Four things. I went to Sephora, and I only bought four things.
And yet… I somehow managed to spend a small fortune. Like, how is that even possible?
Wait: that’s a stupid question, isn’t it? Because it’s Sephora, people. It’s like the makeup equivalent of the Magic Kingdom, for God’s sake. If you can walk in there and NOT walk out with at least one piece of makeup, well, we just can’t be friends*, basically. Sorry about that.
(*We can totally still be friends. As long as we can go to Sephora together every now and then?)
Anyway, here’s what I bought in Sephora last month, and what I thought of it all…
This was the first thing I bought – on the very first day of my holiday, in fact – and it wasn’t so much a “fun” purchase as it was a totally necessary one. When your skin is as pasty as mine, you spend a lot of time applying – and re-applying – sunscreen when you’re on vacation, and while it’s not too much trouble to re-apply the stuff to your body, it IS a bit of a pain to keep re-applying it to your face – especially if you’re wearing make-up. I’m way too lazy to remove and then re-apply my foundation every time I want to top-up my sunscreen, but trying to apply it on top of the foundation isn’t much fun either… which is where this product comes in.
This is a mineral sunscreen: the bottom of the brush contains a finely-milled powder, which you brush onto your skin, giving it instant SPF 45 sun protection AND getting rid of any shine, into the bargain. Now, I don’t know about you, but my face looks shiny even when I HAVEN’T been walking around under a burning hot sun, so the fact that this both protects my skin AND gets rid of the shine was a huge selling point for me. I used it every day of my holiday, and have no complaints: sure, the brush took a bit of getting used to (You have to pull down on the base to retract it, and it took me a good five minutes to work that out, even although there’s a label on the tube which says “DO NOT TWIST, IDIOT.”), but I didn’t burn once, so I guess it did the job.
I have to admit, because I couldn’t actually SEE the translucent powder coming out of this, I’d probably be too scared to just use it on its own: I mean, I’m sure it would work perfectly fine, but I kept on using my usual sunscreen first, and kept this for top-ups: worked for me!
This was a complete impulse buy: I had to walk past it to get to the register, and, well, one minute I was just walking on by, the next it was in my basket. And that’s why I’m not allowed to go into Neiman Marcus any more – woe! Anyway, it may have been an impulse buy, but I love it: it’s a lip treatment/sunscreen combo, which contains real sugar to exfoliate the lips, and it also adds a bit of colour, too. I say “a bit of colour” -I chose the shade ‘cherry’, and the colour is actually much more intense than I’d expected it to be. It’s a nice, cherry red, as you’d expect, and it has a lovely, fruity scent, which instantly transports me back to California (figuratively, I mean. If it could ACTUALLY transport me back to California, it would probably be WAY more expensive…) every time I use it.
This is nicely moisturising, but I mostly like it for the colour. As I’ve mentioned about a million times before, my natural lips are virtually colour-less, which means I look like one of the walking dead without lip colour. At the same time, however, my lips also lack a defined lip line (as I’ve ALSO mentioned more times than I care to count now), which makes applying lipstick pretty tricky. This is just enough colour to make me look alive, but not so much that I’d need to sit down with a lipliner and brush to apply it. It’s another product I used pretty much every day on holiday: I found it easy enough to apply on the go, and will definitely buy it again when this tube runs out. Oh, and next time I’ll take better care of it: as you can see, the tube got pretty roughed up from being carried around in my handbag all the time: whoops!
The original version of this product has been my go-to mascara for a couple of years now, so I was really excited to try the new extreme – sorry, Extreme! – version, assuming that it would be just like the original, only way, way better.
Now, the original version isn’t without its faults: the formula is super-sticky and prone to clumping, and the two-tube application takes a bit of getting used to. Once you’ve got the hang of it, though, it’s definitely worth the effort, because it really does create a “false lash” effect, which is what I want from a mascara. The good news is that the updated version gets rid of most of the application issues: it’s not nearly as sticky, and while it IS still prone to clumping, it’s not nearly AS prone to clumping as it used to be.
The bad news, however, is that, in the process of getting rid of everything that was wrong with this mascara, they’ve somehow managed to get rid of everything that was RIGHT with it, too. The original version had the ability to create dramatically longer lashes: this one… just doesn’t. Now it’s just ordinary, really. Yes, my lashes are a bit longer when I use it, but it’s nothing to write home about, and it’s definitely not worth the $35 you pay for it. Actually my Maybelline Illegal Lengths Mascara is every bit as good as this, and it’s WAY cheaper, so I know what I’ll be buying in future.
The most disappointing thing about this, though, is the fact that, having released this Extreme! version, Too Faced now seem to have discontinued the original, too, so when my current tube runs out, it’s goodbye Better Than False Lashes – which I now refer to as ‘Not Even Remotely Better Than False Lashes, Seriously.’ There’s a very good chance that I’ll never get over the disappointment of this.
I’ve been obsessed with the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders for months now. Obsessed. I read tons of reviews of them, and even got so far as adding one of them to my online shopping cart a few times, before changing my mind and closing down the browser window. Because the main thing I learned from all of those reviews was that I probably wouldn’t actually like these powders. I knew this. Still I obsessed over them, though, and still I went into every single branch of Sephora I passed, just so I could swatch them all again, and work out which one I totally wasn’t going to buy, nuh-uh.
Finally, on the last day of the holiday, and with my remaining dollars burning a hole in my wallet, I caved and bought myself ‘Ethereal Light’.
And yeah, I’m totally underwhelmed by it: WHO COULD’VE GUESSED?
So, this is a finishing powder which, according to the blurb, is designed to “refract light and create transparent coverage, filtering out harsh light and refining the appearance of the skin.” So it’s like an Instagram filter for your skin, basically. ‘Ethereal Light’ is the palest shade, and, as you can see, it’s pretty much a pure white, which Hourglass claims will mimic a “moonlit glow”. Uh huh.
I mean, I don’t really know what I was expecting here. Well, OK, I DO: I was expecting it to make me look like Galadriel or something, all ethereal and dreamy. As it turns out, though, I look NOTHING LIKE FREAKING GALADRIEL, FOR GOD’S SAKE. Actually, I just look like myself. EXACTLY like myself. As in, this makes absolutely no difference to my skin whatsoever – or not that I’ve noticed, anyway. I’d like to think that it’s maybe more obvious to other people or something, but I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now, and so far no one has come up to me and said, “Why Amber, you’re positively radiant today – it’s almost like you’re lit from within, with a subtle moonlit glow!” so I’m forced to come to the conclusion that it really isn’t making any difference.
As I said, I suspected this would happen when I bought this, so I’ve really no one to blame but myself. I’ll keep on using it, and perhaps one day I’ll unlock the secret of using this: if I suddenly start looking like an elf in my outfit photos, you’ll know I’ve managed it. Don’t hold your breath, though…