Photo of my February Glam Bag

ipsy Glam Bag Review: February 2018

Hey, y’all!

Another month, another Glam Bag! I was a lot happier with this bag than last month’s. The dusty pink with the black lace is super cute, and I got products I liked better. Wanna see what I got? Check ’em out!

Electra Baked Highlighter

from Luna by Luna

Photo of Electra Baked Highlighter
$23 for .1 oz.; Luna by Luna

This baked highlighter is absolutely gorgeous. The color is really flattering, and it’s not super glittery. I like that it can be a subtle shimmer for every day use, or I can build it up for a more dramatic evening look. It applies beautifully and stays throughout the day. Highlighter is one of my favorite parts of my makeup routine, and this one is a fabulous addition to my collection!

My rating: 5/5

Beach Crystals Palette

from Pacifica Beauty

Photo of Pacifica Beauty "Beach Crystals" Palette
left to right: Faceted, Spaced Out, Prism, Raw Power, and Mars

This mini palette is a sample of their Crystal Matrix palette, which contains a total of 10 shades. I’d never tried this brand before, but so far I’m pretty impressed with their eyeshadows. They’re 100% vegan and cruelty free, the pigmentation is gorgeous, I didn’t experience any fallout, and they blend really nicely (the coconut water infusion probably helps with that). The full-size palette runs for $18, so it’s a very reasonable price point. I’d definitely be curious to try more of their eyeshadows; the only reason I didn’t give it 5/5 is because I’m going through more of a matte eyeshadow phase right now, especially for work.

My rating: 4/5

Perfecting Primer Facial Mask

from Biobelle

Photo of #Primer Tencel Mask from Biobelle Cosmetics
$4.99 ea.; Biobelle

I gave this an honest shot, but I’ll admit I went into it pretty skeptical. Sheet masks aren’t my favorite because they feel like more work than clay or peel masks and because they’re kind of pricey. I may not have followed the instructions 100% as intended because I did my normal morning skincare routine, waited about an hour, and then applied the mask. When I took the mask out, it smelled good without being overpowering, but I would have preferred the smell of tea tree oil, since it’s listed as an ingredient. I thought the hearts on the sides were super cute, but it’s still not something I would be inclined to purchase myself. It left my skin feeling nice and refreshed, which is why I gave it a 2 instead of a 1, but it didn’t do much to help my makeup last or to control the oil in my T-Zone. For $5 a-piece, I’ll stick with my Laura Geller Spackle primer that has SPF 30 in it (although when that runs out, I’ll be switching over to NARS Cosmetics Smooth & Protect Primer with SPF 50.)

My rating: 2/5

“Bye Bye Under Eye” Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer in “Light”

from IT Cosmetics

Photo of Bye Bye Under Eye in "Light" from It Cosmetics
$24 for .28 fl. oz.; IT Cosmetics

I love IT Cosmetics; they make some really great products that make my skin look flawless–this isn’t one of them. First off, yes, this stuff is waterproof and full coverage, but it’s so ridiculously thick that it’s difficult to blend. I would equate the consistency to wet house paint, and it seemed like the way to “blend” it was to let my beauty sponge take a good bit of it off of my face. I also didn’t find the “no creasing” claim to be true–it settled into the little creases under my eyes even after setting it with powder. I remembered after the first time I tried it out that my sister-in-law had warned me about how thick it is when we were at Ulta together a couple of weeks ago. She loves IT Cosmetics, too, but she’s not a fan of this, either. The ingredient list includes several things that are great for your skin: peptides, antioxidants, collagen, hyaluronic acid, etc., but I’ll stick with my Tarte Shape Tape, thanks.

My rating: 1/5

Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in “ipsy Unzipped”

from OFRA Cosmetics

Photo of Ofra Cosmetics Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in "ipsy Unzipped"

As I’ve mentioned before, I prefer liquid lipstick over traditional, and I like it matte. Sometimes it can be hard to find a good formula, and even when you do, you can’t always find that perfect shade that you’re looking for. I’m definitely adding this OFRA formula to the “winner” list. It’s comfortable, doesn’t dry out my lips, and lasts all day; this color that was created for ipsy is perfect for daytime wear. Since the color is an ipsy exclusive, you can’t buy it anywhere, but OFRA has so many to choose from on its website! It runs $20 for 6g of product, so pretty comparable to the price points of Tarte, Too Faced, Anastasia Beverly Hills, etc. I wish OFRA was sold in brick and mortar stores; some reviews on the website say that the colors shown are not true to life, so I wish I could test them out myself. I think I’ll be seeing more OFRA liquid lipsticks in my future…

My rating: 5/5


This month’s Glam Bag had an average rating of 3.4, which is an improvement over last month. I did notice, though, that there weren’t any products that I was indifferent about; I either loved them or I hated them, for better or worse. I also enjoyed the fact that the highlighter, the lipstick, and the cool shades of the Pacifica palette all worked well together to form a cohesive look.

