June Hits List!

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I’ve reserved a few words to describe this month of June 2016, none of which are particularly kind (I’ll get to that in tomorrow’s ‘In a Nutshell’ post,) but one word that stands out- especially this week- is “scorching”. This month was ridiculously hot! I’m not complaining, since I’ll take middle-of-the-desert-like temperatures over snow any day of the week, but I did have to adjust a few things- namely my makeup and my wardrobe- to keep either of them from sliding off of me in my perpetual state of sweaty-ness.

Because of that, my June ‘Hits List’ is filled with mostly necessities and/or odds & ends I’d picked up over the past few weeks to help me beat the heat and decompress as much as possible after some stressful situations I took on and tackled this month.

As per usual, I thought I’d show the material things that are easy to photograph, first- before I dove into music/movies/apps/tech and miscellaneous things that require more of a words-only description.

Let’s take a look!

Last week, during a day of cycling through downtown Boston, grabbing lunch at Paul, and lounging poolside back at the apartment, Sean and I also stopped by my new favorite store- Primark– for an impromptu mini-shopping spree. For those not familiar with the glory that is Primark: think Forever 21 prices meets H&M-but-better quality- add five stories of limitless clothing and accessory options in the heart of Downtown Crossing- and you’ll understand why it’s so appealing and why I could spend hours and hours in there on any given day.

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From our most recent haul, these are three of my favorite finds (not pictured are the two swimsuits and the cover-up I also bought!) The first is this really big, really Summer-y navy blue, tan and gold bag that can hold pretty much all of my work and beach necessities and then some- and which has really cute, very sturdy rope and faux-leather handles that gives it a sort of nautical feel- which we all know I’m a huge fan of. The price of the bag? $14.

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I also picked up this adorable and oversized cream-colored lace hat with brown suede accents for when I’m heading to the pool/ocean/out for a stroll in the sun. At $6- this was a steal- and it matches pretty much everything in my Summer wardrobe. I’ll be getting a lot of use out of this and I’m so excited because it looks great on- and that’s coming from someone who never thought she could pull off the “floppy hat” look properly.

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Finally, when I laid eyes on these $7 canvas sandals with flamingos printed all over them- I knew I had to have them- and considering they are SERIOUSLY SO COMFORTABLE- I’m thrilled I picked them up. If I’m wearing black? I put these on. Pink? I’m sporting these. Any color? These are my new go-to’s. I’m in love.

Good God, I love Primark so much.

Next up is my makeup selections for June- which, given the soaring temperatures- I kept as light and minimal as possible. You’re crazy if you think I’m dropping serious dough at Sephora for products that are going to be melting off of me the second I step outside. I’ve found decent enough dupes/substitutions in my local drug pharmacy- and both my wallet and my face are quite pleased.

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For example, I rediscovered my love of Maybelline’s Dream Fresh BB Cream, which matches my skin tone perfectly and gives me just enough coverage where I look refreshed (and not like I’m wearing a mask) and I have been coveting my #113 shade of Lasting Finish Matte Lipstick from Kate Moss’ collaboration with Rimmel since it gives me a subtle, natural pop of color that compliments my complexion and doesn’t feel sticky/tacky/drying. Most importantly? It stays in place- even when it feels like the rest of me is roasting in the sun.

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In regards to my skin care, I haven’t really changed anything up too drastically this Summer. I’m still using lightweight and oil-controlling moisturizers (and plenty of SPF!) as well as light cleansers and gentle toners- but one addition I’ve made is implementing this gentle grapefruit-infused daily scrub from Yes To into my routine. I like that this scrub cleans out my pores without being abrasive- and it smells really nice, too.

And in the spirit of all things fruit/citrus-scented for the Summer- I’ve also been obsessively slathering this Sparkling Limoncello hand cream from Bath & Body Works all over my palms for the past month. I love citrus scents/flavors in general- but especially in the hotter months (I think it’s because they remind me of my home away from home in Southern California and it’s comforting in a way.) This hand cream is super softening and moisturizing- which is nice after I’ve been in the pool or out on the sand for a while and my skin gets a little prune-ish and dry.

And now, onto the other stuff!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • ‘O.J.: Made in America’ – Not since ‘The Jinx’ has there been a documentary that has been so gripping, so chilling, and so revealing. I was a kid when the “Trial of the Century” went down- but I remember watching the Bronco chase in my parents’ living room, and the big glove-don’t-fit moment- and sitting in my fourth grade classroom listening to a radio broadcast of the verdict and not fully understanding exactly why it was so important but knowing that it was. ESPN’s five-part documentary: detailing O.J. Simpson’s rise to fame, his repeated abuse of Nicole Brown, the murders, the trial- and then his downward spiral  post-acquittal- all with the backdrop of rising racial tensions in Los Angeles at the time O.J. was charged- really shined a light on so many factors to the case that I don’t think a lot of people who tuned in every day saw for themselves or took into consideration.

