Skincare

Woman Seeking: Treatments, Tidbits, and The Wrap-Up

As I was finishing this series, I realized I had more things to say that didn’t quite fit in the categories I had planned out. Striving for beautiful skin is more than just, well, skin deep. Keeping your skin clean and hydrated is going to go a long way, but there are other things you can do to help prevent blemishes and scaring before you get to the point of having to treat them.

Healthy Eating – We’ve all heard rumors that fries and chocolate cause pimples, and we’ve all heard rumors about the original rumors being untrue. So which is it?! Well, both. Eating fries, fast food, or a sweet will not instantly cause a pimple to form. And eating multiple fries, and fast food meals, and sweets will not give you multiple pimples. At least not directly. Indirectly is a completely different story. You see, as good as these foods taste, they aren’t exactly bursting with vitamins and minerals. And your body needs vitamins and minerals. They help keep your body balanced and functioning properly. That includes your skin. When your body is lacking some vitamins on the inside, it begins to send you hints using your outside. So hello oily skin, flakes, and zits. Eating meals with fruits and vegetables and proper proteins isn’t just for maintaining a proper weight, but it’s essential if you want to give yourself the best shot at healthy skin as well.

Exercise – Go out and get your blood pumping! Well oxygenated blood will give you that glow to the skin that everyone is so crazy over. Good circulation helps deliver nutrients (that you’re getting from those healthy meals) to you cells. If you are someone who gets skin maladies from stress, like acne or even hives, exercise and deep breathing are great at releasing stress. And when I say exercise, I’m not just talking about going out and running five miles. Of all people, I’m definitely not going to be forcing anyone to run, I loathe it. Find something you enjoy (or at least hate least). Dance, yoga, boxing, tennis, swimming, rollerblading…there are a zillion options out there. Even playing tag for twenty minutes with your annoying little brother can give your bit of a benefit. Just don’t forget to rinse off before and after. You don’t want all that hard work to go to waste simply because you forgot to take a shower and all the dirt and sweat got trapped in your pores.

Practice Good Hygiene – Earlier I mentioned how important it was to wash your hands before washing your face or putting on face lotion. It’s important to remember to sanitize your makeup as well! Wash your brushes regularly, and spot clean in between washes. I wash mine every few weeks, because although I don’t have many brushes, I also don’t wear makeup every single day. If you wear makeup more often, you’ll want to wash your brushes more often, more like once a week to once every other week. If you’ve been sick, easy your brushes even more often and disinfect your actual makeup products. And be so cautious about sharing makeup. One should NEVER share mascara, and try to use a clean brush instead of having multiple people sticking their fingers in a product.

Laundry – If you have acne, try to use gentle detergents and the correct amount. Over suddsing your duds can cause breakouts when the leftover detergent is in such close contact with your skin all day and all night long. It’s also good to switch your pillowcases frequently. You can buy fairly inexpensive satin pillowcases at even Walmart and Meijer to ensure you don’t have to do a load of four pillowcases every few days (for the record, I lowered the number of pillowcases a bit to something that sounded more reasonable. I have a LOT of pillows). I’ll go longer I between sheet washes – I aim for once a week, don’t think I mean monthly – but will sleep on one side of the pillow for two nights, the other side of the pillow for two more nights, and then switch. If I’m sick, or get wrapped up and end up getting sweaty, I switch it more often.

Sleep – Keeping a schedule and especially getting enough sleep each night is really good advice that is so hard to follow. I know I work ten hours a day, and have an hour drive there and back, yet don’t want to go to sleep as soon as I get home. I somewhat refuse to admit how early I need to go to bed for how early I need to wake up. It’s something I’m working on. Nevertheless, getting adequate sleep helps you skin stay bright and fresh, as it allows your cells to repair themselves and get a little break from the daily grind. Just like you mind dulls with exhaustion, you skin dulls, too, and these foggy signals can cause your skin to not only be dull, but then overproduce oil, or not repair itself. Proper sleep will keep everything running like a machine.

Hands Off – Don’t pick don’t prod, don’t squeeze, don’t scratch, don’t touch. Just…don’t. There is a huge risk of making the problem even worse, because your creating and open wound, of sorts, and exposing the problem to even more bacteria, which will slow down the healing process. It can be hard, but just…don’t.

SPF – Ok, ok, this really has nothing to do with acne. It’s important to keep your skin protected though, year round. Even on the rainy days and during the winter, your skin is susceptible to sun damage. I love Neutrogena’s Clear Skin sunscreen. It’s a little pricy, and I’m not sure if it actually has anything in it that makes it any different from another sunscreen made for the face, but at the same time it’s never made my acne any worse or caused pimples, so I continue to shell out the cash and buy that particular kind for my face. I will sometimes use this in place of facial lotion during the summer, but in the winter I either mix it or apply it over my facial lotion.

Having good habits will make a huge difference, and also help keep breakouts from doing permanent damage. Unfortunately, you can have the best habits in the world and still get breakouts. I had good habits and still had severe acne. Sometimes it’s hormonal. Sometimes it’s genetic. These things suck but can’t be helped. I use gentle cleansers and lotions as a means of keeping my skin clean, not treating my acne, because I think having products that are meant to cover a larger area shouldn’t have treatment properties to it, because there will be some parts of your face that just don’t need it. Using say, an acne fighting product when you have acne on your forehead and chin but not jaw or nose can end up over drying the areas that didn’t need the acne fighting, which will lead to your body overproducing oil to compensate, which will cause acne, and perhaps also make you over moisturizing with face lotion, which will suffocate pores and also cause acne. And you might think, well now I can use the acne cleanser there, except in the time your clear area has broken out, another area that formally was broken out was clearing up…so you’re back at it. And it goes on and on. So instead, I prefer to spot treat. There are a few things I use when I get a zit that bothers me.

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Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion – Not only do I get regular pimples (white heads or surface bumps), but I was blessed with cystic acne as well. This is a pimple that forms under your skins surface and can be a painful, hard lump that, in my case at least, can last for weeks. Yes, weeks, as in more than one. It’s not uncommon for me to have a cystic pimple that lasts a month. Luckily, with cystic acne you get some warning that one is coming on. When I get that telltale soreness, I instantly go to my buffering lotion (side note – I know I’ve mentioned Mario Badescu products a few times throughout this series, and I want to reassure you that this is not a sponsored post. I’m just very pleased with most of the products I’ve tried from this brand). This stuff is my saving grace when it comes to cystic acne. You apply it once a day, every other day until your spot is gone. Even my stubborn month long cystic zits rarely last a week after I start treating them with this guy. There are some cons: This. Smells. Horrible! I’m not sure how much alcohol is in this, but it has to be a large amount because one whiff brings me back to getting shots at the doctors office when I was little, and the nurse swabbing my arm with those cold little pads. That’s exactly what this smells like. And, like I said, there is alcohol in this. I don’t like alcohol in my skin products usually, but because I only use this as a spot treatment on an irregular basis, I’m ok with it. I would not recommend is to be a part of your regular skincare routine. Simply use for the occasional spot treatment for a really intense cystic pimple. Also, it is verrry liquidy. There is sediment at the bottom, which you are supposed to shake to mix with the liquid, but don’t be mistaken that this will thicken it up MIT kind of makes it messy and tricky to learn to apply. I float back and forth between putting a small amount on a cotton round and touching it to my spot, or outing some in my finger to dab it on. You don’t need a large amount,so the liquid lasts a long time. But it is a bit of a learning process to find a way to apply it that works for you. And in case you missed it, this is solely for true cystic acne spots. I’ve tried this on spots that have pushed through to the surface, just because I was curious, and nothing happens. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s a waste of product hep because literally nothing happens. This is only effective on pimples that have yet to surface. This brand does have a product for whiteheads, but as I don’t get them too often nor do they really bother me when I do, I can’t say that I’ve tried it.

Eyes Lips Face (ELF) Essential Zit Zapper – I forgot to take a picture of this, so I’ll have to upload it at a different time, but I really like this product for those times I get surface pimples that I want to shrink. I used to use a similar product by Clinique, which did work, but this is the same thing with the same 1% salicylic acid, for $1! If it does the same job and works just as well, why pay the extra moolah? Plus, to be honest, both of these come in me mall containers that I’m a pro at losing, so I’d much rather lose a $1 item than one in the $15-$20 range. One minor downside is that the ELF version has a rollerball tip, which sounds great in theory, except whatever dirt or bacteria is on your skin gets picked up and put back into the container when you’re rolling it over a spot on your face. I try to either use this after washing my face (yet before my facial lotion), or I wash my hands first then roll this on my finger to get some product, and then use my finger to place it on my zit. Again, for $1 I’m willing to out up with this minor inconvenience.

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Sephora Collection Rose Mask (moisturizing and brightening) – Awkward pic! In case you didn’t pick up on it after my entire post dedicated to hydration, this is important to me. With all I put my face through, all the cleansing and stress and pollution, I absolutely love a good face mask to put some life back into my skin. This one is inexpensive and quick, with results that last me a couple of days. It leaves my skin feeling soft and plump. Even though I struggle with oily skin, I find using this mask every so often really helps keep things balanced, and has never caused a breakout. It does smell like rose, and is kind of messy, but just press it to your face, using all the gooey gel as somewhat of an adhesive, and it will stay in place. I take any extra serum and massage it into my neck and chest. It’s also kind of cooling, so I like to use this before bed to help me really relax.

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Carlson Labs Cod sliver Oil in Lemon – I swear by this stuff. I originally bought it because cod liver oil is supposed to be good for you health and brighten your complexion, and while looking for one I came across a video of YouTube beauty guru Jaclyn Hill recommending this particular one. I figured why not, and ordered it myself. Not only did it brighten my complexion and slightly lessen the severity of my breakouts, but I had another random benefit from this. Around the same time, I was experiencing extreme dry scalp. Like, to the point I wondered if it was eczema or psoriasis, and even consulted with my parents on whether or not I should see a doctor. Well I started taking this stuff and it went away. At the time, I didn’t connect the two, and figured the weather was getting better and maybe it had just solved itself. And then I left it at someone’s house. I didn’t have it for a couple weeks and strangle enough my scalp problems came back. Once again I was baffled. When I got y bottle of cod liver oil back and began taking it regularly again, my scalp problems cleared up. This time I put two and two together. Now I won’t skip a day. It has a olive oil like consistency with a taste I wouldn’t necessarily classify as bad, but sure wouldn’t classify as bad either. Personally the consistency was harder to get used to than the taste. I don’t have any aftertaste or feel the need to drink a gallon of water after, but I do drink a small glass of water after taking my nightly spoonful. I don’t know what, if any, the science is behind this, but I do know it’s effects are not only in my head. If anyone is considering trying cod liver or fish oil, I highly, highly recommend this.

