Ulta Beauty Haul: March 2018

Hey, y’all!

To keep my beauty addiction in check, I set a budget each month and (do my best to) stick to it. This month will look a little different than most because Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty is going on, but I’ll post about that separately. These items are just what I bought outside of the event. Some were purchased in-store, and some were online.

The Samples

Because I purchased some of my items online, I got free samples. I chose to go with the “Variety” category this time, and these are the two that I got:

Cushion Complexion 5-in-1 Skin Perfector with Turmeric

from Julep

Photo of Cushion Complexion 5-in-1 Skin Perfector Sample from Julep
$30 for .16 oz.; Julep

Since it’s a sample, it didn’t come with the eponymous cushion applicator, but I was interested to try the product itself. This sample came with 4 shades:

  • Ivory (Light with Warm-Neutral Undertone)
  • Cashmere (Medium with Cool Undertone)
  • Desert (Tan with Neutral Undertone)
  • Clove (Deep with Cool Undertone)

I ended up mixing Ivory and Cashmere to (almost) match my complexion. Looking at the color chart on their website, I would think Linen or Ivory would be my match, but Ivory looked too light when I put it on, so I guess I’m somewhere between the “Light” and “Medium” categories. I used Clove as a liquid contour with some success; a little went a long way, and it was a little hard to blend on top of the foundation layer.

The 5-in-1 it refers to is Concealing, Correcting (thanks to the Camellia Seed Oil), Blurring (thanks to the Soft-Focus Powders), Illuminating, and Brightening (thanks to the Turmeric Extract). Overall, I liked the formula. It blended well as a foundation, had medium coverage that was buildable, had a lovely demi-matte finish, and it lasted pretty well throughout the day. It made my skin look gorgeous! Have you used this with the applicator? Comment below to tell me what you thought! I’m not sure if I’d purchase the full size. It depends on how the applicator feels, how well it applies the product, and whether or not I could actually find a shade that matches my skin.

Lemon & Sage Body Butter

from Bliss

Photo of Lemon + Sage Body Butter sample from Bliss
$12 for 6.7 fl. oz.; Bliss

I’m terrible about remembering to moisturize my body, but I love citrus, so I was excited to try this. I was a little disappointed because it wasn’t very citrusy, but the Shea Butter and Coconut Oil do make it super rich. It absorbs quickly into the skin and isn’t greasy at all. I doubt I’d buy it, but at least I can say I’ve tried it.

Now let’s move on to the actual haul!

Skincare

Retinol Advanced Brightening Serum

from Skincare L de L Cosmetics

Photo of Retinol Advanced Brightening Serum from Skincare Cosmetics
$19.99 for 1 oz; Bed Bath & Beyond

Just a couple weeks after buying it, this product doesn’t seem to be available at Ulta anymore. My skin tends to get dull from not getting enough sleep, so I tend to gravitate to any brightening skincare products.

The active ingredients include Retinol (duh), Vitamin C, Melanoid to improve skin brightness and luminosity. It absorbs quickly into the skin which is nice, but overall I was underwhelmed by this serum. I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it, but it didn’t really seem to do much of anything. I’ve seen greater results from other products that I’m using (I’m planning to write a post about my skincare regimen soon, so more to come on that.) I wouldn’t go out of my way to find this product elsewhere to repurchase. It also annoyed me that this brand doesn’t seem to have a website of their own, so I don’t know much about them. Oh well, I can say I gave it a shot.

Hydrating Night Cream

from Derma E

Photo of Hydrating Night Cream from Derma E
$29.50 for 2 oz.; Derma E

I ran out of the night cream I was using previously, and I had been wanting to try this one for a while. Active ingredients include:

  • Hyaluronic Acid – helps rehydrate skin
  • Vitamins C & E – antioxidants with anti-aging properties
  • Aloe – helps soothe skin

The texture is very rich without being greasy; it’s just what my skin needs after a long day. Also gotta love the fact that it’s guilt free–the Derma E brand is 100% vegan and cruelty-free. I would definitely buy this again! I only have 2 complaints: 1. I wish it came in a pump bottle instead of a jar so it didn’t take up so much space on my countertop. 2. I wish it didn’t have fragrance added to it. The smell reminds me of bananas, so I guess it could be worse, but I could do without it.

