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Skincare & Beauty

    Curiouser and Curiouser: Fake Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence

    I’ll start this post off by acknowledging that Benton’s had its share of contamination issues over the past few years. I think it’s incredibly important that you research products before putting them on your skin and before I purchased the Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence back in February, I read about the issues with the preservatives. When so much of your product is natural and can essentially go bad or begin to grow things like mold, preservatives that keep the products stable are a must. I am of the opinion that following the problems Benton had in 2014, the company learned from their mistakes and I was incredibly excited to try out the Snail Bee High Content line. What I should have been concerned about was the products were coming from.

    Here’s where it gets weird. I ordered Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence from Amazon on February 11th. It arrived a few days later and I immediately used it, forgoing a patch test (because I was an overly-excited imbecile). I woke up the next morning with little red dots all over my face, everywhere I used the essence. At first I thought it was an allergic reaction. Then I took a look at the bottle and the white print on it was already coming off. It hit me that it could be counterfeit. I immediately contacted Amazon to do the return. It was a painless process, Amazon processed my refund that day, and a few days later my skin was back to normal.

    Not my picture, but my red dots looked identical to these.

    Not my picture/skin, but my red dots looked identical.

    At the beginning of May, I noticed that Memebox has a Benton Box for $30 that includes Snail Bee High Content Skin, Snail Bee High Content Lotion, Snail Bee High Content Essence, Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream, Honest TT Mist, three Snail Bee High Content Mask Packs, deluxe samples of Aloe BHA Skin Toner and Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel. Basically, the best deal ever. To say I jumped at purchasing this box would be an understatement.  It arrived last week and this time I was smart enough to patch test. And guess what… A week into using this line everyday, no little red bumps. My skin looks and feels great! I want a few more weeks of using these products before I wrote an official review, but here’s the thing I really want to stress:

    Amazon doesn’t always source the products, sometimes they only fulfill the orders. Which means the products that aren’t sold by Amazon are sourced by individual sellers and the products they sell might not be authentic.

    I am incredibly hesitant to order beauty products from Amazon that are not sold by Amazon or the manufacturer. In fact, I probably won’t ever again. It’s scary to imagine the level of desperation required to fake a $14 essence. What’s even scarier is wondering what exactly you just put on your face.

    May Love List

    May Love List

    It’s officially hot out and time to update my makeup. Mostly so it doesn’t melt off by lunch. My May Love List is packed with makeup picks for Summer, a must read, the upgrade you need for your pool trips, and the TV show I can’t wait to watch! It’s been a minute since I used an e.l.f. product, but I love how they replicate designer makeup at much, much lower price points. I missed the memo on serum foundations, so when a friend recommended the Beautifully Bare Foundation Serum ($8) when I mentioned my love of BB creams and tinted moisturizer, I decided to give it a try. I love that there’s SPF 25, along with about a million vitamins in the serum. I wasn’t expecting a ton, but I’m now considering ordering a case of this foundation. It’s light, makes my skin look healthy-dewy, not Britney-Spears-I’m-a-Slave-4-U-coated-in-oil-dewy, and when I apply it with my new favorite brush ever, the Etude House My Beauty Tool Secret Brush 121 ($12), it looks flawless. After a light layer of powder, it stays put all day. My foundation now takes two minutes to apply and I love how it looks and feels (like it’s not even on).

    When I was ordering the foundation serum from e.l.f. it made more sense to hit the free shipping minimum, so I added a few things to my bag, including the Beautifully Bare Total Face Palette ($8). To my fellow pale ladies, this is your new contouring and blush bestie. I seriously cannot tell you how awesome this palette is. The contour has a grey cast instead of orange and it just works. A little Hanky Panky from ColourPop, swipe of mascara, and ColourPop’s new Matte X Lippie in Cami, then I’m out the door. It’s an easy natural look that takes ten minutes.

    I’ve been searching for affordable Turkish Bath Towels for years. They are perfect for pools/the beach and dry so much faster in sticky Georgia summers than regular towels. I finally found the right mix of quality and price in the Etsy store TurkishTowelArt. Also a requirement for the pool is Mary Kay Andrew’s The Weekenders, which will be out on May 17th. I’ll be posting a review closer to the release date, but trust me, you don’t want to miss this book!

    This is a weird one – I can’t wait for the second season of Scream! I love horror movies and I’m giving Scream a second shot. It was a little slow during the first season, but I think it might find it’s about to find it’s groove. The second season premiers on May 30st on MTV.

