My current 4 favorite muted red & nude lippies – Buxom, Smashbox, Kiko, Loreal

I’ve been using these 4 lippies below non-stop lately and I realized why after I swatched them side by side. Although they are different shades, they are definitely in the same color range: a somewhat muted red and nudish color scheme. 

Smashbox liquid lipstick in Driver's seat

From left to right are: 

  • Kiko smart pencil in 703 
  • Smashbox liquid lipstick in Driver’s Seat 
  • Loreal pro matte gloss in 318 Bare Attraction
  • Buxom lip pencil in Amsterdam

Best ingredients: Buxom (it is under the Bare Eccentual umbrella and uses nontoxic ingredients)

Best lasting power: Smashbox (it fades in a good way too)

Most pigmented: Smashbox – One light swipe and you are set! So rich of a color!

Most surprised: the Kiko lip pencil is very smooth and pigmented. It glides on so easily and doesn’t feel dry on the lips. The only downside is that it’s not very long lasting on my lips.

Favorite color: this is totally personal taste but I LOVE how the Loreal 318 color looks on my lips. It is very feminine and goes perfectly with an everyday makeup look. 

Question for all who have gone this far in the post: do you know a color dupe for the Loreal 318 Bare Attraction lip gloss? The gloss is not very long lasting and doesn’t have the best formula so I’ve been hunting for a different lippie with the same color but have not found it. Please let me know in comments if you have something in mind!


My everyday face primer collection – Benefit, Makeup Forever, ClubClio, Embryolisse 

Today I wanted to share the few primers I’ve been using and my thoughts on them. 

  • My skin type: Combination skin (leaning towards the drier side in winter & oily side in summer)
  • My main purpose for using a primer: blur/smooth pores in my zone (primary) & prolong makeup (secondary)

First up is the grey travel size tube from Makeup Forever. It’s the step 1 smoothing primer. It is has a thicker texture and does a good job smoothing out my pores and skin texture. But it’s a bit too thick and slightly oily for my preference as I mostly use blurring primers like this one around my T-zone and I have combination skin so it’s feels just a tiny bit heavy even in the winter time. I almost ran out purchasing the full size as I like the smoothing effect but I am still on the fence.

  • Repurchase? Maybe not

Next up is the kill cover pore primer from the Korean makeup artist brand Club Clio. It’s not a cheap primer and it felt nice when I tried it out on the back of my hands but it’s not my favorite. It’s a bit more greasy than the makeup forever step 1 primer although it also delivers the smoothing effect, and does help prolong the makeup. I think it probably is a better choice for people with dry skin. The other primer I have from Club Clio is an anti-shine primer and it does dry out your face a bit so I’ve put it away until the summer time.

  • Repurchase? No.

The primer that’s still in the box is the Embryolisse primer that I received in a subscription box. It’s a famous French drugstore primer but I don’t know if I will end up using it or not after trying it out in store. It’s extremely hydrating so I don’t know how it will perform on my combination skin. People with very dry skin might love it.

  • Repurchase? No.

Last but not least is a classic that’s been around for years and my favorite in the batch: Benefit porefessional primer. As its name suggests, it’s also a smoothing primer to cover up your pores. As that’s my main concern for my base makeup, this primer delivers its claims and meets my expectations. It is the least greasy primer and it layers well under my foundation and over my sunscreen.

I know some people don’t like it’s slippery feel. Personally I don’t have an issue with it probably because I only use a tiny amount around my t zone. The other areas on my face are on the drier side in winter and do not necessarily need a primer after a moisturizer and sunscreen.

  • Repurchase? Yes.

The tube on the right is an acne friendly sunscreen from a Japanese drugstore brand. It’s a great everyday sunscreen and I use it before applying my primer.

What is your favorite face primer and least favorite one? Why? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Mini makeup haul – blender sponge, cleanser, lipstick, mascara 

Today I wanted to share a mini beauty haul of a few new beauty products I’ve purchased lately.

First up is a beauty blender solid cleanser and the new Loreal sponge. The bb solid cleanser is a repurchase as this is the most effective and convenient cleanser in market for beauty blender or any sponges. You simply swirl a damp sponge onto the solid soap and with flowing water and a quick squeeze action, your sponge comes out in mint condition. If you’ve never tried it before, I definitely recommend this one as I’ve not found a perfect dupe for this amazing cleanser yet.

