I’m back, after a long hiatus, with more honest reviews of heavily hyped beauty products. (You can see past posts here, here, here…even more in archives!). And P.S. – the background above is actually one of St. Frank’s new gift wrapping sheets! I am IN LOVE with the pattern and am almost too stingy to use as gift wrap. It is gorgeous!
WESTMAN ATELIER VITAL SKINCARE DEWY FOUNDATION DROPS. I’ve never received more requests for a beauty review than I did for this. Many of us are obsessed with everything Westman — I own and love most of her products. So let me share a controversial take: I am mixed on the drops. First of all, they are expensive and the package is tiny — much smaller than anticipated. Her foundation stick is, I think, generous in portion and lasts a long time. The drops, by contrast, feel like a mini size, which is troubling because of the required application. I tried to apply this many different ways — directly onto skin, on a sponge, etc, but the only effective way to apply (IMO) is to place a few drops into your palm and then massage across the face. It feels like you need at least four, maybe more, drops to get this done, and that stresses me out because I feel like I’m tearing through the bottle too quickly relative to what I paid for it. I have the impression I’m going to run out in, like, two weeks! This could all be a package design flaw, and if they’d packaged it in a larger bottle with a different applicator, it wouldn’t feel this way? The bottle does have 1 oz, which is about 2/3rds of what is in a tube of SuperGoop Glowscreen (what I’d been using previously on a daily basis), and glowscreen lasts me a couple months at least. But just sharing my honest and strange stress over how little appears to come in this fancy bottle. The other critique I have is that it smells strange — like wet concrete? or some kind of plastic? — which undermines the luxury aspect of the brand I’ve come to expect. It’s not so stinky that I won’t use it, but it does hit me every morning as slightly off-putting. On the pro side: this really does make you look like you’re walking around wearing the Paris filter on Instagram. It has a considerable amount of coverage (more than I was expecting) but wears like a tinted moisturizer — it just lays beautifully on the skin, and does not (ever!) cake. The critique I’ve heard of her foundation stick is that your skin must be heavily moisturized before, or it will kind of cake / dry out. I would say the tint does not operate that way — it really has a liquid texture that glides on and absorbs more like a moisturizer. It leaves your skin radiant, even, and disguises any discolorations/blemishes. Westman has marketed this product as “a next-generation, hydrating skin tint packed with serum-strength actives,” and I can’t really comment on the skincare/serum element. My process is to apply eye cream first, then serum, then moisturizer — THEN I apply the cosmetics — so I can’t say I’ve noticed much of a difference in terms of my skincare w/r/t this new product. Personally, I would prefer that the tint be just a tint (no serum) and a little less expensive since I already have a skincare regimen I like. But, I guess not a bad thing to add an extra layer of serum?
All in, I will absolutely use this until it’s finished because I think the coverage / effect is quite good. However, I would personally recommend her foundation stick over her drops if you’re choosing just one foundation item. The foundation stick is just beyond fabulous. Best of breed, IMO. If you are looking for something more like a tinted moisturizer, I would say this has more of a full coverage effect than most moisturizers, and so you may be happier with something like Laura Mercier or Trish McEvoy. (Both really, really good — less coverage, more natural effect than W.A.’s tint.) If you are looking to eliminate a separate serum and just want one product to throw on and go about your day without need for a makeup brush, concealer, powder, etc — the Westman drops might be perfect for you, though.
MERIT GREAT SKIN SERUM. I wrote about this a bit two weekends ago, but Merit reached out to gift me their new serum and I was eager to try. This serum is, in my opinion, a great “entry-level” serum. It is affordable (under $40), clean, gentle (!), and leaves skin bright and happy. It has a very liquid consistency — almost like broth? — that does not leave any oiliness, residue, etc. It does not feel as viscous as most other serums I have used and liked and seems to absorb instantly. Your skin feels like a bright and glassy version of its former self after application — but I will say it does not deliver the same kind of deep penetration that some of my other favorite serums do, where it feels like your entire face is saturated. Merit’s formula feels less heavy-duty, like it lives at the surface a bit more. All in, the lightweightness / ease of absorption makes it a great candidate for expedited morning skincare/makeup, since you can apply it and then immediately apply makeup without having to wait for the formula to absorb. Finally, I liked that this product is ultra-gentle. It is made entirely of clean ingredients, and then Merit went back and eliminated 73 ingredients that are “clean” but potentially acne-triggering. I feel like that is such a fantastic selling point because some serums are so heavy that they can feel clogging.
