Sephora VIB sale unboxing + San Francisco


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I finally opened my box! yay!!
I've been traveling and busy with work, and had my VIB sales box sitting for the longest time.

When I got my VIB offer in the mail, I was thinking of hoarding my skincare products, but they were all blocked out from the sale (MAP violation policies, perhaps), and only a handful of brands were actually available. I didn't see much that were eye-grabbing, but managed to add a couple of things into my basket.

Most of the stuff are skincare products.


I wasn't really thinking of any particular brand when I was putting items into my cart, but Origin has dominated this time.



Let's start with the Plantscription SPF25 Oil-Free Anti-aging Cream



Seems like it's made with all the goodies one could ask for. No Parabens, animal ingredients (very nice!), synthethic ingredients, etc., while offering SPF, Anti-aging NAD oil-free all in one cream! Sounds like a miracle cream! :D



I based my purchase mostly on reviews at Sephora's website and overall it seemed like a well loved product.  I have yet to used it, but I was very surprised at the thickness of the cream when I opened the lid (see above picture). More in-dept review will follow once I finish my Nars moisturizer and start using this one.


Next is also a skin care product : FAB First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream


I've tried First Aid Beauty's shaving cream that was in one of my glossy boxes (you can read a brief review here), but it never led me to investigate other products from the brand. I recognized the brand while browsing and saw this product pop up. After reading glowing reviews of the product, I decided to give it a try. It was really cheap for the amount offered too ($28.00 for 6.0 oz).

Most of the reviews testified that this cream helped with their flaky, dry patches. One person even said that it helped even out her combination, weird skin type.  I'm usually very easily persuaded by reviews, so I went ahead and decided to give it a try. This too has an extremely thick, whipped texture.


I've tried it on my dry areas on my cheeks a couple times, and so far, I'm not seeing the miraculous results others are seeing. I do like the fact that this isn't greasy and absorbs quickly, but I don't think it's a reparative cream (at least for me). I'm a huge skeptic and tend to be on the criticizing side when it comes to reviewing products, so we will have to see. Maybe I'll be blown away as I keep using this cream! :D


Next is the Sephora Exclusive Origins Value Set.



I bought it mostly because there's a full sized eye cream in it.
I haven't used any of the products except the eye cream - and I must say I really like it! It's smooth and soft, rather light-feeling when scooped out of the jar. However, the cream settles in really quickly and has a secure, thick build around the eye area that locks in the moisture. I love how my under eye area is soft and moist when I wake up, compared to dry and puffy when I don't put eye cream on at night.

So far, my first impressions on Origin products is positive.

Also, I always try to use my Beauty Insider points whenever I make a purchase, so this time I opted to get Korres Wild Rose Sleeping Facial Deluxe, along with my three free samples. 


Also, a sephora lip bag was thrown in :) along with a colorful birdie! LOL


To conclude, I feel like I've figured out a new great brand.
I'm super excited about Origins - I know, I'm always late on the good stuff, but I like the feeling of figuring things out by trial and error instead of blindly hoping on a bandwagon. Not that the bandwagon is always bad or anything.. ;)

Anyway,
Happy belated Thanksgivings to you all and I will see you guys in my next post!

Cheers!


PS,
Here are some pictures from my latest business trip to San Francisco..

I was there for two nights and the day I arrived was the day the weather decided to go ape sh*t and start pouring like never before.  I conducted business through the second day and had a couple of spare hours to walk around the city and go to Boudin Bistro to have dinner. It would've been nice to meet up with my college roommate, but she too was traveling and the trip was a short notice anyway, so I had some quality Catalina-time. :p
I haven't been to the bay area for almost ten years, so good and bad memories came back as I walked through the chilly city.







 A lot of sourdough bread pics, but haha, that's what Boudin is famous for ;)






The day I was leaving, I decided to take a long route to SFO and stop by the Golden Gate Bridge to snap some photos. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the pictures came out so beautifully.  Should I have known my flight was going to be delayed 4 times (Delta? cough cough), I would've stayed longer and enjoyed the view more.

Below pictures were taken from Battery Spencer (north side of the GGB), which I think is the BEST spot to enjoy the bridge.  You see the city, Alcatraz AND the bridge all at once. All you have to do is come down from Richmond - take 101 south and as soon as you come out of the tunnel, make a sharp right, and then left (towards Hawk Hill), and bamb! you're at the Battery Spencer.