Featuring interviews with/commentary by Marcia Clark (LOVE HER), Mark Fuhrman (still a piece of garbage), Carl Douglas (still awful), O.J.’s former friends and colleagues, and members of the L.A.P.D. and surviving members of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman’s families- the documentary is definitely worth a binge-watch on your next day off. It’s fascinating- even if there are no real winners by the end of it.

– TECH/APPS/GAMES –

  • ‘Death Stranding’ – Okay, so even though the game hasn’t been released (yet)– can we talk about the weird, semi-creepy trailer from the latest collaboration between Hideo Kojima and Norman Reedus after the game-changing demo ‘P.T./Silent Hills’ fell through? Revealed at this month’s Sony E3 Conference- I have so many questions, no answers- and nothing more than “Norman Feetus” jokes to get me through this until we get a tentative release date and more information. Even still- this looks incredible and I can’t wait to dive into it.

I think that’s pretty much everything for the month of June! I plan on recapping this shit-show of a month tomorrow, but I’ll have more favorites in July!

And as always- feel free to share your own hits for June. I’d love to hear about them!

xx

May Hits List!

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Good Morning and Happy Memorial Day, everyone! I hope those of you who have the long weekend off are savoring it with friends and family, and those of you who have to work through it are surrounded by caring, kind, and fun people to make it a little easier and more enjoyable.

Memorial Day is a lot of things to a lot of different people. For many, including myself, it’s a day to give pause and appreciate those who have died while serving in our country’s armed forces in order to keep the rest of us safe. For many businesses, it’s an excuse to send a ton of spam e-mails and produce tacky commercials advertising low prices and weekend-long sales events…

… But Memorial Day also commemorates the beginning of the Summer season. Cookouts, BBQs, getting a pool or sprinklers ready for impending heat waves and long, lazy days. I’ve been waiting for Summer to arrive for what feels like an eternity- so I’m more than happy to kick off the season with some of my mom’s famous macaroni salad and a juicy burger later on this afternoon at her house.

Now, May was a bit trying for me- the details of which will be shared in tomorrow’s scheduled “In a Nutshell” post- and while I was handling some personal matters, I didn’t quite accumulate a lengthy list of favorites these past couple of weeks. Nevertheless, I did want to share some of the things that helped alleviate a lot of stress throughout the month and products I’ve been seriously praising recently.

So here it is- short, but sweet- my Hits List for May 2016!

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With the hotter weather seemingly here to stay for the foreseeable future- May became all about updating my day & night skin care routines to allow my face and body a chance to adjust and get acclimated to the Summer temps. Gone (for now) are the days of heavy moisturizers to outlast the colder elements and harsh, stripping cleansers- and in are the days of lightweight SPFs and replenishing nighttime creams. I’m thinking of doing an updated skin care post next month to show exactly what I use on my face & body- and when- but here are three products that I implemented into my regimen in May that I’m absolutely loving. From left to right:

I’ve been keeping my hair and makeup as simple as possible lately. Not only because it’s hot out- but because I have to go to work AND squeeze in a workout after I leave the office Monday-Friday (and on Saturdays, too.) I don’t want to spend a lot of time getting ready when I’m just going to be a sweaty mess by the time I get home- but I also don’t want to skip a daily moisturizer and SPF, either. This mattifying, quick-absorbing moisturizer from Cetaphil (with SPF 30) has become a lifesaver in the mornings when I’m on the go. It hydrates my skin without clogging my pores, keeps my face shine-free- and gives me plenty of sun protection when I’m outdoors, too.

Next- I know people have been raving about micellar cleansing water for months, now- and I’m seriously kicking myself for not listening to them sooner. This stuff is a game changer and a must-have for anyone and everyone who wants a quick and efficient way to remove makeup and/or cleanse their skin without leaving behind any kind of greasy residue or worse- drying themselves out. I’ve been using this one from Garnier for a few weeks now in the morning and at night- and it literally pulls the impurities from my skin. I can actually see it working. My skin feels refreshed and cleaner than it does with just a regular cleanser.

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Finally, I have found my new favorite Summertime night cream in the form of this firming night balm from FARMACY. I received this product in a recent POPSUGAR ‘Must Have’ Box and I have been hooked ever since. The product looks and smells like lime Jell-O (just stay with me here) and melts into your skin as you apply it- finally setting in as a lightweight oil that hydrates and firms while you sleep. When I wake up, my skin looks brighter and feels so much softer and smoother. A little goes a long way with this stuff, too- so I know I’ll only need a little bit each night to get through the Summer.

