2018 Beauty Let Downs

Friday, December 28, 2018

Before I trot out the products that I loved this year, I thought I'd share the products that let me down.

When Love is Not Enough: Surratt Expressioniste Brow Pomade Review

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

What's the longest you've waited for something to restock? The Surratt Expressioniste Brow Pomade was out of stock at Sephora and other retailers for close to a year. October marked ten months since I had signed up for an email alert for a restock, an alert I never ended up receiving. By some strange chance, I happened to be looking at the listing for the product when it became available again, and I ordered it without much hesitation since I was in the market for a brow styling product.

50 Words or Less: Empties

Friday, December 14, 2018

Some empties that I've finished over the last few months. Some full sized, some samples. Nothing that I want to delve deep into if I can help it.

Pat McGrath Labs: Matte Trance Lipsticks

Saturday, December 8, 2018
I have a new favorite lipstick formula, and the big golden lips give it away rather easily.  After purchasing my first Pat McGrath Labs Matte Trance lipstick in April of this year, I became really enamored with the formulation.

Travel the World: Amalfi Coast, Italy

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

My spouse and I spent ten days in Italy earlier this year, including some time checking off a major bucket list stop - the Amalfi Coast! It was a pretty impromptu trip (four weeks before the new year, I spotted some tickets to Rome for New Year's Eve at just under $240, one way), so I had very little time to put together a real itinerary. 

Tom Ford Cream Color For Eyes in Opale

Monday, November 26, 2018

I've slowly acquired Tom Ford Beauty products over the last year, picking up one or two things at a time. One item I bought back in April during the spring Sephora sale was a cream eyeshadow in the shade Opale. 

Manyo Factory, Revisited

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

About a year and a half ago, I wrote an overview of my favorite skincare brand, Manyo Factory. I thought it’d be fun to revisit the brand and see if my feelings are unchanged. Spoiler alert: still love it to bits. Some of the products have dropped out of rotation (or downgraded to I’ll Buy it On Sale status) while some have been repurchased quite a few times.

Travel the World: A Day in Pisa, Italy

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Earlier this year, we spent one cloudy day in the city of Pisa.

Mask Madness: Manyo Factory Deep Clean D-Toc Mask

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Another installment today of the Mask Madness series! It's been one of the longest running review series on the blog, a lot of masks have come and gone in the last three years.  Today I want to talk about one of my favorite masks that I've used in 2018: the Manyo Factory Deep Clean D-Toc Mask.

Natasha Denona Mini Star Palette

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Natasha Denona keeps dropping all these new quints and palettes, it's good that I'm not trying to keep up because I'd fail miserably at it. Have you seen the new Gold Palette and Cranberry quint? So many new things. Today's Mini Star Palette almost passed under the radar, eclipsed by the other recently released products. I had really wanted the full sized Star Palette and since I liked the Mini Lila a ton, figured the Mini Star might be up my alley. 

Review: Viseart Cool Mattes Palette

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It's a been over a year since that really great Alcone sale where I picked up the Viseart Cool Mattes Palette for $50ish, and while I used this palette that entire time, this palette is not the easiest to blog about.

Let's Talk About Shou Shou Lang [受受狼] Brushes

Saturday, September 1, 2018

I became interested in Shou Shou Lang [受受狼]about five years ago, but aside from the rare YT review, there was very little mention of this brand online either in English or Chinese. Fast forward to last year and I was able to buy SSL brushes while in China. I put off reviewing them for one major reason; they are not super easy to get in the US.

Dr Jart+ Peptidin Serum: Skincare for People Who Don't Like Skincare

Thursday, August 30, 2018

In February of this year, I picked up Dr.Jart+ Peptidin Blue Energy Effect Serum mostly because of the ingredient list. Glancing over the very long list, quite a few ingredients really jumped out at me. In particular, I had been reading about copper peptides and the effect it had on skin health and noted that I had only one other GHK-Cu product - my Manyo Factory Lactobacillus Bifida Mist.

It also contained borage, which produces the blue flowers shown above. Borage is a great source of antioxidants. Full disclosure, the leaf pictured is comfrey not borage, but borage leaves don't lay flat nicely for photos. Whew. I felt like such a phony without disclosing that. 


