I don’t really buy a huge amount of new beauty products these days, but one of my fave things about living in Canada is having access to Sephora’s favourites sets, minis, and of course their gift-with-purchase offers. In fact, if I’m ready to place an order I’ll still hold off until a good code comes along so I can try out something that interests me. I bought all of this stuff over the course of the last few months, a couple of things were GWP freebies, and I also picked up a few things in the VIB sale, though I didn’t go crazy because I didn’t really feel the need to.
Lip balms are kind of loosely skincare, so bear with me here. One of the best little GWP minis I’ve gotten recently is the Fresh Sugar Lip Caramel Hydrating Balm. I had actually eyed this up when it launched, knowing that truthfully I didn’t need another lip balm (they’ve always been a weakness of mine). But when I saw a code pop up to try a mini and I had a few things in mind that I was going to purchase, I checked out ASAP.
This balm both looks and smells like caramel, it’s lovely and hydrating on the lips, and it’s also not extortionately priced, so if you don’t mind balms in pots then this one is beautiful.
Because I have a problem, I then bought the Bite Beauty Agave Kisses Set. Ever since the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask (AU) became a cult, blogger-hyped product years ago I’ve wanted to try it but haven’t been able to reasonably convince myself that I needed another $30+ lip balm, because I absolutely do not.
But I’ve been curious about it for years, so when I spotted this mini set with a 5ml lip mask, plus a lip scrub and a lip balm in a stick I finally committed.
If you’ve already got several lip balms you probably don’t need another one (I’m telling you as much as myself here), but I majorly decluttered before I moved, so even with these 3 new ones I still have less than 10 in total, which is a semi-reasonable amount if you ask me.
In any case, the lip mask itself has a thick, ointment-y consistency that kind of reminds me of a more luxurious version of Aussie classic, Lucas’ Paw Paw Ointment. At the moment it works just as well as my other lip balms, but the real test will come when it’s below zero every day and I need something heavy duty for winter.
The Agave Lip Balm in the stick format is nicer than I thought it would be, I kind of imagined it to be stiff and waxy but it actually melts into your lips comfortably and you only need to run it over once or twice to feel like it’s working. I was keen to have this because I'm going to let it live in my handbag so I’ve always got something with me. I’ve not used the lip scrub just yet as I already have one open, but now that I have two I’m really making an effort to use my existing one regularly.
One of the things I picked up in the VIB sale is the Hylamide C25 Booster serum to replace The Ordinary’s Ascorbyl Glucoside 12%. I’ve used the Hylamide one before and since it’s in a format that suits my routine and I trust it to be effective I’ve gone back to it again. It also didn’t hurt that they had it at Sephora so I could get 20% off. Not quite as good as the 40% sales Priceline has back in Aus, but it’s not a super expensive product to begin with so I’m not mad.
Because my mum is a 10/10 babe, she picked up my Mecca Beauty Loop box for me and I got my hands on it while I was briefly back in Sydney in September. Although you don’t get to choose your samples like you do with Sephora point perks, there’s usually something pretty good in there, and one thing that really surprised me was the GlamGlow GlowStarter Mega Illuminating Moisturiser in Glow (AU). Although I don’t care for GlamGlow because I don’t like their marketing or packaging and they’re just not a brand that really interests me, after flying for like 30 hours I figured I’d throw some of this on my dull-looking skin, and I actually really liked it.
It contains iridescent pearly particles, much like a glowy, illuminating primer and it really brightens up the complexion, which is what I badly needed. I never find those primers work for me because they’re generally made with drier skin in mind, so their oil control properties tend to be non-existent.
Having a moisturiser that does double duty is a brilliant idea because I don’t have to sacrifice oil control in my primer, but I still get a bit of added glow under my makeup.
There are a few products marketed as a primer/moisturiser in one (Smashbox, Glossier, First Aid Beauty) and even though GlamGlow don’t market it that way, I think it does the best job at being a 2-in-1 product out of any of them, since the others are basically just moisturisers.
As a moisturiser this contains hyaluronic acid, jojoba seed oil and shea butter and it feels nice and hydrating without being heavy. At $59 CAD for 50ml it’s pricey but not outrageous. I don’t think I’m all that likely to pick up the full size, but I am really enjoying my sample.
I can definitely see this working for people with dry skin who love that glowy look, especially if you like lighter coverage products, or if you’re pressed for time (i.e. a mum) and just want to throw on as few products as possible that will still make your skin look fresh and healthy. Of course if this were your primary moisturiser you’d probably want a second product for night time as the illuminating aspect would be a waste if only your pillow can see it. Frankly, I’m surprised other brands haven’t copied this idea already because I think it’s a really good one.
My second VIB sale purchase was the Tartelette Toasted Palette. As soon as I saw a preview photo of this a few months ago I was basically salivating. In terms of palette series (i.e. Urban Decay Naked, Too Faced Chocolate Bar, etc.) the Tartelette range is easily my favourite. They tick all my boxes when it comes to matte vs. shimmer ratio, colour selection, quality, packaging and the general layout of the palette (the mirrors are huge and great for travelling), so I figured since I haven’t bought any kind of eyeshadow product this year that I would treat myself.
