REVIEW | Pixi Sheer Cheek Gel

I’ve been a longtime fan of Pixi’s skincare products, but I had yet to try any of their makeup items, so a while back, I picked up this Pixi Sheer Cheek Gel in Flushed ($13.99) to try.

I had high hopes for this product, since generally it seems that people enjoy Pixi’s makeup products. Although the shade Flushed looked very deep in the tube, I had a feeling that I would get a nice wash of color on my cheeks.

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Unfortunately, this product didn’t really work out for me. After blending out the color on my cheeks, it just washes away into nothing. I tried using my fingers for maximum pigment retention, but it didn’t help. When I tried to layer on more, the blush started getting patchy and uneven. I tried it a few times to give it a good chance, but it just seemed like this blush and I weren’t meant to be…

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I’ll be passing this on to someone who would enjoy this much more than I would. If you’re looking to try out this blush, please keep in mind that if you’re medium skin tone like me or deeper, this is likely not to show up on your skin.

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BOOK REVIEW | Sharp Objects

As I’ve mentioned before, I love crime/thriller/mystery novels, and Gillian Flynn is one of my favorite authors when it comes to this genre. I had already read her other two books, Gone Girl and Dark Places, and finally got around to reading Sharp Objects this past month.

Sharp Objects follows Camille Preaker, a journalist at a lesser known Chicago paper, who returns to her hometown of Windy Gap, Missouri after eight years to investigate the murder of a young girl and the disappearance of another. While there, she also has to face her mother, Adora, who has never shown any affection for her, and her thirteen-year-old half-sister, Amma, who is a perfect little doll to be coddled by Adora at home, but a mean girl around the town.

Like most thriller/crime novels, this one was pretty easy to read. It was also relatively short, so it’s definitely something you could finish in a couple of sittings if you wanted to.  Gillian Flynn’s writing is very proficient and engaging, so you’re never bored as you go through the novel. I’ve mentioned that I’m not a fan of first person writing, but Flynn does it in a way that it’s not unbearable to read.

The material, however, is definitely very dark and is probably too disturbing for some people to read. If you’re triggered by cutting, abuse, sexualization of preteen girls, and graphic descriptions of violence, I’d say definitely pass on this. It is by no means a comfortable book, even compared to other books of the same genre.

Although I guessed a good portion of what would happen early on in the novel, the twist at the end still came as a bit of a surprise to me. Unfortunately, I think Flynn could’ve done a better job with that twist. Rather than write about it as if Camille was experiencing things in real time like the rest of the book, the twist was revealed in the form of Camille recapping it for the readers. It also felt very abrupt – Flynn built up the story very well until the end, when suddenly it seemed as if there were a rush to end the book.

Overall, I’d highly recommend this novel if you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn and/or crime/thriller novels. I’m really hoping Flynn will come out with a new novel soon…

 

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Mid-Year Reflections

It’s crazy that it’s already the end of June! I don’t know how to feel, but I’m starting to believe that as you get older, each year goes by faster… 😦 Anyways, as we are at the halfway point of 2018, I thought it’d be a good time to reflect on this year so far and what progress I’ve made for the goals and intentions I had set at the beginning of the year.

