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Korean cosmetics

Disappointing Products: Spring 2017

Life is full of disappointment, so I count myself pretty lucky when the biggest disappointment of the moment is a beauty product not working out. That being said, it still sucks, so if I can help you avoid the same fate, well, I’m happy to do it. Of course, the things that don’t work out for me might be the perfect product for you, so take your own preferences and experiences into account when reading this post. I like to keep all of my reviews balanced by mentioning both the pros and cons of the products I’m discussing, but today we’re getting extra sassy. Just a bit of good fun, no harm or offense intended, so please don’t take it personally if you happen to love (or made!) any of the products I’m talking about today. Now, let’s unleash the sass fairy…

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May Favorites 2017

Blah, blah, year flying by, blah, blah. Look ma, I’m a beauty blogger! I just finished writing a post on products that disappointed me and I think I forgot to put the sass fairy back in her cage. Hold on, be right back.

Ok, now where were we? Right, May favorites. I haven’t been doing favorites posts every month, so I do have quite a bit to get to today. Some of these are new products, but most are just new to me. Regardless, all of these are top shelf products that I’m excited to chat about. Grab a snack, settle in, and let’s get to it!

Disclosure: Erborian Glow Creme was sent to me as a PR sample, but I’ve not been asked to include it in this post, nor have I been compensated to talk about it. All of the other products in this post were purchased by me with my own money. This post does not contain affiliate links.
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Review: Erborian Glow Creme

There’s no denying that glowy skin is trending right now, and with good reason. It gives such a healthy, youthful appearance that it’s hard to resist adding some luminosity to the skin. The market is booming with products to help you achieve that glow, from highlighters to primers to luminous foundations, but how do you know which one is right for you? Today, I’m bringing you a review of the Erborian Glow Creme, an iridescent makeup priming lotion that might be just what you’re looking for, along with a comparison to some other popular options.

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Recent Favorites + A Flop

It’s been a few months since my last favorites post, but they’re some of my favorite posts to write. I’ve got some great products to share with you today that I’ve really been loving (including some non-beauty favorites!). Hopefully you’ll love them too!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette

 

C’mon, we all saw this one coming, right? I’ve said several times that the Anastasia shadows are my favorite formula, and if you’ve been following me for a while then you’ll know that I’m completely addicted to orange/red/bronze tones. This is a perfect everyday palette for me, I haven’t even touched anything else since I got this (with the exception of dipping into my MAC single in Blanc Type, which is what I pretty much always use on my brow bone). I foresee this being a favorite for a very long time.

The reason I love it, beyond the versatility of the color selection (don’t be intimidated by the orange and red tones, you can work them in in a way that still keeps a mostly neutral look, if that’s your jam), is because the eyeshadows are so freaking pigmented, yet blendable and buildable. I know a lot of people complain that the formula kicks up too much, and it does kick up a lot, so be careful not to use too much pressure when you dip your brush in and to lightly tap off the excess. Personally, I don’t mind the kick up because in my experience shadows that do that tend to blend better, and because I don’t get much fallout from most Anastasia shadows. They probably wouldn’t be the best shadows for a beginner because they do take a little bit of skill to work with. For a beginner, I would recommend something like the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette because the shadows practically blend themselves out (they actually blend too much for my liking, to the point where I feel like they’re not intense enough, but that’s personal preference, and not a problem that most beginners are likely to have).

Verb Ghost Oil

 

I’ve tried Verb’s detangler in the past, and it didn’t work for me at all (to be fair, my hair is giant ball of evil, most hair products don’t help), so when I saw Verb’s Ghost Oil in my November Ipsy bag, I didn’t get my hopes up. Needless to say, I was pretty surprised when adding a couple of drops of this to my hair actually made a huge difference in my ability to brush my hair out (way less tangles!) and made it feel and look healthier. I split my hair in half along my part while it’s still damp, add a dime-sized amount of oil to my hand and rub my palms together, then rub my hands over my hair, being sure to coat all of the layers of my hair, not just the top and bottom. I also keep it about an inch or two away from my roots. Then, I repeat on the other side. Most people probably won’t need to section their hair or use quite so much oil, but I have absurdly thick hair that still requires quite a bit of product even after I chopped off several inches. What can I say, my hair is a problem child. This oil is also lightweight, and has a very light, barely noticeable scent that doesn’t really smell like anything specific. It’s definitely not something that would compete with your perfume or give you a headache. I’ve tried tons of hair oils, but this is by far my favorite.

