Category: makeup

Sephora 2014 VIB Sale Recommendations


Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 4.57.27 PM

I was compelled to write this post because one of my favorite times of the year is now almost upon us – the Sephora VIB Sale!  For those that are unfamiliar, this is Sephora’s annual 20% discount event for VIB and VIB Rouge members of its loyalty program who spend at least $350 a year (the minimum qualifier for VIB status).  Those who are VIB Rouge (spend $1000 a year) may get earlier access.

UPDATE – this year’s sale runs from November 6th to 10th, and an in-store evening event will begin November 5th for VIB and VIB Rouge members (Codes GIFTVIB and GIFTROUGE).  I’ve been building my cart for weeks (since sadly I’m not lucky enough to know any Sephora employees to get a code for the Friends & Family sale), so I wanted to share what I recommend – staples that I’ve repurchased many times over and plan on getting again.


Clarisonic Twin-Pack Replacement Brush Head for Deep Pore, $44 – Does anyone remember the 4-pack that Sephora sold last year for $75?  Sadly that is no longer available, so the twin-pack is the best deal for those of us loyal Clarisonic users.  My Clarisonic is such a staple in my nighttime skincare routine that I still find it shocking when friends ask me if they should get it – my response is always a resounding YES, barring they do not have hyper sensitive skin prone to redness.  (If you don’t have one yet, I highly recommend the Mia for $99.)  I have oily/combo skin prone to congestion/acne and I LOVE the Deep Pore brush head.  I’ve tried the Acne and Sensitive Brush Heads, and compared to those 2, the Deep Pore feels like it gives the best cleanse.  Since the brush head is something I switch out every few months, I always have to get at least 1 or 2 of the twin packs.  (Side question – has anyone with skin similar to mine tried the luxe brush heads?)

SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion, $70 – This will be maybe my 4th time repurchasing it, and believe me I really did not want to like this, as it is a super expensive toner.  I first heard about it from Raeview, who claims it helped normalize her skin.  While it hasn’t helped me do that (and I’m a bit dubious of a topical product’s ability to change your skin type), I’ve genuinely enjoyed it as a post-cleansing step to rebalance my skin and prep it for the treatments/moisturizer I apply afterwards.  I want to note that I’ve also tried the SK-II Treatment that is their flagship product, but I haven’t noticed anything spectacular, so I won’t repurchase at this time.

First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser, $20 – a no-frills, non-fragranced foaming facial cleanser.  It gets the job done WELL and does not include any ingredients that you don’t need (namely fragrance).  My husband and I both use it, and it’s become a staple in my shower (works great with the Clarisonic!).

First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay, $24 – this will be my 3rd tube, and I absolutely love this cleanser.  It smells slightly medicinal, which I actually really enjoy (versus completely synthetic fragrances), and I definitely feel like it provides a deep cleanse.  I’ve read reviews that some others think this is slimy and hard to wash off, but honestly I have never experienced that.  This is the cleanser that I keep at my sink to use in the mornings, and I look forward to using it every morning.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 (untinted), $22.50 – I know a lot of people think this is not worth the hype for a $22.50 lip balm, but I’m telling you – it is absolutely indispensable to me.  I can’t even count how many tubes I’ve gone through (8? 10?), and I ALWAYS go back to this.  It is deeply moisturizing, has an SPF of 15, and I like that it has a substantial packaging that somehow makes the experience of applying it just a little bit luxe.  Also, it has a faint lemon scent, which doesn’t bother me, and I am very, very sensitive to scents.  It just bought 2 tubes a month ago because I was in dire need (I left my tube in car and it sadly melted) and couldn’t wait, but I’m buying at least 2 more because it’s one of those things I want to use everyday.

Boscia Blotting Linens, $10 – I used to think it was silly to pay this much for blotting linens.  Blotting linens were one of those super cheap items I always picked up in bulk when I visited Taiwan.  However, I’m almost done with my first pack of these linens and I must say they are awesome.  They don’t disturb my makeup, and even for me (whose shiny face you can spot as a beacon in dark rooms), I only need one to get me through the day.  The Charcoal version is new to me, but charcoal supposedly helps soak oil, so I am all about this!

Shiseido The Makeup Facial Cotton, $9.50 – This is quite touted on the Youtube beauty community as some miracle facial cotton, and while I don’t think this (it is still possible for them to break off), they are really nice for removing eye makeup.  Since having my cheap Target cotton pads flake off into my eyes (not fun when wearing contacts), I’ve been using this for my eye area only.  Because let’s face it, even at 20% off these cottons are still very pricey.


Buxom Lip Gloss Roulette, $59 – Buxom lip glosses are my favorite – they’ve totally made me crave that tingly feeling, and now I associate that characteristic of what a good lip gloss should be.  In any case, this set has a ton of colors and gives you a lot of options – or you can always keep some for yourself and give some out with family and friends!

Anastasia Brow Wiz in Soft Brown, $21 – Quite simply one of the best, most easy to use eyebrow pencils out there.  When I ran out of this, I thought I could get by with just my Shu Uemura Hard 9 Brown Pencil in xxx, which I really enjoy, but just nothing beats this for ease of use.   It has a super fine, twist up tip and a great spoolie to comb through your brows after you pencil them in.  I used to use the color Medium Ash, which has since been renamed to Medium Brown, but I’m going to go for a slightly lighter shade as my normal hair color is somewhat of a medium brown and I like to go slightly lighter than my normal hair color for brows to look less harsh.