Are you a member of a subscription service? What fun things did you receive this month? Leave a comment to let me know!

Have a good rest of the week; we’re halfway through!

 

Love,

Sarah xoxo

Spoil Me Sunday: Fly Me to the Moon

Hey, y’all!

Spoiler Alert: this post has absolutely nothing to do with beauty or skincare products. This Spoil Me Sunday is special because it’s my husband’s and my first wedding anniversary. After booking our (belated) honeymoon in Ireland, watching one of my best friends marry the man of her dreams last weekend, and spending a long weekend with mine, I’m brimming with love, happiness, and excitement. Frank Sinatra’s version of “Fly Me to the Moon” was our first dance at our wedding reception; it’s been stuck in my head most of the day, and it always puts a big smile on my face. I didn’t need to do any special beauty regimen this weekend because as Audrey Hepburn once said, “I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls,” and our mini getaway this weekend made me really happy.

Friday

I’ll start this off with saying that as my anniversary gift, Jeff planned this entire weekend without any assistance from me, and as a bonus he did the driving. Perfect! We kicked off our long anniversary weekend with lunch at Fogo de Chão (thanks for the gift card, Aunt Cathy & Uncle Jodie!) It was delicious, as always, and met my meat quota for like a week haha.

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After lunch, we drove down to St. Petersburg and checked into the Cordova Inn, which is an adorable boutique hotel originally built in 1921. The location in downtown St. Petersburg was perfect: it was within walking distance of countless restaurants, shops, museums, and points of interest. I’d definitely recommend staying here, and it has a pretty interesting history, if you want to check it out on their website.

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All the museums and such in St. Pete seem to close at 5, so there wasn’t a whole lot for us to do once we got settled in, but we walked around to scope things out, grabbed a small bite to eat, and came across a taproom that was right next to our hotel, called Pour Taproom. They started in Asheville, NC, and they’ve expanded to a handful of locations on the east coast and one in California. The setup is really cool: when you open your tab, you get a rubber wristband that has some sort of electronic component to it (I assume RFID). They have 85 different beers, ciders, & wines to choose from, and you just tap your wristband on the screen of the beverage you want to try, serve yourself as much or as little as you want, and you get charged by the ounce. At the end, you just turn in your wristband to close you your tab. It’s a great way to sample several different beverages without having to commit to a whole drink and rack up an enormous tab. It’s definitely beer-centered, but maybe the cider and wine selections will grow eventually (I hope!) Jeff was totally stoked that he could drink Belgians for around $.75/oz. We drank outside so that Jeff could vape, but I noticed they had all kinds of board games and card games you could play inside.

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Saturday

We slept in a bit, took our time getting ready, and made our way over to the Iberian Rooster for brunch. We had picked up one of those tourist maps in our hotel lobby, and Iberian Rooster had an ad boasting bottomless mimosas and brunch Saturday and Sunday until 3pm–we were sold! We got even more excited when we arrived and discovered that there were 10 different flavors of mimosas to choose from: classic, Bellini, Creme de Peche, Batida de Coco, Frambois, Creme de Mure (my favorite), Pamplemousse Rose, Cedilla Açai (my second favorite), Tipplers Orange, and Banane du Brasil. It’s a family-owned Portuguese Fusion restaurant and speakeasy near the Central Arts District. Everything we tried was delicious, and considering we didn’t even get to try their lunch or late-night menus, we definitely plan on going back next time we’re in St. Pete. PS: If you go for brunch, don’t skip on the cheese grits–they’re fantastic!

