I’ve finally reached the breaking point of any makeup enthusiast’s nightmare: the makeup purge.

getting rid of your old makeup

I’m embarrassed to admit it: I have an obsession when it comes to collecting [aka hoarding] makeup. But let me first describe how I’ve been poorly managing my stock pile of random makeup products, and how I finally confronted this issue for the ultimate but necessary purge.

THE PROBLEM
I can’t help that I get furiously curious about a new makeup item on the store shelf, or when I encounter a product I maybe heard some random girl mentioning some time ago. Sometimes I’ll be good enough to stray from purchasing that new makeup product. Other times, I’m terrible — I will shrug off thoughts about my current mess and buy that [yet-another] mascara, or eyeliner, or lipstick, etc. Anything to tell myself, “But I don’t have this exact shade and will never find it again,” or “The one I have at home will run low soon,” or… ya know what I mean. Once in a while I’ll notice that my tiny vanity table is out of space, so I’ll grab some items that I haven’t reached for in the last maybe 2-4 weeks and toss them into a ziplock bag, storing them away in a storage box in my closet. Then I’ll usually use that new item a few times before I get bored or learn it’s not working for me. I get lazy to make any effort of returning unused/disliked items. Then I habitually repeat the vicious cycle all over again the next time I’m in that makeup hoarding mode. Before I know it, I’ve wasted too much time and money and I’m stuck with a pile of forgotten makeup.

THE PURGE
I was feeling guilty looking around at my room — the excess, the mess, the shame — which led me to my ultimate decision. This weekend I raged to re-organized my vanity table, and while at it, I tackled my closet too. I pulled out that heavy box of old collected makeup baggies and went through everything. I got rid of nearly 75% of my makeup collection. Several were old drugstore products, a few were department store brands. Most of them were accumulated over the past year, but even a few random ancient items were from at least two years ago. Um, gross?

Looking at it, I couldn’t believe that I let it get that far. I felt disgusted at myself. But this is a huge lesson learned, and I encourage you all to do the same. From here on out (at least at the best of my will power) I vow to be smarter and cleaner when it comes to my makeup collection. I listed some note-to-self tips below on how to prevent this in the future:

 

HOW TO AVOID HOARDING MAKEUP

1  –  Identify your Needs vs. Wants
Keep an organized running “wish list” of products that you learn of or get curious to try. Every now and then, I’d mark which ones are ‘nice to haves’ versus ones that are ‘must haves’ in my collection. The must haves should be things that you need because 1) you’ve lost or run out of your favorite product and now is a good time to replace it, and/or 2) you’ve done plenty of research on this item and it’s the best option to up your makeup game. The ‘Nice-to-Haves’ should be things that you don’t necessarily know too much about yet but heard a few comments on it, or are things you’re waiting to replace your eyeliner when you’ve run out. I’ve done this in the past and found that it helps to keep my mindless shopping under control since I have a list to focus on and refer to the next time I’m at the beauty/cosmetics aisle.

2  –  Return unused/dissatisfactory products
Sometimes you won’t be able to really feel out a new product or notice any allergies until you’ve used it a few times, which is why most stores are really lenient to customer returning cosmetics products, e.g. Walgreens, Sephora, Ulta, larger department stores, etc. I started to keep all my receipts for makeup/beauty purchases in an organizer. This way I can see how much I’m spending lately, how frequently I make purchases, and most importantly I’ll have the option to return any items I ended up disliking.

 3  –  Label your makeup
This is a pretty advanced step, but you can use small label stickers to write a purchase date (and/or even a price) as a ‘Note to Self’ reminding you to make use of the product. I often felt that I wish I knew how long I’ve had a certain product, because makeup items do expire. Other times I wish I could quickly remember how much I’ve spent on something, because it would better help me evaluate its costs to its quality/benefits amongst my other items on the vanity. Of course, I don’t think you should commit yourself to this unless you’re certain you’ll be keeping the item. I also recommend placing a label somewhere that won’t obstruct the pretty packaging.

 

Hopefully I’m not the only one with this makeup hoarding habit, but I think these steps will prove to be helpful. I’m sure there’s some other cool ways to be efficient with your makeup collection, so please do share some tips and thoughts on this!

