Summer 2015 Sephora Haul

Wow, it’s been awhile since I did a haul post, huh? I’m happy to say that the reason is mainly because I did manage to stick to a beauty no-buy for several months; beyond the essentials like replacement shampoo, deodorant, renewing my PocketDerm script, etc, I’ve been a very good girl and have stuck to just whittling down my massive stash rather than making new purchases.

However, when eBates emailed me with the opportunity to turn my cash back reward into a Sephora gift card, I saw the excuse for a haul and jumped!

This urge was only solidified when I saw that Sephora had brought back a kit that I’d missed and envied horribly last year: their Summer Sun Safety set. Given how the sunscreen category seems to have exploded this year (seriously, browsing through the sun protection category, it seems like almost every brand has recognized what we Asian beauty devotees already realized: people with different skincare needs also have different sunscreen formulation needs, as well – look at all those new products!) it’s actually probably a blessing in disguise that I waited until this year, just for the new variety!

As you can see, I ended up buying a few more things than just the suncare kit… they had a number of kits that really piqued my interest from brands that I’d been lusting after for some time, so I just went a little nuts. This is a full-blown Sephora haul!

Hit the jump to see all the madness~
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Holika Holika Real Skin Finish Review (Oily/Combination aka “Purple” Variety)

Today I’m going to finally post my Holika Holika Real Skin Finish review. This is a product that I’ve recommended to a few people across the internet, and it was the first Holika Holika product that I tried and loved – so you could say that this product is entirely responsible for starting my love affair with the Holika Holika brand!

I’ve seen a lot of confusion over just what, exactly, the Real Skin Finish is even meant to do for your skin. Well, it’s kind of a multi-purpose product. It functions as a makeup base, a CC cream, a brightening product, a sunscreen, and even manages to give you some hydration as well. There are two varieties available: the purple is meant for oily/combo skin types, and the pink is meant for people with dryer skin. I have the oily/combo skin variety, so that’s what I’ll be talking about today. If you’re interested in the pink version, Muse posted a good review here.

There is also a “premium” version of this product with higher SPF and some other ingredients, but I don’t have it so I can’t really give you any honest comparisons.

holika holika real skin finish

Let’s start with the fact that the container is soooo freaking cute! It’s a shiny lavender plastic tub (I know, not really hygienic, but as this stuff is pretty thick I kinda understand why, I guess) with possibly the prettiest Butterfly-emblazoned cap that you’ve ever seen. Witness:

butterfly cap

Cute, cute, cute. I will note that it appears my camera washed out the pale lavender a bit – it’s looking pretty pink in some of these photos. I expect it has to do with the shiny/reflective plastic that’s on the cap, making it a little hard to get a true color. It’s definitely a pastel lavender IRL, not light pink.

open cream

The cream itself is a very, very pale pinky-lavender, really almost white. However, don’t worry – it blends easily and won’t make you look like a mime or anything! Like so many Asian “whitening” products, this relies on the sunscreen ingredients to give you a slight white cast for the brightening effect. If you use too much and don’t blend it well, you’ll look a bit pasty, so you do need to take care and make sure that you don’t go overboard! It’s for this reason (and the sub-par SPF 25 rating) that I’d recommend you still use another, stronger sunscreen product if you plan on being in sunlight – depending on your skintone, you may not be able to use enough of the Real Skin Finish to get the full SPF 25, and even then, SPF 50 is really a better choice. However, on overcast days when I know I’ll not be going outside (or when I’m on a nocturnal schedule and I’ll be indoors), I do sometimes just leave my SPF at this product since it should be sufficient for days when my sun exposure is so limited.

Obviously, since this has sunscreens and those can be very clogging for most people, you’ll want to wash this off with a good makeup remover or oil cleanser at the end of the day. Even though it feels really hydrating, don’t be tempted to use it as a night cream!

Click the read more for swatches and a full review!

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Sasa.com & eBay Haul: More Asian Beauty Products (Featuring Photos, Descriptions & Mini Reviews)!

Apparently the mail service tapped into the speed force this month, because most of my overseas purchases from the last week of July have somehow arrived already! Usually it takes about 3-4 weeks for me to receive packages from Asia. Well, I’m not complaining! It’s been great fun having so much mail these past few weeks between my Etsy buys and now these all these earlier-than-expected packages~

Sasa August 2014 Haul

So this haul is from various eBay sellers and SASA.com, a well known place to buy Asian products online. As you can see, I got a decent range of Asian beauty products this time around – sunscreen, sheet masks, lipsticks, BB cream, etc.