The Loreal sponge was released recently and I’ve heard good reviews so I wanted to try it out. It does seem soft and bouncy when I tried it and I will share my thoughts after I have it a few more uses.

Next up are two lip products from Kiko. I love Kiko lip pencils. The ones I’ve tried are all very smooth, pigmented and long lasting on my lips. So I bought another one in a pink shade and a chubby lipstick in a muted red shade with a satin finish.

The lipstick packaging is cute, with magnetic closure and details, which is nice for its drugstore price point. I’ve swatched both below along two other red lipstick I have (the two colors on the left are Kiko shades).

Lastly, I am opening a new mascara from Beautycounter. It’s a black mascara that’s supposed to lengthen your lashes. I love lengthening mascara and I will see whether this can be worn along or needs to be paired with a volumizing mascara. Btw I’m currently using the Excessive Lash mascara from Makeup Forever and I like it a lot. It adds length and volume to my lashes while keeping them separate and curled. It doesn’t give you a dramatic look with one or two coats but it is flattering and doesn’t clump at all.

Thanks for stopping by! Happy reading 🙂

2017 First Serum Review: Drunk Elephant Glycolic Night Serum vs. Sunday Riley Good Genes

These 2 serums I’m reviewing today were among the most popular skincare items in 2016, and they are the Drunk Elephant glycolic night serum & Sunday Riley Good Genes. Now that I’ve used up both, I do have a favorite and some thoughts around their performance.

P.S. I try to post mini product reviews on Instagram and here is my Instagram ID: skincarejunkie_03 

My skin type: acne-prone combination skin. A bit sensitive from time to time.

Skin concerns: acne, pores, skin texture

I already got rid of the Good Genes bottle but it was included in my older empties posts. I’ve just used up the Drunk Elephant glycolic night serum recently so here is how it looks like in case you are interested.

How did they perform on my skin and which one did I like better?

  • Ingredients & improvement to my skin texture: Both use acids (different choices) as one of the main ingredients and that’s why they are considered “treatment serums” rather than regular hydrating serums. Both are effective on me with gradual and noticeable improvements to my pores and skin texture. No loser, win-win.
  • Keep my acne-prone skin at bay: the Drunk Elephant night serum works better. The Good Genes is great when used together with Sunday Riley Luna oil but is not as miraculous when used on its own.
  • Application: I used Good Genes before Luna oil, opposite to the application order suggested by Sunday Riley and I like it better so I don’t have to wait till Luna is all absorbed before adding Good Genes. I usually use about 2 pumps each time on my face and neck. It stung me a little bit from time to time.

With Drunk Elephant, I’ve found that 1 pump works best. Anything more than that might either irritate or dry out my skin. I think they are on par in terms of application ease & feel.

  • Packaging: both bottles use pumps, which is  the recommended packaging for skincare ingredients that might lose their vibrancy when exposed to air or light. The Good Genes bottle is heavier and looks more luxury but I like the witty twist-up simple packaging from Drunk Elephant. Both are decent but I like Drunk Elephant a tiny bit better for my personal taste. No complaint here.
  • Scent: ugh I hate to be mean but Good Genes smells awful and I don’t even have a sensitive nose. It’s almost unbearable when I first applied it but it doesn’t linger on you luckily. The Drunk Elephant serum is scentless to me and I prefer that. Clear winner: Drunk Elephant!
  • Price: the Drunk Elephant night serum retails at $90 for 1 oz and Good Genes retails at $105 for 1 oz. Not only is Drunk Elephant more affordable but I also feel I need to buy Sunday Riley Luna oil together with Good Genes to maximize the results (based on my experience) so Drunk Elephant wins in this category.

Based on the above, Drunk Elephant is a better choice for my skin and preferences. Let me know in comments what you think if you’ve tried either one or both or have any additional thoughts!

February empties -skincare, food, foundation etc.

As usual, I will share with you my thoughts on most of the empties and whether I will repurchase them or not.

  • Garnier micellar water

It’s great! The Koh Gen Do cleansing water is my favorite in the category as it’s  very effective at taking off makeup yet feeling extreme lightweight. With the Garnier one, sometimes it leaves a very thin layer of film on my face. But it does a good job of taking off all my face makeup and the price is unbeatable.

