All Up In My Face: a Too Faced Sweethearts Perfect Flush Blush Review

I have a blush problem. Well, I don’t see it as a problem, and therein lies the rub. I have many and am easily enchanted by any sweet, new thing that comes along. When you’re talking $30 blush though, enchantment only takes you so far. Lovely as this looked, I wasn’t running out to purchase it.
However, I happen to belong to a number of Makeup Sale and Swap groups on FB and I couldn’t let a good deal go by. I ended up picking this up along with the Lorac Pro 2 (both new) for a very deep discount. Getting a bargain really makes hoarding makeup that much sweeter ūüėČ I feel like I should add a caveat here that you really need to do your homework and ensure what you’re purchasing is authentic and also not a dumpster dive find (ew). Ask questions, ALWAYS get invoiced through PayPal so that you have recourse if something goes awry, and scan UPCs upon receipt. I’ve only had excellent experiences, to date, but there are certainly instances of things going wrong so, caveat emptor! (buyer beware)
Ok, now on to the main attraction ūüôā

too faced sweethearts blush

This lovely comes in three varieties: Candy Glow, Peach Beach, and Something About Berry. They are a baked, tri-toned blush, packaged inside a cardboard heart. I mean, adorable. I went for the Candy Glow flavor because I loved the look of the peachy, pinky tones and I had a feeling this would suit my fair complexion.

too faced sweethearts blush

Here it is, looking all seductive in candlelight.

Looking at this blush inside the packaging, it certainly has a luster to it. So much so that I had a feeling this would only be suitable for the Spring and Summer months because there’s something about wearing sparkly pink in the Winter that just doesn’t feel right. Oh, but how wrong I was.

photo 3

These colors swatched so sweet and tenderly, I had to have a moment. There was none of the heavy sparkle you might have expected after viewing the product inside the packaging. When you swish through all the colors with your brush and apply, you are left with a glowing, buildable flush to your cheeks that looks incredibly natural. This blush is also roomy enough that you can pick and choose colors, if you so desire, using them as either a blush or highlight.

photo 4

WARNING: this photo contains little other makeup beyond the blush. Ok, it’s more of a humblebrag because I look goooood ūüėČ Jokes!

It’s the sort of healthy, bright, youthful look that you can most definitely sport year-round.
Can you even tell I’m wearing blush? You may be hard-pressed! And that’s kind of the point. While I chose this variety based on my skin tone, I truly feel that the dimensional affect you get from combining the different tones creates a color that’s basically universal and suitable for a variety of complexions.

Candy Glow was my gateway drug and I now find myself in need of the other varieties, Peach Beach in particular. Can you imagine the gorgeousness over a bit of (fake) color in the Summer? [I only do fake when it comes to tanning and mah face]

When you consider that this is a blush you can wear daily and likely never run out of, the $30 price tag doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Or I may just be preemptively justifying my imminent purchase ūüėČ


This blush can be purchased at TooFaced, Ulta, and Sephora

I Feel Fancy: a Royal Nectar Original Face Mask & Moisturizing Face Lift with Bee Venom Review

I purchased the Royal Nectar Original Face Mask & Moisturizing Face Lift after doing some extensive reading on the fascinating topic of bee venom utilized in cosmetics. Seemingly overnight, it was being touted as the natural alternative to Botox, with Royals and celebs singing its praises.
As far as Bostox –¬†I have no issue with people choosing to partake in elective procedures and may find myself doing the same at some point down the line (a little light dabbling at most, I’m sure), but as it stands I would much prefer to go the natural route on my way to what I hope will be aging gracefully. I’m of the mindset that youth doesn’t make one beautiful, but we can certainly be our best at any age. Being in my early thirties, I think I’m already slightly late for the prevention train, but you know what they say… you better hurry and catch up! ūüėČ
That slight urgency is partly what led me to what can be considered a somewhat high-end product with prices of each of these items averaging at about $65. This purchase pre-dated my Korean cosmetics obsession and I realize that there are a great many, effective skincare items out there that contain bee venom and are a fraction of this price tag. However, one of these items remains a HG for me and one I will continue to repurchase.


bees-venom

First, a bit about bee venom in cosmetics. I noted in a prior post that the cosmetic benefits of bee venom are derived from its tricking the skin into believing it has been lightly stung. This causes our body to direct blood towards that area, stimulating the production of collagen and elastin, which promote skin repair. The venom also acts to remove excess keratin and sebum, eliminate acne inducing bacteria, and block inflammatory agents within skin pores to heal acne lesions. So this reaction promotes cell regeneration and has tremendous healing properties, which of course lead to the much-touted, anti-aging benefits..

