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Sephora Beauty Insider Appreciation SALE – Cruelty Free Picks!

Believe it or not, it’s that glorious time of the year again…a Sephora Sale is here! Yes, that’s right. There’s a Beauty Insider Appreciation Sale in August instead of the usual early November VIB time frame. No one seems certain if this is a replacement sale time, or an additional sale. I’m hoping for the later…I think! 😉 Given the unexpected discount season, I thought I would share some of my Cruelty Free Recommendations for the sale. So we’ll start with the recommendations, and end with the boring sale details – there’s an unusual restriction this time around that I haven’t heard many mention that may affect your purchasing, so I’ll explain that. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

My Cruelty Free “Travel” Makeup Bag!

If you saw my InstaStories this past week, a) thank you for watching my nonsense! and b) you’ll know that I went on a short road trip with my dad. It was just overnight, but I still over-packed…especially with the makeup. 😉 To be fair, I did use almost everything, but it’s a lot. Since I only took things that I love, I thought I would share the contents of my “travel” makeup bag with you! I’m skipping skin care as that’s a whole post unto itself; we’re just sticking to the makeup here. Like I said, there’s a lot so we best get to it! 😄 (Links to reviews and related posts in pink.)

Cruelty Free Sephora VIB Sale Recommendations – Spring 2017

It’s the second most wonderful time of the year for those of us with massive Sephora addictions! 😝 That’s right! The Sephora VIB Sale is almost here!!! I thought I would go through some of my favorite cruelty free products available at Sephora to give you a few recommendations while considering what new goodies to pick up this go-round. Real quick, the details as I understand them are that the sale runs from April 18th through the 24th for VIB Rouge members and your discount will be 15% off of everything as many times as you choose to shop in that time frame! Similarly, VIB member will receive 15% off between April 19th and 24th, while Beauty Insiders will be getting 10% off from April 20th through April 23rd. If you’re one of these lucky Sephora Insider members, you should receive a card in the mail as well as a code in your email that can be used over and over again during the above mentioned dates! There has also been some fantastic cruelty free news: Tashina from Logical Harmony has confirmed that Smashbox and Marc Jacobs Beauty (not the fragrances) have been added to her cruelty free list (Stila‘s back too)!!! Discounts and new brands and cruelty free goodness, oh my! 😜 Enough silliness, let’s get to the recommendations (linked to reviews if I have one). 😉

The Verdict – Hourglass Modernist Eye Shadow Palette in Monochrome

If you remember my post near the end of January called Trial & Error, I mentioned I have been testing out the new Hourglass Modernist Eye Shadow Palette in Monochrome. Well, I think I’ve come to a conclusion about the palette, though I am still a bit torn. There seem to be a number of mixed reviews on these palettes and I can totally see why. For one thing, I think everyone wants to love these. They are gorgeous to look at and they’re from Hourglass. They make fantastic products, so why wouldn’t these palettes be as well? J Well, let’s look beyond the pretty shiny packaging and spectacular 3D rippled powders and talk about the reality of the palette!

As I just mentioned, these palettes are visually stunning. They have the standard Hourglass kind of brownish-bronze metallic outer case that feels luxurious and special and includes a generous mirror. The size of this palette is not quite as large as the Ambient Lighting or the Blush Palettes, but there still appears to be a decent amount of product for the eyes. The eye shadows inside are pressed into a stunning ripple pattern that runs across the 5 different shades in the palette (though there is no separation between colors which kind of bothers me) and it just looks so pretty! The palettes have the look suited to the hefty $58 price tag that’s attached.