Aqua, Methylpropanediol, Glycerol 1,2-Hexanediol, Niacinamide, Capric/Caprylic Triglycerides, Polyglycerin-3, Borago Officinalis Extract, Algae Extract, Eclipta Prostrata (False Daisy) Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta (Chinaberry) Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta (Chinaberry) Flower Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Pteris Multifida Extract, Cynara Scolymus (Artichoke) Leaf Extract, Coccinia Indica (Ivy Gourd) Fruit Extract, Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract, Ocimum Sanctum (Tulsi) Leaf Extract, Nymphaea Alba (Water Lily) Flower Extract, Curcuma Longa (Tumeric) Root Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Centaurea Cyanus (Cornflower) Flower Water, Nymphaea caerulea Extract (Egyptian Lotus) Hydrogenated lecithin,Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Lavandula Angustifolia Oil, Cyclohexasiloxane, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate,VP Copolymer, Xantham Gum, Adenosine, Carbomer, Fructo-Oligosaccharides, β-Glucans, Edetate Disodium,Tromethamine, Polyquaternium-5,Butylene Glycol, Inositol, Propanediol, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Dipropylene glycol, Sodium Palmitoyl Proline, Cholesterol,Vitamin B12, Glycine, Dipalmitoyl hydroxyproline, Sodium Cocoyl Alaninate, Acetyl, Glutamine, Serine,Glutamic Acid, Aspartic acid, Leucine, Alanine, L-Lysine, Arginine, Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, Valine, Threonine, Proline, Isoleucine, Histidine, Methionine, Cysteine, Acetyl Hexapeptide-3, GHK-Cu Tripeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3, Hexapeptide-9, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylyl Glycol
I went in and put in parenthesis the layman's term for most plants.

In addition to borage extract, there's niacinamide and algae extract, two ingredients that my skin really likes. The niacinamide brightens and algae is wonderfully moisturizing. Peptidin contains a whole host of plant extracts, most of which I am not very familiar with. I was more interested in the peptides listed at the end, which are known to increase collagen production and improve skin health. With such an extensive list of plant components, I'm surprised that my skin didn't react poorly to this serum. Many of these plants I've never tried before/didn't even know they were utilized in skincare. 

The bottle is a bright royal blue, and one of the sturdiest I've encountered in skincare. It's just so solid. 40mL of product sits inside. The cap has a twist up button/dropper that dispenses the serum, a mechanism that I'm extremely fond of. 

The serum is a translucent, barely blue liquid that is neither sticky nor oily. The scent is faint, lightly herbal/floral selling.  It's pretty moisturizing on its own and I think it's a great candidate for someone who doesn't want to put on very many skincare products. If you already have a pretty well established routine with hydrating steps and skin nourishing ingredients, you're not likely to see much of a difference, in texture or tone. However, if at the end of the day all you want to do is wash your face, dab on a serum and maybe smear on a cream (we'll see) before bed instead of some long winded routine, this is for you. It's a good maintenance serum - if you're not looking to reduce acne, deep spots, wrinkles, etc but just want something hydrating and with components that address anti-aging, this would fit the bill.   

I don't know if I would repurchase this for myself because I'm down for a multi-step skincare routine, but I think this is the sort of thing that I would buy for my mom.

In the US, this is sold as Dr Jart+ Peptidin Firming Serum. It's $48 at Sephora.

This product doesn't seem to be widely released, especially not in the US. A lot of Dr Jart+ stockists don't seem to carry this yet. Your best bet is to buy it from SweetCorea ($21),  Amazon ($32), StyleKorean ($31) or eBay ($27).

Product featured was purchased by me. Post contains affiliate links. For additional information, please refer to my Disclosure Policy. 

A Comparison of Fluffy Round Blending Brushes

Friday, August 24, 2018

I pulled out my tapered fluffy brushes today and was surprised by just how many brushes of this shape I had. They are made from all sorts of different materials, come from different brands. Truthfully, I don't think I need this many brushes of this shape, size, and roundness.

Some Things I Like A Lot

Friday, August 17, 2018

What a long winded way to say "favorites"!

Just a collection of products that I've been using a lot lately.

G9Skin Pink Blur Eye Patches

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Today's review is of patches made by G9 Skin, an offshoot of the Korean brand Berrisom. These Pink Blur Eye Patches boasted eight different berries and are also very sparkly pink.  I bought one tub of eye gels last year and liked them enough to repurchase at the beginning of this year, which I'm just now cracking open.