Pretty & Peace.

 

 

I’ve finally stepped foot outside this country for the first time! Last month, I flew to the Bahamas for my birthday celebration. AND I found the perfect coral lip color to greet the warm paradise island.

These are my first-ever MAC products, so I’m really not too sure what to expect. The first thing that stole my attention was definitely this amazing coral color in the lipstick, and the panic feeling of how I just will never ever find a color just as perfect as this (as probably I say about every lipstick I encounter). Plus, they didn’t cost as much as I originally fantasized all MAC products to be. So I’ve been putting these to the test over the new spring, read on for my notes!

mac_lipstick

MAC Lipstick in Vegas Volt (Amplified Cream), $16

Pros:

  • high pigment payoff
  • perfect coral color, combination of orange + red + hue of pink, perfect for neutral to light tan skin tones
  • creamy texture
  • non-sticky
  • in between a shine and soft matte finish
  • lasts well throughout day, just re-apply a thin layer after eating

Cons:

  • not as moisturizing, feels like it dries out lips, need a really good lip balm
  • basic packaging, not that upscale
  • leaves streak marks when applying, have to brush or rub in the cream
  • typical lipstick scent is distracting

The color is just red and orange with a slight pinky hue, and works ideally for those with a light tan or neutral skin tone so that the lips pop well. Unfortunately, my skin leans more on the warm olive tones so after a week of being out in the sun, my skin got a bit too tan to pair with this color. Definitely looking to shed off a few shades before I can use it just right again!

 

mac_lippencil

MAC Lip Pencil in Lasting Sensation, $16

Pros:

  • stiffer/dry texture provides more control while still giving off great color
  • long-lasting formula, helps keep lipstick on longer
  • great color payoff, perfect match to lipstick
  • wooden pencil casing is easy to sharpen without losing/wasting color product in any breakage
  • longer pencil, which means you get more lip product to use

Cons:

  • not as moisturizing either (probably explains why it has a more solid texture)

Rarely do you get a lipliner that is both moisturizing and easy to control. I’ve seen some that are too creamy that it’s difficult to draw with since the texture is too slippery. Then there are those I’ve seen that are too solid/dry in texture so even though I do get a good handle on it, I don’t however get any color. This lipliner however does provide a good color despite that it’s a kohl texture! The only downside however is that it’s also not moisturizing (which explains why it’s a stiffer texture) so of course, do remember to apply a thin mild lip balm before using this liner. Speaking of which, I recommend using Nivea’s A Kiss of Smoothness lip balm for its ultra-hydrating yet light and mild-enough texture that won’t interfere with any lip cosmetics application.

 

mac_lipprimer

MAC Prep + Prime Lip, $16

Pros:

  • clear, matte finish
  • helps both your lipliner and lipstick to stay on longer
  • twist-up tube packaging
  • narrow shape to easily reach and cover the corners of lips

Cons:

  • says it’s supposed to moisturize, but it doesn’t really add much, still need a lip balm first

 

Clearly I went for a complete multi-step set (primer + liner + lipstick) to really give them a fair chance. Overall, I was pretty pleased to see what MAC has to offer in their lips section given their cost point. It looked like they had a hefty well-sorted collection of colors and textures with cool names. Plus the workers are pretty helpful with choosing out colors that work well with your skin color — and I actually really appreciate that (cause you know, sometimes workers push such bad color for you to try and you’re forced to pretend its totally working on you). Anyhow, sounds like I’m thinking about trying other MAC products soon — down to hear any recommendations anyone can give for a MAC-noob like me. Definitely curious about their eyeliners or eyeshadows, so perhaps they’ll be my next bet?

 

DSCN0271copy

If you haven’t made up your mind on matte eyeshadow palettes, then you should check out the ‘Eyes Are the Window’ palette in Mind by Stila. It’s packaged in a gorgeous gold case with a large compact mirror which sold me from the start. I’ve been looking for a fully matte eyeshadow set for a long time now and nothing beats the quality and range you get from the Mind piece.