Well, that’s it! These are the things that I come back to again and again and rely on to keep my acne as under control as I possibly can. I really hope you were able to get some good information and ideas from this series, and I wish you all the best in your skincare journey. It’s been a huge, long, frustrating process for me, and I’m sure many of you out there can relate. Eventually, things do get better, and I wish I had known all of the things I put in the series years ago.

XOXO, WSM

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Skincare

Woman Seeking: Hydration

Welcome back for Part Two of this week’s series on skincare. In case this is your first time visiting, you can read all about my Skin Story here and get acquainted with Cleansing and Exfoliating here. Today I’m going to be talking all things hydration. I decided to refer to this as “hydration” over “moisturizing” for a couple of reasons. First, the word moist weirds me out. Second, I believe it can give the wrong impression as I instantly think of my outer layer, and I’m actually a big believer that having hydrated skin begins on the inside. And that, my friends, is where we will begin, too.

Keeping your insides in good shape will do a lot of good for your outside. A lot of us struggle to drink the recommended amount of water each day, yet have no problem gulping down the $1 large soda from McDonald’s. Or, even worse, I’ve heard people say they got their daily liquids because they had a glass of milk with breakfast, a juice with lunch, two sodas during the day, and a water with dinner. I must point out not all liquids are created equally, and when Those That Be say we need a certain amount of water, they mean WATER. Personally, I rarely have ever had a problem drinking enough water. I can’t get enough of the stuff. One of my siblings is the exact opposite, however. You could give them a billion water bottles and they will maybe drink half of one, if that. Recently, they were gifted a water bottle that has a compartment to infuse the water (with berries or cucumber or mint, for example). For some of you that really struggle with the taste of water, this may be a good option for you to look into. If you are experiencing any type of problem with your skin, try getting your recommended amount of water every single day without fail for a month, and I can almost promise you that you will see an improvement. Google “daily water intake” to find multiple pages that will help you determine how much water you should aim to drink.

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Pictured above are some of my favorite water bottles. I think one of the keys to drinking more water is finding a bottle that you like using. I have a couple of large, 32 oz. bottles that I also love, but I can only use them when I’m at home because they are too large and cumbersome to take with me or throw in my purse, so I end up leaving my water in my car during the day which totally defeats the purpose. For those of you that drink cans of soda, or feel like you drink liquids in general faster from that kind of container, I found this awesome faux soda-can shaped water bottle. I just picked it up from 5 and Below a couple of weeks ago and it’s so handy. I especially love this one for when I’m at a friend’s house, and can tell I’m going to get a lot of use out of this once summer hits and there are beach trips and outdoor picnics and concerts. Another really great one for those trying to drink more water is the Camelback Eddy water bottle. Camelback has a range of sizes, and although a little pricey, there are tons of knockoffs for this particular style. Many, many people find they drink more water when they simply use a straw in their glass as opposed to sipping from the glass itself, and there is something about this bottle that has me glued to it even more. You bite down gently on the straw while drinking, and I swear this has to have something psychological attached to it because I’m constantly emptying the bottle when I use this. I don’t know. Finally we’ve got my newest bottle, a purple open top one from Rove. This types of bottles are great for those of you who want to just chug it down. I was gifted this for Christmas from my parents and I haven’t used a different bottle since. I love that the lid closes securely, even if I’m holding it by it’s handle. I bring a water bottle with me to bed, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up to a bottle slowly leaking on me. As long as the lid is snapped, I don’t have to worry about that happening.

Once your body is being properly hydrated from the inside, you can begin to tackle your surface layers. All of us need outer hydration. ALL of us. Even the oily skinned folks. I have oily skin, and keeping my skin properly hydrated helps keep it balanced. If my skin is dehydrated, my body will kick into overdrive to try to balance itself out, which makes me even oilier. No bueno. However, oily and dry skins will need different types of hydrators. Those of us with oily skin are going to want to generally stick on the lighter side of things, using more of a liquid or gel as opposed to heavy creams. Layering, for both skin types, can be your best friend.

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The Clinique Dramatically Different line of hydrators is what I use every day, year round. I typically use the gel version, as it does a good job keeping my skin balanced, but for the night or those times I tested a new cleanser and it left my face feeling tight, I will mix a drop of the original lotion version in to create my perfect hydrator. I also love that a little bit of this goes a long way without feeling excessive or too thin. There is also no scent to it, that I can smell anyways. It doesn’t have SPF, which I know can be a problem for many, but I don’t mind because I use something else for my sunscreen, and the lack of SPF ensures I’ll put this on even for a night out when I will be taking pictures (SPF gives off that white cast that makes one’s skin look 3 shades lighter than their body in pictures, even if everything matches in person). No SPF = no excuses.

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Additionally, I always have a facial spray on hand. By the multiple bottles, I’m sure you have figured out this Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater is my favorite one, but any facial spray will do. This is one of the cheapest and most impressive I’ve come across, so I hoard it. Remember how I mentioned layering? If I’m feeling dry after cleansing I will spritz my face with this before going in with my Clinique gel, and sometimes even afterwards as well. In these cold months, when the air is dry to begin with, I love to toss this in my purse and use it after driving somewhere. I drive about an hour to work everyday, and when I have my heater blowing in my face, I can just feel all the hydration I worked so hard to have being sucked out in that time. A quick spray of this renews my skin. This is especially great for acne prone people, who don’t want to add another helping of their hydrating facial lotion and potentially clog their pores (OVER-hydrating…). This particular one does smell quite strongly of roses, but like I said, there are plenty of scent free options, such as Evian’s facial mist, available as well.

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The St. Ives Timeless Skin Collagen Elastin Moisturizer is something that I would recommend to all of you out there who are either very low maintenance…or lazy. This jar lasts forever, to start with. I bought it when searching for a lightweight night cream, which it does an okay job of, but isn’t going to be my go-to, but ended up using this all over my body. If you are someone who doesn’t like a lot of products or has very limited funds, this jar is something like $5 (don’t quote me) and is the epitome of a multitasker. I use this on my face at night, or my eye area, and I’ve bee using it recently as a full body lotion because I need to finish this dang never ending tub! It sinks in quickly without it feeling like it disappeared – I usually put this on, then brush my teeth, and then get dressed…so somewhere around 2 minutes. It has a verrry light, very clean scent. The one thing I don’t like is its packaging. Jars are my least favorite because they expose the contents to light and air which can break down the product, as well as it being downright unsanitary if you’re not taking proper precautions. You should always wash your hands before washing your face or applying any facial product, even if that means a quick wash a couple of time during your routine. I wash mine prior to washing my face, and don’t touch anything but my face products so I’m okay with putting on facial lotion immediately after, but if I switch my routine and say, wash my face, then brush my teeth or mess with my hair (sometimes I like to put detangler in it early to give it time to work), then I go back and rewash my hands so I’m not transferring all of that to my face. For this jar, I ended up buying a pack of craft sticks, or tongue depressors, and using a fresh stick to scoop out product. Possibly unnecessary, but whatever.

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Jergen’s makes another good everyday body lotion. Body lotions are tricky, because if you suffer from body acne, you have to be extra careful. Your facial lotion should be used down your neck and into the tops of your chest, and then body lotion from there. It’s rough needing the hydration, yet not wanting to over hydrate and suffocate your skin. I like this lotion because it’s consistency is right between being too runny and being overly thick. It takes a bit longer to sink in than the St. Ives, but not so long you get frustrated. I have the Shea Butter version currently, and am finding I prefer it to the original for the winter.

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If you are someone who takes a hot shower, I highly recommend the Dry Skin Defense body wash by Old Spice. It is a men’s wash, and it smells like a men’s wash, but I hadn’t heard of anything similar until recently and this stuff does a great job. It is such an amazing in shower hydrating wash. I don’t take hot showers and still like to throw this on, especially if I’m feeling a little dry. I try to keep this off any areas I know to be acne prone, but I haven’t had any problems with extra break outs from it personally. It’s great because it just gives you that extra layer of hydration without leaving a greasy, unclean feeling behind. I’m interested in trying the new women’s version of this, and will be comparing it to this to see how it stacks up.

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The Body Shop is famous for their body butters, and I am one of their loyal customers. Because this is a very thick cream, I am only able to use this sparingly, which is okay since these are pretty pricey, in my opinion. Having acne prone skin, I mostly use these for my legs and elbows at nighttime. They are strongly scented, which may be an irritant to some, but I am in love. These keep my legs so silky smooth. They can also be found at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s occasionally at a discounted price. I like that they come in different sizes, so if I’m traveling I can pop one in my toiletry case, easy peasy. Again, these are tubs, but with how thick the butter is I don’t think any other type of container would work, so I’m just careful to use clean hands each time.

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Although I have acne prone skin, the J. R. Watkins Body Oil Mist is something I can even use on those areas. Like body butter, I tend to use this more on my legs than anywhere, but if I need something super hydrating but lightweight I will choose this. The spray nozzle makes it very easy to apply to hard to reach places, like my back. I like using this at night or even for a night out. It’s a bit slippery (it IS an oil) but my skin drinks it up. I have mine in Coconut Milk & Honey, and have given this away as a gift as well, and it has always been well received.

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If you have the time, Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking Solutions are one of my absolute favorite ways to relax and take care of my skin. Not only is Epsom salt good for a bath, but you can mix a bit with a body wash and use it as an exfoliant as well. Double duty! The Soften & Nourish with Milk & Honey is my absolute favorite scent. I will even throw this on the bottom of my shower just to have the scent in the air, it’s that good. Epsom salt helps pull toxins out, and this particular kind leaves your skin so soft and soothed once your finished with your bath. This soak, a face mask, and candles are all I need to relax and feel totally pampered.

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It might not be sexy, but feet need hydration, too! I was using a Dr. Scholl’s foot lotion for a while, and I think for some it may do a good job, there are times when my feet can get rough…like, I need to fix them myself before I would even get a pedicure rough. I heard about the Soap and Glory Heel Genius foot cream, but couldn’t bring myself to pay what I considered a ridiculous amount for foot cream. Ahh, but then I was given it as a gift (or maybe as a “please God fix that mess down there!” Either, or). This stuff. If you are having problems with dry skin or cracked heels close your eyes and spend the money! It is completely worth it. Not only does a little go a long way, so a tube will last a respectable amount of time, but it heals your heels like a dream. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t like the smell. It’s not bad, it’s just not my cup of tea. But I still repurchase this. It may be weird to have a Holy Grail foot cream before a HG foundation or mascara or whatever, but I’m beyond ok with that.

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With everything your hands go through each day, it’s important to remember to keep them hydrated as well. Dehydrated hands can age you, as well as produce problems like painful hang nails, which can lead to infections. No thank you! I love the smell of Pacifica’s Tuscan Blood Orange hand cream. It’s not greasy and soaks in fairly quickly, which means I can continue on with my life after applying it, and not get stuck inside a room unable to open it’s door.

