Monday, June 26, 2017

Minimalist Monday: Lessons from Owning a Curated Closet

I don't often talk about style-related topics because I couldn't be further from a fashionista, but I figured there are some interesting points I've noticed about my smaller (and ever decreasing) closet that I would like to discuss with you. Just to be clear, I'm using the term 'curated closet' instead of 'capsule wardrobe' because I've never officially built a capsule wardrobe from clothes in my closet to wear for a season. However, I've been pregnant for most of last year and therefore only wore a set number of pieces that fit over my watermelon belly, and have been nursing Julian since October, which especially in the beginning required some adjustments in my working wardrobe - hence the 'curated' wardrobe.
My drawers are still organized vertically using the KonMari folding method, which I've found easy to navigate and maintain.
Personally, the biggest surprise I've had since majorly reducing the size of my closet is that I still need to shop for clothes - and keep on decluttering the no longer needed pieces. I guess I was living in this KonMari-induced bubble where I was convinced that once I paired down my clothes to just my favorites, I would be living in this happily ever after of being satisfied with my possessions and never wanting anything else ever again. The reality turned out to be quite different for me, for several reasons.

First of all, clothes wear out. Like... majorly. Yes we all know that, but once you pair down your closet and are constantly wearing and washing the same items over and over again, it becomes obvious how fast they can wear out. I've noticed pilling, holes, spots, general thinning out of fabric, hems falling out and stretching out of my favorite clothes, especially everyday t-shirts, jeans and dresses. So much so that I recently found myself in a place of thinking 'Hmm, is this top worn out to the point of "lounge wear only" or does it really need to be thrown out?'. I've also been pondering whether the wear of my clothes is actually noticeable for others or just me, or whether I was simply bored with a given piece and looking for an excuse to shop.

But then it hit me. No. Just... stop. Here's what it boils down to: when a once-favorite shirt becomes questionable because of its wear, it doesn't really matter how far it is at that point from needing to be pitched straight into the bin. I mean, it's not like there's some objective measure of damage that once reached would allow me to get rid of the thing without guilt anyway. To put it simply, I do not want to wear tired, messy, ill-fitting, frumpy clothing. I don't want to feel or present myself as a tired, messy, sloppy person, especially now that I'm a mom - maybe because it'd be all so easy, and that scares me just a bit. So I think that once I start noticing the wear on a piece of clothing (provided that it can't be easily fixed), it is indeed time to start saying goodbye, regardless of how much I loved wearing it in the past.

Secondly, circumstances change. This has hit me especially hard because my life has gone through quite a dramatic change since having Julian, but this is probably true for most of us as well - we move to a different climate, get a new job, simply grow out of our former fashion style... The reasons can be multiple. For me, not only have I become a (nursing) mom, but also haven't gone back to my pre-pregnancy size and am somewhat doubtful whether I ever will, or even if I did, whether I would still want to wear my old clothes.

My mom - who definitely isn't one to get rid of 'perfectly good' clothes - told me after Julian was born to just hang in there fashion-wise by getting just a couple interim pieces to wear while I breastfeed, but in general to wait till I wean him off, lose the weight and can go back to wearing what I already own. And I did try to do that, mostly because it appealed to the minimalist in me. I got a few button down shirts and two henley tops, quite a few nursing bras (out of which only two turned out to be comfortable and the right size in the end - because who knew, your bra size changes quite a bit throughout breastfeeding...), two pairs of jeans I could actually squeeze into. That's pretty much all I wore from October till May, when the weather turned decidedly warmer. The button-down + jeans combo got mind-numbingly boring rather fast, so after a while I also started wearing my regular t-shirts that I'd just pull up for nursing, and on days jeans were too hot, I even dug out a few skirts with an elastic waist.
Open cardigans/ flyaway sweaters and button down shirts, which is what I lived in all through the fall, winter and early spring. On top, in a blue packing cube - my maternity capsule wardrobe.
But I just can't anymore. The thing is, I don't really have a strict end date in mind for weaning Julian and then going on a diet (as if that ever works...) to fit into my old clothes. I would like to start weaning off after he turns one, but the process may take a while. And after that, I don't know when (or if) I'll go back to my previous size. In the meantime, I don't want to punish myself by wearing a boring handful of the same comfortable things, supplemented by older ill-fitting and impractical things. Because that's the other problem - my old clothes are just not suitable for my life anymore. So many of my skirts, shorts and dresses are just too short, tight or easily wrinkled to be pratical and comfortable while taking care of a baby, and that's a reality that won't change any time soon. I have to accept that, and... let go. I have to let myself adapt my wardrobe to my changing needs, so that I can feel good about my appearance too, even with a wobbly pouch around my waist and covered in drool and remnants of Julian's snacks.

