Monday, December 30, 2019

Beauty Favorites - 2019

Last year I did not do a dedicated post to yearly beauty favorites mainly because it was a shitty year for me, personally :-) So I just stopped caring about makeup. But I am really glad that this year I am back to having fun with makeup :-) I love reading and watching Yearly Favorites posts! As you can see, I have significantly cut down on purchasing new makeup products (I still buy a lot makeup/skincare from Sephora) so almost all these products are old favorites that I have fallen back in love with!

Different bloggers/YouTubers have different criteria for selecting the favorites products. I look at it from a few different angles - how often did I reach for these products throughout the year, is it long lasting and easy to apply etc etc. But for me I think it has to be something that fills my heart with joy or something that I have been constantly using in my everyday life. Sometimes a product may not excite me all that much but for some reason I find myself wearing it to work everyday. Or sometimes it is something I may have worn just a few times but it just has made me happy for those few times. Whether I discovered the product first time in that particular year or not does not matter to me! 2019 was also the year I rekindled my love for jewellery and here you see some favorite jewellery pieces that I accumulated this year! I was especially obsessed with the gold-pearl trend this season :-)

Here are the products -

PAT MCGRATH LABS MatteTrance™ Lipstick in Elson 013: I think it is the only product in this bunch that was new to me in 2019. It is a matte red lipstick; quite a lightweight formulae that stays put very nicely. I love this shade, it is VERY pigmented and just a tad bit darker of a red. Somehow it makes me feel fancier and  more posh than I am in real life you know! I love the dinky size as well. The design of the bullet also makes me feel fancy! My only problem with the lipstick is that it bleeds a little if I am not wearing a lip liner. Anyway, I did wear it throughout this year and loved it!

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Stylist: This is a very classy lipstick bullet with a very standard old-school lipstick formulae. In a day and age when brands are coming with different lipstick formulae and crazy creative names for the lipsticks this can seem very boring. One of my close friends gifted me this around July and I have been regularly wearing this to work since September. I love the comfort it provides; simple lipstick formula that stays put without drying out my lips. It does fade towards the end of the work-day but it fades gracefully. Sometimes simple things are the best! I also love the soft pink shade - it helps me to remain close to my softer, feminine, emphatic side which can be sometimes difficult as I work in engineering and more often than not I am surrounded by masculine energy. Hope that makes sense!

Cover FX Bronzer in Sunset: Another product that comes in a seemingly boring pan and a boring formulae. But I like the no-nonsense approach Cover FX takes. Simple classic packaging that is not going to get dirty every time you use it. And I love the formulae - it is a simple matte powder but is not dry at all! I love the shade also, it is not always easy to find a bronzer that is a good color for a medium dark Indian skin-tone! It is also super easy to blend.

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer & Buriti Bronzer: Do I even need to talk about these two? They were favorites the first I bought them and they are still favorites. I still feel the excitement every time I wear them. I love, LOVE them and use them almost everyday! Especially the Living Luminizer! And I loved using the bronzer during the summer. I have full review on the Living Luminizer here. I will definitely repurchase these once I finish them.

Makeup Geek Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Creme BruleeCocoa Bear: Creme Brulee is MUST-HAVE shade for me. I wear it on my crease every time I wear eyeshadow/eyeliner; I use it with everyday simple eye look and with any intricate colorful look. I cannot do my eyeshadow without it. Cocoa Bear is my favorite brown - it is so warm & happy. No matter how many brown shade I try from other brands this remains irreplaceable!

