Beauty Products you should NOT waste your money on.

If you're gonna read and take anything from this post, let it be this: your hard earned money is better spent & invested in skincare, an eyeshadow palette & a good foundation.

If you follow my Snapchat & Instagram…or just know me on some level in person, you know I am REALLY into makeup. No, I am not going to start a YouTube channel. Its not my jam. I just want to use my blog to talk to you ladies (and gents, guys wear makeup too) about make up n stuff. In this post, I have listed all my favorite products (tried and true) but more importantly, I have focused on the items that are cheaper & in similar quality as high-end (looking at you literally any mascara.) With that said here is my list:

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that I am no longer buying or trying from companies that test on animals. I still have some in my collection but I am no longer buying anything new thats tested on animals. Every brand I recommend to you is cruelty free and/or vegan. L’Oréal, Cover Girl & Maybelline might have good shit, but I refuse to buy and use it and this is MY PERSONAL preference. You do you boo.
  • Do not spend more than $15 on a liquid lipstick. Both NYX Cosmetics and Wet’n’Wild have good ones. But know that these cheaper formulas do take more than one coat to achieve that full opaque look. Colourpop also has incredible lip stuff for fraction of the cost. If you wanna spend more, I personally enjoy formulas from: Kylie Jenner CosmeticsJeffree Star Cosmetics and Bare Minerals (smells like chocolate.) Liquid lipstick is not for everyone. If your lips are on the dryer side, it can make them look worse. People buy this stuff mostly because it stays on ALL day.
  • Do not spend big money on a blush. I was doing my make-up few days ago and I put NARS Orgasm ($30.00) on one cheek, Milani Baked Blush Luminoso ($7.00 at Target) on other, and absolutely LOVED Milani far more. It is a gorgeous peachy blush with little sheen. Could serve you as highlighter AND blush. Luminoso color is GORGEOUS, subtle and you can really build it. Blushes are ONE type of make up where you don't want intense pigment, unless you want a slab of unnatural color on your face. Milani has other baked blush shades too and if they are anything like Luminoso, I might be due for another trip to Target.
  • Do not spend big money on a highlighter. I cannot believe I’m even saying this because my collection is nothing but high end, but over the past month, I've been using ONE and one and only highlighter: Physician’s Formula Butter Highligher in Rose Gold. Its about $11 at Target. It has a near putty texture that just blends onto the skin flawlessly. I am OBSESSED with it.
  • Do not spend big money on a bronzer. Speaking of Physician's Formula brand, they have an incredible Butter bronzer that has achieved a cult level status at this point. It literally smells like vacation, has the right amount of orange & gray in it so you don't look yellow & fake...but also not muddy. Sadly, this is the ONLY cheap bronzer I can personally recommend because 99% of drugstore bronzers have shimmers and I'm a matte bronzer kinda bitch. My blush & highlighter already have enough sheen. Its all about personal preferences. Shimmery bronzers make my face look dirty.
  • Do not spend big money on brushes. (This can go along with the Beauty Blender.) In the past year or so, I have reached for my $2.50 Wet'n'Wild all over brush more than my $50 Marc Jacobs one. Cheaper companies have found a way to make incredible synthetic brushes that feel soft without destroying your wallet. Be mindful of the TJ Maxx and Marshall brands. I have bought a ton from there since they are so damn cheap...and threw away a ton. They are flimsy & itchy. Stick with known brands if you are interested in building a good, long lasting collection. You cannot go wrong with Real Techniques, Morphe & Wet'n'Wild. Also, BH Cosmetics....fucking hell. Amazing quality, super low prices. I have a couple of sets and they are still serving me few years later. BH Cosmetics also has TON of great eyeshadows, blushes, contour kits, lipsticks for very cheap.
  • Do not spend big money on liquid highlighters. They are so damn expensive for what they actually are: impractical. This is not the type of product you use every day. I shelled out $42.00 for custom highlighter drops from Cover FX and used it a handful of times. Should have kept my receipt and returned it because its a useless product and I could get some good skin care for that $. Its a good product, but its shimmery intensity calls for special occasions and its not wearable for every day. In meanwhile, I've been playing with the brand new Physicians Formula Spotlight Illuminating primer and its subtler, more every day kinda product and gives skin a nice glow. If you are super oily, stay away from liquid highlighters. Unless you like that oil slick look on your face. Liquid highlighters are a tricky item which is why no more than $15.00 should be spent on it.

Basically, Physician's Formula has been KILLING the game lately with their excellent, affordable products. I'm still in testing stages of their new Healthy Foundation. So far I am loving it, it looks gorgeous on skin (but doesn't last as long) so I don't wanna recommend it too soon. I need a good solid month or two of testing.

