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 décolleté, 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

 

Splurge or Save: MAC vs Real Techniques

Hello, gorgeous!

Ok, story time…

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:

  1. 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.
  2. I didn’t use primer (honestly, I don’t think I’d even heard of it until after college)
  3. I’m pretty sure I applied it with my fingers or a makeup wedge and probably used too much product
  4. I didn’t set it

130 Short Duo Fibre Brush

from MAC Cosmetics

Photo of MAC Cosmetics 130 Short Duo Fibre Brush

$42 from MAC Cosmetics

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.

Stippling Brush

from Real Techniques

Photo of Real Techniques stippling brush
$10; realtechniques.com

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!

Enjoy your weekend!

–Sarah xoxo

Dermaplaning at Home

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?

Photo of white Sonicsmooth from Michael Todd Beauty website
Image credit: michaeltoddbeauty.com; $99

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.

The Before

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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

Photo of Michael Todd Beauty Charcoal Detox Deep Pore Gel Cleanser
$23 for 6.7 fl. oz. at michaeltoddbeauty.com

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.

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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.

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The fact that all of that was on my face and neck is kinda gross to think about, but the fact that it’s gone is ridiculously satisfying.

Step 3: Calm & Moisturize

Photo of Michael Todd Beauty Sonicsmooth Soothe
Sonicsmooth Soothe only seems to be available with the Sonicsmooth device or the Replenishment Kit ($26, michaeltoddbeauty.com)

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.

The Result

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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

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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!

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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.

The Verdict

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!

–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

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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

The Kitchen Appliance I Can’t Live Without

(Ok, so there are two, but I’ll talk about my Ninja another time.) The kitchen appliance we use every single week, without fail, is our slow cooker. Heck, we love using a slow cooker so much that we have 2!

Our first one is a secondhand 4qt (?) that some friends gave us when they were moving. We don’t know how we survived so long without one. Look, I can follow a recipe like any other competent human being, but Jeff is definitely the cook in our household (I’m sous chef!) because he actually enjoys cooking. Regardless, neither of us feels like cooking during the week after working a full day and commuting, so we meal prep lunch and dinner on weekends. We struggle to find recipes that:

  1. taste good
  2. reheat well
  3. don’t have a lot of time-consuming prep work
  4. aren’t a total calorie bomb.

It’s a tall order to fill, but we’re slowly building a collection. For lunch, we’ll usually try to do something that’s a meat and veggie all-in-one, like a chili or a hearty stew (minus potatoes). Trying to prep 10 servings of something like that all at once is how we ended up with our second slow cooker. We were trying a new chili recipe, and realized in the middle of prepping the ingredients that our little slow cooker wasn’t going to be big enough. We had to find something we could pick up in a store that day, so we ended up ordering this 6qt for pick-up from Target:

Photo of Slow Cooker from Target.com
Image credit: Target.com; $49.49

We absolutely love it! You can program it to cook based on the temperature reading from the detachable meat probe, which is perfect for things like roasts. We tend to program the time, instead, and it will automatically switch to “Warm” mode when the timer goes off. If we hadn’t been under a time crunch, it would have been nice to get a slow cooker with a delay start feature and/or Wifi capability, but since we use it during the weekend, this is great, and it was reasonably priced. We always use a slow cooker liner, so cleaning up is super easy. Being able to run both slow cookers at once, one for lunch and one for dinner, is such a tremendous time saver. The hard part is done before the week even starts, so it eliminates the classic “It’s been a long day, and I don’t feel like cooking, so let’s just pick something up” excuse.

For dinner, we’ll usually do some sort of meat entrée and then just steam fresh veggies each night, since that’s super easy and quick, and the veggies are never as good reheated. Again, it can be difficult to find a recipe that meets all of our criteria, so we get excited when we strike gold! This week, we tried a new recipe, and it’s definitely one we’ll be using again:

Photo of Pork Roast from Six Sisters' Stuff
Image credit: Six Sisters’ Stuff

It makes 6-8 servings; by making 8 servings using a 3lb pork loin roast, low-sodium Worcestershire sauce, and balsamic vinegar with no added sugar, the nutrition facts according to the Recipe feature on MyFitnessPal came out to:

NutritionLabel-2

Keep in mind that those numbers include the sauce that you make at the end and pour over the roast, which you don’t end up eating most of. We sliced the roast prior to cooking to make it easier to portion out, and we cooked it on high for 6 hours (we’d probably do 5 next time) so that it came out tender but not completely falling apart. Jeff was concerned that the vinegar taste was going to be overpowering because of how much it calls for, but the honey complements it really nicely and balances the flavor out. I definitely recommend it!

