Book Reviews!

Yep, book reviews are coming. I figure I spend enough time reading books, may as well toss my opinions about them out there, right? Plus, I’ve been dreadfully absent over here (probably because I spend so much damn time reading) and I want to remedy that. So, keep an eye on this space. New content coming soon! Book reviews, skincare reviews and info, and quite possibly the occasional cocktail related post (I’m a firm believer in enjoying an adult beverage and reading while enjoying a face mask).

XOXO,

lupusgirl

Y’All Are Going To Want This

Hiiiiii. I know, I know, it has been A Minute since I’ve posted anything here and I am sorry. But I’m back, I’m here, I have LOTS to share with you and so let’s just dive right in this with goodie, okay?

A silver pouch of PAIVA Skincare's Clean Slate charcoal face, teeh & hum powder, on a silver background with PAIVA's logo.

Alright, so we all know charcoal is all the rage right now, yes? Well you are going to want to jump over and pick up some of this wonder product because it does double duty. Not only does Clean Slate work as a mask and a cleanser for your face (unlike most charcoal products I have tried, this works GREAT on dry skin and leaves you with a beautiful glow) but you can brush (and WHITEN) your teeth with it too! Brighten up that smile, y’all and stimulate those gums.

Head on over to the PAIVA website here and use code MelindaX60 to get 60% off. Yes, you read that right. 60% off. SIXTY. Go, you can thank me later.

So apparently I’ve been face oiling all wrong.

Look, I said in my very first post here that I’m the world’s least qualified beauty blogger. Let’s all keep that in mind, shall we? So, I jumped on board with the face oil to-do last year, and I went about it in my usual way: just randomly guessing what the hell to do. Of course, I realized that maybe I should actually look into how to properly use such a (pricey) beauty item, and every single piece I read said that one should apply serum, then oil, then moisturizer. So I did. And it was fine.

And then I realized that going about it that way was entirely wrong.

I was researching something else entirely last week and one of the articles had a link to another article, regarding the proper application of face oil. Being me, I tossed aside the research I needed to do in favor of going down a rabbit hole of another topic entirely for a good hour plus. Good thing I did. Face oil? It should go on before moisturizer. And the reason why makes alllllll kinds of sense. Most of the moisturizers out there are water-based, whereas your face oils are…well, oil. Obviously. So putting on a water-based anything on TOP of an oil? Pointless.

What’s not pointless? Putting on your oil last, to seal in all of the moisture you’ve just slathered on your face. I gave it some thought and yeah…that made a whole lot of sense. That night (I oil in the morning and at night so the evening was the next opportunity) I reversed my usual plan and I felt the difference right away. Doubly so the next day. My skin tends to dry out by the end of a typical work day, but switching the oil and moisturizer steps kept my face fully soft and smooth through the workday and then dinner and drinks afterwards. I’m even using less moisturizer!

So there ya go, folks. Serum, moisturizer (with SPF protection during the day), then your face oil. Trust me, your skin will thank you.

Oh, and if everyone else knew this already, please at least *politely* mock me in the comments. Thanks.



February 2019 Allure Beauty Box

February 2019 Allure Beauty Box
The Allure Beauty Box hitting out of the park again!

As far as purely makeup centered subscription boxes go, Allure is rapidly becoming my favorite. Last month was seven (7!!!!) full sized delights, and this month is also seven products, four of them full size. I don’t wanna name names, but the company I switched out for this one only sent five…sample sized. So! Let’s concentrate on my sheer, utter joy this month and examine what I received, shall we, lovelies?

The BrowGal Instatint Tinted Brow Gel, $22

True story, my first attempt at pencil/gel/doing something to make my eyebrows stand out on my face as an adult was with The BrowGal. I’m thankful too, because it was so easy and it worked and I didn’t look like a clown. Further explorations with other brow products were not as successful, so I might have thrown in the towel had I tried the others first. This gel has tiny little microfibers in it, so you’re not just penciling your brows on, but adding some subtle depth to them as well. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Like, tomorrow.