So it turns out a curated closet is not a perfect static model. Closets are reflections of our lives, we grow and change and our clothes need to change with us. I'm now more aware than ever that my closet can only ever serve a given stage of my life, and those stages pass and are over faster than I would have imagined. This realization is further motivation not to overbuy, because all too soon I may not need/ want my current clothes anymore.

With that in mind, I have indeed shopped (with a critical eye! There's been quite a few returns.) for some new pieces to suit my needs right now, and gotten rid of worn, too small or too tight clothing. I still have kept some clothes in my smaller size that I believe I'd want to wear again in the future. I believe that overall - judging from the number of empty hangers - the size of my closet keeps decreasing. In the process, I enjoy wearing what I own more and more, and it serves me better than ever before. Hope this glimpse into my thought process was at least a little bit helpful - as always, thank you for reading my random ramblings :)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My K-Beauty Inspired Morning Skincare Routine: Summer 2017

A few things have changed since my last morning skincare post, here. Firstly, I'm no longer pregnant, and unfortunately my skin pretty much returned to its sad acne-prone, oily/ combination state :( Oh I miss you so, pregnancy glow *woefully stares at eye bags & blemishes in the mirror*. Secondly, yes, I have since majorly hopped back onto the K-Beauty skincare train thanks to overenthusiastic perusal of the Asian Beauty subreddit. As a result, my routine is quite a bit different - shall we take a look?
Before we start, a few facts about me and my skin, in case you're not a regular reader: I'm 30 (WHAT?! When did that happen?! Lol, jk), fair to light skintone, and my main concerns at the moment are treating and preventing acne, fading red post-acne P.I.E., as well as aiding dehydration and skin-aging in the form of fine lines, mostly around my eyes.

As a side note, I'm not going to provide reviews for separate products in my routine here, partly because it would cause this post to inflate to a mind-numbing length, but mostly because I haven't tested all of these products enough yet to give a thorough review. Yeah, so I did introduce more than one product to my routine all at once (and if I only swapped out one product, what would be the point in writing this post, right?). However, I also run out of a whole bunch of products all at once, and didn't love those enough to repurchase. So there - shoot me. My face hasn't fallen off (yet).

My typical mom morning skincare routine with an eight month old Julian starts by buckling him into his bouncer with a toy (or, you know, a kitchen utensil, since that tends to hold his attention for a few more minutes - he specifically enjoys whisks and the egg beater attachment for our mixer) and quickly running to the bathroom to wash my face. I'm currently using the last dregs of Lagom Cell Up Gel to Water Cleanser, but I have already dabbled in its replacement, the Erborian Gentle Cleansing Foam, which I vastly prefer. Wait, what - a foaming cleanser?! I'll admit that I may have been convinced to use a low pH foam cleanser after all. I think that *maybe* overusing balm and cream cleansers with a hot washcloth wasn't doing the greatest things for my skin, especially in the morning. Plus, it's much faster (and more refreshing, especially in the summer!) to gently massage my face with a light foam and just splash it off with cool water. It also helps to feel more awake after being rudely woken up by a hangry baby at the ungodly hour of 6.30 am ;)
I'll then pat my face dry with a towel, spritz on some COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner (for the purpose of balancing my skin's pH level for the following L-Ascorbic Acid step, the COSRX toner is definitely NOT an exfoliant - I won't repurchase though, I don't think it's necessary after a low pH cleanser) and press in half a pipette of NuFountain C20 + Ferulic Serum (from Amazon). I'm choosing to use my Vitamin C in the morning as some studies have shown it boosts the effectiveness of sunscreen, but using the potent but unstable L-AA form of Vit C has quite a few drawbacks, so I'm not sure if I'll continue with this particular active after my bottle of the NuFountain runs out (or, more likely, oxidizes half-way though).