Travel the World: Hangzhou, China

Sunday, August 12, 2018

We went to China last summer and unfortunately my allergies were pretty severe and kept me from doing very much. One of the things that we did manage was a trip to Hangzhou, a few hours away from coastal Shanghai by train. It's a city famous for its scenery around West Lake, as well as pagodas and temples.

The Ordinary. Serum & Coverage Foundations

Friday, August 10, 2018

I've been sitting on this review of The Ordinary foundations for a while, managed to misplace the photos in the depths of my computer.  I ordered two foundations directly from Deciem at the beginning of the year, before the implosion of weirdness from the individual formerly known as the C.E.O. I still don't know what is going on there. 

Jung Saem Mool Liners: Comparisons

Monday, August 6, 2018

I purchased my first Jung Saem Mool products last year, like the Essential Star-Cealer Foundation (reviewed here). I was so pleased that I bought some more JSM goodies, including two liners. One is from the colorful High Tinted Eye Color Pencil variety, the other is from the Refining Edge Eye Pencil lineup, which features darker, more subdued colors. 

Pat McGrath Labs Dark Star 006 UltraViolet Blue

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Around my birthday, I treated myself to the Pat McGrath Labs Dark Star set that I had been ogling for months. I had spent some time trying to find a dupe for that vivid blurple with no success. The set was on sale, and on top of that there was a 20% off code. So while regularly $130, I snagged the set of seven products for $72 and tax.

Natasha Denona Mini Lila Palette: Swatches & Looks

Thursday, August 2, 2018

I'm a full blown Natasha Denona convert. I don't know how it happened (that's a lie, I kept buying more and more ND, it's not exactly a surprise) but I've ended up with 50 of her shadows, I'm a huge fan of the glittery and metallic shades. Two of the newest releases, Tropic and Mini Sunset had some really mixed reviews, so I skipped those. Since I'm currently crushing on purple, I was really drawn to the Mini Lila Palette and ordered it the day it was released on the Sephora website.

50 Words or Less: This Stuff Has Gotta Go

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

I'm having difficulties coming to grips with how it is already August, I truly never want this summer to end. Today's installment of 50 Words or Less is a collection of products that I need to destash. A lot of these products just broke me out, I get acne very easily from skincare. 

Manyo Factory 2 Week Express Program

Saturday, July 28, 2018

I have no desire to be any whiter (or tanner, it goes both ways) but I did want to tackle some small patches of melasma that were getting rougher, darker, and larger with each passing month. The patches were getting dark enough that I would have to apply concealer in a couple layers over that spot. My paternal grandmother had similar melasma on her cheeks and over her lifetime, they deepened in color and increased in size. To be fair, she was living through a time when SPF didn't have much traction (Cultural Revolution in China, so I mean forget sun care, skincare isn't even a thing), and I'm taking note, hoping to avoid those dark patches when I'm older. MelodyCosme recently had a sale and I purchased the Manyo Factory 2 Week Express Program to take those dark spots head on.

Various Mixing Mediums & Adhesives

Friday, July 27, 2018

A comment on Instagram from @makeup_museum (are you following the beauty community's resident historian? You should be!)  recently had me thinking about the products I use to keep glitter, sparkle, and high shine metallics on my eyelids.

Brush Care - 2018

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

It's been four years (!) since I wrote a post about brush cleaning. Since then, more products have entered the market specifically for brush care, so I thought I'd update the blog.  

Viseart Editorial Brights Palette

Thursday, July 5, 2018

I'm not sure if this is admirable or a little sad, but I'm familiar enough with Sephora's sale game that I often save big hauls for sales and plan out how I'm going to spend the yearly gift card a few months in advance. Last holiday season I had major plans for the GC, I knew by late August that I'd want to use Sephora's GC to purchase another Viseart palette, specifically the 12 pan Editorial Brights.

Inglot AMC Pure Pigment Eye Shadow 120

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Inglot is one of the brands that was so hot just a few years ago, but really faded in online popularity after that. Recently a collaboration with J.Lo has put Inglot back in the limelight, I'm glad because many of their products really are just excellent. I'd like to lump in Inglot AMC Pure Pigment in 120 to that list of stellar products which I purchased up when I stopped at the London Inglot store.  It's duochrome-y goodness in a pot. 