Mamonde Flower Lab Essence Mask, $7

Oh, my lovelies. If you follow me on Insta (http://bit.ly/lgsmInsta), then you know my absolute undying obsession …err…LOVE, for sheet masks. I would apply one every damn day if I didn’t think that would be overdoing it and wasn’t worried about spending more on sheet masks than groceries. According to Allure (I love that they include a little mini-magazine every month with information on all of the products), these masks are infused with botanical extracts, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin, so I’ll be nicely moisturized and NOT overly perfumed. Is it the weekend yet????

Model Co. Metallic Eyeshadow Trio in Mykonos, $15

I was a little hesitant when I saw the word “metallic” here and was not reassured when I opened the package – it looked like a disco trio in there. But honestly, these are SO everyday friendly! The colors are a pinkish champagne, burgundy, and brown, and it’s more of a glittery wash (no actual glitter, the world’s worst eye area companion) than a full-on metallic extravaganza. All three colors are super wearable, light, blendable and complementary together. A wonderful workday kick without being over the top.

Moda Metallic Triad Brush, $4.99

Now this is how you tie a box together, people. Metallic eye shadow, gold packaged mascara, and a gold eye shadow shading brush. We are not dealing with amateurs, y’all. Like, seriously, Allure thinks of everything. I don’t even have anything more to add here, this brush was exactly what I needed with that eye shadow and it matches the mascara packaging. SOLD.

Wander Beauty Mile High Club Mascara, $26

I am a firm believer that one can never have too much mascara, as your eyes are meant to flutter, lovelies, flutter. This one does NOT disappoint (y’all know I was too impatient to wait to try this one). It’s ultra black (don’t come at me with your kinda blacks and dark browns and random colors, I do not play with that), and meant to layer and layer and layer. No clumping, no drooping, and so much (not at all god-given) length! The tube itself is super cool, because it’s squeezable (just take the brush out first), so I’ll be able to get every last drop out. Miracle, I’m telling you.

Mamonde Petal Spa Oil to Foam Cleanser, $21

Having to wash my face more than once to get my makeup off is a serious pet peeve of mind. I HAAAAAATTTTE it. So a cleanser that promises to get it all off at once? I’m in. Okay, it’s kind of still a two-step process, but not really. This little miracle worker is an oil, which you apply to your lovely face, then add in some water and it foams up and finishes the job. I can work with that! Just don’t make me go back a second time, please, I am begging you. The hint of delicate rose scent that comes from the damask rose oil is a treat too!

Derma-E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum, $19.99

Ironically, we’re ending with the product that I always start my beauty routine with, a serum. I used to think that serums were just another random product The Industry was selling me that would do no good (world’s least qualified beauty blogger, at your service), but then I actually, you know…tried them. Now, some really don’t make a big difference, but some do, and I am now totally Team Serum. This little wonder is packed full of antioxidants, to keep the free radicals from withering your skin’s collagen and elastin (I cannot believe I just typed that sentence, how far I have come). Not sold on that line? Trust me, this serum is packed full of vitamins C and E, hyaluronic acid, and green tea. Your skin wants it. Let your skin have what it wants. We’ll all be happier for it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am completely and absolutely NOT waiting for the weekend, and slipping into that sheet mask and putting the day behind me. Have a good week lovelies, and don’t forget to check back in a few days for more skincare and beauty rantings.

January 2019 Bless Box

January 2019 Bless Box
Not gonna lie, kinda overwhelmed.

Hello again lovelies! Man, where does the time go? Wasn’t I just here writing about the December Bless Box? And yes…I’m already itching for my February one to arrive (I am spoiled, and impatient, what can I say). Sazan (the creatrix of Bless Box) said this might be her best box yet, and I can’t really argue. There is some great stuff in here! If this is how she’s kicking off the year, I think I’m in for sure PURE AWESOMENESS in 2019! Let’s dive in, shall we? Oh, quick question. Should I add a photo of every product in the box, or just keep the header photo here? Weigh in with a comment below, please!