bee venom honey

Chemical-Composition-of-Insect-Venoms

Royal Nectar’s Face Mask & Face Lift are made with New Zealand Manuka honey, bee venom and a soothing blend of waxes and oils. Manuka honey is quite an impressive ingredient in its own right. Clinical studies have shown it to have anti-bacterial properties, targeting one bacteria in particular РStreptococcus pyogenes Рwhich is associated with wounds.
Real Manuka honey comes only from New Zealand because ithe Manuka tree that provides the pollen for Manuka honey is native to New Zealand.
Here are the full ingredient lists, which are wonderfully brief and fairly comprehensible. The only item that some may find unrecognizable is¬†‘ticaxan’, which is another name for xanthum gum and used as a viscosity agent in cosmetics. The rest is a lovely melange of bee venom, Manuka honey, and waxes/oils – as advertised.

royal nectar


manuka bee

This range of apitherapy products is produced in New Zealand by Nelson Apiaries. Formed in 1973, Nelson Apiaries Ltd is a family owned business operated by Philip and Evelyn Cropp. Philip’s grandfather started producing honey from hives in the Nelson area on a part time basis over 100 years ago. Over the past 25 years the company has grown substantially and has diversified into the natural health market., specializing now in the increasingly popular Manuka honey, bee venom and other apitherapy products. Based in the upper Motupiko Valley, Nelson Apiaries, in conjunction with it’s sister company Rainbow, now has approximately 4,000 hives sited throughout the Nelson and West Coast areas of the South Island of New Zealand. Placed in the pristine bush and forests of this beautiful part of New Zealand, the hives produce a variety of natural honeys free from insecticide or other agricultural sprays. [source]
I really love that this little gem is made by a family business and the pride they have in their product is evident in the quality of what they produce.


royal nectar

I’ve used a great many skincare items throughout my life that make a great many claims and promises. It’s rare that any of these are delivered upon, and if you are so fortunate as to find something that truly works, it typically takes a considerable¬†amount of time and continued effort on your part to ensure this happens. I was sincerely taken aback by the essentially overnight results I saw with this mask.
It can be utilized in two ways – either as a wash off mask that you leave on for 20 minutes or so and then remove or in a thin layer as an overnight mask. I thought I would get more traction with the latter option so I opted to use this as my evening moisturizer. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my reflection greeted me with an audible, “Oh, wow” when I faced the mirror the following morning. What acne scarring I had was significantly reduced and my complexion had an overall brighter/refreshed tone. Since I began to use this under a Korean-made sleeping pack (Elizavecca Green piggy Collagen Jella Pack) I found the efficacy to be even further improved. This may be due to prolonged use, but I also believe the sleeping pack helps the product to absorb better.

My Experience – Royal Nectar Moisturizing Face Lift

royal nectar

As you can see from the above ingredient labels, the two products are essentially identical, with the main differentiation being that the Face Mask contains a greater¬†concentration of the two main compounds. Can I pin-point the ingredient on which I can hang this ‘lifting’ clam? Not really. Do I think it’s necessary to utilize both the Mask and Face Lift in tandem? I wouldn’t say so. Though I voice this with the caveat that I am still fairly young. If my skin were more mature, I might see more benefit in utilizing these creams both day and night. As it stands, this is a perfectly lovely moisturizer and still packing those power-house ingredients, so I certainly wouldn’t poo-poo it if you’re considering purchasing one or the other. However, to me, the Mask is really the star of the show.

royal nectar royal nectar

Both products¬†are a lovely, light cream consistency with a slight yellowish hue. They place nice with my combination skin and I think they would be appropriate for someone with dry or oily skin as well (and normal, of course). The consistency really seems quite universally-appealing. They don’t have a strong scent (which I really appreciate), though the aroma is slightly floral and sweet.

I do plan to test out some Korean products with similar compounds in order to compare and contrast, though I must admit I am partial to the fact that these particular items are manufactured at the source. I am eager to see what my findings will show and will certainly update this post accordingly.
In the interim though, I would highly recommend trying the Royal Nectar Original Face Mask. You can purchase samples direct from Nelson Honey here, which would be a nice way to dip your toe in. I would love to hear of your experience if you decide to do so!

Where have you been all my life? A Secret Key Lemon D-Toc Peeling Gel Review

I’m going to begin this review with what some may consider a bold statement, but I truly feel it down to my core – this may just be the best skincare product I have ever used.

Soon after embarking on my voyage of beauty discovery, I realized I needed a peeling cream in my life. These creams exfoliate the skin, removing dead cells, revealing a smoother, brighter skin beneath, and evening out skin tone. Most of my previous exfoliation experience has been with abrasive cleansers. St. Ives Apricot Scrub, anyone? While I can’t dog what has been a cult favorite, I realized that a chemical exfoliant may be kinder to my skin. I’ve spent the majority of my life being pretty rough with it; my worst offense happening on those many days and nights that I didn’t pay it any mind at all. Looking back on that, I feel my skin truly deserves the daily pampering it’s now getting. Ah, the folly of youth.