I had a very difficult time picking out a color palette when I ordered this. Partly because I was just looking at product photos on Sephora’s website, but even having looked at them in person it would be difficult. The colors are mostly neutral, with a few subtle colors thrown into a few palettes. Each palette seems to have a mix of finishes as well, with the exception of one quintet of all matte shadows – I believe that is the Atmosphere palette. I chose the Monochromepalette, which consists of 3 mattes – a warm ivory, a rosy shade and a rosy medium brown – an satin fawn brown, and what I think is another satin in a deep brown tone, though it looks mate swatched. The colors are all quite pretty, subtle and definitely pretty much monochromatic. I actually kind of like the shades, which is part of the reason I’ve had trouble coming to a conclusion about this palette.
The first thing that stood out to me when using this palette was the incredible soft, powdery consistency of the matte shadows. I was actually quite shocked by just how much powder is kicked up by just gently touching a brush to the shadow. Conversely, the frosty-satin fawn shade is actually quite stiff and very difficult to get the shadow to transfer from a brush to the skin. Though the texture threw me a bit, I feel like the mattes actually apply pretty well and blend so effortlessly…though it may be too effortlessly for some. It can be easy to blend to shades away or just muddy everything you’ve applied. The stiffer pearlized shade takes a lot of building up for it to be very noticeable, and once applied I feel like it almost makes my eyelids look a bit crepy and older than they ordinarily appear. Somehow I still really liked the overall looks created by this palette though.
Can you see the powder kicked up in the shadows? No bueno!
The pigmentation is kind of average, though the palette is so light in tone and monochromatic that it was actually kind of difficult to tell how pigmented each shadow was. They swatch alright, but on the eyes they seem to give more of a subtle wash of color. Because of both these things and that the shades really aren’t all that dissimilar to my skin tone, the Monochrome palette creates a verynatural look. Nothing wrong with that, but I found it practically impossible to make looks that looked much different, or had much drama to them without adding other shadows as well. I’m not sure the ultimate looks created justify spending the hefty price tag. There is just not enough variation and the quality is at best sub-par to just average. However, something about these shades is still just really pretty on the eyes and I personally love how well the matte shades blend (I tend to be insanely light handed when applying everything). I also really, really love the matte rosy-brown shade and almost want to keep the palette just for that shadow. But alas, I probably won’t.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I really don’t think this palette is worth it. It’s beautiful to look at and the shadows are ok, but nothing really special. Five average shadows in rather unremarkable colors are just not worth $58. Don’t get me wrong, I likethe colors and they may not actually be dupable, but the looks you can create are minimal and look minimal on the eyes. Not a great effect for $58. If this were say a $30 palette, I might say that it’s worth a try, but the price you’re paying for what you get just doesn’t seem worth it to me. Maybe a different shade would be better, but after finally seeing them in person, I can’t say that I really like the other shades either, nor am I impressed by the color combinations. Not to mention, the testers looked like had been through battle due to the ultra-soft textures!  As much as I want to love the new Hourglass Modernist Eye Shadow Palettes, I think they’re best to admire for the pretty packaging and leave them on the shelves.

January Favorites for 2015!!! Sibu, frank, Daniel Sandler, Deep Steep, Hourglass, Barielle, Deborah Lippmann Urban Decay

Wow. The first month of 2015 is over! I have a love/hate relationship with January since it really is quite a miserable month, but it also includes my birthday…a day which I increasingly dread as the years fly by! J This month has been full of, well just eventful stuff. Now that it’s over, it is time for another monthly favorites!!! J I have some new near-addictions, as well as a total dud. Have a seat, grab a drink and I hope you enjoy this first of 2015’s Favorites!!!

As I said, my birthday is in January. Because of that, there is no more appropriate favorite than this first one – Happy Birthday Nail Lacquer from Deborah Lippmann! JI have always wanted this wonderfully glittery top coat, but never wanted to spend the money. This year I finally bit the bullet and I’m really glad I did! There are tons of dupes for it, but no one does glitter polish quite like Deborah Lippmann. I’m usually not a huge glitter polish person, especially when the base is clear like this one, but I’ve actually found myself adding this as a topper more often than not. It just looks like a confetti-filled celebration. It’s like fun in a bottle…and speaking of bottle, I should add that I absolutely adore the shape of Deborah Lippmann bottles. They’re actually designed to prevent them from tipping over! Anyway, my nails have been well dressed in pretty multi-colored glitter pretty much all month and I have loved it! J