St. Ives Hydrating Cactus Water and Hibiscus Sheet Mask & Eye Mask $2.25 each

Oh heck yes, a double treat from St. Ives! I am a sucker for face masks, and to get an accompanying eye mask legit is making my day. With the ridiculously dry winter weather right now, I cannot wait to hydrate myself with this set on Sunday (yep, I have a spa day set aside each weekend, fluffy robes and mimosas and all).

Cora Sampler, $9

Products I need, all natural, AND the company gives back to women in need? I can definitely get behind that! Let me get real here: these products are in or around an integral, sensitive body part and I feel a LOT better using all natural products. I don’t want to worry about harsh chemicals right there, okay? And every purchase means a donation of sanitary products and health education to girls and women who need it. Go get you some, y’all.

Colourpop Lux Lipstick, $7

YESSSSSS, Colourpop! The color I received is Hey Mr. DJ, a nice warm pinkish-coral. It’s a super flattering shade that I am going to be rocking on the regular. I actually would have included a picture here, but the tip was a little smooshed when I opened the tube, like they hadn’t twisted the lippie all the way back down before putting the cap on. Luckily, my lip brush will take care of that problem. Super bonus: Lux is made with acai, pomegranate, and jojoba seed oils, so it’s a matte finish that doesn’t make your lips want to dry up and fall off. Win. Win.

Higher Education Skincare Cram Session Vitamin Infused Hydrating Lotion, $33

Wow, that’s a mouthful. I haven’t given this one a try yet, but it claims to be lightweight and super hydrating (y’all know how I am about that hydrating promise). The only drawback I see is that there’s no SPF, so I can only wear this at night unless I pair it with a stand along sunscreen. I hate that. I want SPF in my face lotion, I’m too lazy to double up.

PHYTO Huile Supreme Rich Smoothing Oil, $15

Normally, any hair product that comes in goes straight to my husband, he of the flowing curly locks. Not this time, buddy. It is cold and dry and my hair looks like I’ve just rubbed it with a balloon, no matter what conditioning treatment I use. This hair oil is specifically to smoothe down flyaways, without weighing your hair down. DING DING DING, WE HAVE A WINNAH! He’s not getting this one. Not a chance.

Earthen Skincare InstantPeel Exfoliant, $10

An acid peel in a packet! Except not as harsh (thank heavens). I’ve always been hesitant to go with anything too heavily exfoliating, and certainly had no interest in a chemical peel or dermabrasion. Frankly, I always envisioned my super sensitive skin peeling right off my face (yep, I’m one of those imagine-the-worst types), but I’m going to give this a try. It’s been clinically tested and deemed safe for even the most sensitive skin, so I’m diving in. Check back for a future blog post!

J. R. Watkins Coconut Milk & Honey Body Oil Mist, $8.99

The January Bless Box is just bringing all of the goods needed for this cold, dry weather we’re having right now! This bottle of goodness is full of 99% natural ingredients (yes girl, yes) including sunflower seed and apricot kernel oil . Add in some coconut milk and a bit of honey, and you have hydration that smells almost good enough to …err…drink. I think I’ll pass on the sips and just keep myself smooth and moisturized. Definitely a winner here.

Yu-Be Lip Balm, $5

I have a Yu-Be hand lotion that is so intensely rich and hydrating, I cannot wait to see what this lip balm does. It’s packed full of nothing but good stuff: coconut oil (I’m sensing a theme here), vitamin E, shea butter, camphor, aloe vera, rosemary leaf extract, almond oil, and beeswax . I’ll alternate days with this and the matte Lux lipstick!

Strawsome Glass Straw, $9.95

I jumped on the non-plastic straw bandwagon about three years ago and never looked back, so I have happily welcomed this one in with my current metal straws. This sipper is heat resistant and shatter proof, so I can use without worry (have I mentioned how notoriously clumsy I am?), but the lifetime replacement guarantee has me covered juuuussssst in case.

