Monday, February 13, 2017

Do I Need It? Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence Review

The Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence ($42 for 270ml/ 9.1 oz on Peach & Lily, or ~$35 on Amazon) is a prime example of a product that sucked me in purely by its beautiful packaging. I spotted it at the Peach & Lily K-Beauty sample sale last summer and even though I'd never heard about the brand let alone this specific product, I thought it just looked too beautiful to pass up, and one can always incorporate an essence into their skincare routine, right?
Uhm, on that note. How do you guys feel about essences, the curious in-between a toner and a serum? Do you love them and always remember to apply for an extra boost of hydration, or do you find them completely superfluous and not worth the time? Because I can't make up my mind, and the Mineral Treatment Essence has only served to confuse me further.
As you can see, this beautifully designed bottle houses a clear liquid that's just a hair thicker than plain water in consistency - I forgot to show you but once you unscrew the cap, there's just a small hole at the top for dispensing the essence. The instructions advise you to either pour a little bit out into the palm of your hand and pat directly onto the face (which is what I prefer), or to use a cotton square and wipe like you would with a regular toner.

This Cremorlab essence does contain mostly water - according to the brand's marketing, their proprietory T.E.N. thermal water - as well as several flower waters/ hydrosols (rose, chamomile, lily and cornflower), a ferment extract (akin to the cult SK-II Essence, reviewed here), niacinamide and glycerin. There's no added fragrance although I think there's a very faint scent from the niacinamide, which to me smells a bit like nicotin - not my favorite but I've always liked the effect of this active ingredient on my skin. Cremorlab claims their Essence will hydrate, brighten and smooth your skin's texture.
Do I think the Mineral Treatment Essence actually works? Yes, I do - but the results are not very noticeable. Overall, I would say my face feels softer and smoother, and a bit more even-toned. However, is the effect worth paying over $40 for and in my particular situation (tired new mom), worth spending an extra minute or two to complete my skincare routine? I'm not so sure. Here's the thing - I don't think I can consistently stick to a routine with the added step of an essence between my toner and a serum. What I can do is replace a toner with an essence - which is how I'm using the Cremorlab Essence currently - but in all honesty, I do prefer the speed and convenience of using a spray toner. I wouldn't replace a serum with an essence though; I believe I get better results in terms of hydration or other concerns (hyperpigmentation, breakouts, what have you) from a serum than an essence such as this one. I also haven't noticed the essence working to boost the performance of my serums; I don't see any 'deeper penetration' of ingredients or anything of the sort, and while you can notice better absorption, that's also true for most regular toners (applying any serum on damp skin).
All in all, I think the Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence is a good product, but I'm not planning to repurchase it, or any other essence for that measure. Once my bottle runs out, I'll just go back to using a spray toner, because of, erm, mostly laziness, I guess. How many steps/ products are there in your skincare routine? Do you prefer to do the basic cleanse/tone/moisturize or do you go full throttle K-beauty with its 10+ steps?

Saturday, February 4, 2017

2016 Skincare No Buy and Make-up Low Buy Finale

Tsk tsk, I know - so very late of me to be posting the finale of my 2016 Skincare No Buy and Make-up Low Buy (click here for the Introduction post) in February of 2017. Nonetheless, given how much you guys enjoyed my updates on this project I embarked on last year, I thought I'd share one last post on how I was doing the final quarter of 2016, and my overall experience and thoughts on this volontary beauty shopping ban I subjected myself to.

In short, I didn't REALLY follow my skincare no buy and make-up low buy anymore from October til December of last year. I wasn't really beauty shopping a lot either, given that about 98% of my energies were focused on the tiny human who joined our family. To be completely honest, I couldn't really be bothered anymore to follow my strict self-imposed rules. So yeah, sometimes when I was slumped on the couch during one of Julian's naps and I needed a little pick me up, I'd go online beauty shopping - mostly at Ulta to be precise. I somehow managed to hit Platinum status there, but in my defence, a lot of the things I buy from there were for my husband or gifts for other family members, so I don't feel too guilty about that.

While I'm not going to hunt down every purchase and list it in this post (not just because I'm lazy - I also think that would be boring for you guys), here are some of the make-up things I bought that I can recall right now: 3 MLBB mauvey lipsticks, one cream finish and two mattes, because that's what I've been wanting to wear the most, one liquid pen eyeliner (as I had none in my collection and wanted to wear one again) and one waterline pencil liner (not satisfied with the longevity of the ones I own), one brow pencil I've had on my wishlist for over a year (so now I own 3 brow products total), one blush and a holiday set from Laura Geller including a blush (not sure how I feel about it, may give it away), a lipgloss and a face primer. I also purchased a liquid lipstick and a new foundation, but returned both - I'm now resigned to the fact that matte liquid lipsticks make my lips look dry and shrivelled up, and the foundation was a wrong shade and I thought made me look too oily in the T-zone halfway throughout the day. Looking at this list, definitely most of what I bought wasn't necessary, and I certainly surpassed my allowance of two products a month. But you bet it was fun and I am in fact using and enjoying my new pretties - the ones I felt iffy about went back immediately. Isn't that the whole point?