CHANEL INIMITABLE MASCARA. This mascara is really good — lengthens, separates, curls, and does not flake. I would say it comes in just beneath my long-time favorite Armani mascara, and only because of personal preference — I like my lashes pretty bold and dark and Armani is just a tiny bit more dramatic. Chanel is better at lash separation and curling than Armani, though.
TATCHA DEWY SKIN MOISTURIZER. Currently 25% off with code EARLY22!!! The standout product this month. If you try one thing on this list, try this moisturizer. It is PERFECT for this season — deeply hydrated, plumping, firming. It is heavier duty than some of the other moisturizers I’ve used and liked in the past, but I appreciate that quality during these colder (dryer) months. I will say I feel like I need to apply it and then let it sink in / saturate for maybe 2-3 minutes before I apply makeup. That works out fine with my routine, but it did require an adjustment. It really (!) delivers good results though — my skin is so happy, moisturized, supple, dewy! LOVE this stuff.
MERIT FLUSH BALM CREAM BLUSH. A really nice cream blush. It blends into skin even more easily than Westman Atelier (has a slightly glossier finish). However, I prefer Westman’s cheek colors. I got Merit’s “cheeky” color and it is just slightly too brown for my taste? I prefer a brighter pink — Westman’s Dou Dou and Poppet colors are PERFECTION. Dou Dou makes me feel like Winona Ryder as Jo March running through the snow with flushed cheeks. A narrow reference, I know, but it is just the best color. Poppet is really fun for summer.
WESTMAN ATELIER SQUEAKY CLEAN LIQUID LIP. I can’t figure out if I like it or not. I’m not a gloss gal, but this one does not finish with that sticky feeling most glosses do — it really does blend in more like a balm — so that part doesn’t bother me. But I find it difficult to apply fully to my lips? Like, I feel like I never get just the right coverage. Sometimes it looks splotchy and other times it is all over the place. Maybe I just a newb at applying lip gloss? I guess the issue is that most glosses are kind of forgiving if you go outside the lip line, but this one deposits color? Help! The color is really pretty, though – very natural. I will continue to use to see if I can figure it out but, two weeks in, I’m still feeling like a bit of a rookie.
IT COSMETICS CONFIDENCE IN A CLEANSER. My mom gave me a barely-used tube of this because she’s now in a committed relationship with Biologique Recherche’s famous Lotion P50, so I started using this in the mornings in lieu of my longtime favorite oil cleanser. (In the evenings, I exclusively use Tata Harper’s exfoliating regenerating cleanser — it feels like it takes the day off. I love how it feels! I just saw they finally came out with a jumbo sized version that I will be buying the next time they run a promo.) Anyhow, I like the It Cosmetics formula. I don’t love that you need to wet your face first (weird I know, but I’m so used to oil-based cleanser or Tata’s “dry” cleanser — you begin with dry skin), as this feels like a strange way to jolt into the day, but I’m being finnicky there. It has a really nice lather, no scent, and leaves skin feeling pleasantly clean — not squeaky clean / tight-clean, but sort of conditioned in a pleasing way. I will continue to use this until finished and then switch back to my oil cleanser or maybe follow my mom’s suit and use the P50?! All in, I’d say a good cleanser, but nothing mind-blowing.
MURAD RETINOL EYE SERUM. Another eye product that does little beyond hydrate, IMO. I have yet to find anything that really blows my mind in this product category. I am intrigued by a Magpie’s rave reviews of Biossance’s Squalane + Marine Algae eye cream — I might give that a try next, as I am IN LOVE with another Biossance product, their Vitamin C Rose Oil, which makes me think they know a thing or two about effective skincare. Otherwise, I’ll just be sticking with my $28 grocery store eye balm, which continues to outperform or at least perform-at-the-same-tier-as products 3 and 4x its price.
What else are you using and liking in beauty these days? Anything you want reviewed?
P.P.S. In case you have a case of the Mondays: “sometimes you just need to move the dirt.”