I then run out of the bathroom and go on with my morning, which mostly involves attempting to eat breakfast and do some light house chores while simultaneously keeping Julian occupied and happy. I succeed probably 50% of the time :)

When Mister Jay gets tired of independent floor play (mind you, he's not crawling or walking yet) and Daddy play ends due to Daddy having to eventually get to work, he (I mean Julian, not my husband) gets strapped into the bouncer again and we head back to the bathroom together (he really enjoys being in the bathroom for whatever reason).

Forgot to add food play. Julian's apparently hatching a plan to take over the universe while gnawing on a piece of melon.
This is the time I complete the rest of my routine. I either rinse off the NuFountain C20 + Ferulic, or leave it - at this point, the L-AA has done all its magic either way. I follow with either the Cremorlab T.E.N Mineral Treatment Essence, decanted into a spray bottle (full review here), or a newbie to my stash, Benton Snail Bee High Content Skin - essentialy, a hydrating toner. I then apply a thin layer of my HG Hada Labo Gokujuyn Hyaluronic Acid Lotion (reviewed here) on skin still damp from the toner. I seal all that hydration in with the Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream (reviewed here); I'm running out though and would like to trial the Laneige Balancing Emulsion for Combination/ Oily Skin*, which I've kept in my back-up stash for a very long time. Lastly, I layer on a good amount of Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 42 PA+++.
Thin hydrating layers, L-R in the order of viscosity: Cremorlab Essence, Benton Snail Bee High Content Skin, Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion.
You may have noticed the omission of chemical exfoliation (AHAs or BHAs) compared to my last routine - the main reason for this is that I'm currently using Differin at night and would like to avoid irritation/ overexfoliation, as well as be able to truly evaluate the effectiveness of adapalene in treating my acne (I'm planning to write a separate post on my Differin experience in a few weeks' time, after completing my trial run. The jury is still out).
When my eye area is particularly dry, I'll also dab on some Aveda Tulasara Eye Wedding Masque, but I mostly reserve it for night time.
I've been following this routine for over a month now, and while it's still quite early, I can already tell you my skintone is looking more even (less irritated as well as less hyperpigmentation/ sun spots) and my skin feels more hydrated, plump and bouncy. I also notice less sebum breakthrough as the day goes on. I haven't noticed a major decrease in blemishes or clogged pores, but I do think the emerging blemishes heal more quickly. Overall, I think my skin is heading in the right direction.
That's it - the evening routine shall follow shortly (or, more like in a month or so, judging from my current posting schedule). Please leave any questions in the comments, but I am also planning on reviewing most of these newly-introduced products in separate posts to follow. Has your skincare routine changed in any major way now that we're in the midst of the heat and humidity?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Drugstore Skincare: e.l.f. Hydrating Gel Melt Cleanser

