Most Valuable Products: January 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Grab a drink and a snack (preferably of the unhealthy kind), because this month's favorites post is a doozy! I've been off from school for most of this month and focusing on working full-time, which has actually made it easier for me to try out new products--it's usually balancing school and work that throws my life into utter chaos. Most of these items have never been featured on my blog before, largely because I've just gotten into them this month, and also because I haven't been the best about keeping up with reviews. Of course, the general theme of this month's products is ****,  it's cold outside--brownie points to anyone who correctly guesses how many pairs of socks I have on right now. 

1. Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream Light: This is the most expensive day cream I've purchased to date, but it was totally worth it. My skin is typically so oily that I can only have a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer on under my makeup, but the arctic temperatures have been really drying out my mug. I tried the regular, cult-favorite Rose Day Cream in Whole Foods and couldn't handle how rich and greasy it felt, but the Light version has been perfect. Wonderfully thick but fast-absorbing, this baby completely saturates my skin with moisture but settles to a very comfortable dry-to-the-touch finish so it never feels overwhelming, and sits beautifully under makeup. I haven't used any other day cream this month, and if it contained SPF, I might even relegate this to Holy Grail status. 

2. Sonia Kashuk Undetectable Creme Bronzer: A total revelation. My skin has been ultra bitchy this month, with being incredibly dry, and also doing this thing where any makeup I wear looks really obvious and tends to sit on my skin. I still have a bit too much acne on my cheeks to wear blush (it's been devastating), and since powder looks more obvious on the skin, I picked up this little cream bronzer to inject some much-needed life and color into my face. Normally, my skin is way too oily for cream face products to work, but either my recently dry skin or the "undetectable-ness" of this product are really making it work for me. I almost didn't buy it because I thought it looked too dark, but it sheers out nicely for any bronzer-phobes out there, and totally nails looking warm without reading orange. It's a great product by itself, but I'll forever think of it as the bronzer that changed my mind on cream products.

3. E.L.F Small Stipple Brush: Of course, the right cream product requires the right brush to apply it, and I got this one after Emilynoel83 raved about it for using with cream blushes. You might think it best to use a bigger brush with a bronzer, but I really don't like the look of too much bronze. I prefer just enough to make me look healthy and a bit warm, without it looking obvious, and that's exactly the effect this brush creates. It's small enough to do some contouring with, so I usually run the bronzer in the hollow of my cheekbones and then sheer it out for less of a chiseled effect, and more of a pockets of warmth kind of thing. I'll do the same to my temples, and I can even run this down the sides of my nose with any remaining product. I've washed it quite a few times now, with no shedding or change in the brush's shape, though I do wish the handle was a bit longer. It's really not helping my complex of having big hands! 

4. Weleda Skin Food: I know a lot of people use this as a multi-purpose cream akin to the Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour, but I just don't see how that's possible. This stuff is as dense, greasy, and thick as it comes which means it's incredibly moisturizing, but also uncomfortable to feel on the skin. I think you're meant to use this as a body cream, but the idea of that makes me cringe, so I use it strictly as a pre-bedtime treatment for my hands. A small glob of this is still incredibly greasy, but if you take the time to rub it in as much as you can and wait for it to absorb, the result is unbelievably soft hands. I really only have the patience for this before bedtime, especially as I can't deal with greasy fingers when I'm trying to be productive, but I'm always glad I've done it the morning after. 

5. It Cosmetics CC Cream: MakepbyTiffanyD had a whole video on this, and I felt compelled to get it after being on the hunt for a high coverage tinted moisturizer/BB/CC/whatever you want to call it for so long. Its level of coverage is every bit as excellent as she said it would be, and I'm thrilled with how high the SPF is (50). I've been so happy with this stuff that I've barely worn foundation this month, which also might have to do with how badly makeup has been looking on my skin. I have noticed that this CC cream tends to settle and stick to dry patches, so I usually apply it on top of the Dr. Hauschka cream, or sometimes I'll mix it with another BB/CC that sets more like a moisturizer and less like a foundation. That'll usually be the Garnier BB cream or the Olay CC cream, both of which feel more like skincare and less like makeup (as opposed to the It Cosmetics). 

6. Physician's Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Powder: I reviewed this in my Favorite Drugstore Products post, and have been using it a lot this month to set my under-eye concealer and brush over my T-zone. I've been mentioning how obvious makeup has been looking on my skin recently, but for longer days when I worry about the combination of the Dr. Hauschka cream + CC cream, I like a little dusting of this to get some longer wear out of my base. Powders like these barely have any mattifying ability, but look supremely natural, which is how I've been able to wear this, despite my ultra-annoying skin. 

7. Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Hair Oil: I was going through my product stash, and came across this baby that I'd bought ages ago and then squirreled away, deeming it too precious for frequent use. In the midst of my cleanup, I decided to stop this nonsense of not using special or limited edition or expensive products. That's what products are meant for: to be used! I swapped out my Macadamia Oil for this gorgeous stuff, and as much as I love the former, this stuff is even better for my absurdly long, dry hair. My ends have been drier than usual lately, and the Shu oil is even better than the Macadamia at quenching their thirst. I do think the Macadamia oil smells nicer, and is better in the softening department, but the Shu absolutely beats it in terms of hydration. I'm happy to have this luxe bottle back in my life, and am now determined to really start using all my special products I reserve for silly reasons--who's with me?

8. Dior Nail Glow Nail Enhancer: In case you couldn't tell by the lack of Nail of the Week posts, I've almost completely stopped painting my nails lately. I had gel done not too long ago, and since then, there hasn't been any point in applying polish since 1) removing the gel completely ruined my nail texture, and 2) work has recently been chipping any nail color I wear to bits. Still, I like a groomed nail, so I finally purchased this glamorous little bottle that's been on my wishlist for ages. I don't even know what to call it, since it's not a conventional nail polish, but more like a nail tint that makes them look beautifully healthy and never seems to chip. I wear this pretty constantly, but especially like how it looks on longer nails, as the formula makes the tips look whiter in a non-obnoxious French manicure way. I'm absolutely obsessed, and if you're the type who likes pretty nails but maybe can't wear polish, you need to look into this. 

9. L'Oreal Volumetry Anti-Gravity Root Lift Spray: I had very strange reasons for trying this. I'm all for volumizing sprays (mousses and foams are too sticky), but am very paranoid about hair product touching my face since that's a massive cause of breakouts. I was secretly hoping that if any of this stuff dripped down my face as I sprayed it into my hair, it would actually help my acne since it contains salicylic acid. (I warned you it was strange!). I haven't seen any difference in the horrendous state of my skin, but I love what it does for my hair. Just a few spritzes before blow drying gives my hair some fluffy volume, with no uncomfortable texture or stiffness. The effect isn't too dramatic, but it's probably the most volume I've ever gotten from a spray (which are generally the weakest formula of volumizing agents). I hear good things about the dry shampoo from this range, so you know I've got to try that next!

10. AmLactin Ultra Body Cream: At some point, I'm going to have to write a list of Perpetual Favorites, or things I use so often they're almost silly to mention in favorites posts. (AmLactin, Batiste dry shampoo and my Shu Uemura eyelash curler would be the top three things on it, in case you were wondering). I've raved about this chemical exfoliant wondrous body lotion here and here, but this Ultra version is even better. The thicker consistency means I need to use even less, and I feel like it absorbs even faster than the original. Plus, this version doesn't have any of the same chemical-lotion smell, so this tube literally takes care of all the few quibbles I had with the pump-top original bottle. Well done, AmLactin!

11. Tarte Skinny Smolder Eyes Eyeliner in Azurite Green: I finally got around to opening a Tarte makeup set I got for Christmas (you know you have too much makeup when...), and am really liking these eyeliners. They apply smoothly and with full color, and if I give them a chance to set before curling my lashes, I don't lose much pigment to my eyelash curler. They don't tend to budge until my makeup has been on for about 12 hours, which is great considering how oily my eyelids are. My set came with a black, a purple and a green liner, and surprisingly it's been the emerald that I've been reaching for the most. Something about the tone of the purple tends to make me look tired, but the emerald has enough depth to define my eyes and enough color to lift whatever colorless outfit I'm wearing. 

12. The Good Earth Sweet n' Spicy Herbal Black Tea: I never include random favorites in these posts, but this tea is just so ridiculously good that I had to. My cousin gave me a box of it for Christmas (thanks, Lauren!), and I have been addicted ever since. This tea has a cult following, and one sip of this ultra-fragrant, cinnamony sweet tea had me joining the group. I drink it whenever I want some sort of hot drink, but love it as an alternative for dessert. I always think those weight loss/health tips about substituting a sweeter dessert with yogurt or berries are absolute crap. When my sweet tooth wants something sugary, no substitution will do. Except for this. With the exception of a chocolate craving, a mug of this tea can quell any sweet craving I have. I looked it up, and apparently a bag of this tea is only three calories, which I swear is absolute witchcraft given how superb it tastes. Tea lovers, and those minding your healthy New Year's resolutions--anybody--give this a try! 

Mascara Experimentation post will be up Monday!

Happy Chinese New Year Eve!

I'm kicking off the Year of the Horse with a new blog design. The kinks are still being worked out, but what do you think?

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