Friday, August 13, 2010

[Shopaholic] Sephora Sucker

I'll be the first to admit I'm a bit clueless when it comes to the plethora of beauty products out there.  Up until about a year ago, Sephora could easily induce a panic attack if I stayed in the store longer for the 5 minutes to grab my "essential" items and immediately head to the check out counter.... possibly less time had I been approached by a sales assistant....

Since my mom is a make up artist, for years longer than I should admit, I would solely rely on the hoard of samples, extras, and bonus packs she would bestow upon me.  Thus, creating a monster that did not like paying good money for the good cosmetics and skincare (hello, Chanel!) she became accustomed to finding in her stocking every Christmas morning...

I finally 'gave in' a few months before my wedding.  I had wanted real make up for my wedding day look and decided at a ripe age of 26 I should take my skincare (make up included) routine a bit more seriously as I start to notice more fine lines, darker circles, and, sadly, sun damage (being a beach baby has some consequences...).  The hand me downs of freebies from 'Special Gift with Purchase', just weren't cutting it anymore.

Now, that's its been about a year or so... I can finally say I no longer switch to the other side of the mall when passing Sephora.  I'm still far from the MACophiles or beauty gurus out there who shop for make up like I shop for coffee and oreos - in large quantities and often.  However, I've tried a handful of products on my own over the last year and thought I'd share some of my routine favorites.


Another line introduced to me by my Mama, Philosophy.  I know some of their items can be hit or miss, but a few have become tried and true for me and I see no need for substitutions.

I started with this value set....
Philosophy Make Up Optional Set for Dry Skin - Sephora $78

While I don't have anything good to say about Hope in a Tube (eye and lip cream), I became a big fan of the rest of the products.  I've since stopped buying the Hope in a Jar moisturizer because while I like it, I don't find it to be worth its price when compared to similar Olay moisturizers I can grab from Target. 

The Purity facewash is my big winner, it's gentle and pairs great with my Clarisonic. Finally, the When Hope is Not Enough serum has become part of the routine.  I honestly can't say I see any difference from the product, but I like the way it feels and according to my Mom, I should be using a serum... so I picked this one :)

**Also, if you are interested in the Hope in a Jar moisturizer, stick to the non-spf and wear another form of sun protection.  The Hope in a Jar with SPF, has a tendency to separate into moisturizer and oil.  I'm sure you can "re-mix" it, but it's kind of gross.  I never had that problem with the Hope in a Jar for Dry Skin or the Original formula.**

Next up, my Clarisonic...
Clarisonic - Sephora $195
(mine is white, obv, I'm allergic to pink)

There are tons of rave reviews for this tool all over the internet, so this one will be short. 

Do you need it? No. Will you love it if you have it?  Probably. 

I use it almost every night with my Purity facewash.  My biggest thing to note, they recommend switching the brush around 3-4 months, depending on usage.  I used the same brush nightly for close to 6 months (oops), when I finally got a replacement the transformation in my skin was insane.  I DEFINITELY will never go that long again.  I couldn't get over the difference changing the brush made....  so if anyone has given up on theirs, try getting a new brush you may be pleasantly surprised!

Also, keep your eyes peeled for discounts and coupon codes offered by (normally 20%) or the actual Clarisonic website.  I believe once a year Sephora and Ulta won't exclude it from sales/discounts, but be sure to read the fine print.  No need to pay full price.

Moving on to beauty products....

The Holy Grail of primers... Smashbox Photo Finish
Smashbox Photo Finish Primer - Sephora $16

For reference, I've also tried samples of Nars and Sephora's brand name primers. Overall, I feel that Smashbox leaves my skin feeling smooth and flawless, not oily, and holds my make up in place through the day especially in the gross NE humidity. 

Concealer (and Corrector)
Laura Mercier Secret Undercover Pot - Sephora $34
(I wear Level 2)

I LOVE this Laura Mercier Undercover Pot... it's her famed Secret Camouflage corrector/concealer combo with a translucent powder attached.  It rocks at hiding dark circles and the concealer's consistency, while a bit 'sticky', stays in place.  I find a lot of concealers can be a bit 'oily' and stray/disappear after a few hours.  This product has reached HG status for me.

Smashbox Halo Powder
Smashbox Halo Hydrating Perfecting Powder and Brush Set - Sephora $59 
(I wear 'Light')

I don't wear foundation.  Maybe it's because I grew up a tomboy with an aversion to anything other than some concealer and mascara, but I'm just not a fan of liquid foundations.  I know there are plenty on the market that aren't "heavy", or "thick", or "cakey" etc... but I just don't care to wear it.  The time, the money... who knows, maybe in a few more years... but to date I'm foundation free.

So instead I wear this powder.  It's similar to Bare Minerals, in that its a loose powder that you apply with a kabuki brush.  Smashbox totes that Halo "delivers powerful anti-aging benefits while the patented hydration system continuously revitalizes skin and provides a hydrated look that won't accentuate lines and wrinkles."  I just think it makes my skin look even, smooths fine lines, and it doesn't look like I'm wearing make up - which is my main concern.

Smashbox 'Halo' Eyeshadow Duo  – Nordstrom $36

When getting dressed up I use different e/s palettes, but this is my day-to-day eyeshadow that doesn't look like eye shadow.  Again, I'm not a product junkie and I prefer to look as natural or bare faced as possible during the work day.  This shadow has the same technology as the Perfecting Powder, where it smooths fine lines and wrinkles.  I wear the Almond/Bisque Duo with Bisque on my lid and Almond above up to my brow bone.