Do you have a slow cooker? Where do you find tasty healthy recipes? Which kitchen appliance can you not live without? Leave a comment, and let me know!

 

–Sarah xoxo

Spoil Me Sunday Product Reviews: Body Scrub, Masks, & Nail Polish

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

from Dermadoctor

Image of Dermadoctor KP Duty Dermatologist Formulated Body Scrub with Chemical + Physical Exfoliation
$46 at dermadoctor.com

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

from Memebox

Image of Memebox Silicone Pack Brush
$8 at memebox.com

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

Image of Montagne Jeunesse Black Seaweed Peel-Off Mask
$1.99 at Ulta

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

Image of Trader Joe's Rose Gel Mask

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

Image of Trust Fund Beauty's nail polish in the color
$15 for a full-size bottle at trustfundbeauty.com

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

Image of Red Carpet Manicure Color Dip nail polish in
$9.99 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!

Have a lovely week!

–Sarah xoxo

What’s It All About?

For the longest time, my beauty regimen was minimal: face wash, toner, acne spot treatment, moisturizer, sunscreen, eyeshadow primer, eyeshadow, eyeliner, done. I might do a clay mask every once in a while, but most of them would dry out before I got around to using them up. I was a Beauty Insider at Sephora, but I basically only shopped there when I ran out of eyeshadow primer or to pick up my free birthday gift. I grew up doing ballet and dance team, so I was no stranger to makeup–I just had little patience for it, and it didn’t really bring me any joy. I did the absolute minimum to (mostly) take care of my skin and to look awake when I showed up to work. I did some research when trying to find the best tattoo coverage method for my wedding (if only I knew what I know now!), but I was functional at best when it came to beauty in general. Everything changed when my husband bought me an ipsy subsription in May of 2017.

From there, I was hooked, and I quickly dove head-first into the world of beauty and self care. I started following some of the ipsy creators on Instagram and Youtube, which led me to other beauty gurus on Youtube; I joined the Ultamate Rewards Program at Ulta (and went Platinum in less than 6 months–oops!), and I stepped up my beauty game, like whoa. I cleaned old, expired junk out of my makeup armoire, started experimenting with new cosmetics and skincare products, got over my aversion to liquid foundation…it’s been a journey already, and I’ve only scratched the surface.

By the end of summer 2017, I felt inspired to work on uncovering my best self, both inside and out. I was soaking up all the beauty knowledge I could, so surface beauty: check. My husband and I already ate healthier than the average American (most of the time–this is all about balance, right?), so eating well: check, but there’s always room for improvement. I wasn’t working out as regularly as I should because I always felt strapped for time and having a back injury made high-intensity workouts nearly impossible–I was also good at coming up with excuses, can you tell? If I left my workout until after work, I’d manage to reason my way out of doing it by the time I got home. So to eliminate that temptation, I decided to start getting up at 4:15 every morning to do a Yoga or Pilates video on Youtube. After just one month, I could feel my back getting stronger, which meant I could start pushing myself to do more challenging exercises. I even managed to start jogging again without being in excruciating pain the next day. Since August 14, 2017, I have worked out every. single. day. Some days that’s a HIIT workout, and other days that’s just a deep stretching session, but I can feel the difference. (My Move Streak on my Apple Watch is a huge motivator–I want to close all the rings every day!) So being active: check.

Between the beauty gurus promoting more products than you could ever use (or afford), the diet “experts” promoting the latest miracle food plan, and the exercise know-it-alls promoting the latest workout regimen that will help you drop 10 pounds in 2 days, it’s an overwhelming amount of information to sift through and assess. Being an expert in any one of those fields is literally a full-time job, and my full-time job isn’t in any of them.

I’m not claiming to have all the answers, but I’m willing to share what I learn, and I’m hoping to learn some things from you. Let me tell you about things I’ve tried and love, others I’ve tried that weren’t worth it, and–even more exciting–things I can’t wait to try! Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to introduce me to my next favorite thing that I never would have heard of otherwise! None of us have it all figured out, but let’s see what we can come up with together.

–Sarah