Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top 10 of 2017 | Year in Review

Well, anyone who's bothered to stick around with me for 2017 knows that this definitely wasn't my year for blogging. Guys.... mommin' ain't easy. And it's not really mommin' that's tough, but when I get time to sit down and have an hour to myself, the last thing I want to do after working all day, or cooking dinner, or running errands, is prop open my computer. I want to pick up a book or catch up on a TV show. But believe me when I say my brain is hopping with blog ideas, and I'd like to get back in the swing in 2018, but I know better than to make any firm promises. All I can really say is to follow me on Instagram for beauty stories, photos, quick reviews, life stuff etc. because that's the more feasible, less time-consuming option these days.

Despite my miserable attempt at maintaining this blog, I have been pondering over my 2017 favorites for quite some time now, and thanks to a handy dandy fancy new lightbox from my husband for Christmas (bear with me... I'm still learning the best ways to use it!), I was able to take photos at a weird time in my dark house and get this post out to you!

I'm really excited to share these ten products because they've honestly been game changers for me. Some of these things I've loved longer than this year, but my true devotion was cemented within 2017, and some of these things are new to me completely. I hope you enjoy this post and find some new products to love, too - and please share with me what YOU loved this year in the comments below... starting tomorrow I'm taking recommendations for potential 2018 favorites. 

In no particular order, here are my top 10 of 2017...

  • It Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination - Based on a recommendation from one of Thataylaa's videos, I gave this powder foundation a shot and it has rocked my world. I don't use it as my primary foundation, but I use it to set my foundation everywhere but my under eyes and my forehead (it cakes under my eyes and makes my forehead look greasy). It has a very, very subtle radiant glow and it adds a bit of coverage, but most importantly it makes my skin look flawless. Now, this product will set you back a bit, ringing in at $35 for 0.3 oz, but if you use it as I do, you'll get months of use out of it. I have yet to hit pan on my first compact and I've been using it for over five months. This is now a staple in my beauty routine and I don't see that changing any time soon.
  • Pixi Beauty Bronzer in Subtly Suntouched - I've loved this bronzer for quite some time now (you may recall seeing it here in the past) but it's become my number one favorite this past year. I use it almost every single day and it's absolutely perfect for a subtle contour or glow. It provides a delicate radiance without being shimmery or glittery, which gives a healthy-looking glow and makes me appear less "my kid is zapping all my energy" zombie-tired-looking. I think this is a fantastic bronzer, especially if you're as fair-skinned as I am, and an added bonus is that you can easily pick it up at Target.
  • Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara - I haven't talked much about this, but it has shown up in some empties posts this past year. I'll admit, this is not a necessary product, but I adore it and won't be without it. If you're one of those unlucky few whose mascara smudges all over your undereye, you need this product. It doesn't smudge, flake, smear, or wear away. The brush is also really tiny so it's easy to apply. One tube costs $11 and it lasts me at least 3 months, and despite that it's not 100% necessary, I'll still keep buying it because I love it.