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I have been spending a lot of time outdoors since the weather took a turn for the better, and I plan on spending even more time out in the sun now that Summer is here- but since my hair is (dyed) red- I have to be careful and use the proper products to keep it from fading into an awkward tangerine color. Enter this spray in color-protectant from Not Your Mother’s. After I wash and towel dry my hair- I spray some of this product from root to tip and work it through with my fingers. Then I style as usual. My reds have stayed considerably stronger than they did prior to me using this stuff- and it’s pretty helpful at keeping my frizzy flyaways at bay, too!

My only gripe with this spray is the smell. It kind of reminds me of grape cough syrup and I find myself frantically grabbing for my styling products to mask the fragrance in the seconds after I work it through my curls so I don’t gag.

Next- I am a total germophobe when it comes to my makeup brushes and sponges. I have this whole, intricate system of soaking/scrubbing/drying my tools that can actually take a couple of hours to see through from start to finish. In the Summer- that germophobia gets even worse since sweat is continually thrown into the equation. Thankfully, BeautyBlender threw me a time-saving bone with this solid version of their sponge/brush cleanser. All I have to do to get my blenders/brushes sparkling clean is wet them and swipe them across this solid soap a couple of times and presto! Foundation, dirt, grime and sweat are history!

I especially love this solid cleanser because it lasts way longer than the liquid one- and it works just as good- if not better!

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I had eyed this Prince pillow (as well as it’s tote bag version) from Heart Felt Design months ago- but had never got around to actually ordering one for myself. After Prince’s passing, it seemed like the right time to finally own a version of the legend that I could hug, squeeze, and make my home look really awesome with. This recently arrived in my mailbox and I have been head over heels in love with it since. Each pillow is handmade- with loving and precise detail- and arrives a few weeks after ordering.

Heart Felt Design has a wide variety of items, too- music legends, movie/television/book characters, custom designs and so on. Definitely go check them out if you’re looking for something unique to spruce up your space!

And now, for the stuff I couldn’t photograph!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • Summer Blockbuster Season is upon us! – The new Independence Day movie? ‘Jason Bourne’? ‘Star Trek: Beyond’? ‘Suicide Squad’? I feel like a good chunk of my Summer 2016 is going to be spent in air conditioned movie theaters and munching on popcorn. Although I got a head start catching flicks like the new Captain America movie and Key & Peele’s ‘Keanu’ a couple of weeks ago- I’m really looking forward to shamelessly diving into some over the top action movies this Summer.

– MISCELLANEOUS –

And that is pretty much everything for the month of May! I’m sure now that Summer is officially underway- my list for June is going to be much larger than this month’s Hits List was- and I’m looking forward to it!

And as always, feel free to share your Hits for May 2016 in the comments.

Have a great Memorial Day, everyone!

xx

Mini Sephora Haul!

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Over the course of the holidays and my birthday back in January, some of my friends and family were generous and thoughtful enough to pass along a few Sephora gift cards since I am an admitted and shameless addict when it comes to that store. If I go in to buy a moisturizer- I come out with several other products I may not have even needed. If I go in to pick out a new shade of lipstick, I’m leaving with a blush, bronzer, and eyeshadow palette that compliments the aforementioned lipstick color. If there is a Sephora Addicts Anonymous group out there somewhere, I need to know so that I can attend any and all meetings in the future (where I will proceed to ask other attendees what eyeliner or mascara they’re wearing and then promptly go out and purchase it.)

I digress- this past weekend, having run out of a bottle of backup Cover Girl foundation I had picked out at the drug store a while back and desperately scraping along the bottom of my usual tube of under eye concealer- I swung by my local Sephora to replenish some of my products…

… And pick up a couple of other non-necessity things, too…

It’s been a while since I’ve done any type of haul post- so I thought I’d share this mini one!

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1. TARTE Cosmetics Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full-Coverage Foundation with SPF 15: I love Tarte. They are, hands down, one of my all-time favorite brands. When it comes to foundation, only two things matter to me: the coverage and the longevity. In the hotter months, I tend to lean more towards tinted moisturizers and BB creams- but I like something with a little more staying power in the Winter/Early Spring and Fall since my skin tends to get a little patchy and dry in certain areas and I like to be able to cover it up without having to worry about it. I’m really loving this full coverage foundation so far (which doesn’t feel heavy on my skin at all!) since it covers my dry patches and any other imperfections, matches my fair skin tone perfectly- and stays in place all day long and well into the evening.

2. TARTE Cosmetics Maracuja Creaseless Concealer: For as long as I can remember, I have used the lightest shade possible in Clinique’s ‘Line Smoothing’ Concealer- even though fine lines and/or wrinkles were not and are not a concern for me right now. I’m not even sure why I started using it in the first place, except that maybe it was one of the few affordable concealers available and it actually matched my skin tone pretty closely. Well, for whatever reason- be it my getting older and my skin changing or Clinique being the one to do the changing (to their formula)– the concealer has been appearing more and more orange under my eyes and has NOT been lasting long at all lately. I knew it was time for a change- and I turned to this creamy formula for those nights I don’t get enough sleep and need to look bright eyed for work. This product blends really well, covers pretty much anything and everything, and does not budge at all throughout the day. I think this is is the perfect partner to my new foundation. I’ve been using them both religiously!

