Too Good to be True? I test Estee Lauder’s Enlighten Serum

Have you ever looked at a product’s claims and thought, “No way, friend. There is no way you can do all that?” Well, I do all the time. I’m a pretty skeptical shopper. Especially if a product is expensive–I’m almost more skeptical because of the investment.  Sure, all those benefits sound nice, but if I don’t get results, I get a little sour.

In my April 2015 Glossybox, we received a sample of Estee Lauder’s Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum. The claims seemed a little too good to be true. This product is designed to:

  • hydrate
  • improves uneven skintone
  • reduce dark spots/discolorations and redness
  • smooth your skin’s texture

Full results take up to 4 weeks. That’s a lot for one product! It’s also $69/1oz. Yikes, right. For all that money, it actually better deliver on its claims.

Well, it did! I was shocked, but it definitely helped alleviate my hyperpigmentation. You can see a before and after shot below. I get dark spots around my jawline and nose, where I sometimes get acne from hormones and stress. My hyperpigmentation lasts quite a while after a blemish at baseline, so having something to help it along is welcome in my book.

The green circles indicate areas where I had some new acne; arrows indicate areas of greatest improvement.

I also noticed smoother skin texture. The serum itself is hydrating, but not oily. I haven’t experienced any unusual acne outside of my normal patterns. Enlighten is actually quite thin and refreshing to put on the skin. It always feels nice and cool.

My “naked” face–only a little mascara, eyebrow pencil, and tinted chapstick

I usually at the very least wore a BB cream, if not foundation, everyday to cover the patchiness on my chin, but I have definitely felt more confident heading out the door with a “naked” face, lately. I am so grateful Glossybox sent this sample, because I definitely wouldn’t have sprung for this product otherwise. I am definitely going to continue to use it 🙂

What product have you used lately that totally surprised you?

Empties & Favorites — Vol 2!

products cinco de mayoI decided to forgo doing my April favorites since my bag of empties was literally overflowing and I wanted to review these products before someone went on a cleaning spree and chucked them all on accident (if we’re being honest, between myself and my hubs there is only one of us who ever goes on a cleaning spree…and it is not me). We’ve got quite a few hits, a couple misses, and everything in between–Let’s get to it!

Lush Brazened Honey Fresh Face Mask ($6.95/2.1 oz; Disclaimer: they are preservative free and only last ~1 month) This mask, so far, is my favorite of Lush’s Fresh Face masks. It has a nice fragrance due to the honey in the product. I have oily/acne-prone skin and this mask did a great job of taming the oiliness, without overdoing it and creating dryness.  I don’t think I had a single breakout while I used this! It’s a hit!

Lush Ayesha Fresh Face Mask ($6.95/2.1 oz; Disclaimer: these are preservative free and only last ~1 month) I bought and used this mask after my skin was angry, red, and broken out all over from another product during the winter. It is marketed for mature and tired skin, and even though I’m only 29, I would say I noticed a great difference in my skin after using this. It calmed my redness, my breakout resolved, and my skin just looked healthy and fresh. The only downside I would mention: It does not smell great, I think it’s because of the asparagus in the mask (for real). It’s a hit!

Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo ($6.19/7 oz) This dry shampoo does a great job of absorbing oiliness and extending time in between regular shampoos (I only wash ~3x per week, so a good dry shampoo is always needed). Using it pretty much daily, it lasted 3 months. It does have a pretty severe white-cast, but I actually tend to use my dry shampoos at night, so by the morning all the oil has been absorbed and any white-cast is no more. That being said, I don’t think it’s a great option if you’re using dry shampoo to help create texture. The smell is alright. Considering the very low cost and how long the product lasts, I will definitely repurchase. It’s a hit!

miss manga brushL’Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga Mascara ($7.99) I was really excited about this mascara because everyone on YouTube was raving about it. Anytime people are getting excited about an affordable product, I’m on board! I was so disappointed though…it was so clumpy it was unusable. Spider lashes are not my thing. I think it had more to do with the brush than the mascara formula. I was looking through reviews on Ulta, and I wouldn’t say my complaint is isolated. Definitely a fail.