Other cruelty free and/or vegan brands that I heartily recommend: Pacifica & Pixi Beauty. They are more mid-range priced but the quality is top-notch. Pacifica is for that really natural, subtle look.

Obviously take everything on here with a grain of salt. Your $ - your business. I feel like I have enough experience & wear test to help you save money because there are items out there you SHOULD be shelling out your coin for. $30 NARS blush is not worth it. Putting that extra $30 towards good skincare is a WAY better investment.

I hope this list is helpful. I didn't recommend anything I haven't bought, tried and used. And not just for a day or week...we are talking at least a year span. I have wasted enough $ on shit that I barely use or was not up to par and was TOO LAZY to return. Not anymore. I've become more conscious of how much I'm spending and what I'm buying. If a $50 foundation is not a flawless bitch putting my kids through college....shit is going back. Do not be afraid to return stuff and don't waste your money on products I listed above. I promise you, its not worth it.

My method to clean & disinfect makeup sponges

I am a HUGE proponent of using sponges to apply...basically everything on my face: liquid foundation, loose powder, putty highlighter, primers, and all other creams (blush, contour etc.) I love this system because brush bristles tend to scratch my face and my skin is so damn sensitive, a butterfly can fart in my direction and I will break out or have inflammation. Acne and enlarged pores have always been an issue and I also have combo-dry skin that's usually very dehydrated. With all that said,  damp makeup sponge for me is a way to go. I can press the product in, bounce it against my face, add bit of hydrating from its dampness and sheer out some of the product for more natural look.

Big downfall is the cleanliness. Sponges attract A LOT of bacteria. These sponges get dirty like a mofo even after one use. Usually, you can keep on using the sponge for weeks at the time, but with my skin sensitivity, I use a different sponge every day and on Sunday nights, I clean them ALL. Its a routine and a habit I created for myself. You do NOT have to go to this extreme. This works for me. How do you clean these sponges since they soak up so much oil & foundation? Well, I have a bulletproof system for you.

Disclaimer: if you've been using your sponge for a month and not cleaning it, the problem is you and not my system. Clean your brush otherwise you are pressing PURE bacteria against your face.

What you need:

1. Any soap. Liquid or bar. I use bars that are infused with TEA TREE OIL because tea tree is a natural antiseptic. It has a STRONG scent. I buy these soaps at Amazon, Target or TJ Maxx.
2. Cooking Oil. Not a joke I swear. Oil will break down foundation. My preferred choice is Viva Natural Coconut oil but you can use anything you like. I like using coconut oil because I don't wanna waste my delicious olive oil. Its too expensive. This is important step. Oil is what helps soap do its job.
3. Hot water (comfortable enough for you to handle.)

1. Run your sponge in hot water until its completely soaked and enlarged.
2. Take coconut oil and rub it all over the sponge, especially on the dirtiest spots, gently squeezing and rubbing it in your palms. Coconut oil will get to work immediately and start breaking down the product. Do this for a minute or two.

3. Rinse the sponge. Hot water will usually get the oil off.
4. Take your bar of soap and rub the saturated sponge against until its nicely coated.

5. Massage the sponge for a minute. Makeup will literally pour out of it.
6. Rinse well.
7. Usually I repeat this soap step but you don't have to.
8. Leave overnight to dry.

The whole thing takes less than 5 minutes. If you do this often, your sponge will last longer (especially if you're using $20 Beauty Blender) and you wont be using a dirty sponge on your face. It seems like a chore but your face is the only one you got. Treat it well.

Before & After

 Tip: if you are not using tea tree oil or any other type of anti-septic, put your sponge in a bowl with water and microwave for a minute. That kills the bacteria as well. 

I hope this was helpful. Feel free to reach out, ask questions, tell me what you do...

Going Animal Cruelty Free - personal manifesto.

Ever since I rescued my 3 cats, I've become more conscious about animal welfare. Not that I wasn't aware of animal cruelty before, I just never spoke as loudly as I do these days. And also, ignorance is bliss. I chose to ignore certain things because I like certain items. In terms of animal welfare, I sadly admit that I am nowhere near perfect. I still eat meat, for example. Not as much as I used to, but I do. I do imagine and see the future for myself that is free of animal flesh & fur. My conscience won't allow much longer for it. I know what the corporate farming does to cows, pigs and chickens. Do not google it....or do, maybe we can go vegan together. Cats and dogs might be considered pets, but the farm animals are just as sentient as the "cute," "fluffy" ones. Because I still eat meat, I can't judge anyone else who does. This post is not meant to be preachy or judgmental. I'm fully aware of the fact that veganism and vegetarianism are FIRST world choice. People across the planet cannot afford such luxury. I try to keep my privilege in check. This post is simply a reflection on a lifestyle I want to change & lead. Lifestyle free of animal, products, torture & cruelty. Those are the key words to keep in mind. It's not a change I can make over night but I'm willing to work on it.