I'm forever on the lookout for less expensive options to my favorite skincare products, especially when it comes to cleansers. For something that spends so little time on your face, you'd think it should be possible to find a decent alternative at a drugstore price point. So I happily ordered the e.l.f. Cosmetics Hydrating Gel Melt Cleanser ($10 for 40g/ 1.41 oz), hoping to save some pennies on my evening double cleanse.
Aaand... Nope. Right off the bat, when we consider the price per ounce for this cleansing balm, it turns out not to be a very cost-effective product in the least. I did actually notice the small volume before purchasing, but I was still hopeful because the ingredients seemed quite promising. It contains argan and rose oils, as well as humectant glycerin. The first ingredient is an emollient fatty acid ester (ethylhexyl palmitate), and there's no mineral oil/ liquid paraffin, or fragrance added. Sounds pretty good, no?
But in my opinion, the Hydrating Gel Melt Cleanser is the prime example that a short and sexy INCI list is not the deciding factor of a good or bad product. Because performance wise, I don't think this is an effective cleansing balm. The first downside is that it's quite difficult to spread around, and even though the gel/balm does melt down into more of an oil with the warmth of my skin, it takes quite a lot of time and product to get this evenly distributed on my dry and made-up face. But even more importantly, it doesn't emulsify enough to effectively dissolve my make-up and sunscreen. It emulsifies a little bit but if you're trying to rinse this off, it's impossible to remove all the melted impurities or get if off without a residual oily film on the face. I take it off with a warm washcloth, but even so, it takes a lot of time, energy and rubbing my skin to remove it sufficiently for my second cleanser to do its job.
And while the packaging looks quite luxe for a drugstore brand, the cleanser is so firm that I need to use a separate spatula to dig it out - plus, it sorts of tries to hide with its weight and heft how little product you're actually getting for your money. The balm itself also smells of... well, plastic. And that's just not very pleasant at the end of the day, you know what I mean?
So here are my thoughts. So far, the oil/ balm cleansers I've tried that featured more appealing ingredients lists (this e.l.f. Gel Melt Cleanser, The Body Shop Chamomile Silky Cleansing Oil, or even the NUDE Omega Cleansing Jelly, which was the best but most expensive) haven't really been ultra effective at make-up removal - which is essentialy what I am using them for. On the other hand, oil cleansers with more questionable INCI lists  (mostly featuring mineral oil as the main ingredient, like the Shu Uemura oils) have all removed more make-up much faster than their more natural counterparts. One notable exception that I thought performed fabulously was the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (olive oil based), however it is a little pricey - I may go back to it though if I don't find anything I like better. But honestly, from this point onward, I think I'm just not going to bother inspecting ingredients lists for my first cleansers and focus on finding a really effective (and hopefully, not too expensive) and enjoyable product I can safely rely on to take off all my make-up and SPF. I am already halfway done with this e.l.f. cleanser and am in fact investigating some more popular Asian beauty oil and balm cleansers.

Do you have any skincare staples that can be found among drugstore aisles? To be honest, I've only ever really liked two drugstore skincare products: the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and their PM Face Lotion. Let me know what your favorites are!

Monday, May 29, 2017

My Current (Lack of) Beauty Favorites

It seems that somewhere along the way I just organically abandoned the idea of writing regular favorites posts. Mostly because I don't acquire that many new products to show you, but recently, I've just been feeling a bit blah towards beauty stuff I use on a daily basis. Let's overanalyze together.

At the recent Sephora spring VIB sale, I was hard pressed to find ANYTHING I wanted to buy. Well, there was an Amore Pacific $24 duo with the Treatment Enzyme Peel that looked tempting (and useful enough as I just run out of all my other powder exfoliants) and then I figured I could also get some hair goo to style my pixie. That still (especially with the discount) landed me short of the free shipping threshold, and after agonizing for a day or two, I convinced my sister-in-law to choose something for herself so I could place the order. Yeah. In the end, the hair goo was a fail and I sent it back, and in retrospect, I should have just skipped the sale altogether.
My daily make-up tray (an organizer drawer, really)
This whole conundrum though serves as a good example of my general feelings towards beauty products. It's not just that I don't want to purchase anything new, there isn't really anything new that's tempting. Furthermore, I experience a big fat 'MEH' when using most of the products in my daily make-up tray. In the past, I would have swiftly dealt with my ennui by going on a make-up shopping spree so that I could feel excited again about my renewed routine. However, most likely because of project panning/ limiting spending/ decluttering stuff for the past couple years, I'm currently under no illusion that a nice big haul would actually solve anything in the long run, as I would eventually bore of the newer products too, and start lemming something else again, and again, and again...