    The Best Hits Skincare Box from Memebox

    The Best Hits Skincare Box

    The Best Hits Skincare Memebox showed up last Saturday! While it’s a little wash-off mask heavy and I would have liked to see a little more variation in products, I’m pretty excited to try everything. Apart from the Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Mask, which I’ve tried in the past, prefer to use as a cleanser, and am happy to have a second as a backup. Other products in the box include Secret Key Lemon Sparkling Peeking Gel, Elizavecca Milk Piggy Hell Pore Clean Up Mask, J.one Jelly Pack, Botanic Farm Milk Pudding Sleeping Pack, and Etude House Cat Headband (not pictured). I only paid $45 during the pre-sale and while I went in blind, apart from the J.one Jelly Pack, I think the whole box is an amazing value.

    • Cat Headband
      Cat Headband
    • Black Soybean Milk Pudding Sleeping Pack
      Black Soybean Milk Pudding Sleeping Pack
    • J.one Jelly Pack
      J.one Jelly Pack
    • Milk Piggy Hell Pore Clean Up Mask
      Milk Piggy Hell Pore Clean Up Mask
    • Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel
      Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel
    • Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask
      Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask

    The Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask is great skintertainment, but also works as a great cleanser. I generally only use it though right before I take a shower, because washing it off can get messy.  I really like the smell and the bubbles help your face feel clean. Milky Piggy packs a punch with charcoal powder and it’s currently on sale at Memebox for $11.

    Currently, the Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel from Secret Key is sold out on Memebox. It’s got a lot of rave reviews and from what I understand, it’s great if you’ve got acne scaring. I haven’t had the opportunity to try this product out yet, but I have the feeling it will have it’s own post, fully devoted to it, soon. When it was last available on Memebox, it was selling for $1o.

    Um, ouch! Elizavecca’s Milk Piggy Hell Pore Clean Up Mask hurts more than a little when you peel off the mask, but it leaves behind baby smooth skin that makes that quick peel (please for the love of everything wonderful, make it quick) completely worth the uncomfortableness and pain of removing the peel. Mask is currently $22 on Memebox.

    I’d be lying if I said the the product I was most excited for in this box was anything other than the Jelly Pack. It’s the spoiler that listed this product that convinced me to pull the trigger and order the rest of the box blind. This pack is used instead of a primer, between your skincare and your makeup. It takes a few minutes to apply and you do have to work with it and pat it into your skin. Once you apply this thick, almost glue-y pack, you want to give it about five minutes to lose the sticky feeling it gives your skin and allow it to fully sink in. It makes skin incredibly soft, give a “tightening” effect, and makes a great based for applying tinted moisturizer or foundation. I’ve only used it for a few days, but I’m already in love. This pack is currently $42 on Memebox.

    The biggest surprise in The Best Hits Skincare Box was the Black Soybean Milk Pudding Sleeping Pack. I think I found my Holy Grail sleeping pack. I’ve woken up with incredibly soft and moisturized skin the past few mornings. Oh, and it smells exactly like chocolate pudding! I can’t wait to see the long term results of this product. The Pudding Sleep Pack currently sells for $25 on Memebox.

    Also included in The Best Hits Skincare Memebox was the Cat Headband from Etude House. I actually already have this headband, but a second one doesn’t hurt my feelings. I considered gifting it, but then I decided to keep it because I love the fit. Which is good, because somehow my basset hounds got one last night and completely destroyed it. These ah-dorable handbands go for $5 right now on Memebox.

    The Best Hits Skincare Box from Memebox Total Value: $115

    Stated Value at Time of Purchase: $130

    Amount Paid During Pre-Sale: $45

    Referral links are present in this post.

    30 Masks, 30 Days: Reviews Part IV

    It’s been an amazing 30 days for my skin. It’s never been clearer or smoother. It’s moisturized and balanced. While this is the last round up from 30 Masks, 30 Days, you can follow me on Instagram as I continue to try new sheet masks and share my standbys.

    SD Hair 7 Days Steam Hair Pack

    SD Hair 7 Days Steam Hair Pack 🙆🏼, left on 25 minutes, purchased from Memebox ($7). The hair pack smelled amazing. It was a little confusing to put on for the first time, but there’s plenty of room for all of your hair. Massaging in the extract is awkward, all of it is positioned at the top and you have to move it down. When the pack was removed, my hair was rinsed out, and dried, the result was silky and incredibly soft hair. I’m not sure how many days/washes it will last, but I love the results and will purchase again.
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

     SNP Birds Nest Aqua Ampoule Mask

    SNP Birds Nest Aqua Ampoule Mask, left on 35 minutes, purchased from Memebox ($2). If you dislike anything heavily scented, this isn’t the sheet mask for you. This mask is packed with swiftlet nest extract and there was a good bit of extra left in the packet. The mask is a single sheet that fits and sticks to my face ok-ish. Mask didn’t deliver the promised results of moisture. While it didn’t dry out my skin, there are much better masks at the $2 price point.
    ⭐️⭐️⭐/5