Animal cruelty, with CRUELTY being the key word here, it does nothing to benefit a human. You can eat an animal without torturing it or experimenting on it.

Bottom line:

It's cruel to hunt for sport & fun.
It's cruel to test make-up on animals.
It's cruel to wear leather and fur.
It's cruel to buy animals.

I want to contribute somehow. I want to curb the cruelty in any way I can. I wish I can be more radical and bold and just say "fuck it all" but there is nuance to this. Its not as black and white and as simple as some may make it out to be. Hunting for food and population control, I get it. Testing medications on animals for cancer treatments, I get it. Testing for make up? Fuck no. Its absolutely unnecessary. Wearing leather and fur? The sheer cruelty these poor animals go through is unbearable. Technology and process has evolved so much that vegan leather and fake fur look as good as the real thing, but its a personal choice and you chose to be a fucking asshole. (The fur thing infuriates me.) Now, let me step back for a moment. I own a leather jacket, shoes and boots. All from Zara. Haven't bought real leather in years & don't intend to anymore. I find solace in Zara's ethically obtained leather though. but even this is highly questionable due to the environmental impact and collection of carcasses from slaughterhouses....I mean....I don't know. At least they are not killing these poor animals just to strip them off their skin, so I find SOME, completely bare minimum justification in that. Its not good enough though.

Ethical Consumer is a fantastic source if you are looking to make changes to your purchasing and life habits.

I have never bought or worn fur. I refuse to buy silk.  I'm trying to abstain from polyester as well, due to environmental impact. Cotton, linen and soy based fabrics such as cashmere and silk are all sustainable and biodegradable. Does polyester sneak into my closet? Sure. I'm trying to curb it as much as I can. 

For about a year, I've been changing up my skin and make-up routine and products to cruelty-free. 99% of my make up is cruelty free. 100% of my skin care is cruelty free. Hair care? This is my worst offence. Pretty much all of my hair products have been tested on animals. After make up and skin care, that's my next level of cruelty free I'd like to achieve. If it has the word L'Oreal, Estee Lauder, & Shiseido, I am NOT buying it. There are so many great make up  brands that are NOT sold in China (this is major indicate) and are cruelty free. My favorites are Hourglass. Marc Jacobs Beauty (separate company from the perfumes which DO test on animals) Kat Von D, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Becca, Cover FX - and TONS of other affordable & indie brands. There are thousands of fantastic companies NOT testing on animals and their products are TOP NOTCH. You can spend $13 on Loreal Infallible....or you can spend $5.00 on Wet'nWild which is far superior, cheaper and CRUELTY FREE. Its not just rats and rabbits that go through this process. Cats, dogs, monkeys....I mean. I didn't want to share any disturbing photos but...

I don't want this on my conscience. I already do enough damage by eating meat & eggs....but to contribute to this because of a fucking lipstick? I can do better.

So yeah. I've been ranting, facebooking, snap-chatting and discussing cruelty free for a while now. Its something I take seriously & other people's opinions on this matter are absolutely irrelevant to me. My goal is not to preach or tell you "go vegan"...I just want to discuss alternatives. I can't judge because I'm so far from where I want to be. I hope to start a conversation with this.

I want my lifestyle to reflect my conscience. Maybe not right now at this moment or even tomorrow, but I'm more than willing to make changes & raise my own humans one day to be aware of the planet and all its inhabitants.

Cruelty Free Kitty website is a FANTASTIC source for all things cruelty-free & vegan. Suzi updates her blog regularly with new products and ways. She also alerts when a company sells their soul to China (looking at you NARS.)
Resources are out there, products and ways are out there...they just need to be looked up, reached and researched. Ignorance is no longer a bliss for me. I'm not that boring anymore. And as always, TNR your neighborhood cats and ALWAYS ADOPT DO NOT SHOP. 

2016 - My Year in Sephora - the best, the just OK...and the worst.

