Look what I found in the drugstore! Plus Walmart Beauty Box

So I was just taking another route from the office to the subway station and my eyes were caught by a lovely display of Wet n’ Wild products through a window of an otherwise so normal Duane Reade and I stepped in naturally. For someone who lives on the East coast, you understand my delightful surprise feeling, right?

And when I was in the beauty section of the store, I was truly surprised. I remember I read in news a while ago that Walgreens (aka Duane Reade, same business entity) was planning to revamp some of its stores’ beauty sections but this is the first store I’ve actually seen with the new installation.

  • There are testers out on display.
  • The lighting was bright.
  • Each brand is displayed in a Sephora/Ulta type of layout.
  • There are also makeup removers and cotton pads for you to test different products and shades.

It is such a step up from Walgreen! I don’t think I’m going to the dim and crowded CVS ever again which is the only other drugstore near by.

The most exciting thing is that they have brands like theBalm, PurMineral, Cargo, 100% pure, Boots Botatics etc.which I can’t find anywhere else except for certsin Ulta stores far away from my home.

Have you seen any similar changes to your Walgreen stores? Is it fairly recent?


Lastly I got my Walmart beauty box and it’s fun! With only $5 per quarter, $20 per year, it’s well worth the little joy from time to time. I mean you can’t even buy a sandwich for $5.

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June beauty empties – feat. Lancome, Anastasia, Loreal, Sisley Paris

The wierd thing of being a beauty lover is that no matter how fast I go through products, the stash doesn’t seem to shrink. Nevertheless I always feel content  and good about myself when I use up products. This month is no exception except that I also purged some makeup products that didn’t work for me.

Here are the empties and makeup purge from a recent drawer cleanup.

Among the empties, I want to share my thoughts of 6 products, 3 skincare and 3 makeup.

  • Lancôme eye lip makeup remover

This has been in the market for a long time and I’m so happy I’m rediscovering it after a few years. If you have sensitive eyes and use waterproof eyeshadow or mascara, look no further than this powerful yet gentle makeup remover. If you haven’t tried it, don’t hesitate next time when you need a new eye/lip makeup remover. I’ve not yet heard any negative feedback from my friends who have used it.

  • Loreal double ended mascara

This is the chubby tube with the red and while color in the box. It is only available online I believe from Amazon or Drugstore.com. This is another repurchase for me and it is a high impact mascara. The white end is a primer and instantly lengthens your lashes while the black end adds volume and holds the curl all day long. This is great for someone who wants dramatic lashes.

  • Lancome hypnose mascara

Again, a repurchase and rediscovery item. I didn’t realize I’ve been going back to old favorites a lot this month until I’m writing this post but hey classic is the best! I assume if you’ve been in the beauty community for a while, you probably are no stranger to this star mascara from Lamcome. It adds ton of volume to your lashes and if you use an curler prior to application, it also holds your curl all day long.

  • Sisley Paris black rose cream mask

Amazing is the word I can think of when it comes to this mask. It brightens, hydrates and softens your skin after only one or two uses. Sisley is a great skincare brand that’s natural, plant-bases and they’ve recently launched a $10 monthly skincare subscription – see my post here for more details.

  • Eucerin moisturizing cream 

My recent favorite drugstore product to use as hand cream. No scent, deeply hydrating and not overly greasy. I will get back to it in the winter time.

  • Fresh black tea mask

If you didn’t see it in the picture above, it’s the tiny jar next to the Sisley mask tube. I actually asked for the sample from Sephora. I don’t like it. I didn’t use up this tiny jar as I feel it did nothing to my skin. I don’t know if it’s the sample as they take it out from the tester jar and it could have expired or dried out, but it’s just not living up to the hype. If you’ve tried it and loved it, can you let me know in comments and tell me your skin type?