I’ve only been using this for a few weeks so far, but I have to say when I first got it I thought maybe I’d made a mistake because certain shades can read quite orange on the lids rather than warm-neutral (at least on my pale af skin). But I persisted with it and although it’s pushed me further out of my comfort zone than I was expecting, I’m really growing to love it.
If I don’t feel like anything super warm then I like to mix in mattes from another palette to dial it back a bit, but overall using this palette has pushed me to try lots of new things that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, and I really like how my makeup has been turning out since I’ve been using this. If I had to pick between the 3 Tartelette palettes the In Bloom version is still my favourite, but if you’re into super warm shades, or if you’re looking to experiment with them, then this is a great palette to try.
In the Beauty Loop Box I mentioned earlier, a nice surprise was a mini of the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner (AU) which I’ve heard lots of people rave about but I had never tried. I’m really particular with liquid liners and I know exactly what I do and don’t like about them, and although this one is good, it’s not the best I’ve tried.
It does last really well and doesn’t smudge or flake, but I find that by the end of the day it’s faded slightly and looks a little grey instead of deep matte black. It’s got a felt tip so it can skip a little when you’re applying it, so I generally prefer brush tips for that reason. Although I’ll keep using the sample and I’m glad I got to try it, it hasn’t convinced me to buy it over my existing drugstore favourites, and if I were picking between this and the Kat Von D one, I’d go with KVD.
For my birthday my sister in law (and my brother, though I doubt he had anything to do with choosing it) ordered me the Sephora Favourites Give Me More Lip Set as a surprise. I have to say, I’d eyed it up and decided I didn’t need to spend the money on myself, but it was a very welcome and well-chosen gift!
There are a couple of products in here that I have no use for (I literally threw the Urban Decay and Touch In Sol metallic ones in the bin after swatching them), but there were quite a few that I was really curious about. I’m not going to go through the entire kit because we’d be here all day, so I thought I’d just mention my top 3 favourites.
After finally starting to enjoy nudey-pink lipsticks about a year ago, I’d been half thinking about picking up a liquid lipstick or two. Luckily for me, the set included a full size of the Huda Beauty Liquid Matte in Bombshell (AU) and I absolutely love it. Once it dries down the colour actually suits me, which is my biggest problem with nudes, and the formula is impeccable. I hadn’t given the brand much thought and wasn’t particularly interested in trying anything from them, but this is great.
Some liquid lipsticks I avoid wearing to work because they bunch up and look funny when you reapply them after lunch, and they suck your lips dry by the end of the day. But this one is opaque in one swipe, reapplies perfectly, and feels like you don’t even have anything on your lips. I can forget I’m even wearing it, and that doesn’t often happen with liquid lipsticks. It’s one of the best formulas I’ve tried, I just wish they had a deep red in their line and I’d be all over it.
On a similar note, I also love the Smashbox Always On Liquid Lipstick in Driver’s Seat (AU). Again, the formula is really comfortable and not too drying, and the colour is a deeper terracotta shade that also suits me, which is half the struggle.
I tend to steer clear of peachy-nudes because if they have a lot of white in them they can make my teeth look yellow, and it doesn’t take much to veer into concealer-lips territory. But because this is quite a deep shade, even though it’s on the orange-y side, I really like it. So that’s me sorted for nude liquid lipsticks now!
Another one from the set that surprised me is the Tarte Quench Lip Rescue in Nude, and it’s one of the full-size products which is even better. It’s basically a lip balm with a very slight tint, and honestly it’s not something I would have bought myself because I only really wear products like this on no-makeup days, and I’ve already got a couple of mini Fresh balms that do that job for me. But as it turns out, I love this!
It’s super glossy on the lips, but because it’s in a solid balm form, it’s about the least sticky formula you could imagine. It basically melts on your lips like butter as you apply it, so it’s extremely comfortable to wear, has a slight minty tingle, and of course the packaging is just to die for – major hearteyes.
I got a mini of the Jo Malone Basil & Neroli Cologne (AU) with a Sephora code and I have to admit, unfortunately this is really not my kind of thing. I love warm, smokey scents (my favourite from Jo Malone is Amber & Patchouli) while this smells remarkably like fresh cut grass. But a) it was free, and b) I didn’t know what it smelled like before I got it.
It does looks adorable on my dressing table though, which brings me a not-insignificant amount of satisfaction, and I do throw it on occasionally for breakfast on the weekend or something where I’m not committing to the scent all day, but I’m definitely not going to be buying this.
And finally, my last VIB sale purchase was the Herbivore Coco Rose Body Polish (AU). I’d been looking at this for such a long time but couldn’t imagine a world in which I would spend over $40 (with tax) on a body scrub that I know is basically just sugar and coconut oil.
It’s not worth this much money in a practical sense, and the glass packaging is actually a nightmare waiting to happen in a shower product, but I had 20% off and it looks so ludicrously beautiful that I just did it.
It’s lovely to use and look at, it smells faintly of rose, and I find it nicely hydrating on the skin due to the coconut oil and shea butter. I keep this on my bathroom shelf and only get it out for a bath-time treat for two reasons: a) the (lovely but impractical) packaging is a simple white label on a glass jar and I don’t want it to get ruined by water from the shower, and b) it’s v. expensive and I don’t want to plough through it.
Yes, it’s a cliché beauty blogger move and I know I’m a sucker. Is this worth the money? No. But do I bloody love it? Yes.