JOAH Eye Candy Auto Eyeliner

Not bad for an impulse CVS buy! I actually had never even heard of JOAH, which would make sense because they’re a CVS-only brand and I very rarely step into CVS. Apparently inspired by Korean beauty, JOAH is made by the same people who make… um… press-on nails. Despite my misgivings about the latter piece of information, I’m really impressed with this eyeliner.

This $7 eyeliner doesn’t exactly have a robust color shade range to choose either in-store or online from at CVS itself (Black, Blackest Black, and Dark Brown were the only ones available in both cases), although their website, weirdly, has three more shades. In any case, I was in luck since dark brown is usually my go-to. The pencil itself feels somehow luxurious — it has fancy gold lettering, smooth and somewhat soft body that makes it easy to hold. You can “turn” the bottom of pencil when your liner tip runs low.

Application is smooth. Like, it’s alarmingly impossible for me to screw up lid-lining with this pencil. I think the only real annoying thing about this product is that the it depletes very rapidly, since it is so soft. While dark brown isn’t the most discernible of colors, the color is relatively accurate, without being too dark and muddy to confuse the shade with black. Did I mention it was smooth? No weird smudging going on, here. Usually my eyeliners are notorious for transferring the first time I blink after application, but I didn’t really notice any pigment transferring until about hour five or six, which is pretty good for an eyeliner (and it was light enough for me to just rub off).

Don’t tell anyone, but I still line my waterline, sometimes (I know, so nineties). This is also a phenomenal waterline pencil, since the waterproof aspect of it actually is waterproof, apparently, and won’t come crying off your lid twenty seconds in to application. Again, you might find some pigment transfer after hour five or six, but it’s not substantial. I also didn’t notice any eye sensitivity to this eyeliner — I didn’t experience any burning or irritation.

You can’t tell me Avril Lavigne’s eyeliner still isn’t a look!

Kudos to the people who make press-on nails for pulling this off! They’ve outdone what the bigger brands apparently can’t do very well, which is creating an eyeliner that actually sticks around for more than ten minutes! And, they’re cruelty free, which is awesome! I’ll be back into CVS to check out more of the JOAH brand very soon! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.75/5

Ben Nye Final Seal Matte Makeup Sealer

Ben Nye’s Final Seal is the fixing spray to end all fixing sprays. If you’re headed to an event that you know is going to elicit sweating or even a bit of drizzling rain, or you simply just don’t want your makeup to come off… like… ever… then this is the product for you.

A 2oz bottle will run you about $16, which seems expensive at first blush, but one or two sprays are really all it takes for the product to work, so it should last a long time. This comes in a plastic spray bottle. I wanted to note that, though the packaging itself is not unusual, the liquid inside of it can be very temperamental when you take it out of room temperature conditions. When it gets too cold, it “freezes” around the sprayer, making the sprayer difficult to push down on. The sprayer will also freeze in place if you don’t remove excess product that may have dripped down around it.

The sprayer is a little more powerful than just a “mist”, so one of two sprays — top and bottom — should catch the entire face. Make SURE you close your eyes while you spray this, since the very first ingredient of this is denatured alcohol. You may experience a bit of stinging after applying this, but that should diminish in under a minute. The spray leaves sort of a “net” sensation, like your skin is locked into place. This is also unnoticeable after the first few minutes.

In my personal experience, I’ve been able to wear this from 8 in the morning until 9pm at night. Around the end of the wear time, I did notice a bit of foundation cracking around my lips, but this may have been because I had applied Vitamin C in the morning, as usual — which, as an exfoliant, pushes the old skin up, thus cracking the makeup. But it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be salvaged had I chose to keep it on longer. Both my eyeliner and mascara stayed put, as well.

The true test of a transfer-proof foundation or fixing spray are my winter coats. The zippers tend to end right at my chin, so the material of the jacket is directly under my chin/neck area, a prime area for makeup to rub off. No makeup residue on my jacket after using Final Seal!

This product, sadly, is not really good for the long haul for use on your skin. Alcohol denat is the first ingredient, which will inevitably dry out your skin, even if there is a layer of foundation between your skin and this spray. I will say I broke out substantially less after using Final Seal versus Skindinavia’s finishing spray, perhaps due to the comparatively short and simplistic ingredient listing, whereas Skindinavia had included far more preservatives. Still — Final Seal is not great for my skin.

So, acne-sufferers, use this product with caution. But this really is a phenomenal fixing spray and probably the first I’ve used where I felt 100% confident that my makeup would stay all day. I recommend for anyone seeking to lock their look in! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Pixi H20 Skindrink

Potential new holy grail moisturizer, comin’ right up! Pixi Skindrink is like a thicker, tackier version of Bio-Oil that I never knew I needed — and also cheaper alternative ($19 for full size) than the very similar Dr Lin Hydrating Gel, which now retails for $30. Geez, I can’t believe I used to buy Dr. Lin moisturizer for like, $7 at one point of my life. Anyways! I love Skindrink, and although I’ve only been using it for a few weeks, I already know it will be a re-buy of mine.