Smashbox Jet Set Waterproof Eye Liner – Sephora $22
(I wear Dark Brown)

After years and years of wearing Clinique quickliners and pencils and subsequently having smudge off and raccoon eyes by the end of the day, I've converted to waterproof gel liners.... while I'm currently wearing the Smashbox Jet Set Gel Liner above, it's meh.  It's definitely not bad, but next time I'm going to grab a Bobbi Brown gel liner as I hear through the grapevine they are the BEST. 

FYI:  I use THIS brush to apply in a "tightlining method".

Anastasia Brow Powder Duo  – Sephora $22
(I use 'Medium Ash')

Who knew this step was SO important! Having eyebrows that are a shade or two lighter than my natural hair color, filling them in has become essential in making my face look "complete".  When I first started my OOTD shots with my usual "bare face" look... it looked just that - bare.  Like something was missing.  I'm finding out now I could use some colored lip gloss... but this transformation takes time, readers... time.

Point is, I love this eyebrow powder and this cheapie brush is perfect for application.

Whew, that's a lot of products and I use a handful more, but those are my "cannot live withouts" at the moment...

I have yet to find a HG mascara, lipgloss, blush, and/or bronzer.  Whatever I buy I try to use never having major complaints, but also never being so thrilled to remain loyal and buy the same thing again.

Anyone else out there find shopping for make up overwhelming and a bit of a chore?  Or are you Makeup Obsessed?

** Don't forget when shopping Sephora to use EBATES!... they routinely offer 8% Cash Back and shipping is free on purchases >$50!**


  1. I have to say, I'm the complete opposite, I'm a total product whore. I have massive amounts of makeup, skincare products, brushes, tools, you name it.

    A while back someone turned me on to a skincare and cosmetics company called Arbonne and I have been H O O K E D ever since. I was always a product loyal to Mac and Smashbox, wandering off here and there to Bobbi Brown but rarely ever using drugstore brands. I eventually took the plunge to drugstore brands and while I liked the prices the performance couldn't compare.

    Like I said, I've been hooked on Arbonne for a couple years now and while I still use a few staple department store products...I stick tried and true to Arbonne. Their primer, for one, is better than feels like velvet and works amazingly. Their anti-aging line is out of this world and their salt scrub (exfoliator) is ah-mazing. I could go on and on about my fav products

  2. Thanks for this! I like reading other peoples' product recommendations, as I think there's always room for improvement when it comes to my skincare and makeup routine. I'm somewhere in the middle between product junkie and minimalist. I own a LOT of beauty products, but I don't buy the latest trends or collections. I read up on the products I'm thinking about purchasing and, if possible, sample them first. As I've gotten older, I've grown out of the obsessive MAC phase that I was in all through college and my early 20s, and now, I just stick to the brands that I love and that I know deliver: Bare Escentuals, Tarte, Benefit, and Smashbox are probably my favorites. Like you, I prefer to look natural and unmade-up.

    I couldn't live without my Clarisonic! And I sooo agree about the brush heads. Changing them on a regular basis makes a huge, huge difference!

  3. Hey you! I decided to head over this way in case you wouldn't see a response on my blog- the BR skinnies are in a petite inseam! Love them, love them, highly recommend them.

    This is a great post- Sephora always makes a sucker outta me. I'm definitely not a make-up junkie (I always marvel at the blogs where they name the numbered brushes from MAC- I just recently bought a brush set after years of using the same eyeshadow brush for everything!) but I'm a sucker for something fun/new. The disappointing thing about Sephora is that no matter how much $$$ you spend, the bag you walk out with is usually teeny, teeny, teeny tiny. *sighs*

  4. great post! i too love the anastasia brow powder- makes such a huge difference!

  5. Kristen - thanks, I'll have to look into that brand when I start running low! Thanks for the rec.

    Em - Glad you liked the post, I'm the same way... love real life reviews! Too funny about your "MAC" phase :)

    Chloe - Thanks again for the BR update :) And so true about the teensy bag, ha!

    V - most unrated product ever! After Andi eyebrow post (and seeing the difference in my wedding pics) I was a browbeliever :)

  6. Hi Ladies;

    Mama this post but would like to add a few things for all of you out there....

    The "Hope In a Tube" is great for older skin, like your mom's I would imagine ;)) I like the tightening, I can feel it and it is not greasy so my mascara does not run under my eyes....

    Yes to Bobbie Brown gel-liner, and YES YES to brows, they frame your eyes and bring out those gorgeous eyes!

    Another great concealer is MakeUp Forever...stays put and covers well.

    For those of you who are interested the Philosophy Hope in a Jar with the SPF, it now comes in a New Formula that does not separate!

    Also love Smashbox shadows and primers and the Shadow Primer is a win too. Keeps shadow from creasing and stays all day.

    One more product...L'Oreal Lash Serum...WORKS!! And I am no spring chick!!

    Happy Weekend

  7. Thanks for your input Mom :) I don't think the Hope in a Tube is bad, it just doesnt appear to do much... I had a sample of a Dior Eye Cream that I loved, but haven't bit the $50 bullet to buy it in full size (which is super small, grr)...

    That's interesting about the new Hope in a Jar Spf.. I was so sad when mine got gross... maybe you can prove me wrong with spf value set in my stocking (tehehe... KIDDING!)

    I hear the Urban Decay Shadow Primer is tops, I've used samples but never felt the need to buy it since I don't really "do my eyes" other than liner and mascara...

  8. I have a Sephora problem. It's documented. I can't stop myself when I drop in there...


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