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.

DSC00970
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.
DSC00972
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

DSC00959
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’OrĂ©al 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’OrĂ©al 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’OrĂ©al 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

ipsy Glam Bag Review: January

Hey, y’all!

First ipsy Glam Bag of 2018! This month was a pretty balanced combination of skincare, makeup, and nails, and the bag was cute–I’ve been using it in my gym bag ever since I got it. Let’s get to it!

Charcoal Wash-Off Mask

from Global Beauty Care

Photo of Global Beauty Care Charcoal Wash-Off Mask
$9.99 for 5 oz.; globalbeautycare.com

This was basically your typical charcoal mud mask. Charcoal is about halfway down the ingredient list, so I’m not sure how much there actually is in there. I didn’t notice much of a difference in my skin after using this, but at least it didn’t dry my skin out. I’m mildly obsessed with cleaning out my pores, but compared to other charcoal products I own, this one didn’t really do the trick. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad, it was just…there.

My Rating: 3/5

Liquid Matte Long-Wear Liquid Lipstick in “Raisin Flesh”

from So Susan Cosmetics

Photo of So Susan Liquid Matte Lipstick in Raisin Flesh
$14 for .17 fl. oz.; sosusan.com

I prefer liquid lipstick over regular because it doesn’t end up on my teeth and it (generally) lasts longer. I was excited to try this brand for the first time, and I really, really wanted to like this… No dice.

The color is nice, perfect for work, but this stuff is so. effing. sticky. It was to the point of being distracting. I tried it once with lip primer and once without–no difference whatsoever. Even putting a thin layer of Posie Tint over it didn’t help. I found myself licking my lips repeatedly to try to combat the stickiness, but it didn’t stop until it had mostly worn off. On top of that, it feathered; it wasn’t the long wear I was expecting. The color was basically the only thing I liked about it because it could work in any season, so unfortunately, this one is a no-go.

My Rating: 1/5

Fierce Flicks Precision Tip Liquid Liner

from Ciaté London

Photo of Ciate London Fierce Flicks Precision Tip Liquid Liner
$19 for .05 fl. oz.; ciatelondon.com

I had gotten a different CiatĂ© London liquid liner in my ipsy bag last summer and wasn’t super impressed, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one. I was very pleasantly surprised! It’s a good formula in classic black with a nice matte finish, but the best part is its staying power! Once it dries, it doesn’t budge. Period. In fact, when I take my makeup off in the evening, I use a cleansing oil and then wash my face. When I get out of the shower, I still have to use makeup remover to get the last of the product off my eyelids! Honestly, the only factor preventing this from being my eyeliner holy grail is that it’s a felt tip liquid eyeliner instead of a brush applicator, but that’s just personal preference.

My Rating: 5/5

Mary-Lou Manizer Highlighter, Shadow, & Shimmer

from theBalm Cosmetics

Photo of theBalm Cosmetics Mary-Lou Manizer Highlighter, Shadow & Shimmer
$24 for .3oz; thebalm.com

I love a good luminizer, and I love the versatility this one has because you can use it as a highlighter or an eyeshadow. The color is pretty universally flattering, and it’s subtle enough for everyday use. I wish the sample was a little bigger so I could use my larger highlighting brush, but maybe I’ll get the full size at some point. I just have so many different highlighters to go through as it is.

My Rating: 4/5

Nail Polish in “Johnny’s Angels”

from Pretty Woman NYC

Photo of Pretty Woman NYC Nail Polish in Johnny's Angels
$7.99 for .3 fl. oz.; prettywomannyc.com

This is the second Pretty Woman nail polish I’ve gotten from ipsy (the first one was “Girl Boss.”) I tried this one on my toes, and it took me three coats to get the opacity I wanted. Within 2 days, my toes were chipping really badly (this polish was no match for Pole class.) I don’t remember “Girl Boss” chipping this quickly on my toes (it did on my fingers), but maybe it just wasn’t as noticeable. This color would be really cute for spring, but it doesn’t hold up well enough for me to want to buy other colors. So far, I’m sticking with Trust Fund Beauty.

My Rating: 2/5


Overall, this wasn’t my strongest Glam Bag (average rating of 3), but some things worked out well. We’ll see what February brings. What did you love in your ipsy Glam Bag this month? Do you use a different subscription service? Leave a comment!

