Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase

I’ve been on the hunt for a good hydrating serum that’s great for the mornings. Recently, I purchased the Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase and I’m very happy with its performance. It’s made its way into my morning skin care routine, for sure. Previously, I used the Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum and finished it, before moving onto the Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Defense Serum. Since the transition, I decided that the Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Defense Serum was best for night time because it was starting to feel too heavy for my skin during the morning.

The Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase is a great in-between, and it settles nicely into the skin without interfering with sunscreen and makeup application. In fact, it’s worked so well for me, I use it alone without moisturizer because it’s so multi-functional.

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As “an intensive hydrating serum to bring youthful vitality to extra dry, devitalized skin,” this serum initially feels like a light oil for the skin. You shake it to mix the product and half a pump is enough for the face and neck areas. This “non-oily serum hydrates, softens, and protects” the skin, and it “restores comfort and a youthful radiance while smoothing the appearance of wrinkles,” fine lines, dry spots, and irritated areas of the skin. The “enriched with katafray bark extract and Inca peanut extract…leaves skin youthful-looking and delicately scented.”

This serum absorbs quickly and sinks in immediately — and, it feels like your skin is just drinking it up. My skin felt smooth and soothed upon contact; and, because the product works so well to hydrate my skin without looking or feeling oily, I swear this has re-balanced my skin. By “re-balanced,” I mean that my dry cheeks feel comfortable while my oily t-zone is kept in check!

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A little bit goes a long ways, so I think if I stick with this product for the mornings, it can last a long time. I can immediately move onto my sunscreen, base makeup, and then the rest of my makeup application after applying this serum. It does not make my skin feel oily, greasy, or sticky; and, it hasn’t had any adverse effects on my sensitive skin either. Not only has it re-balanced my skin, but it has also replaced my moisturizer and kept my skin perfectly hydrated without going over the top.

It is pricey but well worth it. I recommend it for those with all skin types, because it feels good on the skin and I believe it is good for maintaining the skin as well. I’ve noticed that with hydrated skin, my makeup applies smoothly and my skin looks and feels smoother even without makeup. Even if you don’t have dry skin, there’s a good chance that your skin is de-hydrated. Restoring your skin with this serum would be a great way to condition your skin and keep it healthy.

Retails for $59.00 USD.
Made in France.

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REVIEW: IT Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination in “Fair”

My experience with IT Cosmetics has been brief with previously posted reviews on the IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream with SPF 50+ and the IT Cosmetics Tightline Full Lash Length Black Mascara Primer. For weeks now, I’ve noticed that the Celebration Foundation Illumination was sold out, which peaked my interest even more. When it became available again, I purchased it with high expectations.

Celebration Foundation Illumination is “the next generation of IT Cosmetics Full Coverage Anti-Aging Foundation. It’s truly 30 seconds to full coverage and illumination to your skin.” Designed to be a powder foundation with skincare benefits all in one, this “product is for anyone who wants full coverage flawless radiance in less than 30 seconds…[and for those] who want a lit-from-within glow without the use of glitter or shimmer.”

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This powder foundation includes ingredients like “hydrolyzed collagen, peptides, anti-oxidants and Drops of Light Technology” to smooth and give radiance to the skin. This “skin-enhancing formula means less is more to achieve your desired level of buildable coverage.” The powder is finely milled so it can get dusty trying to use this. It comes housed in a plastic casing that includes a brush, but I like to use much denser and fluffier brush to get the job done. Just a few swirls is all you need since a little can go a long ways. It doesn’t appear to settle weird into the skin; it doesn’t look or feel dry and cakey; and enhances your skin’s radiance without glitter or shimmer in a subtle way.

I’ve applied this with a primer and without and there seems to be little difference. It’s quite long-wearing and controls oil well, without getting to oily on the skin too soon. It does catch to hair easily such as the hairline and eyebrows, so it’s best to have a a spooly-brush on hand to dust away the excess. Also, spritzing some makeup setting spray really seems to enhance the effect since overdoing it can make your skin look cakey.