Repurchase? Already have.

  • Derma E firming cleanser 

It’s a gel cleanser that feels cooling on the face. I didn’t expect the cleanser to have any firming effect to begin with so this didn’t fail me.

Repurchase? Maybe in the summer

  • Yogi detox tea really works to help cleanse your digestion system.

Repurchase? Already have.

  • Hair, skin & nails gummies

Repurchase? Probably no although I will continue to take the vitamin pills.

  • Lancôme TIU 24 hour foundation 

This is my 2nd empty bottle. This is a medium to full coverage foundation with a matte finish. I like it better in hot weather when my skin feels more oily and needs foundation with great lasting power. It’s a bit dry in the winter as I’ve discovered lately. It probably will remain on my staple foundation list for a while. 

Repurchase? Not now, but probably in the summer.

  • After using up the Lancome foundation, I’ve opened the most expensive foundation I own and I hate to say that I really like it. It’s the silky cream foundation from a high-end/luxury Japanese brand Cle De Peau Beaute that’s sold in Saks, Neiman Marcus, etc. It’s a $120 tube (yikes).

This is also a medium to full coverage foundation with super long lasting power. It doesn’t look dry or cakey and stays put on my face for 12+ hours when used with a primer and powder. The incredible feature that sets it apart from other high-end foundations is that it somehow makes your makeup look even better and more natural after your T zone starts to get a bit oily. As its name suggests, it has a “cream-like” smoothing effect and holds everything together even with the excessive oil on the face. I actually like how my makeup looks in the afternoon more than the initial look, which almost never happens with my other foundations.

I like and use a lot of affordable makeup products, and this is probably the biggest indulgence I reward myself with 🙂

  • If you’ve read my previous empties, you know I’m a big fan of Blue Diamond almonds and I’ve finished 2 cans. They are nutritious and tasty!

Repurchase? Yes!

  • The box below the almond cans is a variety chocolate box from the high-end Japanese brand Royce. It’s a popular chocolate brand in New York and their chocolates are very creamy, not as sweet and packaged very carefully as most good Japanese brands are.

Repurchase? This variety box is a bit overpriced at $27. I probably won’t repurchase this box per se but will continue try out other Royce chocolate snacks.

  • The Exuviance mask

It was a gift with purchase from ULTA and I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. It smelled like rotten vegetables and felt dry and weird on my face. I took it off after 2 minutes as it was just too unpleasant.

Purchase? 100% NO

  • EOS hand lotion (the pink oval jar)

It was okay and smells nice. It’s no rich enough for winter time.

Repurchase? Probably not.

  • Ulta foam wedges

I bought these one-use wedges for my laze days when I run out of my beauty blenders in rotation and don’t feel washing them. I wanted to show you the dirty ones as they soak up so much products. Even when they turn yellow as in the photos, they still will not give me full coverage with my full coverage foundations.

Repurchase? NO.

First attempt at depotting makeup- how I failed 

If you are not familiar with the concept of depotting, it is a process to take out the actual pan with the product out of its original packaging, whether it’s a stand-alone packaging or a palette.

I decided to try it out as my everyday makeup drawers are not that deep and I wanted to save space and make the best use of Z palettes. I chose my favorite drugstore blush Essence silky touch blush in the shade 10 Adorable.

Step-by-step how-to guide & lessons learned throughout the process:

  • I used a lighter to heat up the bottom of the pan to loosen up the glue. As you can see from the picture, the plastic bottom turned black pretty quickly. So I don’t recommend this approach. Instead, you can use a hair straightener, a steamer and put the pan on top of the surface (add a layer of sheet in between so that the plastic melt doesn’t stain your tool). Depending on the temperature, you can wait 10-15 minutes before examining the product.
  • Then I used a small knife to get under the pan to dig it out. My knife ended up breaking up, so I highly recommend using a metal pin instead so that you don’t hurt yourself!
  • You have to be patient and careful throughout the process or you are likely to crack up the product in the pan as I did. But with some oil, you can press the powder back together. Mine looks bad lol but I guess it’s still usable.
  • If you have never depotted makeup before, I suggest starting out with cheaper products so that you won’t be crying over a $50 palette and cheaper products’ packaging are usually not too gorgeous to break up.
  • You may also want to take a photo of the product and its shade before you throw away the packaging for future shade references.