So I've been doing a lot of soul searching to figure out the exact reason why I feel so ambivalent about my make-up routine. Here's what I came up with: firstly, I think my style/ tastes have changed a lot since having a baby (or because of *cough cough*... age?). Secondly, at the moment I'm rather unhappy with the condition of my skin and how make-up looks and lasts on my face.

As to the first reason, a great portion of the products I own now seem very much over the top for my day wear make-up preferences. While trying to finish a pencil eyeliner recently, I more or less decided that I dislike lining my top lash line, and will only occasionally use a pencil to tightline. Furthermore, I don't even like wearing eyeshadow all that much (and as a consequence haven't been tempted by ANY eyeshadow palette releases, which used to be my downfall in the past), and when I do, I like it to be quite subtle and simple, as in no strong metallic finishes, no dark smokey shades, no colorful brights. I also don't want to wear bright bold shades on my lips either, as you were probably able to surmise from my 'Keep or Declutter' series. I'm definitely leaning towards 'less is more' approach towards make-up looks these days, and frankly it's not at all due to the 'new mom' lack of time to do my make-up - Julian naps like a champ in the mornings and even when he's up, I can usually set him to play on his activity mat and have a good 20 minutes (with some interruptions when he gets too bored and shrieks for attention) to do my face.
I've also been wearing my pre-reformulation bottle of Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation and the Viva Glam Cyndi lipstick.
I was debating whether my current 'Shop My Stash' make-up favorites were even worth sharing, but hey ho, maybe you've also owned these products for years and need a little reminder about how good they are. You may remember that I tried to use up my Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in 01 Rose Shimmer in a Project Pan, and  a year (or more?) later it's still going strong. And you know what, I'm not mad at it, I still think it's a fantastic, plushy, moisturizing gloss formula. I'm also still into the Clinique Cheek Pop blush texture, although I've gotten rid of Pansy Pop (reviewed here), which I deemed not that flattering on my skintone, and have been reaching for Heather Pop all the time instead. My current favorite mascara is Max Factor Masterpiece Max in Velvet Black, which I strongly disliked the first two weeks after opening and was *this close* to pitching it in the trash, but I decided to give it one more go some time later and now I'm really liking the combo of natural volume & separation.

The second reason for the beauty blahs - the pitiful condition of my skin - is what pushed me to re-examine my current routine and search for better solutions. I'd say that for the past year or so, I have been predominantly using skincare from my back-up stash, and largely products I was sent for review that were patiently waiting for their turn. The thing is, my skin was different during pregnancy than it is now, and even extrapolating from that, probably a good portion of the products I had stashed away wasn't even suited for my skin in the first place. All that coupled with changing hormones and possibly the introduction of adapelene (Differin) into my routine has wreaked havoc and my skin is currently impossibly clogged, oily and prone to painful under the skin bumps that never come to a head, and when they finally do go down, I'm left dealing with the red P.I.E. aftermath.
Aaand... That's not even everything I bought.
So... I binged on some Korean beauty skincare videos and have been digging up lots of information from the Asian Beauty reddit, and inevitably, shopping ensued. It will obviously take me a good long while to incorporate these new additions into my routine, test them out thoroughly and report back to you, but I do plan on reviewing these products for you in the near future. Yay! I'm excited to see whether I can get my skin back on track with their help.

I think that's about it for my little beauty update. I have plenty of ideas for posts and more products to review than I can find the energy and time, but I'm doing the best I can. What's been floating your beauty boat recently? Or have you redirected your enthusiasm towards some other non beauty related pursuit?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Why I Continue Beauty Blogging As A Hobby

I have noticed in the past few months that a lot of my favorite blogger friends decided to say goodbye to their beauty blogs. Some of them have concluded it just wasn't fun anymore, some preferred to devote their finite free time to other pursuits, some are still writing but have changed their focus from make-up and skincare. I, too have been wondering whether it's worthwhile to keep on trucking, given how sporadic my posting is now with baby Julian on board. I figured maybe I'll share my reflections about beauty blogging as a hobby in this day and age, mostly because I'd love to hear your thoughts too. So here goes.