Now when it comes to the makeup purge shown in the second photo and the one above, I’m particularly disappointed in the cream contour pallete from Anastasia. Contour & Anastasia, both are one of these’hottest’ words in the 2015 beauty world and I really wanted to make it work but it just didn’t.

I didn’t like it for the following reasons:

  • The cream shades dry out quickly, makes it very hard to blend out.
  • The contour shades are too warm for my fair/light skin tone and I don’t like orange contour colors.
  • The palette is in a filmsy cardboard packet, which accelerates the dry-out process of the cream shades.

I know if you add some facial oil to these shades, it probably will add some life to them and make them usable again but because I don’t even like the contour shades I just didn’t bother to go through these. The only usage I got out from it was from the lighter shades which can be used as concealers under the eyes but they are not irreplaceable.

I regret purchasing it without looking at the mixed reviews first as a lot if people had similar issues as I do with this pallete. If you are considering it, I’d recommend against it.

That’s it for this post and if you are interested to know how any other products performed from the photos above, let me know in comments.

Thanks for stopping by!

Summer Skincare Must-haves! Combination Skin Type

The past Tuesday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, which also marks the official beginning of summer! I love the summer season but my skin might disagree. I’ve had pretty bad breakout issues in the past few weeks with the sun exposure, oily t-zone and emotional stress. For combination to oily skin with acne concerns, I’m seeking comfort in these summer skincare products below that per my experience can help you navigate through summer with healthier skin.

Image credit: http://www.clarinsusa.com

No one dislikes hydrating toners that will give your skin a boost of youthfulness and softness. However, summer is not the right time for hydrating toners for combination and oily skin. Too much nutrition or moisturizing ingredients might actually make you breakout more.

In summer time, I tend to reach more for toners that are specifically designed for combination/oily skin types. This lightweight alcohol-free green toning lotion from Clarins is not only good at removing the last trace of cleanser or makeup residue from your face at night, but also makes you feel refreshed and balanced.  I haven’t noticed any pore reducing or skin tightening effect as it claims on the site but I trust Clarins’ plant-based formula and its alcohol- free ingredient list.

FAB

First Aid Beauty products were not my favorites despite their good ingredients as the products I tried (mostly moisturizers) felt too creamy and think on me (it could be first aid to dry skin type in the winter time!). However, these pads were great for combination skin!  On days when you are too lazy to apply toners (no judgement), just take one of the pads and wipe it all over your face after cleansing and it feels amazing! Long-term use of these pads will help improve skin texture and make some of these annoying bumps go away. One cautious note for those with extremely sensitive skin: FAB ingredient list is usually pretty gentle but these pads do contain acid which helps clear pores but it also means it can irritate your skin.

bobbie brown blotting papers

Blotting papers are such simple, generic products but these blotting papers from Bobbie Brown really stand out! The papers are weightless and absorb oil so well while it doesn’t mess up with your makeup to much as long as you are using it in a pressing motion. Besides taking away the excess oil and shine from your face, blotting paper is also a must have if you need to do some retouch during the day. Use it first before you reapply foundation or powder, otherwise there is a high chance you will see streaks of makeup on your face.

Product Image

Image credit: Nordstrom

This is hands down the best everyday sunscreen for combination to oily skin, and to be used under makeup. I’ve done a more detailed review in my May empties post and you can read it here if you are interested.

Thanks for stopping by! Let me know what your summer favorite skincare products are 🙂

Recent beauty purchases & mini reviews – feat. Bareminerals, Rimmel London, NYX, Sun Bum, Slip pillowcase 

Summer is a tricky season. I love it but my skin tends to breakout more, gets oily easier and seems to send out a signal that I need some new products for the season.

So maybe I’m misunderstanding what my skin is telling me but I went ahead and purchased some new beauty products which range from skincare, sunscreen spray and cosmetics. Here is a quick rundown of my recent purchases.

BareMinerals eyeshadow palette 

Rating: 8/10 I like it!  The eyeshadows are pigmented, not chalky and have a good balance between shimmer & matte shades. They are not super exciting in terms of color scheme but I’m a neutral, basic girl.