3. TARTE Cosmetics ‘Smooth Operator’ Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder: Finally (and my last TARTE product- I promise!), I picked up this invisible sealing powder to set my makeup for the day.  This powder brightens my face, keeps my makeup in place, and prevents shine and excess oil buildup in more oily or problematic areas like my T-Zone. I like that the formula is non-drying and doesn’t accentuate any dry skin or blemishes, too. It makes everything look very natural!

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4. Dr. Jart+ Clearing Solution Sheet Mask: Way back when, I used to use a Dr. Jart+ BB cream that I had really liked very much. Overall, the brand continues to churn out some quality products- and given my love for sheet masks- I thought I’d pick up one of these acne-fighting ones for those pre-PMS days when my skin goes absolutely crazy and I need a little extra help dealing with the blemishes that spring up seemingly out of nowhere. I’m about ready for one of those breakouts to show itself in the coming days- so at least I’ll have a head start!

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5. Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion: One product I will never stray away from or switch (as long as UD never changes the formula, anyway!) is this Primer Potion for eyes. I’m down to my last couple of drops in my current bottle and desperately needed a new one. I swear by this stuff. It’s lightweight, not sticky/greasy- and it holds my shadow in place without creasing, crumbling, or flaking off- for HOURS. I’m talking long-term, like “all night party followed by a late brunch the next day” sort of longevity. I can only ever remove any shadow/liner from my lids after using this stuff with a pretty strong makeup remover. Other than that? This doesn’t go anywhere. It doesn’t budge!

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6. Sephora’s Formula X Nail Polish in ‘Lucky Starrr’ and ‘Sci-Fi’: Finally, the two products I didn’t need but just happened to pick up anyway because I loved their colors were these two long-lasting and ultra sparkly nail polishes in Sephora’s wildly popular Formula X brand. The first (and the one I’m currently wearing now), ‘Lucky Starrr’- is a super glittery and glitzy hot pink/reddish shade created/curated by Vlogger Patrick Starrr, and the second- ‘Sci-Fi’- is a pretty unique looking and also very glittery mint shade that I think will be making it’s debut on my digits this coming St. Patrick’s Day! I think these two polishes are going to be enough to carry me into the Summer, where I will undoubtedly be looking for more colors to add to my collection.

So with a face of fresh makeup and new colors on my nails- that wraps up my mini-haul from Sephora! I’m quite pleased each of the products I selected so far, and I am still so appreciative of everyone who gave me gift cards that I used towards this purchase! You all saved me a ton of cash and I love you for it!

If you have any suggestions for my next trip- probably sometime in the early Summer- feel free to share ’em! I always love hearing about new products/colors/collections!

xx

Review: Valentia Skin Care

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In fun blogging news, I’ve recently signed onto BrandBacker to deliver new content, collaborations and reviews for my followers and casual readers. For those who aren’t familiar with BrandBacker or other influencer programs similar to it- it’s a way for bloggers (and those who are active on numerous social media outlets) to team up with different brands/companies to discover new products or services and provide honest reviews of said products/services in exchange for free items, promotion- and sometimes paid posts. It’s a win/win for everyone- and something I highly encourage those who are looking to broaden their blogging horizons and expand their audience to check out!

The first company that approached me via BrandBacker was the USA-based skin care line, Valentia, who asked me if I wanted to test their new ‘True Glow’ eye cream and Ultra Plumping Hydration Mask. Since I’m always eager to try something new and experiment with different products to see what works with my skin/complexion and what doesn’t, I jumped at the chance to give these two samples a shot- and received two full-sized containers, one of the eye cream and one of the mask- to play around with as compensation (a $50+ value!) 

The company’s mission, per their website:

“To provide you a greater level of overall happiness with your appearance without the harsh chemicals that dry out, stretch, burn and prematurely age the skin. Our strategic formulations include powerful natural ingredients that have been scientifically proven to succeed in giving skin a natural and radiant glow that contributes to a youthful look.”

Any brand that expresses confidence that their their products will have me feeling like a goddess is a brand worth paying attention to- but would their products really stand up to their assertions? There was only one way to tell.

I had to try them for a few days to decide for myself.

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‘True Glow’ Eye Cream ($25): 

From Valentia:

“Say goodbye to tired eyes. This nourishing formula works fast to repair and refresh the eye area while protecting skin from the usual suspects of aging. Our natural and organic ingredients work to calm and reduce puffiness in the eye area revealing softer, more refreshed looking eyes. With continued use of this antioxidant treatment, you will start noticing a more rejuvenated, radiant, and brighter under eye area.”