I spend a lot on my face when it comes to skin care and make up. In the last few years I've really focused on quality of the stuff I use since my skin is so damn sensitive. Butterfly could fart in my direction and my skin will find a way to break out. The moment I turned 13 and got my first period, my skin went from baby smooth to the oily crater mess that has followed me through my youth, mid twenties and now into 30's. I contribute my non-existing self-esteem during those years mainly to my skin issues. Top that with a fact I don't exactly lead the healthiest lifestyle due to a slew of bad habits (I'm an animal, what can I say)...for the sake of my skin and appearance, I go the extra mile. This year was exciting for my Sephora addiction. Mainly because I got my routine down and found stuff that actually works for me. The product pictures in this post are not stock photos taken from websites, but my own. I really want to show you guys that this is the stuff I truly use religiously. Well, not all of it. Some are flukes and I'm AWFUL at returning shit. If you follow my snapchat, you know how much I love beauty hauls and doing swatches. I get ton of positive feedback so I thought why not combine all the stuff I bought in 2016 into one big post. 

I'm going to combine all aspects of neck and up care: face, hair and make up. Don't ask me for body lotions and creams since the answer is basic and simple: I stick to Eucerin & Aquaphor. That stuff is tried and true and magical. I use Aquaphor on my elbows, knees and anywhere with extra flakiness and dryness, while I apply Eucerin to my neck and chest area for extra hydration right before bed.

I want to start with skin care because its so crucial. I have a routine that is OCD-level down perfected and if I skip means I died or I got home drunk and wasted out of my mind. I won't get into my full routine since that's a topic for another post. 

Top three products are my tried and true repeats. I can't recommend them enough. Korres Wild Rose face oil (2nd bottle), Kate Somerville acne spot treatment (I think this is my 5th bottle in the last 2 years), this stuff is STRONG and has sulfuric acid in it that reduces pimples and First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream. I'm on my second jar and it lasts a long time. Its not a heavy moisturizer and I like to use it in the mornings before my make up to hydrate the skin and give it some base before foundation. The bottom two products (Lancome eye cream and Tatcha Supple) are expensive as shit but that's because they help fine lines around the eyes. 
Face Masks: Boscia black mask and Origins Original Skin. I have A LOT of texture due to acne and enlarged pores and once a week (Sunday nights), I do a pretty mask heavy routine that strips ALL dead skin cells of my face. Because it can be so drying, I don't do it more than once a week. 
Bobbi Brown - I am so impressed with this brand in terms of their skin care. Make up? I don't care much for it. I use this cleansing oil once I take my foundation off with make up wipe remover and it just leaves skin so soft. Because I'm oily and break out so much, I give my skin what it needs: OIL. I use oil cleansers to clean and face oils to moisturize. People assume if you have greasy skin, the best thing to do is to dry it out and that can't be more wrong. If you keep on drying it out, your pores will react and produce MORE oil and with it more acne. Fighting oil with oil has been my Holy Grail revelation.
Another product I LOVED in 2016 was Clinique Take the Day off Balm. Its oil based and melts the make up right off. Its even gentle for the eyes.

The skincare stuff I did not care for at all and it pains me due to money I spent on it is Sunday Riley. Honestly, these were purely hype based purchases that did NOTHING.
I think Tidal actually made me break out even more, especially on my chin. Right now, they are collecting dust and reminding me of money I dropped on them. Hey, you win some, you lose some.
Hair wise, I can no longer imagine my life without Bumble & Bumble invisible oil products. I have pretty dry hair due to processing and styling, so it always needs extra help. These products give me hydration without weighing it down and making it look greasy. I'm obsessed.

Verb Ghost oil is another product I use daily and its shockingly invisible while super thick in consistency. I say witchcraft but whatever gets these hair ends hydrated.

Now onto MAKE UP :)

I love love loveeeeeeeee make up. Beginning of 2016, I watched a lot of YouTube tutorials. Last few months, less so due to lack of interest. Everything loses its charm I guess. Also, some of these famous beauty gurus started to get paid to push products so they can fund their Botox and I gave up. I still follow and love few (Tati and Kathleen Lights) Now don't get me wrong, I don't judge anyone opting for plastic surgery and enhancements. Do whatever makes you feel good. You do you boo. I personally cannot take a beauty advice from anyone that fills their face with fillers and botox. "Ohhh look  how full my lips look with this $90 lipgloss from Tom Ford" 
Well DUH! Your lips look full since they are FILLED with enhancements! I just don't buy it anymore. With that said, I had TON of exciting Sephora purchases in 2016 in terms of make up.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance eye palette is THE best palette out there. No joke. If you are going to splurge on anything, make it this. I do heavy black eye shadow on weekends and at parties, but for every day, I'm a warm neutral kinda girl. Lots of browns, reds, oranges. This is a staple item and I'm simply obsessed. Highly pigmented and blendable. It only has two cons but its so magical that I'm able to look past them. It has NO matte black and its very powdery, so I recommend you do your eyes first, battle the fall-out and then do your foundation.

