If you haven’t yet watched one of drag queen/YouTuber Kimberly Clark‘s “Anti-Haul” videos, you are seriously missing out. Kimberly is on a brilliant mission to encourage us, as consumers, to do our research and make educated decisions when it comes to our wallets and what we put on our faces. This is my written version of Kimberly’s famed Anti-Haul series, just in time for the upcoming Sephora VIB sale later this month. ~what I’m not gonna buuuuyyy~
Too FacedNatural Love Ultimate Neutral eyeshadow palette – $59.00 / 24g – Oy, another one!? Too Faced has been cranking out these massive palettes one after another lately, and they have all been so underwhelming. First of all, no one needs 30 shades in one palette – this instantly becomes a “sit on your desk and look pretty” palette rather than one convenient for traveling (which to me, is the only real reason worth owning a palette over eyeshadow singles). Moving on, even if you did need 30 neutral eyeshadows in the same palette (you don’t), there are at least 3-4 nearly identical pink shades and another several nearly identical brown shades. If you like the Too Faced eyeshadow formula, you do you, but this palette is unnecessary on every level.
Kat Von DAlchemist Holographic palette – $30.00 / 5.7g – My criticism of this palette has very little to do with the four holographic highlight shades, they are actually pretty gorgeous. My issue with this is the price, the shape of the packaging, and how late it is to market. The Anastasia Beverly Hills Moon Child Glow Kit is nearly identical to the Alchemist palette, but boasts six shades with nearly 5x as much product for $40. Further, the pans of the Alchemist palette are incredibly small, which is fine for eyeshadow, but for use as a face highlight, using a larger fan brush or other highlighting brush will be pretty difficult. The shape of the palette itself is yet another “sit on my desk and look pretty” design, completely impractical for any on-the-go usage. As pretty as these shades are, I’ll be sticking to my Moon Child Glow Kit and duochrome shades from Makeup Geek and Concrete Minerals. All products mentioned above are cruelty free.
The Boyfriend requested a “bright surprise” for a recent date night and I delivered. I loved the balance of super bright eyes with pretty neutral lips (which is a favorite move for nights out so I can still eat whatever I want). This is not a tutorial, but I often get asked about which products I’m using so I thought I’d share a full product list for one of my go-to styles. These photos have not been edited in any way.
Before I say anything else, know that this is the longest I have ever stuck with one subscription box. I’ve plowed through Birchbox, ipsy, and even boxycharm but never made it more than a few months before canceling the service. Six months in, the Sephora Play! box still has my undivided attention.
If you’re not familiar with the box, it’s a $10 monthly subscription box that comes with six deluxe samples of products from brands sold at Sephora. Similar to Birchbox, your samples are chosen based on a profile you fill out. Each month your samples will arrive in a cute little drawstring bag accompanied with a fold out sheet describing each product. To top it off, each box comes with a Sephora card for 50 extra points on your next in-store purchase. While the box is not yet available everywhere, it’s expanding quite rapidly so don’t let a waitlist bum you out (it took me a few months to get my first one).
So what makes this box so much better than the rest? Probably the biggest factor is the choice of brands. Sephora stocks some of the coolest brands out there and they definitely do not skimp when it comes to putting the Play subscription together. I heard some grumbles that one box featured what was likely “leftovers” from last year’s birthday gift, but guess what? Last year’s birthday gift was a NARS lip pencil! Not exactly chump change for most of us. I’ve gotten products from Tarte, Korres, Atelier Cologne (one of my favorite perfume makers), Urban Decay, and even Bite Beauty. Even the scents have all been knockouts – there’s one in every box. I dreaded my unexpected samples from Birchbox, but Sephora’s choices are consistently pleasing and exciting across a variety of styles. So far, Sephora has crushed it each and every time – plus your monthly fragrance sample counts as an extra product, not a replacement for a bigger item.
The other standout factor for me is the cost breakdown of each box. These things are worth well beyond the $10 they cost each month, even if a few products make their way to friends and family (makes me look pretty great too!)
To remain objective, I’ve decided not to rate any of the products I receive beyond pointing out a few of my overall favorites. Everyone’s preferences are different and it’s not up to me to tell you a product is bad because I personally didn’t like it. There’s something in there for everyone so here’s a look at the last six months of my Sephora Play subscription!
It’s been a few months since my last Top 5 post, so I figured we were about due! You guys may have already seen a few of these in my spring haul posts recently (partI and partII), but I got some really great stuff so here it is again with a few other goodies I’ve been using non-stop.
NARSVelvet Matte Skin Tint in Terre-Neuve ($44.00/1.7oz) – This is a very very new addition to my makeup arsenal, but man I’m in love. I tried it a little while ago with mixed feelings, but decided to give it another shot because I just could not believe how nice my skin looked with this on. It’s the first foundation in my collection that isn’t just sheer coverage, which is surprising because that’s exactly how this is advertised. I find it to have more of a medium/buildable coverage that’s also super smoothing on the skin and looks absolutely flawless. It has an almost powder finish, but looks very natural and isn’t cakey at all. It’s also got SPF30 which I love, and there seems to be no flashback of any kind in photos which is even better. NARS products tends to run very warm/yellow, but the lightest shade in this range is a damn near perfect match for me and I am absolutely loving it. For best results, apply with a damp cosmetic sponge.
StilaAqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Rosewater ($26.00/0.21oz) – Also a new addition to my collection, this shade is stunning year-round. I fell in love with this formula last summer when I purchased the shade Water Blossom, but the iridescent blue-based pink is not always the most appropriate option. This neutral pink shade is gorgeous for more natural or professional looks, but still gives a very youthful dewy glow which makes it a perfect spring staple.
I realize I’m a little behind on the times here, but man am I excited! I recently got my hands on some goodies from Melt Cosmetics (and also got to share a few words with Dana herself, more about that below) and I am in love. I scooped up all three of their four-pan eyeshadow stacks (Love Sick, Dark Matter, and Radioactive) as well as four of their matte lipsticks in the shades Spacecake, Dark Room, Sext, and Bang! Bang!. Since they’re a smaller brand with no retail presence (which means nowhere to go swatch all the preciouses), I thought I’d give you guys a full breakdown of everything I know about the brand and their products, with swatches and photos of course.
Founded in 2012 by makeup artist besties (and serious beauties) Lora Arellano and Dana Bomar, Melt is a California-based brand featuring cruelty free lipsticks and four-pan eyeshadow compacts. I was able to get in touch with Dana to ask her a few questions about Melt products and she informed me the brand started with just five lipsticks; now the range includes 12 eyeshadows across three palettes as well as 18 ultra-matte lipsticks in nude, black, and pretty much every shade in between.
The stacks come in sets of four eyeshadows with a small round mirror, each in a magnetic disc, which makes them perfectly stackable and perfectly portable too. They do run at a semi-steep $48 each, which works out to $12/shadow and a free mirror. That said, the pans are massive! With the price and size comparisons for MAC, Melt, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Makeup Geek below… I’d argue these are a pretty good deal.
MAC Pro Pan: 1.5g / 0.05oz ($10.00) ABH singles: 1.7g / 0.059oz ($12.00 or 4 for $40) Makeup Geek: 1.8g / 0.064oz ($6.00) Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow: 2g / 0.07oz ($21.00) Melt Cosmetics: 3.57g / 0.125oz (4 for $48.00)