Review: Chanel Rouge Coco Lip Blush in Orange Explosif

Monday, June 18, 2018

Good afternoon!

It's been well over a month since I blogged, things were pretty busy. Then we took a (well deserved, I might add) vacation to unwind a bit and drove all over the Scottish Highlands. Marvelous time, pics to come. On the way home I thought I'd pick up a thing or two duty free while at Heathrow. The Chanel Rouge Coco Lip Blush in Orange Explosif looked so good on Lily that I was immediately drawn to this shade for myself.

A Trio of Pure Heal's Propolis Products

Monday, May 7, 2018

One of my favorite products in skincare is propolis. My skin can get be really reactive and there's a whole host of ingredients that sets it off (snail mucus, fruit enzymes, a lot of sunscreen filters.... the list is quite long) but propolis is one that's always been safe for me. I started using the 90 Ampoule last year, then added in the Cleansing Milk and Softening Toner in January this year. 

Brush Drying Rack Comparisons

Monday, April 23, 2018

You know you have too many brushes when you have not one or two brush drying racks but three, four, and yet you still can't wash all of your brushes in one go. Over the past few years I've accumulated a few styles of brush holders to help me wash my brush hoard and have a clear preference over what I think is the best. 

Review: Viseart Dark Matte Palette

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Last August Emi alerted me that Alcone Company was having an absolutely incredible sale on Viseart 12 pan palettes, pricing them at $52 (and tax free to boot) each instead of their normal $80. No hesitation, I plopped two palettes in my cart. I picked up Dark Matte and Cool Matte, and understandably Dark Matte was on backorder for quite some time. No matter, at that price I can wait patiently for a few extra weeks.

Natasha Denona Eyeshadows: Palettes 4, 8, & 9

Thursday, April 5, 2018

I bought my first Natasha Denona shadows last year, but it's taken me quite some time to review them. At first I thought I'd just review the one palette I had, but it was so good that I bought another one. Then another. It's getting out of hand, so I made myself promise to blog about these before anymore of them landed in my cart.

50 Words or Less: This 'n' That

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Good evening!

Hope you've had a nice relaxing weekend! Today's edition of 50 Words or Less feature five products that aren't bound by a single theme and only loosely related in that they have to do with beauty. They're just five products that are not likely to get an individual post.

Review: Manyo Factory Active Refresh Herb Peeling Gel

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I haven't used a gommage in years. Let's flashback to 2013, when I bought a Koh Gen Do gommage that was so useless that it never even made it to the blog because I was so disappointed. I couldn't even muster up the energy to rant about it, it was such a useless product. Imagine rubbing thick, gel-like water on your face, because that pretty much sums up the experience. This is the kind of letdown that makes me stay away from that product type for years, like when I had a bad experience with a cleansing balm and didn't try another one for half a decade. However, I am an unabashed Manyo Factory junkie, so I couldn't pass up a low priced duo of the Manyo Factory Active Refresh Herb Peeling Gel & Active Refresh Herb Mask (reviewed here).

Travel the World: Zhujiajiao, Shanghai China

Sunday, March 25, 2018

It's been a couple months since a travel post.  (In other words, it's been a few months since I convinced myself to sit my butt down and edit some vacation photos). It feels like just a short while ago when I took these but damn, nine months has flown by in a blink of an eye. Today's post features photos taken in Zhujiajiao, an ancient water town in the Qingpu district of Shanghai. 

Makeup Revolution Reloaded Vitality Palette

Thursday, March 22, 2018
I recently tried out a few palettes from the brand Makeup Revolution, best known for their budget friendly dupes of mid range palettes. One of the ones that I picked up featured a color scheme very similar to Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance with its rose and warm tones.

Sonia G Worker Two and Pencil Two Brushes

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The beauty community's resident brush expert Sonia of Sweet Makeup Temptations launched her own line of brushes a few months ago and last week, released a few more.  The initial offering was tempting but when I saw the new brushes I was absolutely taken with Worker Two and Pencil Two.

Hair Care Routine

Monday, March 5, 2018
I've been cutting back on my skincare purchases lately... or so I thought. In reality, I adjusted to the cutbacks in one area of beauty by augmenting another.  I've been pretty focused on my hair these past few months, so I thought I would write up a post about my hair care routine.