Sticking with nails, another nail favorite is something I’ve been wearing every single day. It is from Barielleand it is the Clearly Noticeable Nail Thickener. I have mentioned my terrible peeling nails repeatedly and I think I have finally found something that actually does make a lasting difference. This is basically just a clear polish, but somehow it manages to seal down any peeling bits and not only prevents further peeling, but seems to help it disappear. Not sure how it does it, but it seems to be working! I can also easily apply this as a base coat or with color on top and the benefits seem to stay the same – and the polish wears just as well, if not better than with other base coats. If worn alone, my nails actually look healthy even when they are not. I think I’m going to have to buy the Clearly Noticeable Nail Thickener in bulk from now on! J And if you’re wondering where to find it, I get mine from Vitacost (referral link).
Moving right along, I have a new body scrub favorite…make that addiction! It is frank. That’s right, frank. Who, or shall I say what is frank? Well, frank is themost amazing body scrub ever! J I have the Coconut Coffee Scrub and it is basically made using finely ground coffee and oils. You just scrub away in the shower, preferably letting it sit on the skin for about 5 minutes and rinse away. It is kind of messy, but I find by the end of my shower most of the super-fine coffee granules have rinsed down the drain. When I get out of the shower, my skin is so, so soft! I have never felt it this soft before, not even with dry brushing. Even better, it is hydrated from the oils and I think by letting the scrub sit for a bit helps the oils to actually penetrate the skin for the ultimate in softness. I don’t need moisturizer, though I’ve been using one anyway. And if silky skin were not enough, I also feel like frank makes my skin look a bit firmer (who doesn’t want that? J) and just all around healthier. It’s truly amazing stuff.  I intend to write a review on it soon, so I’m not going to write my entire thoughts here, but definitely give frank a try and he’s sure to treat you right!
Typically I’ve been following up a down and dirty scrub from frank with a prior favorite – the Deep Steep Dry Oil Body Spritzer in Brown Sugar Vanilla. I reviewed this a while ago and you can find that review here. It is just so easy to use! My only complaint is that, though the mist is incredible, the bottle doesn’t spray from all angles and sometimes I feel like I’m standing on my head trying to spritz it on my back. But I can forgive that because it smells delicious, absorbs almost instantly, hydrates so beautifully and is just all around amazing. I have definitely become an oil-loving convert over the past year! J Between frank and the Deep Steep Dry Oil Spritzer, my skin is probably softer than the day I was born!!! JI think the two will have to be my Valentine this year. Hehe J
To keep my face clear, soft and clean, I’ve been turning to Sibu Beauty’s Seabuckthorn Balancing Facial Cleanser. I typically don’t feel like face washes make much of a noticeable difference in my skin care routine unless my face has a negative reaction to it. However, the Sibu Cleanser made me feel like there was an actual improvementin the clarity, texture and appearance of my skin almost right away! It is a gentle gel cleanser that works into a creamy lather, but also has some sort of very gentle scrubiness to it. I’m not sure what is in it that feels scrubby, but there’s definitely some kind of gentle grit. It’s always difficult to tell with my acne-prone skin, but I really think this has been keeping most of my acne troubles at bay…of course I have two massive eruptions on my face right now, but generally speaking, my skin has been much clearer and just all around healthier looking since I switched to the Sibu Balancing Facial Cleanser.
Quickly moving on to makeup, my first favorite was in my Annual Favorites, so I’m not going to say much. It is the Arch Brow Sculpting Pencilfrom Hourglass. It is just such a quick and easy way to fill in my brows. I love the color (I use Blonde), the texture and the packaging. The shape of the brow pencil itself is a triangle and, though I have thin and sparse brows, I find this is really convenient to just angle differently for thin or thick lines. Thinner pencils take too much time, while a thicker pencil is not thin enough to get the tail ends of my brows. This pencil can do both and I find it to be just perfect. Well done Hourglass! J
These last two products I haven’t used much because I haven’t had them long, but I already know that I love them! The first is one of the new Sheer Revolution Lipsticks from Urban Decay. I have the color Sheer Rapture and it’s just a perfect everyday my-lips-but-better kind of color. It seems to wear pretty well, especially for a sheer formula, and it is surprisingly comfortable to wear. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original Revolution Lipsticks, but I absolutely love the new Sheer Version!
Finally we have what I guess is a cult classic. It is the Watercolour Blush from Daniel Sandler. Oh. My. God. This stuff is seriously incredible! I have the shade Cherub and I seriously cannot envision ever grabbing for another blush! It is so easy to apply – a dot is plenty. It lasts literally all day and it creates just the perfect sheer wash of color to the cheeks. It reminds me of the effect that the Josie Maran Watercolor Cheek Gelee (reviewed here) provides, but is so much easier to use. I just put a dot on the back of my hand, tap my finger into to it, apply to the cheeks and stipple with a brush for even distribution. I find it incredibly easy and it is so pretty! Can you tell that I find it pretty and easy? I seriously love the Daniel Sandler Watercolour Blush!!! I need them all! J
I feel that I need to address something that was so horrendously awful that I can’t bear to try it out more than once! It’s the new Physician’s Formula Organic Wear BB Mascara in the white tube. I only used it once and would normally give it more of a test, but I can usually tell if a mascara is worth a second chance after one try, plus this was just freakin’ awful. The brush, the formula, the wear, just everything about it. The plastic comb has different length “teeth” on various sides and unless you have it positioned just right, it’s nearly impossible to get on your lashes without smearing it all over your eyelid. It also clumps something awful…and it’s chunky!…plus the more I tried to fix it, the worse it clumped. I tried holding the wand a variety of ways, but nothing worked well and my lashes ended up clumpy no matter what I did. I would have been willing to give it another shot, but it flaked so horribly that I just can’t bear the thought! I veryrarely find mascara to flake or smudge on me, but this stuff left little specks of black all over under my eyes. I may try it once more out of sheer curiosity, but I have absolutely no hope for the Physician’s Formula BB Mascara. Stick to the green tube if you’re looking for a good Physician’s Formula mascara!