Up until now, I’d been using a thicker, heavier eye cream before bed each night- and as much as I like it- it doesn’t exactly absorb easily enough for me to be able to wear it under my makeup in the morning. When I first felt the lightweight consistency of this peach-tinted and gel-like cream (that smells strongly of flowers)– it gave me a little hope that this would be a suitable day cream and primer for my concealer, too. Sure enough, the formula sank into my skin in no time at all, and I noticed that my under-eye area appeared brighter and smoother in the mere minutes following application- even before I’d gotten around to applying my makeup!

In regards to wearing this under eye makeup and concealer during the day- this cream thankfully didn’t cause any sort of discoloration, creasing, or act as a barrier that prevented my makeup from setting properly the way other creams tend to do. It was barely noticeable after it had dried.

At night, I gently tapped a little more of this cream around my eyes to wear to bed- and woke up with softer, more hydrated, tighter and less-puffy skin. I was more than impressed- and now that I’ve been using this cream night and day for a little while- I’m happy to report that the results have stayed consistently good! There’s been no negative changes and no weird reactions or anything. Just a softer, smoother, and brighter eye area across the board.

VERDICT: I really like this eye cream! It was an unexpected hit for me- and was my favorite of the two products I received from Valentia for this collaboration! A little goes a long way with this gel/cream, so $25 per bottle is actually very reasonable- and I can see myself purchasing this in the future once I’m out of my complimentary one. Loaded with Vitamin C and Organic Rosehip Oil- it’s nice to see more natural ingredients put into something comes so dangerously close to my eyes- as opposed to the product being 100% full of complex and potentially harmful chemicals and/or artificial coloring.

BUY HERE / AMAZON

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From Valentia:

“The perfect answer to your dry skin problems. This hydration mask features a unique blend of amino acids and potent antioxidants, like Japanese Green tea and Aloe Vera, to reduce fine lines, increase collagen production, and fight environmental irritants. Botanical Hyaluronic  Acid, Vitamin E, and Sea Buckthorn Oil flood skin with vital moisture, creating softer more supple skin. Treat your delicate facial skin with nature’s most nourishing ingredients, and instantly restore radiance.”

Despite the bright orange coloring of this mask, it does not smell like any type of citrus whatsoever. Like the ‘True Glow’ Eye Cream, this mask has a gel-like consistency and smells more floral than fruity (at least to me, anyway!) Unlike the eye cream, however- this mask is meant to be left on the skin for approximately 15-30 minutes before it’s gently dabbed off with a warm, damp cloth- and is supposed to leave the skin feeling extra hydrated, smooth, nourished and looking radiant.

As is the case with most masks, you don’t want to overdo it by applying them too frequently- so I limited myself to two applications per week to better monitor my results. The mask tingles a bit as it dries on your face- so if you have sensitive skin, it might feel a little weird at first- but it goes away after a few minutes and then you barely notice you have a mask on at all. I promise!

In regards to the results, my skin did, indeed, feel softer to the touch and appear smoother at first glance- but I didn’t notice much of a difference in the overall brightness or ‘plumpness’ to my skin. I just looked and felt a little more dewy, really- which is fabulous this time of year but might not be so desirable come Spring/Summer when the temperatures and humidity begin to rise again.

VERDICT: I didn’t dislike this mask by any means, but I don’t feel it exactly blew me away, either. The ingredients are recognizable and able to be understood, and it’s nice if your skin needs an extra boost of hydration the way mine does throughout Winter- but if you’re looking for something to address any type of dullness or lifelessness to your skin- you may want to check out one of the scrubs Valentia has available, instead- and save this mask for a colder day when your usual moisturizers and serums just aren’t doing the trick.

 BUY HERE / AMAZON

Overall, I was really pleased with Valentia’s products (especially the eye cream!) and the natural, quality ingredients, lovely results, and swift shipment time for my samples has inspired me to check out some of the other products the company has to offer (particularly their aforementioned scrubs since it’s well-documented by now that I’m an exfoliation nut.)

I truly appreciate the company reaching out to me, and their generosity with the two full-sized items they shipped to me. It was very kind and I intend to continue using them regularly!

Valentia’s main site, as well as the Amazon links to purchase their products have been linked above for anyone looking to learn more about the brand or try these items for themselves.

xx

*NOTE: I was not paid in exchange for my review by Valentia or any of it’s employees or associates. All opinions stated in this post are purely my own and were no way altered by the brand or their affiliates. Questions about the company or the products featured here should be directed to Valentia via the “CONTACT US” section on their website. Thank you!*

Nerium Skin Care.