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I chose the shade “Fair,” which is the lightest shade out of the five shades available. It’s the perfect blend of being yellow and peachy, so it seems to blend well into my skin. The color selection isn’t all that great, but I think since the product is so blendable it can be more forgiving. I really like this powder foundation and I wear it alone; however, it can be layered on top of traditional foundation and BB/CC creams. It’s very light on the skin and makes your skin look healthy and pretty as well. It’s not entirely mind-blowing as a powder foundation, but I can see why there’s so many positive reviews out there. I recommend this powder foundation, but only if you’re into the dewy/glowy look for your complexion.

Retails for $35.00 USD.
Made in USA.

Benefit Hydrating Tinted Lip Balm in “Posiebalm” and “Lollibalm”

The newest addition to Benefit’s line are the Hydrating Tinted Lip Balms. I saw a few blog posts before their release and I was excited for awhile before finally seeing them in person at Sephora. The concept of the tinted lip balms isn’t anything new since we’ve already experienced the releases of various tinted lip balm-y products like the: Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm, the Soft Lips Tinted Lip Care, the Butter London Lippy Tinted Balm, the Revlon Color Burst Lip Butter, and the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment to name a few.

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However, because I’m a fan of Benefit Cosmetics and the tints, I knew that I had to give the balms a try. While the color selection for the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments is more extensive, I still like the idea of the hydrating tinted lip balms by Benefit. Personally, I like the feeling of the balms better than the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments; the balms apply smoothly and saturate the lips in a thicker texture — but doesn’t feel sticky or gloopy in any way. The colors are subtle tints — much like the Benetint, Posietint, Lollitint, and Cha Cha Tint. The tinted lip balms are sheer, and when applied on the lips, gives you very, very subtle coloring.

Wear time is minimal, as it does slip and slide and come off quite easily. The color transfers eventually, so you’re just left with little coloring and some moisturizing effects. As for the product’s hydrating abilities, it’s pretty good until it begins to wear off. The best part is that you can apply the color without a mirror since it isn’t a lipstick!

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For the most part, I’d say that these balms are not a necessity and you can certainly pass them up. There are other products in various beauty lines that have products like this in different price ranges, so I’d say that the Benefit Hydrating Tinted Lip Balms are “mid-range.” If you’re a fan of the tints, these balms will make more sense. Otherwise, I can understand why some may feel that this is just an expensive and glorified chapstick! Between “Posiebalm” and “Lollibalm,” I like “Posiebalm” the best. Its smooth pinky color is great for when you’re on the go, or for when you don’t have to time pick which pink lipstick you want to wear that day.

There is a lingering scent that isn’t floral or sweet; but you can taste it immediately. I’m a fan of Benefit Cosmetics and I like “Posiebalm” and “Lollibalm,” and I recommend the tinted lip balms to those who are specifically looking for tinted lip balms by Benefit. However, because there are other alternatives, I don’t think you need to have these right away.

Made in France.
Retails for $18.00 USD.

Bite Beauty Luminous Crème Lipstick in “Vouvray”

With a tag line that states “lip color that’s good enough to eat,” it’s only natural that your curiosity is peaked, right? Previously, I purchased the Luminous Crème Lipstick in “Retsina” and the formula, pigmentation, and texture were fantastic. The philosophy behind the brand is interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily make or break the deal for me since I’m looking for quality products that have a great color selection.

As a product line that considers itself to be “innovation for lips,” I like the idea that “Bite lip products are handcrafted one at a time to provide nourishing, restorative benefits.” Aside from great colors and different formulations, “these lipsticks contain natural and organic ingredients—moisturizers and protective antioxidants like resveratrol, organic fruit butters, and Manuka honey.”

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Because “Retsina” was such a success, I recently picked up my second Luminous Crème Lipstick in “Vouvray.” This swatch doesn’t do it justice; but, it’s currently my favorite shade of pink thus far. Described as a “ballet pink” color, this shade seems to be universally flattering since the warm tones in it seem to make the lips so pretty and lush. While the color is natural-looking, the pinky shade shows through perfectly and also leaves my lips moisturized as the colors fades nicely. I still apply lip balm beneath this out of habit, but I’m so happy with the product that it’s landed a spot in my makeup bag when I’m on the go.