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Eyeliner in Midnight and Indigo: I did not buy a lot of makeup this year. I think that has helped me to go back to a lot of my "tried and tested" favorites. This eyeliner in 'Intense Black' shade has been my #1 liquid liner for a long time now. I have gone through a few of those. And with time, I have collected many different colors from this range. Out of all those, Midnight and Indigo have been my most used and most favorite colors this year! My soul, in general, is obsessed with colors. Both these shades are just colorful enough to satisfy my soul but also have enough depth (in the shade) that I can easily wear them to work. The blue in them does not clash with any bold color lipstick I want to wear - that is a plus for me. They are very long wearing, quite pigmented and easy to apply! I love them :-)

Viseart Eyeshadow Palette in Dark Matte (Read my full review here): "Dark Matte" is an old love! It was a big investment when I bought it; obviously I did expect a lot from it.  And my god, it did not disappoint! I have been wearing a lot of color on my eyes, especially this fall & winter season. And I have been using this palette on my crease or outer V area to complete my looks. I adore all the shades in the palette but the two brown shades at the top left corner have been used and loved a lot this year!

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara & Lash Primer: I have gone through a few of the travel size tubes of Perversion Mascara. But I finally decided to invest on the full size version as I found a good value set that included the primer. I have used a few of lash primers from different brands but never noticed any kind of improvement on the way my lashes looked. But I love this combo! I have tiny eyes; my lashes have a curve to them but they are quite short. Despite that, I don't really ask a lot from my mascara! I hate plastic wands - they poke at my eyes. And I hate mascaras that flake off or  are painful to remove. This one does not have such issues. The brush on both the mascara and the primer is quite soft and perfectly sized. The formula itself is wet but not too wet; it also does not dry within a month like some other mascaras. And for the primer, I can see that it helps my lashes look more voluminous and thick. Definitely a favorite this year!

Real Techniques Deluxe Concealer Brush: Oh man! It's such a versatile brush! It is called 'deluxe concealer brunch' but I never really used it for concealers; I am sure it works great for that purpose. I actually use it to apply my eyeshadow. It is just the perfect shape and size for blending my eyeshadow on the crease area. I can also use the outside edge of the brush at an angle to apply darker shades on the outer V area. I also use it to apply matte eyeshadow on my lid area! It is soft, fluffy and because it is a bigger size brush, I can use it for at least a few days before I need to wash it. Overall, I LOVE using it - it has become an essential for my eyeshadow application. I can get decently detailed eye look by using only this brush. I need to buy one more but this only comes in a set - that is my only gripe about it.

Earth's Nectar Green Olive & Lavender Scalp Oil: When I first bought this oil, I did not use it mindfully and I obviously did not notice any improvement or difference in my hair. I neglected my hair for all of 2018 and first half of 2019, obviously my hair was getting all frizzy and lifeless. My already existent dandruff, itchy scalp issue was getting out of hand. So I revisited this oil in my stock and for last 3-4 months I have been using it generously on my scalp overnight before washing my hair next day. I use a different oil on my hair though! Anyway, I would generously massage my scalp for at least 10-15 minutes. I think it s positively affecting my hair and nursing it back to health.

Also, because I am a stupid woman I totally forgot to add this nail polish in my photos! I managed write and edit my posts where I did include it but I just completely skipped to add the polish in the flatlay. I typically keep it near my living room sofa as I paint my nails watching TV, so I totally forgot about it when I was collecting my favorites from my vanity. :-(

Smith & Cult Nailed Lacquer in Peaceful Paranoia (check short review here): I got this nail polish in a value set in Spring, 2018 and I fell in love immediately. I wore it a few times but I did take a break from Social Media in 2018. During that time and after that also, I kind of lost my interest in nail polishes. I did not even wear nail polish for most of 2019 but whenever I did wear nail polish it was this - at least 90% of the time. I absolutely adore the shade. Such a perfect nude on my skin tone, it has a slight purple-y delicate shift to it! Simply gorgeous! The shade makes me look and feel fancy; like I am some retired CEO of a very successful company - poised, graceful & full with life experience :-) It even makes any jewellery I am wearing on my hands (like rings, bracelet) look daintier and prettier! :-)

That was everything that loved and used the most this year. Hope you had a wonderful year and hope you are excited for this new decade!

Happy New Year guys!