This is a clear gel that comes out of a push-top tube. It’s very easy to spread, and one pump should cover the entirety of your face. This has a noticeable rose- or soap- like smell, but fades after thirty minutes of wear.

You’ll probably notice that this moisturizer does not dry down after application — it will feel greasy, and still easy to disturb after application. Even when it’s “dry”, it’s extremely tacky, not unlike many paraffin or petroleum type moisturizers that are used as occlusives. So I only recommend Skindrink as a last step in your nightly routine, or if you don’t plan on wearing makeup that day. It’s all worth the slight discomfort of a greasy face, though. When I wake up in the morning, my skin feels bouncy and smooth!

I haven’t broken out from this, and this is probably thanks to the somewhat tame ingredient listing, with glycerin and silicones at the top of the list to keep moisture in. There’s no irritating alcohols — in fact, there’s not even a single fatty alcohol either (such as cetearyl alcohol), which is hard to come by when looking for a moisturizer.

The Pixi website suggests you can put this moisturizer in the refrigerator to maximize the “cooling” effect Skindrink provides (which will occur even without the refrigeration, just to a lesser degree). Combining the simple ingredient listing and the cooling effect that should come as a relief for those with sensitive skin, I’d absolutely recommend Skindrink to acne sufferers.

I know this was a pretty short review, but it’s a pretty simple moisturizer with a single function — to retain moisture — and Skindrink does that function very well. This was my first venture into Pixi skincare products, and I’m excited to try out more by them! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

I have high standards for Clinique. It’s been around forever, and it’s pricy, for usually good reason — Clinique generally has high-quality products. But, for $30, this bottle of foundation is just meh.

I was looking for something with a little more oil control than my usual foundations, and perhaps something a little lighter in general. Herein lies my great foundation conundrum. I always want something that’s heavy enough to cover all my blemishes, but light enough to make me not feel like I’m super-clogging my pores. This is basically an impossible ask, and equally impossible to find. This foundation was no exception: it did not meet both of those criteria.

But it is light, for sure. This comes out of the tube with very little pressure needed on the bottle. It’s somewhat watery, but not runny. It spreads easily, but absorbs quickly into the skin, so I kept finding myself needing to get more product out of the tube to cover my entire face.

What I do like about this foundation is that it’s buildable. It won’t necessarily cause issues if you try to apply layers shortly after the other, but I recommend waiting for each layer to set for at least five minutes, because the foundation will thicken and show a bit more coverage in that time. But don’t mistake buildable for “can become full coverage” — it’s still incredibly light, and won’t cover deeper-set scars.

The foundation has a natural matte finish that lasts… maybe five hours. It does do it’s job in the time it’s on. It maintains an even finish with minimal creasing (although it absolutely is NOT transfer proof so, try to avoid touching your face), and it does control oil as stated. It doesn’t feel heavy while it’s on. But once that five hour mark hits… POOF! It’s just gone, somehow. As if you never put it on. (Although, to be fair, I would prefer makeup to “suddenly vanish” instead leaving patchy areas of foundation behind…)

Now let’s discuss the acne-fighting feature of this foundation. This contains salicylic acid, a BHA. I don’t think this really improved my blemishes or overall skin quality at all, despite the BHA. I didn’t experience any burning, per se, but neither the lightness of the foundation’s weight or the addition of BHA’s were beneficial to me in this case. I continued to break out just the same, as always 🙂 Other users could potentially experience burning from this foundation because of the BHAs. And, finally, BHA’s conflict with Vitamin C if used at the same time. This is terrible for me, lover of Vitamin C treatments in my morning routines.

To wrap up my review of Clinique’s Acne Solutions Foundation in a few shorter sentences: Is it a light makeup? Yes. Does it last a long time? No. Does it fight acne? Not for me, personally. This won’t be a rebuy of mine.

If you still think this foundation seems like a good fit for you, my most favorite YouTube MUA thataylaa did a review of it here. Her experience was a bit different from mine, but the video does a great job of showing the finish. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2.5/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: If intolerant to exfoliants, no

Glossier Boy Brow

In my experience, eyebrow gels across all the different makeup manufacturers aren’t really wildly different from one another, so this is going to be a short review. But Glossier’s Boy Brow and Brow flick have been hugely popular lately, so I thought I’d give it a try. (Plus, I low-key love Glossier’s super-simplistic packaging. Just another case of me falling for what’s on the outside…)

I bought this in the color brown. For a brown gel, this is pretty dark, probably bordering more on black. What’s really a huge sell for me is the tiny wand. My eyebrows aren’t super bushy, and the applicator only has 6 spindles of brushes on it (ie: short applicator), so it’s easy to follow even the thinnest part of my brow without getting it all over my skin.