  • Reviva Labs Eye Gelee Concentrate - Forever I am looking for a miracle for the fine lines that accentuate my blah undereye area. This is, by no means, a miracle, but it definitely helps keep that delicate area hydrated and more plump. I use this underneath an eye cream and I've seen a noticeable difference.  It's darn cheap, so if you struggle with dry, lined undereyes, it's worth giving this a try.
  • Origins High Potency Night-a-Mins - I'm a habitual "trier". I skip around from one thing to the next in my skincare because I like to try new things and I'm always hunting for the next best thing. This night cream stuck out to me, though, and is something I want to use again and again. It's so luxurious, and it literally melts in to your skin for a burst of hydration and a remedy for uneven texture and dullness. I will definitely work my way through more jars of this stuff in 2018.
  • Nature's Bees lip balm - Those of you that know me, know I love my lip balms and lip sticks, so you know it's serious when I say I would gladly throw out every chapstick I own and only use this for the rest of my life. It is perfection. It has a lightly cooling minty flavor (and smell), it actually hydrates my lips, and I can actually feel it healing my lips when they're chapped or dry. The only place I've ever seen this in stores is at Big Lots, but I did find them online and you better believe a bulk order is happening soon.
  • Dr. Tung's Smart Floss - Is it weird to include a floss in my yearly favorites? Well, I don't care what your answer is, because this stuff is amazing and oral health is part of beauty in my book. This floss gently puffs up as you work your way through, getting any yucky stuff trapped between your teeth or in your gums out. Simply put, it's fantastic. Make your New Year's resolution to floss more, and pick this up on Amazon or a local natural health retailer. 
  • Elizabeth and James Nirvana White - At this point, I've used this fragrance for years. I've even written about it here before. But when I think back on my most-loved fragrances of the year, this one comes to mind. I used it frequently, sometimes alone, sometimes mixed with other Nirvana iterations, and I never once got sick of it. I'm not excellent at describing fragrances, but I'd say this is a preppy, musky, floral scent. It's great for summertime, but I wear it year round because I love it that much. You can find this at Sephora in a variety of sizes (and price points). 
  • The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% - I think 2017 was the year for The Ordinary. Word slowly crept around that you could get quality skincare (serums, toners, moisturizers, etc.) for a fraction of what you'd normally pay, and boom - suddenly The Ordinary was on the map. I hopped on the bandwagon, too, ordering a few products without expecting too much. I ended up falling in love with this Niacinamide and Zinc serum. With just one use, it visibly reduced the appearance of blemishes on my skin. I've been using it daily for a couple months now and swear by it. I've got backups in my stash for when this bottle runs out and I'm not afraid to use them! You can order this from the Deciem website, but The Ordinary recently became available online on, too.
  • Milk Makeup Blur Liquid Matte Foundation - I don't recall exactly where I heard about this, but when the Sephora VIB sale rolled around, this was on my list to try. It's a bit pricey, a whopping $40 for a foundation, but holy buckets, you guys... this is one of the best high-end foundations I've tried. It makes my skin look smooth and flawless and it lasts all day long. I kind of can't believe how good my skin looks even at 5 PM when I've been wearing it for a nearly 12 hours. If you're a dry or normal-skinned gal, don't let the "matte" in the name scare you; my skin is normal to combo and it looks just the right amount of dewy when wearing this foundation. Even though it hurts my wallet to say it, I always want to have a bottle of this in my drawer. 