  1. Lead a more active lifestyle. I’ve been pretty bad about this, but also not really! I only have probably gone on a run once since 2018 started, but I’ve moved, and now I have to walk at least two miles a day as part of my work commute.
  2. Travel more, whether near or far. This is definitely happening, both intentionally and not. I didn’t do much traveling the first half of this year, but I’m traveling to the UK for work next month, going on a glamping trip with my best friends also next month, showing my boyfriend around Taiwan in the fall, and heading to Australia with my family during the winter holidays! I am beyond excited, as I haven’t gone on any vacations since the Mediterranean cruise a year and a half ago. Stay tuned in the next few months for some travel blog posts! 🙂
  3. Try new recipes more often. Now that my boyfriend and I live together, we’ve been really good about this. Having a few cookbooks on hand helps too.
  4. Read more consistently. I’m getting slightly better at this, but I can still improve. The travel will definitely help, since I always bring a book with me for the flights.
  5. Be more mindful of where and how I spend my money. This has happened pretty drastically just out of necessity. Some roommate/moving out drama on earlier this year on top of the usual moving in costs meant I took a hit financially. While I did quite a bit of retail therapy the last couple of months (haul coming next week, lol), I’ve definitely gotten better about really thinking about whether I need something before I buy it. Deciding to go cruelty-free has also helped with the mindfulness part – I make sure to do my research on a company, mainly to make sure it’s cruelty-free, before purchasing any of its products.
  6. Buy less but more mindfully – invest in better pieces, steer away from fast fashion. Minus a bit of a wardrobe refresh (I’ve been trying to incorporate more color and prints into my life), I’ve been really good about this. I’ve gotten rid of probably 25% of my previous wardrobe, either passing it on to my sister, donating it, or selling it. I don’t buy from fast fashion anymore (the temptation is real though, especially with Zara), choosing to buy less but pay slightly more for the good stuff that I know will last.
  7. Work harder on this blog and its content – more content and more variety. I think I’ve been better about this! I’m really trying my best to post at least once, sometimes twice, a week, and while every once in a while I drop off, I’ve been pretty consistent the last couple of months. I’m trying to improve on my photography skills to take better pictures of products, and hopefully I’ll start posting outfit pics too, once I gather the courage and am able to take decent pics.
  8. Wake up earlier, and make it a habit! I’ve been on and off about this, though having a dog makes it easier. My boyfriend and I take turns taking our dog, Zelda, out in the morning. Sometimes she decides she’ll want to linger outside and sniff away, which means I have to allocate time to allow her to do that. (Shameless plug: if you like dogs, check out Zelda’s instagram! Picture of her below.)
  9. Pay it forward more often. I’m not really sure how to measure this, but I do try to be nice, offer to pitch in and help when I see it’s needed, etc.
  10. LEARN, whether skills/knowledge needed for my field or otherwise. I think figuring out how to improve on photography skills counts for this? In my field, however, I’ve been slacking. I need to do better, sigh.
  11. Ask myself more, “Will it matter when I die?” I definitely have been better at this. Just going through the shit show that was my moving out situation really put things in perspective for me. When you witness people at their pettiest and are forced to deal with it, you really come to realize that some things just aren’t worth getting upset/stressed/angry over anymore.
  12. Put more effort in my daily appearance, even if it’s just fixing my hair or putting on some mascara… I am happy to say that I am getting better about this! I don’t necessarily do it every day, but when I have time, I try to put on a bit of light makeup. I also have been putting more effort into my efforts, at least most days…
  13. Use perfume more regularly. Adding Glossier You to my collection has convinced me into using perfume more often, whether it’s that one or another one in my collection.
  14. Become a daily sunscreen user!!! I know, I should be better about this… I probably remember to put on sunscreen 5 out of 7 days in a good week, so I’m getting there!

Overall, I think I’ve been doing pretty well, but I could be doing more! I guess that’s what the next half of the year is for 🙂

Also, since I mentioned my dog above, I’m going to shameless share a couple of my favorite pictures of her below, hehe.

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AT A GLANCE | Lively

Recently, I came to the realization that most of my bras were getting misshapen because they were old. I had been eyeing Lively bras for a while because I was really drawn to the brand’s marketing and bigger bust friendly sizing, and it was as good a time as ever to try out these Lively bras.

Lively bras are at a flat price of $35 per bra, no matter the style, but you can get two for $55 and three for $75. I decided to pick up 3 to maximize my savings: (1) the Busty Bralette in Jet Black, (2) the Mesh Trim No-Wire in Jet Black, and (3) the T-Shirt Bra in Toasted Almond.

Before I talk about my thoughts on the actual bras, I want to point out that I wear a size 32DD, so it’s really difficult for me to find bras on any old website or at any old store. I really appreciate that the site has a specific bra category of “DD/DDD” that doesn’t just have one or two styles. There’s actually a great selection of styles, and they all look very comfortable and sexy. I love that there’s also a selection of bralettes with sizes made just for larger busts.

It seems that all of the bras have a J-hook in the back, which allows you to convert the bra to a racer back bra. The straps are also front-adjusting, so you can adjust the strap length while you wear them. Both of these features make the bras very versatile.

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Each order comes with a simple little drawstring bag to store your bras as well!

I’m really enjoying all three of the bras that I purchased. The bralette has a lot of coverage and fits wonderfully, and the t-shirt bra is very comfortable. The Mesh Trim No-Wire bra is probably my favorite – it has the support of a typical wire bra but is more comfortable because there is no wire. To me, it’s the perfect hybrid of a bra and bralette.

Unfortunately, after wearing the Mesh Trim No-Wire bra for only one day, the bra strap completely snapped off. Thankfully, Lively’s customer service team was very understanding and sent me a replacement for free after I sent them pictures of the broken bra strap.

I’ve been loving these bras so much so that I purchased three more bras as soon as Lively released their strapless bras: (1) the Lace Strapless in Jet Black, (2) the Lace Strapless in Toasted Almond, and (3) the All-Day Deep V No-Wire in Midnight Navy.