Firming DMAE Moisturizer

from Derma E

Photo of Firming DMAE Moisturizer from Derma E
$22.50 for 2 oz.; Derma E

I had been planning to buy something else, but Ulta had a buy one get one half off deal on Derma E when I bought the night cream, so I bought this to go with it. Active ingredients include:

  • Dimethyl MAE – firms skin
  • Alpha Lipoid Acid – antioxidant
  • C-Ester – derived from Vitamin C, but it’s more stable, penetrates deeper into the skin, and is less likely to break down due to environmental exposure
  • Jojoba Oil – moisturizing
  • Vitamins A & E – additional antioxidants

It has a much richer texture than I expected, but you can use it both morning and night, if you want. Despite the richness, it’s not greasy, it absorbs fairly quickly, and it doesn’t affect my makeup application. Due to the DMAE and ALA, Derma E recommends doing a “patch test” to gauge your skin’s reaction before using it all over your face. I didn’t have any adverse reaction, but some sensitive skin types might. The label says a slight tingling sensation is normal, but I didn’t feel anything. I might repurchase, but I’m not sure. I wish it came in a bottle instead of a jar, and it says it has fragrance added, but it doesn’t smell like much of anything to me. I can’t decide if I like it more than the moisturizer I was using before. Decisions, decisions…

Scar Gel

from Derma E

Photo of Scar Gel from Derma E
$19.95 for 2 oz.; Derma E

This is what I had originally planned to purchase with the night cream, but it was out of stock in the store, so I had to purchase online. I had seen several beauty gurus on YouTube rave about this product, so I wanted to give it a try. I’ve got scars from old blemishes just like everyone else, as well as scars on my body (I’m clumsy). For new scars, you should apply 2-3 times a day for 8 weeks to see results. For older scars, apply twice a day for 3-6 months.

It’s a very light clear gel that absorbs right into the skin and isn’t greasy at all. Because it’s so light, I use it right after my toner so that it can fully absorb into the skin. It smells like Bergamot, so I guess they at least used something natural for fragrance. We’ll see how well it works over the next few months!

Sonicsmooth Replenishment Kit

from Michael Todd Beauty

Photo of True Sonic Dermaplaning System Replenishment Kit from Michael Todd Beauty
$26; Michael Todd Beauty

I’ve been dermaplaning religiously for a couple of months now, and I’m seeing an improvement in my skin. It was time to get more blades, so I purchased the replenishment kit, which is only available online. It consists of 7 replacement blades (a 2 month supply), cleanser, and after treatment gel (.85 oz. each). Ulta needs to update their website because it says the kit comes with the Oat & Honey cleanser, but I’ve gotten the Charcoal Gel Cleanser instead twice now (once when I bought the device and now with the kit). Not a huge deal because I’ve tried both and don’t have a strong preference, but it’s nice to know what you’re actually getting when you buy something.

It annoys me that you can’t just buy the blades by themselves because I haven’t run out of the cleanser or the after treatment gel, but there’s not much I can do about that. I’ll probably just give the cleanser to a friend. I’m still in love with the device, though!

Makeup

Fit Me! Shine-Free + Balance Stick Foundation in Coconut

from Maybelline

Photo of Fit Me! Shine-Free + Balance Stick Foundation from Maybelline
$8.99 for .32 oz.; Maybelline

I wanted a liquid or cream contour, but I just wanted one color. I didn’t want to buy a whole palette. I also didn’t want to buy a whole other shade of Tarte Shape Tape just for contouring, so I tested some things out in the drugstore beauty section and settled on this. It’s completely matte thanks to the powder core, which is exactly what I wanted, and it blends pretty well with a damp beauty sponge. Bonus points for the fact that it’s fragrance free. I like it well enough, especially for the price, but I’m on the fence about repurchasing.