And that's a wrap on my 2017 favorites. I look forward to more beauty fun in 2018 and hope you'll stay with me for the ride! Let me know if you've tried any of these products in the comments below, or if you have any recommendations, share those with me as well!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Empties | #41

I thought I'd just recently done an empties post, but I peeked in my bin to throw something out, and lo and behold it was plum full and it's been a month! Somehow it filled up rather quickly, and it's that time once again. Without further ado... my empties for you, with mini reviews and purchase recommendations for your reading pleasure.

  • Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream (would repurchase) - I used this extra-potent moisturizing cream on my hands at night because it is rather thick and greasy. It always made my hands feel brand new, especially during the cold and dry winter months. See full review here.
  • Covergirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 foundation (would repurchase) - I've talked this to death. It's my holy grail foundation and I've never found anything quite like it. I've always got a bottle or two on back up for when I run out. This is probably my 20th bottle, and it won't be my last. 
  • LaVanila Vanilla Passion Fruit deodorant (would repurchase) - LaVanila is my favorite natural deodorant brand. I enjoyed the scent of this and would certainly get it again. 
  • Korres Hand Cream in Bergamot Pear - This was a nice hand cream. It smelled fruity and moisturized nicely. 
  • Ken Paves Volumizing Shampoo (would purchase) - I really enjoyed this sample. It felt luxurious, and was reminiscent of Aveda shampoo and conditioners that I've used in the past. I'd definitely get this in the future.
  • Kiehl's Daily Reviving Concentrate (would not purchase) - I wasn't a big fan of this face oil. It sat on top of my face and didn't do a lot.
  • Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturizing Cream (would purchase) - This was a nice, basic moisturizer. It felt good on my skin, didn't have much of a smell, and didn't break me out. I believe this is ridiculously expensive, but I'd consider it in the future.
  • Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam (would repurchase) - This is one foamy cleanser. It foams up like crazy but it left my skin feeling clean and refreshed. 
  • Nubian Heritage Abyssinian Oil & Chia Seed Body Cleansing Smoothie (would repurchase) - This was great. It doesn't foam up, it feels more like a light lotion. It smells amazing and it lingers. It's not super hydrating, but I could skip lotion and my skin wouldn't be completely desert-like. I haven't seen these around, but I picked this up at TJ Maxx and I'd definitely pick up more if I saw them again.
  • Suave Smoothing lotion (would not repurchase) - The only good thing about this is the nice, light smell. It wasn't very hydrating and felt like it just sat on top of my skin.
  • Tarte Lights Camera Lashes mascara (would not repurchase) - I know these samples are pretty inconsistent, unfortunately, and this one was awful. It was so dry and flaky I could hardly use it. I used it a couple times and then threw it away.
  • Kat Von D Tattoo Liner (would not repurchase) - I'm one of the few people who is not gaga for the Kat Von D tattoo liners. This is a brush-tip liner that dries to a satin finish. It's not that it's bad, I just think there are better liners for cheaper.
  • Milani Clear Brow Shaping Gel (would repurchase) - I've purchased this brow gel time and time again. This particular gel is clear so it's perfect if you just need to control the brows you have, or want to lock your brow powder in place. 
  • Clinique Bottom Lash mascara (would repurchase) - I'd totally get it if you told me I was crazy for buying a mascara solely for my bottom lashes, but I SWEAR by this stuff. It won't flake all over your face, and the small brush makes it easy to apply without smudging it everywhere. This is a new holy grail product of mine.
  • Lancome Hypnose Drama mascara (would repurchase) - I really enjoyed this mascara. It gave me volume and length and didn't flake all over my face.
  • Hask Charcoal Purifying Shampoo (would repurchase) - I really like Hask shampoos and conditioners. They've sent me a variety of different ones to try, and this Charcoal line is one of my favorites, mostly because it smells heavenly. Full review here.
  • Brandless Mouthwash (would not repurchase) - Brandless is a super cool website where everything is $3 because they aren't making you pay for the brand. I tried a variety of kitchen products and I also grabbed the mouthwash. Unfortunately I wasn't a fan of this in the least. It tasted weird and made my teeth feel chalky.
  • First Aid Beauty Blemish Patrol Pads (would repurchase) - I liked these. They didn't completely keep my skin under control, but they helped shorten the time of my break outs and they felt nice on my skin. 
  • Befine Night Cream (would not repurchase) - I wasn't a fan of this night cream. It smelled nice, kind of like cocoa, but I think it contributed to breakouts on my skin and it wasn't moisturizing enough for my taste.
  • Pur-lisse Gentle Soy Milk Cleanser (would repurchase) - This cleanser is very gentle, and I'd definitely recommend it if you have sensitive skin. I really liked it and would definitely consider buying a full-size bottle.