The other aspect I wanted to touch on is free gifts with purchase, which I somehow scored quite a lot of in 2016. I'll come clean with you - I really, really enjoy hunting down coupon codes or buying during retailers' special events to get freebies. So even if I'm not placing orders for myself or only purchasing replacements, I'll usually still receive extra products to add to my collection.  What can I say? I know it's a loop hole and if the GWP doesn't contain items I was going to buy anyway, there's no sense in striving to get one - so I do try to only go for the ones I'm genuinely interested in trying. Sometimes I will still receive something that I don't care for, or that doesn't work out when I do test it, and on such occasions I simply pass on the product, be it full size or deluxe sample, to someone else who may get more enjoyment out of it. The same applies to PR samples I'm occasionally sent for review.

In terms of skincare, I purchased two affordable products: a new cleansing balm (my current cleansing oil is half used up already) and exfoliating pads, which I'm already using as I managed to finish some other acid toners from my stash. I could have postponed these purchases until a bit later, say beginning of 2017, but I was placing an order for something else and wanted to get to free shipping (or a GWP, in all honesty), so that's what I opted to do. Again, I don't feel too guilty about breaking my no-buy: sure, I didn't absolutely need those products right away, but I am using or will shortly be using what I bought, so it's not a big deal really.
Back-up drawer as of last update, September 2016
Back-up drawer in January 2017
Throughout the last quarter of 2016, I did continue using up my back-up skincare as well as giving away products I realized I wouldn't use, and as a result I believe that my back-up drawer is looking much better - I even have some space in it now should the need arise to store a new purchase or a PR sample. My husband has also been using more skincare, so I have his help in getting through at least some categories of products, like face wash and facial oils.

Overall, I have to admit that I haven't had huge success with my limited shopping allowances in the last months of 2016 if you look at the number of products I purchased. However, I don't actually care about that and weirdly enough, I do feel succesful about this year-long project. The main reason is that I believe my mentality towards beauty shopping has in fact changed for good. Yes, I still love buying and trying out new make-up and skincare, but I don't go crazy purchasing every new release and most certainly I've stopped buying products which are not relevant to my preferences or lifestyle. I buy products that I enjoy and use consistently. Do I buy too many? Definitely - it's not like anyone NEEDS to own as many lipsticks or blushes as I do. I like having them though, and that's okay.

This is also how I feel about going on low buys or no buys in the future: I think I'm ready to move away from doing structured projects and instead just continue working on keeping a healthy balance between shopping and using what I already own. In the skincare category, I still want to continue using up my back-ups and ensure I'm not purchasing extra products that are not needed at the time. In terms of make-up, I do want to give myself leeway to get something I'm interested in if I believe I'm going to be able to enjoy it right away, but at the same time, I'd like to give some love and attention to the beautiful products already in my stash. If I happen upon something in my collection I don't like anymore, I will pass it on or throw it away with a clear conscience, but I don't really care about 'ideal numbers' or inventoring my make-up - as long as I enjoy everything I own, even if it's a lipstick I only wear a few times a year, I'm completely fine with 'having more than I need'.

I will also be working on actually using up some make-up products from my stash - and not just mascara - and I'll be documenting my progress on Instagram if you're curious to see it. Last year I managed to use up 23 make-up products (both full size and minis, which I counted as half of a product, so 2 make-up minis = 1 full empty), but I think this year I'm not going to have as much time to wear a full face, so I'm going to set my goal at 17 (17 in 2017, get it? Not an original idea by the way but I don't know who started these '16 in 2016' and other challenges so I'm sorry but can't give credit). Who knows, maybe I'll surprise myself and use up even more. Knowing myself, I know these products will mostly be of the cream and liquid variety and not pressed or loose powders, so for my eyeshadows, blushes and bronzers I would like to see some pan occasionally, but not at the expense of forcing myself to use one and the same product for months if I don't feel like it.

Whoa, now that was a long and rambly post to get through, wasn't it? I felt however that I needed to get some closure on this Skincare No Buy & Make-up Low Buy challenge, and wanted to share my current thoughts on the spending bans and panning projects (more ramblings on make-up panning can be found here, and my opinion still stands). Were you satisfied with the results of your limited spending projects in 2016? What are your plans going forward?