Happy Hump Day!

–Sarah xoxo

Spoil Me Sunday: Spice It Up

Hey y’all!

For this week’s Spoil Me Sunday, there ended up being an unintentional theme: spices! I’m absolutely in love with these products, so let’s jump right in:

ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment from Kate Somerville

Photo of ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
$75 for 1.7 fl. oz.; katesomerville.com or $85 for 2 fl. oz.; Sephora

Full disclosure: I didn’t buy this. My friend Jessi gave it to me because she had received it (I think in a subscription box) and wasn’t going to get around to using it. Boy, did I luck out! This stuff is incredible. I didn’t want to like it because of the price tag, but I couldn’t help it. Per the suggestion on the insert that came in the box, I used it in the shower so my pores would be more open. It’s green, which I wasn’t expecting, but the smell is what really caught me off-guard. It contains both Cinnamal and Cinnamomum Cassia Leaf Oil, so it smells very strongly of cinnamon, which is one of my favorite spices. It was like someone had turned Big Red chewing gum or Hot Tamales candies into a skincare product, and I was putting it all over my face. 🙂 Anyway, you just spread a thin layer on your face in a circular motion, let it sit for up to 2 minutes, and then rinse off. Skin tingling and some minor flushing is normal (mine definitely tingled, but since I was in the shower, I can’t tell  you if it flushed.)

Some of the active ingredients:

  • Lactic Acid: “chemically” exfoliates your skin
  • Silica: physically exfoliates your skin
  • Fruit enzymes: enhance exfoliation
  • Salicylic Acid: dissolves debris that clogs pores
  • Aloe Vera & Honey: soothe and condition skin
  • Vitamins A, C, & E: antioxidants
  • Soy-Lipid: repairs your skin’s natural barrier

 

My skin looked brighter and felt softer and smoother after just one use. You should only use it twice a week max, so this tube will hopefully last me a while. Will I repurchase? I would seriously consider making this a regular skincare splurge. I look at skincare as an investment (and hopefully a way to avoid the temptation of plastic surgery later on), so I’m not ruling this one out.

Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask from Andalou Naturals

Photo of Anadalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask
$14.95 for 1.7 fl. oz.; andalounaturals.com

I’ve used this one before, and I’ve loved it since Day 1. I bought it back in the fall, and it was perfect for the season. Between the pumpkin purĂ©e, the clove flower extract, the nutmeg kernel powder, and the cinnamon bark extract, it smells like autumn in a jar. That means that basically I can enjoy a little piece of autumn year-round, which is heavenly! It has some ingredient overlap with the ExfoliKate, but some different ones, as well.

Some of the active ingredients:

 

  • Pumpkin purĂ©e: good for your skin in multiple ways
    • Fruit enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) that smooth and brighten your skin.
    • Vitamins A & C that soothe skin and boost collagen production
    • Small molecular structure, so it can penetrate deeper into the skin for greater effectiveness
  • Aloe Leaf Juice & Honey: soothe & condition skin
  • Glycol Acid: another AHA that chemically exfoliates the skin
  • Fruit Stem Cells: anti-aging properties
  • Fruit Extracts: brighten your skin thanks to the naturally occurring AHAs

 

Applying this makes me think of putting a thinner-consistency pumpkin pie filling on my face, which is funny to imagine. You just apply, leave it on for 10-20 minutes, then rinse off. I like to use it every few weeks or so, just because I have so many masks in rotation. This one won’t be leaving the rotation any time soon!

It’s important to note that while you should wear sunscreen every single day, it’s especially important when using products that contain AHAs because your skin is more sensitive to sun exposure. If you don’t wear sunscreen regularly, you’re just going to undo all of the anti-aging work you’ve put in!

Rose Gel Restore Mask from Trader Joe’s

I talked about this mask here, so I won’t go into it again, but it was a nice way to soothe my skin after the more intensive products that preceded it.


What are some of your favorite beauty products that contain food ingredients? Share in a comment below!

I hope you have a fabulous week!

–Sarah xoxo

Brushing Up on Beauty Hygiene

Hey, y’all!