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After brunch, we made our way over to the Morean Arts Center’s Glass Studio & Hot Shop. We arrived just in time to watch a glass-blowing demonstration, which was absolutely mesmerizing. Seeing the demonstration before going to the Chihuly exhibit helps you further appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship required to make these glass masterpieces. The Chihuly Collection was just a short walk away, and it certainly didn’t disappoint! The variety of colors and textures, as well as just the sheer magnitude of some of the pieces was absolutely breathtaking. I found it interesting that the building was designed specifically for this collection, so the architecture and the art work very harmoniously together. This collection is definitely an experience you don’t want to miss when visiting St. Pete.

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After leaving the gallery, we walked over to South Straub Park to check out the 5th annual St. Petersburg Fine Art Festival that happened to be going on this weekend. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it over there until around 4:30, and they closed at 5. So we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our evening plans: dinner at Sushi, Inc. (I was craving seaweed salad!) and a show at the Palladium Theatre. We enjoyed one of the performances of the 10th annual St. Petersburg Jazz Festival, featuring the Helios Jazz Orchestra and vocals by Whitney James & Chuck Wansley. The music selection had a Big Band vibe, which Jeff and I both really enjoyed.

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We finished off the evening with some rolled ice cream from Dot Ice and another stop at Pour. I had seen rolled ice cream online before, but I’d never had an opportunity to try it.  I got the “S’mores Galore” flavor, so they started out by chopping up a graham cracker on the flat pan, which is kept at -17°F. Then they pour sweet cream on the pan, mix it all together, and spread it very neatly and evenly until it freezes to the point where they can roll it up and put it in a cup. My anal retentive soul found it very gratifying to watch. 🙂

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Sunday

After checking out of the hotel, we went to a 24/7 diner next door to Pour, called 2nd & Second. Oh my goodness, they had so many things we wanted to try, but I went with a “Grilled Cheese Your Way” (sourdough, cheddar, tomatoes, grilled onions, and mushrooms.) This is yet another place we plan on going back to next time we’re in town because there were just too many choices!

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After fending off the hangriness, we finally made our way over to the Salvador Dalí Museum. We had to rush through a little more than we would have liked because we needed to start heading home, but we enjoyed what we did see, both the exhibits and the gardens.


Now it’s back to real life: meal prepping, laundry, preparing for work tomorrow, etc. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past year, though, it’s that if you choose the right partner, even “real life” is pretty great. I might be a little biased, but I think I married the most wonderful man in the world, and you’d have a hard time convincing me otherwise.

Wedding Day

St. Petersburg might only be 2 hours away from home, but since we both left our work cell phones at home, we got to disconnect from our everyday life for a couple of days and explore a new place together. I’m looking forward to the next 70+ years of exploring this big world hand in hand.


I hope you had a great weekend, too! Have you ever been to St. Petersburg? What looks the most interesting to you?

 

Love,

Sarah xoxo

 

Spoil Me Sunday: Paint It Black

Hey, y’all!

Ok, so this week’s Spoil Me Sunday actually happened on Saturday because one of my best friends is getting married on Sunday. Since it’s in preparation for Sunday, I think it still counts. 🙂 Between sleep deprivation, traveling, and hormones, my skin is NOT happy, and in anticipation of all the photos that will be taken this weekend, I attempted to appease it…

Blaq Mask Tube

from Blaq

Photo of Blaq Mask Tube
60 ml for $29; Blaq

I brought this mask from home, just in case. I got it as a sample in my ipsy bag a few months ago, and I always love a good peel mask. Removing them is so gratifying, and the fact that this one has bamboo charcoal as an active ingredient makes it even better! The Blaq Mask has a bit thinner consistency than your typical gel peel mask, and it dries down completely (no stickiness). I just tend to use it on my nose area, and I can totally feel a difference afterwards: my nose feels smoother and so clean! The ingredients say it has fragrance in it, but I hardly notice it, which I’m not complaining about at all. If you have sensitive skin, you should definitely do a patch test before applying to your entire T-Zone. I might buy the full size at some point, but I have some other masks to test first.

Polishing Charcoal + Black Sugar Gel Mask + Scrub

from Freeman Beauty

Photo of Polishing Charcoal + Black Sugar Gel Mask + Scrub from Freeman Beauty
.5 fl. oz. for $4.29; Ulta

The wedding this weekend is in Austin, so in my hurry to pack Wednesday night before flying out Thursday, I forgot a few things, including my lip primer and my lip liner for the wedding. This meant a trip to Ulta yesterday to get replacements. While I was there, I decided to pick up some kind of clarifying mask to fight this breakout on my cheeks and jawline. I came across this one, and it looked interesting. You apply it to damp skin, let it sit for 5-7 minutes, then scrub and rinse. It’s suitable for all skin types, and while it also has fragrance listed in the ingredients, it’s very subtle like the last one. My skin felt so clean and exfoliated afterwards! It also didn’t dry out my skin, which is always a risk on my cheeks. Since that’s where I’m breaking out, I was grateful for the moisturizing factor. I have a ridiculous number of masks to get through at this point, but I’d consider buying the full size of this later on down the road.