Stila – Eyes Are the Window in the set ‘Mind’ ($49 at Sephora)

pros:

  • Carefully selected shades makes it work for any skin tone
  • Fully matte colors
  • Large mirror
  • High blending ability
  • Easy to create multiple makeup looks
  • Portable, easy to travel with, fits in the size of your palm

cons:

  • Does not last long *use a strong effective primer
  • Pricier, high-end

I’ve traveled with just this palette in my makeup bag and found that it does the job for any occasion from a daylook to a nightlook, casual or fancy. What’s really impressive is how easily you can tell that each shade is carefully selected to the right pitch — the colors work so well for any skin tone whether that’s pink or fair or warm/olive. Not only that, but the texture of the eyeshadow has a pressed-powder finish, allowing you to blend without losing the color entirely. I tend to go for a smokey look and would use about 2-3 colors. But it’s also amazing for more advanced layered looks that require multiple colors. I do notice however that the makeup starts to crease more than others by about half-day, even with my normal primer. It could be that its stiffer powder almost prevents itself from staying on long enough on the lids. Just be sure to use a very reliable eyeshadow primer and make sure to let the primer dry completely before applying — that way you don’t get that funky uneven patches of eyeshadow on your lids.

Though its at a higher price point, I’d say that it’s truly a great value for what you get: 12 pure matte colors! For those of you who prefer usable matte shades without having to lug around multiple palettes, I recommend you try this out and get some peace of mind. 🙂

Eyebrows can really MAKE or BREAK your whole look.

As of late, I’ve been spending more time and focus on my eyebrows than any other part of my daily makeup routine. My recent purchases have been primarily on eyebrow products because honestly, my eyebrows need help: they’re sparse, thin, and short which makes it so important for me to get them perfect-o. An excellent product for me will be one that is well-pigmented, has great staying-power, and is easy to use.

Through the search, I came across two very similar yet different products for the eyebrows, and found a surprising winner between the two.

Benefit Brow Zing in Medium, $32
It was the endless recommendations, high ratings, and curiosities that led me to try the Benefit Brow Zing But I’ve got to say I wasn’t amazed by this product. Maybe I’m just being picky. But I expected a lot for this high-end eyebrow kit because I already love Benefit’s mascaras, blushes, and primer. After giving it many tries, I had stronger reasons to return this item.


PROS:
  • sleek, compact case with large mirror,
  • comes with mini on-the-go tools: blending brush + flat angle brush + tweezers
  • includes a wax base to keep hairs in place and a powder base to outline and fill
CONS:
  • the wax-base is light — not as pigmented as it looks
  • has a strong unpleasant odor (must be the wax formula)
  • too expensive — more costly than most eyebrow products
I’m sure the Benefit Brow Zing is great for others, but not for me. This will work best for those who have slightly denser eyebrows than what I have, and those who don’t need to do much filling as I do.


e.l.f. Cosmetics Eyebrow Kit in Dark – $3

Beware of the underdogs — the e.l.f. Eyebrow Kit was a surprise winner to me. It looks just like the Benefit Brow Zing with a wax base and powder duo, except this one was only $3! (and reasons below):

PROS:

  • AFFORDABLE & EFFECTIVE
  • comes with a dense double-ended brush to shape and fill
  • includes a wax base to keep hairs in place and a powder base to outline and fill
  • sleek small compact with mirror included
  • wax base is long-lasting, well pigmented, true to color — unscented!
  • more color duos available: in Light, Medium, Dark, and Ash

CONS:

  • none!
Although e.l.f. Cosmetics isn’t typically considered as a ‘high-end’ or department store brand, it’s hands-down one of the best brands I’ve ever tried. This kit is best for those with sparse, thin, and lighter eyebrows because it fills very well while still giving a natural look.

If you were looking for a new eyebrow kit to use at a better price, I say go for e.l.f. Cosmetics. My opinions may not reflect those of others, but consider what your skin type, shape, and features are like. Try different brands — even if it’s the same kind of product — to find what will suit you best, and brings the best value.

I hope this helped and I hope you enjoyed this review as much as I did writing it. Come to think of it, I think I’ll do more of this comparison type of review between two (or more) similar products from different brands, so do look out for more!