My search for a peeling cream began a couple of months ago and I quickly stumbled onto what is an adorable and popular option – the TonyMoly Appletox Peeling Cream.

Appletox

The green is Appletox Peeling Cream & the red is Appletox Honey Cream

The cutest, right? The cream also smells strongly of, as you might guess, apples. While I was waiting for this little gem to ship, I stumbled onto an Instagram post from the lovely Kelsey of All These Lotions and Potions (yes, more blogger PDA may be forthcoming. I can’t help myself!). She had just hauled the Secret Key Lemon D-Toc Peeling Gel and was singing its praises. Soon after, Christine of MMnoob joined the conversation and my resistance faltered. So before I even had the Appletox in my possession, I had the D-Toc on order. I knew these beauty gurus couldn’t steer me wrong and I was not disappointed!

The Appletox arrived shortly after and it was… fine. The packaging was to-die-for, the scent was lovely, and the peeling efficacy was acceptable. Had this been all I knew of peeling creams, I may have lived out the rest of my life in blissful ignorance. But then D-Toc came into my life, and nothing was ever the same. I had high hopes, but certainly not expectations, so when my skin began peeling before I had even finished applying the product, an audible “wow” had escaped my lips. This product took off in seconds what seemed to me like a lifetime of skin gone by. I’m just going to get gross for a moment here, so fair warning – ¬†I literally had to stand over my sink when I did this because dead skin was just falling off my face in clumps. It sounds pretty hardcore, but it felt like nothing! This is one of the most gentle products I have ever used, and I would even venture to say, more so than the Appletox. The latter came with a very slight stinging sensation for maybe a fifth of the payoff. The D-Toc was SHOCKINGLY effective. I’ve just never had a skincare product deliver to this degree and so immediately. And then came the afterglow. It’s like I had a brand new face. My skin was smooth, radiant, and even-toned. Blemish scars and discoloration that I’ve accepted to be a permanent fixture were visibly reduced. I LOVE THIS GEL!! I want to shout it from the rooftops. Nothing has made such a difference in my skin as this unassuming little tube.

I promptly ran to tell my husband that despite his continued refusal to try any of the Korean beauty products I try to spritz in his direction, ¬†this… THIS he needed to experience. About a week later, he actually came asking for it and I was legitimately giddy. Why is it so exciting to indoctrinate people into this addiction? I wanted to record this moment for posterity! That, he refused, but he obligingly applied the D-Toc and soon after began a repetitive dialogue, alternating between¬†of “gross” and “this is awesome”. When he was done and I got in my “I told you!” ūüėČ he noted that he will now “have the skin of a beautiful, k-pop girl” haha. The amazingly unfair¬†thing¬†is, I think he’s more apt to get there than I am! The man is blessed with gorgeous skin he doesn’t have to put any work into. I told him not to get any ideas about moving in on my dressing area inner sanctum, but I quite enjoyed sharing ūüôā

Please do yourselves (and maybe your loved ones) a favor and try this product that has garnered instant holy grail status in my regimen and in my heart.

Currently, it can be found for $12.48 on Amazon with Prime shipping (!) and $9.99 on eBay, both with free shipping from very reputable and trustworthy sellers in SK.

Please also head over to read Kelsey’s fantastic review of the D-Toc!

LEMONDTOCPEELINGGEL

All Up In My Face: A Dewytree Black Sheet Mask Review

Until a few of weeks ago, the term “sheet mask” was not in my vocabulary. But as with any good relationship, Memebox brought new and wondrous things into my life. While I have tried other brands of sheet masks, I wanted to focus this entry on my first purchase from the Memeshop: a variety of Dewytree Black Sheet Masks. These masks were a winner of Marie Claire Korea’s Smart Beauty Award in 2013. How can I resist that kind of resounding recommendation? I’m also intrigued by all things Dewytree having loved their serum from my Collagen Cosmetics Memebox. My parcel¬†arrived quite¬†quickly – a total of 4 weekdays from purchase – and the package was adorable.

Exhibit A.

Exhibit A.

I love the hot pink MEMEBOX tape, pink packing peanuts (I don’t know why this pleases me, but it does), and sample goodies! In addition to my masks, I received three packets of Missha BB Cream, a postcard, and sticker. I’m pretty tempted to actually put the latter on my car, so that my fellow Memebox addicts and I can spot each other in the wild.

Ok, on to the masks! I picked up two of each variety: Honey Moist, Deep Detox, Ginseng Nutritious, and Premium Syn-ake.