Friday, December 27, 2019

Products I've Used Up/Empties Vol. 17

My empties bin was getting full, and I was sick of looking at it :-) Typically I wait at least 2-3 months between my empties but I just could not look at these empty jars :-)

Here goes :

Dr. Teals Lavender Foaming Bath: My favorite bubble bath, I love everything I tried from Dr Teal's. I don’t get a lot of time to have bath everyday, but I do use it whenever my body is aching for some relief. I work on compressed work week so I get Fridays off every other week; I have my yoga class on Thursday evening. So every other week Thursday night is my self-care pamper night! I enjoy my Yoga class, grab something to eat, have a relaxed bath and get ready for a good nights sleep (or may be for a watching a movie). The whole ritual is very soothing and very relaxing to me. I will continue to repurchase

Shea Moisture Damage Rehab Treatment Masque: It was the surprise of this bunch. It really, really impressed me! I have thick, coarse but very very frizzy wavy hair. This mask was so easy to apply, I only needed a little bit to coat my entire length of hair and I only needed to keep it on my hair for just 3-5 minutes. That short time really impressed me because I hate conditioner that needs 10 minutes - 10 minutes in bath is hard especially in winter. I think this mask made my hair softer and moisturization and softness was there till my next wash! I was also shocked to realize that this tiny sachet packet lasted for four uses on my hair. I have a long, voluminous hair and I totally thought that I will need the entire packet in one wash. I would like to repurchase but looks like it is out of stock everywhere.

Maybelline Classic Eye Makeup Remover: I used to love this remover, I think I have gone through a couple of bottles. This was the last backup I had! I have found better makeup remover now so I would not repurchase.

Shieshedo Cleansing Oil: I absolutely loved this oil. It removed makeup quite easily; even stubborn eye makeup! It would stink a bit if it gets into my eyes, and I would need to use eye makeup remover if I had heavy eye makeup on. But I really did enjoy this. I am not sure if I repurchase as I have quite a few remover to use up.

Philosphy Ultimate Miracle Worker & Clinique Pep Start Hydrorush Moisturiser: Just some tiny travel size moisturizers that was bugging me in my backup. I am glad that I was able to finish them up. Nothing special about either about these two.

Korres Greek Yoghurt Sleeping Facial: I love Korres products and collect them in value sets but they are quite pricey. So I never really repurchase them in full size. It was nice though, both of these!

L'OCCITANE Immortelle Divine Cream: Absolutely loved this moisturizer. It smelled incredible and it really did moisturize my skin. I finished two of the travel size cute little jars. I already have a few moisturizer backup so I don't think I will repurchase this right now. I loved it though!

Farmacy Sleep Tight Firming Night Balm: I love the smell of this - very herbal and relaxing. Also, the consistency/texture of the formulae kind of threw me off at first. It is very slippery, almost like a thin Vaseline. It is almost like a solid layer of protection against the hard cold winter. I will not repurchase but I did enjoy it.

Tata Harper Purifying Mask: I tried a travel size jar of this mask and I was so impressed with it that I invested in a value set that had this in full-size. But now that I have finished the full size jar, I realize that it is over priced. It is a "purifying" mask, and it does function as intended. And it smelled amazing. My skin felt cleansed but somehow I feel the affect of the mask to be less noticeable compared to how I felt in the beginning. Hopefully I am making some sense! I do not see myself repurchasing it. 

Fresh Beauty Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream: It was my moisturizer discovery back in 2018 and it has now become a staple now. The texture is silky smooth, the smell is natural & beautiful. It is also easy to apply and it absorbs almost immediately. The best part is that it keeps my dry, parched skin moisturized. I collect travel sizes whenever possible from Sephora and I am currently going through a fill-size and have a backup. So, yes I will definitely repurchase.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Booster Serum: This serum had an intresting gel-like texture. It was so easy to apply and it absorbed quickly. It is an expensive product and this here was a generous sample I got from Ulta as GWP. I really liked it for the 1-2 week I was using it. But as a brand, Juice Beauty does not intrigue me much! I don't understand why is that! It is a organic and clean brand but for some reason it just comes off as boring. I will not purchase.

Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing sorbet: I don't use Caudalie products on a regular basis but I love the brand and almost all the products I have tried from this brand. This is no exception! It is a very lightweight formulae but it is quite moisturizing. It is great for summer  and fall weather but might be a little bit thin for winter. I may not repurchase an individual full-size but I would definitely love to get it in any value set. 

Karuna Hydrating & Clarifying Face Mask: I am slowly finishing off the face masks from a value set I got some time ago! I enjoyed it. It was the hydrating mask and I think it worked. However it is very expensive and I do not think I will repurchase. The clarifying was just ok but did not do a whole lot. I enjoyed but I don't remember noticing anything extra-ordinary.

Renewal Eye Mask: I have no idea what brand this is and I am not able to find a link. Also  for some reason I don't feel or see any visible difference on my skin after applying an eye mask. It feels nice and it hydrates my skin under my eyes but that's about it. I will not repurchase.

BeautyBlender The Original Beauty Blender: My holy grail foundation application tool! I do not care if beauty market is filled with newer and cheaper sponges, I will forever love this! I have extremely dry skin and if I am not careful, I end up with dry patches after I apply my foundation. Even with a lightweight liquid foundation and even with a hydrating primer. Beauty Blender helps in applying a good seamless layer of foundation on my face without this issue. I don't wear foundation everyday (in fact I only wear foundation may be 5-8 times a month) so this sponge lasts for a long time. I definitely get my money's worth. Besides, I always buy them during sale or in a value set - so I will repurchase it.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge: Yes, I finished two beauty sponges at the same time :-). But my Beauty Blender lasted me much longer. This was working just fine, but one day it just stopped working. It started cracking up at places; would not completely get wet soaked when I would wet them and started to become difficult to use. Where as the beauty blender works good enough even on its very last leg. The miracle Sponge did a good job, very comparable to Beauty Blender if not better. But because it lasted only a few months (out of which I used my Beauty Blender in tandem with this at least 70% of time), I will not repurchase.

Too Faced Hangover Face Primer: I could not really use it up. But it has expired and time to throw it away. It was not anything special. It felt like a glorified moisturizer. 

I finished so many perfumes this time but nothing that stood out. I liked using most of them but I don't think I will invest in full-size in any of these.

So, that was it for the last empties of this decade! Not too shabby, ha?


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Birchbox Limited Edition "Hello Hygge" Box ::: Quick thoughts!

Hello everyone,

Today, I am talking about a limited-edition value set from Birchbox. If you don't know me, hi :-) My name is Aru (short for Arundhatee) :-) I love, LOVE value sets. I adore them! And when it comes to value sets, Birchbox does an amazing job at curating wonderful and cost effective sets. This was probably my 3rd or 4th limited edition sets from them. With every box I have bought from them, I have discovered new products. Products from familiar brands or even new brands that I have now grown very fond of! I check their website from time to time to see if they have good sets. They offer a lot of such sets but sometimes I already have tried the products and they don't appeal to me. But every now and then, I find great sets that really intrigues  me.

One such set they have available right now is the Hello Hygge box. As far as I understand, hygge is feeling in Danish Culture that signifies "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being". The concept of self-love and me-time has gained a lot of popularity in recent years and the grouping of products in this set definitely promotes that concept. I don't really share a whole lot of personal information about myself but here goes - I live alone in USA whereas my entire family is in a different continent, I have a job that tends to be stressful from time to time, I drive 2 hrs everyday for work and I have only a handful of friends that I can meet on a regular basis. What I am trying to say is that most of the time I am entirely responsible for keeping myself in a good and healthy state of mind! I always truly believed in the concept of self-love before it even began a popular trend but last few years I have truly started to practice it in my life. So, this box seemed right up my alley.