L.O.V. Cosmetics Best Dressed 12 Hour Long-Wear Eye Pencil (Amethyst), $8.16

Enough with the long names, cosmetic companies. That took me a half an hour to type out. I LOVE L.O.V. cosmetics (no pun intended), they make one of my favorite matte liquid lipsticks (courtesy of Bless Box a few months back), so I’m sure this eyeliner is going to be just as rockin’. Alas, I do not wear anything but black eyeliner, so I will be gifting this to a friend who will love it and wear the heck out of it. Bless Box is a winner for everyone this month.

Nelson J. Argan Oil 7 Moisturizer Healing Hair Mask, $9

Oh my gosh you guys, this stuff smells SO GOOD. It’s coconut goodness AND it will protect your hair from frizziness, split ends, even pool chlorine. I passed along a bottle of this to a friend this summer (this is one of the 2018 favorites that was included in the box this month) and my husband snatched THIS bottle out of my hand and said it’s not leaving the house this time. I suppose that’s fair, considering I hijacked him for the PHYTO oil.

EDEN Body Works Coconut Shea Butter Lotion, $8.99

And the final product (another 2018 favorite) is this travel size bottle of coconut deliciousness (hydration and coconuts, who doesn’t love a theme that good). Perfect timing on this, as I ran out of my favorite lotion literally 2 days after my January box was delivered. Bless Box is saving the day yet again. This lotion is enriched with shea butter and vitamin E, but is really lightweight for days when you don’t need something super rich. Or when you need a little extra moisturizer midday. No complaints here!

I can honestly say that my January box did not disappoint. Everything in here is perfect for this season and I have already put it to use or gifted it to someone who has. $129 worth of winter weather beauty and pick me ups (I’m telling you, I’m rocking that Colourpop Lux nonstop) is DEFINITELY worth the monthly subscription price!


The product that got me to toss out my foundation

Pur-lisse Perfect Glow BB Cream
Your super pricey foundation can kick rocks. My Pur-lisse is here to stay.

Ah, foundation. That which we are convinced we need to build our face upon, should we wish to leave the house. I’ve tried the gamut, from drugstore brands to high-end potions that ate up half up of my grocery budget (I ran across one today that cost $149 – must be a plastic surgery miracle in a jar). I had more success with the pricier versions, but even still, I never found The One that seemed to really work for me. Some were just too thick, others didn’t match my skin tone no matter what I did or what shade I selected, and inevitably, no matter what brand, what price, how much exfoliating and moisturizing I did, the makeup on my chin would start drying and cracking by the end of the workday.

It sucked.

I tried BB and CC creams too, but those never gave me the right coverage, and again I had that skin tone issue. There was one I had, pricey, that gave me almost the right amount of coverage but made my skin look just kinda…plasticy (that’s not even a word, but it’s true…I looked plasticy). And then lo, an Ipsy bag came to the house with a sample of Pur-lisse BB Cream in it. I shrugged and set it aside to try the next morning. OH THANK HEAVENS FOR THAT SAMPLE. I loved it! Before I was even halfway through the sample, I had thrown out my foundation (I had 3 different bottles at that moment in time) and ordered a full-size tube from Pur-lisse. Two years later, I have never looked back.

What makes this product a winner for me is the ability to use as little or much as I need, it layers just beautifully. Even on the days I feel I need to spackle my face to look presentable (not too often these days, since I found some winning products that really deliver on the beautiful skin promises, but still, we all have Those Days), this stuff never cakes up. Sheer or full coverage, you are covered. And my super picky, fussy, dry skin? Never a cracked, peeling moment with Perfect Glow. I still can’t believe my luck with that – I have NEVER had a product that didn’t dry me out before. The finish is matte, but with just a little dewiness to it. Basically, it looks like your own natural, healthy skin. But better.

My only complaint is the selection of shades. There are 8 shades to choose from, which…isn’t enough. I have my match, which makes my life easy, but that’s just me. The selection is definitely skewed more towards the pale. Perhaps the layerability (yeah, I know that’s not a word either) means you can deepen the shades as needed? I doubt that is going to cover all of the dark-skinned beauties out there. We all deserve a product this good, so I’m hoping more options are coming. Once you see your color match, snatch it. Your face will thank you.