    My Beauty Diary Strawberry Yogurt Mask

    📢 PSA: Smelled so good I wanted to eat it! My Beauty Diary Strawberry Yogurt Mask, was left on for 40 minutes, until it went almost dry, purchased from Amazon as part of the MBD Carnival All-in-One-Party Set ($24.99 for 16 different masks). Mask has a noticeable (and delicious) strawberry scent. Fruit acids and lactic acid seem to be the most impactful ingredients. This mask was dripping in essence. I probably could have soaked a second mask in the packet if I wanted. Instead I used the extra extract on my neck and arms. Mask has a plastic backing to help you unfold and apply the mask. I needed to widen the eye holes, but that’s standard for MBD. Mask stuck to my face well. My skin felt amazing! Much more moisturized, so incredibly smooth, and the pimple I’m rocking (thanks shark week) is smaller and less red. I will definitely be purchasing more! I L😍VE this mask.
    ⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️/5

    Leaders Pore-Scaling Black Aqua Mask

    Leaders Pore-Scaling Black Aqua Mask, was left on for 20 minutes, purchased from Memebox ($2). Mask has a light scent. Volcanic Ash, Sugar Maple Extract, Soybean Extract are the ingredients that aim to clear out pores and tighten skin. This mask was packed with essence and there was a lot left over in the packet. Mask has no backing and took about a minute to unfold and apply. This is one of the best fitting sheet masks I have ever used. The mask helped zap a white head, it’s a lot smaller/barely noticeable, and my skin feels smooth. I didn’t notice any clearing of sebaceous filaments on my nose, but my pores do look smaller. At this price point, I will definitely be repurchasing.
    ⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️/5

    Dr. Morita Hyaluronic Acid Facial Mask

    Dr. Morita Hyaluronic Acid Facial Mask, was left on for 30 minutes, purchased from damimilife ($7.49 with coupon for 10 masks). Mask has a noticeable, but not unpleasant scent. I’ve been incredibly stressed this week and between that and the increase in the Tret script that is finally catching up to me, my skin is really starting to dry out. Hyaluronic acid helps your skin hold in moisture and draw more moisture in, which is exactly what my skin needs. This mask was had a ton essence and a lot was left over in the packet. Mask has a plastic backing and was extremely easy to unfold and apply. Mask fit well and it left my skin feeling smooth and hydrated. At under a dollar a mask, I will definitely be repurchasing.
    ⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️/5

    Freeset Donkey Milk Skin Gel Mask Aqua

    I was going to use a TONYMOLY mask today, but my skin was screaming for moisture. I loved the Freeset Donkey Milk Skin Gel Mask Healing when I used it last week, so I decided to give the Aqua mask a try. I left it on for 35 minutes, until dry, purchase from Memebox ($2). It had the same light, almost medicinal scent as the Healing Mask. I’m actually starting to really like the scent. It’s a one piece sheet mask and it has a thin plastic backing to help you unfold it. Be careful handling the mask, it’s slippery. Mask fits the face well and is loaded with essence. I applied the left over essence to my neck, which sucked it down. Just like the Healing Mask, the Aqua Mask left my skin looking a little glowy and feeling soft. I can’t believe how calm and moisturized my skin was after using this mask. Donkey Milk still weirds me out a little, but I’ve never gotten these results at this price!
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

    Mediheal Dress Code Mask in Blue

    I can’t believe it’s the last day of 30 Masks in 30 Days. Mediheal Dress Code Mask in Blue (Aqua Care), I left it on for about 40 minutes, until dry, purchase from Memebox ($2.50). There was a noticeable scent from the fragrance added to the mask. Not my favorite, but it didn’t stop me from using the mask. Some of the standout ingredients include hyaluronic acid, lavender extract, and rosemary extract. The mask is one piece and while it has no backing, it only took a minute to unfold and apply. Mask fit well and was dripping with essence. If you don’t feel super fancy in this masquerade inspired mask, you’re missing out on one of the best parts of this mask. My skin felt more hydrated after using the mask. Might repurchase.
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

    30 Masks, 30 Days: Reviews Part III

    Last week I found two absolutely amazing masks, including one with the real MVP, Donkey Milk. Also, all the masks I tried last week were new to me. A few were good, a few not so much. I can’t believe I have less than a week left of my Thirty Masks, Thirty Days challenge. I saved some interesting ones for last, so be sure to check out the Monograms and Margaritas Instagram this week. You can find the first set of reviews here, along with the second set here.