Lancome Genifique Yeux Light Pearl Eye Illuminating Youth Activating Concentrate ($69/0.67 oz) Besides legitimately having the longest name of any product I’ve ever used, this is a great eye serum. It was great for my puffy bags under the eyes and dark circles when I maybe didn’t get enough sleep or was feeling sick. The metal teardrop applicator also feels great on tired or puffy eyes because it stays nice and cool. For the price, I would actually say it’s a pretty good value–it lasted 6 months of twice daily use. It’s a hit!

Juicy Couture Juicy Couture Perfume ($72/1.7 oz) There is a little part of me that was embarrassed to buy this…but I actually loved the fragrance after I had received a sample and tried it on vacation. I could see it being a little heavy for some, but I love it and as long as you’re judicious with how much you use, it’s perfect. It has musk, vanilla, and floral notes. It’s romantic & sexy–definitely a more night-time fragrance. It’s a hit!

Ole Henriksen Grease Relief Cleansing Cloths: Oil Free Pore Refining ($15/30 cloths) I am fully aware it is nutty to spend $15 on face wipes. Nonetheless, these are my favorite. My makeup artist used them when we did our trial run for my wedding makeup and I knew I had to pick them up. They are refreshing and dry up any oiliness you have. My skin felt fantastic afterwards! They also did a great job removing makeup. My husband would steal them too and really loved how they made his skin feel too. When I go to grad school, this will probably be the first “luxury” purchase that goes away, but if you can afford them, they’re fantastic. It’s a hit!

products ive used up elnett

L’Oreal Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray ($14.99/11oz) This is a holy grail for many blogger and YouTubers and is for me as well. The hold is fabulous without being crunchy. The scent is great. You don’t need much either, so although it is definitely more expensive than some drugstore hairsprays, it will last you ages. It’s a hit!

The Body Shop Spa Wisdom Afrique Ximenia & Salt Scrub ($28/13.5oz)  There must have been a deal on this, because there is no way in God’s green earth that anyone should spend so much on a body scrub. For me, this was not something I’ll repurchase. I like my scrubs pretty rough and I felt this scrub was too gentle. The salt in it was very fine, so I didn’t actually feel exfoliated. It is very moisturizing, however. The fragrance is very mild. I wouldn’t say the product is a fail–it’s just not for me. If you are need a very mild exfoliant, this might be a good option!

Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder ($37/1 oz) Another holy grail product for many, myself included. This powder blends and absorbs seamlessly. It photographs well (some white powders can really reflect the light in flash photos, which looks really weird). This one container lasted me for-ev-ver. I have had it for at least 2 years. It’s a hit!

Favorites!! Since I’m not doing a “monthly favorites” this month for beauty,  I wanted to include a few other great products that made my day this month!

Favorite Gluten-Free Product: Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour Gluten Free I have Celiac Disease, and while I do my best to really not make this blog about that, I do feel like I need to look out for my Celiac homies when I find a good product. This flour is a great substitute. I have used it both in specifically GF recipes and subbed it into non-GF recipes without any problems. It’s also very affordable. I have found a 5 lb bag for $15 at my local grocer’s, which is MUCH cheaper than anything else out there.

Favorite Song: Rachel Platten “Fight Song” This song recently came through on my Pandora while I was out on a long run and it is the perfect workout song. I am always adding to my marathon playlist and this song is definitely on it!

That’s it for my empties/favorites! What products have you used up that you loved?

Loving the London Look

Rimmel and Kate Moss have been teaming up for nearly 15 years to bring affordable but high quality makeup products to the masses.  Rimmel is one of my favorite drugstore brands–I hold them right up there with Maybelline, L’Oreal, and NYX–that I count on to consistently deliver a good product at a great price. Recently, Influenster sent me two of Rimmel’s recent Kate Moss Collaborations for review purposes. Both products were a hit for me and are, of course, super affordable.

