Ireland-Bound Pt. 3: Gorgeous & Photo-Ready

Hey, y’all!

Part 3 of this travel-prepping series: skincare and makeup. I work too hard on my skin to slack off on my regimen just because I’m on vacation. We’ll be taking lots of photos, after all! When you have to worry about luggage weight, liquid limits, and just plain efficiency, how do you pack for a trip? Read on to find out my plan!

PS: any items marked with an asterisk (*) were part of my September Ulta Beauty Haul.

In My Carry-on

When I’m planning on checking a bag, I pack my beauty/personal items with the mentality that if my bag is lost when I arrive at my destination, what do I need with me to comfortably get through a night (or two) without it? I also factor in any items that I don’t want to subject to air pressure changes, as well as my pricier products that I want to make sure are handled with care.

The Liquids


I’m able to fit A LOT into this quart-size bag from the Container Store:

I’ll also be adding the hand cream and rollerball perfume that I keep in my purse, plus my travel size hydrating mist from Juice Beauty. I’m choosing to keep my makeup look on the more natural side, so I’m not planning on bringing any liquid lipsticks, just tinted lip balm.

The Non-Liquids


This cute bag was a nifty bridesmaid gift from a wedding I was in this year. In it I’ll be packing all the non-liquid items that I don’t want to leave my side:

  • A little mesh carrying case for my makeup sponges so they have a chance to dry between uses
  • Body and Face Mineral Sunscreens (in stick form)*
  • My small Z Palette for my eyeshadows (sticking with neutrals that I can mix and match)
  • Lip scrub
  • Silicone face scrubber (I’m leaving my Clearsonic at home)
  • Deodorant
  • Highlighter pencil
  • Brow pencil*
  • Eye Brightening Powder
  • Sample size translucent powder
  • My dome ZPalette that has my blushes, highlighters, pressed powder foundation (if I want to use it instead), and medium-sized Z Palette Travel Jars for my CC Cream so I don’t have to bring the whole tube

The Z Palette Travel Jars will be easy to pop out of the Z Palette and into my liquids bag to go through airport security. I’ll also be packing my epilator and its charger in my non-liquids bag before I leave.

Makeup Brushes


I’m certainly not bringing every brush I own, but it’s a decent collection of everyday essentials:

  • Spoolie
  • Angled brow brush
  • Small powder brush for setting my eyeshadow primer
  • A few different eyeshadow brushes
  • Harley Quinn blending brush
  • Concealer brush
  • Small blending brush for applying eye brightening powder
  • Angled blush brush
  • Buffing brush for blending
  • Highlighting brush
  • Foundation buffing brush for pressed powder foundation
  • Large fan brush
  • Stippling brush
  • Large powder brush

In My Checked Bag


I reserve the folding toiletry bag for the items I’m not super worried about getting lost or damaged. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. are all items you can expect to find in most hotel rooms. Do I prefer my own? Of course, but I can’t fit my entire bathroom into a quart-sized bag. 🙂

  • Travel-size hair primer*
  • Travel-size hairspray
  • Travel-size dry shampoo
  • Hair balm (transferred to a travel bottle)
  • Micellar water (transferred to a travel bottle)
  • Shampoo (transferred to a travel bottle)
  • Conditioner (transferred to a travel bottle)
  • Body wash (transferred to a travel bottle)

I’m sure there are things I’ll remember at the last minute and toss in, but I’d say my beauty regimen is all set for a belated honeymoon in Ireland! Any recommendations for things to see and do while we’re there?


Sarah xoxo

If you’d like to be notified when new posts go up, please subscribe to Balanced Life Beauty.

Instagram: sarah.elizabeth614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Twitter: @SarahLiz614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Yes, Oh Yas!: Get 3-7 full-size beauty products worth $65+ delivered to you each month for $14.99 + shipping. Use coupon code SARAH614 at checkout for 10% off your first box!

Yes, Oh Yas! July 2018

Hey, y’all!

This month’s theme was “Summer in the Desert,” and I got 5 full-size products. I don’t know about where you live, but here in Florida it’s more like a rainforest than a desert–super humid and hot, hot, hot. Anyway, these products totally scream summer. Let’s jump in!