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Shortly after reviewing Lionesse Gem Skin Care back in August, I was contacted by a very sweet representative from the skin care company, Nerium International, who wanted to know if I would be interested in trying their day and night anti-aging creams. Although reversing the signs of aging is not yet a concern for me (I use plenty of preventative products and try to schedule a deep-cleansing and repairing facial with my esthetician every few weeks,) I agreed- because despite the anti-aging benefits being the main selling point- Nerium’s products target a lot of other common issues, too. From their website:

“During advanced research on the uses of the Nerium oleander plant, an accidental discovery was made: the unique properties of Nerium oleander provided remarkable age-defying results when applied to the skin. This finding led to the formation of Nerium International and the creation of the NeriumAD skincare line.

Nerium scientists developed a breakthrough process, NBio-PL2, to derive an extract from the Nerium oleander plant in a way that preserves its unique and beneficial properties. This patented extraction process yields the NAE-8 extract, with powerful antioxidant properties, used to formulate the first-of-its-kind, age-defying Nerium product line.

Nerium International is the first company with the exclusive capability to harness the power of the Nerium oleander plant in its skincare products. The product line addresses multiple concerns at once, including: wrinkles, discoloration, and texture. Nerium controls this main active ingredient from seed to bottle, making the Nerium skincare line both high-impact and innovative. This is the Nerium Difference.”

As someone with combination/oily skin and a very fair complexion, maintaining a smooth texture and avoiding discoloration is very important to me- and I always keep an open mind to new companies and products who are trying to help me do just that. Nerium were kind enough to send me full-sized pump bottles (and I LOVE the chic packaging,) of their day and night creams with supporting literature detailing the company, their products, and how to get started with selling Nerium from home should I want to get involved with their brand on a business/sales level.

I’ve been using the creams- first every other day as my skin adjusted to them- and now every day- for the past few weeks, and I feel as though I can now write a thorough and informative review based on the results I’ve seen over that time.

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NeriumAD Day Cream

The first thing I noticed about NeriumAD’s day cream was that unlike it’s P.M. counterpart, this light-consistency moisturizer didn’t have much of a fragrance (I’ll get to that momentarily.) Using only a couple of small pumps, which spread and provided even coverage to my entire face- the product sank into my skin effortlessly and left it comfortable- not overly greasy or worse: dried out. On closer inspection, my pores didn’t look any smaller, but my texture appeared smoother and the overall brightness to my skin was an unexpected but welcomed result. My skin felt good throughout the day, even with makeup applied over this cream and everyday hazards like the weather, temperature changes, city pollution, free radicals, etc. taking their usual toll.

The only downside to this cream is that it lacks SPF and therefore I had to add a sunscreen to ensure my skin was thoroughly protected before I left my house each morning. I think including some level of sun protection, even if it’s just the basic SPF 15, would make what is already a good product even better and more convenient for those who don’t want to have to apply numerous creams, serums, and sunscreens on their skin.

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NeriumAD Night Cream ($110)

Of the two creams I was sent, the NeriumAD Night Cream was the most potent in terms of results, consistency, and fragrance. While the day cream had little to no scent at all, the night cream smelled strongly of plants. It wasn’t a bad thing- but every time I pumped a small amount onto my finger tips to massage onto my face, it reminded me of stepping into a greenhouse and just inhaling deeply- if that makes any sense.

Consistency wise, this cream is pretty tacky. The directions on the box suggest applying it to slightly damp skin, which I did- but the formula is still sticky until it fully absorbs. Thankfully, once it does- I didn’t have to worry about anything (like my pillowcase) clinging uncomfortably to my cheeks while I slept or waking up with my dog’s fur stuck on me or something. There’s no residue left behind which is a huge relief.

Afterwards, my skin didn’t feel particularly hydrated, which was surprising for a night cream- but it did feel tighter. I also noticed that after the cream absorbed, my pores looked considerably smaller. Almost invisible, if I dare say it. I typically have to use foundation and setting powder to get that effect, so to instantly have it by just applying a cream was pretty exciting!

THE VERDICT:

While Nerium is geared more towards anti-aging benefits, it was it’s other helpful perks that got me interested and kept me using both creams for quite some time. The day cream, which brightened and gently hydrated- was a nice morning moisturizer, while the night cream- heavier and more potent- minimized my pores and made my skin feel taut and strong. Neither cream rendered any kind of allergic reaction or irritation- and both required only a small amount of product per application to cover my face and down towards my neck- making their $110 price tags (less money if you purchase the two creams as a set) easier to swallow when you take into consideration that both of these products will last you for a long time if used correctly, and sparingly.

As much as I liked the day cream, it’s lack of SPF was a bit of a deal breaker for me. Not that I consider myself lazy by any means, but an extra step in my morning routine could have been avoided had the cream had any sort of sun protection added to it. The night cream, however- is definitely something I would splurge on in the future. Despite it’s tacky consistency and powerful fragrance- it has been doing wonders for my pores and my overall complexion over the period of time I’ve been using it.

