Back in the day when I used to think of Sephora, I would think "high-end splurge." But after years of shopping at Sephora, I have come to discover quite a few affordable luxuries, and today I'd like to share some of them with you. Think of this as eight mini-reviews in one blog post!
Some of these products are newly-discovered favorites that I've purchased recently, while others are repurchases. The one thing they all have in common (in addition to the fact that I adore them) is that each one retails for under $15. Hopefully this post will come in handy the next time you're trying to hit a freebie threshold or you're in the mood for a small haul (which we all know is easy to do when you have Sephora Flash, right?).
Sephora Collection Classic Mini Multitasker Brush - $14
Coming in at about 3 inches long (from the top of the bristles to the bottom of the handle), don't let the small size of this brush fool you. I stumbled upon this brush on the Sephora website a while back and was curious after reading so many raves from customers. I finally bit the bullet and purchased it, just to see what all the fuss was about, and now it's an absolute staple in my makeup routine.
The small size of this brush means it fits perfectly in my hand, and the diameter of the bristle head is perfect for applying and blending out concealer and foundation in hard-to-reach places that other brushes might miss. Due to its size, it's also fantastic for applying and blending blushes, highlighters, and bronzers (powders and creams).
The bristles on this brush are super soft and dense, so I really love it for concealer and foundation. My favorite way to use it is for applying my powder foundations (you can buff easily with this brush) and for stippling and blending under-eye concealer. I also love the size for travel because it fits perfectly in my makeup bag (I keep it in the clear plastic tube it comes in when you purchase it). This brush really lives up to its name (Multitasker) and I swear to you, I could totally make it work if I only had this brush for face products. Let's not get crazy and say it has replaced all of my face brushes, but if I were in a pinch and only had this brush with me, I could definitely make it work.
Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner - $8; 2.0 oz.
Nothing takes the place of a good ol' traditional makeup brush deep-cleaning with soap and water, but once I finally tried this cult favorite last year, I found its role in my makeup routine. I now buy the small bottle and I only use it for my eyeshadow brushes (which means this 2 oz. bottle lasts a long time).
I only have a few eyeshadow brushes that I truly love, and I often need to use them for different colors within the same eye look. So I find that Cinema Secrets is perfect for removing one color from my shadow brush and going right to applying the next. Why? Because a few sprays onto my brush effectively remove every last trace of eyeshadow, without any waiting for my brush to dry. This stuff is magical in that it dries almost instantly (which is why it's such a favorite with makeup artists). I've heard some people say that they don't care for the smell, but it actually doesn't bother me (it's sort of a cross between vanilla and rubbing alcohol). Honestly, this could smell like dirt and I'd still use it because: no waiting for your brushes to dry.
Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Dear Brachiosaurus Blotting Paper - $8; 50 sheets
I have tried a zillion blotting sheets in my life and I find that, for the most part, they all are kind of the same. Yes, some are thicker or bigger and can be better at absorbing oils than others, but they basically all function in the same way and get the job done without removing your makeup.
But when I finally tried blotting papers that come with a SPONGE, it was a total game-changer for me. To have your blotting paper stuck to a sponge brings the art of blotting to a whole other level. You can get into places that are hard to reach otherwise, and it just makes the entire process of blotting so much easier. Like a dream, I tell you.
To be clear, these Dinoplatz blotting papers from popular Korean beauty brand Too Cool for School are similar to other blotting papers that come with a sponge. See pics above for how it works--there's a sticky adhesive on the back of the sponge that picks up one blotting paper at a time. When you're done blotting, you just peel off the paper, replace the sponge in the compact, and you're good to go for next time. But what I love about the Dinoplatz papers is that, unlike some other similar products, the sticky part on the back of the sponge doesn't lose its stickiness over time. That's the main complaint I hear about these types of products--that after a few blotting sessions, the sticky part fails to pick up the next paper. I have gone through two of these Dinoplatz compacts over the past several months, and the stickiness of the sponge has never failed me. I love, love, love, these blotting papers. Total game-changer for me. (And how cute is this packaging? Plus it comes with a mirror, which is super handy.)
Herbivore Pink Clay Gentle Cleanse Clay Soap Bar - $12; 4.0 oz.
The one product I REALLY wanted to try was this Pink Clay Gentle Cleanse Clay Bar Soap, so I was excited to see that Sephora starting carrying Herbivore a while back. You can purchase Herbivore elsewhere, but yay for free shipping since you know I have Sephora Flash!
Before I get into why I'm loving this soap, take a look at this info from the Sephora website:
What it is formulated to do:
This bar soap features French pink clay, which is known for drawing out impurities without drying skin. It is a gentle, skin-softening cleanser that is suitable for both face and body, with a pleasant citrus and floral scent and a silky smooth texture. This formula is excellent for all skin types.
What else you need to know:
This product contains absolutely no artificial ingredients, fillers, alcohol, animal ingredients, fragrances, artificial colors, or unnatural preservatives. Each ingredient is included for a therapeutic reason. No animal testing is conducted on Herbivore’s products or ingredients.
