Love This! Sephora Makeup Sponge (“The Sculptor”)

I know lots of people love the BeautyBlender makeup sponge, but since I don’t want to spend $20 on a sponge, I keep looking for affordable alternatives so I can have several makeup sponges on hand without spending a fortune.  I only have time to clean my makeup sponges/brushes once a week, so I need to have enough to get through the week.   Since this one was on sale, I thought I’d give it a try…

Pros:  Comes with a holder (with a suction cup on the back).  Durable.  Good texture.  Easier to clean than others.  Variety of angles allows you to reach all parts of your face.

Cons:  Limited availability.  Lacks an angle that would allow you to get the innermost part of your nose (bottom/side).  Holder is a little tricky to use. ( You have to be careful not to damage the sponge while putting it away.)  Heavily dyed. (First washing of it resulted in a pool of blue dye in my sink – ewww.)

In Summary:  I love this makeup sponge.  It’s WAY better than the too-hard Ulta brand one and is easier to clean than the Earth Therapeutics one.  (In fact, I bought another Earth Therapeutics one and it’s completely different than the first one I got.  It’s more of a “memory foam” type of material, which is harder to clean.)  The shape looks odd, but it’s great for getting around your nose/eye area and quickly adjusting/applying makeup to the bigger parts of your face.  The fact that it’s easier to clean and has a holder is what I love about it most.  I hated using the other sponges I’ve bought because I didn’t have a good place to set them after use or cleaning.  Seriously, if you have a Sephora store nearby, stop by and see if they have any of these available.  (or just order one online!)

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars  5-stars

 Price:  originally $13, on sale for $7 (USD)

Available at:  Sephora

sephora sculptor sponge

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Love This! Make Up For Ever Aqua Lip Waterproof Lipliner

I know I haven’t posted in a looooong time.  I’ve been so busy lately I’ve barely had time to sleep (5 hours is enough, right?), let alone attend to my blog.  Anyway, I’ve gotten one of my major time-consuming “to do” items taken care of (shopping for a car), so I can take care of some of these posts that have been kicking around inside my head.

I almost always wear lipliner, and have quite a collection.  While my favorites (and pretty much the only ones I use) are NYX Slim Lip pencil and Sephora Collection “Nano”, I was willing to try the Make Up For Ever Aqua Lip, partially because it said “waterproof”.  Now, I don’t NEED waterproof stuff, but I often buy it because I know it will stay in place better in the hot, humid climate of South Texas.  Although I would normally not spend this much for a lipliner, I realized they last longer than lots of other things I use, so it didn’t seem like a ridiculous amount to spend, and this one certainly impressed me…

Pros:  Smooth texture.  Stays in place.  Doesn’t “bleed”.  Long-lasting.

Cons:  Can dry out a bit as the day goes on. Expensive.

Interesting information:  From the Sephora.com product description:  “…the Aqua collection of long-lasting lip and eye colors was created for the Parisian Aquatic Ballet. Tested under water for five hours…”

In Summary:  Honestly, this is the best lipliner I’ve ever used.  While I’m never going to be a Parisian Aquatic Ballet performer, I love that this product stays on all day.  As I do with all lipliners, I apply it to my entire lip, so that as my lipstick/gloss wears off, I have a “backup” color.  This one is absolutely perfect for my needs, even though the price prevents me from buying it in every color. (Yes, I’m tempted!)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 5-stars

Price: $19 (USD)

Available at: Sephora (exclusively)

Made in:  Germany

make up for ever lipliner

Really, Sephora?

For literally years, I’ve been waiting for Sephora to develop an Android app. (I was what you would call an “early adopter” to the concept of a smartphone – even before the invention of the iPhone and Android.)   The few times I’ve asked in this waiting period, the answer I got was the same: “We’re working on it.”  I was very excited to get an e-mail the other day telling me the Android app was available – finally!  Consider me un-excited…

Disclaimer:  I’m not going to engage in any iPhone vs Android discussion.  Android is better for me and my needs from a smartphone.  Some people swear by iPhones.  Regardless, both are valid options if you want the convenience of a smartphone.  Recognizing that many people have chosen Android, most companies develop apps for both types of phones.  Sephora is just behind the power curve. Way behind.  Onto the discussion about the actual app…

Lame:   This “app” is exactly the same as the mobile version of their website.  (I think it just links to their mobile site, actually.)  I’m not kidding.  There are zero differences – as far as I could tell.  So, why waste memory on my phone downloading the app?!?!