All in all, I really enjoyed being introduced to, and learning about Nerium. The science behind their products is fascinating- made even more so when you see and feel the results they give. I want to thank them, and Tom- the representative who reached out to me- for giving me the opportunity to try their creams for myself! I truly appreciate it!

[ EDIT: 10/22/14 ] Hey everyone! I received an update on the pricing of the Nerium products. Taken from a recent e-mail I received:

“The night cream is $110 for a single bottle, and $80/month if you become a preferred customer (PC), meaning a bottle is shipped every month. If you refer 3 customers, then the night cream is free. The day can’t be purchased on its own. It’s really just a compliment to the night cream, but it has the same primary ingredient. The day/night combo is $165 for just one month, but is $120 for PCs. After 3 consecutive months of being a PC, the day cream becomes free for life, so both products could become free.”

*Note: All opinions in this post are entirely my own. I do not work for, nor was I paid by Nerium International to write these reviews.*

Lionesse Gem Skin Care.

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When a representative from Lionesse Gem Skin Care recently reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing some of their products with a handful of selected bloggers, I was flattered and floored. I am always on the prowl for new brands and cosmetics/skin and hair care to try- and after some correspondence and a little bit of research of my own into the brand and their history- I eagerly agreed.

A little blurb from Lionesse about their company and customers:

“Lionesse Beauty Bar is a luxury boutique offering high-end beauty products and professional makeovers. Our stores are located in California, Las Vegas, Canada, and Singapore.

The Lionesse is a sexy vixen that takes control of her life with style. Every man wants her and women want to be her. She is fierce, strong, stunning, and comfortable in her own skin. She glides down the street with unwavering confidence as if it’s her very own runway… She owns it.”

The Lionesse Gem Skin Care line is comprised of five collections, each based off of a precious gemstone (White Pearl, Black Onyx, Amber, Yellow Sapphire, and Diamond, respectively-) and each collection is designed to target different concerns for different skin types using unique combinations of vitamins, brightening and anti-aging ingredients.

Now, I try to keep myself on a bit of a budget when it comes to beauty products. I DO splurge every now and then to treat myself, but if I bought every product I saw and wanted on a whim- so, so many of my bills would go unpaid and I’d probably be siphoning gas to fuel my car. That being said, my jaw hit the floor when I first saw the price points of Lionesse’s collections. Ranging from $1,300 – $6,000, with $400 eye creams and $600 serums- I needed a moment to recover. Would I ever be able to afford this stuff? With weeks of saving and some sacrifice, sure- but would I want to spend that kind of money? Would dropping that kind of cash be worth it? To answer those questions- I turned to the products themselves.

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Lionesse was gracious enough to send me two full-sized products for my skin type: the facial peel from the Amber Collection ($300) and the Vitamin C serum from the White Pearl Collection ($400) along with detailed directions on how and when to use each. I’ve been testing them out over the past few days, and am ready to weigh in on the results.

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Amber Facial Peel:

“Banish filth and all its cohorts. This gentle formula works to remove toxins, dirt and oil from your skin. Formulated with Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate) and Vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate), your skin will feel rejuvenated and fresh.” – From Lionesse’s website.

As directed, I’ve used this peel just a couple of times over the past few days (it’s not for everyday use) to clean out my pores and even out my skin’s tone and texture. I had a product similar to this years ago and had loved it- only to find out it had been discontinued when I went to replenish my bottle, and up until now- I’ve been unable to locate anything like it. Using a small amount, I spread the gel-like substance all over my face, and wait about five minutes before I begin to gently massage it with my fingertips in circular motions to exfoliate my skin. Once the peel begins to flake off, I rinse my face with cool water, pat dry with a clean towel- and then moisturize as usual.

Even after only a couple of uses, my skin looks and feels smoother, appears brighter, and even feels a little tighter- which I didn’t think was possible. This product isn’t abrasive at all, which is also a plus for those with sensitive skin. The only downside to this peel, and it’s nothing major- is that some of the flakes that form when massaging it into the skin pre-rinse don’t come off so easily, and have to be picked off prior to moisturizing- which can be a little uncomfortable. Other than that, though- this product has been working well for me and will more than likely become a part of my weekend deep-cleansing regimen.

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White Pearl Vitamin C Serum:

“Unveil your greatest potential. This serum replenishes your skin with vital nutrients to maintain the skin’s youthful appearance and luminescence. This potent product will reduce the evidence of time and wear to create smoother, softer looking skin.” – From Lionesse’s website.