The next morning, my skin looked clearer and felt so much smoother. The blemishes are still healing, but they’re at least flat now, so my foundation can cover them. This “Best Woman” is ready for photos!


What are some of your can’t-live-without items that you pack when traveling? How do you keep your skin happy when you’re on the go?

Have a great week!

Love,

Sarah xoxo

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…

Hey, y’all!

Everyone that uses makeup and beauty products has their favorite brushes, sponges, etc. I’ve got some other tools I can’t live without, and what’s even better is that each one costs less than $15! Forget raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. These are a few of my favorite things. Check ’em out…

OFRA Pro Mixing Palette

from OFRA Cosmetics

Photo of OFRA Cosmetics Pro Mixing Palette
$10; OFRA Cosmetics

This little guy is handy on multiple levels. First of all, it’s perfect for mixing liquid products (as the name suggests), whether that’s mixing colors, or adding liquid highlighter drops. Secondly, I like the fact that it means I don’t have to put product on the back of my hand to pick it up with my brush. I waste less product, and it means less mess. It’s a little under 4″ across at the widest point, but it’s still big enough for me to put my POREfessional Face Primer, my foundation, and my liquid under-eye concealer on the palette all at once without having to clean it off in between. Afterwards, I’ll just wipe it off with a clean washcloth, and about once a week I’ll clean it with rubbing alcohol. You can also purchase it as a set with the OFRA Pro Flat Mixing Spatula for $19 (otherwise they’re each $10), but I just bought the palette because I already had…

Multicolored Depotting Spatula

from Z Palette

Photo of Multicolored Depotting Makeup Spatula from Z Palette
$12; Z Palette

This spatula is great because of the fact that it’s dual-ended. The pointier end is perfect for removing pans from their palettes during the depotting process. The flat end is perfect for mixing liquids, creams, loose powders, or glitters. It’s also great for smoothing out a shattered palette when you’re bringing it back to life. The flat end looks identical to the OFRA spatula, but you get the bonus pointy end, too. From end to end, it measures 6.813″, so it’s a comfortable length. You can get it in black, as well, but I liked the multicolored one, and it’s harder to lose amongst my other black, pink, and silver brushes and tools.

Mascara & Shadow Shield

from e.l.f. Cosmetics

Photo of Mascara & Shadow Shield from e.l.f. Cosmetics
$3; e.l.f. Cosmetics

The end of shadow fallout and mascara smudges is here! The silicone shield is very flexible to conform to the contours of your eye area. I had to cut mine down at the inner corner because it was extending upwards past the corner of my eye. I just held it up to my eye, carefully marked it with a fine-tipped Sharpie, and then it was super easy to cut. The handle is 4.75″ long, and I’ll usually clean the whole thing with rubbing alcohol. I’ll especially focus on the silicone part to get off any remaining eyeshadow particles (I don’t use mascara 99.999% of the time.)

Skin Clearing Tool

from Ulta Beauty

Photo of Skin Clearing Tool from Ulta Beauty
$10; Ulta Beauty

I used to have a different kind of tool meant for the same purpose, but it was too short (3.313″ end to end), and the holes were too small to be very useful (about .094″ and .063″). This one, on the other hand, is great. From end to end, it measures 5.875″, so there’s plenty of gripping space to use it comfortably. The smaller end has a diameter of about .094″, and the larger end has a diameter of about .125″. The larger holes make the tool more effective and easier to clean.

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The larger end (for whiteheads) has a diameter of about .125″, so it’s great for extracting larger blemishes to make sure you’re getting everything out.
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The smaller end (for blackheads) has a diameter of about .094″, which makes it easier to use it on smaller contours, like the sides of your nose.

Both ends are angled, which makes it easier to use comfortably. It’s important to clean your skin and the tool with rubbing alcohol before and after each use to prevent the spread of bacteria.


What are some of your favorite beauty tools? Tell me all about ’em!

