Product Review: Thrive Causemetics beauty haul for summer

Happy official start of summer everyone! I’ve taken a few months off to focus on work and volunteering, but all during this time I’ve been testing some new products. And as we’ve progressed through the first half of the year, have you stuck to your resolutions? One of mine is to be a more conscientious consumer in all aspects of my daily life. Not only in beauty and personal care, but my overall consumer habits in general. That being said, I’ve done more homework, looked into brand stories and business practices, and taken a deeper look into what the companies that make their products actually stand for. As a consumer, you speak with your wallet and the purchasing decisions that you make – even the smallest tweaks in your spending can be powerful. Coming from a long career in retail and e-commerce, I have firsthand experience in seeing how consumers can make, or break, a brand.

Think about brands who have been disruptive to the retail industry (i.e. TOMS, Warby Parker), and turned the notion of social responsibility into sound business practices that give back to those in need. That brings me to this review of Thrive Causemetics – since I’d reviewed a few of their products way back in March 2017, I’ve remained impressed with their innovation and expanding product line-up while advocating for women’s health. I decided to treat myself and bought a full-face worth of makeup, and have been using the products over the last several months – sometimes all at once, or often interspersed with other brands’ products. Happily, I’ve found that as the weather has been heating up, these make perfect choices for summer beauty. Let’s take a deeper dive and explore what I bought!

Thrive Causemetics Beauty Haul

Clockwise from the top:

  1. Glossy Lip Hydrating Serum: In the shade “JoAnn”, a berry/plum/mauve, this feels and looks awesome! True color payoff while adding shine and hydration, it’s a perfect combination. In fact, I feel like this gives my fave lip colors (Clinique’s Different Lipstick in “Sugared Grapefruit” and LORAC’s Alter Ego Lipgloss in “Duchess”) a huge run for their money in daily use. This formula packs an antioxidant blend, along with anti-aging Vitamins E and B5, plus Sodium Hyaluronate to hydrate.  Hint – I also used this as a blush when traveling, and it gave a beautiful monochromatic look with my lips. LOVE!
  2. Focus Eye Shadow Palette: I got the shade “Palette 3”, which is a combination of four warmer earth shades (see below), and are all matte. These shades were deeply pigmented and all very blendable. The formula also packs antioxidants and Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate lids. While I really liked the formula, I realized that I think I’d want to try more cool / neutral shades, like Palette 2. Nonetheless, it’s a great quad eye shadow palette that features true color payoff and easy to wear shades.
  3. Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara: Ok, this is my new FAVORITE mascara. Hands down. The formula, brush, and performance are all fantastic! The shade is a universal deep black, and truly lengthens and thickens lashes almost immediately. But is still a buildable formula! Plus, it doesn’t flake or smudge – I’ve already been sailing this summer while wearing it, and it stayed put. Woot! Totally in love with this stuff, and it’s worth the more prestige price of $24.
  4. Infinity Waterproof Eyebrow Liner: The shade “Christina” (Light – Dark Blonde) is perfect for my coloring, easily blends, and the micro-point pencil makes application go on smoothly and accurately. The pencil has a spoolie brush on the other end, which is perfect for blending and grooming. I really like that even though this is a long-wearing, waterproof formula, it is easy to remove at the end of the day.
  5. Buildable Blur CC Cream and Blend + Blur Sponge: Last, but not least, these two hero products are amazing for summer! The CC cream gives even coverage, while protecting with SPF 35. The formula contains a blend of Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Octinoxate and Octisalate sunscreens, which provides a broad spectrum defense against UV damage, yet is gentle for sensitive skin. The Color-Correcting cream also contains Vitamin C to help brighten skin, and micro-pigments that “blur” the skin to cover fine lines, uneven tone and pores. The best defense against aging is wearing SPF every day, and this product makes it especially easy by combining powerful skin-friendly ingredients into a simple easy-to-use step. Use the Blend + Blur Sponge to apply the cream to skin and achieve a flawless finish. Always dampen the sponge to properly distribute the CC cream. Pump the CC cream on the back of your opposite hand (to warm up the product), and dip in the point end of the sponge to then apply the cream in sections around your face. Dot, build, and blend as needed! Make sure to wash the sponge and let fully dry before using again.

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Even if you aren’t a pro at makeup, Thrive Causemetics truly makes application easier through their thoughtful packaging and impressive formulas. I typically don’t justify a higher price-point on makeup unless I think the performance and payoff is worth it – these are absolutely worth it. And if you are looking to simplify your routine for summer, I recommend this full-face combination to achieve a simple, yet polished, look for everyday wear.