Urban Decay Primer Potion in Enigma

 

Enigma is basically the product I’ve needed my whole life. I have super oily eyelids, and Urban Decay’s Primer Potion works significantly better for me than any other primer I’ve tried. What makes Enigma so special is the tint, which is a light beige. It works perfectly to camouflage the veins on my eyelids, which I’ve never been able to achieve with a concealer the way that most people can because my eyelids are so oily. Setting concealer with powder, applying concealer over a primer, nope doesn’t work, creases in 30 minutes. I don’t always want to wear eyeshadow, but the veiny-ness of my eyelids sort of acts like dark circles and makes me look tired and disheveled (I’m probably both, but no one else needs to know that!). Enigma allows me to look more put together without having to wear eyeshadow and keeps my eyelids from getting too oily throughout the day. Sometimes I wear it with eyeshadow, other times I wear it on its own with a little bit of face powder over top to take away some of the tacky feeling. As an added benefit, Urban Decay donates 100% of the purchase price of this product to charity organizations that support women. So far, they’ve donated over 1.28 million dollars!

Cosmo Monster Aqua Gel Sunscreen

 

I’m surprised I haven’t seen more people talk about this Cosmo Monster sunscreen, it’s a total winner! I hadn’t heard of this brand before, but I was excited to see a sunscreen in the Oily/Combo edition of the September/October Jini Beauty Box. After giving it a try over the past month+, I can honestly say I love this stuff! I’m actually surprised by how much I love it because I typically don’t like gel face products as they tend to feel quite sticky. This one feels like water (hence the “aqua” in the name) and doesn’t leave any sort of sticky or slippery film on the skin. It’s also clear, has a very mild sunscreen smell, and plays well with makeup. It feels so lightweight on my face, just like a moisturizer, but it has an SPF of 50, heck yeah! It’s also only about $10, so budget-friendly too! Like I said, I don’t know why more people don’t talk about this. I have nothing negative to say about it, and have even been reaching for it over my (super) expensive Radical sunscreen. Super glad to have discovered this thanks to Jini Beauty Box!

Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Magic Wand Makeup Remover Swabs

 

These makeup remover swabs are another awesome find from the September/October Jini Beauty Box. I’d heard of them before but hadn’t gotten around to trying them, until they arrived in my Jini Beauty Box. The way these work is you twist one end of the cotton swab and pull that end off, which releases makeup remover from the stick portion into the cotton portion of the swab. They’re a super easy and convenient way to fix mistakes, especially to clean up winged eyeliner. These would also be great for travel or to keep in your purse. The makeup remover in these is really effective and non-irritating. Love ’em!

Stok Cold Brewed Coffee Shots

These little pods of joy are a life saver. Not literally. Well, maybe a little bit literal if you’ve ever seen me after I’ve been drinking crappy hotel coffee for a few days. Have you ever wished you could amp up the amount of caffeine in your coffee? If you have, you’ll probably fall in love with these. Housed in little pods like the creamer you get at a diner, Stok is a pod of cold-brewed, highly caffeinated black coffee. I found them at my local Smith’s (Kroger in some parts of the country) about a month ago, and since finals were coming up, I threw them into my cart without a second thought. Not only were these great for adding caffeine to my coffee and keeping me sane during finals, they also prevented disaster yesterday morning when the only coffee left in the house was decaf. Decaf coffee, man. Not only is it caffeine-free, it just doesn’t taste right. Thankfully, we were well stocked with Stok, so no one had to go caffeine-free! I’ve also been experimenting with other uses for these. So far I’ve tried adding them to hot cocoa and oatmeal, by subbing a little bit of the water for a pod of Stok. Works great! Adds a tiny bit of coffee flavor (plus caffeine!) without overpowering the other flavors. In the future, I want to try adding them to brownies (if you’ve never tried adding a bit of coffee to your brownies you’re missing out!), protein shakes, and maybe even homemade protein bars. There’s a lot of applications for these beyond adding them to a cup of coffee. I can’t wait to play around with them some more!

Better Oats Oat Revolution Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

This is my favorite oatmeal ever. I’ve actually been eating it for years, but just recently went back to it after awhile without it because I was sick of eating bars for breakfast every day. I hate making breakfast in the morning, if I can’t find something quick and simple, I’m just getting by on coffee until lunch. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for me to reach for something unhealthy for breakfast, but this oatmeal gives me a healthy option that doesn’t require much brain power or effort. I love the way this oatmeal tastes, I love that it has added flax seeds for omega-3s, but most of all I love the measuring cup pouch. After you dump the oatmeal into a bowl, you fill the pouch up to the line with water and dump it into the bowl, no need for a separate measuring cup! Simple enough for my mornings, but so good I eat it for dinner sometimes!