NYX cosmetics Concealers & Rimmel London pressed powder

I am trying out new concealers as the Urban Drcay naked concealer didn’t live up to the hype (it looked dry and patched under my eyes). I haven’t tried these yet and hopefully one of these will look good.

The Rimmel London pressed powder is supposed to help control oil around your T-zone and that’s exactly what I need in summer time.

Rimmel London stay matte

Sum Bum sunscreen sprays  

Sunscreen is only good for one year so if you are still using the bottle from last summer, toss it away and get some new one. Your skin will thank you later. These sunscreens are a little bit pricier than other drugstore brands like Neutrogena but it does claim to have better ingredients which I think are worth the price markup. Sunscreen spray is so convenient especially when you are on the beach and need some quick reapplication every 2-3 hours.

Slip silk pillowcase 

This is a splurge for me as I usually don’t spend this much for a pillowcase. I’ve been using it for a few weeks by now and do I think it’s worth the $80? Hmm I think you can save some $50 and get a generic silk pillowcase instead. While it does feel smooth and comfortable, it is a hassle to wash and take care of as it’s 100% silk and I don’t think it will make a difference on your face anytime soon.

Updated with actual boxes June Allure & Sephora beauty box spoilers

Update:

Here are my June Sephora & Allure boxes (the first one is from Sephora. The second one is from Allure). I like the Allure one better at a $5  higher price tag. I uploaded these into my Instagram account as well: natural_cult_beauty

allure beauty box

If you are like me, you probably have been wondering what the monthly beauty boxes will offer in June since the month started, and you don’t have to wait in the dark any longer. I’ve found spoilers of both the Allure beauty box and Sephora Play! beauty box for June and here you go.

Allure beauty box ($15/month, $10 to start with)

Unboxing video

Box contents:

  • Klorane shampoo with mango butter (you might also get a dry shampoo from Klorane instead)
  • Pur-liss blue lotus eye serum
  • Pur-liss blue lotus SPF 30 day moisturizer
  • Kardashian Beauty Cabana Bronzer
  • Julep nail polish (you will get one of 3 shades:teal, purple, apricot)
  • One sheet of Leaders facial mask

Like past Allure boxes I’ve received, I feel their box skews towards skincare products more than makeup, which I like.

Among this month’s samples, Klorane hair product is a staple in my bath & body collection as it boasts natural ingredients and has a refreshing smell. I haven’t used Pur-liss products before so I wanted to test these out. I am never  fan of celebrity makeup products so I don’t have high expectation of the Kardashian bronzer. We will not look like Kardashian by applying lip or face products named under any of these sisters, period. The other products are kind of meh to me.

Overall rating: 6.5/10

Given that the May box was such an awesome box (see what’s inside the May box here), I am not as disappointed by the June box.

Let’s move on to the Sephora Play! box ($10 per month)

Sephora video

Full spoiler post

Box “the Minimalist” content:

  • BareMinerals BareSkin Sheer Sun Serum Bronzer
  • Bumble and Bumble Don’t Blow It Hair Styler
  • Benefit They’re Real Mascara
  • tarte TARTEGUARD 30
  • Becca Backlight Priming Filter

The box always has 5 samples plus a perfume sample (it’s a Tocca one this month). Unlike the Allure box, the Sephora box is always more skewed towards makeup so I think you get a good balance by subscribing to both boxes.

Among these products, I am not a fan of Bumble & Bumble products and I’ve heard bad reviews of the BareMinerals Serum bronzer. The mascara from Benefit is one of my favorites and I’m glad I will be getting one so I don’t need to repurchase for now. I’m looking forward to trying out the Becca priming filter.