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The Lace Strapless was love at first sight. It’s a beautiful bra, so I really hoped that it would be comfortable and provide ample support, and it did not disappoint. The four hook and eye closures on the back as well as the side boning ensure that the bra band does not slide around without straps, and although the cups are not padded, they have that line of gel/silicone that you usually see on the top of strapless dresses to help hold the cups up. To be honest, that line of gel/silicone didn’t do too much to hold up the cups, but the bra fit well enough that it wasn’t much of an issue. It was the most fuss-free strapless bra I’ve ever worn – I didn’t feel myself pulling the bra up much, if at all. I’m glad I bought this bra in two colors, because I see myself getting a lot of use from these. No more bra straps showing for sleeveless and/or strapless tops!

The All-Day Deep V No-Wire is great at all, though, to me, it looks and feels the same as the Mesh Trim No-Wire bra. I compared the two, and it seems that the Deep V has slightly less fabric on the cups where they are close to your cleavage – I’ll have to try this versus the Mesh Trim on a lower cut shirt to compare, but regardless, I enjoy this bra very much as well.

Lively also sells undies ($10 each or 3 for $25), bodysuits ($45 each, maternity bodysuits included!), swim ($65 for one pieces, $45 for bikini pieces), and its own fragrance ($55). I’ll be looking at the swimwear because I’ll be going on a couple of vacations later this year, but otherwise, I don’t have a need for any of these other categories, so I probably won’t be checking those out for a while.

As a final cherry on top, Lively has an amazing point system. For every 100 points, you get a $10 reward. You get a 100 point bonus for making a Lively account, then 1 point per dollar spent, but sometimes there are are double point events. I made my second purchase during such an event, so now I have over 300 points, which is $30 to spend. I’ll probably be purchasing a bikini top with that reward.

If you’re interested in checking out Lively, sign up here!

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EMPTIES | Makeup, Body, Hair, June 2018

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Still overwhelmed

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Now, part two of my many empties! Continue reading to see what makeup, body, and hair products I’ve used up. You can find part one here.

As I’ve mentioned previously, since I am moving towards a cruelty-free lifestyle, I will not be including any of the usual product information that I usually include (links, price, size) for non-cruelty-free products.

Makeup

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Urban Decay Naked 24/7 Double-Ended Eye Pencil in Whiskey/Zero (2 x 0.01 oz, $18): Unfortunately, this shade is no longer available on Sephora or the Urban Decay website. Although I didn’t use up either side of this wonderful eye pencil, I got a lot of good use out of it. I just decided to toss it because it had been way too long that I had owned it so it was definitely past its expiration date. I really like the Urban Decay eyeliner formulations so I may revisit them in the future.

Lancôme Cils Booster XL Mascara Base: This has been a longtime favorite, but as Lancôme is not a cruelty-free brand, I will have to find a good dupe.

YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils

Fiberwig Mascara

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 15 in Rose: Another favorite. I was so sad to find out that Fresh does test on animals when required by law 😦

Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil Easy Shape & Fill

YSL Touche Eclat Blur Primer

Hair, Body, Etc

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Crabtree & Evelyn Bath & Shower Gel

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray (full size 8.5 oz, $46): Oribe products smell amazing, and this one was no different. This travel size was pretty small, so I don’t think it was enough for me to form an opinion on the product itself. I have another travel size of this product, so I may give an update after I use up that one.

Sensodyne Toothpaste

Bumble and bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil: This was one of the rare expensive shampoos that I had been willing to splurge on. Sadly, bumble and bumble is not cruelty free 😦

Bumble and bumble Don’t Blow It Fine (H)air Styler

NUXE Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil: The fragrance on this was way too strong for my tastes.

SKINFOOD Intensive Shea Butter Cream In-Shower: I’ve written a dedicated review on this. I’m having a difficult time determining for certain whether SKINFOOD is cruelty-free, but it seems like it’s sold in China, so I will no longer be purchasing products from them to err on the side of caution.

Trader Joe’s Coffee Body Scrub (8 oz, $4.99): This wasn’t a bad scrub by any means, but the coffee grounds made way too much of a mess for me to enjoy using this.

L’OrĂŠal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Transforming Oil-in-Cream

L’OrĂŠal Paris Color Vibrancy Nourishing Conditioner

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EMPTIES | Skincare, June 2018

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I’m a little overwhelmed, tbh

Given that it’s been a good six months since my last empties post, I have accumulated a ton of empties to share with y’all. Although I’ve been slacking in posting regularly, I managed to lug my empties with me from my previous apartment when I moved in March! I was committed to saving my trash and posting a really satisfying empties.

