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What I’m using on my skin today & Sephora sale picks

If you’ve been following me for a bit, you know how excited I get over the Sephora sale. I’m at ROUGE status which means I get 20% off during their spring sale and it’s THE BEST.

This time around, I opted for some new products. I love love love using oils at night. One of my absolute favorites in the Luna Oil by Sunday Riley. I SWEAR by it. It’s on the pricier side, but it’s honestly one of those products you’ll be happy you invested in. It has retinol in it so it’s great for those fine lines and wrinkles. I also give it credit for helping me get rid of those annoying acne scars. Pair it with the Good Genes All-in-one Lactic Acid Treatment (use this one in the AM) and you’ve got yourself one of the most dynamic skin duos of all time!

Caudalie Vine[Activ] Overnight Detox Oil
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Anyway, because I love using oils at night so much, I wanted to try something a little different so I opted for the Caudalie Vine[activ] Overnight Detox oil. This stuff is awesome. I put it on at night and in the morning my skin feels soft and supple. I definitely recommend this product if you have normal to oily skin like me! It’s a little less intense in comparison to the Luna Oil so I’d definitely recommend it if you’re just starting out with retinol and detox oils.

Image result for tatcha deep cleanser
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One of my absolute favorite products (that I’ve written about before) is the Tatcha Deep Cleanse. I don’t think I’ll ever stop using this one. I buy it in bulk whenever there’s a sale at Sephora. This product is gentle on your skin, provides exfoliation and really gives your skin a refreshed, clean feeling. I recommend it for any skin type. It’s definitely a game-changer.

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster
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I have two go-to vitamin C serums. I shuffle back and forth between the Olehenriksen truth serum and the Dr. Dennis Gross C+Collagen Vitamin C serum. I used the Dr. Gross serum for awhile last year and loved it because it’s so light weight and gives your skin that vitamin C glow. I love the Olehenriksen truth serum for the same reason. A little goes a long way and I loved what it did for my skin. Both of these products left my skin looking glowy and feeling smooth.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum
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I decided to switch it up this time and try the Sephora C+E serum. I read a few really great reviews and decided to give it a shot. So far, I’m really loving it. It’s much more affordable than the others, lightweight, and leaves a nice glow on your skin. I like to give new products 30 days, as of right now I’m loving it, but it’s only week one.

Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream
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As for moisturizers, I stuck with the Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream. This stuff smells like roses. It’s lightweight and sits on my skin so nicely. My skin feels smooth and refreshed when I put this on. I wear it right under my make-up without any primer sometimes and I have no complaints!

What are you using on your skin right now? Let me know in the comments.

with love & gratitude,

stef

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Sephora vs. Ulta: When I Shop One Over the Other and Why

Sephora and Ulta, in my opinion, are two of the most recognized beauty stores (in the world? country?) and although they sell similar products they are (again, in my opinion) very different.

Rewards Programs

Sephora: Beauty Insider, VIB, Rouge

Ulta: Member, Platinum, and Diamond

Both Sephora and Ulta offer rewards programs with 3-tiers of status. They are both similar in that the higher you are in status, the more money you’ve spent, the more perks associated with your membership. Right now, I am Rouge status at Sephora and on the verge of losing my platinum status at Ulta (simply because I haven’t been shopping there as much as I used to).

I LOVE being a rouge member. I can get my make-up done for free for a whole year. Every Tuesday and Thursday I have access to the Rewards Bazaar which just means they release the new rewards for that week. And my absolute FAVORITE part about being rouge is that once I accumulate 2500 points, I have the chance to snag a $100 rewards certificate to use on ANYTHING I want.  Sephora also releases a coupon (I believe twice a year) to all of it’s members, but the difference is that Rouge members get 20% off instead of the standard 15% (this really makes a big difference when you’re buying pricier products).

When I lived in NJ, there was an Ulta about 7 minutes from my apartment. I was always there. I got my hair cut there, my keratin done, I purchased all of my hair products there (still do), and it’s where I purchased (still purchase) most of my make-up.  I share all that to explain why I reached platinum status.  To reach platinum at Ulta, you have to spend $450 in a calendar year, to reach Diamond status you’d have to spend $1200 in a calendar year. Platinum members receive 1.25 points per dollar and diamond members receive 1.5 points per dollar spent. Each tier receives a $10 birthday coupon, a free birthday gift, and 2x the points during your birth month (not too shabby, right?). Diamond members get a $25 certificate to spend towards a beauty service.

Salon Services

As I said, one of the things I love MOST about being Rouge at Sephora is getting my make-up done for free. I have never left Sephora unhappy after having my make-up done. It always turns out exactly how I imagined or better.  I trust any of their artists to do my make-up because, as far as I know, Sephora doesn’t just hire anyone to do make-up and so I go in confident that whoever completes my service really knows what they’re doing.

Ulta also offers make-up services in their salons. Now, I’ve only ever had my make-up done at Ulta once and unfortunately it did not turn out well at all. Nothing against the person who performed the service, but I don’t think they had much experience with make-up. The service was very rushed and I left having spent $50 on something I was really unhappy with. That experience left me feeling like they will hire anyone as long as they have a cosmetology license, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a seasoned make-up artist. Even I learned how to apply make-up when I went to school for esthetics, but trust me, you don’t want me doing your make-up for a big event or at all actually (LOL – I’m not great at it). The point is that when I go to a salon and I’m paying for a service, I expect it to be done well.