I think the Bite Beauty range is worth looking into and investing in. These lipsticks are “free of synthetics, polybutenes, and petroleum byproducts and made exclusively with lip nurturing food-grade ingredients that are healthy enough to eat.” I can’t say that I’ve tasted the lipstick by biting into it (no pun intended, lol) or anything like that, but I don’t mind it on my lips and it tastes/smells nice. I would continue to recommend products Bite Beauty products, but more specifically, I’d recommend the shades “Retsina” and “Vouvray” if you’re unsure about where you want to start.

Retails for $24.00 USD.

Laura Mercier Gel Lip Color in “Heartbreaker”

As you can see, I’m on a major lipstick kick this month so my lip product crusade continues with the Laura Mercier Gel Lip Color in “Heartbreaker.” I needed this lip color after watching Lisa Eldridge’s video titled “3 Products, No Brushes.” In the video, she uses the LM Gel Lip Color in “Heartbreaker” as a lip color, cheek color, and eyeshadow and it was brilliant.

As a new formula, the gel lip colors are “innovative gel-based lipstick[s] designed to cushion lips in comforting, sheer color with a shining finish and subtle vanilla flavor. The super-smooth formula glides on easily, conditioning your lips and leaving them perfectly hydrated.” The color is sheerly pigmented, which I know seems weird. But, the gel formula applies glossy and not like a lipstick with the perfect amount of buildable color. “Heartbreaker” is a bright pink shade that can be applied sheerly to bring in a pretty pop of color to the lips; and, it can be built up on the cheeks (like in the video) as a bright pink creamy blush.

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Obviously, Lisa Eldridge demonstrates the versatility of this lip product and this shade is perfect for that. I’ve been wearing it mainly as a lipstick, and will further experiment with the shade on the cheeks eventually. But I’m enjoying the bright pink color on my lips because it isn’t too loud or clown-ish, and it looks fun and pretty without being too over-the-top. Since my lipstick kick began, I’ve been interested in colors outside of my comfort zone and this is a safe option if you’re feeling the same way.

This formula is great and is hydrating as well. The balmy texture melts into your lips, but it can catch onto dry flakes on the lips. I like to exfoliate my lips and apply a lip balm properly under all lip products — whether they’re high end or low end. This isn’t as moisturizing as Bite Beauty Lipsticks or the Chanel Rouge Coco Shines, but it still glides smoothly onto the lips and fades nicely without looking blotchy. Wear time for this lipstick isn’t that long since the gel formula is a little slippery, but it doesn’t bother me a bit. I recommend this shade and the other lipsticks in the gel color range are worth checking out as well.

Made in Italy.
Retails for $23.00 USD.

Eco Tools Face & Body Sculpting Brush

The Eco Tools Face & Body Sculpting Brush initially started out as a random purchase for me. However, since experimenting with it, I’ve found some great uses for it and recommend it as a great budget-friendly option for more expensive “body makeup brushes.”

In searching for body brushes, I’ve found the Make Up For Ever 414 Body Kabuki for $43.00 USD, the Laura Mercier Body Bronzer Brush for $65.00 USD, and the Becca The One Perfecting Brush for $49.00 USD. The Eco Tools Face & Body Sculpting Brush is perfect for using to apply product to large surface areas; and, best of all, it can double as a face/contour brush too.

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I purchased mine at Ulta with a coupon, so I ended up paying less than its $11.99 USD retail value. It’s a great bargain option because it’s versatile and multi-functional. This brush “create[s] buildable coverage…[and is] incredibly soft,” even though it contains fully synthetic bristles. The “impressively large brush head that is perfect for all-over body application and definition” is great for sweeping on product for your legs and arms. You’re able to buff with the brush, contour, and apply product with quick sweeps. “Made with beautifully soft cruelty-free bristles,” this brush is great contouring the face and applying bronzer as well.

I don’t use this brush every day. I only use it specifically for the body when a brush is required. Now that it’s summer, it’s nice to apply some glimmer/shimmer on your legs; and, a little bit of all-over bronzer never hurt either. The bristles are incredibly soft and maneuvers around the contours of the body (including the neck and shoulders) really well. I don’t believe in spending a lot of money on a body brush that will only get a few uses, so I’d recommend this brush if you’re looking for something to apply body products with. It washes well and dries quickly; it’s sturdy with soft bristles; and, it a great budget-friendly option with minimal shedding compared to some of the higher end body brushes out there.