Look at the weird gaps between “teeth”. No bueno!
As for the items that I’ve been testing this month (check them out here), I’m still sitting on the fence. I partly feel like I haven’t given them enough of a go, but I also can’t decide on the end results either. I’ll try to keep you posted when I make a decision, but for now, they’re all still in that uncertain “testing” phase. Sounds so scientific, doesn’t it? Trust me; it’s not! J
That’s going to do it for my January Favorites! It’s actually been a pretty good month all around with many changes, but moving in a positive direction. And for me at least, January meant Christmas! How awesome is that! J I hope you all had a wonderful January, though that sounds a bit contradictory since January always tends to be kind of a grey month – both figuratively and literally. Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of my monthly favorites and I hope to have a few more posts throughout February than I did in January! Looking forward to seeing you soon!!! Until then, best wishes and thanks for stopping by. J

Trial & Error: January Cruelty Free Product Testing

I thought I’d do something rather different today and just share with you some of the items that I’ve been trying out, but have yet to form a definite opinion on. There have been so many new releases coming out and some I’ve been so excited to test that, well, I am! J There is so much that I want to try that I almost feel like I’m playing catch up! There are a few things that I have definite opinions on already and I am trying to get them reviewed as well as include them in my January Favorites…hopefully that will happen next week. I also want to apologize for my lack of posts and briefly touch on why. So, let’s take a peek around my testing laboratory, shall we? J

Just a quick primer regarding my infrequent and irregular posts: If you missed my earlier post (you can read it here), the quick summation is that someone very close to me has been through a lot of medical trials and tribulations which has basically taken up most of my time. To add to it, someone else has also fallen ill on and off and I have pretty much just been trying to hold on to some semblance of sanity. Things have been improving since it all began about a week before Thanksgiving, but there’s still a long road ahead. So posts may be quite patchy and not up to the normal standard I would hope to hold myself to. On the upswing, my family finally had a chance to celebrate Christmas together this last week and we all had a really nice time. But let’s get into the actual interesting stuff!

