Great for Fall: NYX Butter Lip Balm in Panna Cotta

  This time of year I really like a little pigment on my lips. In the warmer months I’m happy with a clear balm, but fall makes me yearn for berries and browns. This season I keep grabbing the same tinted balm again and again: NYX Butter Lip Balm in Panna Cotta. It has a smooth, creamy texture that lasts for hours and a sort of burnt rose shade that is both flattering and just right for fall. Plus, at less than $4 a tube, I’m pretty sure a better deal for a pretty pout doesn’t exist. 

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September 2015 Empties

I can’t believe we’re already more than a week into October! You’ll have to forgive me for being a bit behind with reviewing last month’s empties – between a road trip to visit some good friends in their new home, several nights out to celebrate various happy occasions with friends, and a jam-packed work schedule, I’ve had a very busy couple of weeks! Luckily, the long hours and short weekends have not kept me from testing and finishing up a whole bunch of things. Let’s take a look at September’s empties:
September 2015 empties
Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Refreshingly Clean Cleansing Cloths: These gentle daily cleansing cloths are formulated to remove makeup and oil without over-drying or irritating sensitive skin. They combine the natural toning properties of witch hazel with soothing aloe, a blend the package says gives the cloths their “signature botanical scent.” Here is what I have to say about these face wipes: they are very effective at removing makeup and oil, and when I used them they kept my skin quite clear and even. However, I found that signature scent to be almost stomach-turning. The scent was so strong and so unpleasant that it took me months to finish up this pack of 25 cleansing cloths. I would not recommend them to anyone who is the least bit sensitive to strong smells.

Boscia Pore Purifying Black Strips: As with Boscia’s classic black mask (and pretty much every other Boscia product I’ve tested), I was very excited to give this pore strip a try. As a person whose past experiences with drugstore pore strips have been quite painful and ineffective, I was cautiously optimistic that this one would work for me. Happily, it did! I decided to test this strip one afternoon after noticing that my pores looked unusually large and grimy. Not only did this strip remove the grime and make my pores instantly less prominent, I was actually able to peel the strip from my face without crying or taking any skin with it. This is definitely the Cadillac of pore strips.

Malin + Goetz Geranium Body Wash: I’ve sampled a couple of Malin + Goetz products over the years, and I’ve really liked all of them. This body wash was no different. Though I don’t typically love floral scents, this one was mild and left a pleasant fragrance on my skin that lasted through most of the day. It also made my skin insanely soft, even without lotion. I think this would make a great gift.

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB: I’ve written about this so many times, there’s not much left to say! I finally used up my summer BB cream, and not a moment too soon; my tan has definitely abandoned me, making this beauty balm just a touch too dark for my complexion. Other than that, it’s an all-around great BB cream that provides moisture and nice light coverage for a super reasonable price.

Colgate MaxFresh with Whitening Flouride Toothpaste: A pretty basic toothpaste. I can’t say I noticed a difference in whiteness, but it did a great job of keeping my mouth feeling fresh.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple: This facial cleanser is an old favorite for good reason – it’s gentle, effective, and even smells pure and simple. I often turn to it when another product has caused irritation or the changing seasons has turned my skin into a red blotchy mess. It’s always a safe bet.

Benefit They’re Real! Remover: This waterproof eye makeup remover has a unique creamy gel formula that is designed to prevent pulling or tugging of the delicate skin around the eyes. I have to confess, I was completely caught off guard by the odd texture. It was goopy and unpleasant, and I got a ton of it in my eyes. This makeup remover is formulated to be safe for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers, and I’ll admit that my highly sensitive eyes did not sting or burn after using it. Still, it felt gross. And with all the wonderfully effective eye makeup removers out there (like this one from MAKE), I don’t see a reason to use one that feels this bad.

Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo: I wrote about this a little while back after receiving it in a Birchbox. It’s a nice, fresh-smelling dry shampoo that’s great for giving second day hair a little oomph. That oomph doesn’t last very long, but it’s really clean and natural looking while it lasts. A great product to throw in your purse for on-the-go touchups.

