Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My Under $15 Favorites from Sephora


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.

I've had my eye on the brand Herbivore for a while now because I love the whole concept and philosophy behind this indie brand from Seattle (they don't use fillers of any kind in their products, every ingredient is an “active” ingredient, and their formulas are original, "created by and tested on real people — never on animals and always from scratch." And all of their products have "an emphasis on organic, high quality, and food-grade ingredients").

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.

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.





Etat Libre d'Orange Perfume Sampler - $12; 7 sample vials

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.
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41 comments

  1. What an excellent post! The only product I knew about was the cinema secrets cleaner which I love as well, so I'm very interested in trying some of the other products. That brush sounds amazing, I'm loving the blotting sheets and the bar soap so I definitely want to give those a try. Thank you G!

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    1. Thank you so much, Lily! I'm absolutely thrilled that I can introduce you to some fun new (and affordable) products! You totally made my day. :)

      If you try anything I reviewed here, I would absolutely love to hear how they work for you. That brush seriously rocks my world, and so do the blotting papers and bar soap. Fingers crossed that you love them too! Oh, and I'm so happy to hear you love the Cinema Secrets as well. Such a game-changer for me because I was always having to put my shadow brushes in front of a fan and wait for them to dry before I started using this stuff!

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  2. Awesome recap!! Always looking for great, affordable items to try and this hit the nail perfectly! So, I just placed an order at Sephora (wish you'd get commission!!) =)

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    1. Hey Marcy! Thanks so much! I'm so happy to hear that I could help you in your quest to find some new affordable products to try. ;) But how dare you not tell me what you ordered! LOL! I'm dying to know!

      (PS: Just to be clear, this post does include affiliate links, which I always state up top in all of my posts. So I do make a small commission from anything purchased if you choose to use those links). :)

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    2. hee hee! So glad you do - you deserve EVERY PENNY for all your hard work! Got the Dinoplatz, the brush, the shea butter and the perfume sampler (and with the Beauty Deal of a Dew The Hoola deluxe sample w/ a $25 purchase, it was a win win!).

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    3. Awww, thank you so much, Marcy! And thank you for sharing what you ended up getting. I cannot WAIT to hear how you like everything! Fingers crossed!! xoxo

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  3. Yesssss. I've bought the macaron lip balms, and that shea butter is the ish.

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    1. Lol! So glad to hear you like it too! ;)

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  4. Forever 21 has a Macaron set of 7 lip balms for like $10 but I don't know if they're good, but at least they're cute, LOL

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    1. Thanks, Elena! I have seen those and they look similar, but I'm not sure who makes them since it only says "Sweet Macaron" on the box. The F21 website only says "foreign" for the country of origin, so I have no idea if they're made in Korean. But yes, they're cute too! :)

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  5. Thank you SO much for this post. Sometimes a girl just needs an affordable pick me up.

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    1. You're so welcome, Kira! And YES! I could not agree more! ;)

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  6. I wish you'd posted this earlier! I just received a Sephora order today and had I known about a macaron lip balm, I'd have been all over it. I want to try those blotting papers too.

    I've heard good things about Nest fragrances, and I just bought the Eau De Parfum Duo (Midnight Fleur and Dahlia & Vines) for $15. As much as I love fragrance, I rarely finish a large bottle, and Nest is rather pricey.

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    1. Try the Nest Indigo! It's SO good. I had a tiny bottle and a big bottle from Xmas sets, and my 9 year old son loved the Indigo. It's not too feminine or masculine. He puts a tiny drop on his neck after his shower. It's cute, he has the little tiny bottle on his nightstand (he's imitating big brother I think).

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    2. Michelle, I agree 100% with Meg. Nest Indigo in my favorite ever from them. You must try it sometime! They offered it in the Black Friday rollerball trios both for 2015 and 2014 (I bought them both times) and up until recently that trio was still on the site (I just checked and it has gone out of stock since I posted about it a few weeks ago). But hopefully Sephora brings it back again this year because you must try it! :)

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    3. Thanks, ladies! I may be getting a work bonus next month, and if I do, I'll be placing another order. I will definitely put Nest Indigo on my list.

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    4. MICHELLE!!! The $10 trio with Indigo is back in stock!!! Link in my most recent post here:

      http://nouveaucheap.blogspot.com/2016/02/select-sephora-black-friday-10-sets.html

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  7. Awesome! Getting the blotting papers! I love how my icky fingers don't need to directly touch my face and the packaging looks awesome!