Saponified oils of Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Sustainable Palm Oil, White Kaolin Clay, French Pink Clay, Rose Geranium Oil, Blood Orange Oil.
I have been using this soap for several weeks now on my face (the bar is small at 4 oz., so I'm trying to conserve it by not using it on my body), and so far I'm completely obsessed with it. Unlike the many, many other natural bar soaps I've tried for facial cleansing, THIS is the first and only one that has never left my face feeling dry and tight after rinsing. I don't know how they do it, but when I use this to cleanse my face, my skin is left feeling squeaky clean, but not over-stripped. My skin just feels normal and in its natural state, if that makes sense.
I love everything about this bar soap so far. The fragrance is natural and subtle (sort of earthy due to the clay, but with slight citrus and floral notes) and I love the lather. It's not a big, foamy lather, but more of a rich, silky lather. It's easy to get a lather going with this soap, and I love that it effectively removes all of my makeup, even eye makeup (I don't use waterproof mascara, but it removes my washable mascara, liquid eyeliners, etc, no problem). It also rinses easily and cleanly, with no residue left behind. Since I've been using this soap, my skin has been more clear, it feels more hydrated (compared to the cleanser I was using before), and I feel like my skin just overall looks a bit smoother and brighter. I will most definitely repurchase, since this feels like it's on its way to becoming holy grail for me (in fact, the photos you see above are of my second bar that I've purchased).
Tocca Crema de Mano Hand Cream in Cleopatra - $10; 2.0 oz.
I fell in love with Tocca hand creams two years ago when Sephora offered a $10 mini trio for Black Friday and I've been a huge fan ever since. I own and love several Tocca perfumes, but Cleopatra is my favorite scent for hand cream because that combination of cucumber and grapefruit is just so fresh and lovely. I feel so fancy and feminine when I use Tocca products, but I love their hand creams in particular because they feel luxurious and silky, yet light in texture. They last quite a while even after hand washings, and I also love that the fragrance lingers on my hands for hours, but it's not overpowering. A 2-oz. tube lasts me forever, since you don't need much per application.
L'Occitane 100 Percent Pure Shea Butter - $12; 0.35 oz.
Yes, this tin is small, but it is mighty. Around my house, this little tin of 100% organic shea butter (that's literally the only ingredient in this product) is known as "The product you shall not touch or use because it's G's and only G's." This is my rock. My powerhouse. My go-to when I need to get the job done, and no one else is permitted to use it. Most of that is due to its price (it's not cheap for the amount you get) but also because I would be devastated at the thought of needing it and being without it.
I've been using L'Occitane 100 Percent Pure Shea Butter for years now, and I'm convinced that all shea butters are not created equal. I think that the source and processing methods for shea butter can make a big difference in the quality, and L'Occitane is top notch in my book. I have tried many, many affordable shea butters from other brands over the course of my life, and none of them compare or give me the same results as L'Occitane. A teeny tiny dab on my lips at night gives me soft, healed lips by morning, and a tiny bit on cuticles does something magical.
There are lots of other products that I love and use on my lips and cuticles, but this one's the one I go to when I need The Big Guns. It's my "Oh no, nothing else is working, better break out the expensive stuff" product. And since I only reserve it for when I really need it, this little tin lasts forever.
I love that Sephora is now giving us sampler sets for niche perfume houses (see my review of the Juliette Has a Gun Sampler Set), because it gives us a way to try expensive brands that we may otherwise not have access to, all at a very affordable price. So when I saw that they had this sampler set from the French niche perfume house Etat Libre d'Orange for under $15, I had to get it. And I'm so glad I did. I love the presentation of this set (it's like a mini perfume bar) and I love that it includes many of their most noteworthy fragrances that I've been drying to try.
I really wanted to try the scent Like This (inspired by Tilda Swinton, whom I adore) and I love it so much that I purchased a second sampler set recently. Because I'm frugal like that, and I love having double the amount of these fragrances on hand to really take my time and get to know them before even thinking about committing to a full-size bottle.
It's Skin Macaron Lip Balm - $10; 0.32 oz.
A lip balm shaped like a macaron? I'm all in. I actually have a few of It's Skin (popular Korean beauty brand) Macaron Lip Balms in my stash, but I paid MUCH more for them locally before I discovered that Sephora sells them for literally half the price as I was paying locally. So yes, I just admitted to you that I was paying $20 for macaron-shaped lip balms (don't judge) but YOU don't have to since these are 10 bucks a pop at Sephora.
Granted, these aren't heavy-duty lip balms (they're light and slick and they don't deposit any real color to the lips), but I love them just the same. They're surprisingly long-lasting and hydrating for such a slick texture, and the flavors and scents are subtle (not headache-inducing). My very favorite is Grape (pictured above) because it reminds me of grape Kool-Aid. And what's not to love about a macaron-shaped lip balm that smells like grape Kool-Aid?
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sephora. All products featured in this post were purchased with personal funds. All opinions and text are my own. For more information, click here.