 First site when you come out of the tunnel down the 101 from Richmond - OMG, I screamed out of excitement when I saw the tip of the bridge. It feels like it's right in front of you in real life. I've never taken this route to see the bridge before, so it was so exciting for some reason. :p


Took my birdies (cut out) for their instagram account. It was so hard getting them, the bridge and everything into a tight square.

The traveling penguin also went! :)



..And, I present the Golden Gate Bridge :)
It was such a beautiful day. So perfect, I loved every moment of my time at the Battery Spencer. 

Hope you guys enjoyed this post - see ya'll in the next one :)

Catalina



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First Impressions : Wet n' Wild Lipstick Haul + Swatches


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I've gotta admit - I haven't been up to date with drugstore brands, and I was blown away when I was able to purchase 14 lipsticks with 30 bucks! You can't even buy two MAC lipsticks with that money o_O (..well, tax and everything kicks up the price from $15/ea)!

All inclusive cost was $30.35! woo-hoo!

I'm always on the hunt for good lipstick and I stumbled upon someone's review on the Wet n' Wild megalast lipsticks. With Walgreens having a 'Buy 1, get 1 half off' deal, I was able to pick out all the shades that tickled my interest without worrying about my wallet shrinking.

Initially, I ordered 16 lipsticks, but 2 were out of stock and I only received 14 in the mail.
5 MegaShield Lipcolor lipsticks and 9 MegaLast lipsticks.



Let's start with the five MegaShield Lip Colors.

First off, the packaging is atrocious... After pealing off layers and layers of packaging and tape, I was able to open up the plastic clear tops.
The colors are absolutely gorgeous, but the quality of the packaging is total garbage.. All of the lipsticks were smeared on the wall of the tube and I was constantly worried I was going to break the steam. Other than the packaging quality, the swatch quality and pigmentation is an absolute delight. 
The formula is extremely creamy and opaque, and it doesn't have the dry feel that some lipsticks have. 

When I was looking at colors online, I thought 'Within These Adobe Walls' was going to be the winner, but in real like I love 'It's a Girl' and 'A Current Affair'
Lovely, lovely! These were a dollar more expensive than the MegaLast lipsticks, but I think it's totally worth the extra dollar splurge!


Next is the MegaLast lipsticks (9 total). 


Again, the packaging......
Oh. My. Goodness.
I have never in my life seen such inconsistent packaging, ever!
The shape of the bottles were all different and the amount of stick showing was all over the place too. Most of the lipsticks managed to smear off the color on the inner part of the clear top. Dollhouse Pink came as a defect and doesn't even go up or down...


Oye, BUT! After going through the shock of the bad quality packaging, I took a deep breathe and started swatching the lipsticks on my wrist. I have to say, I really like the pigmentation and the thick consistency. 
The formula is matte, but not in a dry way.  The colors aren't as harsh as they seem in the tube. If you aren't sure about the application, these could work great with a lipstick brush too!

All colors in 3 layers

Out of them all, my top choices are 'Mauve Outta Here', "Smokin' Hot Pink' and 'Purty Persimmon'. I have pretty pale skin, so bold vivid colors tend to bring life to my face..


I purposely didn't swatch them on my lips because I still want to do individual reviews of all of these colors. Well, not just these lipsticks, but all of my lipsticks are on my 'To-Review' list. ;)


Anyway - my first impression of these lipsticks is..

It was worth the wait!! (for the package to be delivered :p)
The products lived up to my expectation and I am super excited to try these out and share my thoughts!

I will update you guys whenever I get to try out a shade for a whole day (or a couple of days). 


Let me know what shades you guys are interested in! :)


Catalina


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Just for the scent of it ::: TOCCA Stella


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On top of the already dry California weather, I have two birds that are always on me when I'm home, which compounds to my already dry and crusty hand problems. My birds have sharp nails, which scratch and damage my hands easily - it's to a point where my coworker thought I was a druggie due to the cut marks up and down my hand.

My dryness gets to a point where it's embarrassing to use my hands in front of anyone. As a result, I've ended up with numerous hand cream/lotions around my apartment and in my purse. Of them all, I like to carry around at least three, accordingly with different functionalities.