*Note: prices listed as photo captions are what I found on the respective product websites. Retail values listed below my descriptions are what was listed by Yes, Oh Yas!

Perfect Performance Lip Colour in “Bliss”

from Sormé Cosmetics

Perfect Performance Lip Colour in "Bliss" from Sorme Treatment Cosmetics
$16; Skincare Makeup Shop

I’m not typically a bullet lipstick kind of gal. I tend to prefer matte liquid, so I’m not sure if I’m going to keep and use this (so far I’ve only swatched it). The color was much sheerer than I expected, but I don’t really like shimmery lipsticks. It’s infused with Vitamin E to moisturize and protect your lips, but I’m dubious about its staying power.

Retail Value: $22*

*Sormé doesn’t sell directly from their own website. They have authorized online retailers as well as brick and mortar retailers. Maybe this retailer has better deals?

Desert Vibes Eyeshadow Palette

from IBY Beauty

Photo of Desert Vibes Eyeshadow Palette from IBY Beauty
$20; IBY Beauty

IBY stands for “Inspired By You” (in case you were wondering). This 12-shade palette, inspired by California desert sunsets, is an absolutely gorgeous mix of matte and shimmer shades. They apply very smoothly with no fallout, and they blend effortlessly. They’re infused with Rosehip Seed Oil to protect your skin, and with the intense pigmentation, the looks you can create are endless! The arrangement of the colors within the palette from light to dark make it easier to create smooth transitions, and it’s cruelty-free. Gotta love that!

Retail Value: $25*

*A noticeable difference from the website–not sure why…

Perse Professional Smearproof Lip Liner in “Nudist P21”

from Sormé Cosmetics (?)


This one frustrates me. I can’t for the life of me find this specific lip liner online in this color. It says Sormé Company on the back, but this color is nowhere on the Sormé website, or the authorized online retailers. Whatever it is and wherever it’s from, it applies smoothly and is a nice color. I’ll have to test out the longevity to let you know for sure, but I’ve been needing a nude lip liner, so this is perfect.

Retail Value: $23

Lemongrass Exfoliating Face Wash

from Jivi

Photo of Exfoliating Face Wash in Lemongrass from Jivi
$12 for 1.7 fl. oz.; Jivi

I had never heard of this brand before, but they seem to hold themselves to some pretty high standards, which is impressive. This is from their website:

All of our products are:

  • Edible and 100% natural
  • Safe and non-toxic
  • Tear-free, hypoallergenic, and pH balanced
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Made without petrochemicals, parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, dyes…you get the point
  • Cruelty-free, and made without animal products
  • Gluten-free
  • Free of synthetic preservatives. We use vitamin E and rosemary along with our German-engineered airless bottles to give our products a 12-month shelf life
  • Designed and manufactured in Apex, NC

Pretty cool. This face wash caught me off-guard when I first used it because it’s an exfoliating face wash, but there’s no grittiness to it. It turns out the exfoliation comes from the pineapple and papaya enzymes that remove dead skin cells. The smell was a little weird at first, but I got used to it. It’s better than having perfumes in it! I probably would have liked the Eucalyptus Mint better, but oh well. I like that this leaves my face feeling clean but not totally dried out and stripped. I’m not used to being able to pronounce and identify every single ingredient in a face wash (or most beauty products, for that matter), so that was refreshing. 🙂 I’m definitely curious to check out some of their other products!

Retail Value: $18*

*This is a noticeable difference from the $12 value listed on the website. There’s no indication that it’s currently on sale or anything, so I don’t really know what to make of that.

Insanely Intense Tattooed Eyeliner in “Plum”

from Skone Cosmetics

Photo of Insanely Intense Tattooed Eyeliner from Skone Cosmetics
$15 for .07 oz.; Skone Cosmetics

I got this eyeliner in “Jet Black” in one of my first ipsy bags, and I remember liking it. I was glad to get it in “Plum” this time because it’s a nice subtle alternative to black, and I’ve been meaning to get one. The color is nice and intense, and the felt tip applicator comes to a nice fine point, so you can draw your line as thin or thick as your little heart desires. I encounter a little bit of skipping, but I’ll fully admit that that could just be user error. 🙂 Waterproof, smudge-proof, cruelty-free, and a decent price point. What’s not to love?