    Mediheal Mogongtox Soda Bubble Sheet

    Mediheal Mogongtox Soda Bubble Sheet, was left on for ten minutes, purchased from Memebox ($2.50, link will save you 20% off your first purchase). Mask didn’t have a noticeable scent. Mask was soaked…with cleanser? Mask covered my nose and the area under my eye to my chin. There is no true forehead coverage. The mask didn’t have a great fit. The area above my lips kept slipping down to my top lip. Which kind of dried out my lips. Once the mask is applied, it immediately begins to bubble. And it doesn’t really stop. It gets a little crazy with the foam. It also tickles. My pores definitely feel cleaner. There was an exfoliation effect that I like. I would love to see this as a full face mask.
    ⭐️️⭐️️⭐️⭐️/5

    TONYMOLY I'm Real Pomegranate Mask Sheet Elasticity

    TONYMOLY I’m Real Pomegranate Mask Sheet Elasticity, was left on until it went dry, for about 30 minutes (I was in a rush to meet a friend for coffee and think I could have left it on for another 10-15 minutes before it dried out), purchased as part of a TonyMoly package from Amazon ($10.76 for 11 masks) can be purchased individually from Urban Outfitters ($4). Mask had a very pleasant and light sweet scent. The wonderful smell (seriously one of the best smelling sheet masks I’ve ever used) is due to added fragrance. Mask was saturated, but didn’t have a lot of extra essence. Mask fits my face well. Surprisingly moisturizing and my skin did have that healthy Gwyneth Paltrow sheen after using the mask. Will repurchase.
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

    My Beauty Diary Platinum Snail Total Effects Mask

    My Beauty Diary Platinum Snail Total Effects Mask, was left on for 30 minutes, until it went dry, purchased from Amazon ($10.90 for 3). Mask has a light, but hard to distinguish scent, my allergies are really messing with me. It appears that snail trail (or snail secretion) is missing from the ingredients. This mask had the least amount of essence I’ve ever seen in an MDB mask. It had enough for use, but I didn’t have any left over. This mask is from the premium line, but nothing about it justified the price. My Tretinoin prescription was just doubled and I was hoping for hydration and calming. Mask has a plastic backing and a bright blue front that you also peel off. The whole fit was weird and off-putting. Mask stuck to skin ok. Skin felt maybe a little more moisturized. I’m incredibly let down and won’t be repurchasing.
    ⭐️️⭐️️/5

    Laneige Water Bank Soothing Gel Mask

    Laneige Water Bank Soothing Gel Mask, was left on for 40 minutes, included in my April Target Beauty Box (can be purchased from Target in a five pack for $24). Mask has a light and pleasant scent. This is a two piece mask, one part for the chin and upper lip area, another one for the under eye area and forehead. Mask has a backer and a section in the front that needs to also be peeled off. Mask feels slippery, but when placed on the face, it sticks and fits extremely well. The best fitting mask I’ve ever used. As your face absorbs the essence, the mask becomes thinner! I’ve never used a mask like this before and I’ll be looking into other gel masks! My skin was calm and incredibly moisturized. The results are well worth the price and I really like that my local Target has these in stock. I’m actually adding these to my shopping list and picking up more tomorrow.
    ⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️/5

    Freeset Donkey Milk Skin Gel Mask Healing

    Freeset Donkey Milk Skin Gel Mask Healing, left on 45 minutes, until dry, purchase from Memebox ($2, link will save you 20% off your first purchase). Light, almost medicinal scent, that didn’t bother me in the least. This is your standard one piece sheet mask and it has a thin plastic backing to help you unfold it. Mask feels slippery, but sticks to the face well, fits pretty good, and is loaded with essence. There was enough remaining in the pack to rub on my hands. While this is listed as a gel mask, but it doesn’t have the same thickness of some of the gel masks, but gives better results. Once I removed the mask I noticed my skin had gone from a slightly pinkish shade (from the increase in my Tret script) to my normal skin tone. My face looked a little glowy, felt soft and smooth and my pores appeared a bit smaller. I immediately added ten of these masks to my Memebox cart. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

    My Routine: The Cleansers

    Back in February, I introduced a new series that focused on my skincare journey. My goal at the time was to present solutions that I had used for at least a month, that were working for my skin type. What I didn’t realize at the time was how deeply I was going to fall into the rabbit hole of Asian skincare or that I was about to start a skin changing prescription from Curology. I’ve found over the past four months solutions that work so incredibly well for my skin that I cannot stop talking about them, but resisted talking about them here until I felt comfortable with the results. It’s about time to relaunch, this time with a better understanding of my skin and solutions for a combination of issues. I thought I should start by redoing my post on cleansers.