Currently, I have my Trader Joe's Hand cream, L'Occitane Hand Cream and TOCCA Stella Hand Cream in my purse. TJ's is a moderately okay hand cream. It's not sticky, doesn't have a scent and absorbs pretty quickly. L'Occitane, I've carried tube after tube for many years (I think since 2008), and it's more of a go-to repair cream because it's sooo thick. Aside of these two, today's focus is TOCCA's Crema da Mano in Stella.


I stumbled upon this product when I was waiting in line at Sephora.  There was a TOCCA tester in one of the trail sized product cubbies, and I mindlessly picked up the bottle to moisturize my dry hands. I was instantly blown away by its airy, fresh and clean scent. Stella's scent is "Italian Blood Orange", but I like to call it "Fairy Shampoo Scent". If fairies were to come out of a waterfall shower, this scent would be THE scent that they'd smell like. Anyway, I left the store without purchasing it, went home and lost sleep thinking about how great it smelled, couldn't get it out of my head all day the next day, and went straight back to Sephora after work to buy the damn hand cream.

I have to admit that the product itself isn't the best. Aside of the amazing scent, the lasting power is almost non-existent and moisturizing power is mediocre to say the least. Usually I apply a layer of my TJ hand cream first and then apply the TOCCA on top (just for the sake of the scent). When people are sitting at my desk to discuss something (or stare at my screen), or when I'm a conference room I always get compliments of how great I smell.

If you're up for great smelling hands I recommend the TOCCA Stella (haven't tried other scents). It's only 8 bucks, and usually the bottles are stashed in the waiting line part of Sephora. If you're not a sweet, flirty scent type of person, or if you prefer functionality over scent, I guess this could pass.

Oh -before I go, funny thing about TOCCA. I tested out the fragrances from the brand (there's an Eau de Parfum under the same name), and it smells nothing like the lotion version.

Anyway, I'll see you guys in my next post!

Catalina


*This post contains affiliate links

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First Impressions :: Physicians Formula Organic Wear Mascaras


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I've always had a weird habit of buying high-end mascaras and never fully utilizing them. Yesterday, while cleaning out my makeup, I decided to dump all of my mascaras and start anew.  I was always curious about Physicians Formula Organic Wear Mascaras, so bought two at rite aid for $9.99 (it was BOGO so the second one was free :).

One is Lash Boosting Mascara and the other one is Jumbo Lash Mascara.


The shape of the bottle is enticing and 70% organic seems better than non-organic formula (I dunno, I'm a sucker for marketing gimmicks).

I didn't want to open and try out both at the same time, so I opened up the Jumbo Lash bottle for review. The smell of the mascara isn't my cup of tea. I'm not a huge fan of perfumed products, but I'm also not a fan of such weird-smelling products. It almost smells like rubber and plastic combined.

The brush is round with short spikes to separate and coat your lashes. I don't mind these wands as it helps avoid the dreadful spider legs look. It's great for coating the upper lashes, but when applying it to my almost nonexistent lower lashes, it tends to get messy.


Okay, so now with the application and my first impression.

- Application is smooth and non-crummy. It's actually rather wet and very silky.
- Drying time takes a bit long
- Color is pitch black (very good)
- Double coater? no problem - you can keep building additional coats without clumping
- Spider legs? nope.
- Lengthening? It does elongate your lashes, but it's not a crazy 'OMG!' amount.
- Volumizing? Not really..

Here's some before after shots.
As you can see my natural lashes are brittle, short and limp.
Even when curled, it lacks volume and length.
(Please ignore my red eyeball..)


And here's the after.
VERY silky texture. Lashes look extremely glossy and smooth.
Lower lashes can be a bit tricky if you don't have much to work with like me.



Here's a better comparison at similar angles.


Overall, Jumbo Lashes is great for lengthening, but it's not a volumizing mascara.
I will have to try this out more before coming to a final verdict, but so far, I'm okay with it.
So far, it seems decent! :)



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Re-Organizing Makeup :: In Progress


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My room is arranged so that I can watch my huge-ass TV in my bed like a queen.  Since my bed is pretty high and watching TV on my back is a wee-bit different than sitting on a couch, I had to place my TV on a 2x4 and 2x2 IKEA Expedit (which worked out perfectly!).