I was so committed, in fact, that I have too many empties to talk about and will have to split this post in two. This first one will be on my skincare empties, and the next one will be on everything else!

Also, as I mentioned in the first post of my cruelty-free journey series, I’m trying to use up my non-cruelty-free products, so you’ll see a lot of those here. Since I am moving towards a cruelty-free lifestyle, I will not be including any of the usual product information that I include (links, price, size) with the non-cruelty-free products.

Skincare

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Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial (1.35 oz, $48): This was a pretty decent daily nighttime moisturizer, but, to be honest, I’m not sure I experienced any brightening or evening of skin tone. To be fair, I only had a sample of this, so it probably wasn’t enough time to really notice any effects. The scent was a little too strong for my tastes, but I just saw that they’ve reformulated it with a lighter scent, so I may revisit this in the future when I’ve used up more of my current skincare stash.

Murad Hydro-DynamicÂŽ Ultimate Moisture (1.7 oz, $75): I didn’t particularly enjoy this, but that was because this was way too thick for my skin type. I imagine that someone with dry and/or dehydrated skin would love this. It’s supposed to be anti-aging as well.

Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil (1 oz, $72) and the 100% Squalane Oil (3.4 oz, $58): I got these two samples via Biossance’s site, where you can choose one of three sample sets to try. I talk more about the brand and my impression of these in my Biossance brand overview post.

Origins Plantscription™ Anti-Aging Eye Treatment: This was a solid eye cream, but not my favorite. It doesn’t beat Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye, which was my holy grail nighttime eye cream until I recently decided to go cruelty-free.

Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream: This was my holy grail daytime eye cream until I discovered the Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème (0.5 oz, $38), review here. I’m glad I discovered the Ole Henriksen one, especially because Ole Henriksen is cruelty-free while Origins is not.

Mario Badescu Herbal Hydrating Serum (1 oz, $30): The packaging of this sample was one of the worst I’ve ever seen. It’s a mini plastic bottle from which you can squeeze out product, but the plastic was so stiff I maybe got three uses out of it before I couldn’t squeeze anything out anymore. I considered cutting the little bottle to get as much of the product as I could, but the plastic was so thick and the bottle so small that I didn’t really want to risk cutting myself by accident. From the very limited experience I had with the product itself, I’m not really sure whether I liked it or not. Hopefully, the packaging of the full-size product is a lot easier to use.

Cetaphil Dermacontrol Oil Control Foam Wash: This always makes it back into my skincare rotation because (1) my mom gets samples of this from her work, and (2) I’ve been a longtime fan. I’ve found out it’s not cruelty-free though, so after I use up the one I opened a couple of months ago, I’ll be phasing this face wash (and other Cetaphil products) out of my life.

Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser (7 oz, $30): I bought this so long ago that it’s since been repackaged and renamed as The Clean Truth™ Foaming Cleanser. This isn’t really similar to the Cetaphil other than the fact that it’s also a foaming cleanser, but I enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed the Cetaphil cleanser and would go back to it again in the future.

Glossier Priming Moisturizer (1.7 fl oz, $22): I did not enjoy this as a primer, but it was pretty great (and relatively affordable!) for a morning daily moisturizer. I may pick this up again in the future.

Origins High-Potency Night-A-Mins™ Mineral-Enriched Renewal Cream

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, and “Buffet”: To be honest, none of these really impressed me. I had really wanted to love them, given the affordable price points, but I just rushed myself through these because I wanted to finish them and move on to other products. Anyways, I don’t want to support Deciem (The Ordinary’s parent company) anymore, so I will not be buying anymore of The Ordinary products after I use up what I have.

belif Hungarian Water Essence: belif is another brand that I really loved, until I found out it was possibly being sold in China. I’ve gone few quite a few of these essences, and I love them, but it’s time to let it go… I really want to try the Tatcha essence, though it’s so expensive…

Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay: This was a longtime favorite, but I will not be revisiting it until Origins becomes truly cruelty-free.

Glossier Solution (4.4 oz, $24): I’ve done a review on this before, and I actually never used it up – it’s still half full. I tried to see if any of my friends and family wanted to try it out, but no takers as of now. I don’t really want to toss it yet since there’s still so much product left, but I may end up doing so in the end, unfortunately.

Glossier Soothing Face Mist (4 oz, $18): I enjoyed this for the most part, but probably won’t be repurchasing. It’s affordable and does feel nice on the skin, but I’ve sprayed it into my eyes by accident a few times before, and it burned like no other, which is odd, considering it doesn’t seem to have any irritating ingredients. The Botanics Organic Toning Spritz (5 oz, $9.99) with rosewater is at a much better price point and doesn’t irritate my eyes.