    • Su:m 37 Miracle Rose Cleanser Stick
      Su:m 37 Miracle Rose Cleanser Stick
    • ROHTO Hadalabo Gokujun Cleansing Oil
      ROHTO Hadalabo Gokujun Cleansing Oil
    • SKINFOOD Egg White Pore Foam
      SKINFOOD Egg White Pore Foam
    • The Face Shop Green Tea Phyto Powder In Lip & Eye Remover
      The Face Shop Green Tea Phyto Powder In Lip & Eye Remover
    • SKINFOOD Honey Black Tea Cleansing Cream
      SKINFOOD Honey Black Tea Cleansing Cream

     

    My Morning Cleansing Routine

    I double cleanse in the evening, but in the morning, the cleanser I reach for most often is the Su:m 37 Miracle Rose Cleanser Stick. It’s low-pH and incredibly gentle on my skin. I’ve been aggressively increasing my Tretinoin prescription through Curology, from .019% to .o4% in the past two months, so some mornings I want something with a little bit more moisture. Those mornings I turn to SKINFOOD Honey Black Tea Cleansing Cream. It smells fantastic, exfoliates gently and leaves my skin feeling soft. Read more

    Zoya Earth Day Nail Polish Exchange

    Zoya Earth Day Promo

    Zoya’s brought back their Earth Day Exchange again this year! Show the Earth a little love by sending in your old polish to be recycled or donate it (women’s shelters and foster care programs for teens generally love receiving it, if it’s still in useable condition)and grab some new BIG5FREE polish. Zoya is one of my favorite nail polish companies, not only because they focus on offering a healthier polish, but because the colors are always on point. I’m more than a little obsessed with the Matte and Satin collections and if I wasn’t on a buying freeze (thanks Meme Box!) I’d be filling my cart! Read more

    30 Masks, 30 Days: Reviews Part II

    This past week I mixed up the sheet masks a bit, including masks from, innisfree, Too Cool for School, SK-II, My Beauty Diary, and TonyMoly. I was asked on Instagram if using a different mask everyday has impacted my skin and so far, if anything, it’s helped. My skin hasn’t been irritated and I haven’t experienced a breakout. It might actually be the best it’s ever been. Be sure to also checkout part one of the sheet mask reviews!

    innisfree Jeju Volcanic Nose Pack

    innisfree Jeju Volcanic Nose Pack, was left on for 10 minutes (should have left on longer), purchased from Rose Rose Shop ($0.35). You can also find them on Amazon ($6.55 for 6, Prime Shipping). Nose pack comes dry, not wet like sheet masks. I cleansed my face, then wet my nose with warm water, peeled the pack off of the clear sheet and applied the strip. Smelled slightly medicinal. After ten minutes, I pulled the strip off. Should have waited at least five more minutes. Had some sebaceous filaments/gunk/blackheads on strip, but if I left on a bit longer, I probably would have had more. These work very similar to Biore strips, but because of the amount that the nose pack pulled (and I think it would have pulled even more if left on for 15 minutes), when I use a nose strip in the future, it will be innisfree. 
    ⭐️️⭐️⭐️⭐️️/5

    My Beauty Diary Hyaluronic Acid Treatment Mask

    My Beauty Diary Hyaluronic Acid Treatment Mask, was left on for thirty minutes, purchased as part of the MBD Carnival All-in-One-Party Set ($24.99 for 16). Allergies are killing me, but I didn’t notice a scent. Mask is packed with Hyaluronic Acid and also features fruit acid and root extracts. Like all MBD masks, this one was packed with essence Mask has a plastic backing, but like most MBD masks, the eye holes are a bit too small. Mask sticks to my skin incredibly well. My skin felt softer, but not moisturized when I took the (still slightly wet) mask off thirty minutes later. I wasn’t impressed and would choose a different MBD mask going forward. MBD has so many good ones, but this one isn’t one of them.
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️️/5

    Too Cool For School's Egg Cream Sheet Mask

    Too Cool For School’s Egg Cream Sheet Mask, was left on for 30 minutes, purchased as part of a set ($8.41 for five) from Rose Rose Shop, also available from Sephora ($6 per mask). Light scent, not egg-y. Mask is packed with egg white and yolk. The mask is thicker than most I’ve tried, features a net backing, making opening the mask easy. It is soaked in a thicker than normal essence and you won’t have a problem hitting up your neck and upper chest with the leftovers. Mask stuck to my skin and fit well. When I removed the mask, my skin was glowing, soft, and plump. I can’t believe how moisturized my skin looks and feels. Highly recommend.
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