Retails for $11.99 USD.

Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller

After turning 28, under eye concealing concerns peaked my interest because I’ve been noticing some changes in my skin. While under eye concerns haven’t really been an issue for me, brightening the area and keeping my eye area hydrated are important to me. In the mornings, I don’t like to mess around with too many products and prefer a quick and easy routine. More importantly, I try to avoid caking on products on the face because I want to minimize oiliness and other issues related to heavily applying products.

As a brief under-eye-product experiment, I decided to start with the Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller to see if something from the drugstore would suffice. Although I don’t suffer from pigmented under eye circles, I was hoping that a product like this would help with the shadows and brighten the area up a bit.

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The Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller is a “caffeine gel + rollerball [that] energizes and stimulates microcirculation. Lemon Essence brightens, [and] tinted mineral pigments instantly corrects dark circles.” The packaging is convenient and dispense the product directly from the rollerball. I swipe along the under eye area and blend the product with my finger. The product absorbs quickly and thoroughly, and doesn’t seem to make my eye makeup smudge or transfer throughout the day. Supposedly, “over time, lack of sleep and daily fatigue make eyes look tired. Microcirculation slows and the delicate skin around the eyes becomes thinner and more translucent [allowing] dark circles and shadows appear.”

The Skin Renew Anti-Dark-Circle Roller can be used to instantly correct the appearance of dark circles and brighten the skin around your eyes. Using this product is very easy; and, the formula combined with the rollerball applies the product in a cooling way — which is quite refreshing in the morning. The color is a peachy-salmon color that is designed to cancel out pigmentation from dark circles. For me, however, the color wasn’t pink enough so it took a bit of effort to blend out and disguise well on my skin tone.

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Along with the color match issues, I noticed that it didn’t make my eye area appear brightened or concealed. But, to be fair, this may because the color match was off. The formula itself is nice and feels cooling on the skin. While the feeling is temporary, it felt nice even though it didn’t ultimately correct anything for me. I suppose to some extent this kind of product can help those with mild under eye circles, but this product didn’t work for me and I don’t care to keep it around.

For now, I may stick with something more powdery like the bareMinerals Well-Rested Eye Brightener or the Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder. How did you feel about this product and what would you recommend?

Retails for $12.99 USD.

REVIEW: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup in “Classic Ivory 10”

The Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup foundation was rumored awhile ago to be the drugstore dupe for the NARS Sheer Glow Foundation. For me, this wasn’t the case — perhaps, because I have quite high expectations for foundations in general. As a foundation that claims to provide “naturally beautiful coverage,” this product says that it “takes over where your skin care leaves off” as a foundation that provides both skincare benefits and coverage. The “silky-light coverage” of this product “glides on for a perfectly natural look, while the exclusive blend plus SPF 20 work together to visibly improve skin’s luminosity, tone, and texture.”

To begin, the finish, texture, and the feel of the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup on the skin is superb. It settles nicely on the skin, looks natural and glowy (without looking/feeling oily), and looks great in photographs and in natural lighting. Initially, I was impressed with this foundation as it provided sheer to medium coverage and it concealed pores and imperfections nicely. I was also impressed by how light it felt on the skin. Regarding these points, this foundation does mimic the NARS Sheer Glow nicely.

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The shade “Classic Ivory 10” is a good match, but not a perfect match. It warms up on the skin nicely and blends well, so that’s fine with me. The formula is smooth and blendable, which makes it very easy to work with. However, the difference is clear after about 3-4 hours of wear. The Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup began to slip and slide, with noticeable demarcation — subtle indications that the foundation was indeed moving around and rubbing off in areas — like my nose and chin. The longer it stayed on my face, the worse it began to look/feel. With this foundation, I had to blot multiple times, and each time, the foundation rubbed off little by little. To be fair, I powdered over this foundation the next day to give it another shot and it didn’t make a difference. For me, while the foundation started off great, there was pretty much nothing left of it by the end of my day.