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel: This wasn’t really life changing or anything, but it did the job. It was a great base moisturizer to mix with oils, and this size was an amazing value. It took me a year of using it twice daily to finish it up.

Julep Boost Your Radiance Reparative Rosehip Seed Facial Oil (0.85 oz, $36): This was my holy grail for the longest time, and I purchased a backup the moment I saw Julep was having a sale. I’ve since fallen in love with other oils, but this will always have a special place in my heart.

BYBI Beauty Prime Time Priming Facial Polish (1.01 oz, $18): I have a review on this product from when BYBI Beauty was still in its early stages, when it was still difficult to get BYBI Beauty products in the states. Now, you can buy from Urban Outfitters or ASOS! It’s amazing how far this green beauty company has come. Unfortunately, the product went bad (I kept this in my shower and the tub grew mold) before I could use it all up, but I may repurchase in the future.

Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser: This had been my holy grail cleanser when my skin was still more acne prone, but I’ve since grown out of it.

Stay tuned for the rest of my empties next week!

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My Cruelty-Free Journey | The Start

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At the beginning of this year, I shared my goals and intentions for this year, and one of them was that I wanted to make more mindful purchases. I’ve been doing pretty well, staying away from fast fashion stores and definitely putting more thought into where I’m spending my money, and a couple of weeks ago, I decided that it was time to go cruelty-free.

I’ve done research on cruelty-free brands and products here and there over the last couple of years, but this decision was actually a pretty abrupt one, and now I don’t even remember what brought me to make this choice. I’m glad I did though because I really don’t want to be supporting brands that test on animals. As transitioning to be completely cruelty-free is definitely a journey and not something that can happen within just a few days, I thought I could start a series here on my blog to document my progress. If you’re looking to make the same transition, hopefully, this series will be helpful to you as well!

Cruelty-Free 101

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the cruelty-free world, it’s really complex, as I have learned as I’ve done my research. If a company says it’s cruelty-free, there are a few possibilities for what that really means, which I’ll list and describe below:

  1. Certified by Leaping Bunny and/or signed the PETA pledge: If a company has either of these, it means it has an official guarantee that it does not conduct any animal testing.
    • Examples: Bite Beauty, Colourpop, e.l.f., Marc Jacobs Beauty
  2. Cruelty-free but no affiliation with PETA/Leaping Bunny: A lot of companies seem to fall into this category.
    • Examples: Drunk Elephant, Glossier, Sunday Riley, Youth to the People
  3. Cruelty-free but owned by a parent company that tests on animals: L’Oreal, Unilever, and Estee Lauder are just a few examples of parent companies that conduct animal testing. However, companies in this category are able to maintain their cruelty-free status even while being owned by one of these parent companies. Some of these companies even have the Leaping Bunny certification.
    • Examples: BECCA, Tarte (Leaping Bunny), Urban Decay (Leaping Bunny)
  4. Cruelty-free but sells in China: Selling in China is a big deal because China requires any foreign beauty products to go through animal testing if they are to be sold in physical stores in mainland China (Hong Kong is okay). Cruelty-free and selling in China were first brought to my attention when NARS, which is otherwise cruelty-free, decided to start selling its products in China. If a company says that it does not conduct animal testing “except where required by law”, it is likely that they are selling in China. I find this to be so shady, and any company claiming to be cruelty-free yet sells in China is betraying its own morals to make more money.
    • Examples: Caudalie, Kiehl’s, NARS, Origins
  5. Gray-area cruelty-free: This would be companies that say they do not conduct animal testing but don’t say anything or are vague about whether their suppliers do. Basically, read the company’s statement carefully and pay attention to the wording.

If you’re interested in finding out more, Cruelty-Free Kitty, Logical Harmony, and Ethical Elephant are all great resources. These sites all have lists of cruelty-free brands and brands that you should avoid, as well as a bunch of other helpful information. (If you’re already cruelty-free, please share any other resources you have in the comments below! 🙂 )

My Cruelty-Free Philosophy

As I’ve learned from doing my research, everyone has a different idea of what being cruelty-free is. For some people, if the brand is cruelty-free but its parent company isn’t, then they will not use products from that brand. For me, I will use a product as long as the brand itself does not conduct animal testing. However, I will not use any products that are sold in China. I’ve found some articles stating that it’s actually possible to sell products in China as long as the product’s in are white-listed, but I think that’s a black hole of research I’d rather not fall into.