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The one part of our body almost everyone remembers to hydrate is our lips. I’m still searching for The Lipbalm, you know, the one that does miracles to your lips and you never want to be without? However, I’ve found a lot of great lip balms along the way. I like all of these for different reasons, and equally. I have an outrageous amount of Chapstick and it was a pain to narrow it down to just these few. I keep a tube of something everywhere – my coat, my purse, two in my car, one in my bathroom to apply after cleansing my face, one IN my bed because I wake up in the middle of the night constantly, and of course a bunch on my dresser. Ridiculous. If you have any favorites, I’d love to know! From these, if you have large lips and can track down the tube of EOS, I highly recommend it. It’s the same formula as the round egg packaging, but in an oversized stick form. I like the Banana Boat version because it glides on and contains a whopping 50 SPF. Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers is something I’ve mentioned before that I like when I need something with a bit of color. The tube of Baby Lips by Maybelline is almost empty, and I’m very impressed with myself over that. It does a great job at creating “slip” on my lips without feeling greasy, but it’s not super moisturizing in the long term so I don’t recommend if you’re wanting a serious treatment. It does smell like Trix cereal though, which is amazing. The Tony Moly Bbo Bbo Lip balm is probably my favorite. It’s Honey scented and wonderfully hydrating. Although the packaging is super cute, when it comes down to it, it’s a tube that I have to stick my finger in, and even sanitary reasons aside, I have fairly long nails and the balm gets stick under them, which is very annoying. If it had a bit different packaging this would probably be my Holy Grail.

Staying hydrated both in and out help keep your skin cells healthy and plump, which is what leads to that look of a healthy complexion. Just because your battling oil or acne doesn’t mean you skin doesn’t need to be taken care of, it just means you’ll have to use products meant for that particular skin type! I know staying aware of hydrating my skin has made a huge difference in how it behaves, and I hope this gives you some idea of where to start.

XOXO, WSM

PS – You may have noticed my pics were a little…off. I took them at a completely different time of day than normal and the light was just not there. Sorry about that!

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Skincare

Woman Seeking: Cleansers and Exfoliants

Having a proper skincare routine is your first step towards having or keeping a clear complexion, and controlling any issues you might have (at least skin wise!). With the thousands of facial soaps and exfoliating treatments on the market, though, it can be overwhelming. Today we’ll be going over Cleansing 101 with basic tips I’ve picked up over the years.

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One of the first things I’d like to address is the dreaded “Over.” I’ve found those with problematic skin are not usually the ones being lazy, but rather overdoing everything. It’s important, just like diet or exercise or Netflix, to keep everything in moderation. Over washing, over exfoliating, and over treating will hurt way more than it will help. So while the urge might be to wash your face once an hour to keep any oil at bay, or to scrub as hard as you can to get baby soft skin, this will generally come back to haunt you.

In my last post, I also mentioned I did a lot of waiting. When trying something new, whether you’re adding a new product or taking away a product you don’t think is helping, it’s a good idea to give your skin enough time to get used to the change. I like to give myself 3 weeks to a month before I start really looking for a difference. Also, especially when trying new products, you may go through what is commonly referred to as a “purging period.” This is usually a good thing, even if it looks bad. For example, when I went off a facial disc that I had been using regularly for nearly two months, my skin stayed in good shape for the first couple of weeks because the discs had done a good job of keeping my skin clean. So it took a few weeks of dirt and grime to build up before I started getting zits. After a few weeks of being off the discs, I realized how much of a difference they made. So I went back on them. About a week later my skin started getting even MORE breakouts. If I didn’t give it time, I would have pitched ’em and that would have thrown my skin into chaos again. Instead, knowing they did work and I was simply in the purging period, I kept with it, and now about a month later, I am nearly break out free. That’s not to say to keep using a product you hate. If you’re having a reaction to a product or can’t stand the smell/feel, discontinue using it, by all means. But if you buy a new cleanser and use it for a week and are bummed you don’t see results, simply be patient. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a one star review for a product with the writer complaining they used it for a week and were upset because it made them break out even more. I always wonder if they had kept with it, how it would have worked for them. It’s hard and frustrating, but giving yourself time to adjust can make the biggest difference. This is also true when it comes to samples! If you follow my Instagram (womanseekingmakeup, same as the blog!), you know I love me some samples! But I’m very careful to only test them when my regular routine has been established. I also take care to know what products are supposed to give me immediate results (like masks and exfoliants) and which products are supposed to work with regular use (cleansers, moisturizers, eye cream, etc). I may try a sample of a new cleanser, but it is more to get my immediate reaction (do I like the smell? The feel? Is it easy to use?) as opposed to see any difference. If I don’t like a product from a sample, I know not to waste my money for a full bottle to do an actual test. When testing something new, I will only test one new thing at a time. If I test both a cleanser and a moisturizer together, how do I know which thing my skin doesn’t agree with? Maybe the cleanser alone would be fine, but it’s the mix giving me pimples. It’s a slow process, I admit. But it will save you a LOT of grief and money in the end.

To start, it’s good to wash your face twice a day using a mild cleanser. Skin shouldn’t feel tight after you finish washing your face. A mild cleanser helps clean off what you need without stripping your skin. If you strip your skin to the point it feels tight, your skin will go into overdrive and will send bucketloads of oil to you face to compensate. Which will clog your pores and give you breakouts. Whiiich will make you want to try an even harsher cleanser and wash more often. Which will make your acne worse. It’s a vicious cycle. How long you wash your face is also important. If you splash your face a couple times with water, throw on some cleanser, then rinse quickly, your results are going to be subpar. I prefer to wash my face with just my hands (no washcloth or face brush) for at the very least a full minute, which may not sound like a long time but time yourself and you may be surprised! This really allows time for my cleanser to get in and break up dirt and grime, as well as ensure I’m hitting every single area. Remember to not just wash your cheeks and forehead, but nose, sides of your face, and down your neck as well. I also spend plenty of time rinsing. I want to make sure I clean off every last bit of soap and residue. I try to aim for a 30 seconds to a minute of this as well.

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I’m a big fan of Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser, as well as their Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser. I think they both work well, for me it boils down to a personal preference. I typically use the hydrating formula during the winter months and the foaming formula in the summer months, but clearly this is not a steadfast rule as I pulled the foaming formula out of my shower to take this picture…and it’s January. Another option I really like is Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash. I pay the exact same price for both Purpose and Neutrogena for the same fl. oz., but for those times I’m a little strapped for cash, Purpose also makes a smaller version for about half the cost, so I’ll grab that. All are gentle enough to use both morning at night, and do a pretty good job of removing any makeup I’m wearing, except waterproof eye makeup.

If there is ever a time that is most important to wash your face, it’s before bed. You face endures pollution, makeup, sweat, and everything else all day long. Do you really want it to seep in during the night too? I think not. It’s also really good to rinse off after any kind of workout. Letting your sweat sit on your skin can lead to unwanted pimples and make you itchy! When I go to the gym, I’ve gotten into the habit of doing either an extra long cool down stretching session once I’m finished, or taking a spin in the massage chairs, so that my body has time to cool down and stop producing sweat. Then I hit the showers. You don’t necessarily have to go through your whole routine, that you can save for later, just make sure you rinse off that top layer of yuck. If possible, it’s good to try and have your shower be midrange when it comes to the temperature, too. I know a lot of people are fans of the super hot scalding shower, but remember it’s super hot scalding your skin cells. Ouch!

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Now, I am human. There are days I am absolutely exhausted and the thought of getting up and going to my bathroom to splash water and soap on my face is so extremely unappealing. There are a couple of products I use in this situation. The first is facial cleansing wipes. Admittedly, I am not the biggest fan of face wipes. I don’t think hey do a great job and don’t recommend them as a regular part of you skincare routine. However, it’s better to use one of these babies than to use nothing at all. Face wipes are also super handy to have for travel when bringing your entire bottle of face wash for one measly night isn’t practical. They’re also amazing to have in your purse for those days you go on a swatching spree in Sephora! On days I am wearing a full face of makeup, I will also precleanse using a facial wipe to remove most of my makeup, before going in and washing my face with my cleanser as I would normally, so my face wash can do a better job and not have to penetrate so many layers. And while I think it’s super important to shower as soon as you’re done after working out or any sports team practice or game, at the very least keep a pack of these handy and wipe down your face, neck, and chest. I know some schools or facilities don’t have showers, so this will help tide you over til you can get home and get a proper shower.

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The Pureté Thermale 3-in-1 Calming Cleansing Micellar Solution is one of my favorite products ever. It does almost everything. I can use it before I wash my face as a makeup remover, I can use it after I wash my face as a toner, and I can use it in place of my cleanser for days I’m super lazy, or in the morning when I feel using soap might be a little too harsh. You can also use this to spot clean your brushes. Many times I use this in conjunction with my wipes as well. I really don’t think wipes do a great job at cleaning, so if I choose to use a wipe for some reason (those times I forget to buy a new bottle of cleanser when I’ve run out, perhaps?), I will follow up with this to get anything my wipe may have left behind. Micellar waters, also known as cleansing waters, are starting to gain popularity here in the US, so they are getting easier to find, as well as cheaper than before. They are still more than a typical facial cleanser, so I use this sparingly. They are also supposed to be uber gentle, and don’t require rinsing. Simply put onto a cotton pad and wipe. This is what I use to remove my eye makeup, and it does a terrific job on even my waterproof formulas of mascara.

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While cleansing is important, it’s also important to regularly clear away the dead skin cells with some thing a bit stronger than a cleanser. Personally, I prefer a chemical exfoliation over a physical one (like using a washcloth – which is why I don’t use one with my cleanser, it is an exfoliant – or a scrub). That being said, I will use a physical one from time to time. If you can acne prone or sensitive skin, I recommend exfoliating just a one or two times a week, especially when using a scrub. Scrubs can irritate any flare ups you have. When using a scrub or even a washcloth, it’s still important to be gentle. Let the scrub do it’s job. Pressing harder or rubbing more vigorously is going to leave your skin feeling raw and over exfoliated. If you are looking for a daily scrub, however, the Neutrogena Deep Clean Gentle Scrub is a good bet. While this may not work for everyone, it’s important to find what works for you, and if you have pretty normal skin with light or occasional breakouts, this may be your perfect solution.