(actual images from my phone)

(actual images from my phone)

What the…?:  The iPhone version has actual features you’d expect from an app.   Example:  Promo code for free headphones with app download – which is advertised in the same e-mail I got telling me about the Android app but doesn’t show up on the Android app.  Also:  An option to receive notifications, leave app feedback, and a “contact us” feature.

(actual image from my daughter's iPhone)

(actual image from my daughter’s iPhone)

Insulting:  The impression I’m getting is that Sephora and/or its app developers don’t think Android users are tech-savvy enough to know how little effort they put into this “app”.

Long Story Short:  This is – by far – the most disappointing app I’ve ever downloaded.  I deleted it.  I can get as much convenience from “bookmarking” the Sephora website on my phone and navigating that way.  Here’s hoping Sephora makes an effort to create an actual app for Android users.

Review: Make Up For Ever Wild & Chic Eye Shadow Palette

I used a little of my Christmas gift money to order this item, since Sephora was doing a promotion where sale items were an extra 20% off.  It’s my first-ever Make Up For Ever purchase (oddly, I ordered MUFE “Aqua Seal” at the same time – been wanting to try that – review coming soon!). 

Note:  This review is provided for reference only – the product is no longer available to buy at Sephora.com.  I’m reviewing it as a first-time Make Up For Ever purchaser and in case someone ends up finding it at a discount store, eBay, etc. 

Pros:  Paraben-free.  Cute, convenient packaging with a magnetic closure and large mirror.  No cheap eye shadow applicators wasting up space.  Quality is better than the average “drugstore brand”.  Eyeliner is deeply pigmented and stays in place.

Cons: The colors look a lot more “neutral” in the product image than they do “in real life”.  (Two of the colors are actually shades of green/olive I was expecting to be more brown.)  Eye shadow colors aren’t as deeply pigmented as other prestige brands, like Urban Decay.

MUFE wild & chic palette swatch2

Colors – left to right: 184, 123, 152, 17, 122, 126, eyeliner (black)

Random Info:  For some odd reason, the eye shadows aren’t in the same order in the kit as they are in the product image.

In Summary: While I may not love all the colors in this kit, it’s worth the $16 (after discounts and sales tax) I spent on it.  However, I don’t think it would have been a good buy at the $39 price point.  It’s a good kit for travel or throwing into a purse on the go.  At any rate, maybe I’ll experiment with some of the colors I don’t normally use/buy.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars   4-stars

Price:  originally $39 (USD), was on sale for $19 (USD

Available at:  ???

Made in:  France (shadows) &  Germany (pencil)

MUFE wild & chic palette

Review: Korres Vitamin E Face Primer

I like the idea of face primer.  Ideally, it would allow me to use less foundation.  However, most of the ones I like cost as much as (or more than) my foundation, so that’s not a great selling point.  Smoother makeup application should be worth doubling the cost of my beauty regimen, but it’s not – not to me, anyway.  Since I want to use primer, and my supply of samples has run out, I got this primer at the recent Sephora clearance sale.  Worth a try, right?

Pros:  Lightweight.  Fresh, fruity fragrance. Doesn’t contain sulfates, synthetic fragrance, synthetic dyes, mineral oil, petrochemicals, phthalates, parabens, or GMOs.  99% natural.  Ecocert certified.

Cons: Contains glycerin, which seems to make my skin break out and/or clog my pores. (I scanned the ingredients, but somehow missed the glycerin.)  Only available at Sephora.  Expensive (unless you get it on sale, like I did).