Although it’s natural for a lot of cruelty-free people to use only vegan products, I’m not going to. I’m okay with and will continue to use products that have animal ingredients in them (mainly but not limited to bee byproducts like beeswax and honey) but will try to buy vegan products as much as I can.

IN SUMMARY: when I talk about cruelty-free brands from this post forward, I mean cruelty-free brands that: (1) do not sell in China, but (2) may be owned by a parent company that does test on animals, and (3) may or may not be vegan.

Current Progress

After I decided to become cruelty-free, I inventoried my skincare and makeup collection. To my horror, a good two-thirds of what I own is not from a cruelty-free brand, so it’s definitely going to be a while before I can call myself completely cruelty-free. The products I have photographed in the picture are all of the smaller sized items that I have that are not cruelty-free. I was getting a little overwhelmed gathering all of my non-cruelty-free products together for this little shoot, but, thankfully, this is the bulk of my items – I still have a few full-sized items not pictured here.

I’ll be using up any products that I already have that aren’t cruelty-free because I think it’s so wasteful not to use up products I already own, but I also plan on passing some items on to my family and friends and donating a lot of it to either local shelters or Project Beauty Share, an amazing organization that also takes gently used makeup products. However, from now on, I will only be purchasing from cruelty-free brands and will no longer be reviewing any non-cruelty-free products unless it’s part of a larger post (i.e. empties, cruelty-free journey update, etc.).

Sadly, Kiehl’s and Origins, which were two of my favorite brands, both have the “except when required by law” phrase that means they do still conduct animal testing, likely since they sell their products in China. Hopefully, they change their policies one day so I can go back to using their products again.

Going cruelty-free isn’t going to be limited to beauty products, either. I’m also going to do this for all of my household products, including cleaners, soaps, and more.

Look out for an update on my progress in a couple of months!

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AT A GLANCE | Thrifty Thieves

It was love at first sight when I stumbled upon a picture of Thrifty Thieves earrings on the Tictail Instagram page. (Tictail is like a more curated Etsy, for those of you who don’t know.)

As soon as I saw that picture, I immediately went to the Tictail website to check out their offerings and was pleasantly surprised to see that the earrings were affordable as well! I ended up picking three different styles to try. Since the brand is based out of Singapore, I expected to pay shipping, and I was willing to since the earrings were both nice and affordable. My total for three pairs of earrings was a little under $32, with approximately $8 shipping and a 10% discount for my first purchase through Tictail.

Shipping was also amazingly fast – I expected to wait at least a week to receive my order, since it was an international order, but I probably got it within a week! The box itself was packaged very cutely. The earrings inside were also packed very nicely, with cute yellow, heart-shaped bubble wrap. I like that they included a little postcard with my name on it. Even though it’s not much, I appreciate little details like this that try to personalize your shopping experience. It makes buying from brands like this much more enjoyable – receiving packages like this make it feel more like you’re receiving a gift than merely receiving something that you purchased 🙂

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I got three different styles: (1) the Mini Moon in Lava (top left in picture below, $8.12), (2) the Tranquil (right, no longer available 😦 ), and (2) the Crescent in Honeycomb (bottom left, $8.12).

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I was really satisfied with all three pairs of earrings – they’re all really well made and go really well with plenty of outfits. I’ve already worn each style a handful of times, and I can’t wait to get more earrings from Thrifty Thieves!

Check out the brand’s website and Instagram to see the various styles they have available.

Have you heard of this brand before? What are your favorite places to get jewelry?

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How I Shop Online | Tips for Saving Money

As I’m sure a lot of you are as well, I am an avid online shopper, and as I get older and become more of a homebody, I’ve only embraced online shopping even more.

That being said, there is no way I am going to sacrifice saving money for the convenience and ease of online shopping. I’m going to maximize whatever savings I can get – from coupon codes, cashback, discounted gift cards, and more – to get the best of both worlds.

Level 1: Free Shipping

This is probably pretty obvious, and I’m sure most of you do this too. If a product is sold at more than one site, I will always choose the one with free shipping. If a site requires that you spend however much money to get free shipping, I will only wait until I have that much money’s worth of products that I want before making a purchase, or I will see if that site has a “pick up in store for free” option and do that. I used to fall into the trap of spending more to get free shipping, but then I realized I was spending way more money than I planned to, so I stopped. Don’t fall into that trap!

Level 2: Wait for a Sale

This is probably another obvious one, but if you don’t need it right away, wait for a discount. If possible, wait even more for a steeper discount. There have been a couple of times where I’ve jumped at purchasing something at first discount, only to see an even better one a week later. Of course, there are some exceptions to this, as some items can be so popular that they sell out before they can go on sale. And if you really love something and are worried you won’t get it, then get it! But most of the time, I think this is a good rule. And if it does end up selling out, and you’re not that bummed, you probably didn’t want it that much anyways.

