on the look shown above, I was going through all of my lashes trying to find the right combination, but nothing looked right. Finally, I tried these, and voila! Perfect! I’ve received loads of compliments on these lashes, both online and in-person, so clearly my apprehension was unwarranted. SocialEyes has become my go-to lash brand because they’re such great quality at an affordable price. They’re also vegan and cruelty-free!

Where to find it: SocialEyes $6.95+shipping

Sunglass Spot Sunglasses

These have quickly become my favorite sunglasses. I was tired of buying Forever21 sunglasses that were cute, but shitty quality, and I didn’t want to splurge on a style I wasn’t sure I was going to like. I found SunglassSpot on Instagram and decided to order a few pairs since they’re only $5. These ended up being my favorite style. I like that they have a nose piece because my nose is so small that I have an issue with sunglasses sliding down my face all the time, so these stay in place better than most. I love the way this style feels a little bit retro because of the cat eye, yet modern because of the cutout. I think they look super chic, and the quality actually is better than the glasses I was buying from Forever21, though still not as high quality as designer sunglasses. They have dupes for a lot of the sunglass styles you’ve probably seen floating around Instagram, so if there’s something you’ve been eyeing but don’t want to spend the money on, or want to try a cheaper version first before splurging on the designer style, check their website because there’s a pretty good chance they’ll have what you’re looking for.

Where to find it: SunglassSpot $5+shipping

Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Naked2 and Turn On

I’m going to make a bold proclamation: this is my favorite lipstick ever. EVER. Naturally, because I’m in love with it, it appears to be discontinued. Urban Decay revamped their entire lipstick line, keeping many of the original colors as well as bringing out new ones for a total of 120 shades now under the Vice name. I snagged Naked2 and Turn On when the Revolution lipsticks were marked down to $11 as they were being phased out. So why bother mentioning a product that’s no longer available? Two reasons: there may still be some stragglers available, (so if you see them, swoop them up!!) and because I suspect that Naked2 may have just gotten a new name: Safe Word. I haven’t seen Safe Word in-person yet, so I can’t confirm with 100% certainty that they’re the same shades, but they look incredibly similar in Temptalia’s swatches, so even if they aren’t the exact same, that’ll be the closest dupe (or possibly Insanity). I’ve always struggled with finding a lipstick that actually looked nude on me and not just pink, but Naked2 has just enough brown to make it my perfect nude.

Naked2 on the lips:

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I’ve also been loving Turn On for the spring/summer because it’s a bright, juicy raspberry pink that doesn’t look too shocking. I’d describe it as Anarchy’s more responsible younger sister. In the new formula, it looks similar to Afterdark, but they’re not exact dupes as Afterdark appears to be a hair darker and has microglitter.

Where to find it: Naked2 Belk $11, Ulta $11+shipping, couldn’t find Turn On anywhere

Algenist Power Eye Serum

Rounding out my May favorites is Algenist Power 360 Eye Serum. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was doing a whole lot, but when I forgot to use it for a few days, I noticed a big difference. This serum makes my fine lines less visible, and my eye area appears smoother and more firm.

My favorite part about it is the texture. It feels more like a face primer that a typical eye cream. It sinks into my skin quickly and easily, and most importantly, it doesn’t migrate and get into my eyes. I have extremely sensitive eyes, so if a product is too creamy and slides around, I wake up with red, irritated eyes the next day, no matter how careful I am about keeping the product a safe distance from my actual eyeball when I apply it. This eye serum has never irritated my eyes at all, which is a welcome relief.

From Algenist.com:

Ingredients: Water (Aqua, Eau), Dimethicone, Isododecane, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Polysilicone-11, Isohexadecane, Pentylene Glycol, Algae Exopolysaccharides, Chlorella Protothecoides, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract, Darutoside, Polygonum Bistorta Root Extract, Nannochloropsis Oculata Extract, Albizia Julibrissin Bark Extract, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, N-Hydroxysuccinimide, Chrysin, Mica, Adenosine, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 80, Pullulan, Tocopheryl Acetate, Steareth-20, Disodium EDTA, Chlorhexidine Digluconate, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol.

It’s expensive, but in my opinion, it’s totally worth it. I’ve always heard good things about Algenist, and I think it’s about time I hopped on that bandwagon.

Where to find it: Sephora $70 (0.5 fl oz/15 ml), Algenist $28 (0.17 fl oz/5 ml)

What were your favorite products this month?

—Cristine

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