    TonyMoly I'm Real Aloe Face Mask Sheet Moisturizing

    TonyMoly I’m Real Aloe Face Mask Sheet Moisturizing, was left on for about 30 minutes, purchased as part of a TonyMoly package from Amazon ($10.76 for 11 masks) can be purchased individually from Peach & Lily ($3) and Sephora (2 for $7.50). Packaging, as everything from TonyMoly, was adorbs. Mask had a very light, fresh scent. This mask, like the rest of the I’m Real masks, does have fragrance in it. Mask was fully saturated, but didn’t have any extra. Mask fits me well. My skin was moisturized, though a little sticky. No redness at all on my face; my skin looked calm and healthy. Would use again.
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5
    Read more

    30 Masks, 30 Days: Reviews Part I

    Sheet Masks Review Part One

    While I’ve just recently gotten into sheet masks, they have been popular in Asia for years. Meaning that there are a ton out there. It’s about finding the right sheet masks for your skin. I featured another handful of sheet masks last week as part of 30 Days, 30 Masks on Instagram. Some of them I loved and will become staples in my routine, others, not so much.

    TonyMoly I'm Real Seaweeds Mask Sheet Skin Purifying

    TonyMoly I’m Real Seaweeds Mask Sheet Skin Purifying, was left on for 40 (recommended 20 – 30) minutes, purchased as part of a TonyMoly package from Amazon ($10.76 for 11 masks) can be purchased individually from Peach & Lily ($3), Ulta ($3.75), or Urban Outfitters ($4). I love the bright packaging! Mask had a very clean scent, not what I expected from a seaweed (bladderwack, which is actually kelp) product. Fragrance is listed as an ingredient, so the scent isn’t natural. Mask was fully saturated and there was drip that I used for my neck. Mask had no backing, but was easy to unfold and there was no tearing. I layered a silicon mask over the sheet mask to keep it from moving. Mask fit well. My skin seems smoother, hydrated, a little tighter, but a little sticky. I had no negative reaction. Might repurchase.
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

    My Beauty Diary Natto Mask

    My Beauty Diary (MBD) Natto Mask, was left on for 50 minutes, purchased as part of the MBD Carnival All-in-One Party Set ($24.99 for 16). Mask had a very light to no scent. Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. Fermentation is incredibly popular in Korean Beauty. Mask was fully saturated, with extra essence in the sleeve. Mask has a plastic backing that makes it easier to open. Mask is very thin, meaning it sticks extremely well, no need for a silicon mask to keep it from moving. Eye holes are too small, apart from that, it’s a great fit. My skin felt firmer and softer after mask. Would repurchase.
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5
    Read more

    April Love List

    Love List

    My Love List for April is my favorite so far: Target Straw Tote // Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner // Alchemy by Jaime King for ColourPop Specifically Vanity Fair Super Shock Shadow & New Renaissance Contour Stick //  The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

    I’ve been a little obsessed with JADEtribe’s Tassel Pom Pom Beach Bags, but I’ve been a little less than willing to shell out $160 and they keep selling out. When I saw the Merona Straw Tote Bag from Target for only $35, I knew I had to order it. It has the same bright and fun feel for spring, except for about a fifth of the price.

    Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner has become part of my morning and nightly routines. I use it after double cleansing and it helps balance the PH level of my skin before I use Curology (my prescription currently includes Tretinoin, Clindamycin, and Azelaic Acid) and/or serums. It’s allowed me to go to the next step(s) faster and while it could be any number of reasons, my pores are clearer.

    I was surprised when ColourPop released a special collection by Jaime King called Alchemy. King had the following to say about the collection: Read more

    30 Days, 30 Masks

    30 Masks 30 Days

    My sheet mask collection has gotten a little intense. Over the month of April, I’ll be sharing mini-reviews for 30 masks on the Monograms & Margaritas’ Instagram

    Here’s an example of what you’ll see over the next month:

    image2 (3)

    Playing catch up with two masks today, both ordered from Tester Korea! The Pomegranate Collagen Lip Mask from Skinfood ($2.25) smells slightly sweet and looks like a giant gummy candy. Enough essence for a single use, but no extra. Mask did slip until I laid down completely. I left it on for twice the recommended time (20 minutes, left on for 40 minutes) and while my lips feel softer, they look the same.
    ⭐️⭐️/5
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    Online Steals: Pineapple Lamps & Spring Beauty Holy Grails

    We’re all crazy busy, so online shopping is probably the only reason I have clothes to wear and my home is decorated.
    And I kind of love it. In fact, when someone suggests going to the mall I cringe. Why? Whyyyy? What if you just swing by my house and we catch up over a cup of coffee? I can even show you the awesome Pineapple Lamp I got on sale from Target.com.