Want specifics and some serious TL;DR about my product choices? Like you had to ask! Just click the read more~
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Sephora Haul: Happy Birthday to Me Edition!

So, my birthday is at the beginning of August, meaning that about a week or two ago I received my card from Sephora’s VIB program telling me that it was time to redeem my special birthday gift. Since I had already been plotting an order – both to restock some essentials as well as to splurge and get myself a few presents – they didn’t have to tell me twice!

Sephora Haul

Mostly skincare items as per usual, but my two birthday treats were a cosmetics kit and a perfume. I’d been eyeing both for years, but for some reason it’s a lot harder for me to justify makeup and fragrance purchases than skincare, so I’d put them off over and over.

Sephora Samples

Between active codes, my rewards points, and my VIB birthday gift, I was able to net a ton of samples & GWP items as well. The sheet mask wasn’t a freebie, but it wouldn’t fit in the photo with the full-sized items.

Sephora Haul Unboxed

Here’s the main attractions looking all pretty unboxed. I gotta say, I personally love Dr. Jart’s packaging for the Water line. That color is one of my favorites and everything manages to look high-end without actually being in fragile glass bottles or anything!

I’ll go over everything individually for the curious, so hit the read more if you’d like to see the specifics!

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Shopping the Sephora Clearance Rack: 7/18/14 Edition + Coupon Codes!

Earlier in the month I made my first post in what will be an ongoing series wherein I continually scour the Sephora clearance section and bring you my picks for the best deals, as well as any current coupon codes and my tips & tricks for the getting the best bang for your buck at Sephora. You can read more about the idea in the previously linked post if you’re curious as to how this feature came to be, but for now let’s just jump right into the sales!

Sephora Summer Crushes

First up is the Summer Crushes set, currently discounted to $40 from an original price of $45. Now, I personally adore sample sets like these – it gives product lovers like me a way to dabble with a ton of shiny new items without having to buy full sizes and risking disappointment or wasted cash. This set in particular is summer-themed, and it includes miniature versions of beachy items like LAVANILA Vanilla Coconut perfume, Bumble & bumble Surf Spray, and a myriad of items meant for both sun protection (lip balm, SPF serum, etc) as well as recovery items if you pushed the sun-worshipping a bit too far and got burned (restorative treatments for your hair, soothing masks for your skin, and so on). You can see the product details and sizes in the actual listing, but if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors this summer, this might be a set that you’ll want to grab before it’s gone.

Ready for the rest of my picks & tips? Hit the read more button!

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Peter Thomas Roth’s Oily Problem Skin Instant Mineral SPF 30 Powder Review

I have that classic clog/acne prone complaint: almost all sunscreen – or sunscreen containing products – make me look greasy, clog my pores and cause tons of obnoxious breakouts. Protecting the skin from the sun, sure, but at the cost of stressing it out and inflaming it in a different way – there has to be a better way, right?

Now, I’ve since had my eyes opened to the wonders of Asian sunscreen formulas, but prior to that discovery I was pretty much only looking at products I could obtain locally. I’d narrowed my possibilities to either SPF powder or a serum, as those two delivery systems seemed to be the least likely to contain some of the more clogging ingredients found in most sunscreens – after all, I figured, my issue was most likely with ingredients in the product base, not the actual SPF actives, so perhaps changing the format of my SPF would make it more tolerable to my clogs-at-the-speed-of-light skin type.

With that in mind, I purchased Peter Thomas Roth’s Oily Problem Skin Instant Mineral SPF 30 Powder. With ingredients like willow bark (known for helping to soothe irritated/inflamed skin, and an ingredient that I know works very well for me personally) and kaolin (to help control oil), I had high hopes for this product to be the solution for my sunscreen woes.

Here are the precise ingredients, courtesy of Peter Thomas Roth – Clinical Skin Care:
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS:
TITANIUM DIOXIDE 13.65%, ZINC OXIDE 14.70%.

INACTIVE INGREDIENTS:
ILLITE, SILICA, BARIUM SULFATE, TAPIOCA STARCH, ALUMINUM STARCH OCTENYLSUCCINATE, ALUMINUM HYDROXIDE, STEARIC ACID, SALICYLIC ACID, SALIX ALBA (WILLOW) BARK EXTRACT, RETINYL PALMITATE (VITAMIN A), ASCORBYL PALMITATE (VITAMIN C), TOCOPHERYL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), DIMETHICONE/VINYL DIMETHICONE CROSSPOLYMER, MAGNESIUM MYRISTATE, KAOLIN, MALTODEXTRIN, TRIETHOXYCAPRYLYLSILANE, WATER (AQUA), BUTYLENE GLYCOL, CHLORPHENESIN, POTASSIUM SORBATE, TETRASODIUM EDTA.

