Rave: Sephora Custom Makeup Application Service (Plus Skin and Color IQ)

Recently I bought a Dior Foundation online that I had been looking at for awhile. I got it in the mail and was very excited. When I went to use it however, I found out that unfortunately the shade was too dark for my skin. This in combination with the fact that it wasn’t as full of coverage as I like, lead me to make the decision to go to Sephora to exchange it.

While I was online I happened to see about the service they offer in store for Custom makeup applications, as well as a Personal Beauty Advisor option and Skin and Color IQ. I figured I’d make an outing of it and drive to Madison to make the exchange instead of just returning it online and possibly getting another incorrect shade.

First I made an appointment online to do the CMA online. It is very easy to do and makes for an easy way to not only secure your appointment, but also get additional information all in one place.

I was also able to look up the differences in the CMA and PBA options. They both require a minimum purchase, and the PBA seems much more involved. The PBA is a complete overview and overhaul of your beauty routine. It includes everything from your skincare and fragrances to your makeup for multiple looks.

I opted to go with the CMA option which is a $50 minimum purchase (as opposed to a $125 min for the PBA) because I didn’t need anything quite THAT involved and extensive. I put on my online reservation that during my appointment I would also like to use the Skin and Color IQ services.

I made it to the store 5 minutes before my appointment and went to do my return. I mentioned at the counter that I had an appointment and they let me know it would be a few minutes so I found my way over to the Skin IQ screen.

 

Skin IQ:

I loved this! Theres  a big touchscreen on the wall and you can narrow things down by what issue you would like to tackle, type of product, etc. I started messing with the screen on my own and then the Color Consultant who was doing my CMA (named Bao) came over and helped me out. She was able to more quickly narrow the product results for me than I could’ve been able to do on my own. Once we got a few good products chosen, we saved them to a list and printed it. She then lead me to each item in the store to try. I ended up choosing one that I liked to purchase that day and on the print out from the machine there is a barcode below each item. Right now there is a deal where if you buy an item from your Skin IQ list, you get 100 beauty insider points which is pretty amazing since you could buy a $20 item and get 100 points!

 

Color IQ:

After the Skin IQ screen, Bao used the Color IQ system on me as well. Pantone helped create a chart and scanner where they scan 3 areas on your face (the three that could vary most in color) and come out with a number that you can use to get your exact foundation match! I really liked this because there are so many brands, shades, etc that I didn’t have to worry about potentially missing a great matching product! She wrote down my number and brought samples of the foundations for my skin color.

We did the scanner once and my skin showed as being very red. She rescanned me because they have you use a makeup wipe first (even though I had nothing on) and she said that the rubbing can cause your skin to appear more red if you don’t give it enough time. Sure enough the second time my skin was less red, so just be aware of this if you use this service!

 

Custom Makeup Application: 

We did a foundation application (to test drive my Color IQ choice), different smokey eye, contouring, and just finished off the look with the cheeks and eyes. I went in mostly to just try some different products and techniques. Bao helped me to tweak my contouring a bit for how pale I am (by using darker colors in a lighter stroke vs lighter colors packed on a bit more heavily).

Bao was amazing. She listened to any concerns, my daily routine, the products I typically use, etc and seemed genuinely interested. She was also extremely knowledgeable and friendly.  She offered product tips and tricks, tweaks to my routine that would make it faster or easier, and helped my try on any of the products I was looking at. She also made my face look much thinner than when I usually contour myself with lighter color but more of it, and what woman wouldn’t love that??  They aren’t working on commission so I feel like they are giving you more honest feedback than if they were (obviously they’re still trying to make a sale but aren’t crazy aggressive about it).

Overall, I decided I’ll make the hour trip to Sephora more often than just shopping online, mainly because of the experience I had with Bao. I’ll still shop mainly online because of the convenience, but I’ll come in a few times a year. One thing that meant a lot to me was that the whole appointment was supposed to be 45 minutes. She spent almost 2 hours helping me. I was worried at first when we had only done my eyes and the IQ services at the 45 minute mark, but was relieved that I did not once feel rushed. She took her time to address anything and everything that I wanted too. The hour and a half service is supposed to cost $125 for a minimum purchase, but she had no idea how much i was spending when she spent all that time assisting me. I definitely made sure to send in a survey saying how much I loved her service.

 

Have you ever used any of these services? How satisfied were you? Would you do it again? Let me know in the comments section!!

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Review/VS: E.L.F. Studio Lip Exfoliator

So I have a haul from ELF from the weekend, but I’ll share this one now because (spoiler) I love it!

From eyeslipsface.com

I got this online during a sale. It usually retails for $3 (which still isn’t bad at all), but my entire order was half off, so I paid $1.50.