Overall rating: 6.5/10

I don’t think I’m too impressed by any of the two boxes this month but neither are flops. What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Sunscreen review: CōTZ, the healthier sunscreen, SPF 40

Now is really the season to stock up on sunscreen. Did you know that you have to apply an amount that equals to the size of a quarter coin of sunscreen to your face every time or you might as well skip it as insufficient protection amounts to nothing?

It seems that consumers are smarter about beauty products as many brands are coming out with “healthier” version of products including sunscreen.

Today I wanted to share a quick review of the CōTZ sunscreen. I received a deluxe sample of this “healthier sunscreen” in my Allure May beauty box (see what else are in this great beauty box here). I’ve been testing it out in the past few weeks and by now I’ve used up the tube and hopefully you might find this review helpful.

CotzNaturalFace

Image credit: Cotz official site

Here is the product description from the CōTZ website:

  • A Balanced & Natural Mineral Complex with Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide that feels silky & soft and blends translucent, with a sheer matte finish.
  • Lightly tinted to instantly enhance skin radiance.
  • Non-Comedogenic, Hypo-Allergenic.
  • Superior protection against sun-accelerated fine-lines, wrinkles and dark spots has never felt this nice.

I only partially agree with its claim and here are my honest thoughts about it:

What I like about it:

  • It’s a physical, non-chemical sunscreen so there is less likelihood that it will irritate your skin.
  • It’s broad spectrum SPF 40 so offers enough protection for daily use.
  • It’s easy to take off at the end of the day.
  • Even though it looks slightly tinted out of the tube, when you apply it to the face, it’s almost translucent and does not leave a white cast on your face.

What I don’t like about it:

  • Although it claims to be non-greasy, oil free, in reality it’s quite oily and remains so after I wait for it to sink in after 2-3 minutes of application. So far it hasn’t caused any break-out on my face but I’m not a big fan of the texture. I don’t know if mineral sunscreen just doesn’t hug my skin as I have similar issue with other brands’ mineral sunscreens which are also supposed to be non-greasy.
  • It also claims to leave a matte finish on your face. On my combination skin, the oily texture makes me glow (not in the most flattering way though). I think people with dry skin might really love it for its dewy finish on their faces. If you have combination or oily skin, I’d say be cautious. At least try a sample before committing.

Overall, I don’t think it’s a bad product but it’s not my favorite. I will not repurchase it. My favorite is still the Shisedo urban environment oil-free UV protector SPF42 (you can see my mini review of this sunscreen in my earlier post here).

What’s your favorite sunscreen and what’s your skin type? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Sisley Paris monthly beauty subscription

This is an age where subscription services thrive and die at the same time. There are all kinds of subscription boxes covering a wide range of our everyday life including but not limited to beauty, food, snacks, books, gadgets. You name it, they have it. So I am usually immune to new subscription boxes now.

However, I still got excited when I learned that the French luxury beauty brand Sisley Paris has jumped on the beauty sample wagon and has come out with a monthly subscription plan. You can either pay $10 per month for a 6-month plan or save with an annual plan of $100. 5 samples  are included in each month’s box.

If you’ve never used Sisley products before, it’s a high-end skincare brand with botanic ingredients. I’ve tried only a few of their products as they are very pricey in the US (I probably will load up my cart if I go to France as it’s much cheaper there). I love everything I’ve tried including their toner, facial mask and eye cream. In my opinion, their products live up to the hype (not a lot lately) and their claims. A brightening mask will actually brighten your skin after only a few uses and an anti-wrinkle cream will smoothen your fine lines. To be honest, so many skincare products work like placebo as you can’t tell whether they work and you apply them only for the sake of going through your skincare routine.

Here are the five samples included in this month’s plan:

Image credit: http://www.Sisley-paris.com

If you haven’t yet found a skincare product that you can see visible results, keep looking and if you are interested to try out brands like Sisley, a $10 monthly subscription is a great way to test their lines without spending hundreds of dollars upfront. I am sold on this service. What do you think? What other skincare subscription service do you recommend?

Thanks for stopping by!