Worth it? YES.

January 2019 Allure Beauty Box

January 2019 Allure Beauty Box
A brand new box of (full size!!!!) bliss.

Ah, a new beauty box to explore! After being an Ipsy subscriber for several years, I realized that everything in the last 3 bags I received, I passed along to another person. Everything. For three months. That’s 15 products that I didn’t want, y’all. So I decided to take a look around at what else the beauty subscription world had to offer. After 2 weeks of pros and cons and researching other people’s reviews (no joke, I take this stuff VERY seriously), I decided the Allure Beauty Box was the one to try next. I put the Ipsy subscription on pause for 3 months and signed up for Allure, just in time to snag their January edition. I’m glad I did too, because WOW did this box impress me! Let’s dive in, shall we?

Doucce Relentless Matte Lip Crayon in Winterberry, $22

Oh I love this color. Love, love, love. Not to be too on the nose about it, but this is the perfect berry shade for winter. I’m also a big fan of matte lippies, so double plus bonus on that. Allure includes a little magazine with the box (on the right in my picture above) that features information about each product and tips on wearability. If you don’t want to go full throttle deep color, they suggest dabbing some color onto the middle of your lips, the fanning out to the edges, for more of a lip-stain look. I can’t wait to try this!

Amika Soulfood Nourishing Mask, $28

I’ll report back on this one, after my husband tries it. He has the gorgeous mane in this house, I have “back away from the intense hydration” thin hair, so a deep conditioning hair mask is going straight to him.

Oaui Scalp & Body Scrub, $38

Oooh, I cannot wait to give this a try. I am all about multitasking products that actually work and do not strip your hair and skin and leave you crying and wondering what you did in a past life to deserve such torment (…I may have had a bad experience or two). The magazine tips state to rinse your scalp SUPER well after using this, but that it is glorious on the scalp or body. I’ma bust this out in the shower tonight! Oh, it smells absolutely floral and heavenly, too.

Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum, $85

A full-size bottle of a Sunday Riley product? Have I died and gone to heaven? I may have done a happy dance, y’all. I am chomping at the bit to try this, but I am currently using another retinoid based product and I am not going to toss that to start this one. Especially since that other one is ALSO Sunday Riley and there’s no way I’m giving up a full bottle (and my skin is too sensitive for too much fine line easing goodness, so I gotta take it slow). This beauty will be on the back shelf for now, but not forgotten.

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow Face Oil, $80

TWO full-size Sunday Riley products?!?!?!? Yep. I’m dead. Dead. Blogging from the other side. This one is a Vitamin C and turmeric based oil, designed to brighten and hydrate. It’s pretty much tailor made for saving your winter face. BRB, slathering myself from head to toe.

Mally Shadow Stick Extra in Burned Bronze, $25

I think shadow sticks are the greatest thing since sliced bread. My talents lie in the skincare realm, not in the makeup realm, so anything that makes painting my face easier is a winner to me, and I find the sticks soooo much easier to use than powders and brushes. Is it just me? Weigh in with your thoughts on this, please. Anyway, it’s a nice, not overly red, bronze and can go on as light or as sultry as you please. This one is going in my regular rotation.

NCLA Nail Polish in Call My Agent, $18

Man, this box just hit all the right spots for me. NCLA is one of my current obsessions, I absolutely ADORE their nail polish. The polishes are high shine, long-wearing, dry quickly, are vegan and cruelty-free AAAANNNND are 7-free (none of the nasty stuff you don’t want anywhere near you). This particular shade is a bright, deep pink and I feel like Barbie when I wear it. WINNER!

The January box was a dream, and I cannot wait to see what the February box brings. If they keep this up, they have a customer for life. WORTH IT (so far): YES!

Sunday Face Saver

Pur-lisse Blue Lotus Balancing Moisturizer
My go-to for no make-up, no sun, days at home.

Yep, I have a moisturizer specifically for one day of the week. Usually, that day is Sunday, although if I play it right, I throw in the occasional Wednesday or Thursday as well. Why the day specific routine, you ask? Well, pull up a chair and I’ll break it all down for you!