The Big Koyudo Post

Friday, March 2, 2018

I've been looking back at some of my brush purchases of last year and internally went yikes as I realized I had been meaning to post about some of them for over 13 months. I ordered my first Koyudo brushes last year and aside from mentioning some of these in passing on Instagram, I never really posted pictures or raved about the quality of their Kolinsky hair brushes. In the meantime, quite a few of their brushes that were limited edition went out of stock, so I really wanted to write about these as the last few remaining stock starts to dwindle.

Mask Madness, Vol. X: [I'm From] Volcanic Mask

Monday, February 26, 2018

Good morning! Another installment of my mask series. I'm not letting myself buy any new jars of wash off masks until I review them. It's working out pretty well, I only have a few more to go before I'm all caught up. Today's mask is another one I bought from the brand [I'm From] because the Vitamin Tree was such a success that I wanted to try the sister masks. If you recall, the Honey was not a winner in my book (review here), so I was hoping the Volcanic would balance out my dislike and redeem the brand in my eyes.

Tom Ford SS18 Soleil D'Ambre Palette

Friday, February 23, 2018

I was doing so well on my low-buy. So well. I'd manage to go about a month without picking up any more skincare and hadn't really lusted after any new makeup. Then I spied the spring/summer Tom Ford Soleil Palette called Soleil D'Ambre, and I immediately liked it more than the previous year's SS17 Solar Exposure. I managed to stomp all over my low-buy with just this one item. 

Rouge Bunny Rouge Provenance Tales Collector's Coffret

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

You know what makes coming home extra enjoyable? Arriving home to find boxes that are waiting for you. I had an unexpected package over the holidays, I was delighted to unwrap it and find the newest olfactory offering from Rouge Bunny Rouge: a delightful coffret of travel sized Provenance Tales fragrances.

Base Comparisons: Various NC20-25 Foundations & Concealers

Monday, February 19, 2018
 Good morning!

I thought I would post a quick comparison of the current foundations & concealers I have in my stash. I'm in between NC20-25, a very tiny slice of the complexion range, but I hope that seeing the different finishes might be useful to the majority of you who match to a different shade.

Esqido Silhouette Lashes

Sunday, February 18, 2018
Today's post is on a pair of luxury mink lashes from Esqido, courtesy of the brand.  These are style "Silhouette", a sweeping pair of crisscrossed wispy lashes that really elongate the look of your lashes.

Givenchy Le Rouge 305 Rouge Egerie - Lunar New Year Edition

Friday, February 16, 2018

A very happy Lunar New Year to you!

I was immediately taken with this lipstick when I saw the case on an Instagram feed. Look what Givenchy whipped up for Lunar New Year! Alas, I waited too long to order this and it was sold out in many places. Usually I phone counters in NYC so I gave that a go, but no luck.

Guerlain Terracotta Gold Light Bronzer (Holiday 2017)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

An alternate title to this post could be: "In the Defense of a Poorly Reviewed 'Bronzer'".

I've had the Guerlain Terracotta Gold Bronzer from the 2017 Holiday collection for over ten weeks. It was in my Sephora sale order in November. I didn't get a chance to review it before the festivities but I felt like I should even if it's rather late because there aren't many positive reviews out there. Quite the opposite. People HATE this bronzer. Is that click baity enough for you?

Review: Milk + Blush Extensions

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Have you ever had a haircut go horribly wrong? It's not the end of the world, but in the case where a hairstylist lops off more of your locks than you anticipated, it can feel incredibly crummy. A year ago my steady hairstylist of 3+ years cut closer to four inches when I asked for just one inch off, to say I was upset is a bit of an understatement. That stylist and I, well we broke up and I spent that night looking online for hair extensions. I wish I had found the Milk + Blush website!

A few months ago a representative of Milk + Blush got in touch with me and after browsing the website, I was convinced that these were the extensions that would have suited me best. I truly had been considering purchasing extensions before I was approached, to have a thick head of hair. 

Laura Mercier Velour Extreme Lipstick in Queen

Monday, January 22, 2018

I was recently sent two Laura Mercier Velour Extreme Lipsticks from Influencer, complimentary. I was pretty excited as matte is without a doubt my favorite finish for lipsticks, despite how dry my lips are. The two colors that I ended up with were Queen and Rampage.