My only problem with this gel is that, either, there isn’t a ton of product in here in the first place, or that it seems to dry up really quickly. So actually getting the product on the brush after the first week or two of application can be a struggle. You have to kind of, wiggle the applicator around until you can pick up some color. This can sometimes cause the actual application of color to be inconsistent — one side of the applicator will have a TON of product, and one will not, causing the color to sort of, bleed out onto on part of your eyebrow and not the rest. But this is easy to fix by just going over the eyebrow a few times (without re-applying product to the applicator).

Because of the occasional heaviness caused by an over-saturated application, this can take a minute or two longer to dry, whereas most brow gels dry almost immediately. Once dry, it’s pretty difficult to rub off. Unfortunately I find myself needing to re-apply this after hour 4 or 5 — not that the color has completely disappeared, but it definitely looks to be lighter. This is compared to my Ardell brow gels that seem to last a whole work day.

All and all, I think the $16 pricetag is mostly just for the name “Glossier”. While I do love the size of the wand, there are longer lasting gels out there that are a little more consistent with their color application. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3.5/5

Longevity: 2.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 3.5/5

CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

Throw out your Cerave cleansers, boys and girls, I have found the new cleanser holy grail! (Just kidding, don’t throw out the Cerave, it’s still fine). Seriously though, this $9, 5 fl oz bottle is awesome for sensitive skin.

It’s a cleanser, so I don’t think I’ll have too much to say in the review since the process is quick: you apply the clear gel from the bottle on your face with a little water, and rub it in. Then, you wash it off. However, there are a few things this product is capable of that, strangely, many cleansers cannot do:

1- You only need 1 dollop of gel for your face to cover your entire face (as opposed to like, four pumps out of a bottle, and even then, you still think to yourself “I probably need another”),

2- It removes makeup fully,

3- Doesn’t strip your skin: your face won’t feel dry after you wash the product off of your face, and…

4- Doesn’t cause break outs! I can’t say for certain if it’s because of the cleanser or not, but I feel that the condition of my skin has been better since I started using it a few weeks ago,

5- The price point is pretty good at $10 a bottle.

The smell of the gel is a bit sterile, but I can live with that. That’s the point of soap, after all, isn’t it? So there you have it! The perfect cleanser. I absolutely recommend this. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: n/a

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

THE ORDINARY Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

I think my skin has an “eject” button when it comes to TO’s products. I’d say about 50% of the products I’ve tried from them end in a terrifying amount of drying and peeling, with nothing to show for it.

The packaging is standard fare for TO: dropper bottle and dark packaging, to prevent light from affecting the structural integrity of the product (I think? Or did I make that up?). Sephora’s website says that the serum inside is “lightweight”, but I beg to differ. It’s pretty heavy and slow-moving — the dropper will likely take in way more than you need for both eyes. The serum itself is a light brown color, but that color is not noticeable once you apply it to your skin.

You really don’t need too much to spread under your eye. The formula is incredibly thick, but it’s fairly easy to push around. And for being so thick, it dries relatively quickly and fully, although you might feel that area of skin is a bit heavy for up to ten minutes. I can’t speak to stacking products over top of this one, since I think it’s overkill for such a thin layer of skin, but my next paragraph will explain this product’s time-delayed destruction of eye makeup!

Even if you’re careful to apply very little to the skin, within two to three hours you may notice your skin is starting to slough off, regardless of time you apply it. While initially playing well with eye makeup (assuming you’ve waited the dry time), it’ll start to crack any concealer, eye shadow or powder you’ve applied. This made me think “perhaps I should only apply this at night!”. In theory, this should be fine, since there’s no makeup around to break down at that point, but I still woke up with tons of rolling pills of skin and product under my eye.

Even after washing all of that… lovely mess off of my face, there wasn’t much to show for it, even after three weeks of use. I have noticeably recessed skin between my lower eyelid and cheek, so any dark circles or wrinkles that come into my life are on full display to the world. I didn’t feel like I was experiencing any brightening or decreasing of either. On the plus side, besides the crazy pilling skin, I didn’t experience any other irritation, not even in the instance it touched my waterline.

Another swing and a miss for me with TO products, although the low price tag of $8 doesn’t make me feel too guilty. I had a similar pilling issue with their Niacinamide and Buffet products, but those are HG’s for a lot of other people. So, as always, YMMV. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 1.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 1.5/5

Maybelline The City Mini Palette

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted! I recently had a huge clear out of all my beauty products, and had some blogging inspiration strike me when I found some old favorites — and not so favorite — products in my drawer.