Love,

Sarah xoxo

Spoil Me Sunday: Calm Down

Hey, y’all!

This week past week was a blur, and the upcoming week is going to be even blurrier. My skin is definitely reflecting the stress coming from all the running about. For this week’s Spoil Me Sunday, I wanted to focus on cleansing and calming my skin to help combat the breakouts I’ve been dealing with. Let’s get to it!

Mint Julep Masque

from Queen Helene

Photo of Mint Julep Masque from Queen Helene
8 oz. from $5.99; Amazon.com

I’ve been using this one for years, and I keep coming back to it again and again. It helps to dry out pimples, clear out blackheads, and reduce the appearance of pores. Sometimes I’ll do a spot application to wherever I’m breaking out, and other times I’ll just apply it to my whole T-Zone, depending on what my skin needs. I love the smell of mint, and I really enjoy the cooling sensation on my skin, but I wish they would have left the added fragrance and artificial coloring out. I would still recommend this for when you’re breaking out or your pores are feeling clogged, though.

 

Dead Sea Minerals Anti-Stress Mask

from Freeman Beauty

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6 oz. for $4.99; Ulta

I’ve been using this one off an on for a while, too. It also helps to clear out pores, but the lavender oil and bergamot oil soothe the skin, as well. Unfortunately, this mask is also guilty of containing fragrance and artificial coloring. According to the company’s website, however, they pride themselves on being “free of harsh chemicals,” so take that for what it’s worth (at least they’re cruelty-free!)

Fragrance and coloring aside, my skin feels softer and happier after using this mask, so I keep using it. My body needs all the help with stress that it can get! Now to work on that whole “getting enough sleep” thing…


Are there products you like to use to calm yourself (and your skin) and de-stress? I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment below.

Have a great week!

Love,

Sarah

Spoil Me Sunday: What the Heck is in This??

Hey y’all!

I wasn’t feeling up to a super involved Spoil Me Sunday this week. I’ve been really busy, so what my body needed this week instead of a lengthy spa day was a good workout and then a chance to veg and recharge. (This blog is called Balanced Life Beauty, after all!) Last week, my skin was looking fantastic, and this week I’m breaking out all over the place (hooray for hormones!), so I used a couple of clay masks to detoxify, unclog, and soothe my skin. Sorry for not including pictures this week–these were samples I had received from Ulta, and I had used them before, so the top part of the packets had already been cut off.

Pure-Clay Masks

from L’Oréal Paris

Both of the masks I used were from this line. The first one was the Detox & Brighten Charcoal Clay Face Mask ($12.99 from L’Oréal Paris). It was definitely the heavier of the two and dried down more than the other one. It felt like your typical yawn-and-your-face-cracks type of clay mask. My skin did feel cleaner afterwards, but I didn’t notice any significant increase in brightness.

The second one I used was the Exfoliate & Refining Pure-Clay Red Algae Face Mask ($12.99 from L’Oréal Paris). This one felt lighter on my skin, and I’m hoping it will help clear out my pores to get rid of this breakout. It never completely dried down, so it didn’t crack when I moved my face; I almost forgot that I had it on. This mask was also noticeably easier to remove. (Side commentary: the red color reminded me of that episode from BBC’s Planet Earth where the elephants were covering themselves in red clay to cool down. My husband cracked up when I pointed that out.)

My main issue with these masks and the reason I don’t plan to purchase the full-size versions is what’s in them: propylene glycol (can cause skin irritation), perlite polysorbate 20 (can be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane), triethanolamine (can be contaminated with carcinogenic nitrosamines), phenoxyethanol (can cause skin irritation), and parfum/fragrance, among other things. The fragrance is what got me looking at the ingredients list in the first place because the scent was so strong. I prefer my skincare products to be unscented because sometimes my skin doesn’t react well to it, and oftentimes it just smells too strongly for my personal taste anyway. These definitely smelled way too strong for me. I’m going to be looking a lot more closely at ingredients lists to see what else is hiding in my skincare products. I had been thinking of writing a series of posts to act as a sort of glossary of ingredients in beauty products (what they are, what they’re for, etc.) but I’m not sure how I want to format that yet.


I’m hoping that some R&R today will give me the energy I need for the week ahead. I need to work on getting more sleep during the week. How do you like to recharge? Leave a comment below!

Have a great week!

–Sarah xoxo