ELF cosmetics for me are hit and miss. Some things that other people rave about I find to be awful, it’s all about personal preference.

This item in particular is great though. It comes in a lipstick tube so you can use it very easily. The grains come from the sugar that is in it, so they are a little bigger and you can really feel it going to work. It also has all kinds of conditioners in it. Now obviously you will want to rehydrate your lips after with a balm or something similar, but for a couple bucks this is going to make lipstick and anything else on your lips go on a million times smoother. This stuff also smells amazing!! I saw it and was sure it would smell just heinous, but I was really surprised to find that the smell is one of my favorite things about it!

 

VS: Awhile back I bought the exfoliating lip mask from Mary Kay.

from MaryKay.com

I really like this too, but they are $9.50 each. They are double the amount of product, BUT you can get more than 3 of the ELF ones for the price of one of the MaryKay products. (Or 6 if you find a sale like I did!)

Mary Kay Satin Lip Mask has smaller grains in it which is nicer if you have skin that is easily irritated or sensitive, but the application process is much messier. This product also smells much worse than its ELF counterpart.

 

Have you used either of these, or have another favorite from a different brand? Share in the comments below!

Haulin’: Birchbox

Hey guys! So I got my first Birchbox in the mail! It’s not a huge haul, but I figured it’s the easiest way to review the items and service as a whole!

I wasn’t sure about how I’d feel about paying for a box that I wasn’t sure what would be inside. I quickly got over this when the box came in the mail. It’s like a mini beauty Christmas. The box itself is a bit smaller than I anticipated, but that makes sense since it is filled with sample sized products.

Each box has a theme and includes a card describing all of the items in your personalized box.

July Box

July Box

So each box comes in an outer box that you think “Oh I’ll open it and my samples will be right there!” Nope. Inside the box is… another box! The inner box is pictured above. Inside that there is a layer of tissue and a card talking about what this month’s box has for the theme.

I plan on posting each box and updating on my continuing service.

One important thing to note is that each box may be different. You fill out a profile and get samples based on your needs and preferences.You also get points toward free items or a free box when you rate and review the products in each of your boxes which is pretty awesome!

This month’s products in my box were:

-Birchbox Bobby Pins (2)

I was disappointed when I saw I got bobby pins at first but then when I saw them I was pleasantly surprised. They are fairly thick and sturdy. They also have a cute pattern on them and though they are hard to open at first, they feel like they’ll last a lot longer than most bobby pins.

-DDF Acne Control Treatment

I have a lot of salicylic acid treatments and this is just another one to add to the pile for me. It’s a little thinner than most, which I don’t prefer, but I realy like the larger sample size they included.

-Atelier Cologne Mistral Patchouli

This smells amazing. I wasn’t even  going to smell it because I’m usually not a big fan of patchouli, but I’m glad I did. It says it’s a unisex fragrance on the site, but I’m not sure it’s masculine enough for most guys. I was going to buy some, but then I saw the price tag. I love it, but I don’t want to spend over $100 on a fragrance that is heavier than my usual one and that I would only wear in the evening.

-theBalm InStain in Swiss Dot

It has a cute little magazine cover packaging and a magnetic clasp on the front. When opened it reveals a small pot of cheek stain. This goes on more sheer than expected, and I plan to use the whole sample but won’t purchase in this color (maybe another). It’s just too red for my skintone. I really do love she sheer and streak free application though!

-Klorane Extra-Gentle Dry Shampoo With Oat milk

I saved my favorite for last! I have tried a LOT of other different dry shampoo brands, and this has to be one of the best! It has a nice light scent which is great because it won’t compete with any perfumes you put on, but it also doesn’t have that chemical smell that many other dry shampoos have.

It lasted a long time. I’ve found some others that look ok at first and then when you check two hours later it’s like you didn’t do anything to it. That’s not the case with this one.

It gave my hair more volume which I don’t personally like (I have a LOT of hair), but I know that a majority of people do look for this and it definitely delivers. It also didn’t give me that chalky finish to my hair that some others do. Overall, this is the thing I found in the box to be most worth purchasing!

Have you tried Birchbox? What did you think? Love or hate any of the products above?

Review: Beauty Blender Sponges

Beauty Blenders are all over right now. I did extensive research on getting one before I decided to just give in and get the brand name one instead of opting for an off brand.

Here are a few things that I think are helpful in addition to the other reviews out there:

If you take good care of it, it will last a long time and be worth your money. They are so easy to clean and make applying your foundation so fast, you’ll bank a few seconds to wash it (that’s all it takes). I’ve found it’s much faster than washing out my brushes too because it doesn’t get product buildup in the same way that the brush fibers do.