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If you’ve read my Skin Story, you know it took a while for me to get back into using cleansers. When I did, I started with the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle one I mentioned above. Alone, it helped, but just wasn’t doing all that I needed. I ended up going to a Clinique counter a purchasing all three steps of their system. Now, I loved it. It worked amazing well. It is pricy, but the bottles lasted forever and I felt it was a good deal. There were a couple aspects I didn’t love, however. During the winter, my skin felt a little tight. It also had a HUGE alcohol content. After finishing it up I decided I really didn’t want to use products with such a high alcohol content. I went back to my trusty Neutrogena, and tried their alcohol-free toner. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. I felt like it did nothing. Somehow I heard about the Glycolic Fix line from Nip+Fab. I liked that they had resurfacing as well as brightening properties in their facial pads, and decided to give it a go. Once I had used up the container, I was on the fence. I hasn’t really had any breakouts, but somehow wasn’t sure if it had done anything, so I put off repurchasing. Two weeks later I was getting pimples again, and realized the discs were doing more than I realized. This is now what I use for exfoliating. One side has little bumps, and the other side of the disc is smooth. Usually I use the smooth side and let the chemicals do the work, but occasionally I’ll use the bumpy side if I’m feeling my skin needs a bit of a boost. I also like that they aren’t acne fighting. Sometimes you get too many acne fighting products going and they kill your skin. It says you can use this up to twice a day, but I only use it in the evening.

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If I’m really needing a good scrub, I will grab for this, which is actually a mask. Freeman’s Feeling Beautiful Charcoal & Black Sugar Polishing Mask is one of the only scrubs I trust. Typically. I don’t like scrubs because not only am I acne prone, but I also have large pores. Having large pores means that occasionally a particle of “scrub” will get trapped in my pore and cause a humongous zit. Unappealing. This mask being made with sugar is great though because it melts down with the heat of my skin. The mask itself is also warming (in a good way, not a tingling way). I put this one and give my face a quick scrub in the shower, and leave it on while I shave my legs or wash my body or whatever, then go back and spend a good minute or so rubbing this in again before rinsing off. When I use this, I do not use my Glycolic Fix pads.

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If you can’t tell, I actually finished up this bottle, so I don’t have a fresh one where you’re able to see the product, but this is a cleanser solely for your body. Body acne is special, as the skin on your body is different than your face, so it usually requires a different type of cleanser. If you’re having problems with body acne, it’s best to avoid anything too scented and instead go for a mild cleanser, just as you would your face. It’s so tempting to use the beautifully scented Bath and Body Works lotions and gels, I know, but they aren’t going to be very helpful in clearing your skin. It’s unrealistic for a lot of us to simply never use the good smelling ones, so I try to limit myself to special occasions, days I need an extra pick me up, or want to feel pampered. This A. H. A. Botanical Body Soap doesn’t smell bad, but it definitely just smells like old school soap. It’s not super cheap either, but I honestly haven’t found a good drugstore option. To help get my back, I have a long handled scrub brush from Eco Tools.

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Although the grapefruit and papaya extracts in the Mario Badescu body soap will help exfoliate your body, once in a while you may need an exfoliator, just as you would your face. I’ve not come across a chemical exfoliator, although I heard Clinique used to make an amazing spray for your back and body back in the day, so I use body scrubs. The Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub is like the Freeman scrub in that it is sugar based and melts down with heat. It smells amazing, which I love yet is also an irritant, so that is a downfall. It leaves your skin incredibly smooth though. This is also good if you are a self tanner loving person, as it doesn’t act as a barrier to your self tan even though it does have skin softening oils (I’ve tested this) nor does it leave you feeling the least bit greasy. I know that many of you are thinking oils are bad for your skin, but that’s not true, and something I’ll address later this week!

That was a lot of information, and I’m sure this is a long post that I’ll probably be updating when I think of something that I forgot to include. To extremely sum it up, keep a routine and be gentle. Baby your skin. While I don’t have acne as bad as I used to, I now also have to deal with scarring that comes from years of abusing my skin. If only I’d known then what I know now. I hope this helps in your your skincare journey. Let me know if you have any questions, or new tips that I can try myself!

XOXO, WSM

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Skin Care

Woman Seeking: My Skin Story

This upcoming week I will be doing a series focusing completely on skincare. I have such a love/hate relationship with skincare and my skin, but, even though this blog is primarily about makeup, keeping your skin in good condition helps all of your products to work better for you. Think of you face like a canvas – if your canvas is bumpy and marked, you’re still going to be able to paint, but it’s going to take a lot more effort and skill and product, but if your canvas in fresh and clean, you’ll be able to play with ease.

All of the information I will be sharing is knowledge and tips I’ve picked up over the years or figured out myself. I’m by no means an expert or have any sort of professional training. I think it’s important to reiterate that. I also think it’s important to say that these are my own personal views and tips and tricks. These are things that worked (or didn’t work!) for me. Although I’m going to try to keep things fairly general, I do come from a skin type of combination to oily skin so many of my tips will pertain to those who also have that same skin type and the accompanying challenges, as opposed to those that struggle with extreme dry skin. That’s not to say you dry skin folks won’t find some use out of this series!

To begin with, I want to let you know my “skin story.” I have been battling acne for over 15 years. Over 15 years! I know that’s not what some of those with severe acne want to hear. And I am talking about severe acne. There are some girls that go through puberty and only have the occasional breakout. There are some who grow up and get blemishes on a regular basis and have to deal with it until they’re into their twenties. And then there is me. And others like me. People who will probably have to deal with acne the rest of their lives. And that is a horrible and frustrating and unfair reality. I used to try to boost my spirits by telling myself this would all be a distant memory someday and trying to imagine myself as a college girl with beautiful skin. Well, I’m in my twenties now, my mid-to-late twenties, and I still am dealing with acne. So that sucks. Straight up. That being said, my skin is better than it ever has been since I got my first pimple.

When I was a teen, I tried almost everything to deal with my acne. Acne cleansers, acne systems, acne pills, acne wipes, acne fighting makeup. I visited a dermatologist on multiple occasions and even had an appointment with an acne specialist once. Nothing really helped my skin. Sometimes it was because the product wasn’t working, but other times because the product didn’t “fit” me. What I mean by that was that it was too expensive or too many steps (the acne specialist had me on a 9 part regiment that quite honestly my lazy self couldn’t stick with, even if my poor college self somehow had found a way to afford all nine items). Maybe you’re thinking, “But were you taking care of yourself on the inside? Did you try working out? Eating right?” This is probably the most common response I get. And the answer is yes. I can’t say I had the healthiest of all diets in high school, but I didn’t live off fast food and did love my salads. I have also inherited my father’s never ending thirst for water. I played sports in middle school, high school, and college. During the off season I participated in marching band (and if you don’t think that is physically demanding, you are wrong). I took weight training year round all three years of high school it was offered. I ate right, drank water, and was active. But guess what? I still had acne.

So, on top of everything else, I caked on makeup until I had what I felt was at least some resemblance to a girl with decent skin. Most girls try going for the “natural” barely there look, I just wanted to look normal. Makeup wasn’t fun for me – it was non negotiable. For example, one day in high school sticks out to me. I was running late and grabbed my brush and makeup bag to finish getting ready in the car while my dad drove to school. Right before we arrived, I realized I had forgotten my foundation. I started crying (and I was NOT a crier), and begged my dad to drive me home so I could get it. Now, we didn’t live far, but I would definitely be late if we did this and even if I wouldn’t have been late, it seems like a ridiculous request, right? Except it wasn’t. To this day, I can still remember the sheer panic I felt at the thought of having to walk into school bare faced. I don’t think I’d ever pulled a stunt like that before, nor after. I don’t think I ever forgot my foundation again. I honestly can’t imagine what life with severe acne is like for a non makeup wearing boy. Acne effects more than just your physicals self, it effects your entire self confidence. I felt bad for the hairdresser for having to touch my face when she accidentally brushed her hand against my cheek. I never had silly spa days or did face masks with my friends because that would mean them seeing me without makeup. And oh man, did I HATE taking pictures. It’s a weird feeling when you want to be in a picture so bad, but don’t want your acne forever preserved on film.

Sometime in my early twenties, I simply stopped. I gave up. I had come to the conclusion that I was so intensely over treating my skin and bombarding it with products that I couldn’t even tell which problems were occurring because my natural acne issue, and which problems were occurring as side effects. Did I really have weird oily yet dry skin, or was I over drying my skin with all my products, causing my body to over produce oils to compensate? Did I really have sensitive skin, or were some of the ingredients from cleanser interacting with other ingredients from my acne fighting cover-up stick? I had no clue anymore. So I quit cold turkey. I stopped wearing makeup. I stopped using all my cleansers and toners and treatments. I went back to the most basic of basics – water. I was diligent about washing my face both morning and night, no matter what time I got up or went to bed. And then I waited. I don’t mean I waited days, or weeks. I mean I waited months. After years and years of over-everything, my skin needed time to figure itself out. It needed time to detox. It needed time to repair. And slowly but surely, things leveled off. I don’t mean my acne went away completely, or my redness disappeared. But things got better. My skin got somewhat predictable. My intense breakouts were not so very intense, and I actually had hormonal acne around that time of the month (know, I know this doesn’t sound like a good thing, but I can’t tell you how amazing it is to get an extra flare up and KNOW it’s just your period. Period pimples are different from regular acne. Trust me).

So that’s basically it. I did the water only thing for about a year, using Jergen’s Extra Moisturizing hand soap if I REALLY needed it (it’s a very mild soap, but honestly, it was what I had in my bathroom after running The Color Run. This isn’t something I particularly recommend). Eventually, I felt I knew my skin, my natural, everyday skin, enough to pick out a good cleanser, and go from there. I use more products now, but I’m so careful, so very careful about how many products I’m using. It’s been 4 years or so, and I have a routine of products I stick to, occasionally swapping out one product at a time for something new if I really want to try it. And then I wait again. We’ll get into that more later, though.

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A collection of no-filter selfies with either no make or simply mascara and lip balm =)

I don't have perfect skin now. And to be honest I've kind of accepted that I may never have perfect skin. There are some days when I choose a crew neck tee over a V-neck, and others when a backless dress just isn't going to happen. If you look at my makeup-less pictures and wonder why a girl with "skin like that" is writing a series on skincare…I get it. I do. But I'm so proud of my skin, big pores, acne scars, zits, and all. It took me so long to get to this point, and if just one person learns just one thing that ends up helping from my upcoming posts, I'll consider this series a huge success.

XOXO, WSM…or rather, WSS

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Regrets, Reviews

Woman Seeking: Products I Regret Purchasing

After posting a couple of haul videos, a reader asked me if I ever had any buyer’s remorse. With all of the products in my collection, I was bound to have a couple of duds, right? Right! I do. Occasionally, even with my careful planning and research, items still end up on my vanity that go unused, forever mocking me. It’s inevitable that you will spend your hard earned cash on products that you don’t like or don’t work for you at some point, but hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes I did on these eleven products I regret buying.

Disclaimer: as always, these opinions are my own, based on my own experience. Every single company listed makes other products that I enjoy and use daily. Just because something didn’t work for me, does not mean it won’t work for you! Everybody has different coloring and skin types and body chemistry. So if I list your favorite, holy grail item, don’t be offended! Go on using it and be happy it worked out well for you!