  • Acure Facial Toner (would repurchase) - I like the packaging of this toner. The top is a spray nozzle, but it looks like it's more of a lotion bottle. This toner is gentle and the ingredients are great.
  • Swisspers Cotton Rounds (would repurchase) - Surprise, surprise. I always have a tube of these in my empties. I love these for applying toner, removing eye makeup, cleaning brushes, taking off my nail polish, etc.
  • Organyc Cotton Rounds (would repurchase) - I ordered these off of Vitacost just to try out an organic cotton round, and I liked them. They're not as great of a price as the Swisspers, but I'd consider ordering them now and then. 
  • Elizabeth & James Nirvana White perfume (would repurchase) - I adore this perfume. It smells wonderful and reminds me of really great memories. I've already purchased a full size bottle to replace this. Full review here
  • Hillary Duff With Love perfume (would repurchase) - I liked this much more than I thought I would. It's warm with notes of amber, but also has a strong "tropical" note. It's not coconut-y but, just has this added note that lightens the amber, woodsy-ness. I liked it! 
  • Clinique Moisture Surge moisturizer (would repurchase) - If you have really dry skin, this isn't going to be for you. It's a good base for us normal skin type folks. I used this during the day because I prefer a heavier night cream to do the dirty moisturizing work.
  • Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer (would repurchase) - This was a good day time moisturizer. It has added SPF so you can protect your skin from UV rays. It's lightly fragranced and a little oily, but it was fine. Nothing to write home about.
  • Neutrogena Healthy Skin Boosters Facial Cleanser (would not repurchase) - I wasn't a big fan of this cleanser. It didn't feel like it did much.
  • Caudalie Eye Lifting Balm (would not purchase) - This didn't do much for my undereyes. I'm very particular with my eye creams because I need extra oomph with the fine lines I have, and this didn't do it for me. It's quite pricey, too, so I wouldn't shell out for this. If it worked a miracle, I'd spend the money.
  • L'Occitane Shea Hand Cream (would not repurchase) - The smell of this is a bit "old-lady" like and it doesn't soothe the cracks in my knuckles that the Minnesota winter burdens me with. It's also quite greasy. It's not worth the money.
  • Nivea A Kiss of Recovery lip balm (would repurchase) - Maybe it's weird, but I adore medicated lip balms. They feel minty and that makes me think it's working, even if it's just a psychological thing. This really did treat my dry lips and get rid of dead skin.
  • Chapstick Green Tea Mint lip balm (would not repurchase) - I did not care for this. It felt like it was making my lips more chapped than they were and I wasn't crazy about the scent.
  • Smashbox Photo Finish primer (would repurchase) - I honestly can't tell if this contributes to break outs a little but I like the way it makes my skin look (smooth and poreless), so I used this up and I'd consider purchasing it.
  • Spongeables Pedi-Scrub Foot Buffer (would repurchase) - Every summer, I love having one of these in my shower. I go for a lot of walks and my wearing sandals 24/7 means I want my feet to be clean and exfoliated. These work great and last me all summer long.
  • Cutex Advanced Revival Nail Polish Remover Pads (would repurchase) - I snagged these at the Dollar Tree, and I actually really liked using them. The pads are really durable cotton or wool and one pad gets all 10 of my nails polish-free. 
  • Crest Be Inspired toothpaste in Vanilla Mint Spark (would not repurchase) - Typically, I'm all about anything vanilla mint flavored. This was a miss, though. It didn't make my mouth feel clean and I learned that perhaps vanilla mint is not a good toothpaste flavor.
  • Listerine Mint Floss (would not repurchase) - This used to be my holy grail floss. It's braided so it's thicker and gets more gunk out of my gums. But I found a new love and this has taken the back seat with no repurchasing in the foreseeable future. 
  • B&BW Cheers Mulled Wine candle (would not repurchase) - This is a candle from a couple years ago. It's very fruity and it made my whole house smell nice. It's not my favorite scent to have burning, and I'm done buying candles that aren't soy so I wouldn't get this again.
  • B&BW Cranberry Pumpkin candle (would repurchase) - So, I still wouldn't buy B&BW candles in the future, but if you love them you need to pick this scent up. It's scrumptious and smells like the holidays. I adored it.
  • DW Candles Honey Pumpkin candle (would not repurchase) - This was fine, very sweet, but nothing to go crazy over. It's also not soy, unfortunately.
  • Trader Joe's Vanilla Pumpkin candle (would repurchase) - I LOVE that Trader Joe's is releasing soy candles around the holidays. I think the packaging is adorable, and this scent was nice (quite sweet), too. 
  • Yankee Candle Lake Sunset candle (would repurchase) - Another non-soy candle, but it smelled amazing. Something about the smell really made me think of being at a cabin in the summer time. Such a good, nostalgic smell. 

And that's it! Have you tried any of these products? Let me know in the comments!
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