Rimmel Kate ScandalEyes Mascara

I am not going to lie–I was a little taken aback when I opened this mascara. The brush is definitely different from anything I have seen before.

rimmel brush

Rimmel describes this as a “broken heart” shape, and I after I read that I could kind of see that half-heart shape. Anyways, the great thing about this brush is that it when you apply the mascara, the wider bristles towards the outside provide your lashes with a flirty little flare.

I have been using this mascara for a week and it passed all of my requirements for a good mascara.

  • No clumping
  • No flaking
  • Decent length (I have seriously stubby lashes)
  • Holds a curl
  • Removes fairly easily

rimmel kate moss mascara

It retails for around $6.99 at any of your big drugstore chains, Target, Walmart, etc.

Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick by Kate Moss in #10

kate moss rimmel 10

I love a good red lipstick, so I was very excited by the color Influenster sent. #10 is a slightly cool toned cherry red. It’s the kind of red that makes your teeth look just a little whiter, which is just a little bonus. Rimmel designed these lippies for up to 8 hours of wear. I would say they only last 8 hours if you don’t plan on eating during that time. They definitely don’t hold up to the wear of a NARS lippie or some of your more high-end long wear lipsticks I’ve used, but for under $6, I think you get great wear for the money.

How did it stack up to my expectations?

  • Applied smoothly
  • Creamy finish
  • Did not dry out my lips, as many long-wearing lippies can
  • Not as long-wearing as some other products on the market
  • Cute Packaging

rimmel kate moss

Overall, I will definitely continue to use and recommend both of these products. I think if you are in the market for a hard-core, “I want to eat a sub sandwich and not reapply my lipstick,” I would seek elsewhere, but for $5.79, I can reapply after my meals. Thumbs up Rimmel!

Disclaimer: These products were provided to me by Influenster for my honest review. The thoughts above are solely my own and I have received no compensation in return for my reviews.

If you are interested in joining Influenster, I have a button in my header <3



March Favorites!

I have finally settled on my favorite products for the month of March. I didn’t want this to be too long, so I settled for one product from a set of categories. Most of these products are new to me…some are not, but all are well loved!

beauty faves

Makeup: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Pop Life

I am absolutely in love with this lip pencil. I went into Sephora looking for a lip color a la Margot Robbie at the Oscars this year. margotWe settled on this color from NARS and it is really flattering. I can already tell I’m going to reach for it all summer. Plus, I just love a good lip pencil–no need for a liner? Yes, please! The formula is also not overly drying for being matte. It is not super longwear, but its so easy to reapply after a meal that I don’t care!


Unsurprisingly, I did not resemble Margot once I had it on. But it’s still a winner.

Skincare: Algenist Genius Ultimate Anti-Aging Melting Cleanser

This item was my second go at an oil-based cleanser, but far more successful than the first debacle. This cleanser is marketed as a gel-to-oil, but it’s more of a gel-to-oil-to-cream cleanser. It comes out in gel form, melts to an oil consistency as it removes your makeup, then transforms to a creamy consistency as you wash it away with water. It does a great job removing the day’s makeup and hasn’t caused any extra oiliness (my baseline skin type: oily/combo and acne prone) or breakouts. Definitely satisfied with this purchase!

Fragrance: Elizabeth & James Nirvana White

I have a million of those deluxe sample perfumes laying around and for some reason, this one kept calling to me this month. The scent is really fresh, light, and feminine. Definitely a floral perfume, which I don’t always care for, but I was channeling Spring hardcore last month. Maybe if we all smell like Spring, Spring will come!