We all know that the popular retailer Forever 21 is all about bringing top fashion trends in apparel and accessories at accessible and affordable prices. They’ve also always had a cute selection of beauty tools and other care items like hair brushes, mirror compacts, tweezers, and small sets of makeup brushes available. Upon my last visit to a Forever 21, I came across this set up:

F21 Makeup Stand

SAY WHHAAAT.

Apparently Forever 21 had just launched their new expansion of cosmetics and beauty products with the ‘PREMIUM COLLECTION‘ introducing “a full range of elevated essentials from skin care to lip gloss, to artistry brushes, and everything in-between”.

In other words, it’s not just that cheap teenager glitter lipgloss you see in plastic little tubes or neon blue eyeshadows — It’s now for grownups, with a little less glitter and neon, and an upgraded price tag.

F21 Premium Beauty Collection
Now if you know me, you’d know how easily skeptical I get about the legitimacy of things. What are these beauty/makeup items doing at a clothing store? Is this gonna give you a rash? Who’d really even buy this stuff? 
And if you REALLY know me, you’d know how curious I’d be — I’ll quickly lose sense of priorities, question life, and give into it. So I strolled around the setup and glanced at what they had available. They had lots of testers out and a cleaning station, which got me thinking, “Maybe this is actually ‘legit’…” 
I knew I was in need of a face moisturizer and an eyebrow kit at the time, so those definitely got my immediate attention first. I also checked out their ‘smoothing face balm’ which just sounds like a fancier name for face primer. Below I’ve listed my initial impressions, which items I purchased, and my individual reviews with PROS and CONS.

GENERAL FIRST IMPRESSIONS: 

  • Nice minimalistic packaging in matte black and white
  • Made in Korea – (at least it’s not Made in China, thank god)
  • Decent amount and sizes
  • Looks and smells good
  • But NOT ENOUGH info/reviews, description, or listed ingredients on the items, must retain box packaging for the details – (may seem kinda sketchy)
  • Middle-tier price range ($5-$15), about the same–if not slightly more costly–as compared to average drugstore cosmetic prices
F21 Premium Collection
Purchased: Face Moisturizer, Eyebrow Kit duo powders, and Smoothing Face Balm
Love the minimalistic packaging.
F21 Face Moisturizer
Face Moisturizer – $10.80 at Forever 21

First off, I’m quite indifferent about the Face Moisturizer. I don’t mind using this daily, but there are better moisturizers out there for much less. This one has a nostalgic smell to it like baby powder crossed with sunscreen lotion which strangely reminds me of my childhood. 
PROS
  • Soft nice scent
  • Feels hydrating with its light, spreadable, cream texture
  • Gives good finish before applying any liquid foundation, BB cream, or concealer
  • I prefer using it before sleep
CONS
  • But MUST AVOID THE EYES, it stings terribly
  • Does get too shiny for me throughout the day – I’d recommend this moisturizer for those with dry to normal skin (or if you have oily skin, use a really effective face primer after this moisturizer, however, this may be too heavy of products on your face already)
F21 Eyebrow Kit Dark
Eyebrow Kit in Dark – $10.80 at Forever 21

Next, I noticed the duo color shades of this eyebrow kit to be very ideal for my dark brown hair color. This product would be better if it included a wax base like the Benefit Brow Zings or the e.l.f. Eyebrow kit but if your eyebrow hairs are already trimmed, short, and sparse you can usually get by with just powder.
PROS
  • Comes in two shade range: light kit and dark kit
  • Moderate lasting/staying power
  • Spoolie wand and flat angle brush are included – ideal for travel
  • Gives softer and more natural look to your brows
  • Best for filling in brows (not shaping), perfect for those with short and sparse hairs
CONS
  • Not the best to shape brows, can’t create sharper strokes
  • Expensive / over-priced for its size and medium quality
  • Pigmentation is light, could be better – requires multiple coats on my brows to get it darker
F21 Smoothing Face Balm

F21 Smoothing Face Balm

Smoothing Face Balm in White – $10.80 at Forever 21

I actually like this product most of all the ones I tried. This face balm is essentially a normal face primer. It has a silica base formula that glides on your skin and leaves a smooth matte finish. It’s perfect for filling in any pores or uneven skin texture, minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. I like to use this after a moisturizer and before applying any BB cream or foundation. 
PROS
  • It really works!
  • Soft, lightweight, matte finish
  • White cream dries clear
  • Long-lasting, keeps my face texture looking smooth all day
  • Great as a face primer
  • Minimizes appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, pores, etc.
  • Has a good light citrus scent
  • Comes with applicator cap to scoop out product instead of having to dip fingers in
CONS
  • Not for shine-control
  • A little pricier than expected
  • No other darker skin color base yet available