These are fast becoming my new favorites and I can’t wait to try more products from Thrive Causemetics – especially as my purchase helps women in need. ♥

©2019 28daysbeauty

Product Reviews: Cheap Thrills #3 – mascara picks from e.l.f & NYX

The last of my three-part series on cheap makeup thrills for summer wraps up with the topic of mascara; a product that a lot of people consider the “holy grail” of a polished makeup look, but can be a bit of a challenge to find one that delivers and lasts. Especially when its the one beauty product that needs to be replaced four times a year. A cheaper formula is especially beneficial to help with this, since it’s not easy to essentially throw away a product if you feel there’s still some left to use. To help avoid eye infections, it’s important to replace your mascara every 3 months, and never add any other liquids into the tube that could contaminate or introduce bacteria. Having been a former makeup counter manager, you wouldn’t believe the stories I encountered of women adding olive oil or water into their more expensive mascara tubes to make them last longer, and then coming to the counter to return it when it “didn’t work anymore”. Really?! Really. So, in short, finding a less expensive formula that you like, and stocking up on several tubes, can lessen the amount of buying trips you make and ensure that you have healthy eyes for the year.

But what are the basics of finding a good mascara? Quite frankly, the market is flooded with choices, from $2 to upwards of $70 per tube. But what are the main aspects that I look for in selecting my choices? The first thing I look at is the brush – it makes ALL the difference in the results of the application. And second, I look for multi-tasking formulas that also care for and condition lashes. Once I make my picks on those two factors, I’ll then wear the product for a full week in order to make my final decision. Here’s two selections I made on my trip to Target at the beginning of summer: NYX The Skinny Mascara and e.l.f. Cosmetics Lash Extending Mascara, both in black shades.

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To me, these brands are very similar – professional grade makeup that retails for a fraction of the cost of other brands. But there are a few subtle differences for each formula that I want to explain further:

  1. NYX’s The Skinny Mascara is not a new product, but captures a trend that is growing – full, dark lashes that look more natural and defined. For several years, huge, gargantuan mascara brushes were all the rage in makeup marketing, but unfortunately, they were a total hassle and awkward to work with. I’ll admit that I hate using big mascara brushes. But this brush is absolutely super thin, and I LOVE it! It captures every single lash, and suddenly brings them all into focus. Giving you complete control, you can build this formula from airy and light to bold and super-defined. I have found it takes a bit of practice to work with, especially if you are used to a larger brush. But once you get the hang of it, it’s hard to go back to a larger brush. Plus, this formula stays all day long – no smearing or smudging, even in humidity. It’s water-resistant yet easy to remove at the end of the day with coconut oil or makeup wipes.
  2. e.l.f. Cosmetics used to make my favorite mascara – the Mineral-Infused Mascara that had a total kick-ass silicone brush. But, unfortunately, they discontinued that formula a while ago (why, e.l.f., why?!). So, I picked up their new Lash Extending formula, and gave it a whirl. While it doesn’t mimic my old favorite, this newer formula is a good alternative as an overall multi-tasking mascara, with both volumizing and lengthening qualities. The formula conditions lashes with vitamins B and E, delivers bold color, and stays all day – it didn’t flake or clump. The brush is not silicone, but it does give an even coat on the first couple of strokes, and the formula is buildable. While the NYX formula was easier to use in defining each lash, this formula gives more length and a thicker texture from the start. If you want a good, solid formula for every day use, this is a great choice.

Both of these choices are affordable ($6.99 for NYX and $3 for e.l.f.) and easy to get at either ULTA or Target, plus both brands are coupon-eligible at ULTA. Both brands are cruelty-free, and the e.l.f. formula is vegan too. If you are on the hunt for a good mascara this summer, and don’t want to spend too much, give these a try! You don’t have to be a makeup artist to get great results with either of these picks.

© 2018 28daysbeauty

My best beauty of 2016: Top 10 Savvy Splurges & Cheap Thrills

As the year comes to a close, I wanted to recap for you the beauty products that I found myself constantly reaching for, as I think they are worth noting in the flood of beauty choices available. Many of them aren’t really “new” to the market, but they are the ones that I think a) deliver GREAT results and b) are worth the money. So, I divided my top 10 beauty products into 2 groups: 5 Cheap Thrills (which cost under $15) and 5 Savvy Splurges (which cost over $15). In the beauty industry, it’s surprising to me how many people think the higher the price tag, the better the product. There’s a certain perception people have, but in reality, it’s all about the performance. Check out my top picks – they all are great for ANY skin type, even hyper-sensitive skins.