Bath & Body: Tree Hut Body Scrub, Almond & Honey

Funnily enough, this was actually a gag gift to me from my husband for my bridal shower (it’s a shower gift…get it?! #dadjokes). But this stuff is great! I like a good, rough exfoliation. This definitely gets the job done and leaves my skin well-hydrated afterwards. Plus, it’s 7 dollars. It’s a pretty good steal!

Nails: CND Stickey Base Coat

I used this a few times this month, and I was impressed by how smoothly my polish applied. My nails, especially my toenails, are prone the breakage as well, but I haven’t had any this month!

Hair: Aveda Madder Root Conditioner

My hairstylist recommended this for me and I am so glad I got it. I color my hair maybe….4 times a year? The color we dye it is not dramatically different from my natural brown, just darker and with some red. You can hardly notice roots when my hair grows in, but they do start to peep out about maybe a month or so before I am ready to dye it again. This conditioner adds red back in and tones the roots with a little red so they are barely noticeable. You only need to use it once a week or so. Leave it on a few minutes, rinse, and voila!  Note: It will stain your hands if you don’t scrub it off.

april fave clothes

Clothes: Old Navy Rock Star Jeans in White

So besides the fact that I have to hold my breath all day while wearing these because I’m always sure that today will be the day I stain them horribly, these jeans are really cute and flattering. The cut is very comfortable and white denim is definitely making the rounds in the blogosphere. Plus, you can always find a sale at Old Navy and get these for a really great price! Just…carry a tide to go with you, if you’re a klutz like me.

Jewelry: House of Harlow Ring (old, sorry I can’t find it for sale anywhere)

My husband calls this the Kryptonite ring because of the 2 blue stones. His approval aside, this is such a modern and interesting design. I always get compliments when I wear it. House of Harlow has really adorable jewelry. I was a little shocked to find out it is designed by Nichole Richie. If you’re around my age, you probably still think of this when you think of her.

sorry nicole

Sorry for judging, girlfriend. You design some sweet jewelry.

Song: Sugar by Maroon 5

I cannot lie, I’ve been a bit down lately. I have been injured for about a month now and it’s just a frustrating time for me. This song makes me smile and sing along every time.

Products I’ve used up! Vol. 1

Hello! Welcome to my slice of the internet. For the last couple years, I have noticed friends and family coming to me for product recommendations and reviews. I am a bit of a total beauty junkie. I love watching youtubers’ “Empties & Total Fails” videos because I do feel like you have a complete, formed opinion about a product by the time it’s empty. First impressions are deceiving.

L’Oreal Voluminious Butterfly Intenza Mascara

I really wanted to like this mascara. It does provide fabulous length and volume without clumping. Yay! That’s the key. But WTF?! Is is flaking under my eye in under 4 hours?! Yes, yes it is. Every time–that’s not okay! Great brush, terrible formula. You gots to go.

Anastasia Brow Wiz in Soft Brown

Has anyone ever had a really bad experience with Anastasia products? Such a great brand. This pencil is no exception. Easy to use and not too waxy. Definitely will repurchase. For days when I don’t feel like dip-browing for 5 mins, this + a brow gel is a great quick alternative.

Bath & Body Works Body Cream in Twisted Peppermint

Ah, twisted peppermint. I love you. I had a patient who I took care of for many weeks who used to use this year round. I always pick one up every year when it comes out and it reminds me of her. Amazing how smells can instantly bring back memories. My personal memories aside, this body cream has a fairly good formula for the money. I personally have never paid full price and I probably never would! They sent out coupons all the time. And sucker me in! The scent is wonderful. Not too overpowering…I should’ve bought a candle in this.

bareMinerals Correcting Concealer Broad Spectrum SPF 20

I’m kind of middle of the road on this one. It was just okay, nothing spectacular. Covered undereye dark circles well, but creased over time. For the price, I think you can do better with MAC PRO Longwear concealer. At 20 dollars, this behaved more like a drugstore concealer than a high end one.