Overall Forever 21 Premium Makeup Collection is probably going to be a hit or miss for some users, and quite overpriced for those on a budget. I do like their packaging, and the fact that their beauty products are accessible for those who are shopping at Forever 21 for apparel as well. 
I will note that I’ve been using these products above on and off still for the last month and they have not given me a rash, break out, or allergic reaction. But honestly, I’d personally stay away from the other main products like foundation, blushes, and lipsticks because they don’t have a wide selection of colors available, nor a strong fan-base yet — Best to be safe than sorry by going for brands that have a bigger rep for makeup and beauty. 
Until next the next makeup move!

NYX /niks/ noun : (Greek mythology) goddess of the night

I love their name and I love their products. NYX is yet another one of my favorite affordable lines of makeup products with amazing quality. I’ve tried a few of their eyeshadows and eyebrow products, which had always been a part of my daily makeup routine. nyxcosmetics.com recently had a 50% off sale on all their lip items, so I decided to try their new and highly-raved lip creams, with a couple grabs of their powder blushes as well.

swatch demo NYX cosmetics blush lip cream

LIP CREAMS

Lately I’ve been more curious with lip creams/lip stains over lipsticks which was why I was so excited to try the new NYX Soft Matte and Xtreme Shine lip creams. I purchased one bright pink color in the matte cream (Candy Land), and a pop cool-tone pink in the glossy cream (Istanbul). I didn’t expect the two colors to end up looking so similar to each other after application. Unfortunately, my overall impression of both these lip creams is a disappointment–I feel mean saying this but it almost felt like playing with ‘toy’ makeup or children’s paint.

Firstly, the scent for both lip creams were overwhelmingly noticeable and smelled like a ‘cheap’ product. And second, the application process was difficult as the brush tip is quite stiff, creating visible stroke lines on my lips. Lastly, the thickness of the lip cream actually highlights the fine lines on my lips instead of smoothing them out. So unless your lips are perfectly even and free of creases, this product is not worth trying. I do like its great color payoff and the wide range of colors they have available. If I had to choose one, I’d prefer the Xtreme Shine over the Soft Matte lip cream simply because it has a little more glam and doesn’t dry out my lips as much as the other. I believe NYX could improve their lip cream in the future, but for now it’s just not a hype for me.

nyx cosmetics lip cream

Soft Matte Lip Cream in Instanbul (left) – $6 and Xtreme Shine Lip Cream in Candy Land (right) – $6

  • Pros
    • high pigmentation – great color payoff
    • wide variety of colors available
  • Cons
    • highly noticeable scent – smells like really sweet cotton candy or ‘Play-Doh’ clay
    • doesn’t adhere to lips well if you have already applied lip balm
    • brush/wand is stiff, does not bend or flex – visible stroke lines
    • thick cream, feels heavy and non-hydrating
    • dries into your ridges and shows creases
    • transfers and smudges outside of lip line



POWDER BLUSH 

Now, the NYX Powder Blushers were a great purchase. I ordered the a matte light orange color (Coral Dream) and a matte tan color (Taupe). Amazing product. I’m so impressed with their color payoff, soft texture, and staying power. I’d typically avoid ‘coral’ colors since ‘orange’ is already too similar to my yellow beige skin tone. But surprisingly, this Coral Dream shade blends out to a warm peachy flush with my skin and looks quite natural on me than other true pink shades.
Additionally, you might wonder how a taupe color could be a ‘blush’, but it gives just enough tan and warmth to create dimension without having to add too much color to your overall makeup look. This taupe blush powder can be used to contour the sides of your nose, cheeks, temples, and jaw line while still drawing the focus to your eyeshadow or lips. I’d strongly recommend the NYX Powder Blush to everyone as it is a definite hype for me–I wish I had more!
nyx cosmetics blush coral dream
nyx cosmetics blush taupe