There's a vast difference these days between professional (as in, earning revenue: be it from ads, affiliate links or sponsored posts) and personal blogs. Obviously there's a lot of grey area - many personal blogs do make a little bit of money on the side as a bonus perk to a beloved hobby, and before anyone gets their feathers ruffled, I personally have absolutely no problem in that and have myself earned a little from writing a couple sponsored posts in the past. To me it boils down to this - are you actively motivated to blog because you're counting on that revenue to pay or contribute to your bills? If so, in my mind you are indeed a professional blogger. And you may try to convince me otherwise, but I strongly believe that most professional bloggers are going to blog differently from someone who does it just for fun. I'm not saying your blogging job can't also be a passion - I belive it is for most professional bloggers - but you're not going to write in the same way when you need the money to buy your groceries versus when you're doing it just to enjoy. It has nothing to do with honesty, disclosure etc.; it's just a matter of perspective.

If you were to ask me for advice on starting a beauty blog today, I would tell you not to do it. Or I guess, scratch that, I'd ask you a question in return - what are your expectations? What are you hoping to gain from beauty blogging? Do you want exposure, an audience, growth, free products or sponsorship deals? Then probably YouTube would be a better bet, albeit bear in mind that it's going to be VERY difficult as the beauty guru market is oversaturated as it is. Do you just want to start and see how it goes, hoping to get noticed? You'll probably end up deeply disappointed. Or lastly, do you enjoy pouring words onto the (web)page, and would like to meet like-minded beauty enthusiasts? Then yes, please, go for it. I truly think this is the only reason any of us blogging hobbists are still here today.

With one caveat though. I may be wrong, but compared to when I first started Rocaille Writes, I do see much less of a community in the beauty blogosphere these days. Like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, SO MANY of us have already left the scene. I've also noticed a significant decline in commenting, and I'd be the first to blame - these days I just don't have the time to leave comments. We also don't do tags or collabs anymore. And it may be just me, but we stopped having these lengthy conversations on Twitter; I'm in fact seriously considering deleting my Twitter app, and I hardly ever check it from my desktop. The only social media outlet that still remains is Instagram, and I love our little community there, but at the same time I don't think Instagram can replace beauty blogs entirely, even now with the option of uploading multiple photos. Because while Instagram can provide all the visual content, I still think beauty blogs are primarily verbal, and it's always the writer's voice that drives me to certain blogs and not the others.

As for still feeling passionate about beauty 8 years after I clicked 'Publish' on my first post, yes, I continue to enjoy trying out and experimenting with new products. However, I often feel very ambivalent about reviewing certain brands or products. The main reason is that I don't want to be a 'beauty influencer': that is, I don't want to influence you to shop for products you don't need. I would like to think that maybe if you're already contemplating a well thought-out purchase, then my review of a product can help you make an informed decision, but I am aware that oftentimes, sharing my favorite products will entice you to spend unnecessarily in some way, and it is a form of promoting the consumerist mindset.

Secondly, the number of products I would like to share with you seems to be growing smaller and smaller. Mostly because I'm purchasing a lot less than I used to, and secondly because I'm feeling quite burnt out on reviewing PR samples (which I receive very rarely anyway). It often has nothing to do with the actual products sent for review and everything with the communication between myself and the PR company. I don't even want to say how many times my emails have gone unanswered, packages with samples ended up never being sent, how many times I was dropped by a brand for no reason - except maybe actually sharing my honest opinion, and a positive one at that? In many instances, my relationship with the PR has made me avoid a certain brand, regardless of the quality of the products. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you know?