Level 3: Coupons/Promos/Discount Codes

I am always on the hunt for some type of code to save money. I’m subscribed to most email lists and am on any reward programs for the sites that I shop at most, which often times will provide you with member exclusive codes. I also frequently just google “[store name] + promo code” to see if I can find any better codes as well. The Honey extension is also great, as it will list as many promo codes as it can find, and will even try inputting them all for you in the checkout window.

Level 4: Membership/Rewards Programs

This one is pretty much a no-brainer, especially if you frequent specific stores/sites, but is definitely recommended regardless. All it really requires is providing your email and/or creating an account for the site. Usually, this program involves points, and for every time you hit a certain point threshold, you get some type of reward.

Sephora Beauty Insider/VIB/VIB Rouge, Ulta’s Ultamate Rewards, and Birchbox Loyalty Points are three great ones to join if you enjoy buying beauty products – Sephora’s program allows you to redeem deluxe samples of various products for points, while Ulta’s and Birchbox’s programs allow you to redeem the points at a dollar value. Many clothing retailers now also have a rewards program, and drugstores like CVS also have their own programs.

Basically, before you make a purchase, check whether that site has its own rewards program. Even if you don’t think you’re going to shop there again, many times, there will be some type of new member bonus that makes it worth it.

Level 5: Cashback/Rebate Programs

I always use a cashback/rebate program, primarily CouponCabin and Ebates*. I have the Chrome extensions for both on my browser, so when I go to a shopping site, both will pop up and tell me how much percent of my purchase I can get back:

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You can’t stack different cashback sites, so usually, between CouponCabin and Ebates, I choose whichever site gives me more cashback. If you sign up for CouponCabin, every time you hit a certain number of shopping transactions using the service, you get a certain percentage of bonus cash back. Right now, I am getting 10% bonus on every purchase I make with CouponCabin (just goes to show how much online shopping I do…). This means that I usually end up using CouponCabin. You’d be surprised at how quickly even something like 2% cashback adds up if you’re shopping online often.

I’d say the only downside to these cashback/rebate type of deals is that you don’t get the rebate immediately. For CouponCabin, you get cash back when you hit a certain threshold of total cashback – the minimum is $7, which is what I have my threshold set at. For Ebates, you get your rebate every three months. Both sites offer many different methods to receive your cashback, including check, PayPal, and gift card. CouponCabin only offers Amazon gift cards for the gift card option, but you’ll get 10% bonus cash back if you choose this option (Amazon gift cards are like cash anyways, so no big deal). Ebates offers more variety for the gift card option, including Sephora, though the bonus cashback percentage varies depending on which card you choose.

Bonus: See if your credit card has some type of shopping rewards program. I have a Southwest Rewards credit card, so if I can’t shop through Ebates or Coupon Cabin, I’ll shop through Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping to get points. I can redeem these to use on a Southwest flight.

Level 6: Discounted Gift Cards

This was something I discovered in the last couple of years, but there are sites that exist where people can sell gift cards they’ll never use, and other people can buy them at a discounted rate.

There are plenty of these sites out there, but Raise** is my favorite. I’ve both sold and purchased gift cards on Raise, and there’s often times an additional discount on top of the already discounted cards. I most often buy Target and Sephora gift cards on Raise, and there’s never a shortage of these on the site. Usually, I can get Sephora get cards for about 5% off their value, though I’ve gotten some as high as 8% before.

If you see a gift card with a steep discount, you have to move fast – there have been too many times where I added the card to my cart, only to have it already gone when I go to check out. If you have more patience than me and/or have a specific purchase already in mind, I’d recommend checking Raise regularly so you can get the best deal.

Bonus: You can get cashback from either CouponCabin or Ebates for purchases at Raise.

Level 7: Drop

This app*** is literally free money. All you have to do is link your credit cards and add whatever offers you desire to your Drop account. There are ongoing and active (aka limited time) offers. Ongoing offers are always in your account, and you’ll always earn a set amount of points per dollar spent. For example, I get 15 points for every dollar I spend at Trader Joe’s, and this is all the time.

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Active offers are slightly different. They’re one-time offers more times than not, and usually, you have to spend x amount of money to get y amount of points. Y amount of points is usually a substantial amount. For example, my active Starbucks offer shown above will get me 200 points if I spend at least $5.

