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
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
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
from Up & Up
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
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.
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!
In college, I never wore liquid foundation, probably because I was a Costuming major and was terrified of getting makeup on garments. It was bad enough getting it on the neckline of my T-shirts when I got dressed in the morning, which probably happened for a few reasons:
I probably wasn’t using quality product. I honestly can’t remember what I was using at the time, but it was probably some drugstore brand that I did zero research on. I’m not saying that drugstore foundation is all crap–I just think it’s important to do your homework.
I didn’t use primer (honestly, I don’t think I’d even heard of it until after college)
I’m pretty sure I applied it with my fingers or a makeup wedge and probably used too much product
A friend of mine who was an aspiring makeup artist introduced me to stippling and the dual fiber brushes that are ideal for it in order to achieve an airbrushed effect. (I wish she’d told me about primer and setting spray/powder to address issues 2 and 4.) Being on a college student budget made issue 1 a challenge, but hey, you have to start somewhere, so let’s tackle issue #3! She swore by this dual fiber brush from MAC, but it certainly wasn’t cheap. (Fun fact: at that time I would normally buy paintbrushes from the campus art store and use them for makeup instead.) After saving up some Christmas money, I bought the brush. The wooden handle is a comfortable length, and it’s a mix of natural and synthetic fibers. Needless to say I felt fancy (ha), and it gave me some pretty good results, at least by my inexperienced standards. Eventually I gravitated towards mineral makeup, though, and somehow managed to forget about this (expensive) brush.
I rediscovered it when I had a coupon for a free liquid foundation from Ulta in the fall of 2017. I was disappointed to find that this brush wasn’t as good as I remembered, especially when I thought about how much I paid for it. The black bristles would break and shed all over my face, not to mention that stippling felt like tiny needles and was literally painful. I would go back over in a swirling motion to blend out the brush marks, but then I’d end up with streaks that I’d have to smooth over with a makeup sponge. Talk about time-consuming. I’m good about cleaning my brushes, so I don’t think that contributed to the issues with the bristles. Maybe it’s because the brush went unused for a few years? Leave a comment if you have any ideas. Needless to say, my experience has led me to believe that this brush wasn’t worth the splurge.
from Real Techniques
Once I got fed up with the MAC brush, I just started using a sponge to apply foundation instead, but I didn’t like how difficult it was to keep the sponge clean. Over the holidays, I was buying some items from Ulta online and added this brush as an impulse purchase. I’ve been in love ever since!
I don’t have any strong feelings about natural bristles vs synthetic, but in case you’re wondering, this brush has synthetic bristles, and they’re incredibly soft. I can stipple away and not feel like I’m repeatedly stabbing my face. It blends my foundation flawlessly, and I don’t need to go back over it with a sponge. The brush feels like it’s well-constructed, and it’s very easy to clean (I use a cleaning spray after each use and I deep clean once every 2 weeks.) The handle is a comfortable length; it feels like it’s made out of aluminum, which would explain why it’s so light. It can stand on its end if you want it to (as shown in the photo), but I keep my brushes in an organizer. In my opinion, $10 is an absolute steal! I absolutely recommend this brush.
This experience has been a reminder for me that just because something is more expensive doesn’t automatically mean it’s better than a more budget-friendly alternative. Beauty doesn’t have to break the bank. What are some low-cost products that have pleasantly surprised you? Share in a comment below!
I hadn’t heard of dermaplaning until a few months ago when my aesthetician mentioned that she had just had it done. Dermaplaning is a method of deep exfoliation by simply shaving off the top layer of the epidermis, thereby removing dead skin cells. Other benefits include:
Removal of vellus hair aka “peach fuzz,” which means
Skincare products are absorbed more effectively into the skin
Makeup goes on smoother
Skin looks brighter and healthier because those little hairs aren’t trapping oil and debris
Improved skin texture and tone
Increased cell turnover
Stimulates collagen production
Fewer wrinkles & dark spots
Reduction of acne scarring
I know what you’re thinking: it’s just an overpriced glorified razor being marketed to women–not true. Dermaplaning exfoliates more than shaving (consider the fact that you can shave every day, while dermaplaning sessions should be at least 7 days apart.) And no, the hair doesn’t grow back thicker and darker–that’s a myth.