Luxury Baking Powder – Lace

from Makeup Revolution

Photo of Luxury Baking Powder in Lace from Makeup Revolution
$8 for 1.23 oz.; Makeup Revolution (Yes, the label is crooked, and it drives me crazy!)

I needed a good baking powder, especially to set my concealer under my eyes. Someone had mentioned this one on YouTube, and for the price I figured I had nothing to lose. The “Lace” powder is a neutral light pink tone, but they also have “Terracotta” that’s a deeper shade, a Banana Powder, and “Ghost” that’s white.

It works really well; I met some friends for drinks the other night after going to the gym, and one of them asked if I had reapplied makeup after working out because it looked so good (I hadn’t). I apply it with a damp beauty sponge, let it set for a few minutes, then dust off the excess before using setting spray. I’ll usually get some shininess in my T-Zone around lunchtime, but that’s what blotting sheets and powder are for. My only gripe with this product is the packaging. I get it that the sieve at the top is to prevent clumping, but it makes it difficult to get product out to where I can use it without making a mess. Despite that, I’ll be repurchasing. The quality of the product for the price point is too good to pass up.

Tools

Expert Concealer Brush

from Real Techniques

Photo of Expert Concealer Brush from Real Techniques
$6.99; Real Techniques

I have yet to try a brush from Real Techniques that I didn’t love; this one was no exception. It’s so soft and gentle on my under eye area, but it still does a great job of blending my concealer. The aluminum handle makes it nice and lightweight and comfortable to use, and the synthetic bristles are very easy to clean. For such a good price, how can you pass it up?

Retractable Lip Brush

from e.l.f. Cosmetics

Photo of Retractable Lip Brush from e.l.f. Cosmetics
$3; e.l.f. Cosmetics

I needed a new retractable lip brush because the one I had was old, like 20+ years old from when I had ballet recitals as a kid. Yikes. Anyway, this one comes to a point, so it’s great for lining your lips or touching up. You can use it for filling in if you’re patient, but I have a Ben Nye brush that I tend to use for application in the morning. This one lives in my purse for touch ups on the go. It seems to have trouble staying fully extended, but it manages to get the job done. Bonus points for the fact that it’s easy to clean.

Nails

Nail Recovery Kit

from Nail Tek

Photo of Nail Recovery Kit from Nail Tek
$20; Nail Tek

I have naturally soft, peeling nails to begin with, but gel nail polish has wrecked them. This nail kit is my saving grace.

Foundation 2 is a ridge filling base coat; it does the job excellently, but what I really love is how quickly it dries. By the time I had gotten to my last nail, the first five were already dry. It dries a little opaque and pretty matte, so it’s easy to tell when it’s dry. I don’t think I’ll ever use anything else on my fingernails ever again!

Intensive Therapy 2 is a strengthener that helps seal the layers of the nail together. It should be applied every day for best results. Girl, my nails need it! It dries quickly like the Foundation 2–hallelujah! It’s a little soon to tell how well it will work for my nails, but I’m optimistic.

Renew is a cuticle oil for all nail types that nourishes and conditions the cuticle. It has tea tree oil and Vitamin E to help keep cuticles healthy. I like to apply it right before bed and then put on moisturizing gloves.

I’ll definitely be buying these products again, and I plan on checking out other Nail Tek products, as well.


Whew, that’s a wrap! Have you tried any of these products? Any that you want to try? Let me know in a comment below!

April is just around the corner! We’ll see what it brings besides showers. 🙂

Love,

Sarah xoxo


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Photo of my March ipsy Glam Bag

ipsy Glam Bag Review: March 2018

Hey, y’all!

A new month, a new Glam Bag! The theme for this month’s Glam Bag was #ipsycreate, so it was a black and white design by Priscilla Witte, and it came with 2 markers (mine were pink and blue) to make it your own work of art. I thought it was a really cute idea. Wanna see what was inside? Keep reading!

