Ulta 21 Days of Beauty September 2018 Pt. 1

Hey, y’all!

I can’t believe that time of year has already come and gone…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 or Diamond member, like me, you get free shipping on your purchase, even if it doesn’t meet the usual 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, Philosophy, MAC, Strivectin, Peter Thomas Roth, etc. If you’ve never checked this out before, be on the lookout for March 2019!

This is what I got in my first order of the event.

Samples

I purchased online, so I got free samples.

Stay Matte Oil-Free Makeup

from Clinique

Photo of sample Stay Matte Oil-Free Makeup from Clinique
$27; Clinique

This sample came with 3 shades: Ivory, Neutral, and Golden. There are a total of 20 shades available. Can’t really tell how good the product is because the sample is so small. Oh well.

Angel Muse Eau de Parfum

from Mugler

Photo of sample Angel Muse Eau de Parfum from Mugler

This perfume is waaaaay too sweet for my taste. Fragrance notes include: grapefruit, pink peppercorn, hazelnut cream, vetiver, and patchouli. If gourmands are your jam, you can also get this in a rollerball. This sample will be going straight to my giveaway bag.

Makeup

Mineral Veil Finishing Powder SPF 25 in “Original”

from bareMinerals

Photo of Original Mineral Veil Finishing Powder SPF 25 from Bare Minerals
$23 for .3 oz.; bareMinerals

I’d never tried any bareMinerals products before, but I figured for half price, why not? When you live in Florida, you take advantage of any SPF protection you can get. You can either get the original Mineral Veil (completely translucent, works for all skin tones) or the tinted one that has a hint of warmth to it. This finishing powder blends beautifully and leaves your makeup with a soft finish. Considering it has SPF to boot, I might have found a new favorite instead of my CoverFX finishing powder.

This was one of the Beauty Steals on September 9th, so I got it for $11. 🙂

Bonus Purchase

I added one more item to my cart that wasn’t part of the sale. I needed it and figured I’d take advantage of the free shipping.

Plum Antimicrobial Face Brush

from Michael Todd Beauty

Photo of Plum Antimicrobial Face Brush from Michael Todd Beauty
$18; Michael Todd Beauty

Since I use my Clearsonic pretty much every day, I replace the brush every 6 months. It was time!


What items did you pick up during 21 Days of Beauty? Let me know in the comments!

Love,

Sarah xoxo


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Ulta Beauty Haul: March 2018

Hey, y’all!

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

The Samples

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

Cushion Complexion 5-in-1 Skin Perfector with Turmeric

from Julep

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

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

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

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

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

Lemon & Sage Body Butter

from Bliss

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

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

Now let’s move on to the actual haul!

Skincare

Retinol Advanced Brightening Serum

from Skincare L de L Cosmetics

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

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

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

Hydrating Night Cream

from Derma E

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

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

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

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

Firming DMAE Moisturizer

from Derma E

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

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

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

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

Scar Gel

from Derma E

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

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

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

Sonicsmooth Replenishment Kit

from Michael Todd Beauty

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

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

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

Makeup

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

from Maybelline

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

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

Luxury Baking Powder – Lace

from Makeup Revolution

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

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

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

Tools

Expert Concealer Brush

from Real Techniques

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

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

Retractable Lip Brush

from e.l.f. Cosmetics

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

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

Nails

Nail Recovery Kit

from Nail Tek

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Love,

Sarah xoxo


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

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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.

img_0816

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.

img_0819
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

5980168c-c0e7-4d4a-8d4e-dbdde38c9987

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

2cdef6ca-badd-4e53-9e87-d1486d924931

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!

img_0835

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