FitnessBlender

If you workout at home like I do, but are tired of the same boring, overly peppy or bootcamp style workouts that are popular for at-home workouts, try FitnessBlender. I found them years ago and have been working out with their videos ever since. I recently got back into working out after not having the time or space for it for the past two years, and it felt great to come back to their videos. They have over 500 free workouts on their YouTube channel, ranging from beginner to advanced, kickboxing to yoga, and a wide variety of workout formats to keep things from getting boring. They also have workout plans that you can purchase if you’d like someone to do all of the workout planning for you, but they never push you to buy their plans, and all of the videos are completely free. There’s no gimmick to FitnessBlender, and the workouts truly work. In the past I lost quite a bit of weight with FitnessBlender (I never weigh myself, so I don’t have an exact number, but I’d estimate it was 30+ lbs), and their workouts also helped me to significantly increase my endurance and strength. I’m so much healthier thanks to FitnessBlender, and it’s been so great to get to workout with them again. Seriously, I can’t recommend them highly enough, give them a try!

Flop:

L’Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper Transparent Brow Gel

I hate this brow gel, plain and simple. It’s a total disappointment. Like when your parents tell you they’re getting you a puppy for Christmas, but they come home with some animatronic thing from Toys R’ Us. Yeah, that bad. Sure, it’s clear and it doesn’t flake off in weird white patches that look like dandruff, so it’s got that going for it. But ya know what else it doesn’t have? Hold. Staying power. Things a good brow gel really needs to have. The brush on this is nice and small, but the brow gel itself doesn’t hold my brow hairs in place at all, it just has some weird waxy feel that makes it seem like I put Vaseline on my eyebrows. Not cool, man, not cool. I wasn’t expecting this to be as good as Anastasia brow gel, but c’mon. Even my Essence Make Me Brow (a Benefit Gimme Brow dupe) has better hold than this, and that’s meant more so for adding color and volume to the brows, the hold it just an added bonus. This L’Oreal brow gel isn’t even worth the $6 I paid for it. Pass.

That’s it for this month! What are some of your recent favorites?

-Cristine

[Review] Somang Keratin Silkprotein Hair Aqua Essence

Hello friends! I’ve nearly used up the Somang Keratin Silkprotein Hair Aqua Essence that I received in a Jini Beauty Box a few months ago (paid for with my own money), so I thought now would be a great time to review it for y’all.

 

What is it?

A leave-in conditioner containing keratin to help treat dry, damaged hair. It’s meant to give your hair moisture, repair the cuticle, and prevent further damage. As the “essence” name indicates, it’s much like the type of essence you would use for skincare as far as the texture goes, but personally it feels a bit more like an emulsion to me in the sense that it’s essentially a watered down lotion/conditioner. “Watered down” makes it sound like a bad thing, but it’s not. Just the best way of describing the texture. By comparison, the Beauty Protector leave-in conditioner from Birchbox is much thicker, but the Somang essence is a little bit thicker than water. The scent is a little bit flowery and sweet, but grounded with something a bit more earthy. I can definitely smell the chamomile and sage in this, with a bit of the lavender, not much of the rosemary comes through. The scent is definitely noticeable as I’m spraying it on my hair, and it does linger for a little bit, but it’s gone by the time my hair is dry.

What’s in it?

Purified Water, Ethanol, Dimethicone, Propylene Glycol, PPG-2-Deceth-12, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Panthenol, TEA Dodecylbenzenesulfonate, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Hydrolyzed Silk, Butylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Camomile Flower Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Viola Tricolor L. Extract, Hedera Helix Extract, Sage Leaf Extract, Lavender Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Dipropylene Glycol, Nymphaea Odorata Root Extract, Benzophenone-9, Methylparaben, Fragrance

How much is it?

110 ml $8.99 eBay || I’ve seen it listed on Amazon, but it’s higher priced and the packaging is different. Not sure if it’s new packaging or a fake product, so I’m not linking it here.

My Experience:

First, a bit about my hair. My hair is long, thick, wavy/curly, fluffy, color-treated, heat-styled, tangly, breaker of hair brushes, spawn of satan, and woefully misbehaved. It’s a few sarcastic taunts short of being a Buffy villain, basically. This hair essence wasn’t enough to tame it. It did give me softer and shinier hair, so it gets points for that. However, since it’s so thin, I basically had to drown my hair in it. On the bright side, it didn’t weigh my hair down. Didn’t help to detangle my hair at all, but it doesn’t claim to be a detangler, so fair ’nuff. Ultimately, I would say that if you have fairly normal hair and are just looking for something to give you shine and softness, you might like this. If you’ve got thick, curly, or coarse hair, I don’t think you’ll like this because it’s not going to do much for you. People with thin hair may also like this because the essence texture keeps it lighter than some of the other leave-in conditioners I’ve tried in the past, but this is coming from someone with fluffy, unruly hair, so take that with a grain of salt.