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The Body Shop Lip Butter – Confession: I have three of these. Three! Of the same product that I don’t like. None of which were purchased together. Ridiculous. To be fair, the Shea flavored one (not pictured) came in a little travel kit. Anywho…these lip butters aren’t the worst thing on the market, but they sure are far from the best. They smell absolutely amazing which is exactly what I would expect from a product by The Body Shop, and are uber thick. However, I cannot wear these in public. They give your lips such a cake frosting type coating that is so unappealing. For being such a thick formula, these also aren’t the most moisturizing thing I own, either. I still hang on to these and use them overnight so I don’t have to waste some of my preferred lip treatments.

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L’oreal Miss Manga Mascara in Blackest Black – A favorite of many, this just does not work for me. I’ve tried using it alone, under another mascara, and over another mascara. It is true to it’s “manga” name, but not in a flattering way for me. This gives me thick, clumped together spider lashes. Now, there are ways to have that look that work, but this was not doing it for me. I’m not sure if it’s the formula or the brush but the combo is awful.

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Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser – I’m always up for products that minimize my pores, and was super happy to hear about a drugstore option. Supposedly this is a dupe for Benefit’s The Porefessional, but I have used that and let me tell you what, it is not. This has a thicker, petroleum jelly like consistency that does blend out well, but never really loses it’s greasy feeling. It does do a good job of hiding pores, I will give it that. I do find that I get oily quicker and need to blot more frequently when I use this. I also feel that this product has a higher chance of giving me a pimple. All silicone primers clog my pores and give me pimples if I use them too often or too heavily, but I feel even using this one day a week has me risking a breakout. I keep this stuff to use when I’m practicing a new makeup look in my bathroom and I’m going to be washing my face as soon as I’m finished.

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Eyes Lips Face (ELF) $1 Brush Range – I used to have a few face brushes from this line, but these are the only two I have remaining, and to be honest I don’t even use them for makeup. The bristles are rough and are prone to splaying and shedding. The handle also detaches easily from the metal tubing. The ELF $3 brushes are leaps and bounds better than this line. Do yourself a favor and spend the extra cash.

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Garner Skin Renewal Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream for Combination to Oily Skin in Light/Medium – I had used the original version of this for a few months when they came out with the combo/oily formula, and I was so excited because my only problem with the original was that it made me too shiny and oily as the day progressed. This product was a problem from the go, however. The consistency wasn’t a thicker BB type formula as the original had been, but rather extremely liquidy. I’m sure this has something to do with keeping it good for combo/oily skin, but it meant I could no longer simply use my hands and have this be my lazy day foundation. Bummer. It also still made my face oily as the day went on. It doesn’t claim to keep oil at bay, in all fairness, but typically people with combo to oily skin don’t want to be made oilier any faster than they would get normally.

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Maybelline Define A Brow in Light Brown – I used this for years even though the color was never quite right, but there were never really any great comb-and-pencil brow products on the market that I was aware of. In the last year, though, eyebrows and eyebrow filling-in have blown up in popularity and been revamped so that there is an option out there for everyone and every shade. Reluctantly, that now makes this product a regret. I do think people with darker hair and brows could use this product easily, but us lighter haired ladies and gentlemen will find it pulls too warm for a brow product. I’ve also found a more affordable option with NYX, so I can’t even keep it or recommend it under the guise of a drugstore option.

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Eyes Lips Face (ELF) Glitter Liquid Eyeliner in Copper – This is the eyeliner equivalent to cheap glitter polish. It wasn’t nearly as pigmented as it seemed, with more clear with glitter particles as opposed to solid glitter, and the glitter was so rough! It was also super annoying to remove, with pieces of glitter constantly stuck around your eye. No. Just, no.

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Almay Eyeshadow in (110) Lilac and (140) Vintage Grape – These eyeshadows are probably one the biggest disappointments on this list. The colors are so beautiful in the pan and the packaging is so sleek and different. The formula is smooth and buttery. Sadly, the pigmentation is not there. The swatches on the left are without primer, and the swatches on the right are with primer, and either way they barely show up, even with a heavy hand. And when I get the colors to show up, blending is NOT an option because they brush away so quickly. I’m always on the hunt for beautiful purple shadows and these were such a let down. Sigh.

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Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 hour Eyeshados in (35) Tough as Taupe – I absolutely adore this line of eyeshadows so including this was painful, but I do regret this purchase. I don’t regret buying this because it’s a bad product or dries out, but instead because I never use this color. I have another from this same line that I love to use, but in can never figure out how or when to use this Taupe. I even tried using it for my brows, which actually may work for some of you, but it a tad too dark for my liking. I have oily lids and this is really the first cream eyeshadow that I could use and have it look good. Word to the wise, however, do not use a primer. The picture on the left is sans primer and although it appears more brown for some reason, the pigmentation and formula works so much better on bare skin. The picture on the right was with primer, which sheers it out and makes it too moveable, which is exactly the opposite of what primer typically does with eyeshadows.

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NYX The Natural Shadow Palette – Although I’m a huge fan of NYX lip products, my foray into their world of eyeshadow was not pleasant. These shadows are so lightly pigmented, even with a primer, and powdery to boot. The only colors I like from this palette are the two darkest, which means I dislike over half the palette! Totally not worth it.

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Lorac Pro To Go Palette (Quad) – Not to be mistaken for their other Pro To Go palette, which includes products for both eyes and cheeks, this palette came in a limited edition collection that also included eye brushes, mascara, and a brush roll. I bought it on sale and although I think the mascara and eye brushes were worth the price I paid, I was fairly disappointed in the eye palette. The Ivory color doesn’t work well with my skin tone, and while I love the Rosé and Spice colors, the Aubergine shows up dirty and chalky. Both Spice and Aubergine also have quite a bit of fallout, and because they are dark colors, this can lead to a gigantic mess very easily. While I would repurchase the entire bundle solely for the mascara and brushes, the eyeshadow has made me hold off on trying the famous Lorac Pro and Pro 2 eyeshadow palettes.

Luckily, for the amount of products I own, my list of regrets is fairly short. I’m sure there are more disastrous products out there just waiting for me to make that mistake, but hopefully some of you can learn from me like I learn from others! Here’s to hoping, anyways!

XOXO, WSM

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Sephora Haul

Woman Seeking: A Sephora Haul (plus a couple of bonuses!)

I know what you’re thinking, “What? Another haul? I thought you said you weren’t Miss Moneybags..?” At least, that is what I would be thinking. Ahh, but I was a good girl and used a gift card that I had received for Christmas! Gift cards are a wonderful thing. The gift card I had received was actually to the mall, but let’s be real – with a Sephora inside JC Penny’s, I basically received a Sephora gift card. It’s been burning a hole in my pocket for nearly a month, and now you get to see how I chose to use it!

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Sephora Favorites Customized Skincare Set – Available only at Sephora inside JC Penny, this is what made decide to spend my gift card. For $29, you are able to select 5 items from 15 different options, plus you get a free bag. I typically dislike getting free bags, because bags seem to be included in every bonus or kit on the planet so I have a zillion of them, but I must say this black one is more my style, and I am pleased with it. Sephora kits in general tend to be a great value, and this one is no different. I’m not sure if you could double up on items, but it felt like cheating to me, so I grabbed 5 different products. I chose:

1) 2 oz Purity Made Simple One Step Facial Cleanser by Philosophy
2) 0.25 oz ExfoliKate Intense Exfoliating Treatment by Kate Sommerville
3) 0.16 oz Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 by Josie Maran
4) 0.5 oz Powermud Duocleanse Treatment by GlamGlow
5) 0.4 oz Retinol Fusion PM by Peter Thomas Roth

Seeing as a sample of Powermud by GlamGlow for the exact same size sells for $19 alone, this kit is a total steal. The Philosophy cleanser is a favorite of mine to use for washing my makeup brushes, and the ExfoliKate and Retinol Fusion are both expeeensive products, so having little samples to test out is great (although I hope I don’t fall in love with them!). Also, when tagged in my teaser Instagram photo, both Philosophy Kate Sommerville liked the picture. That may not be a big deal nor have anything to do with how well the product works, but fabulous job by their customer service/PR teams! The week I bought this, Sephora was also giving double points on Skincare purchases, which made this even sweeter.

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Ole Henriksen The Clean Truth Cleansing Duo – I’ve been wondering about these two products for a bit now, but couldn’t justify spending $8 for the travel size package of wipes containing only 10 wipes. When I saw this, however, I thought it was a much better deal. The packaging of the kit is super adorable and would make a very cute gift. I also love that the cleanser has a mini foam pump. So many travel sizes don’t have pumps, and this being a foam pump really impresses me. It also means I can reuse the bottle to keep some of my favorite soaps with me in my purse (ladies, we know that our bathrooms only have soap half of the time, and antibacterial gel can dry out your hands in these cold winter months).

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Clean Perfume in Skin – I must have been in an “all about skin” mood because even the perfume I picked up was called Skin! I had originally wanted to pick up a different perfume, but for some reason I really wasn’t feeling it when I tested it one more time, and since it was an expensive perfume, I didn’t want to spend the money for something I didn’t like. I almost picked up the Pink Sugar perfume, but for some reason went with this. Honestly, I don’t know why. I had never sampled it before and it is NOT a good idea to buy perfume without sampling it! Sometimes perfumes smell great in the bottle but don’t work with your body chemistry, or end up being too strong on the skin, or wear off after an hour. If at all possible, always get a sample of a perfume you are thinking of purchasing! Do as I say, not as I did! Thaaat beeeing saaaid…I got really lucky. I love this perfume. It is musky and warm and fresh all at the same time. It’s somewhat cozy, and will make a good winter or rainy day perfume. I did get the rollerball, as I usually do with new scents.

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Too Faced The Chocolate Bar Eye Palette – Last but not least, I bought the much raved about Chocolate Bar palette. Folks, I have been going back and forth on buying this palette for over a year. Seriously. It’s been long enough that Too Faced has even come out with a second edition to this palette (the Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Eye Palette, if you’re interested). Most people in the makeup world already have and love this palette, because not only are the colors gorgeous and pigmentation on point, but it SMELLS like chocolate. Only…I don’t like chocolate. Not huge into the taste, not huge into the smell. I mean, I do enjoy a piece of dark chocolate or some hazelnut spread from time to time, but a makeup that smells of chocolate is not a huge draw for me. I do have a mini size of their Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer, which I do like, but it really does smell exactly like chocolate, too. So I have put off getting the eye palette for quite a long time and am buying this palette super late in the makeup lover’s game. No matter, I did get over it and purchased the eye palette because the colors are just so wearable and perfect. There is a healthy mix of matte and shimmer shades with a couple sparkle shades as well. It has a great range of neutrals as well as a pop of color in it’s matte pink and sparkle purple. I also like that it has a two super sized highlighting shades, again one matte and one shimmer. I’m so happy with my purchase and can definitely see myself reaching for this a lot. Too Faced is quickly becoming one of my favorite brands, because every product I’ve gotten over the years has been great quality.