Eye Do: NYX Cosmetics Ipsy Eye Shadow Trio

NYX Cosmetics Ipsy Eye Shadow TrioIt’s no secret that I love NYX Cosmetics. So when I discovered that my September Ipsy bag contained a trio of NYX eye shadows created exclusively for Ipsy subscribers, I was psyched. Not surprisingly, NYX delivered a trio of high-quality shadows that are easy to apply, long lasting and versatile – the three shades can be worn together or separately.

The set contains a light beige shadow, a rich medium brown, and a deep black that makes a great liner. The first two shades have the slightest bit of shimmer. I really like the beige, but I cannot get enough of the brown; it’s just right to make my blue eyes pop and I find myself reaching for it each and every day.

This month I also received a Crown Brush AC012 Shadow/Crease Duet brush from Ipsy, and I have to say I’m really impressed. I usually prefer a sponge tip applicator for eyeshadow application, but this brush is firm enough to pick up the right amount of powder while still being soft enough to glide smoothly over the lid. Both of these Ipsy picks have definitely made it into the daily rotation!

Birchbox Best: LAQA & Co. Cheeky Lip

LAQA & Co. Cheeky Lip in Humble BragI have a confession to make. I drink a lot of coffee. Like, a lot. For several hours each morning – and sometimes in the afternoon – you’ll find me clutching an oversized coffee mug, drinking my fill of liquid motivation. Eventually I’ll remember that I need to actually hydrate myself, at which point I’ll trade in the mug for a water bottle and go about my day. The problem is, with all that sipping going on it can be nearly impossible to find a lip color that lasts. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I found one that stayed with me through my morning commute, let alone until lunchtime. Enter the highlight of my last Birchbox, LAQA & Co. Cheeky Lip in Humble Brag. I was thrilled to discover that this pretty pink crayon lasts and lasts. As in, it doesn’t rub off on my cup/straw/husband and is still going strong hours after application. For a girl who loves lipstick but hates having to reapply, this is definitely my kind of product.

Humble Brag is part of the Charm School Kit, a set of three creamy lip and cheek crayons. It’s described as a blush pink, but I think it’s more of a muted fuchsia. The kit also features Cray-Cray, a coral peach, and Mixtape, a classic red. While I can’t speak for those two shades, I can vouch for Humble Brag; it glides on effortlessly, has a matte finish, and doesn’t dry out my lips the way some other long-lasting lip products tend to do. As a lip color it’s bright enough to make a fun statement without being over the top; it works at the office or out on the town. As a cheek color, it’s even more wearable – once the color is diffused over your cheekbones, it transforms from a bright streak of pink to a sheer, natural flush. Just make sure to blend the color quickly after application.

Tip: I love the matte lip look, but I find that it can really draw attention to fine lines or flakes. I recommend using a somewhat waxy lip balm (such as Chapstick or Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm) as a base to help fill in lines, moisturize your lips and ensure a more even application.

August 2015 Empties

Happy Labor Day beauties! The end of summer is painfully close, but today is a beautiful day and I intend to spend it soaking up some delicious late summer rays. Before we say hello to fall, let’s celebrate the holiday with a look back at some of the products that helped me through this season:
August 2015 Empties
Caudalie Make-Up Remover Cleansing Water: I wrote about this new skincare favorite here. I still love it. A perfect summer cleanser.

Gillette Fusion Hydra Gel: This technically belonged to my husband, but I’m pretty sure I used more of this shave gel than he did. With aloe and cocoa butter, it left my skin super soft and allowed for a really close shave.

R & Co Atlantis Moisturizing Shampoo & Conditioner: I took this little duo on a road trip to a beach wedding on a hot summer day. It left my hair feeling clean, smelling fresh, and miraculously free of frizz. I was very impressed.

Suave Tropical Coconut Shampoo: I seem to return to this cheapo shampoo every summer. The light coconut scent is just what I’m looking for in the warmer months, and it’s great cleanser.

Dove Go Fresh Cool Moisture Body Bar: I wrote about this last month, too. Still a fine choice for a summer soap. In other news, I’ve finally used up my soap stash! Hooray!