NYX Powder Blush in Coral Dream (top) and in Taupe (bottom) – $5
  • Pros
    • affordable product for great quality – bang for your buck
    • color pigmentation and payoff is accurate
    • soft powder, very blend-able
    • long lasting wear, matte for natural finish
    • taupe shade is perfect for adding some dimension without over-doing colors
  • Cons
    • color previews online do not depict accurate color swatch
    • some lighter colors with shimmers may not be as pigmented for darker skin tones

I hope this has been helpful! NYX Cosmetics is an innovative makeup company that’s always improving their products and creating new ones with great quality and affordability for us to explore. Do check out their website at nyxcosmetics.com for more products and colors*!

*I noticed the colors displayed on the website do not always look the same in person. I do suggest reading the descriptions carefully to compare matte vs. shimmer, cool vs. warm, etc.

Roses are pink, violets are purple.

I used to think that you have to spend a lot in order to have a good time and look glamorous for Valentine’s Day. My recent visit at Walgreens had me at these few new and affordable drugstore products that may suit perfectly for a dolly romantic look. I decided to focus on a soft look, with lighter colors like pink and purple this time. And though I’ve never tried these shades before (as browns and darks are usually my style) I think it’d be nice to change my makeup look for a more (gl)amorous feel this weekend. 😉 Cue song: Glamorous – Fergie ft. Ludacris

loreal colour riche liquid lip

After testing out the products, I could quickly tell which items were my favorite and which ones weren’t. My new favorite rave for lip products would have to be the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Extraordinaire Liquid Lip. They go so well for any look, day or night. And unlike lipsticks or lip glosses, this liquid lip product feels so light and hydrating.

loreal voluminus butterfly lash mascara

As for L’Oréal Paris’ new Voluminous Butterfly Mascara, the unique ‘winged’ brush and the silver packaging was most intriguing. However, because of its asymmetrical shape and my being right handed, I found it easier to apply to one eye and more difficult to apply to the other eye (unless you can twist your hand around and still maintain control OR simply be ambidextrous).

revlon colorstay shadow links

Last but not least, the Revlon ColoyStay Shadow Links were a surprise. Revlon has always been a go-to favorite line of makeup for me, but this time I’m not too impressed with their new eyeshadow links. What really sold me was their novel idea to connect single eyeshadow cases together. Other than that, the product itself is just ‘okay’ quality. (See review summary in PROs/CONs list at bottom)

Overall, it turned out better than I expected! I’m glad I got to try out my recent curiosities with pink and purple shadows (see photo below – obviously feeling extra girly and flirty with this look). It’s fun to step out of your comfort zone with makeup once in a while, especially for a holiday! Valentine’s Day is a day we celebrate love–the love for your family, friends, significant other, and most importantly, the love for who you are as you are.

So whether you’re planning to get fancied up for a date/party, or chilling out solo –
Celebrate you.

love yourself

PRODUCT REVIEW SUMMARY, PROs/CONs LIST:


EYESHADOW
Revlon ColorStay Shadow Links in Candy (pink shimmer), and in Purple (matte) – $3 each

pros – Good range of colors from mattes to shimmers. Decent pigmentation. Designed for ‘mix-n-match’ / build your own set by sliding cases together. Nice for travel.

cons – Texture is medium (not too hard not too soft), and causes some fallout. Cases don’t stay on too tight.

MASCARA
L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Waterproof in Blackest Black – $9

pros – Unique wand design has a winged flare that reaches corners of outer lashes well. Thickens lashes while holding up the curl pretty well. Best for ‘demi’ style lashes. 

cons – Asymmetrical wand shape is difficult to apply same way for both eyes. Short tiny bristles does not comb out and separate lashes enough. Still see clumping. Formula takes longer to remove/wash off.

LIP COLOR
L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Extraordinaire Liquid Lip in Blushing Harmony (103), and in Nude Ballet (601) – $9

pros –  Luxurious and compact packaging. Smooth long-lasting formula. Sweet fruity smell. Great color payoff without looking too opaque. Good shine and feels hydrating, not sticky. 

cons – Sponge tip is flat and triangular but wish it could be pointier at the tip to precisely reach outer lip corners.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my loves!