My foundation Holy Grail for the last few years has been Estee Lauder Double Wear. This is my 4th bottle in 2 years. It stays on all day and I touch up  maybe once or twice a day, which for a change, is a miracle. I can't use anything else anymore.
In 2016 I also discovered Givenchy Prisme Libre loose powder in Mousseline Pastel, much to my wallet's dismay. This baby is expensive, but this baby also WORKS. No weird white cast, it mattifies my greasy face, smells incredible and lasts all day. Dare I say its better than Laura Mercier Translucent Powder (I have and use both.)
Even tho my skin can be absolutely tragic at times, I don't have problem with puffiness or dark circles underneath my eyes (knock on wood), therefore I use concealers very seldom. The ones I love are Urban Decay Naked Skin and Too Faced Born This Way, simply because they are NOT heavy. I use them on acne, excessive redness and to highlight if my skin is looking a little thirsty and dull.

Highlighter wise? Guuuuuuuurl...this can be a separate post on its own. I love highlighting. My temples, cupid's bow, nose bridge, shoulders, shoulder blades, eyes, inner name it. The one highlighter that stood out for me in 2016 is this Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Moonlight. This shit is LEGIT and not for the faint of hearts. You will glow to Gods. Its expensive but a little goes a long way. Also, good luck finding it since its always sold out.

Must I even mention NARS "Orgasm" blush? You don't know shit about make up if this baby is not in your collection. Its a perfect mix of pink and peach for all skin tones with micro glitter to make you glow. Its flawless. I hit pan finally 2 years into using it, so yeah, it lasts FOREVER. "Orgasm" is a cult item for a reason.

If I'm not reaching for Anastasia Modern Renaissance, I've been really loving Too Faced Sweet Peach palette. For the longest time it was gone and sold as special edition. Brand finally made it permanent and I got my hands on it. Its got beautiful cool and warm tones, smells like fresh peaches and the satin shades are nearly perfect. The matte ones need a base for sure.
Since Michelangelo did not sculpt David with plastic fork and hammer, using the right tools to apply your make up is the KEY. I love the Beauty Blender and stippling brush to apply liquid foundation and my newly purchased Kat Von D setting powder #20 brush for the powders. Its softer than baby's butt. I love it.

To color correct, I love YSL products. I use the green touch up stick when I have too much redness from break outs and irritation and Apricot CC primer for a quick touch up when I don't do a full face.

Black eyeliner is a MUST. Hello have we met? I've been using Kat Von D's Trooper for couple of years, but in 2016 I got Tarte double end liquid and pencil eyeliner. You need jaws of life to take that shit off. Its so good. I also loved Pat McGrath and Marc Jacobs. Easy applications, super black, lasts forever.

Now for the make up products that sort of ended up disappointing me. 
Because of my oily, acne prone, enlarged pore skin, I was so excited for Cover FX and its blot drops. It ended up being the most useless product on the planet. For nearly $50, I expected a top notch product. I kept it because I want it to try it different ways: mix with foundation, moisturizer, as a primer, pre make up, post make up...I tried it in every way imaginable. Not only did it not do jack shit, it made me even oilier. What a huge fail for Cover FX (usually a fantastic brand)
Anastasia Beverly Hills foundation and contour stick- It blends to nothing. I tried sculpting my cheeks and as I blended the product, it disappeared. Useless.

Kat Von D's liquid lipstick. I know I know...everyone and their mother swears by these but I just can't stand the dryness. Liquid lipsticks are tricky, I get it. But when the formula is done right (like Kylie Cosmetics), I absolutely love it. I hate these from Kat. Hate them. My lips turn into a dry butthole when I use them.

I didn't hate these two, but for the price, I was not crazy for them either. While I love the color range in this Anastasia glow kit Sweets, its ends up being chunky and glittery. I still reach for it since I love that lavender shade for my shoulders, but I wish it was little smoother and creamier like Becca ones.

Kat Von D's Shade & Light contour palette is just too damn powdery! The amount of product even the least dense brush picks up is INSANE. Color range is nice but the palette itself is a mess. And it could also use a gray tone based shade.

So yeah...that was my year in Sephora. Lots of good stuff, lots of bad stuff, routines mastered, new skills learned...I love this shit. I love having fun with it and experimenting. I genuinely do not regret a single dime spent since 90% of the stuff I get is awesome and it works.
What were your favorite and least favorite products in 2016?