Whish Three Whishes Almond Body Butter: This thick body lotion left my skin feeling soft, but I don’t think it’s moisturizing enough for the cooler, dryer months. The almond scent was a bit too strong at first but became much more pleasant as the day wore on. It makes a really nice hand cream.

Benefit Bad Gal Lash: When this mascara was first released, I tried it, loved it, and then promptly swore it off because it burned my eyes in the most painful way. Years later, I received this mini and decided to give it another go. I’m so glad that I did! Benefit must have tweaked their formula; it didn’t bother my eyes at all! It did make my lashes look full and gorgeous, though. Bad Gal Lash for the win!

Dr. Jart Dermaclear Micro Water: Another waterless cleanser, this product claims to remove makeup and impurities while toning and brightening skin. While I don’t think it worked as well as the Caudalie cleanser, it did help remove makeup and keep oil in check.

Beauty Protector Protect & Oil: If you’ve ever used products from this brand, you’ve probably noticed the sugary sweet scent they usually have. I’m happy to report that this hair oil had a very mild, hardly noticeable scent. It also kept frizz at bay and protected my hair from being fried this summer, without any greasiness. A great summer hair product.

Let’s Flirt: Doll 10 HydraGel Cream Blush

Doll 10 HydraGel Cream Blush in FlirtI’m a big fan of blush. Done right, it can really finish a look, adding some pretty polish to your beauty routine. Done wrong, though, it can leave you looking a streaky, clownish mess. It doesn’t matter how natural the color looks in the compact, or, for that matter, how crazy and unnatural it may appear. With blush, it all comes down to texture. That’s why Doll 10 HydraGel Cream Blush is my latest obsession. Its name is very fitting – it has the sheer finish of a gel but the smooth, easy-to-apply texture of a cream, making it super easy to apply and blend. Flirt, a neutral peachy pink shade, leaves a healthy, natural glow, so my cheekbones are accentuated but I don’t look made up. It’s perfect for embracing a little end-of-summer color.

Summer Skincare: Lip Balm Edition

Hawaiian Tropic Tropical Flavor Lip Balm (top) and Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm (bottom) will keep your lips soft and sunburn-free, all summer long.

Hawaiian Tropic Tropical Flavor Lip Balm (top) and Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm (bottom) will keep your lips soft and sunburn-free.

For those of us that live in seasonal climates, our skincare needs can vary greatly from season to season. Case in point: my blotchy, flaky, can’t-get-enough-moisture winter complexion tends to get clear and smooth in the warmer months, with nothing more than a waterless cleanser and my favorite BB Cream to keep it in check. Of course, summer also requires the addition of some serious sun protection. And while (I hope) it goes without saying that time in the sun requires a slathering of sunscreen (like this one), I’m guilty of frequently forgetting to take care of a particularly sensitive area: my lips.

Perhaps it’s because my mouth never feels naked; I don’t leave the house without first swiping on a lip color of some sort, and I have several glosses and balms stashed away for on-the-go touch ups. And because I switch up my lip products whenever the mood strikes, I don’t necessarily think to introduce a summer-friendly version when beach season hits. It’s easy for me to go the whole summer without remembering that my poor mouth needs some extra TLC, too.

But not this year! I’ve found not one but two fabulous balms that are packed with sun protection. The first, Hawaiian Tropic Tropical Flavor Lip Balm, features an SPF of 45 and a delicious coconut-y scent that smells like an exotic vacation. It has a silky smooth texture, a subtle sweet flavor, and leaves lips looking and feeling soft and healthy. This is definitely my beach bag pick.

The second lip-saver, Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm, features an SPF of 30 and a slightly thicker texture that helps it stay put much longer than the Hawaiian Tropic version. This one has no scent or flavor; it’s a very unobtrusive lip balm. It doesn’t look like much on its own, but its texture makes it an ideal base for lipsticks and this no-frills balm is the perfect thing to swipe on before an outdoor sweat session.

How do you keep your pout pretty and protected in the sun?