If you have it done by a professional, it’s done with small delicate strokes of a scalpel. It’s painless, and there’s no down time. Dermaplaning is a great alternative to chemical peels, which don’t remove the vellus hair. It’s recommended for all skin types, except for those with active pustular acne.
Vellus hair is honestly the reason I wanted to try dermaplaning. I have fair skin and dark hair, so hair anywhere on my body is painfully obvious. I was really self-conscious about my sideburns and I had random dark hairs that would pop up on my cheeks and chin, so dermaplaning seemed like a great solution. But at $40-$150 per session every 2 weeks or so, that was outside of my budget, both financially and time-wise, so I started looking into at-home options.
There are several choices out there: from low-cost Eyebrow Razors and Shapers to StackedSkincare‘s Dermaplaning Tool to high-end Dermaflash…it’s a lot to sort through. I ended up choosing Michael Todd Beauty’s Sonicsmooth because it was a middle price point, had good reviews, and I was already really happy with the quality of MTB’s Soniclear Elite sonic face brush. On Sunday, I gave the Sonicsmooth a shot. Here’s how it went…
What’s in the Box?
The Sonicsmooth device comes with the charging stand and power cord, 8 replacement blades (a 2-month supply), a pre-treatment cleanser, and a post-treatment gel. The description had said the cleanser would be their Honey & Oat one, but I got the Charcoal Detox; I didn’t really care one way or the other.
As you can see, I had some obvious peach fuzz around my jaw line and on my cheeks. I had already done a couple of masks earlier, so my skin had already been exfoliated a little.
Step 1: Cleanse
I used the Charcoal Detox cleanser that came with the device, along with my Soniclear Elite to make sure my face was as clean and free of product residue as possible. For best dermaplaning results your skin should be clean, dry, and free of oils. It’s ok if your skin feels a little tight after cleansing because you’ll be moisturizing after you’re done.
Step 2: Dermaplane!
It’s important to keep the skin taut, but I’ve read conflicting information on whether to go with the direction of the hair growth, or against it. The device’s instructions said to go with the hair growth, unlike shaving, so I did. I wasn’t good about doing the short feathering strokes, which is probably where some of the resulting skin irritation came from, but practice makes perfect. The Sonicsmooth operates at 258 pulses per second, and it has 3 different speeds to choose from. I found it very easy to hold and maneuver, and didn’t feel like I needed to worry about cutting myself or hacking off an eyebrow.
I’d have to stop every so often and dust off the debris, which was incredibly gratifying to see. It was astonishing to me to literally see the difference in my skin tone as I was doing it. The areas I hadn’t gone over yet were visibly darker than the ones I had. I was hesitant at first, so I don’t think I was using even pressure, which meant that I had to go over some areas more than once. You’re supposed to avoid going over an area too many times, but again, practice makes perfect. You shouldn’t use the device on your nose because it’s not flat, and your lips and eye area are too sensitive. The instructions provided a handy little map to show which direction they recommend you use the device on different parts of your face. All in all, it was pretty easy and not as intimidating as it originally seemed.
Step 3: Calm & Moisturize
After dermaplaning, your skin is a little sensitive, and redness is normal. You did just take off the top layer, after all. The instructions say to apply this product generously to the skin, and let it soak in for at least a few minutes before applying moisturizer. (I ended up waiting about half an hour because I got distracted.) Afterwards, I proceeded to do my normal nighttime skin routine, minus toner because I was concerned that might dry my skin out.
You can see the redness that results immediately afterwards, but my skin has never felt so smooth in my life! I’m obsessed. You can see some irritation, especially around my jaw line, but that calmed down in the first 30 minutes. It’s recommended to do this at night so that your skin can recover while you sleep. Don’t apply makeup right afterwards.
12 Hours Later
By the next morning pretty much all the redness was gone, except for a couple of spots on my neck that I think I went over a few too many times. My skin looked brighter, even though I got way less sleep than I should, and I can’t get over the smoothness! I was really excited to see if I would notice a difference in my foundation application–my skin has never looked so good!
My foundation went on really easily, and I didn’t have to contend with my sideburns and peach fuzz when I applied liquid contour on my cheeks.
24 Hours Later
By the time I got home from work, my makeup still looked just as good as when I left that morning, and I never had to touch up once. I’ll usually end up with some patchiness around my chin and under my eyes, especially if the weather is dry, but that wasn’t the case today! I did notice some tiny bumps around my jaw, but I can’t tell if it’s just a typical small breakout or a result of the dermaplaning.