At the end of the day though, Rocaille Writes is here to stay. Primarily because for me, beauty blogging is therapeutic, and without it, I'm just a stay-at home sleep-deprived mom with stacks of dirty dishes and mounds of unwashed laundry. Hmm, maybe that came out wrong: I'm happy to be one. But I want and I need this one small creative thing for myself that is keeping a beauty blog, and I refuse to let it go. Like I said in the past in this post, Rocaille Writes may not be about reviewing the latest limited edition collection in a snap, but I have so much more than that to say. If only the days were longer, you guys!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Month in Lipstick #2: Keep or Declutter

Did I put a 'Week in Lipstick' in the last post's title? Ha. HA. I wish. Yeah, it turns out that a MONTH is more along the lines of how much time I need to make up my mind about 5 lip products. At this rate, it will probably take me the rest of the year to go through my entire collection. Oh well.

1. Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème Lipstick in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (from Sephora 2016 Birthday Gift). DECLUTTER. Okay, so it's not that I don't like this lipstick - it's beautifully creamy and pigmented, but I do have a shade very, very similar to this (YSL Rouge Pur in Rose Stiletto, here) and I just don't wear colors like that often enough to justify keeping both. On me, this is a medium to deep pink rose shade, and for my current preferences, it's a bit much for casual day wear. I wouldn't be opposed to trying a different shade from this line though - you know, in the hypothetical future where I find myself needing another lipstick. Gah.
2. Red Apple Lipstick Gluten-Free Lipstick in Audrey* (originallly reviewed here). KEEP. I still really like both this formula and the shade - a brightening neutral pink, but I will admit that every time I wear Audrey, I'm bothered by the scent/taste. It's kinda like this soapy, old-school perfumey lipstick smell that doesn't want to go away. I'll hang on to Audrey for now, mostly because I enjoy how glossy and moisturizing the formula is, but I'll see if I get any decent wear out of it this year.
3. Givenchy Le Rouge in Rose Taffetas (reviewed here). KEEP. This isn't a very color-accurate lip swatch - sorry for that - mostly because the day was overcast and I'm also wearing it here just lightly dabbed on the lips, otherwise it's quite a bright peachy pink shade. So while I'm not hugely into bright lips at the moment, I love love love this formula. It's such an incredibly comfortable and line-smoothing satin that I WILL find a way to wear this lipstick.
4. BITE High Pigment Lip Pencil in Winterberry. KEEP. Winterberry strongly reminds me of Revlon Cherries in the Snow, which I was trying to finish in 2015, or that Inglot Gel Lipstick no. 58, which was part of my Project Make A Dent in 2016. I still think this deep berry/ reddish pink is very flattering on my fair complexion, but I don't know, I'm a bit burnt out on this kind of shade - could that possibly be related to the fact that I was using it on the regular for two years in the row? Hmmm. Keeping it for the fall/ winter season.
5. Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in Audacious (reviewed here). DECLUTTER. I had such a hard time letting go of this one, but the strongest indicator that it belongs in the outgoing pile was the fact that I have kept it in my daily make-up tray for about 2 months and haven't felt inclined to wear it out even once. It's such a fun white-based neon orange shade - one of the very few orangey shades that look good on me - but I find it too difficult to wear. I guess I'm just not that audacious, you know? (Terrible pun - I'm sorry.) Also, when I was lip-swatching it for this post, I just couldn't get it to apply evenly on the lips, which you can kind of see in the close-up photo. Time to say goodbye.