BONUS

I found a couple of amazing deals, and I didn’t want to do yet another haul post, so I’ve decided to include them here!

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Eyes Lips Face (ELF) 144 Piece Eyeshadow Palette – I know, another eyeshadow palette. To be honest, I still have a bunch of points at Ulta and a gift card to Urban Decay that I’m planning on using for eye palettes as well, so you’ll just have to get used to it, haha, though there is a chance I will grab some lip products instead. We’ll have to see. Either way, the deal I got on this was unreal. Not only was it $15 to begin with, which is super cheap, but there was a stack of these in my Target’s clearance section that were mismarked for $5! It rang up for $12 and some change, but the lovely cashier gave me the sticker price after seeing the stack of other palettes with the same pricing advertised. Score! In reality, I probably wouldn’t have bought this for the $12, but at $5 I was willing to give it a go. ELF makes a lot of affordable beauty products, but they can be hit or miss. For example, their $3 makeup brushes are some of my favorites, but their $1 are awful. Some of the colors in this palette are incredible, while others are chalky or have little pigmentation. If you’d like a post dedicated to my favorite ELF finds, or even a post with more details on and swatches of just this palette, leave a comment and let me know!

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Pink Sugar Pink Deluxe Gift Set – Finally, I was over the moon to snap this up from my local Marshall’s. Remember earlier how I said I was contemplating this perfume, but ultimately decided against it? Well, good things come to those who wait! I initially didn’t purchase this because although it had a wonderful warm, sweet scent, to be I smelled a strong undercurrent of licorice. Now, licorice is one of the notes in it, but it was just a little overkill for me. No other person I asked to smell me (sorry and thanks again to my coworkers and my parents) noticed this however. I didn’t hate it, it was only as if someone was supposed to add 2 drops of that note and added 3 on accident. No big, but I wasn’t willing to spend $30-60 for the bottle to test it out (and yet I did end up purchasing a perfume I had never tested before…? I don’t know. I just don’t understand my logic at times). Well. The next day I was at Marshall’s and what do I see in their holiday clearance section but the Pink Sugar gift set for, get this, $15! It was wrapped in plastic, and none of the other gift sets on the table were, so I thought there had to be something wrong with it, a product missed or open, something, and actually asked the cashier before buying it, and she reassured me and actually took off the plastic wrap so I could look inside myself. This set not only included a 1.7 oz of the eau de toilette (which was $45 at Sephora, and even Marshall’s had in their regular perfume section for $19.99), but also has a shower gel, body lotion, and body mousse. You can’t beat a deal like that.

Everything I walked away with during my Sephora/Target/Marshall’s shopping spree made me really happy, and I’m even more pleased that I timed this when there were some really amazing deals. I can’t wait to use all of these goodies, and I’ll keep you informed on my favorites.

XOXO, WSM

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Tutorials

Woman Seeking: A 15 Minute Morning Makeup Routine

We all have those mornings where we press the snooze button one too many times. That’s what happened to me on this day. Not only did I go to bed super late, but I woke up every single hour throughout the night so when my alarm sounded in the morning I was not having it. Although I’m lucky and don’t need to wear makeup to work everyday, when I finally managed to drag myself out of bed and in front of the mirror, I realized my sleepless night had taken it’s tole. So I ran out and started my car (winter in the Midwest…ugh), grabbed my iPhone, and documented a quick Wakeup, Makeup look. Prepare yourself, the first few images are not pretty!

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Oh yeah. I’m b-e-a-uuutiful first thing in the morning. But after a rough night, waking up and taking a picture is probably not going to have a great outcome. I wanted to be honest about what I was working with however, and although my problem areas or “main concerns” are listed in my “About Me” section, which of course you’ve checked out haha, sometimes a visual helps. We’ve all met the girls who say “I have terrible acne!” when in reality they only get three pimples, and that’s when they’re on their period. So here ya go. I don’t get dark circles too intensely, even if I’m exhausted, but I do get lines under my eyes. Does anyone else have this problem? People always talk about bags and dark circles but I get lines. I also have my typical redness, which is actually acne scarring, and if you look closely (don’t look closely), super enlarged pores around my nose/cheeks and between my brows. Oh, and a new zit near my eye. Lovely. There are other “imperfections” visible like uneven lip lines, and random freckles (like the ones above and on my lips, which so don’t help my uneven lip lines) but…least of my worries, folks. And yes, my bathroom has awful yellow toned lights, so that’s going to be a thing in all of these pictures. It actually tones down my redness, if you can believe it. Anywho. Moving on.

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Since I had washed my face well the night before and I was pressed for time, I used my Vichy cleansing water (which you can find in my December empties post, and it will also be featured in my upcoming Skincare post) on a cotton round and gave my face a quick wipe. Normally, I think you’re supposed to style your hair after doing your makeup, but I have no skills when it comes to this area, so I try to do it before my makeup because sometimes even a simple ponytail takes a few tries (thin and fine hair, remember? Scalp peeking through and creating a weird bald spot is an everyday struggle). I also changed my clothes. This already helps.

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First I apply a tinted moisturizer or BB cream. Since lack of sleep leaves your skin dull and dehydrated (even those with oily skin…I have oily/combo skin, and I know firsthand that this doesn’t mean it can’t get dehydrated! Half the time that makes your face even oilier as it tries to overcompensate), I wanted something that was going to benefit my skin and not look caked on, which heavier foundations can do if your skin is feeling worn out. I went with my Napoleon Perdis Off Duty Tinted Moisturizer, which is nice and light and tends to fuse with my skin fairly quickly, so I don’t have to wait the recommended 5 minutes for it to dry before continuing with my routine like I do other foundations or BB creams (sidnote, if you’re foundation has been looking piled on, try waiting between layers or powdering for 5 minutes for some of the liquid to dry and for it to combine with your skin! This can make a huge difference! Same goes with primer and spot concealer, wait for them to dry before moving on to the next step). Typically I would use a primer to help fill in my pores and smooth my skin out, but I have some breakouts happening, and I don’t think throwing a silicone primer on top is going to help that situation, so I decided against it. I do have two or three pores that are ridiculously large at times, and occasionally I will go through AFTER my foundation and use a QTip to place primer on just those tiny areas that need it.

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Next I applied a medium consistency concealer, Maybelline’s Fit Me Concealer does a fantastic job, to areas where I tend to get discoloration. I do get discoloration on my forehead as well, but I don’t want to use concealer as if it were foundation, that would defeat the purpose and be much too heavy, so I just place it where I feel I really need extra help with my redness. I patted this in using my ring fingers and called it good enough.

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I was definitely lacking radiance, so I went through and did some basic highlighting. I had already used concealer on my eyes so I just needed a touch to brighten up that area and counteract any bags or lines, some along my nose and forehead for luminosity, and above my cupids bow and chin for balance (think of highlighting as an upside down triangle). I used a very battered looking Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer. I’m actually not in love with this stuff, but it works decently for a quick face. Again, I patted this is with my ring fingers, focusing on smoothing the edges of where I applied my product so it wasn’t “face face STRIPE OF HIGHLIGHT face.”

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I used a combination of powders to set my work. I used the ELF Translucent Powder to lightly set my under eyes, because I didn’t want any extra color, just a bit of powder to keep it from creasing but still allow the highlight to show and brighten my face. This is the only time I don’t really wait for my makeup to dry before going straight into another product. I usually try to powder my eye area fairly quickly after applying my concealer or highlight. I don’t know if this is right but it works for me. I then used Revlon’s Nearly Naked powder to set the rest of my face. Remember when using powder to tap, not brush or swirl, because you will move any makeup that hasn’t completely dried and set itself yet, plus it will kick up any baby facial hairs you have. To apply both of these powders I used my ELF blush brush, which I never use for blush. It is actually a inexpensive all around brush that I highly recommend. I use it for under eye setting, full face setting, powder contouring, and any other random need I have.

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I didn’t want to mess with eye shadows and brushes (or all my brushes might have been dirty, ya know, whatever), but I did want a little something to bring out my green eyes, so this light bronze NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in (611) Yogurt fit the bill. I swiped it over my lids a few times then blended with…you guessed it, my ring finger. Bam. Done. I have oily eyelids as well as hooded eyes, and honestly should have used an eyeshadow primer, but I forgot because it was so dang early and I was so dang tired! This pencil does do a decent job fighting the creased up mess my eye wants to make of any shadow I put on it though, so I’m glad this is what I was using on a day I forgot primer.

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On the days I don’t wear makeup, I still curl my eyelashes. It opens up the eye and makes you look so much more awake and fresh faced. I absolutely love my Shiseido curler. Revlon curler’s do a great job too, but this one fits my eyeshape in a way that makes curling so much easier. I have smaller, more almond-ish shaped eyes and this curler is a lot flatter than traditional curlers, which tend to be too round for me.

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Brows are another thing I almost always do on my low maintenance days. My brow game was not strong this day, I admit, but I think it still helped my overall look. Eyebrows frame your face so keeping them in check will help you look more pulled together. My eyebrows are naturally super light and somewhat sparse, so I fill them in. This day I used my NYX Eyebrow Cake Powder in Blonde with my Anastasia Beverly Hills Angled Brush #15. I also run an old, clean mascara wand through my brows to blend once I’m done. If you have darker or naturally well shaped brows, you could forgo the fill-in and just a quick run of the old mascara wand or spooly with a bit of wax or hairspray to set them should do the trick.

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And now for mascara. I wanted a waterproof formula because it helps set my curl as well as fight any smearing from oils on my lids. This Maybelline Full ‘N Soft gives a natural look that adds a bit of volume and definition. I actually have very long eyelashes, but they are very thin and blonde at the tip, so this helps them to stand out a bit without having me look like I’m wearing falsies (which isn’t a look I hate, but not what I’m going for on a day I’m trying to look healthy and awake). If you notice, I bent my brush so that I’m pushing my lashes up when I am applying my mascara, as opposed to pulling. Before I learned to bend my brush, I would usually pull outward more than upward, which I think is a common mistake among people with hooded eyes especially, because pulling up results in hella mascara on your eyelids. Pushing up not only allows me to really keep my curl, but avoids the mascara eyelid, and helps me get into the base of my lashes really well. It did take me a minute to learn how to get the tips of my lashes with my wand at this angle if I want that look, but because my lashes are so long I rarely bother with it unless I’m going out. I didn’t add any mascara to my lower lashes, because they are also very long, and not only does this make me look overdone at times, but creates shadows, which is what I was trying to disguise in the first place.