Good Night! PM Sheet Mask

from Meg Cosmetics

Photo of Good Night! PM Sheet Mask from Meg Cosmetics
$6 ea.; Meg Cosmetics

If you’ve read previous posts, you know I’m always down to try new masks, but I have yet to encounter a sheet mask that I fall in love with and want to repurchase. The Tea Tree oil and Rosemary extract give this mask a very clean smell with just a hint of citrus, which was nice. I will say that of all the sheet masks I’ve tried, this one fit me the best. I have a high forehead, and a lot of the Korean brand masks stop like an inch below my hairline. This one came all the way up to about 1/4″ below my hairline, so there’s that. This one left my face feeling super sticky long after I had removed the mask, which was annoying. I think I’ve realized, though, that my biggest frustration with sheet masks is that none of them fit my face well. Besides the forehead issue, I have yet to find one that will stay adhered to the sides of my nose without encroaching on the outer corners of my eyes. It seems that until I find the unicorn of sheet masks, I won’t be buying the same one twice. Same goes for this one. Le sigh.

My Rating: 3/5

Glow Duo

from City Color Cosmetics

Photo of Glam Duo Highlighter from City Color Cosmetics
$5.99; City Color Cosmetics

I love a good highlighter, and I’ve been impressed by everything I’ve tried from City Color Cosmetics thus far, so I was excited to give this a whirl.

The powder side is a little more glittery than I would normally use for everyday makeup, so I only used it (sparingly) on my cheekbones. I didn’t use it to highlight my nose, chin, cupid’s bow, etc. The color is gorgeous, and it goes on like a dream.

The cream side is more subtle, so I used that for highlighting the rest of my face. It’s got a nice buttery texture, but it’s nice and light. I also tried layering it over the powder on my cheekbones, and the effect was really pretty. Definitely going to keep experimenting with this.

My Rating: 4/5

SL41 Blusher Brush

from SLMISSGLAM Beauty

Photo of SL41 Blusher Brush from SLMISSGLAM Beauty
SLMISSGLAM Beauty

The bulk of my brushes came from Amazon, but every now and then I’ll splurge on a particular brush. Getting them in my Glam Bag is even better! I’ve gotten a brush from SLMISSGLAM before in a previous Glam Bag, and I literally use it every day. My only complaint about that brush was that it was teal, so it didn’t go with my other brushes that are predominantly pink and black. I was super excited to get another SLMISSGLAM brush this month, and this one is pink! Bonus that it’s sparkly, too. 🙂

SLMISSGLAM Beauty doesn’t sell individual brushes, unfortunately. At the moment, their sets range from $38.50 for a set of 2 to $325 for a set of 25. As I expected, the (synthetic) bristles are super soft and easy to clean. At first I was a little concerned that it wasn’t dense enough to apply my blush/highlighter/etc. effectively because of how it compared to my other blush brushes, but it ended up doing a great job of blending it out for a natural looking glow. Love, love, love!

My Rating: 5/5

Sex Kitten Eyeliner

from Tarte Cosmetics

Photo of sample size Sex Kitten Eyeliner from Tarte Cosmetics
$20 for full size; Tarte Cosmetics

I had tried a sample of this eyeliner from Ulta before and liked it, so I didn’t mind seeing it in my Glam Bag this month. My personal eyeliner preference is gel for my waterline and liquid for my upper lid, so this wouldn’t be my first choice. I can use it on my waterline, and it’s ok, but it doesn’t last. When I used it on my upper lid, it went on smoothly without any skipping or tugging, and it lasted all day long. I wouldn’t purchase the full-size, but that’s not because it’s a bad product. It’s just not my thing.

My Rating: 2/5

Freematic Eyeshadow Mono in “Lola”

from Doucce

Photo of Freematic Eyeshadow Mono in
$10 ea.; Doucce

Eyeshadow is one of my favorite parts of doing my makeup, so I’m always game for trying new brands. A friend of mine gave me a Doucce palette she had received and didn’t want, but I hadn’t gotten a chance to play with it much. “Lola” is a really pretty pinkish purple that can work for daytime or evening, depending on what other colors you use with it to contour. It applies really smoothly with zero fallout; the color isn’t super vibrant when you first apply, but it’s buildable, which is nice. Not 100% sure I’d buy other colors, but I’m not writing it off.