Since I don’t run out of makeup on the regular (or ever) given my vast collection, I won’t be “repurchasing” anything else.  But I still wanted to call out great items that I use on a regular basis and would wholeheartedly recommend if you are looking for anything in this category:

Setting Powder: NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder, $35 – It offers the perfect amount of “blurring” and has semi-descent oil control.  I like it WAY better than the Hourglass Setting Powder In Diffused Lighting, which i use for the same purpose… but I should probably think of another use for it (e.g., under eye setting), since it has zero oil control and disappears from my face within an hour

Mineral Foundation: Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF 15 in Natural Beige, $39 – still one of the best mineral foundations.  I have the Chanel Vitalumiere Powder but have yet to test it.  Maybe I’ll do post on that coming up.

Budge-proof pencil eyeliners: NARS Larger Than Life Long Wear Eyeliner in Via Veneto (black), $24 and Giorgio Armani Smooth Silk Waterproof Eye Pencil, $28 (in select stores only) – I use the NARS when I don’t care to smudge out my eyeliner and want it to stay PUT.  I use the Giorgio Armani (I have the brown one) more regularly as it gives me more time to smudge it out and also is pretty budge proof.  If I were to repurchase only one, I would go for the Giorgio Armani.

What are your recommendations for the Sephora VIB Sale??

Favorite 13 Beauty Products of 2013

Well folks, another year has gone by!  For the year-end survey of favorite beauty products, I decided to force myself to pick my 13 favorite products of 2013.  The question I posed to myself to get the edit was this: if I didn’t use these products this year, would I miss them?  And for all 13 products below, the answer was a resounding YES.

image (1)

Cosmetics & Tools

1. Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF 15 in Natural Beige, $38 – I’ve had this for a couple of years now, and for whatever reason, I pulled this out one day earlier this year and have been unable to choose another powder to use.  It imparts a healthy glow and is just BEAUTIFUL. More importantly, it’s easy and fast – I slap this on over a tinted moisturizer or BB/CC Cream with a brush I mention below and I’m good to go.

2. Le Metier de Beaute Peau Vierge Correcteur Concealer in Shade 1, $95 – Another product I’ve had for a couple of years and finally discovered its full potential – it just DELIVERS.  Under eye concealer?  Check.  Covers redness and discoloration on my face?  YES. It’s emollient yet still stays put on my combo/oily skin.  I like this much better than the cult-fave Cle de Peau Concealer (mine is in the color Beige), but I guess at $20 MORE than the Cle de Peau, it should be better.

3. CHANEL Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour SPF 15 in 40, $57.50 – Who doesn’t want some of that bonne mine glow that French women have perfected?  Love this for a subtle bronzing effect.  Applied with brush mentioned below.

4. Burberry Eyeshadow in Almond, $29 – The most perfect blending color EVER.  Get this – it will make any of your eye looks better.

5. Laura Mercier Artist Palette #2, $48 – I just discussed this in my Perfect Palette post, so I’ll keep it short.  Great palette; really happy I got it.

6. Giorgio Armani Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil in #2 brown, $28 – SO glad I tried this – it’s creamy yet stays put once you set it with an eyeshadow.  The brown is perfect for everyday AND dramatic looks.

7. Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy Lipstick in 100 Androgino, $34 – I think this lipstick has replaced my previous favorite nude, Tom Ford Lip Color in  Blush Nude.  Formula is creamy and comfortable, and unlike Tom Ford Blush Nude, I don’t have to top it off with a gloss – it imparts a shine on its own.

8. Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush, $52 – I just want it to be clearly documented that I know spending $52 on a brush is ridiculous.  That said, this brush is definitely worth getting – just wait for a Sephora VIB sale or on the Bobbi Brown website when there’s a discount code going around. It is PERFECT for easy application of face powders as well as bronzers – I use it with items #1 and 3.  I use this brush almost everyday.


9. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15, $22.50 – I picked up my 4th tube to take on my expedition to Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania earlier this year.  I like that it is moisturizing, the tube has a nice weight to it, and it has SPF.  I like the clear one better than the tinted ones I’ve tried.  Can’t be without it ever.

10. Clinique Super Rescue Antioxidant Night Moisturizer in Dry Combination, $45 – I talked about this in my 3 items to add to your skincare routine post.  Best night-time moisturizer for my combo skin ever.  I like the Dry Combination version even better than the Oily one, despite having very oily skin.  Won’t ever be without this either.

11. SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5, $55 – Retinol is a must for anti-aging.  Another product I talked about in the 3 items to add to your skincare routine post.


12. Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo, $6-$8 – I get asked quite frequently how I keep my hair so healthy since it’s pretty long (it was down to my waist before I chopped 6 inches off).  It’s probably because I don’t color treat it or use heat on it very often.  I can ALSO tell you it is NOT due to the shampoo I use.  I’ve used very expensive shampoos (e.g., Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo, $57 and Shu Uemura Muroto Volume Pure Lightness Shampoo, $47), and my hair looks exactly the same as if I had used inexpensive shampoos.  So now I just use whatever inexpensive shampoo I like, as long as it is more natural (no sulfates or parabens) and has peppermint in it.  This Giovanni one is my fave, and I also like the Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo.  My husband also likes to use these shampoos, so it’s a win-win.

13. Wet Brush, $8.99 – My hair is prone to getting massive tangles, and this brush is AMAZING at getting the tangles out without tugging on my hair.  I like it even better than the Tangle Teezer (I have 2) for getting knots out.

What were your favorite beauty products of 2013??