Would I repurchase?

Nah. The price is decent, it smells nice, and it gave me softness and shine, but this one didn’t wow me. I’d rather keep trying other products. Maybe they make Demon-Away* for hair? Here’s to hoping.
xx Cristine
 
*Fake product created by Tony from Real Ghost Stories Online, aka my favorite podcast. 

[Review] April Skin Magic Snow Cushion Pink in 01 Pink

Today, I’m going to be sharing my full review on the April Skin Magic Snow Cushion Pink, which is a pale pink primer in cushion form, meant to brighten skin. I’ve previously reviewed this product briefly on Instagram, but I wanted to give you guys more details about the product. This product was sent to me by 0.8L in exchange for my honest review on Instagram, but I’m choosing to do a full review on it because I genuinely like the product and want to share my experience with the product in-depth. As always, my review will be 100% honest.
This post does not contain affiliate links.

About the brand:

April Skin is a Korean skincare and cosmetics company that focuses on products made with natural ingredients. If you purchase Korean cosmetics or spend time over at reddit.com/r/asianbeauty, then you’re probably already familiar with the brand through some of their popular products, such as the Magic Stone soap, and their popular Magic Snow Cushion Foundations. The brand is built around three core concepts: exclude harmful ingredients, rejuvenate dull and fatigued skin, and make the best products to satisfy consumers.

About the Magic Snow Pink Cushion Compact:

Price: $21-29 for 15 grams of product (doesn’t include a refill)

Where to buy it Amazon $26.88 (prime shipping, all colors in stock, but listed separately as of this posting), $29 AprilSkin (ships worldwide), BBCosmetic $21

The “Pink Cushion Compact” line refers to the packaging of this product, which is a pale pink, mirrored cushion case with the brand name printed in holographic lettering. It’s gorgeous, but it’s also functional too. The plastic casing feels sturdy, and the mirror inside the compact is a high quality crystal-clear mirror, which is great if you need to use the mirror inside the case (as opposed to a bathroom mirror or vanity/desktop mirror). The compact is also refillable, though the refills for the White and Black cushion foundations won’t fit this case. Like I mentioned before, the “pink” in the name refers to the packaging, the product actually comes in four different colors.

From the product listing on April Skin’s website:
01 Pink is meant for fair skin with a warm tone. The pink creates a brightening effect and corrects the appearance of dullness in the skin. (This is the one I’m showing you today.)
02 Green is meant for correcting redness due to sensitivity to temperature, pigmentation left from acne, or other redness in the skin.
03 Purple is meant to correct dullness and discoloration in the skin, especially skin that “darkens and turns dull by the afternoon” (April Skin’s words, not mine).
04 Beige is meant to correct dull or uneven skin tone.

 

The puff is soft, thick, and bouncy, and is also antimicrobial, according to April Skin. Diving into the cushion itself, this is a pretty unique feature of this product. Rather than a standard cushion sponge soaked in product, the Magic Snow Cushion contains product sandwiched between two layers of sponge, which then rises to the top and onto the puff when pressure is applied. The idea behind this is to keep the product more hygienic, and to provide only the amount that you need for an even application. Although I appreciate the concept, I also find it to be a flaw of the product. Maybe it’s because I’m heavy-handed, or maybe it’s because I’m perpetually late, but the sponge doesn’t dispense product onto the puff as quickly as I would like. I find myself having to apply quite a bit of pressure or pushing down on it multiple times so I can get enough product to come out and get out the door (did I mention I’m always running late?).

Ingredients:

Can be found here. Notable ingredients are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide (physical sunscreens), Niacinamide (fades pigmentation and brightens skin over time), several forms of dimethicone (so be cautious if you have a sensitivity to it, this product may not be a good fit for you), Prunus Serrulata Flower Extract (cherry blossom, anti-inflammatory), Adenosine (anti-inflammatory, potential anti-wrinkle benefits), Honey (moisturizing, anti-bacterical, antioxidant), and Camellia Japonica Flower Extract (anti-inflammatory, stimulates collagen).