I still had some minor sensitivity on parts of my neck, particularly on the right side (probably because I’m right-handed.) I made the mistake of using more of a shaving motion (long, firm strokes). Next time I need to focus on using lighter, smaller strokes so that I’m not going over areas multiple times. Sweating at the gym made the irritation on my neck sting a little, but it wasn’t excruciating by any means.
This was my first time using my Clearsonic brush since dermaplaning, so I was a little gentler than usual and had no issues. My face has never felt so clean, and moisturizing felt extra nice.
36 Hours Later
By this morning all irritation was gone, and makeup application was just as lovely as yesterday. If I feel around, I can feel the peach fuzz coming back already (I really need to stop touching my face!) but you can’t see anything.
Some people have complained about their face getting itchy after dermaplaning, but I didn’t have that issue.
Do I think dermaplaning was worth it? Absolutely! I definitely plan to keep up with it. I think that as my skin gets used to it over time and I improve my technique, the results will only get better.
I would definitely recommend the Sonicsmooth to anyone that was looking to dermaplane at home. It wasn’t astronomically expensive, the maintenance costs are reasonable, it was easy to use, and I’ve found Michael Todd Beauty to be a quality beauty brand.
I’d be curious to pay for a professional dermaplaning session for comparison (and just to have the experience), but I’m perfectly happy with the results I got at home. On the flip side, I’d also be curious to hear what kind of results people have gotten from using those precision razors.
Have you tried dermaplaning, by a professional or at home? What did you think? If you haven’t tried it, what are your thoughts? Would you consider it? Is there another beauty service you do at home that people often pay a professional for? I’d love to know!
Have a great rest of your week. We’re almost halfway through!
Sunday is my day to prepare for the week ahead, both literally and mentally. We get our grocery shopping done on Saturday so that we can meal prep on Sunday. Any last-minute laundry gets done. Basically anything that we won’t have time to do during the week gets taken care of.
My favorite part, though, is a ritual I started for myself a few months ago: Spoil Me Sundays. I’ll do whatever beauty treatment(s) my body needs that day, whether it’s a mask (or two), a hair treatment, a mani/pedi, or anything else. It’s about taking the time to fully charge myself for the week ahead so that when I walk into the office on Monday morning, I’m on my A-game, ready to roll.
This week I used a few products; some are new, others are tried-and-true favorites. Let’s dive in!
KP Duty Dermatologist Formulated Body Scrub with Chemical + Physical Exfoliation
My workout this afternoon was a low-impact HIIT that had me sweating like crazy. Before I turned on the shower, I hopped in and rubbed this on my arms and legs to exfoliate off all the grime, which felt fantastic. I use it about once a week to help prevent the Keratosis pilaris (KP) that I get on my upper arms. The consistency reminds me of buttercream frosting with large sugar crystals mixed in. It feels great and leaves my skin noticeably smoother. One thing to note: the active ingredients in this product can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so don’t forget your SPF!
16oz is a good amount of product, especially considering how long it lasts when you only use it once a week. Before sales tax, the price comes out to about $2.88/oz, which isn’t awful, but there are other so many other exfoliants at different price points to choose from. Full disclosure, I bought this during Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty back in September, so I paid half price for it. I really like it, and I’d buy it again if there were another sale, but I’d be hard-pressed to pay full price when there are so many other body scrubs out there to try.
Silicone Pack Brush
This little tool is such a simple concept that I wish I’d thought of it! It’s just a little spatula that you use to apply face masks. It reduces messiness, and it helps me use less product because it doesn’t end up all over my fingers. It’s a little tricky to get an even application around the nose area, but it comes with practice. I definitely get more precise application so it’s easier to avoid my hairline and eyebrows.
My only complaint is that I wish the handle was a little longer. Measuring from the top of the silver portion to the end of the handle is only 3″ long, but it’s incredibly easy to clean, and I use it for every single mask I apply, regardless of whether it’s a thinner consistency peel-off mask or a thicker clay mask.