Truth time: when was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes, like REALLY cleaned them? If you can’t remember, it’s time to build the habit. No matter how expensive your makeup brushes are, they’re only going to perform well if they get cleaned regularly. I wasn’t always great about this, but I’ve improved over the years. A daily brush cleaner is always good to remove product residue before it sets in and to remove bacteria. You’re not going to get your brushes truly clean without actually washing them, though. On average, you can get away with deep cleaning once every 2 weeks or so, but you may need to do it more frequently, depending on the type of makeup you’re using and how heavily you’re using your brushes.

Daily Cleaning

Photo of Makeup Brush Cleanser in Citrus Scent from Japonesque
$14 for 4.25 fl. oz.;  Ulta

I like Japonesque’s Makeup Brush Cleanser in Citrus Scent because it cleans effectively and the scent goes well with the Tea Tree Oil I use during deep cleaning, which I’ll get to in a sec. I tried the Rosewater Scent Brush Cleanser first, but the smell was incredibly overpowering, even for someone who usually likes rose-scented things. I also like that they sell a 16 oz. refill bottle in the Citrus Scent that comes out cheaper in the long run. The only downside to this product for me is that it leaves an oily residue on hard surfaces (including the floor) if I’m not careful, but my brushes are getting conditioned, so I won’t complain too much.

Deep Cleaning

I typically deep clean my brushes every two weeks. If I go any longer than that, I start to notice that they feel different and don’t perform optimally. I used to clean them with makeup brush shampoo and my fingers, but then a few months ago, I picked up this little beauty:

Makeup Brush Cleansing Palette

from Real Techniques

Photo of Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette
$15; realtechniques.com

It has a handle on the back so you can slip it onto your hand, but I prefer to just set it on the bathroom counter next to the sink. It has three different sections to it with different surfaces: large bumps on one end for cleaning larger brushes, a diamond pattern in the middle for cleaning medium-sized brushes, and tiny bumps on the other end for cleaning small brushes.

Using this for the first time made me realize how NOT clean my brushes really were, which was kind of gross to think about. When I just used my fingers, the water would normally run clear after 2 or 3 rounds of swirling my most heavily used brushes on my hand and working the bristles between my fingers. With this palette, I was washing some brushes 4 or 5 times, and the water still wasn’t running clear.

One thing I really like about Real Techniques is that they offer free online video tutorials for every one of their products. I watched the one for this and took note of some of their tips for getting your brushes clean without damaging the ferrule or causing the bristles to shed. (You don’t want to get water–or soap–into the ferrule because it can start to break down the glue that holds the bristles in place.) I can’t imagine considering my brushes clean without this thing. To be fair, there are tons of other brush cleansing palettes and mats on the market like this, this, and these, but I chose this one for the size, the convenience of being able to buy it at my local Ulta, and the confidence I have in the Real Techniques brand. Bonus: it’s top rack dishwasher-safe, if you feel like it needs a deep cleaning of its own!

Baby Shampoo

from Up & Up

Photo of Up & Up Baby Shampoo
$2.39; Target

When I bought the cleansing palette, it came with two sample packets of Real Techniques’ Brush Cleansing Gel. I had some Brush Shampoo from Sephora to use up first, but when I did try the Cleansing Gel, it didn’t rock my world or anything. After reading various articles, I kept seeing over and over that several professional makeup artists use baby shampoo to clean their brushes, which is much cheaper than fancy brush cleansers or shampoos. I picked up some of Target’s store brand, which they compare to Johnson’s brand baby shampoo (20 fl. oz. for less than $3!) It gets the brushes clean, is gentle yet effective, and doesn’t have much of a scent to it.

Tea Tree Oil

Photo of Eve Hansen Tea Tree Oil
$19.99; Amazon.com

When I put the baby shampoo into the cleansing palette, I like to also add a couple drops of Tea Tree Oil. It conditions the brush, has antiseptic properties, and smells fantastic. The bottle in the photo even came with a convenient little dropper.

I also like to follow up with some rubbing alcohol on the handles to remove any bacteria that had transferred from my hands.

Drying Tips

Never set the brushes to dry standing upright (again, you don’t want water getting into the ferrule). You can either lay them down flat or hang them upside down. They make some drying racks specifically for makeup brushes, or you can turn your towel bar into one. My towel bar always has towels on it, so I just lay a hand towel on the floor in front of a small fan and lay the brushes out to dry.


How’s your beauty hygiene? What products do you like to use to keep your beauty tools clean? Leave a comment down below!

I hope you finish your week out strong. We’re in the homestretch!

–Sarah xoxo