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    1. Yes! I love that I don't have to touch the sheet either! I think you're going to love these. Please keep me posted? :)

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  8. The brush is calling me. The brush cleaner & soap are possibilities too.

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    1. I'm telling you, that brush is awesome. When you see it in person, it's going to look so small, but I promise it works wonders! I'd love to know what you think if you get it, Jean! :)

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    2. The brush cleaner is heavenly, but I recommend springing for a larger size because you WILL use it.

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  9. Thanks for sharing G! Definitely going to try the Tocca hand cream (due to my super dry skin).

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    1. You're so welcome, love! That hand cream is one of those little pampering things that just brings a smile to my face when I use it. I hope you love it as much as I do. Please keep me posted? :)

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  10. This post was AWESOME! One of the things that I absolutely LOVE about your blog, and how it's so different/better than others, are the products that you've purchased & tried yourself. The deals are always awesome & I feel like you introduce me to Indie brands that I wouldn't have known of otherwise. I don't find that all the things you feature were "provided for review" and you're like the beauty-loving homie next door. Just bookmarked this post! :)

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    1. Omg thank you so much for that!! You have no idea how much that means to me. While I do receive some products for review, I always love to tell you about things I've purchased as well, because I feel like I really an your beauty homie down the street! Lol! I get so excited when I buy new things and they work for me--I can't wait to share them. I look for and use the deals I post about just as much as everyone else, so I really feel like we're all in this together. I would be nothing without YOUR tips, help, and advice. So thank you so much for reading and being part of this little community! xoxo

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  11. Did you know Sephora has a dupe for Original Makeup Erasers? It's called Black Magic -- best part is, it's 2 per pack and it's $12 (versus 1 piece of Original Makeup Eraser that's $20):

    http://www.sephora.com/black-magic-set-2-makeup-remover-cloths-P397407?skuId=1696178

    I just discovered this last Friday :)

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    1. I bought those, and love them. Takes off my makeup like magic - even matte lipstick!

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    2. ULTA has them 2/$10. They're a tiny bit smaller than the Sephora ones, but IMO they work just as well. And ULTA brand products are almost always on sale. I was able to do Buy 2 Get 2 Free a few weeks ago, so I got 8 towels for $20!

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    3. Thanks for making my Sephora Loves list 10x longer than it was when I woke up today, G! LOL you're the best :)

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  12. Fun post! The brush and Shea butter sounds very interesting!

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    1. Thanks, R! I'd love to know what you think of that brush if you try it! :)

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  13. These are excellent recommendations that are not expensive! I love it!!! BTW, the blotting papers that you mentioned here? ELF has a similar product. It's a compact with blotting sheets that has a sponge that's sticky, which will pick up a fresh blotting sheet every time. Not sure if you knew that, but I thought I'd mention it, :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Lisa! Yes, I know about the e.l.f. ones (haven't tried them yet) but I think these are a better deal because with the elf, you get 25 sheets for $5, whereas you get 50 sheets for $8 with these. :)

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  14. But G, didn't Elf already do the sticky sponge for their blotting papers? I was gonna get the Too Cool for School but then the Sephora brand has the $10 compact for 100 sheets instead, beats Elf $5 price tag for 25 sheets :)

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    1. Yep, but I think the Too Cool for School ones actually came out before the e.l.f. ones. :) And you're right--these are a better deal than the e.l.f. ones since you get 50 sheets for $8 and the elf are 25 sheets for $5. Also, the Sephora ones are one of the brands that I heard lose their stickiness after a while. I haven't personally tried them yet though, so I would LOVE to know what you think when you get them! :)

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  15. Thanks for sharing some of your faves, G! This was a highly informative post. I have added many of these items to my Sephora loves list!

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    1. Thank you so much for that, Tee! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, and I would absolutely LOVE to know what you think after you try any of these!! :) xo

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    2. I can't wait to try the Cinema Secrets! Sounds amazing... I also love the Sephora brand waterproof eye makeup remover. It's $10.50 for 4.9 ounces and it gets everything off yet doesn't feel oily.

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  16. Ok I finally bought that multitasker brush. Will try it out and see what the hype is lol

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  17. This is such a great post! Thank you G!

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