I’m not quite sure how I managed to snag this first item before it sold out later that day on Sephora, but I had heard about the new NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundationand knew I needed to try it. I actually hatedthe Sheer Glow, but this sounded completely different – and it is. My first impression was that it was freakin’ fantastic! I never rely on my initial reaction though and after trying it a few more times, I’m not as convinced that it’s spectacular. It is definitely good, but I’m not sure it’s my new must have foundation. It is definitely weightless, wears incredibly well, looks quite natural with pretty impressive coverage (not sure how that’s possible, but it looks like skin, while having great coverage. Weird!) However, it can be kind of tricky to apply. Fingers are definitely the way to go with this foundation, which is actually my preferred method of application anyway. My main waffle is whether it looks cakey and if it settles into my pores. I can’t decide…so the testing continues! J
Underneath the NARS Foundation I’ve been trying something that I actually had no interest in when I purchased it. That sounds weird, but Wet n Wild has a Prep & Prime Set out right now that I wanted to try for the Primer in the set. Well, I have yet to touch the primer, but surprised myself by grabbing the cream Coverall Correcting Palette. Specifically the green shade. Yup. Green. J Since I always seem to have stubborn redness from prior or current breakouts, I’m always desperate to find a better way to hide it. Layers of concealer are time consuming and can look heavy and often draw even more attention to the problem. I have always known that green concealers are intended to correct such issues, but I have had a definite fear of trying them. For some unknown reason, I just grabbed the pretty colored wheel of thick cream correctors to just see how it went. Well, I’m impressed! Definitely helps disguise the redness quickly and effectively, but since this is my first go with green correctors, I’m hesitant to say that this particular one is worth raving about. That began a quest for other green products to make me look even scarier for a few minutes. J So the testing continues….
Hourglass has released their new Modernist Eye Shadow Palettes, which are just stunning to look at. I watched a rave review from Wayne Goss (check him out if you haven’t already – he knows his sh*t!) and decided I had to try them. It was insanely difficult to pick a color palette, but I finally settled on the Monochrome. It’s really beautiful to look at and the shadows blend like a dream. However, they are really powdery. A lot of product is kicked up from just a subtle touch of the brush. I feel like the shadow itself won’t last very long and the looks this particular palette (and I’m guessing most of them) creates are very natural and almost a no-makeup kind of look. I really like the looks I’ve done and I love the blendability of the shadows, I’m just not sure that the price tag is justified. For $58, I kind of want more. On the fence here.
For lips, I’ve gone back to a product I tried months ago and wasn’t terribly impressed by. I’m not sure why I decided to give it another go, but I did and I’ve been loving it! I’m just not 100% convinced it works better than everything else in this category. I should mention what it is, huh? JIt’s the Paula’s Choice Lip Perfecting Gentle Scrub with Micro-Beads. I feel like it works better than sugar scrubs for exfoliating the lips, and I actually find it kind of grossly satisfying to see the dead skin just flaking right off my lips. It’s working wonders, but I may have managed to over do it one day to the point of having my lips bleed…not good either, but I’m not certain that it was the product’s fault. So still on the fence. Apparently they are trying to reformulate it as well to use jojoba beads instead of polyethylene microbeads because the plastic beads currently used are not good for the environment. Not happy about bad-for-the-environment ingredients, but not convinced that jojoba beads will work as well. So again, we’ll see.

Finally is a skin care product. It is the Moroccan Lava Rose-Vedic Blemish Relief Mask from Shea Terra Organicsthat claims to purify skin, heal acne, regenerate skin to heal blemishes faster and basically just clear up your skin. I’ve only used it 2 or 3 times, but I will say that I feel like it is definitely helping…a lot! I can’t make up my mind on a skincare product so quickly though, so I must keep using it. It also kind of burns a bit as it dries, but it’s not unbearable to me. It is definitely too intense for some, but I swear that the redness from prior breakouts is rapidly diminishing and I don’t really have much in the way of active breakouts right now. Yea for that, but I’m not sure I can completely attribute it to this though. I will gladly continue slapping on this mud-laced concoction until I make up my mind though! J

So there you have a quick round up of some products that I’ve been giving the old college try, as my dad would say. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and how you feel about them…I need to catch up on comments too! So much to do, so little time and energy. Grrrr! Anyway, if you’ve had experience with anything or are currently testing something too, I’d love to hear about it! Also, let me know if you like this kind of post. I’m trying to include more variety on the blog, but struggle for ideas that don’t make me feel like I just ripped the idea off of someone else’s blog. I hope this was enjoyable and helpful in some fashion. Hopefully I will have a few favorites to write about next week and will get it up in time! J Fingers crossed. Until then, thanks so much for stopping by and I hope to see you all again soon!!! J


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