Honey Moist Black Mask (30g, RV $3)
Can be purchased on Amazon

A soft, ultra-moisturizing black facial mask containing Brassica campestris honey from Jeju Island. Ideal for dry skin. Immediately moisturizes skin with honey ingredient, removes impurities and dead cells

Thoughts: I had recently purchased Lanocreme Manuka Honey Face Masks from New Zealand and am very eager to see how these compare. This seems like a mask that will address a number of my skin issues, particularly as it gets colder and drier here.

Experience: I had very high hopes – particularly considering how much people seem to love these masks – and maybe this will be blasphemy to some of them, but I just did not love this one. It may have been my experience with the Lanocreme mask that spoiled me because I couldn’t help but to compare the two since they both listed honey as the “main” ingredient (more on that later) and aimed at hydration. Upon opening the package, the stark differences hit you. Whereas the Lanocreme sheet is saturated in a sumptuous white cream that stays put throughout face time, the serum on the Honey Moist Mask was much more liquid – almost ampoule-like – which initially gave me some hope even though it was kind of messy. But then I reviewed the ingredients :/ The first four are Water, Glycerin, Butelene Glycol, and ALCOHOL. Anything honey-related doesn’t come along until ingredient #11. My hope was quickly waning (alcohol in a hydrating product??), but I persevered. I left the mask on for about 30 minutes and certainly wouldn’t say that the results were awful, but meh might be appropriate. The Lanocreme Manuka Honey Mask left my face feeling amazingly soft and hydrated, and my pores tight. The whole experience felt luxurious. In comparison, the Dewytree Honey Moist Black Mask reminded me of the typically American product fair – I guess I look more… moist now? I will be following up with a more extensive review of what is obviously the better product, but here is a photo, for reference:

My one and only.

My one and only ‚̧


Deep Detox Black Mask (30g, RV $3)
Can be purchased on Amazon

Digs deep into pores and absorbs impurities, removes dead skin cells, controls excess sebum, improves skin elasticity. Contains JEJU Volanic Ash Clay, Charcoal powder, Papaya extract, Grapefruit extract, Walnut shell powder, Centella Asiatica Extract

Thoughts: Again, this mask is hitting some of my trouble spots, so I am excited to see what it can do. I’m also eager to compare this one to another Volcanic Ash Mask that I’ve really grown to love: the Spa Life Hydrating Facial Mask with Volcanic Ash + CoQ10. I have now tried this mask and am happy to report the experience was much more pleasurable than with the Honey Moist variety. After removal, it was evident that it had cleared out some impurities and it also left my face glowing. The serum absorbed well and fairly quickly, so my face wasn’t totally saturated after the 30 minutes or so that I left it on. I did keep myself busy while the remainder of the serum absorbed and then went on with my nightly routine. In comparison to the Spa Life Volcanic Ash mask, I must admit that I still prefer the Spa Life a bit more, but would happily purchase this one again.


Ginseng Nutritious Black Mask (30g, RV $3)
Can be purchased on Amazon

 Nourishes skin with ingredients for resilience and vitality, soothes and brightens skin, removes impurities and dead cells, strengthens skin elasticity. Contains Ginseng root extract, Ginkgo Bioba Leaf extract, Betaine, Trehalose, Hydrolyzed Collagen

Thoughts: I have a point of reference for this one as well, having tried the Naisture Ginseng Mask. I wouldn’t say that I adored that one as much as the others mentioned above, so I was¬†very curious to see how this one stacked up. Unfortunately, this contest was too close to call. This mask was quite nice and left my skin hydrated, though I would be hard-pressed to see evidence of the brightening and skin-clearing properties the mask lauded. I did enjoy the mask overall and was reminded again as to how much I like the fit of these. The Detox variety remains my favorite and, in my opinion, the stand-out of the line.¬†


Premium Syn-ake Black Mask (30g, RV $3)
Can be purchased on Amazon

Smooth out wrinkles, restores fullness to aging skin, removes impurities and dead cells, brightens skin tone. Contains Syn-Ake (peptide found in the venom of snake), Caviar, Centella Asiatica Extract, Adenosine 

Thoughts: Anti-aging cosmetics are often hard to gauge. So much of their efficacy¬†is dependent on their being a preventative measure, so it’s not as though you a mask such as this could provide any sort of visible results unless you choose to use one daily. I’m all for preventative measures though, so I happily slapped this baby on. I use a Syn-ake serum nightly and was pleased¬†for this additional, concentrated dose of the stuff. Is it doing anything for me? I honestly have no idea. I don’t have visible wrinkles I can monitor. But it was a nice enough¬†mask that left my face feeling hydrated looking slightly brighter.


Summary

There are a few things I like about this line and those are the fun/black sheet color, the excellent fit, and the Detox mask. Since only 1 out of 3 has anything to do with the efficacy of the masks, I think the bottom line here is grab the Detox or skip it entirely. I have tried other masks (some of which are noted above and others I will be reviewing in the near future) that are more worthwhile of your time and money.