In Summary:  I like the texture/”feel” of this primer.  It’s not as heavy on my skin as many other primers – even some of the oil-free ones.  I love that it’s mostly natural.  However, it’s not the best primer for my oily skin.  Korres also makes a “mattifying” primer, which I’ve used but didn’t like.  Until I get a good primer that’s designed for oily complexions, I’ll probably only use this on days when I’ve over-dried my skin with harsh facial cleansers or whatever.  So, if you have “normal” or dry skin, this might be a great product for you to use, especially if you prefer more natural products.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars  4-stars

Price:  $28 (listed as a “sale” price on the Korres site)

Available at:  Sephora

korres vitamin e primer

My Amazing Beauty Haul

I often see people bragging about their amazing collections of recent beauty product purchases (can’t say that I blame you – shopping is fun!) and I wanted to join in.  However, I don’t usually go on shopping sprees with beauty products, except for “everyday use” things like shampoo and shave gel. Now I feel I deserve to brag, since I got all this for a ridiculously low price…

All This for $17. AFTER sales tax. 

Each item cost just $2.99 and was an additional 25% off.  Wow, right?

My Beauty Haul:

Urban Decay Deluxe Eye Shadow – originally $18

Tarte Eye Shadow Duo (x2) – originally  ???, around $15

LORAC Eye Shadow – originally $19

Tarte Amazonian Clay Pressed Mineral Powder – originally ???, around $28

Sephora Perfume Atomizer – originally $15

Korres Face Primer – originally $28

Nope, Not Typos:  I really paid $17 for 7 full-sized items that each cost more than that originally (except the perfume atomizer).  Yes, I’m very happy.  Ecstatic, actually.

OK, So Maybe I Won’t Love Everything:  So what? The way I see it, at these prices I can afford to try something new.  Even though I’m pretty sure most (if not all) of these items are discontinued, I’m OK with that.  I needed face primer and I don’t want to spend money on it right now.  I needed to ditch some of my old eye shadows and this gives me the perfect excuse to throw them out.

Other Items I Didn’t Buy:  Ilamasqua nail varnish for $5.  Charlotte Ronson eye shadow kits for $11.  4-piece, full-size OPI nail polish sets for $18.  Also:  A bunch of Sephora brand stuff that just didn’t intrigue me.

Why The Good Deal?  Here’s the thing:  Sephora stores are amazing.  But if you want amazing deals like these, you have to shop at the Sephora “inside JCPenney” stores.  They had 2 sections of stuff (I resisted the urge to buy everything!) all on clearance PLUS an extra 25% the ridiculously low prices.

Funny Caveat:  While I was checking out, the cashier asked “Is this yours?” about the Urban Decay eye shadow that was lying by the cash register. (I hadn’t seen any in the clearance section.)  I said “No, but I want it!”  🙂

Shop Around:  Some of these kinds of deals are available on the Sephora website right now.  I didn’t see any in the Sephora stand-alone store.  I highly recommend you take some time to browse the website sale section and/or your area stores to see what you can get.  The holidays are right around the corner!

Sephora – More than Just a Beauty Store

If you’re a big Sephora fan (like me!), you may already know all about the information in today’s post.  However, I just found out about Sephora’s “other” services (you know, other than selling fabulous, addictive makeup products!), so I’m sharing with anyone else who might not know…

Free Mini-Sessions:  Sephora has a set of “express services” that are offered on a walk-in basis.  You can change up your look with the following express services:  Smoky Eye, Perfect Lips, Treat & Conceal, Blush & Bronze, Everyday Eye, Essential Eyeliner, Flawless Foundation, and Faux Lashes.  These services (at least some of them) are also offered at the Sephora Inside JCPenney locations.

Makeup Application:  Many stores will do a makeup application for a special event (or “just because”).  The 45-minute session is one-on-one and is a great way to find a new look.  The catch:  You have to spend $50 on stuff to get the service.  (But hey, you get to keep the stuff – if you’re going to spend $50 in there, you’d might as well get the makeover, too!)  This service seems to be available at all the stand-alone stores (not the ones inside JCPenney stores). A handful of stores (ones located in major cities) even let you book this service online.

Personal Beauty Advisor:  You can get a 90-minute consultation that goes over your hair, skin, makeup, “and more” (don’t know what else there is!).  This service also comes with a custom makeup application session.  For this one, you have to spend $125 on products.