Two more lip products exiting my stash this time round; not too bad, if I dare say so myself. I imagine that from this point onward, it's going to be increasingly difficult to declutter products, because my lip stash is already quite paired down compared to what it was a few years back. We shall see though - I find going through all of my products, rediscovering old favorites and experimenting with mixing shades quite enjoyable anyway. What lip colors have you been wearing recently?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Recent Skincare Empties and Mini Reviews

Alright, here it goes: I'm tired of typing up long empties posts. Sigh. At the same time, I do think they're helpful and yes, it does often happen that my opinion on a product changes by the time I reach the bottom of the packaging - so it'd be nice to give you a little update on my past reviews. Therefore I've decided to continue posting facial skincare empties and to skip the rest, meaning bodycare and haircare. I generally spend the most on products for my face, so I have a feeling that skincare empties will be the most interesting to you as well.
The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil. I don't have a separate review for this on the blog, but I've been using it since October/ November of last year and have just now used it up completely. The pros: it removes most of my make-up, it's affordable (obviously when scored on a 40% off sale) and it doesn't contain mineral oil. The cons: it doesn't rinse clean (but doesn't leave a residue when removed with a warm wash cloth) and the packaging leaks, leaving oil rings everywhere. All in all: I may repurchase at some point, but I've recently tried a sample of the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, and even though the Clinique one is pricier, I thought its effectiveness would be worth the extra expense.

TATCHA Luminous Deep Hydration Eye Serum* (previously mentioned here). I did like this eye serum from Tatcha for daytime, but I wouldn't purchase another one myself. The main reason is that I don't have nearly $100 to drop on a daytime eye cream - I'm saying daytime because I don't think it's moisturizing enough for me for overnight. The other reason is the packaging: unfortunately, the lovely gold accent on the tube starts flaking off pretty quickly, leaving random specks of glitter on my face, and the soft squishy tube actually cracked on me from squeezing. Also... do I really need a separate eye cream for the day? I'd prefer to use just one really good product day and night, you know?

Nuxe Reve de Miel Nourishing Lip Balm. This was my second jar (that I bought myself) and I have another one I received from PR waiting in the wings. Still the best overnight lip balm I have found so far and the closest I've come to a Holy Grail.

Paula's Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA* (originally reviewed here). My thoughts still stand - this was my second bottle of this product and I enjoyed it just as much as the first. I'm using a different chemical exfoliant from Paula at the moment, and I honestly miss the 5% AHA. I think I really noticed a difference in the overall brightness, tone and clarity of my skin.

Paula's Choice CLEAR Extra Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution 2% BHA (separate review here). It's a decent product, but to be honest, by the end of the bottle I was definitely ready to move onto something else. I don't know - maybe the longer I used it, the less of a result I could see? All in all, I preferred the Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA.

One Love Organics Brand New Day Microderma Scrub and Masque (deluxe sample). I moved onto this enzyme powder exfoliant after finally using up my jar of TATCHA Classic Rice Enzyme Powder*.  While the One Love Organics scrub did the job, I do like the TATCHA one more, but I think I've found the fairest of them all - the Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel, which I purchased a deluxe sample of in the last Sephora Beauty Insider sale (the mini was part of a set).

Neal's Yard Remedies Deliciously Ella Rose, Lime & Cucumber Moisturizer* (reviewed here). I felt a little ambivalent about this moisturizer when I first started using it, but it actually really grew on me. Yes, it's pretty basic - but for whatever reason, it was just right for my skin: moisturizing without feeling heavy. I used it every night until the last drop, and now that I've replaced it with a face oil, I miss it.

Laneige Brightening Sparkling Water Foam Cleanser*. Oooh, a foaming cleanser, quelle horreur. In all honesty, my husband mainly used it up, with just a little bit of help from me. In short, it wasn't our favorite. Mr thought the foam texture was a gimmick to get one to finish the product faster and have to repurchase more frequently, while for me it just felt like washing my face with a shaving foam. It also felt a little too drying - no surprises there. It's probably my least favorite product I've tried from Laneige.
My skincare routine does look a bit different these days as a result of finishing so many products and replacing them with other bits I've already had squirrelled away in my back-up stash, so I'm probably due for an update (last routine can be found here). Have you already revamped your skincare for spring and summer? So far, I've mostly just added sunscreen... 

Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterix (*) were press samples I received from the brand's PR for review consideration. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the product featured was purchased with my own money or provided free of charge. Thank you for reading!