They’re easier on the skin than stippling brushes in my opinion. You just bounce this baby over your skin and boom, flawless. With the brushes I have to do a lot more pressing, blending, pushing etc to get similar results to the beauty blender. It’s so soft and easy on your skin that you just bounce it along and don’t get the pulling, tugging, or pressure of a brush. It also feels lighter on your skin even when achieving fuller coverage through multiple layers.

I got mine on Amazon.com. One thing I LOVE though was that when I visited the beauty blender website, they give instructions about how to turn them in to get the recycled. LOVE this. This creates so much less waste if we can recycle them than using brushes and other types of single use sponges.

One thing I did hear is that TJ Maxx sometimes carries a very close dupe. The issue with this is that they aren’t readily available, so I’d much rather spend a little more and have the BB than have to search and search to save a few dollars. If I ever happen to see one, you better believe I’ll grab all of them off the shelf!! Until then, I’ll keep buying my double packs since you save by buying two!

Has anyone found a Beauty Blender dupe that they LOVE?

Review: ELF HD Powder

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Sorry it’s so beat up! Lol

This one I grabbed on a whim when I was at Target awhile back (they always get me, every time haha).

I had seen reviews about this being a good alternative to the HD powder from MUFE and other higher end brands. I just needed something to set my foundation and as I said grabbed this on a whim hoping to blur things a bit since my skin is not the greatest.

One thing I should note is that I tried this over my normal Lancome foundation and not the one I reviewed previously, just to compare the results better.

The packaging is VERY bulky and would not allow at all for touch ups during the day. It comes with a puff, but I liked applying it with a powder or kabuki brush much better. I still carry a MAC compact during the day to touch up as needed since this didn’t have as much staying power as I originally thought it would.

If you have oily skin, apply this sparingly. The blurring effect of diffusing light translates to high shine if you use too heavy a hand with your application. I did find that it didn’t seem to last all that long when applied lightly, but for something short term like taking photos it did give my skin a nice finish, even if the change was subtle.

At only $6, I would grab one of these again, and would definitely give it a try if you are thinking about using a more expensive brand HD powder. It will also be a good way to figure out how to work with the product when they give you an ample amount so that even if you do change brands, you won’t be wasting that $40 powder trying to figure out application and techniques that you like best. The other thing with this is that I feel if I was using it daily, I’d be going through a LOT of it. It’s nice short term, but I’d be reapplying 4+ times daily. That’s a lot of powder to keep putting on in layers through the day.

I won’t use this as a staple in my makeup bag, but I’d much rather have an extra item like this be cheaper than spend a lot of money on something I won’t be using too often.

Have you used other HD powders such as MUFE’s? Would you buy them again even with the heftier pricepoint?

Review: Too Faced Glamour Gloss

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Glamour Gloss in Sex Pot

I gave this gloss a try as part of a Too Faced set. I had never tried the brand before and wanted to give a little bit of everything a shot since I’ve heard good things.

The packaging says it is a “volumizing lip gloss with lip injection comfort plump”. Aka, this is a plumping gloss. The shade I got looks very dark in the tube but when applied it is very sheer. The packaging is just an ordinary applicator, nothing fancy.

The gloss itself smells like frosting which I don’t personally care for but it is better than the chemical smell of some other brands. It also tingles which I’m assuming is part of the plumping. The tingling doesn’t hurt although it is fairly strong so it’s slightly annoying.After checking later too the kicker was that my lips didn’t look any fuller and just had the sheer hint of color since the shade I got is not highly pigmented.

It wasn’t very sticky which was a nice surprise, but it was a little more drying than I had anticipated.

Verdict: Not a bad gloss, but at $19 each, it’s not worth the high price tag. I have found cheaper products that I have enjoyed more than this one.

Review: Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Foundation

I was very excited for this product as I had been venturing out from mainly drugstore makeup to more high end counters. I have larger pores and thought that this was my solution to making them look smaller.

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My bottle of Clinique Foundation in shade 2 -Alabaster

I like the packaging. The bottle is plastic so it is squeezable, unlike many of my other foundations. It also comes out like a tube, which is more hygienic and better for acne prone skin like mine (although ultimately I still prefer foundations with a pump).

The shade range is not the best and to me looks VERY yellow. It is still a few shades too dark on my skin even though I got shade matched at a counter. It goes on very cakey (maybe their way of reducing pore size is to cake right over them? lol). I used a Beauty Blender sponge and that helped quite a bit, but I have still had much better results with other brands I’ve used.

Overall the package is the only thing that is decent about this which is really disappointing. Honestly the best thing about this product was the mascara that came for free with it!! (Will review later!)

I saw no difference in pore size and it actually seemed to accentuate the problem.

Has anyone else used this product and had a different experience? Please comment and let me know!