    Online Steals

    Pineapple Table Lamp // Vera Wang Embrace Green Tea & Pear Blossom // Wella EIMI Dry Me Dry Shampoo

    Seriously, how freaking awesome is the Pineapple Table Lamp from Target.com? It’s only available online and it’s on sale for $24. Twenty-four dollars! Read more

    Netflix Beauty Binge

    Way too many of us will lose this weekend to the fourth season of House of Cards. I’m not throwing shame or shade, I’ve been sneaking episodes of Fuller House all week, but I am a little bit more excited than I should be for our annual binge that’s going down in just a day. I plan for my time in front of the tay-vay to double as a spa session. Win-win.

     

    • SK-II Skin Signature 3D Redefining Mask
      SK-II Skin Signature 3D Redefining Mask
    • ETUDE HOUSE Hand Bouquet Rich Collagen Hand Mask
      ETUDE HOUSE Hand Bouquet Rich Collagen Hand Mask
    • It's Skin Self Care Foot Peeling
      It's Skin Self Care Foot Peeling

    To be considered for this Netflix binge weekend, the beauty treatments had to be easy to apply, easy to remove, and had to fill a need, meaning I didn’t want to waste money on solutions for problems I don’t have. I gave myself a budget of $20 and since I’ve been on a Korean beauty kick lately, I put my order in for the above products with TesterKorea. Read more

    March Love List

    March Love List

    Here are my must haves going into this month: Curology // ColourPop Ultra Satin Lips in Magic Wand // When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi // Missha M Magic Cushion // Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick

    So you know how I mentioned my skincare routine is changing all the time? I ran out of my Elaine Sterling Daily Gentle Cleanser and didn’t have time to run into the city to grab a new bottle (can’t source it online), so I took a recommendation from Korean Beauty Secrets and ordered Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick. It is now my Holy Grail second-step in my double cleanse and I just love it! The cleanser is in solid form, looks as though it’s going to last forever, and with no risk of leaking, it’s incredibly easy to pack for the gym or overnight trips. The ingredients are powerful and over 90% natural. My skin is clearer, healthier, incredibly smooth and I can’t get over the amazing light rose smell.

    I took it a step further and signed up for Curology. Curology is prescription skincare service that is customized just for you from expert dermatologists. For $19.99 a month (your first month is free) you get a specially compounded topical prescription medication and as many consultations with your licensed healthcare provider (which includes Dermatologists, Physician Assistants, and Nurse Practitioners) as you need. I regularly message my Nurse Practitioner and ask her product questions. She always answers within 48 hours and gives me the type of attention I would usually need an appointment to receive.  I’ll write a full review in a few weeks. Read more

    Beauty on a Budget: Paul Mitchell Esani School Spirit

    Paul Mitchell Esani

    Trusting a new stylist can be stressful. Especially when you risk trusting a new student stylist every time you need a hair service. Fear not my faithful (or occasional or even first time) readers, after using Paul Mitchell’s Esani (a Paul Mitchell school) off and on for over the past three years, I’m no longer even a little bit nervous to have a Phase II Student perform my hair services. In fact, I get pretty excited every time I have an appointment. The energy and passion coming from the students is contagious.

    frenchie-grease-inline

    This is NOT a Frenchie situation!

    I keep my requests simple and I only get haircuts and conditioning treatments. Lucky for me, the Paul Mitchell Esani Phase II Students have gotten it right every single time. I blame their amazing teachers.

     The attention I receive right from the moment I walk in is what you’d expect from a top salon. The front desk signs you in and offers you a water. They immediately alert your student stylist, who appears and greats you with probably the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. My first visit, that big smile made me feel a little bit like a human sacrifice (“Pull out the spit, she’s here guys!”), but I soon realized that the student was truly excited I was there. What else I’ve realized is that while all the students are talented, Phase II Students (sometimes called Master Students) are the best bet for a great experience.

     

    Pros

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    What I Adore: The Hair Masks

    I’ve put my hair through a lot. From double processing to conditioners that lack protein to over-styling with heat, I’m pretty much guilty of any and every crime against my follicles. Paired with a job change last year that made it nearly impossible to make it to a salon for a haircut, let alone upkeep on my highlights, I made the switch to tackling my hair color at home. And I’m far from a “natural” blonde. Meaning I needed a plan to get and keep my hair healthy, stat.