Top 5 Cheap Thrills:

Who doesn’t love a great deal that is also a performance workhorse? I also love the fact that all the 5 products you see below can easily be found at Target, or online at Amazon.com. Stock up on these if you can, since you’ll find that these become a part of your daily routine year-round (clockwise from the top):cheap

  1. Simple Micellar Cleansing Water – This is the fantastic alternative to expensive micellar cleansing waters that burst onto the American beauty scene a year ago. The best part is that this is truly great for sensitive skins, cleans deep, and removes eye makeup easily. For a new, large 13.5 oz size, it’s a mere $8.99 at Target.com. Use as a pre-cleanse at night, with cotton pads, to remove all makeup and prep skin for your cleanser. Your cleanser will work even better, and your skin will be balanced.
  2. Dove Sensitive Skin Bar Soap – All hail this fantastic soap! It creates a luxurious, foamy lather, makes for a comforting head to toe clean, and doubles as a great shaving cream in the shower. For an 8-pack on Target.com, it’s only $9.39. The nice thing is that it’s great for kids too – if you need a soap that is safe for the whole family in the bathtub. Use with a bath puff for extra lather and suds.
  3. e.l.f. Mineral-Infused mascara – For only $3, it’s hard to pass up this awesome mascara. It’s buildable, doesn’t smear or flake, and can look natural or dramatic. The silicone brush lifts and separates, plus always creates a clean look without clumps. Mascara should be replaced at least every 3 months to avoid eye infections, so this price points makes it even easier to do.
  4. TRESemme TRESTwo Extra Hold Hairspray – I use this hairspray daily, as it’s great to maintain any style. It resists humidity, and holds all-day without feeling crunchy. Plus, you can get it in travel sizes, so I keep a bottle at my desk to help fix any hair emergencies fast, but it doesn’t irritate my scalp. The 14.6 oz size is $5.99 at Target.com, and it lasts!
  5. Up & Up Witch Hazel – If you struggle with finding toners that don’t burn and actually do something, then look to witch hazel as your daily skin fix. Witch hazel is a natural extract, and acts as antiseptic, soothing and balancing astringent for the skin. After cleansing, soak a cotton pad and wipe over skin – it helps clear away dead skin cells from dry skin (to allow your moisturizer to do its job properly), and clears/heals acne breakouts from oilier skin types. Men will like it post-shaving, to help soothe razor burn. At $2.49 for a 16 oz bottle, Target’s own private brand Up & Up version is a steal. It’s located in the first-aid section, since it’s always handy to keep for cleaning minor cuts and scrapes. Insider tip: witch hazel is a staple in many spa facial treatments and toner brands on the market.

Top 5 Savvy Splurges:

Some beauty splurges are totally worth it, since they deliver that extra-special level of performance and can be multi-tasking to get the most for your money. The ones that I’ve chosen below are the over $15 price point, which some people would scoff at for being too “low” of a splurge price point level. Yeahhhhh, sure. But how many times have you bought a higher price point beauty product with the promise of it being “totally worth it”, only to be disappointed and have buyer’s remorse? Probably more often than you care to admit. Also (this is important) – if you have a closet or drawer full of these miracle-in-a-bottle types of high price point beauty products, and you haven’t used them within the last year, then PLEASE toss them or return them. You don’t want to risk eye infections or breakouts due to expired products or bacteria buildup, just because you refuse to let your hard-earned dollars go to waste. Navigate beauty hype cautiously, and remember that $15 could also equal a fantastic bottle of wine! (clockwise from the top):

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6) Clinique Different Lipstick (my favorite shade is Sugared Grapefruit) – this collection of lipstick shades from Clinique has been a fan favorite for years. This formula feels lightweight, yet delivers great color payoff. The shades range from cream to satin finishes, are long-wearing, and moisturize lips. I wear Sugared Grapefruit almost daily year-round, as it’s a beautiful pinky-peach color that matches my natural lip color. At $17 a tube, I love that these are available at Ulta and Boston Store, since I can earn points and use my rewards.

7) Cargo Color Stick (my favorite shade is Key West) – Cargo has a knack for developing multi-use makeup, with high performance formulas. For the past year, I’ve found myself constantly reaching for this as a blush, and multi-tasking it as a lip color when traveling. They are $28 per stick, and come in a variety of shades, plus a bronzer shade of St. Tropez. The great part is that you get a LOT within the tube, so they last a long time. You can easily find the entire shade range online!