Retail Value: $19*

*Again with the price differences. What’s going on this month?

Total Package Value: $107*

*If you go off of the website prices, it’s $86 (assuming the lip liner price is accurate since I can’t find anything to suggest otherwise), but for $14.99, I’ll take it!

I’ve been seeing spoilers on Instagram for next month’s box, and I’m already getting excited! My July box came later in the month than usual, but at least it came! Hopefully things go back to normal in August.

What goodies did you get in your beauty subscription(s) this month? Anything you recommend?


Sarah xoxo

If you’d like to be notified when new posts go up, please subscribe to Balanced Life Beauty.

Instagram: sarah.elizabeth614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Twitter: @SarahLiz614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Yes, Oh Yas!: Get 3-7 full-size beauty products worth $65+ delivered to you each month for $14.99 + shipping. Use coupon code SARAH614 at checkout for 10% off your first box!

Ulta 21 Days of Beauty March 2018 Pt. 4

Hey, y’all!

Sorry I was a little delayed in getting this post up. I ordered online again, and my order arrived right before I went out of town for a wedding, but here we are. Let’s get to it!


Color Extend Magnetics Mega Mask

from Redken

Photo of Color Extend Magnetics Mega Mask sample from Redken
$29 for 6.8 oz.; Ulta

I don’t color my hair, so I wouldn’t normally seek out products like this, but I got a sample, so why not give it a shot? It’s a 2-in-1 treatment + care extender that comes in dual chamber packaging; it’s intended to extend the vibrancy of your hair color for up to 4 weeks, according to their website, when used with sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner.

The directions say to shampoo your hair, towel dry it, apply the mask, let it sit for 3-5 minutes, then rinse. I just shampooed, wrung out as much excess water as I could, applied it, and let it sit while I finished showering. The scent was was fine, nothing noteworthy. The mask left my hair soft, shiny, and smooth after blow-drying. I have to wash my hair more frequently than I’d like because I work out rigorously six days a week, so I’m all about deep conditioning. Luckily there was a healthy amount of product in the packet, and my hair is only shoulder length, so I can get a few more uses out of the sample. So far I can’t decide if I like it better than the Saphira Mud Treatment. I do like the Saphira scent better, but we’ll see.

Maracuja Creaseless Concealer

from Tarte Cosmetics

Photo of Maracuja Creaseless Concealer sample from Tarte Cosmetics
$26 for .28 oz.; Tarte Cosmetics

This sample came with four colors:

  • Fairly Light Neutral
  • Light Medium
  • Medium
  • Tan-Deep

I used Fairly Light Neutral. Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer is incredibly popular; I own it and like it, but I just might like this better. It’s a little bit thicker, so a little goes a long way. They both settle into the small creases under my eyes a little bit, even after baking. If you apply the Shape Tape with a brush instead of the wand, they both behave about the same, though. One big difference I notice is that the Shape Tape has a strong fragrance, while I don’t notice any fragrance with the Maracuja. It blended easily with a concealer brush and the coverage was buildable. When I use up my Shape Tape, I just might have to switch to this! (PS: it’s cruelty-free!)

Beauty Steal

Eyeshadow Primer Potion Anti-Aging

from Urban Decay

Photo of Anti-Aging Eyeshadow Primer Potion from Urban Decay
$24 for .33 oz.; Urban Decay

This has been my ride-or-die eyeshadow primer for years. I was glad when they went from the bottle to the squeeze tube because the bottle wasted so much product. I was eh about going from the squeeze tube to the tube with the applicator wand. It’s nice to not have to get my fingers dirty applying it, but I have to blend it with my finger or a beauty sponge anyway, so it doesn’t save much time. As an experiment, I put this primer on one eye and the Too Faced Shadow Insurance on the other eye. By the end of the day, I honestly couldn’t tell a difference between the two, so I’ll probably just go with whichever is on sale at any given time. This time I got it half price! It’s nice to have choices. 🙂 (PS: Vegan & cruelty-free!)

Bonus Purchases

I picked up a couple of other items that weren’t on sale.

Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes

from Neutrogena

Photo of Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes Refill Pack from Neutrogena
$6.99 for 25 ct.; Neutrogena

I don’t use makeup remover wipes regularly because I prefer cleansing oil. I sometimes use them when I travel, but I tend to use the Clinique ones because they’re gentle enough to use on my eyes. These are a little more affordable, and they’re good to have on hand when swatching, so I went ahead and picked up a refill pack.

Double Entendre Eyeshadow Palette

from ColourPop

Photo of Double Entendre Pressed Eyeshadow Palette from Colourpop
$16; ColourPop

I’ve gotten a couple of ColourPop eyeshadows in past ipsy bags, and I’ve loved them both. They have good pigmentation, smooth application, and no fallout. Considering the high quality, I was pleasantly surprised to learn how affordable ColourPop’s products are. Cruelty-free, too? I’m in love! Needless to say, I was super excited when Ulta started carrying the brand. A girl can never have too many neutral eyeshadows, so I picked up this lovely little palette. It’s 12 gorgeous colors–8 matte, 3 metallic, and 1 satin. So far I’ve only tried a couple of looks with this palette, but I’m looking forward to continuing to play with it! Totally worth purchasing.

What was your favorite purchase during this 21 Days of Beauty? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Hope your week is going well.


Sarah xoxo

If you’d like to be notified when new posts go up, please subscribe to Balanced Life Beauty.

Instagram: sarah.elizabeth614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Twitter: @SarahLiz614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Yes, Oh Yas!: Get 3-7 full-size beauty products worth $65+ delivered to you each month for $14.99 + shipping. Use coupon code SARAH614 at checkout for 10% off your first box!

Ulta 21 Days of Beauty March 2018 Pt. 3

Hey, y’all!

Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty March 2018 ends today. I’ve got one last package coming next week, but this arrived yesterday!


I ordered online in a hurry and completely forgot to ask for samples, but if you purchased $40+ of Too Faced products, you got a free gift consisting of an adorable rainbow cosmetic bag that came with two deluxe samples inside:

Better Than Sex Mascara

from Too Faced Cosmetics

Photo of Better Than Sex deluxe sample from Too Faced Cosmetics
$23 for .27 oz.; Too Faced Cosmetics

I don’t wear mascara except for the rare occasions where I wear my magnetic false lashes and want to give them a little more to grip onto. I’ll probably give this away to a friend, but I’ve heard great things about this mascara, it’s cruelty-free, and it’s very highly reviewed.

Shadow Insurance 24+ Hour Anti-Crease Eyeshadow Primer

from Too Faced Cosmetics

Photo of Shadow Insurance 24+ Hour Anti-Crease Eyeshadow Primer from Too Faced Cosmetics
$20 for .35 oz.; Too Faced Cosmetics

I love my Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (spoiler alert: that’s what’s coming in my fourth order!), but I’m looking forward to trying this out. They’re both cruelty-free, so who knows? Maybe I’ll end up with a new favorite…

Beauty Steal

Melted Matte Liquified Lipstick

from Too Faced Cosmetics

Photo of Melted Matte Liquid Lipstick from Too Faced Cosmetics in "Sell Out," "Suck It," "Queen B," and "Child Star"
$21 for .23 oz; Too Faced Cosmetics
left to right: “Sell Out,” “Suck It,” “Queen B,” and “Child Star”

I prefer liquid over regular lipstick because I find it more comfortable, and it lasts longer. Of all the liquid lipsticks I’ve tried, this is probably my favorite. I prefer a matte finish over gloss, so this is perfect. The pigmentation is fantastic, the formula lasts for hours, and it’s comfortable to wear. I was super excited when I saw it was one of the beauty steals on March 30th–half off!

I wanted to pick up some neutrals and pinks that are more work appropriate (womp womp). I already had a sample of “Queen B” and loved it, so I bought the full-size. The other colors are new for me, and I’m looking forward to taking them for a test run!

Have you tried any of these products? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Have a great weekend!


Sarah xoxo

If you’d like to be notified when new posts go up, please subscribe to Balanced Life Beauty.