Additionally, I bought their How to Hygge box (reviewed here) last year and I really found little gems of products in that box. So, I had to try out this box :-)

Here are all the products and nifty little table breaking down the price point. The set is priced at $60 so as you can see, this whole set is quite cost effective :-)

Birchbox You-Time Candle - Spiced Rose: I lit this yesterday and oh-my-god, I loved the scent. The scent is "spiced rose" and  I thought it would be a tad strong for me. But it reminds me of home - India. The throw is strong and enough to make my entire living room fragrant. It is a little tiny jar but I never say no to candles :-)

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask: Out of all the products, I must admit that this was the item that was the most intriguing to me. Ever since Glow Recipe launched at Sephora, I was eyeing this product but never really pulled the plug to buy this. Isn't this such a cute product? I have severely dry skin and winter it is the absolute worst. So, I am excited to try this.

Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt: Aah - another product that I feel like was included just for me. For the 100th time let me state that I have very dry skin which means I fight with a lot of dandruff related issues. It is especially more problematic during winter. I have tried one-or two different scrub type shampoo before but nothing has really clicked for me. I tried this weekend and it was a little bit odd! I may need to use it more to get a better feel of it. There are such large bits of sea salt and it needs a little getting-used-to. I had to spend a some time rubbing it in. It was not harsh but I don't think it cleared up my dandruff. May be I have stubborn dandruff?

NatureLab Tokyo Perfect Repair Treatment Masque: I tried this as well. And I absolutely enjoyed it. I needed just a little bit for my hair - I have long, thick and voluminous hair - so I almost always need more than average amount of hair products per wash. I was really surprised to see how little I needed to coat my entire hair and it really did condition them. I could feel my hair feeling smooth and in a healthier state till my next wash! Definitely excited about using it more.

JUARA Candlenut Hydrating Shower Gel: I love trying out different bath products from different brands. I love discovering new brands and I go through body products very quickly. I have not tried anything from this brand! I used it today and the smell was so simple and yet invigorating! Plus it is a cute little travel bottle - it will for sure come in handy.

Klorane Smoothing and Relaxing Patches with Soothing Cornflower: This is a product that I have used and loved before. I enjoy getting more of these for my collection. I especially love using them while travelling - they are very easy to carry around.

STARSKIN® Sunset Strips™ 3-Step Advanced Pore Cleansing Expert System: I am going to try this out next weekend. My T-zone like most of you, is comparatively oily then rest of my face. I do face black pores type of issue so we will see how this works out for me.

Fourth Ray Beauty The Lightweight Hydrator: Fourth Ray Beauty is the sister brand of Colourpop Cosmetics and I love Colourpop (I mean who does not!) I have dry skin and that means I am always up for trying out moisturizers. This is a full size and it is an affordable brand.

Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser: Sunday Riley is an expensive brand and unfortunately I have not had a lot of success with this brand. That is why I like to try their product whenever I can get them in value sets instead of spending money on full-size products. 

DERMA E Arnica Warming Sore Muscle Rub: Yes, yes, and yes! I am so excited about this body rub. As I age more and more :-), I find myself feeling more muscle pain which was never an issue before. Especially on long days when the work is long and hectic, then I go to Yoga class or may be have some chores to do. I am pretty sure I will get good use out of this. Really excited :-)

HUM Nutrition Beauty zzZz™ Supplements: Another product that was really made for me. I have trouble falling sleep. I have always had that issue. I will love to try these out but I am a little skeptical and nervous about trying this. May be I will try it out during the weekend. But I am definitely curious.

DAILY CONCEPTS Beauty Headband: I mean, who does not need another headband, right? :-)

I am very happy with the set and look forward to use and love a few of these products. If you are looking for some self-care products to gift someone for some of your near and dear one during this holiday season, take a look at this set, this could be awesome!