8) Julep Skip the Brush Creme-to-Powder Blush Stick (my favorite shade is Sheer Glow) – Oh, what a fun brand Julep is! This Korean-beauty inspired brand also features great multi-use products, including this Sheer Glow highlighting stick. I love to use it under my brow bone and on my eyelid, to give shimmer under shadow. As well as a highlighter on my cheekbones, forehead, and bridge of my nose. The stick is super easy to apply, and the creamy formula is very blendable – it looks glowy, not glittery! Each blush stick is $24, and you can either subscribe to the Julep Maven beauty boxes, or find them at Ulta.

9) Altchek MD Glycolic Renewal Pads – This NYC beauty brand is dermatologist developed to give high performance skin care, without a super high price tag. A jar of pads (36 per jar) is $20, and delivers a great micro-peel, anti-aging treatment that you can easily use at night, under your favorite moisturizer. My family and I have super sensitive skin, and what we love about these is that they don’t burn. At. All! I use them about 2 to 3 times per week, after cleansing, and I wake up to glowing, softer, clearer skin. Find these online from the brand’s website, or at Kohl’s.

10) First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream – Hands down, this is one of my favorite moisturizers of all time. It’s soothing for all skin types, and doesn’t leave a greasy shine. It absorbs quickly, hydrates fast, and helps repair the skin’s natural moisture barrier. You can use it anywhere on the face and body, and a little goes a really long way. Even people with oilier skin need to hydrate, especially if you are in a seasonal or dry climate. A large 6 oz jar is $30 at Ulta or Sephora, but it will last for a while. People with hyper sensitive skin, such as eczema, will also love this – it calms irritated skin, contains colloidal oatmeal, anti-oxidants, and ceramides without any parabens. I consider this one of my anti-aging secret weapons, to help build healthier skin.

I hope these product recommendations help you in tackling your beauty challenges, and sifting through performance versus price. I’m looking forward to trying some new brands and products next year, so feel free to let me know if there’s any out there you have questions about! Be well, and have fun, in the New Year!

© 2016 28daysbeauty

Product Review: PUR Cosmetics’ new mascaras

So, to be fair, I should actually say “newer” mascaras, since both of these PUR Cosmetics mascaras have been on the market for a bit. But they are the newest formulas to the line’s assortment of eye makeup. And I decided to try both formulas back to back and compare. 

PUR’s Volume Vixen Mascara in Black


This keratin-enriched formula has been around for about a year, and it combines a volumizing and strengthening blend of ingredients. The wand has a unique delivery design to control the amount of product distributed. I’ll admit I didn’t get the type of application ease that I normally see with my favorite e.l.f. Mineral Infused mascara.


The brush is comprised of evenly spaced bristles, but it does a good job of lengthening, defining and separating. I felt that it kept up with me during the day, and didn’t flake or smudge. Plus, I did like that the formula is buildable. Overall, I think it’s a good upgrade from the Big Look mascara by PUR.

PUR’s Fully Charged Mascara in Black


This mascara boasts a formula that uses magnetic polymer technology. This is the latest mascara from PUR, and I love it! The formula delivers a bold application from the start, and still lifts, defines, and builds volume fast. I’ll admit I was a bit curious on how the magnetic technology would make a difference – but I was happily surprised to see how well this mascara performed. Per PUR’s product info, the formula also includes peptides to give an anti-aging benefit.


The brush has a variety of bristle lengths, and builds the formula fast. Plus, I felt like it grabbed every lash fast. I wore it during humid days, and there was no flaking or smudging. Out of the two, this was my favorite, hands-down.

Both formulas are great, and are priced just under $25. For prestige mascaras, I prefer the Fully Charged formula, as it performed best for me. Both are very easy easy to remove with a cleansing cloth, and didn’t irritate my eyes. Give these a try – I think you will get great results too! 

© 2016 28daysbeauty

Product Review: L’Oreal Carbon Black Voluminous mascara

Like I mentioned in my review of LORAC’s TANtalizer Duo, this product is not “new” to the market, but may be new to some of you. In fact, this mascara has been raved about for years, and has a cult following among makeup artists. L’Oreal owns many makeup brands out there (Lancôme, Urban Decay, etc) and so it’s only natural that they have a drugstore offering that is as good, if not better, than it’s higher priced cousins.

There are 3 things that I think make this mascara pretty awesome:


1) The formula is extremely buildable – you can go as natural or as dramatic as you want. And the shade is a rich black that compliments any complexion. Plus, it’s volumizing (hence the name) and lengthening – just a great all around formula.

2) The wand is not thick, but a very manageable bristle brush. If you’ve read my other mascara reviews, you’ll know I prefer thinner brushes – this is a great brush for defining and building.