Instagram: sarah.elizabeth614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Twitter: @SarahLiz614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Yes, Oh Yas!: Get 3-7 full-size beauty products worth $65+ delivered to you each month for $14.99 + shipping. Use coupon code SARAH614 at checkout for 10% off your first box!




Photo of Part 1 of my March 2018 Ulta 21 Days of Beauty haul

Ulta 21 Days of Beauty March 2018 Pt. 1

Hey, y’all!

It’s that time of year again…Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty! Twice a year, Ulta has a 3-week event of daily flash sales (“Beauty Steals”) where best-selling items will be up to 50% off for just one day. They also have weekly “Beauty Deals” where select Ulta Beauty Collection items are 50% off. On top of all that, they have “Hot Buys” that last the entirety of the event where select items are 25-40% off, but sometimes it applies to entire brands. If you’re a Platinum member, like me, or a Diamond member, you get free shipping on your purchase, even if it doesn’t meet the usual $50 minimum, as long as you have a Beauty Steal item in your cart. Throughout this event, there are some fabulous deals to be had; these aren’t just drugstore brands that are on sale. We’re talking high-end brands, too, like Urban Decay, Tarte, MAC, Strivectin, Peter Thomas Roth, etc. If you’ve never checked this out before, GET ON IT! This event is going on through April 7th, and it’ll happen again in the fall.

This is what I got in my first order of the event; more will be on the way!


I purchased online, so I got free samples; I chose the Skincare category this time.

Dipbrow Pomade

from Anastasia Beverly Hills

Photo of Dipbrow Pomade Sample from Anastasia Beverly Hills
$18 for .14 oz.; Anastasia Beverly Hills

This sample of 4 brunette shades came with the most adorable tiny brush I’ve ever seen! This was my first time using a pomade instead of a powder on my brows, and I learned very quickly that a little goes a long way. My brows were looking a little too Groucho Marx, so I took it off and started over. (Good thing my brows are the very first step of my makeup routine!) I thought I might use Chocolate on the inner half of my eyebrows and Dark Brown on the outer half to contour them, but Chocolate ended up being too light and a little too warm, so I just ended up using the Dark Brown. It’s nice just having one step instead of filling and then using a clear brow gel, but it never seemed to ever dry down to the point that it was truly smudge-proof. I don’t think I’ll be converting to pomade just yet.

Smooth & Protect Primer SPF 50

from NARS Cosmetics

Photo of Smooth & Protect Primer SPF 50 from NARS Cosmetics
$36 for 1 oz.; NARS Cosmetics

I’ve tried a sample of this primer before and I instantly fell in love. It has a similar texture to Smashbox’s cult-favorite Photo Finish primer, but it has the SPF in it, which Smashbox doesn’t. It does a great job of camouflaging pores and making my foundation last. When my Laura Geller primer runs out, this is without a doubt what I’ll be replacing it with.


Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder

from IT Cosmetics

Photo of Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder from It Cosmetics
$29 for .31 oz.; It Cosmetics

I got a sample of this in my ipsy Glam Bag a few months ago, and I really loved it. It’s translucent, so it works on any complexion. It applies like a dream and feels so great on my skin. The silk, hydrolyzed collagen, antioxidants, and peptides in it all have anti-aging properties, and on top of it all, it minimizes pores and imperfections. It leaves my skin looking truly flawless, and the compact is perfect for touching up when I’m at work or out and about. Heck, I’ll sometimes wear it by itself just to get rid of shine when I’m running errands on the weekend and don’t feel like putting on a full face of makeup.

This was one of the Beauty Steals on March 19th, so I got it for half price. Win!


Assorted Masks

from Leaders Cosmetics

One of the Hot Buys of the event is that the entire Leaders Brand is 40% off, so I picked up some new masks to try. Keep an eye out for these in future Spoil Me Sunday posts!

7 Wonders Amazonian Açai Anti-Pollution Sheet Mask

Photo of 7 Wonders Amazonian Acai Anti-Pollution Sheet Mask from Leaders Cosmetics
$6 ea. or $58 for 10; Leaders Cosmetics

Açai is full of antioxidants, and this mask also has Vitamins B, C, and E to help protect and rejuvenate skin.