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I wanted a simple lip that could be easily applied and was nice and moisturizing, so I pulled this Sephora Kiss Me Lip Balm in (02) Cotton Candy out of my stash. It claims to have subtle color but in my opinion it shows up pretty intensely for a lip balm. It smells wonderful and really does feel creamy and moisturizing on the lips. I figured with my jeans, grey shirt, and grey and white fleece, the baby pink lips matched and helped give me a fresh look.

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Last but not least I used my Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray (super attractive action shot, right?). I suppose this could be an optional product, but because I work for 10 hours, as well as commuting an hour there and an hour back, AND I have a tendency to get oily, if I’m going to wear makeup then I’m going to need something to help it stay in place. This really makes a difference. It also helps get rid of the powdery look that naturally comes with using any powder product and blend my makeup into my skin gorgeously.

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And that’s it! It literally takes me 20 minutes to get ready, and 10 minutes of that is me doing my hair and getting dressed. It helps keep my time down that I’m comfortable and familiar with all of these products, which is why I titled this “A 15 Minute,”…wiggle room is a glorious thing. A late morning is not the best time to try crazy new products or techniques. Simply use what you know and only things you really need and workfor you. For example, many articles on how to look fresh faced include using blush as a way to bring some life to your face, but I already have a problem with overall facial redness (not just by my nose like many women experience), so the only times I use blush is if I’m going for a full face look with a heavier foundation or a contour. So when I need to get out of the house and am trying to pull myself together, I’m not going to mess around with blush. I’m going to use concealer only around where a blush shouldn’t be, and have my natural redness work FOR me by letting it act as my blush. So easy! If you have naturally clearer skin, concentrate on playing up your eyes and skip messing around with foundations and concealers.

As I said before, I’m lucky to have a job where I can go makeup free and let my skin breathe most days, but occasionally I feel I need a little extra help and didn’t plan enough time for me to do anything drastic. Hopefully if you find yourself in this position, you’ll now have an idea of how to do the same in a short amount of time. What are your go-to’s, tips, and tricks for a quick and simple morning look?

XOXO, WSM

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Ulta Haul

Woman Seeking: An Ulta Haul

Recently I went to Ulta to pick up one very specific product, and somehow ended up walking out with…well, much more than that one product (at least I did remember to get what I went there for! Yay me!). I have a LOT of points racked up, and a coupon, so I don’t feel too guilty about giving in to my impulse buys. Without further ado, here’s what I picked up.

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Essence Eyeshadow in 78 Vanilla Milkshake – On my way to the skincare aisles, just what do I happen to pass but the Essence cosmetics endcap full of little clearance stickers. Of course I had to stop and see if there was anything I could use. The store near my house was out of many things, but they did have a fewof the single eye shadows left that were on sale for $0.59! Sometimes Essence eye shadows can be a little too glittery for my taste (though the color payoff for even the extra glittery shadows is phenomenal), they did have this vanilla shade that that is described as having a "shimmer effect." It's a beautiful neutral shade that gives a nice shimmer without being crazy. I feel like Essence products are kind of like Germany's answer to Wet 'n' Wild, with more hit than miss products at an extremely low price point. Let me know if you'd be interested in a one brand post focused on Essence cosmetics below!

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Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Exfoliating Facial Pads – I finished up my first canister of these the first few days of this month, but because I had a little bit of non- alcoholic toner left over from before, I decided to put off purchasing a new canister of discs. I was not overly psyched about these for some reason, even though I did figure I’d plan on picking some new ones up. The only other types of product like this either costs a little more than I’m willing to spend on something I’m not sure is doing what it says, or is stronger than I really want to use. However, after almost two weeks without using these pads I am very glad I decided to buy more! My skin has started getting a few pimples the past couple of days, and I haven’t changed anything else in my skin routine so I think these helped me more than I realized. They do claim to be retexturizing, which I desperately need, so I’m hoping with continued use, I will see a bit more of an improvement in a few months.

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Tarte Maracuja Oil – After swatching eyeshadow after eyeshadow after eyeshadow (I’m currently trying to decide which palettes to buy with various points and gift cards I have at various stores), I needed a makeup remover wipe like no other. Since I was in the “prestige” area, I grabbed an eye makeup remover wipe from Tarte. A bit later I went to swatch something else (of course) and couldn’t believe how soft the back of my hand was! I wasn’t sure if it was the wipe or just because I was rubbing so many things on and off, so I went back and got another wipe and tested it out on my arm. Soooo soft. While I couldn’t justify spending my money on specialty eye wipes, I COULD spring for the travel size bottle of Maracuja oil. I’ve been wanting to test out an oil for a while now, and I finally took the plunge and bought myself one. It’s going to be a bit before I get around to testing it, because I need to get my skin used to having the Glycolic Fix discs back in my life, but when things have settled down I am definitely going to put this baby to the test.

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Batiste Dry Shampoo in Blush – Another product I’ve been wanting to try for a bit. This past summer I used Suave’s version, which isn’t bad at all, but I feel like it kind of dried out my scalp a bit, so I went off of it and haven’t used any dry shampoo in a while. I’ve heard people rave about Batiste, but wanted to catch it when it was on sale at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s. Unfortunately, my hair was a hot mess today and I realized I really need to pick something up. I scoffed when I saw the price Ulta was charging per bottle (sorry Ulta!), and was going to just give up and grab a trusty bottle of Suave to tide me over when low and behold I spotted a travel size version at a price I could get on board with. Strictly financially, travel size versions are usually a complete rip off, buuut I’m a person who’d rather spend a bit more per comparative ounce for a travel size to test something then spend a even MORE money (even if I get more for my money) for something I don’t end up liking. Does that make sense? I hope so. Either way I’m pumped I found the travel size so I can see how this performs.

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Yes To Blueberries Age Refresh Cleansing Facial Towelettes – I’ve used these in the past and can’t remember if I like them or not, and am testing various makeup wipes for a future post, so I grabbed a travel pack of these while I was waiting in line. They are more of a natural product and paraben-free. So. Yes. Not much to say, I have to test them out.

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Neutrogena Make-Up Remover Cleansing Towelettes – The same goes for these makeup wipes, although I do believe I remember liking these. It’s been so long since I used a makeup remover wipe, and I felt I needed to keep everything on an even playing field, so I picked up a pack of these in order to be fair. Plus, the travel pack of this was right next to the travel pack of the Say Yes To wipes, so it was easy to grab one of each. And like I said, I had a coupon so these were basically free, even before I used any points.

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Get This Top Knot (Ulta Hair Kit) – Perhaps the biggest impulse buy as well as the biggest steal, I grabbed this from the sale display stands right by the counter. Originally $20, I grabbed this for under $10. It had quite a few products from brands I’ve been curious about. Each individual product is worth $5-$10, so at $20 it was already a good bargain, so when I saw it for half off I was unable to resist. I consider the Bun Ease basically a throwaway product for me. As I have such thin, fine hair I can’t imagine that working for me without looking ridiculous, but who knows I might be surprised. And it does come with a couple hair pins and a hair tie and seriously, who couldn’t use more of those? The kit also comes with root pump mousse, volume spray, iron guard spray for protection from thermal tools, and repairing lotion. There is also a coupon inside for a cut & style from the Ulta salon for only $25, but it expires at the end of the month, and I prefer to go to a different place, so I probably won’t take advantage of it. Either way, it’s not too shabby of a kit for a measly ten bucks. Now I just have to wait until some of the prestige cosmetics have their holiday kits go on sale!

If I add up the price of each item before sales or points, and without tax, the total comes to just under $60. Luckily I did not have to pay that. It’s always nice when you can have a mini haul without going broke. I’m happy I was able to restock some products I already like, as well as grab some new things to try out.

XOXO, WSM

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Reviews

Woman Seeking: An Everyday Marsala Lip

Every year Pantone, a leading expert in color and color matching among artists, home decorators, and beauty experts, announces their color of the year. Although I am not someone who awaits the announcement eagerly or plans my entire year around the designated color, I was very pleased when I caught a glimpse of 2015’s winner, Marsala.

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Marsala is an earthy, browny-nude that, in my opinion, is easily wearable for almost everyone. If you remember the cool brown lip color the 90’s are infamous for, think that…only warmed up. It’s a great nail color, cheek color, and lip color especially. After taking a look at my own lipstick stash, I realized I have quite a few in my collection that fall in line with this new trend. If you’re looking to get in on the Marsala craze, or simply could use a nice everyday nude, check out my selections below.

(For reference, all shades are swatched without lip liner)

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Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in 001 Honey – If you’re new to the lip game and want to ease into it, this balm is the way to go. The convenient crayon shape makes it easy to handle and the formula is soft on the lips. It is fairly sheer, but can be built up to about a medium coverage. It has a strong scent of mint, which isn’t my favorite in a lip product, but it’s nice in a pinch if you’re short a stick of gum. Be mindful, however, that it does not taste of mint. With tones of pink and purple, this is more on the mauve end of Marsala.

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Clinique Chubby Stick in 04 Mega Melon – Another lip crayon, this version doesn’t have anything minty about it. More of an orange toned Marsala, the lasting power of this is pretty decent for a balm stick that doesn’t claim to be long lasting. The formula is smooth and doesn’t cake up, regardless of how many layers you put on. A great version for spring and summer.

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BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipgloss in a Rebel – This gloss is minty, but has a gentle tingling sensation to go along with the smell. This is a thicker formula of gloss, but I don’t find it overly sticky. The dusky rose color is subtle, which makes it perfect for casual events or running errands. It could also be layered to give some depth and shine to another To another Marsala lipstick.

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Bite Beauty Lush Fruit Lipgloss in Guava – From a company that boasts natural lip are products that are “healthy enough to eat,” one whiff of this gloss will make you want to do just that. This smells of pure fruit, without the sickeningly sweet chemical smell. Divine. The color payoff is amazing for a gloss too! This gloss is just thick enough to be substantial, but thin enough to be able to slick on without much thought. Deep enough for winter but punchy enough for summer, this is a good year round option for those who like a glossy finish.

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Bite Beauty Mini Lipstick Duo in Fig/Date – While Date is one of my favorite light nudes, Fig is perfect for the Marsala trend. It’s on the lighter version of The Marsala spectrum, which makes it easy to wear in the day time. Although these mini duos are limited edition, they are still available so grab it while you can! The formula is creamy, opaque, and so smooth I can’t even believe it. Be mindful not to push too hard, however…the extreme creaminess makes these prone to breaking if you’re a rough user. Bite Beauty has definitely burst onto the lip scene with a bang, and I would recommend their products to anyone.

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Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural in N9 – If you are a Sephora VIB member (Sephora’s rewards program), then this is the mini lipstick that came in your birthday lip and lash set from MUFE. I found this to be an excellent my lips but better color. Although it has that old school lipstick powdery smell that I am not fond of, the color payoff for this little mini is good enough for me to overlook it. You can dab it on for a sheer wash of color, or build it up to a beautiful medium to full coverage color. I wish this particular color was in a matte formula for some reason, but a quick blot with a tissue gives me the color minus the shine I’m looking for. This is also one of the cheaper high end versions.