My Rating: 4/5


This month’s Glam Bag had an average rating of 3.6. I always like getting brushes, and I liked the mix of skincare and makeup in my bag. I might need to change my profile preferences to nix sheet masks, but I’ll leave it alone for now.

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

I’ve also recently subscribed to Yes, Oh Yas! You get 3-7 full-size beauty products every month for $14.99 + shipping. I can’t wait to get my first box next month! Want 10% off your first box? Use coupon code SARAH614 when you check out!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Love,

Sarah xoxo


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Spoil Me Sunday: Lift Me Up

Hey, y’all!

It’s been one heck of a week, and I’m sure next week will be a doozy, too. Even if I’m keeping my cool, sometimes stress will start to show on my skin: dullness, breakouts, uneven tone, fine lines, etc. No thanks! Yeah, I need to make sure I’m getting enough sleep (the answer is usually no), and I need to make sure I’m drinking enough water (the answer is usually yes, but sometimes I lose track). Sometimes, though, you need a little pick-me-up.

Face-Lift in-a-Bag

from Skyn Iceland

Photo of Face-Lift in-a-Bag from Skyn Iceland
$19.50; Skyn Iceland

Let me start off by saying that Skyn Iceland is 100% vegan and cruelty-free! It was also started by a fellow Sarah, so there’s that. 😉 Anyway, about this product:

Each bag consists of:

  • 2 pairs of eye gels
  • 2 pairs of smile line gels
  • 2 forehead gels

You can use these gels all together or individually as needed. All you have to do is cleanse your face, pat dry, and apply the desired gel(s). Leave them on for 10 minutes (take some time to relax!), then remove the gels, toss them, and voilà! The cooling sensation when you apply the gels is incredibly soothing, and I could really see the different under my eyes and around my mouth when I took them off. It’s a nice rejuvenation for my skin when it needs a little boost but I’m strapped for time.

Active ingredients include:

  • Organic tomato callus stem cell extract – full of antioxidants (only found in the forehead gel)
  • Hydrolyzed extension – helps skin retain moisture
  • Hydrolyzed elastin – helps restore firmness under eyes
  • Ginseng callus stem cell extract – full of antioxidants and improves collagen production (only found in smile line gels)
  • Ginkgo biloba leaf extract – improves blood flow under eyes, reducing puffiness
  • Copper tripeptide-1 – increases collagen production and cell turnover
  • Coenzyme Q10 – antioxidant that fights free radicals
  • Acetyl hexapeptide-8 – calms muscles under the skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles

I definitely recommend this product if you’re prone to stress like I am. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wear my stress on my face. (Stressing less is a whole other conversation for a different day.)


How do you like to de-stress? Leave a comment below. I’d love some new ideas!

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Ready for another week? We’ve got this!

Love,

Sarah xoxo

Spoil Me Sunday: Put Your Best Foot Forward

Hey, y’all!

I’m going to be traveling again this week, this time it’s for work instead of personal reasons, but I’m still looking forward to it. I’ve never been to Fort Lauderdale before, even though I’ve been living in Florida for almost 7 years now. It seemed appropriate that I should give my feet some TLC, since I’ll probably be wearing sandals at some point, and Spring is pretty much here anyway.

The Prep Work

Prepping my feet started out last night with removing my old nail polish, clipping, shaping, etc. Then came the fun part…exfoliating!

Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File, Extra Coarse

from Amopé

Photo of Amope Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File, Extra Coarse
Regularly $49.99, on sale at the moment for $39.42 from Amopé

Using this device beats the heck out of manually filing your heels; I certainly have no patience for that! It’s powered by 4 AA batteries and gets the job done with little effort. The ergonomic design is very comfortable, and the file pops right out to make cleaning a breeze. Extra coarse file refills are $19.99 for a 2-pack; as of today, they’re on sale for $16.04. I’ve used this device maybe 10 times since I bought it, and I haven’t had to replace the file yet. It’s important to note that you should only use this device on dry skin. If you want the option of wet or dry, try this device, instead.