 

It’s a very pale carnation pink

My Experience:

Let’s start with the smell because I fuh-reaking love the way this smells. It’s a soft, sweet, almost candy-like floral (cherry blossom maybe?). It’s divine, I would wear it as a perfume. It is quite strong, so if you don’t like scented makeup, you’ll probably want to steer clear of this, but otherwise, I think most people would find this scent pleasant or at least non-offensive. Fragrance isn’t listed anywhere in the ingredients list, which leads me to believe the scent comes naturally from the other ingredients.

The texture is lightweight, you can definitely feel that it’s a water-based product, though there’s also quite a bit of slip and slickness to it that would probably feel unpleasant on oily skin types. It’s almost kind of lotiony but without the thickness. This product is recommended for dry to combination skin because it’s moisturizing, and I totally agree with that recommendation. I think if you have oily skin, this would not only be too hydrating for you, but also too glowy. However, if you have dry skin and struggle to achieve a radiant glow, you’ll probably be head-over-heels in love with this. It really does brighten the face, and it shines through foundation beautifully.

My skin is normal to combo currently, and I have acne-prone skin. This didn’t cause me to break out at all, nor did it irritate my skin in any way. I have a lot of texture on my skin right now due to closed comedones, and I didn’t find that this emphasized them in any way, nor did it emphasize the pores on my cheeks. I don’t know how this would wear on deep wrinkles, but it didn’t sink into or emphasize the fine lines around my mouth and eyes at all. It works great under makeup too, it didn’t make my foundation wear off any more quickly than it normally would. It’s not glittery at all, but it does have a very intense sheen. I loved the glow that this created, but I did have to powder it in a few places (nose, forehead, chin) where it was just a little too much for me. Normally I would suggest applying it just in the areas that you want your skin to look more luminous, but because of the brightening pink tint, it might create a weird color difference. If you try wearing it that way, let me know how it goes. It builds beautifully without feeling cakey, although in humid weather it can feel a bit heavy if you apply several layers. One layer produced mostly shine with only a tiny bit of brightening. On my skin, I had to use two or three layers to really notice a brightening effect. For reference, my skin is approximately an NC15 in MAC, though I have an olive undertone, so it’s not an exact match. Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation also matches me pretty well.

Finally, I will say I do think that $29 is a bit expensive for this product since it’s only 15 grams of product and doesn’t come with a refill. I did manage to find it on sale in a few places, and I would purchase it for about $20 to maybe $25. I would only pay $29 if it came with a refill. Price aside, I do really like this product and would recommend it if you’re looking for a glowy, brightening primer.

Shine bright like a diamond. One layer of the April Skin Magic Snow Cushion Pink in 01 Pink

Half-Face Comparison:

Left side: bare skin, Right side: 2-3 layers of the April Skin Magic Snow Cushion Pink in 01 Pink

Final Thoughts:

You’ll probably like this if:

  • You have dry or combo skin (maybe normal skin if you really like a glow and don’t get very oily throughout the day)
  • Most other glowy primers have let you down. Seriously, you can’t see it on my face because I’m in indirect light, but that glow is intense.
  • You’re not sensitive to or allergic to any of the ingredients in the ingredients list.
  • You don’t mind the price or you can find it on sale
  • Scented products don’t irritate your skin, cause migraines, or just make you want to throw a product across the room.

Avoid this is:

  • You’re not cool with shellin’ out between 20 and 30 dollars for a primer, especially when it’s only 15 grams of product
  • You have oily skin (srsly don’t do it mate)
  • You think the scent or any of the ingredients in this product will irritate you
  • You’re impatient or don’t have much time to get ready, ever. The way the sponge is designed causes it to take a little more time to apply than an ordinary cushion or a primer that comes in a tube, and I can see this becoming frustrating if you’re in a hurry. Maybe save it for a day when you’re not rushing to get ready, or possibly avoid it altogether if you don’t think it would fit your lifestyle.
  • Your skin is any darker than a very light medium. Even with a foundation over top, I think this shade would be way too light for anyone above ~NC/NW 30, and even that may be a stretch. You may have a bit of luck with the beige shade if you have a medium skin tone, but I really can’t say since I haven’t tried that one.
I’m a sucker for shiny things glowy products like this one, and this has a truly beautiful glow that makes me wish it came in body lotion form so I could just walk around looking like a Tiffany’s display all the time (#goals).
Have you tried any products from April Skin? Let me know what you thought of them in the comments down below (personally, I’m dying to get my hands on the cushion foundation and some of the sheet masks). You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter. Come say ‘hi’!
-Cristine