MAY CONTAIN: MICA, BISMUTH OXYCHLORIDE, IRON OXIDES, MANGANESE VIOLET, CHROMIUM OXIDE GREENS, CHROMIUM HYDROXIDE GREEN, FERRIC FERROCYANIDE, ALUMINUM POWDER, CARMINE.

There are a few possibly problematic ingredients here.

First off is Stearic Acid, netting a 2 on the acne trigger scale. I’ve known a few people who are sensitive to anything with stearic acid involved, so be aware that if this is one of your acne instigators, you probably don’t want to try this particular product.

Other risky ingredients are Retinyl Palmitate (antioxidant, 2 for acne, 1 for irritation – also the victim of a lot of misguided bad press circulated by well-meaning bloggers, allow Paula Begoun to dispel some myths for you), Ascorbyl Palmitate (antioxidant, 2 for acne), and Butylene Glycol (a solvent/conditioning agent with some bad rep circulating the internet, but still generally considered safe, 1 for acne).

In regards to the SPF actives, Zinc Oxide protects from both UVA and UVB rays and rates a 1 as a possible acne trigger; Titanium Dioxide handles UVB and some UVA and doesn’t bring up any warning rating.

So how well does this sunscreen powder work? Read on!

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Shopping the Sephora Clearance Rack: 7/8/14 Edition

Growing up with a single parent, I grew up with a love for deals and discounts well-ingrained. One of my favorite things to do in that regard is what I call the “Sephora clearance creep” – I seriously check their sale section online at least 3-4x per week. I’ve learned a few things from this constant canvassing, and today I want to share them with you!

  • Limited-edition items – whether they’re individual products, sets, or palettes – will almost always end up on sale within a few months, assuming of course that they don’t sell out. So if you see a gorgeous Tarte or Too Faced set or are lusting after one of their Sephora + PANTONE Color of the Year products and can be patient, the object of your desire will most likely turn up in the clearance pages soon enough. I recently managed to snag the absolutely gorgeous Sephora + PANTONE Color Gaze Brush Set this way – when it was first introduced, I fell in love with the gorgeous radiant orchid themed brushes and the continuing parade of glowing reviews only cemented my desire. I waited, though, and sure enough it got discounted and I was able to snap it up for only $38! Now I have a fab brush set and I didn’t have to break the bank to get it, all because I was willing to both wait and keep checking back!
  • Sephora updates the sale section very, very often. You’ll see new items on almost a day to day basis if you check frequently enough. They do tend to discount high-demand, non-limited items every so often; I usually see Peter Thomas Roth and Tarte items do a sort of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance at least a few times per month. These items tend to sell out REALLY fast – like, within a day at most usually – so when you see a non-discontinued brand or item pop up in the sale pages, make your purchase decision sooner rather than later. Do note, however, that most of these items are nearing their sell-by date – they won’t be expired when they get to you or anything, but you should plan on using them when you get them rather than putting them into a backlog.
  • If an item you’ve been waffling over disappears from the sale section, don’t despair – keep checking back. I’ve seen items go out of stock and then reappear, still discounted. My pet theory is that they’re getting in the stock from their brick and mortar locations after the items have been taken off the floor, and that’s why you can sometimes see a particular item or set vanish and rematerialize several times over a few months. Examples lately would be the Disney special edition cosmetics – the Ariel lipglosses and nail polish set has been popping in and out for about six months at this point, likewise the DKNY Delicious perfumes have been there and back again quite often!
  • Definitely read the reviews before making any buys! Some items are discounted because Sephora just overestimated how much stock they’d realistically move of that certain product, but others languish for ages as nobody buys them because they’re simply not very good items. Case in point is the Sephora + PANTONE Nail Ambrosia Trio – the colors appear lovely, but the reviews are abysmal. While you can always go out on a limb and then fall back on their excellent return policy, IMO if you’ve got like twenty people in a row claiming that a nail polish set, for example, arrived dried out and nigh unusable, I personally wouldn’t even bother.

With all that said, I thought it would be fun for me to put together a semi-regular feature where I spotlight the items from the sale section that I’ve either recently purchased or am plotting to buy soon. Let’s give it a shot, shall we?