7th Heaven Black Seaweed Peel-Off Deep Pore Detox Mask
from Montagne Jeunesse
My first mask of the day was a new one I’d never tried before. I got this as a stocking stuffer from my mother-in-law for Christmas. I really enjoy peel-off masks for a couple of reasons: 1. I enjoy the exfoliating properties and how it leaves my skin feeling fresher and brighter. 2. The act of peeling it off is so ridiculously gratifying!
This had the typical consistency of a peel-off mask; it had some fragrance to it, but it wasn’t overpowering. Using every last drop in the package, it’s still never going to look like it does on the woman in the picture as far as coverage, but oh well. I didn’t apply it as evenly as I had thought, so some parts hadn’t dried completely when I started to remove it. I got impatient and washed the remaining bits off.
Overall, I think it was fine. I’m not generally a fan of single packet masks because it seems less environmentally friendly, and it makes it a little more difficult for me to be able to see at a glance what products I have in my arsenal. Not to mention, you get more product for your money when it comes in a tube. With only .3oz in a packet, this one comes out to $6.64/oz, while Formula 10.0.6’s Get Your Glow On Peel Mask (I’ll post about it another time) comes out to $2.06/oz for a 3.4oz tube. I probably wouldn’t get this one again, but I can say I’ve tried it.
Rose Gel Mask
from Trader Joe’s
I received this as part of a 3-mask set from my Secret Santa at work this holiday season. Apparently this was a limited-time offer from Trader Joe’s just for the holidays, but at $6.99 for the set of 3, it’s definitely affordable, and it smells lovely, if you like rose scented products. If you’re interested in trying it, you’ll have to keep an eye out to see if they bring it back at a later date.
It has a gel consistency, but it’s not a peel-off mask. After doing the black seaweed mask, this one felt calming on my skin. I enjoy it, but it seems to take awhile to dry (maybe that was just me being impatient again.)
Nail Polish in “I Love My #Selfie”
from Trust Fund Beauty
I first learned about the Trust Fund Beauty brand when I got a bottle of their nail polish in my June 2017 ipsy bag, and I loved it! The colors are vibrant, the staying power, even on my toes, is fabulous, and the full-size bottles are HUGE (.57 fl oz)! Considering that I don’t think I’ve ever used up an entire bottle of nail polish in my life (they usually go bad first), I really like that they also offer sets of 6 mini (.1 fl oz) bottles for somewhere between $28 and $32.
This color came in one of those sets and is just a gorgeous classic red. I tend to go with reds, pinks, and plums on my toes, but since the company I work for has rather conservative views on nail color, I’ll sometimes go with a flashier pedicure like gold or blue. Today felt like a good day for a classic pedi, though. This color goes on very smoothly, it’s not streaky, and I don’t need more than 2 coats to get the deepness I want. I can sometimes go as much as 2 weeks without my pedi even chipping, which is quite a feat, considering that I have to wear close-toed shoes 5 days a week.
Color Dip Nail Polish in “Female Phenom”
from Red Carpet Manicure
I’ve never been great at giving myself a manicure because I get impatient waiting for the polish to dry, and since I’m constantly working with my hands, professional manicures at regular intervals seem like a waste of money. I had tried at-home no-light gel kits before, but I’d still manage to smudge my nails before they completely dried. Needless to say, I was super excited to try Red Carpet Manicure’s Color Dip powder gel polish. Up to 3 weeks of wear, and no smudging!
Their normal starter kit comes with the color “Contract Please,” which is a sheer pink. I wasn’t paying attention and accidentally bought their holiday kit instead when Ulta had it on sale, which came with “Red Carpet” (a red glitter) and “Dream Girl Gold” (a gold glitter). Neither of those are technically something I can wear to work, so I picked up “Female Phenom,” which is a sheer pink. They call it a shimmer, but it’s really more of a pearlescent finish. The whole process is a lot of steps: buff, base coat, color, base coat, color, activator, base coat, buff, activator, two layers of top coat, but there’s no wait time. Worth it!
I never managed to get the glitter ones to last more than a week and a half, but maybe this one will be different, since it’s not a glitter. For some reason they would always start to peel up at the base of my nails–I might not have roughed them up enough with the buffer. I used the one that came in the kit, and it didn’t hold up very well–it was worn out after 2 manicures. I’ll keep you posted on how this color holds!
That concludes my first Spoil Me Sunday of 2018! How do you get ready for a busy week ahead? Have you tried any of these products before? Leave a comment, and let me know!