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

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

Spoil Me Sunday: Dry Brush + Peel Mask + Sheet Mask

Hello, loves!

If you’ve read my previous posts, you might have noticed a trend: I’m kind of obsessed with exfoliating. This Spoil Me Sunday stayed true to form. Let’s jump right in!

Dry Body Brush

from Ecotools

Photo of Dry Body Brush from Ecotools
$5.99 from Ecotools

My hands are torn up from Lyra class yesterday, so I couldn’t do my usual body scrub from Dermadoctor that I talked about here. Before hopping in the shower post-workout, I used my dry body brush to exfoliate, instead. I first experienced dry brushing during a spa treatment a few years ago, and I loved it. It’s a great way to slough off dead skin with little effort, and as a bonus, it also stimulates circulation. Always use on dry skin (duh) with upward strokes, starting with your legs, then midsection, then arms. Rinse the brush afterwards, and then hang it to dry. The bristles are synthetic and aren’t too harsh; the amount of pressure you use will determine the intensity level of exfoliation. You can find this brush on the Ecotools website or at Ulta.

Get Your Glow On Skin Brightening Peel Mask

from Formula 10.0.6

Photo of Get Your Glow On Peel Mask from Formula 10.0.6
$6.99 from Formula 10.0.6

I love peel masks because of how they make my skin feel (and it’s really gratifying to peel it off), but this one is my favorite so far. The papaya helps to resurface my skin, and the citrus brightens it. I also enjoy the fresh citrus scent because it’s not overpowering. It takes maybe 15 minutes to dry, and it comes off easily, leaving my skin soft and refreshed. Overall it’s a very pleasant experience, and at such an affordable price, I’ll definitely be re-purchasing, either from their website or from Ulta.

Blue Lotus + Seaweed Treatment Sheet Mask

from Purlisse

Photo of Purlisse Blue Lotus + Seaweed Treatment Sheet Mask
$36 for a box of 6, or $8 each from Purlisse

Ok, I’ve never tried this product before, so this is just my first impression of it. This was given to me by a friend who received it through a subscription service (FabFitFun, I think?) and didn’t really plan on using it. She wanted me to try it out and post about it, so here we go!

Full disclosure: sheet masks aren’t normally my thing. They feel like a lot of work compared to peel and clay masks and they’re comparatively pricey, but those Koreans know a lot more than I do about skincare, so a sheet mask is nice to use every now and then. I’ll usually pick a couple up when they’re on sale, but I know there are some beauty gurus out there that literally use one every day. I’m not that hardcore.

I used this mask after dermaplaning and letting my skin calm down a bit. When I use a sheet mask, I like to start out by pulling the mask from the packaging and wiping some of the excess essence into one hand. This allows me to apply it to the areas that won’t be covered by the mask, like my eyes, the top of my forehead, and my neck. Then I go ahead and apply the mask to my face. I liked that this one didn’t have the backing you need to peel off of both sides like some other brands do; I just unfolded it and applied. I also appreciated that there wasn’t a heavy fragrance; I barely noticed it. Once the mask is on, I’ll set the timer (in this case 20 minutes) and then move on to the other extra step. Once the mask has been removed from the packaging, there’s still essence left in the bag; sometimes it’s a lot, sometimes it’s a little, depending on the brand. I’ll scoop that out with my fingers and apply it to other parts of my body like my dĂ©colletĂ©, elbows, and knees. Sometimes there’s so much in there that I can apply it to my entire arms and legs. Then I wait for the timer to go off…

When I took the mask off, my skin felt nice and cool and refreshed. I used the Sonic Infuser Head on my Soniclear Elite to work the remaining essence into my skin. It left my skin feeling a little sticky, but I’ve found that to be the case with most sheet masks (another reason they’re not usually my go-to.) Once I do the rest of my nightly skincare regimen and apply moisturizer, the stickiness won’t be an issue. After using this mask, my skin does feel refreshed, moisturized, soft, and soothed. According to the packaging, this mask works for all skin types, including sensitive skin, which is good to know. Will I use up the rest of the masks in the box? Yes, it did what it said it would do, and I liked the way my skin felt afterwards. Would I purchase this myself? Probably not, unless they were on sale; I can’t justify paying that much for a single mask. To be fair, you can sign up there website for auto delivery, and that lowers the price a bit, but it’s not enough to sway me. It’s a good product, but it wasn’t a game-changer for me. I would like to try other products from Purlisse because I’ve heard good things about the brand; I’ll just steer clear of the sheet masks.


That wraps it up for this week’s Spoil Me Sunday. What do you think of sheet masks? Am I crazy for not absolutely loving them? What do you do to prepare for the week ahead? I know you’ll totally rock this week like nobody’s business. Make it a great one!

–Sarah xoxo

 

Spoil Me Sunday Product Reviews: Masks

For this week’s Spoil Me Sunday, I just did two face masks because I’m also taking some time to test out at-home dermaplaning. I’ll post about that later in the week when I can give a full review on how my skin felt the next day. In the meantime, let’s jump right in!

My 7th Heaven Passion Peel-Off Mask

from Montagne Jeunesse

Photo of Montagne Jeunesse 7th Heaven Passion Peel-Off Mask
$1.99 at Ulta

The active ingredients they call out for this mask are Passion Flower, Pomegranate, and Raspberry, which explains the fruity scent and bright pink color. (Once you have the mask on, the color makes it look like your entire face is sunburned, but I digress.) As you would expect with a peel-off mask, it has a gel consistency, but this one seemed runnier than I’m used to, so it got a little messy when I was applying it with my silicone pack brush. They say the drying time is 20-25 minutes, but it took closer to 45 minutes for it to dry completely on my face. It peeled off fairly easily and didn’t leave my skin feeling tight or dry, just nice and exfoliated. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of one-use masks for multiple reasons, so I probably wouldn’t re-purchase, but it was a pleasant experience overall.

Refresh Clay Detox Mask

from Trader Joe’s

img_0803

This is another one from the mask trio I mentioned in last Sunday’s post. It was a limited-time offer at Trader Joe’s, but who knows? Maybe they’ll bring it back at some point. This is a traditional clay mask that also claims to cleanse the skin. It has a mild citrus scent that honestly reminds me of Froot Loops, but there are worse things. It’s not too thick, so it spreads nicely, and it’s easy to get a fairly even distribution. It took about 30 minutes for it to dry completely, and it came off pretty easily with a wet washcloth. It left my skin feeling clean and refreshed but a little tight. Not sure if I’d repurchase because I have so many other masks to go through, but I wouldn’t rule it out.


My skin feels clean and prepped to try dermaplaning now–stay tuned to see how that experience goes. Wish me luck!

Have a great week!

–Sarah xoxo