Drop also has this new thing where you can get points when you shop online through their app. I can’t say much about this feature because I haven’t used it yet.

You can redeem these points for gift cards. They offer quite a few, and the value of the gift card is basically $1 for 1000 points. I always like getting the $10 Amazon gift card right when I hit 10,000 points, since like I’ve mentioned above, an Amazon gift card is basically cash.

I hope you found this post helpful! I had tons of fun writing this because saving money/getting a good deal gives me life 🙂 What do you do to save money when shopping online?

*Get $10 back on your first purchase of $25 or more with Ebates when you sign up with my referral link!

**Get $5 off your first purchase when you use Raise via my referral link.

***Get 1,000 points when you sign up for Drop with my referral link!

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HAUL | Birchbox How to Hygge Box

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A couple weeks ago, I went a little ham with my shopping. I was just coming out of a stressful couple months and was in serious need of some retail therapy. So, of course, when I received a Birchbox promotion email about the How to Hygge Box, I couldn’t resist.

Fun fact: the word hygge is actually pronounced “hoo-ga”.

The items in this box included (in order from left to right, top to bottom based on the second picture in this post):

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Smith & Cult Nailed Lacquer in Peaceful Paranoia ($18): I have been a fan of Smith & Cult polishes for a while, and while this pale mauve shade with a pink sheen isn’t something I usually go for in a nail polish shade, I thought it’d be a nice color for the summer. I’m excited to paint my nails with this shade this weekend 🙂

Sunday Riley C.E.O. C + E Micro-Dissolve Cleansing Oil (full-size 3.4 fl oz, $38): I’m always down to try a Sunday Riley product, and this is a cleansing oil that also has vitamin C, AHA, and BHA! A deluxe

VotivoÂŽ Aromatic Travel Tin Candle in No. 45 Grey Vetiver™ ($12): I can’t pass up a good candle, and the scent of this one sounds amazing – “a mix of melon and bitter grapefruit grounded by amber”.

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thisworksÂŽ deep sleep™ pillow spray (2.5 oz, $29): I love this. I had a little sample of this last year that I used up pretty quickly, so I was excited to see this offered in the box. The product claims to help you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more refreshed, but personally, I don’t find this to be the case. Regardless, I love the smell of lavender, and the scent of this spray is natural and not overwhelming at all. It’s a nice little touch when I want to feel extra pampered as I’m falling asleep. I probably won’t ever purchase this on its own, as it’s not something I really need, but I’ll always indulge if I get a sample or if it comes up in a box like this.

Milk Makeup Hydrating Oil (1 oz, $24): I love a good oil, and an oil in stick form is an intriguing idea. I imagine this would be awesome to travel with, as it’s one less liquid to pack.

Oh K! Sleep Mask (0.6 oz, $6.50): One can never have too many masks. This one is an overnight mask, perfect for the lazy girl that I am. This mask is also supposed to give you 5-6 uses, so it’s a great deal, even at its full price.

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Klorane Smoothing and Relaxing Patches with Soothing Cornflower (7 sets of 2 patches, $24): I love a good eye mask, so I look forward to trying these out, though nothing that I’ve tried thus far has been better than my favorite Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels (8 sets of 2 patches, $30).

Askinosie Chocolate Single Origin Sipping Chocolate (170 g, $16.50): 38g packet pictured here. This sipping chocolate is vegan and gluten-free, so I’m curious to see how it tastes.

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Calm Book by Michael Acton Smith ($14.25 on Amazon): To be honest, this is the one thing I didn’t really care for in the box. This isn’t to say that it’s a bad product – I’m just not really into meditation, and it definitely feels more like a coffee table book than anything. I’ll probably flip through it every once in a while because the pages are beautifully designed, and every page is pretty different, but I don’t really see myself gravitating towards this book often.

Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Body Polish (8 oz, $36): I’m running out of my current body scrub, the Trader Joe’s Coffee Body Scrub ($8 oz, $4.99), and have only ever used more affordable body scrubs, so I want to see whether a higher-end body scrub is worth it.

amika Soulfood Nourishing Mask (2 oz, $12): Amika hair products usually don’t disappoint me, and the size of this product is perfect for traveling. I actually already have the full-size product (8 oz, $28), but I have yet to try it.

Richer Poorer Women’s Textured Crew Socks (similar, originally $14, currently $9.80): I’m not the biggest fan of the pattern, but they seem comfy, and one can never have too many socks.

This box retails for $53, but has a $180 value. If you’ve been meaning to check out any of these items, I’d definitely recommend getting this box – it’s definitely worth it. In general, Birchbox curates some pretty nice boxes, and I think they’re always worth checking out!

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