Classes:  Apparently, Sephora offers some sort of “classes” at select stores as well.  The one listed on the website now is called “Extraordinary Holiday Eyes”.  Call your local store to see if they offer classes.

Miscellaneous Info:  All the information about these services, as well as a list of locations that offer online reservations can be found here:  Sephora Beauty Studio.

Holiday Beauty Buys ($15 and under)

I already posted about all the $10 and under Burt’s Bees “value sets” available for your holiday shopping needs.  Here are some others you might be interested in…

Tarte Clean Slate Deluxe Primer Trio

$9 at Ulta and Sephora

tarte trio

Laura Geller “Lips in Lights”  (lip gloss set)

$9.75 at Ulta

laura geller lips in lights

Smackers “Sweet Treats” (misc. products)

For the young girl in your life or the young girl in you

$9.99 at Ulta

smackers sweet treats

Benefit “Besties” Set

$12 – only available at Ulta

Mini brightening primer and cream-to-powder foundation (“medium”)

benefit besties

Stila Lip Glaze Trio

Korres Lip & Lash Duo

Normally $16, on sale at Sephora.com for $10

korres lip and lash duo

Sephora Collection Jumbo Color Wand for Lips

6 glosses in a wand. 2 color varieties.  $11.

sephora lip wand

Sephora Collection Nail Wand

available in 2 varieties (only one online).  $12.

sephora nail wand

Sephora by OPI Tinsel Town Set

originally $19.50, on sale online for $12

sephora by OPI set

The New Black Candy Cane Scented Nail Polish Set

$14 at Sephora

the new blackL’Occitane Hugs & Kisses set

Out of stock online, but may be in Sephora stores.  $15.

l'occitane

Bliss Misletoe Musts Lip & Hand Duo

$12 at Sephora

also available from Bliss:  Hand Cream Duo, also $12

bliss set

Harajuku Lovers Perfume Set

$15 at Sephora

harajuku

And Much More!   There were lots of other “mini kits” available at Sephora and Ulta, but I didn’t want to list ALL of them, so browse the store/website for yourself and see what you can find.

Availability:  I found all these online, so they may not all be available in retail stores.

Important Note:  Some of the gift sets out this holiday season are made in China. (even if the brand’s products normally aren’t)  If you’re avoiding made in China stuff, read the label.  (Also look for “Made in PRC” – this is a sneaky way of avoiding putting “China” on the label – it’s an abbreviation for “People’s Republic of China”) On Sephora.com, sometimes you can check the “Q & As” and find out where it’s made.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I really look forward to this time of year. Although Halloween is my favorite holiday, November is when the Christmas “gift sets” start showing up in beauty stores.  I’m a sucker for any “combo kit”, “palette”, or any other multi-product set that comes along.  And for good reason…

Save Money:  Sometimes, a kit is just more cost-effective.  While the sets sometimes come with smaller amounts of products, you’re supposed to be throwing out your makeup on a regular basis anyway, so this way you’re not holding onto something you bought 2 years ago because you still have some left.

Portability:  Also, these sets are sometimes better for travel/on-the-go use.  You get several products in a more compact container, allowing you to throw it in a purse or whatever.

Expand Your Horizons:  If you always buy Product X and just love it, maybe there are other offerings by Company X that you’ll love.  Buying a combo kit allows you to experiment with new products.

My Favorites:  Here are some of my most-wanted kits.  I’ll definitely be adding these to my Christmas Wish List…

The newest Sephora Fragrance Sampler. – These are always on my wish list.  Read more here.

$50, but it comes with a voucher to get a full-sized fragrance.

Nails, Inc Gift Set

Love these colors. (And I’m kind of addicted to nail polishes!)

$25

L’Occitane Hugs & Kisses Set

Love their hand creams!

$15

Too Faced Shadow Bon Bons Set

$42

(OK, a little more expensive than stuff I usually ask for, but I love all the colors…)

Well, there are a bunch of other “gift sets” I’m interested in, but this is all I have time to post right now.

Sephora Free Gift

Just wanted to let everyone know about a great “sample set” of products being offered by Sephora (online only) to members of the “Beauty Insider” club.  There are 3 sets to choose from.  All are free with $25 purchase and are available while supplies last.  Here they are