I was starring at my expedite last night thinking 'Oh my god, look at all the space wasted on this'.

It's really messy - but the red highlighted areas are the 'empty spaces' I thought were being wasted.  

The cubbies are nice and large, but most of the stuff I had in them barely took up half of the real estate given.  I was noticing that a lot of the upper half of the cubes weren't being utilized.  I started looking up Expedite solutions and found out that IKEA had insert drawers that seemed perfect to store my beauty products!

Ever since I moved to LA, I've had a huge struggle with my products because they weren't streamlined to fit my routine and everything was scattered all over the place! For example, I wake up in the morning and put on face products (sunscreen, foundation, concealer, blush) while I am curling or straightening my hair. I really need all of the products in my bathroom, but most of my face products are in my bedroom sitting around in one of the Expedit cubbies. I have a huge drawer in my bathroom filled with nail polishes, which I don't really need in the morning.  It's already jam packed and I don't have room to expand my collection. I would always think that it'll be super nice to move all of the polishes out and use that drawer to store my face products so I don't have to go back and forth so much in the morning.

 The current bathroom situation. Drawer is filled with nail polish (and some with nowhere to go), and no place for face products..

I thought this will be a perfect opportunity to clean up and re-organize my products.  So today I headed to IKEA and brought home 2 inserts for my expedit.  They are priced 20 dollars per pack (which I think is a rip off considering that the Expedit itself is 69 dollars!).

Here's how it looks like when it is assembled and inserted.
Nice and flush!!

...And this is how it looks with the new tenants moving in. I have 7 China Glaze and 1 OPI bottle lined up.

As you can see the fit is perfect for these sized bottles. I have more than enough breathing room with the height of the drawer too.



First drawer is filled with China Glaze, OPI, Essie, Chanel, Mac, American Apparel, Butter London and Illamasqua (holds about 80 polishes in one shelf).



The second drawer has Zoya, Orly, NYX, Revlon, Sinful Colors, Sally Hansen, Missha and random other brands.


The second set will go two cubes left.


Here's how the top shelf looks like with my lipsticks filled in. I love how it holds over 100+ lipsticks with no struggle at all.

And last but not least, this is how it looks like all closed.

I'm still in the process of organizing/rearranging my products, but I wanted to hurry and share with you guys this great storage solution :p I know it's not the reinvention of the wheel, but I love the size and compactness of the insert shelves.  Expedit is a wildly popular IKEA product that sits in so many people's places, and if you're a junkie like me, the inserts could be a great solution to tuck everything away in an organized manner.

Now I can save some time with my morning routine. :)
It's great for me anyway because I usually paint my nails at night while watching the TV or sitting on my bed and doing the computer.


Here's a peek of my bathroom where some of my foundations are taking refuge.

I've also started to move in some face products to where the polishes were once residing.

I will have an updated post when everything is settled, cleaned up and presentable.. :p
I just wanted to share my new inserts and couldn't wait to finish up before posting.

Yay for IKEA and their brilliant small space solutions!



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NOTD: China Glaze Galactic Gray + Glitz 'n Pieces


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I posted this on my Instagram, but wanted to share on the blog too :)

I have to admit. After posting my previous post, I went back to TJMaxx and got 9 more bottles of nail polish... -.-
So here's a NOTD shot of two of those new colors : China Glaze Galactic Gray and China Glaze Glitz n' Pieces.


Galactic Gray is Holographic finish, which is really REALLY hard to see in real life. You have to stare at it for the longest time at a very close distance to notice the slight nuance of holographic effects on the nails.
The application is muddy and thick, which makes it hard to achieve a smooth surface. The longevity of the product is amazing short too - lasting only a day before chipping at the tips of my nails.  I screwed up on most of my application and decided to top the imperfect areas with chunky glitter.

So, enter Glitz n' Pieces. Glitz n'Pieces is a chunky glitter with Silver large hexagon glitters and smaller black glitter bits/bars mixed in a clear formula. I dabbed the glitter on the bumpy surfaces to hide the streaks, and it turned out really well. It is included in the glitter line of products I reviewed in my last post.

Anyway, the gray combo looks really nice and bling in real life - so if you're into bling nails, try this combo! :)

What do you have on your nails today? ^_^




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