3) It lasts, yet is easily removed with regular makeup remover. I love that it doesn’t flake or get runny in humidity. But when you want to take it off, it easily comes off with a makeup wipe, micellar water, or regular makeup remover.

This still doesn’t unseat my all-time favorite (e.l.f. Mineral Mascara), but this is definitely my #2 go-to pick. It beats out more expensive mascaras in performance, and is usually easily found in most mass retailers. Enjoy! 

© 2016 28daysbeauty

Product Review: CoverGirl Star Wars Lashblast Mascara – The Force Awakens Limited Edition

I’m not gonna lie – I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and I could not wait to try the limited edition line that was announced. The legendary Pat McGrath created the line’s products and color range, based on 6 different looks. I was excited that the Walgreen’s near me had a display, and only a few products were left. I chose a mascara from “The Dark Side” – the SuperSizer in Very Black. I’ll admit, I like Rebels, but the Dark Side is also very tempting. 😉

 

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Limited Edition CoverGirl Star Wars LashBlast mascara
 
First off, the packaging is totally fun! I really love this one, as it quotes Darth Vader from Return of the Jedi: “Indeed you are powerful [as the Emperor has foreseen]”. Yeah, Luke is powerful – spoiler alert. 
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CoverGirl Star Wars 8/10 The Dark Side mascara
 

Also, the wand is really nice, compared to the usual Lashblast brush – it’s slim and has silicone bristles that are nice and short. I don’t like super thick or oversized mascara wands – I think they are clunky and don’t really apply mascara evenly. To me they are just hype – the most important part of it to me is the silicone brush itself. You can get a tight-line effect with this brush, as it allows you to get close to the lash line and build for volume. 

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SuperSizer mascara wand brush
 
Now, the formula is a bit meh…the shade is a nice, deep black. But the formula gets a bit spiky and hard quickly – it doesn’t allow you to build easily like my favorite e.l.f. Mineral Infused mascara. It’s rather disappointing, because otherwise it glides on smoothly at the start of applying. You’d think that a perfectionist like Vader wouldn’t allow that to happen. But then again, the Death Star was built with a wide-open hatch to destroy it’s power source. So, you know, I guess you can’t win them all.

Bottom line, I thought that this was a fun spin on merchandising between two companies. And the integration of movie quotes and product packaging was very creative. I imagine we are also just seeing the beginning of these types of collaborations going forward, since movie producers realize that women make up a huge amount of the fan base.

© 2016 28daysbeauty

Product Reviews: best picks of e.l.f

I usually get asked about once a week on what is my “favorite makeup”. That, my friends, is a loaded question because there are so many incredible products out there from just as many great brands. So, I always take the approach of saying “I’ve always had great luck with…”, and then explain what that product is. 

Case in point, there are two products in particular that I notice my makeup bag ALWAYS has, and this is not by accident. And they are both from e.l.f. Cosmetics:

I always have e.l.f Mineral Infused Mascara, because it works wonders for my lashes! The formula doesn’t flake, and I easily can build to be as natural or dramatic as I want. The silicone brush also is amazing for separating and getting great definition. Added bonus? It’s $3 – does an amazing job, and costs so little. That’s awesome, because you need to replace your mascara every 3 months to prevent eye infections or bacteria growth. I’ve tried a ton of mascaras, but this one just always performs for me. 

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My absolute favorite mascara!

My other must-have from e.l.f. is the Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal. This is always in my makeup bag, simply because it is so versatile. Just a tiny amount gives a beautiful shimmer and highlight on the skin, without making you look like you’re ready for a night at Studio 54. I use it everyday in a variety of ways. First, I use a tiny dot and blend just under my brow bone, and it creates a beautiful highlight and base for powder shadow. Then, I’ll use my ring fingers and dot a tiny amount in a small “c” shape from my cheekbones to my upper hairline, just outside my eyes. Then, blend some bronzer in and boom! Contouring done! And the cost?! $1. Yup, 1 freakin dollar!

 

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fantastic highlighter & multi-tasker

My other favorite uses of this product are mixing a bit with my day moisturizer for an all over glow effect, or using a bit in my Cupid’s bow when wearing a brighter lipstick to soften the effect. You can also use it to highlight shoulders or your chest when wearing a sexier top or dress. Let’s just say that on the rare occasion that I’m not wearing this product, people will ask me if I’m feeling okay. So, yeah – it does wonders for my complexion! 

Sometimes little beauty gems also come with a pretty spectacular price tag. Try these out and let me know your thoughts! 

© 28daysbeauty 2015