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Nars Lipstick in Dolce Vita – A popular color, this is extremely similar to MUFE’s N9. This is lighter version that can be put on sheer and built up to about a medium coverage. I prefer this one for the simple fact it doesn’t have that awful smell that N9 does, but that is a personal preference. I also like that this one can be layered over other lipsticks I own without it looking or feeling caked on.

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MAC in Creme In Your Coffee – Not only is the lipstick bullet iconic in terms of packaging, the signature MAC lipstick smell is an amazinggg French Vanilla. So yummy! This is one of my newer purchases, and my first MAC purchase ever, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I love the cremesheen formula, which as you may guess from the name is a creamy formula with a bit of a sheen without being glossy, and the color lasts hours without a lip liner. It’s one of the more brown colors I own, and to be honest, when I bought it I was debating between this and another more pinky color and was extremely unsure when I purchased it, but once I used it the next day I fell in love. It looks so beautiful on! It’s become my go-to lipstick for just about everything. This is also the cheapest of any of my high end lipsticks, not just those on this list.

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L’oreal Colour Riche Balm in 818 Nourishing Nude – Probably my favorite drugstore nude, this color is so effortless. The smell is a light, sugary vanilla and it glides on effortlessly. It is a balm, and because of the buttery formula it is prone to breaking (see how in my picture it’s a little lumpy? Yeah…it doesn’t come like that, and I can’t make it keep it’s shape for the life of me). The gold and pink packaging is also so luxe. This is like a lipstick and gloss in one. If I use my beloved MAC, and don’t want to bring it with me (I may or may not be paranoid I’m going to lose it. Hey, the MAC counter I can go to is 2 hours away!), then I will pop this in my purse for touch ups.

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Napoleon Perdis a Divine Goddess Lipstick in Atalanta – The most bronze of the Marsala shades I own, this is something I am dying to use in the summertime with a hint of a tan. And the packaging! I am not one to get overly excited about packaging for the most part, but the Napoleon lipsticks are gorgeous. Acrylic and gold with the color of the lippie at the bottom. Swoon. And the tiny buttercup is whimsical without making me feel like a child. These lipsticks have more of an old school waxy smell, which is a negative for me, but the formulas are smooth and easy to work with.

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Napoleon Perdis Divine Goddess Lipstick in Olympia – the color payoff of this shade is unreal. One swipe gives you full on opaque color. A bit deeper on the Marsala scale, this is a nice color for a night out. This particular color has a stronger smell than the prior color for some reason, which is probably why is don’t reach for it as often as I might otherwise. Or it can be that I’m rationing it…while I bought all of my Napoleon Perdis products from Ulta, now these babies can only be found at Nordstrom from what I can tell, and I don’t have one of those anywhere near me.

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Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Fig – The deepest on my list, this Fig is nothing like the earlier Fig color from Bite Beauty. This Fig is a Marsala that boarders on berry. It’s a great night color or a color to wear with sunglasses (my favorite trick for when I need to look pulled together but have no energy whatsoever). It leaves a light stain on my lips as well, but that may just be me. I love to pair this with a gloss to make it conform to the shade I want, whether more nude or berry.

With this year being the year of Marsala, I’m more than happy to wear all of these shades in the name of being on trend. It’s a flattering color that really works on an everyday basis. Are you into the Marsala shade? Let me know in the comments below!

XOXO, WSM

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Empties

Woman Seeking: December Empties Review

Another month has come and gone, and with it another bag of empty products. The last bit of empties from 2014. Whoa. The first empties post for this blog, however! I’m not sure if this will be a monthly post, we’ll have to see if I have enough empties month after month, but here is what I’ve used up last month.

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Carlson Labs Norweignan Cod Liver Oil in Lemon – I’ve tried taking fish oil pills before, but I am not the biggest fan of swallowing pills, so adding more to my daily regimen never stuck. I always ended up forgetting to take them. After hearing about this from YouTube makeup artist Jaclyn Hill, I decided to give the liquid form a try, and now I can’t rave about this product enough. The consistency is much like olive oil, and while I wouldn’t necessarily classify the taste as pleasant, I don’t find it offending either. The lemon makes it a bit smoother and gives it a slightly enticing smell (sliiightly). This oil has amazing benefits for you skin, as well as benefits for your hair and overall health. I’ll go into more detail about this product and my experience in a future Skincare post, but I’ve already repurchased and plan on repurchasing it again for literally the rest of my life. I bought the 8.4 oz bottle originally because it was the smallest and I didn’t want to commit to a large, but this size is actually the perfect size for one person to use up in the recommended time. Available on Amazon, iHerb, and in various health food and vitamin stores.

Degree MotionSense Deodorant & Anti-Perspirant in Sexy Intrigue – Degree is a brand I tend to gravitate to when it comes to deodorant. This one does a fairly good job of keeping me dry through the day, but it’s claims to be an “invisible solid” are a little of…it IS invisible on my skin, but definitely leaves behind white marks. I absolutely love the scent, and used to buy the body spray back when that was a thing. I haven’t been able to find that in forever, sadly, so I’ve bought this to supplement. I’ve bought this particular kind a few times over the years, but I recently bought a different deodorant, and am unsure if I’ll continue to repurchase in the future. It’s a little on the pricier side for some deo, and I’m getting a little tired of the white stains. This one also melted on me when I got to the end of it. Some deodorants crumble and crack but this just…melted. So odd. Plus it’s gotten to be a little mentally weird, having my underarms scented…especially if I’m wearing a separate body lotion or perfume. If they brought back the body spray in this scent I would definitely purchase that! Available at drugstores.

Vichy Purete Thermale 3-in-1 Calming Cleansing Solution – One of my favorite discoveries of 2014! This product is what’s known as a cleansing or micellar water. It’s used much in the same way as facial wipes, but OH SO MUCH BETTER. Again, this is a product I’ll get more detailed about in my upcoming Skincare post, but it recommend this stuff to everyone. I use it primarily after cleansing my face as somewhat of a toner, or in the morning in place of my water and daily cleanser. Although I have and probably will test other cleansing waters, this is what sets the standard for me. Available at Ulta, select Target’s, and online.

Caramance Chamomile Pure Facial and Body Mist – This was an impulse buy when I was searching for a facial mist to give my skin a boost of hydration throughout the day. I went in for a different brand, but this one was on sale, sooo… I got two travel size mists in a pack, and they lasted me a fairly long time with somewhat regular use. I’m not sure if it really soothed my face, but in the warmer months it felt refreshing to use and in the cooler months helped keep my skin from going crazy. It had a fine mist and had a very faint sweet, honey-like scent that faded quickly. I’m not overly excited about this product, however. It worked. It did what it was supposed to. I, for some reason, was left feeling a little blah. I would probably pick it up again if I found it on sale as I did before, just to have something to throw in my kayak or keep in my car. It was available at Ulta, but I haven’t spotted it, for sale or otherwise, in a few weeks, so maybe I’m not the only one who was left underwhelmed.

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater – I am in love with this facial spray. Although not a mist like the Caramance version above, I find I don’t mind this feature at all. It does have quite a strong scent of roses, so if you’re someone who is not a fan of roses or stronger scents then this is not for you. I love having this in my bag to give my face a quick spritz during the day. I also use this in combination with my moisturizer on days I feel I need a little extra hydration. This is also a great thing to throw in your gym bag to use after washing off after a workout. It’s soothing, moisturizing, and you can’t beat the price. I have and will continue to repurchase. Available at Ulta, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, and online.

Smashbox Photo Finish Color Correcting Foundation Primer in Color Adjust Green – This used to be my go-to primer. I have a light reddish tint to my entire face due to scarring, and this helped to take the edge off and helped my foundation go on smoother. While it didn’t banish all of my redness, I thought it did a decent job, and would sometimes simply apply this in place of foundation or BB cream on those no-makeup days. It is a silicon primer, so I had to be careful not to use this too many days in a row or too heavily because it would clog my pores and cause breakouts. I liked that it could be bought in a travel size version, and have bought a few of the travel size over the years. Probably not economical, but the travel size lasts me a long time since it isn’t an everyday product for me, and is obviously easier to travel with for those weekend trips! Like I mentioned earlier, I have found a different primer that I prefer over this one, so I won’t be repurchasing. Available at Ulta, Sephora, and other fine department stores.

BeautyBlender in Original – a much hyped about product, I was super excited to use one of these! It took a moment to figure out how to use (tap/bounce, don’t roll or pull) but once I got the hang of it I loved the outcome. It applied my foundation seamlessly, as well as my concealer and cream blush, and blended the products like a dream. I wish it came with a little bit more instruction for how to care and store it, which is why mine is being tossed. Your products do stain it just a tad, from my experience, but I think I needed to use a different type of soap than I used (I believe I used my face wash), and more importantly keep it completely out to let it dry. I used the case in came in to make a little drying stand and set the beautyblender on top like an egg, and when it dried enough to shrink it fell in the cup and I simply replaced the cap and stored it on my dresser. However, I don’t think it was completely dry, and after a few weeks I began to notice black spots. I googled it (of course) and found out it was mold! It was a common problem for people not cleansing and storing it properly. So, lesson learned. I did buy a new one, and am taking much better care of it this time around! Available at Sephora.

Maybelline Great Lash BIG Washable Mascara in Brownish Black – I didn’t like the original version of this because of the wand, so when I saw this version I was intrigued. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this one either, but for a completely different reason. The wand was fine, as you can see in the picture both of the mascaras are wandless because I wash and keep them to use again, but I can’t even review how i felt it performed because the formula was so wet! I haven’t come across a mascara that wet in ages. I know everyone has their preferences, some like fresh tubes while others like a mascara once it’s a few weeks old, and I typically fall in the first group, but this one took that to the extreme. I had this for months and it never dried up even the slightest! Which is not a compliment in this case. It was literally like putting colored water on my lashes. Definitely disappointing, but because I’m one of the few that doesn’t like the cult favorite original, I can’t say I’m surprised. Needless to say, I will not be repurchasing. Available at Ulta and drugstores.

L’oréal Voluminous Original Volume Building Mascara in Blackest Black – another cult favorite, but this one I can appreciate. It gave me dark, full lashes. It was a bit if a heavy formula, so my thin lashes couldn’t hold a curl using this mascara alone. It also would smudge if I wore it all day long on my oily eye area. If I used this for a typical day or few hours at a time I was pleased. I tossed this simply because I’ve had this for a moment now and I have a box of other mascaras, so it was time. This mascara didn’t knock my socks off, so I am on the fence about repurchasing, but it is a solid choice. Available at Ulta and drugstores.

Whoosh! So there you have it, my empties for the month of December. Have you tried any of the products I used up? Did you use up any products that you think I should try out? Let me know in the comments section!

XOXO, WSM

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