Because my obsession for base makeup has allowed me to gain high expectations of foundations in general, I can’t say that this foundation performed well. I think if you wanted to wear a light foundation for 2-4 hours this may work, but realistically, this wouldn’t hold up well through a work day, school day, or at any event. In all honesty, it’s a bummer since it’s great on every level, but the fact that it starts to look and feel horrible throughout the day is a major deal breaker for me. I would recommend the NARS Sheer Glow Foundation over this product, and I do not consider it as a worthy “dupe.” I’d say that a more comparable drugstore and budget-friendly option is the Revlon ColorStay Foundation.

Made in USA.
Retails for $13.99 USD.

Sonia Kashuk Velvety Matte Lip Crayon in “Pinky Nude 09”

Admittedly, I was on the hunt for the Sonia Kashuk Velvety Matte Lip Crayon in “Pinky Nude 09” after seeing it in action in heidicupcake’s newest video called “Neon Pop.” Since I’ve been on a lipstick kick this month, I’ve been taking into consideration pretty much every recommendation that tugs at my heartstrings!

The “creamy texture of Sonia Kashuk’s Velvety Matte lip crayon ensures an easy glide-on application that will not feel dry on the lips and instantly coats with rich, pigmented color.” And, much like all of the lip crayon kind of products out on the market right now, I’d say that this lip product is absolutely a dupe for the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil. Check out my other Sonia Kashuk favorite here in this post.

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Personally, this formula is great because it’s not entirely matte so it’s not drying…nor does it look flat and one-dimensional. It glides on smoothly and is pretty long-lasting since the formula isn’t slippery. It’s just thick enough to adhere to the lips; and, also seems to be resistant to transfer somewhat. Pigmentation is rich and smooth, but the name “Pinky Nude” is a bit deceiving. The tone leans more towards a rosey pink rather than a nude pink, and on me, is more of a “my lips but better” kind of shade.

The texture is nice and hydrating and the formula is done right! At under $8 USD, this is a bargain and definitely worth hunting down. It wears nicely on its own and looks nice when layered as well. Like in Heidi’s video, layering this shade seemed to do the trick with an overly nude lip! If you’re interested in a high-end version of this, check out my post about the NARS Satin Lip Pencil in “Biscayne Park” and my post about the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in “Roman Holiday.”

Made in Italy.
Retails for $7.21 USD at Target.

Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy Lipstick in “302 Tokyo”

Probably like everyone else in the beauty community, I’ve been really into corals lately. Maybe it’s the summery weather, but I’ve been gravitating towards breezy, fun colors for the last few weeks. By accident, I found myself perusing the Armani Beauty counter and couldn’t leave without the Rouge Ecstasy Lipstick in “302 Tokyo.” Described as a “velvety-soft formula designed to coat your lips in a luminous shade that lasts all day,” the balmy and rich texture of these lipsticks have caught my attention.

This collection features a broad palette of intense, vibrant colors to satisfy any lipstick craving. It’s not new and the shades in this range have been around for about a year or so. All the shades are beautiful and perfectly moist, and the pigmentation of color is intense but in a good way. The packaging is sexy and sleek — with a glossy red finish with a magnetic top closure that clicks shut. Love.

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“302 Tokyo” is the best coral shade I’ve come across so far. On my lips/skintone, various coral shades have leaned too red or too orange; and, corals with some pink in it looked weird on me if it leaned too pink or too orange as well. “302 Tokyo” is a warm coral shade that has a juicy watermelon-y pinkish undertone. This coral shade melts into my lips and provides it with moisture and pigment. I like that I can build it up — I dab it on for a sheerer effect, and I also like to really pack it on as well when I’m in the mood.

The texture of this formula is truly divine. It’s so buttery smooth without looking or feeling thick. It’s thin enough to feel comfortable and undetectable on the lips, without rubbing off an every surface. It lasts for about 2-3 hours roughly with no eating/drinking, but it also fades nicely too so I don’t mind that it doesn’t last all day. This lipstick is expensive but performs above expectations. For the perfect coral shade, I’d pay double for this lipstick so I find it worth the investment. I recommend this shade, but overall, I recommend this range of Armani lipsticks if you’re interested. There’s so many beautiful colors — including some pinks and nudes I have my eye on. I’ll be returning for more of these babies for sure.

Made in France.
Retails for $34.00 USD.