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice a trend. Most Sundays, I post about skincare. Okay, wait, yes, I know, I post about that on most days. Stop with the details and logic, y’all. To clarify, on most Sundays, I post about my Sunday Spa Day. This is the morning set aside to spend quiet time with a face mask, cucumbers on the eyes, body butter on thick, etc. After the mask comes off, I don’t want to put something too light or too heavy on my skin. Enter, Pur-lisse Blue Lotus Balancing Moisturizer. The uniqueness of this product is right there in the name. Super moisturizing mask? This works great for just a light touch. Got a mask that left you feeling a little dry? This works to get your skin where you need it (and also what the hell, face mask, dry is not my forte).

Since there’s no SPF protection (and I am far too lazy to buy a separate product just for that purpose), Blue Lotus is perfect for days I’m shunning the sun and practicing for my future life as a shut-in. And honestly, if I’m not going out in the sun, I prefer to leave that extra layer of chemicals off of my skin (don’t @ me, y’all, I wear SPF products even if I’m only dashing out to grab a latte then scuttle back home). What IS in Blue Lotus? Good stuff. Lemon peel oil, orange oil, bergamot oil (and more) to soothe and moisturize, lupine peptides to smooth the texture of your skin, and blue lotus flower to boost radiance. Oh yeah, and it’s cruelty-free. What’s not to love?

Worth it? YES.

I’ve turned into an $100 face oil person.

Look, I’m going to be honest with you. For most of my life, I have been a bit…stingy in the makeup and skincare department. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, so everything that went on my face came from the drugstore. And there are a lot of good products to be found in the drug store aisles (my Maybelline mascara outperforms my Bobbi Brown mascara any day of the week). It’s only in the past few years that I have ventured into the higher priced products available, some with greater success than others. After a lifetime of less expensive goods though, I still cringe a bit when I fork over $45 for a product (heck, I cringe when it’s $15, depending on what I buy). So to think I would ever have ANYTHING that costs $100 a bottle (okay, let’s be precise, $105 here) in my nightly ritual …yeah right! *sigh* Enter Sunday Riley.

Fancy blue oil I put on my face at night (it smells like geraniums)

Admittedly, the idea of putting *oil* on my face was a bit foreign to me. While this is certainly not a new trend, I didn’t really think to try it. Given my super dry skin, I’m not sure WHY I didn’t didn’t think to try it, but nevertheless, I didn’t. I received a set of samples from a skincare company, one of which was a delightful little bottle of face oil (I’ll blog about that one another time) and oh my…I loved it! So I did what any reasonable person would do and started obsessively googling face oils and who was the best and what did everyone use and I kept seeing one in particular pop up, Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil. And I looked at that $105 price tag and kept on googling. But I was so curious! It was blue for heaven’s sake! How cool is that?!?!? But I still didn’t bite.

And then…it arrived. I opened up my P.O. Box and found the Box of Style winter edition and behold, there was Luna! The intriguing, freaking expensive, blue face oil! Full size even!

I was afraid to try it. What if I liked it?

I was correct to be afraid. Because damn…I like it. I love it.

Luna is a retinol oil and it reduces the appearance of redness, pores, fine lines while making skin looks moister and plumper. Basically, it’s a good night’s sleep and mild facelift in a bottle. I’m not struggling to hold on to my youth, don’t get me wrong. I just want to look and feel good in my skin, and I look better in the mornings now. My skin tone is more even, it’s awesome. I never really understood what “plumper looking skin” meant”, but I see it now. I look more rested, less tired, my skin isn’t as dry. I’m not even using as much moisturizer overall (although I still slather on my SPF one in the morning, because the sun ain’t my friend, y’all). Heck, I think I’m even sleeping better. That might just be me attributing my nightly yoga results to the chamomile in Luna though. MAYBE.

Bottom line, I have become a face oil person. I have become a fancy, expensive face oil person. And there’s no way I’m going back, stingy ways be damned. Worth it? YES.