Like the Amber Facial Peel, this highly concentrated serum is not designed for everyday use. I’ve been using this every other night before bed after cleansing my skin and without applying moisturizer afterwards (the serum doesn’t sink into the skin super fast, so extra hydration isn’t really necessary.) When I wake up in the morning after each use, my skin is glowing, and feels really, really soft. Also like the Amber Facial Peel, a little goes a LONG way with this serum- so applying a ton of the product isn’t necessary at all. Only a pump, maybe two- is enough to give your face even coverage.

Side, somewhat unrelated note: this serum smells really, really good- like a mixture of different types of fruit. I’m liking it a lot.

THE VERDICT:

With their chic packaging, interesting gemstone-inspired collection concept, and skin care that has a nice, not-too-thick consistency- Lionesse definitely grabbed my attention. Based purely off of the results I’ve achieved so far- I’m a fan of both of the products they sent me to review. My skin continues to look and feel great as I use the peel and the serum, and with how concentrated they are- both full-sized bottles will last me a long time since I don’t have to apply an excessive amount with each use- and only have to use them a couple of times per week at the most.

Again, the only thing that makes me, and would probably make anyone on a budget wince- is the price per product and the price of an entire collection. Would I re-purchase the peel and the serum? Yes- but probably not for a while and probably not both at the same time- since such an investment ($700) would require some serious saving, and probably a little more overtime at the office. If these products and collections were a little more affordable, I wouldn’t be so hesitant- and would probably go on a bit of a shopping spree- because they ARE great quality and they DO give really good results.

I want to thank Lionesse for being so generous in letting me try these products. The opportunity is greatly appreciated. You can find and connect with Lionesse Gem on Facebook and Twitter!

*Note: All opinions in this post are entirely my own. I do not work for, nor was I paid by Lionesse Gem Skin Care to write these reviews.*

Giveaway: Evologie Clear Skin Kit.

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I was very flattered and pretty excited when Evologie Skin Care recently reached out to me to set up a giveaway and promotion through my blog. I’ve received Evologie samples in past beauty box subscriptions, and while I was on the fence when it came to their Stay Clear Cream (I have sensitive skin,) I’ve achieved decent results with their Intensive Blemish Serum and even more so with their Stay Clear Cleanser, which removes excess oil, dirt, and makeup from deep within my pores without making my skin feel tight or dry. Evologie offers a simple 3-step system to help achieve and maintain clear, healthy skin- which can come in handy when it’s time for those dreaded holiday photos.

And now you, my lovely and cherished readers, can win your own Evologie Clear Skin Kit, a retail value of $49.00, just by entering the raffle below. Give it as a belated stocking stuffer, or keep it for yourself to kick off the New Year with smooth, blemish-free skin. The kit includes:

  • Stay Clear Cleanser, 5.0 fl. oz./150 mL
  • Intensive Blemish Serum, 0.5 fl. oz./15 mL
  • Stay Clear Cream, 0.23 fl. oz./7 mL

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*PLEASE NOTE* This giveaway, per Evologie, is limited to those located within the United States and Canada. To those outside those areas: don’t fret- I’m planning a different giveaway of my own for early 2014 that you’ll be included in, too!

A little bit about Evologie:

“EVOLOGIE® combines the evolution of science with the biology of healthy skin to create a comprehensive skin management system engineered for optimal skin health. Founded on a father’s love for his daughter and perfected by experts, this technologically-advanced skin care system blends innovation and compassion with an unwavering commitment to visibly improve and maintain the healthy look of your skin—beyond compare. Powered by revolutionary patent-pending YS3 Complex® delivery system, EVOLOGIE® helps restore visible clarity, lock in needed hydration and recharge skin’s natural healing process to help you take control of your complexion and change your skin’s future. As your skin changes, so should your skincare. EVOLOGIE® understands this and the emotional impact on your overall wellbeing. This breakthrough skin care is uniquely designed to evolve with your skin’s changing needs from adolescence to adulthood—regardless of ethnicity or sensitivity.”

If you’re already a fan of Evologie, or are interested in purchasing and/or replenishing your full-sized products (and seriously- the cleanser is awesome,) then you can earn 20% off of your purchase with the promo code “ashley” at checkout HERE.

I’m going to be running the raffle from today until 11:59 p.m. EST on December 23rd- a little more than a week, so be sure to hurry and get your entry in now! Entries require no more than two quick things: commenting on this post with your first name and e-mail address so the winner can be contacted right away, and/or tweeting about the giveaway so your followers can participate too, if they’d like!

The link below will ensure that you are entered into the raffle properly- and of course- if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER.

Good luck to everyone who participates, and another big thank you to Evologie for making this giveaway possible!

*I do not work for Evologie, nor am I being paid or compensated by Evologie to run this giveaway. All opinions in this post are entirely my own. A winner will be selected & contacted via e-mail on December 24th and my contact at Evologie will be notified, after which point the winner will be mailed the Clear Skin Kit directly from the company.*