7 Wonders Caribbean Coconut Calming Sheet Mask

Photo of 7 Wonders Caribbean Coconut Calming Sheet Mask from Leaders Cosmetics
$6 ea. or $58 for 10; Leaders Cosmetics

Thanks to its high Vitamin E content, coconut calms and soothes skin, reducing redness.

Daily Wonders Detox and Chill Charcoal Purifying Sheet Mask

Photo of Daily Wonders Detox and Chill Charcoal Purifying Sheet Mask from Leaders Cosmetics
$5 ea. or $48 for 10; Leaders Cosmetics or $9 for 2; Ulta

We all know how well charcoal detoxes the skin, removing impurities and minimizing pores. This mask also has Chlorella and green tea extracts to hydrate the skin.

Daily Wonders Breakup with Your Ex-Skin Cells Exfoliating Sheet Mask

Photo of Daily Wonders Breakup with Your Ex-Skin Cells Exfoliating Sheet Mask from Leaders Cosmetics
$5 ea. or $48 for 10; Leaders Cosmetics or $9 for 2; Ulta

Witch Hazel and Alpine Willow Herb extracts remove dead skin cells, unclogging pores and reducing redness, plus giving you some much-needed hydration.

Rapids Soothing Probiotic Bubble Mask

from H20+ Beauty

Photo of Rapids Soothing Probiotic Bubble Mask from H20+ Beauty
$6 for 1 fl. oz.; H20+ Beauty

I’ve never tried this brand, but I’ve always been curious to try one of these bubble masks, so why not start with one that’s on sale? It’s got probiotics, along with Champagne and Yuzu extracts to help preserve moisture in your skin. According to the product info, it should help reduce blackheads after 2 weeks with regular use (2-3 times per week). When I told my husband about it, he was fascinated and wanted to watch me use it. 😀 This will be a Spoil Me Sunday item for sure!

This was on sale for $4.80, but not as part of the 21 Days of Beauty event.

Spoiled Rotten At-Home Pampering Kit

from Patchology

Photo of Spoiled Rotten At-Home Pampering Kit from Patchology
$25 (regular price); Ulta

Another brand I haven’t tried before! This kit includes:

  • 1 Illuminate 5 Minute FlashMasque
  • 1 pair of Rejuvenating Eye Gels
  • 1 Hydrating Lip Gel
  • 1 PoshPeel Pedi Cure

I just had to get this–it has Spoil Me Sunday written all over it! Can’t wait to give these products a try. You can buy the individual items from Patchology, but it looks like this kit is only available from Ulta. Patchology has other kits and sets on their website worth checking out.

This item is one of the Hot Buys, so for the whole 3 weeks, it’s 30% off.

Will you be getting anything from 21 Days of Beauty? What do you have your eye on? Let me know in the comments!


Sarah xoxo

If you’d like to be notified when new posts go up, please subscribe to Balanced Life Beauty.

Instagram: sarah.elizabeth614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Yes, Oh Yas!: Get 3-7 full-size beauty products worth $65+ delivered to you each month for $14.99 + shipping. Use coupon code SARAH614 at checkout for 10% off your first box!

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!


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!


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.


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.


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. 🙂


Sarah xoxo

If you’d like to be notified when new posts go up, please subscribe to Balanced Life Beauty.

Instagram: sarah.elizabeth614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Yes, Oh Yas!: Get 3-7 full-size beauty products worth $65+ delivered to you every month for $14.99 + shipping. Use coupon code SARAH614 at checkout for 10% off your first box!

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

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!


Sarah xoxo

If you’d like to be notified when new posts go up, please subscribe to Balanced Life Beauty.

Instagram: sarah.elizabeth614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

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!



Sarah xoxo

Brushing Up on Beauty Hygiene

Hey, y’all!

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

Daily Cleaning

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

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

Deep Cleaning

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

Makeup Brush Cleansing Palette

from Real Techniques

Photo of Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette

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

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

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

Baby Shampoo

from Up & Up

Photo of Up & Up Baby Shampoo
$2.39; Target

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

Tea Tree Oil

Photo of Eve Hansen Tea Tree Oil

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

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

Drying Tips

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

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

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

–Sarah xoxo

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

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