    The Hair Masks

    It’s A 10 Miracle Hair Mask // Paul Mitchell Marula Oil Rare Oil Intensive Masque // Dessange Paris California Blonde Brass Color Correcting Creme

    It’s A 10 Miracle Hair Mask isn’t lying. This cult classic is literally a miracle and worth every cent. I use it once a week and leave it in for anywhere between five to fifteen minutes before rinsing it out with cold water. My hair is incredibly soft and much more manageable.

    I also use Paul Mitchell’s Marula Oil Rare Oil Intensive Masque once a week to help repair the damage I’ve done. I love how healthy my hair looks after I use this mask. It also smells amazing! Read more

    Beauty on a Budget: ISSN Atlanta School & Spa

    International_School_of_Skin-_Nailcare__Massage_Therapy_1375067

    I love a great deal on a spa day and I love supporting someone on their journey to make their dreams a reality. At the International School of Skin, Nailcare and Massage Therapy (ISSN) of Atlanta I can do both. Depending on what level of services you want, you can plan a full spa day starting around $70. Yes, the services are performed by students, who are heavily supervised. In my experience, I’ve found that students give you extra attention and are extremely careful to perform each step/service perfectly. I’ve never walked away with a horror story or even been slightly traumatized. My ideal ISSN spa day is broken down below. Excuse me while I call them and schedule it.

    spa-main

    Massage

     

    Try the Ultimate Massage. Only $30 for 50 minutes of absolute bliss. This full body Swedish massage session utilizes light, rhythmic strokes. Add hot stones for $10 to warm the muscles
    for a deeper, more therapeutic session and truly take it to the next level.

    skincare (1)

    Facials

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    What I Adore: The Cleansers

    I made no other resolution this year than to treat  the place where I live with more respect. With all the amazing things that my body does, it deserves to be treated so much better than a quick slap of lotion and waking up with yesterday’s mascara on far more often than I care to admit. I’m a month into a new routine and the results have been fantastic. I’m not crazy, reading a long post on my new routine would drive even the most interested person to tears of boredom. So over the next few months, I’ll break down different aspects of my routine, after I deem them tried and true.

    The Cleansers

    Jeffrey James The Wash // Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam // Elaine Sterling Daily Gentle Cleanser

     The most logical place to start is with cleanser. My skin use to be oily, but I’d now classify it as combination, which is just as problematic. I get occasional breakouts, mostly on chin and cheeks and my pores are on the large side. I feel like we should be besties now. I’ve really opened up and shared things I’ve tried to hide behind makeup for years. Read more

    Square Hue The 1980’s Decades Collection Nail Polish Review

    SquareHue1980sReviewI can’t even begin to tell you how much I love Square Hue. Not only are the polishes fantastic, the formulas truly hold their own against brands like Essie and OPI, but with the safety considerations of ZOYA. With generous sized bottles and a safer formula, Square Hue is not only an amazing value, but it also supports a variety of organizations dedicated to helping others. The current focus is on human trafficking- a subject that’s near to my heart. Living so close to Atlanta, which is one of the largest hubs for human trafficking, influenced me to do a social science report in college. The sheer amount of human trafficking that takes place in the United States is shocking. Find out more by visiting The A21 Campaign.

    I loved all three shades from Square Hue’s September Box, The Decades Collection 1980. The colors were a great play on the 1980’s and modern fall trends. The collection was so well thought out, while it might be missing bright neons and other more obvious 1980’s influences, the shades are the perfect infusion of fall. Like a Pumpkin Spice Latte for your nails.

    My absolute favorite from the September box (and new go to) is Sierra Sunset 1985. A mix of burnt orange and burgundy (Square Hue called it a warm pink, but I’m going to disagree) with a gorgeous silver shimmer, I wore it to Jazzoo, an annual event at the Atlanta Zoo, this past Saturday and a ridiculous amount of compliments. Vice 1984 is described as a creamy wet concrete color and I think it’s the perfect fall alternative to the light pastel pinks that were big this past spring. Deep Space 1988 (my birth year!) is like the edgy older sister; a dark brown with shimmer that I can’t wait to pair with a soft cashmere sweater.
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    Jennifer Aniston Worthy Blowouts for $10

     

    Jennifer Aniston’s hair is envy worthy, I’m pretty sure there’s no way to argue it. Living Proof, the haircare line she co-owns is just about what you’d expect. The products are helmed by MIT-graduates and the mix of science and style is on point. It’s also pretty freaking expensive.

    On three Fridays this month, May 15th, 22nd, and 29th from 4pm-8pm to be precise, Ulta is offering $10 Living Proof Volumized Waves (yes please!) and Perfectly Polished Blowouts. If you’re interested, call your local Ulta right now! Seriously, don’t wait! These appointments will go quickly. Read more