However, unlike Sephora, Ulta offers other services. I’ve had a pleasant experience with a few of their hair stylists (shout out to Joey who used to work at the Clifton location, he’s amazing!). I’m very picky when it comes to my hair and I don’t trust just anyone to cut it or even blow it out. My hair is naturally very curly and I get it treated with Keratin so unless my keratin treatment is fresh and my hair is easy to straighten/blow out, I won’t let anyone come within 10 feet of it with a blow dryer (lol). Anyway, Ulta offering services really sets it apart from Sephora. It’s a full service beauty stop. You can buy your products and get your hair done all in one place and earn points for it!

Products

The Essence ($95)

Now for the good stuff: Whenever I get a coupon from Sephora I go HARD. I pick up my facial cleanser (The Deep Cleanse by Tatcha), The Essence by Tatcha, Exfoliating Pads (Dr. Gross Alpha-Beta Extra Strength Peel), and a couple of face masks (TLC Sukari Babyfacial Mask by Drunk Elephant and Rose Face Mask by Fresh).  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all of these products, but the price tags are kind of on the pricier side so I’m all about getting 20% off.  I should also add that none of these products are available at Ulta. I could buy them online at other stores or on the individual brands websites, BUT I wouldn’t accumulate any points to use toward rewards!

Rose Face Mask (3.3 oz $62 at Sephora)
Dr. Dennis Gross Peel Pads ($88 at Sephora- if you buy the 30 pack, you get 5 bonus treatments)

You may be wondering why I don’t buy my make-up at Sephora. Why don’t I use my coupons towards that!? Well, Ulta also releases a few great coupons a couple of times per year and I can also snag a few great products during their 21 days of beauty (their usually 50% off!). Whenever Ulta includes the Prestige Brands in the coupons I make sure to pick up some foundation, concealer and of course, hair products. I buy ALL of my hair products at Ulta. As I said earlier, my hair is keratin treated (Brazilian Blowout) so I’m very particular about what products I use (sulfate and paraben free all the way). My absolute favorite shampoo and conditioner duo is by AG hair (Keratin Repair Refuel) it smells absolutely amazing and it leaves my hair feeling like silk. Ulta also has a sale (I think twice a year) on a few of the jumbo size bottles of shampoo and conditioner. I usually wait for that sale to buy shampoo and conditioner. The products lasts me 6-8 months because the bottles are so big! And who doesn’t love paying nearly half the price for a product they love?!

Image result for ag hair refuel shampoo
AG Hair Keratin Repair Shampoo ($24 – $58 at Ulta)

Needless to say, I love both of these stores for different reasons. As it turns out, many other people feel the same way. They buy certain things at Sephora and certain things at Ulta. It all depends on what they’re buying!

Let me know which store you prefer and why or if you love both and what your reasons are!

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*I don't own ANY of these photos

3 Tatcha Beauty Products I Swear By…

The Deep Cleanse & The Rice Polish: Deep

I’m the girl with a drawer full of different skin care products. I have something for just about any skin-related issue you can think of. Dry skin? I have a cream for that. Oily skin? I have a serum for that. The point is: I love taking care of my skin and I invest a lot of time into researching the products that will work best for my particular concerns.

About two years ago, I was introduced to the Tatcha beauty products and I’ve been hooked ever since. I currently use The Deep Cleanse, The Rice Polish, and The Essence.

The Deep Cleanse ($38)

Image result for tatcha the deep cleanse
Photo: Sephora

This product is great for oily skin, uneven texture and pores. I personally have an oily T-zone and my cheeks tend to get dry in the winter, but I use this product all year long and it really helps to keep my skin balanced. I use it in the morning before applying any make-up and at night after taking my make-up off. I LOVE this product. It smells amazing, there’s no harsh fragrances added to it, which is a huge bonus in my opinion (I hate products with added fragrance it feels like I’m cheating my skin).

*I know tons of people use their facial cleanser as a make-up remover. I always advise against this. I just don’t think it really gets the job done. There are a lot of make-up removers out there, but if you ask me they all have the same job so there’s nothing wrong with using a $7 make-up remover! I use Neutrogena.

The Rice Polish: Deep ($65)

Image result for the rice polish tatcha
Photo: Sephora

The Rice polish is a wonderful little exfoliant that can be used daily. I think it’s a common misconception that your skin is being exfoliated simply because the product you’re using has tiny beads or seeds in it. The Rice Polish is a powder that you dab onto your hand and mix with a little bit of water. Lather it up until it turns into foam and apply it to your face. I lather it on my face for about 20 seconds then rinse.

It’s been my experience that physical exfoliants irritate my skin. I always feel like the beads/seeds are scratching my skin. I prefer chemical exfoliants because they get the job done without over-doing it (of course it depends on your skin and the product you use).

This product is great for uneven skin tone, normal to oily skin, dullness, and large pores. I use it four times a week (I also use another exfoliant on the other days but this post is about Tatcha!)

The Essence ($95)

Image result for The Essence Tatcha
Photo: Sephora

This stuff is the Holy Grail. It does everything (that might be a dramatization but I REALLY love this stuff). I waited awhile to purchase it because the price tag is kind of high and I wanted to make sure their other products worked for me, but I promise it’s worth the cost. It basically makes all of your other products work harder and better. The essence is applied after you exfoliate before applying anything else to your skin. You shake about two drops into your palms and press it onto your skin. If you use it modestly, it can last you quite awhile.

There are a slew of other products in my drawer that I adore just as much, but Tatcha truly changed my skin for the better and these products are a staple in my skin routine. I change up my serums and my night creams, but I consistently use these products.

Sadly, I don’t have before and after photos, but I had acne scars, uneven skin tone, and mild acne before I really committed to taking care of my skin. These products along with one or two others from separate brands really transformed my skin.

**This has been my personal experience with these products and all of these statements are based on my results. It goes without saying that they may work differently for everyone.

Feel free to reach out with any questions!

With love & gratitude,

steph

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