L’Oreal Magic Lumi Concealer

I was actually really impressed with this. I purchased it base on the recommendation of one of my favorite youtube gurus, Sami Erzen. She gives great and honest reviews. A lot of the more notable youtube gurus go on and on about all the products they love, but never talk about the products they dislike or talk about a product’s downsides. To me, it affects their credibility. Sami is not like that at all and I trust her reviews. #sidenote Anyways…this product performed well, did a great job of highlighting my under-eye area. Minimal creasing. I also like to use the brush to clean up around my lips when wearing a bolder color and further prevent any feathering. Probably will repurchase, but I have a good amount of concealer I’m using at the moment and I definitely want to try this LA Girl that everyone is talking about lately.

Bath & Body Works Plum Moscato & Almond Shower Gel

I kind of feel like a B&BW shower gel is pretty standard. You can’t REALLY go wrong, except for maybe with a scent you don’t care for. You could save money and get something at the drugstore or you can buy off-season, like I do. This was from the fall collection called Harvest. It smelled pretty good, but not my favorite. I have another from the fall collection, this Pear and Cashmere Woods that I am using now that I definitely prefer. I wish I craved pears the way I crave pear-scented things. When I’m at the grocery store, I kind of never pick them up. I’m more of a tropical fruit kind of gal. Bring on the mangoes.

bareMinerals Matte Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15

I don’t want to sound like a bareMinerals hater, but I’ve just never tried anything from this brand that makes me super impressed. I know some people are die-hard into these mineral foundations, but I just kinda feel “meh” about them. I liked this powder for toning down shininess during the day, but not as an all over foundation. I guess I just prefer more coverage and a longer-lasting wear. Also, getting the product out of the container towards the end was a bit of a challenge. I mean, first world problems all the way, but there has to be an easier way. For real.

Total Fails 🙁

  Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo Invisible Spray

I literally have nothing nice to say about this product. I picked it up at Sephora in a little travel size to take to Florida with me. I am a big of a dry shampoo junkie. I try to go 2-3 days in between washes to preserve my hair color and I usually can with my normal dry shampoos. I was drawn to this shampoo by it’s claim of no “white cast.” If you’re not a dry shampoo user, “white cast” is the whitish or dulled hair color you can get at the roots from the powder that’s absorbing the oil. White cast has never really be a problem for me–I use my dry shampoo at night before I go to bed. This gives the powder extra time to absorb oil and do it’s thing. Anywhoo, this dry shampoo didn’t have a white cast, but I’m pretty sure that’s only because it has 0 oil absorbing abilities. My hair was way greasier than I cared for the whole trip. BOO to you Oscar Blandi. It also has a bizarre lemon scent.

Ole Henriksen  Pure Truth Melting Cleanser

So I popped into Sephora last month looking for a new cleanser and this was recommended. I will say, it does an amazing job of removing makeup. There was not even an iota of mascara left on my lashes after this. I was loving it for the first 5 or so days. Then…my face erupted. Now, I’m not talking one or two diddly pimples. I would’ve even tolerated a Mt. Everest-sized zit, if it were isolated. This stuff was that good. But that’s not what happened. The equivalent of the entire freakin’ Himalayas erupted all over my face (and yeah, it made me a little bitter–I have not broken out like that in probably 13 years). I am 99.9% sure it was this cleanser because nothing else in my skincare/foundation routine had changed around that time. Anyways, this bad boy went back to Sephora in a hurry. I am currently using a similar type of cleanser by Algenist and am not experiencing the same issues. Maybe this would be great for you if your skin is drier. But if you are at ALL acne prone, I would steer clear.

That’s it for Vol. 1! I hope someone finds this helpful. Anyone out in the interwebs have a product that they have used up and love/hated?

Soundtrack for this post: Red Hot Chili Peppers “Scar Tissue” I kind of forgot how good these guys were.

Recipe that’s currently making me drool: Spaghetti Pangrattato with Fried Eggs, Smitten Kitchen. Simple & Delish.