Sugar House Lane

Nails Inc. Sprinkles Special Effects Polish – $5 – Only one color (Sugar House Lane) is still in stock, but if that color scheme appeals to you, I’d personally snap this one up. I bought the pastel blue version, Pudding Lane, a few months ago, and I was really happy with how it looked – I’ll have to do swatches for it when I get my camera situation sorted. It definitely looks like some kind of sweet candy with its sprinkles and lovely finish!

The X Look

Formula X The X Look Set – $13 – I actually bought this last month and was happy to find that, despite being a Christmas 2013 set, the polishes are still very fresh and easy to use. I’ve actually got Atom & Eve from this set on my toes right now! The set gives you mini sizes of four Formula X polishes: Atom & Eve, Mr. Positivity, Dark Matter, and Bond, Ionic Bond as well as two sets of nail accent appliqués. If you’re interested in at least two of the colors, at this price I’d say go for it!

Boscia Summer Skin Duo

Boscia Summer Skin Duo – $38 – I have this in my basket at the moment, actually! I’ve been all about trying new SPF products and BB creams this summer, and I’ve generally been quite pleased with Boscia whenever I’ve tried their products. This set was originally $78, which to me was wayyy overpriced for a sunscreen and BB cream duo, but at it’s current price point it becomes far more appealing. You get a 1.7 fl oz Daily Defense Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA+++ (supposedly with anti-aging ingredients as well) and a 1.75 fl oz B.B. Cream Bronze Broad Spectrum SPF 27 PA++ (lowish SPF for my taste, but it supposedly gives you a sun-kissed look with some coverage/blurring of imperfections). Assuming a good promo code comes along in time, I plan on grabbing this set!

Too Faced Candy Bar

Too Faced Candy Bar Pop-Out Makeup Palette & Phone Case – $15 – I have a huge weakness for cute palettes, especially when they focus on shades of nudes or browns. This palette definitely falls into that, but I’m putting my foot down as I already have quite a few veeeeerry similar palettes. If I had an iPhone, I’d justify it just for the cute chocolate bar phone case, but I don’t… so no candy bar for me, sadly!

Maracuja Blush & Glow

Tarte Maracuja Blush & Glow – $16 – I’ve heard a lot of good things about this product. It’s just that, similar to my palette problem, I’m a sucker for peachy blushes and thus have too many already! So while Sunlight is definitely tempting me, I’m going to resist. I think. However, it is a gorgeous product – check out the review and swatches for it that Muse did awhile back As of this writing, only Sunlight is in stock, but that can always change.

Bronze & Glow

Tarte Bronze & Glow Matte Bronzer & Cheek Tint – $16 – This is sooo tempting as it also nets rave reviews (once again, Muse did a lovely swatch and write-up of this item) but I simply don’t use bronzer enough to make buying this a good choice. I just got a VIB-size of the Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer and I’ve got the Holika Holika Love Fantasy Blusher in Choco en route to me from Korea at the moment (see Cominica’s review/swatches here, it’s such a cute product!), so I feel like I’m pretty stocked on bronzers for now.

Radiant Femme Set

SEPHORA+PANTONE UNIVERSE
The Face: Radiant Femme Artistry Set – $39
– Another big one on my wishlist, this set features a group of products all based on the 2014 “color of the year” called radiant orchid. It happens to be a gorgeous and wearable pink, so I’m finding this year’s batch of products much more interesting than last year’s emerald offerings. You get a cute cosmetic bag, a unique chrome nail polish shade, a liquid liner, a cream blush, a matte lipstick, and a face/body luminizer. I’m just dawdling in hopes that the price goes down a bit more, honestly.

Formula X Press Pods

Formula X Press Pods – $24 – I’ve been really pleased with all the Formula X polishes and products that I’ve tried so far, so this set really appeals to me. You get 24 shades, each with just enough polish for one manicure. Sounds like a pretty fun way to try a bunch of colors IMO! Similar to the Boscia SPF set, I’m pretty much just trying to hold out for a good promo code to swoop in and snap this up.

Formula X Holograms

Formula X Hologram Polishes – $6 – Like I said above, I really dig the Formula X brand. I’ve been wanting to try the Hologram finish, and it just so happens that the only color left in stock (Voodoo, a fuschia shade) is the one I was most interested in grabbing. It’s in my bag!

So, what about you guys? See anything you plan on grabbing? Or do you already have any of the items I’ve mentioned? If you do, I’d love to hear what you think about some of my possible future purchases!I’ll probably do more posts like this once the clearance section has changed enough that I have enough new wants for another post. This way I can pretend that my window shopping is productive, right?