Foot Works Double Action Deep Moisturizing Cream

from Avon

Photo of Double Action Deep Moisturizing Cream from Avon

After exfoliating, it was time to moisturize. Admittedly, I’m not great about foot care, and I don’t moisturize as often as I should, so I’ve had this foot cream for a while. It seems that this exact one has been discontinued and replaced with Avon Foot Works Deep Moisturizing Cream. It usually retails for $6 for 2.5 fl. oz.; at the moment, it’s on sale for $3.99. The cocoa seed butter provides intense moisture and healing for your skin, while the peppermint oil provides a cooling sensation and a fresh scent. I slathered this on my feet and put on some comfy fuzzy socks before heading to bed.

The Nails

Ultimate Shield Base & Top Coat

from Sally Hansen

Photo of Ultimate Shield Base & Top Coat from Sally Hansen
$4.99 for .45 fl. oz. from Target

Every good manicure or pedicure needs to start with a good base coat if you want it to have any chance of lasting. This is my favorite, partly because it works so well and partly because I love any multi-purpose beauty product. I like not having to buy a separate top coat. One thin coat of this helps protect my nail and extends the life of my polish.

“Booze Cruise” Nail Polish

from Trust Fund Beauty

Photo of "Booze Cruise" Nail Polish from Trust Fund Beauty

Now comes the fun part–color! Trust Fund Beauty is one of my favorite nail polish brands because it lasts well and you get a good amount of product for the price. Depending on the color intensity I’m going for, 1-2 coats is plenty. I’ve never had to do more than that. “Booze Cruise” has an incredibly subtle shimmer to it and “Spring” is written all over it. It seemed appropriate for traveling to a beach town like Fort Lauderdale. I doubt I’ll have time for the beach while I’m there, but we’ll see! Then again, with Spring Break going on, avoiding the beach might be best…

I bought this particular color last July, and it seems to have been discontinued. Looking at their website, it seems the next most similar color to this would be “Emotional Hangover,” which you can purchase here. All of their full-size nail polishes are .57 fl. oz. and retail for $12-15.

I finished it off with a top coat of Ultimate Shield, let it dry, and I’m good to go!


What are some of your favorite nail polish colors for Spring? How often do you get pedicures? Do you get them done professionally, or do you DIY it like I do?

Please subscribe to Balanced Life Beauty if you’d like to be notified when new posts go up. You can also follow me on Instagram (click the icon at the top of the page.)

Have a great week!

Love,

Sarah xoxo

Photo of Biore Self Heating One Minute Mask

Spoil Me Sunday: Fire & Ice

Hey, y’all!

After being out of town the past couple of weekends, the name of the game this weekend was getting back into a regular routine. The biggest focus was meal prepping (we’re making an eggplant parmesan from scratch that I’m super stoked about) and cleaning our condo. I wanted to focus on deep cleaning my skin, too. It’s finally starting to clear up, and I’d like to stay on that trajectory.

Self Heating One Minute Mask With Natural Charcoal

from Bioré Skincare

After using my ExfoliKate, I wanted to heat things up a little more, so I popped on this mask for a minute. The warming sensation felt so good, and when I rinsed it off, there was a refreshing cooling sensation, thanks to the menthol that’s in it. Yes, it has fragrance in it (sigh), but I noticed the menthol more than anything else. I loved how clean and fresh my skin felt afterwards. After a day of cooking and cleaning, it’s exactly what I needed!

You can find a box of 4 single-use packets for as low as $5.82 on Amazon, or you can find it at your local drugstore for a little more (usually around $7.99.) This is a skincare item I always like to have on hand for whenever my skin needs it.


What do you think of self-heating skincare products? Are you a bigger fan of products with a cooling sensation? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a great week!

Love,

Sarah xoxo

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: 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’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

ipsy Glam Bag Review: January 2018

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 Ciaté 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