I bought two of these Maybelline powder eye shadows on a whim whilst remembering the errant MUA video I had seen with a relatively good color payout with these products. Generally, it seems like this eye shadow has good reviews. Now, full disclosure, I’m not a huge fan of eye shadow to begin with, and I’ve privy to believe that no drugstore eyeshadow – powder or gel – has a good color payout.

I picked up Chill Brunch and Downtown Sunrise (pictured). I really liked the presentation sparkly silver and beige in Chill Brunch, and wanted to play with the orange in Downtown Sunrise. Sadly, between the two palettes, I wasn’t exactly blown away by any of the turn out. I’ll go over some of the highs and lows of these palettes:

Downtown Sunrise: I think I just grabbed this for the orange, if I’m being honest! The color wasn’t extremely noticeable, but definitely more pigmented than I’ve seen other drugstore-oranges. It actually stuck around on my eyelids for more than three hours! The color payout of the orangey-beige, yellow, and the pink, however, were terrible, much to my dismay.

Chill Brunch: They got it right on the shiny beige here, good coloration and it seemed to stick around for more than three hours. I liked the impact that the shiny gray and brown had – very pigmented, very sparkly — but they weren’t great for my skin coloration, so I had to pass on those. The purples, on the other hand, are good for my skin tone, but the color seemed to disappear or lighten within minutes of application.

An upside to both of these pallets is that I didn’t really have an issue with powder fallout into either my eye or my skin. But all in all, these were still typical Maybelline eyeshadow palettes. Some of the colors are very well pigmented, but a large majority are ineffective, even if you’re using a heavy hand in application. Even if you’re able to pick out a good color from the batch, chances are you won’t see the color after thirty minutes of wear. I did really like the orange from Downtown Sunrise, but there are definitely better palettes for orange than this one. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1.5/5

J. Cat Beauty You Glow Girl Baked Highlighter

Another “cute packaging, mediocre product” review. I think I fell in love with the rose stamp that’s imprinted on the powder, primarily! But don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad highlighter.

I picked this up in the shade Bella Rose, which may have been my problem from the start. I think pink-pigmentation probably gets lost in my slightly pink-tinted cheeks. The shade range is pretty extensive, though — 9 shades in total.

It seemed really difficult to get the powder to “show up” on the brush, or on my fingers. I had to press down pretty hard, and had to go back into the pan to get to the point where I felt I was getting enough product. Even on the skin, I didn’t think this highlighter was particularly noticeable without stacking it. I don’t know if it’s problematic, per se — there’s certainly enough powder in the pan. But I don’t like dedicating a ton of time to highlighter application, so it’s annoying to have to go back in to re-apply.

As far as effect, I wouldn’t say this is a particularly strong highlighter, not the same way Maybelline’s Master Chrome or the Wet n Wild highlighters are. It’s great for a subtle effect — a shine you can see up close, but not from further away. Me, personally, I like highlighter to be obnoxiously visible and potentially blind people from several feet away, but I won’t take off points for my own bad taste 😉 What I will consider though is the very short longevity of this powder. I didn’t think any of the highlighter was visible after hour four.

So while I personally think this is a very mediocre product, it might be worth the $7 buy if you’re looking for a highlighter that’s much more subdued. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3.5/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Essence Extreme Lasting Eye Pencil

Another cheapie that’s worth a try while filling up your basket at Ulta with things you don’t need, but “it’s only 2.99, so I might as well!”

Packaging for this eyeliner is the a very common twist up pencil. This is a gel-like, wax-based pencil. Due to the softness of it’s composition, be careful while applying, since the tip can fall off. However, this happens far less often for this eyeliner than I’ve seen with others in the same gel-liner category (I’m looking at you, Colourpop!)

I LOVE how this applies. Absolutely beautiful and smooth. Due to the ease of application, I can finish my look in under 30 seconds for each eye. I have this in “But First, Espresso” (dark brown) — like with other Essence products, dark browns do skew more black and it’s hard to make out any tinges of brown, but that’s okay with me. The problem I have with the majority of eyeliners is that it can be difficult to line the skin right above the root of your lashes. But this “bleeds” just enough to pick up to make that a non-issue.

Now, unfortunately… again, like most gel liners, this transfers like CRAZY. Although it does “dry” quickly after initial application, I’ve definitely noticed transfer lines throughout the day while wearing this. Oddly enough, though, I’ve never looked in the mirror and been like, “Wow all the eyeliner is gone from where I initially applied it!”, despite all of the transferring. The look really will stay for very close to eight hours, a well-intentioned stab at living up to it’s “Extreme lasting” label.

I probably wouldn’t rebuy this due to the transferring issue. But for a $3 pencil, the overall application is outstanding, and it didn’t cause any issues for my sensitive eyes!

Can’t get to Ulta? Pick up the product here:https://amzn.to/2BiMDVl

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 3/5