Beauty, Hair, Skincare

Play by Sephora – May 2016

May 25, 2016

play by sephora may 2016

I love beauty subscription boxes, so imagine my delight when I finally got off the Play! by Sephora waitlist! When the subscription box service was first announced, it was only in limited markets but now they’ve started to move people off the waitlist. It’s only $10 a month and I love that all the brands/products are carried at Sephora. One of my biggest issues with beauty subscription boxes such as Glossybox and Birchbox is that sometimes the brands are unknown and it’s hard to even find product reviews so I don’t get as excited to try out those products. I’m really pleased with the products I received in my first Play box:

  • Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick – I already have this in 4 shades because I love the formulation! I was pleased to get this shade in Kimchi, though I won’t wear it too often since it’s a bright bright pink shade.
  • Tarteist Lip Crayon – This is a lip pencil in the shade latergram. It is gorgeous and I plan to fill in my lips completely instead of using this as a lip liner.
  • Korres Wild Rose Brightening Sleeping Facial – I’ve actually used this before. I did not see any brightening effect on uneven skin tone after using the entire container so I did not repurchase, but I love the smell and it is very moisturizing, so I was happy to receive this in the box.
  • Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair – This is a deep conditioning hair mask. I can’t wait to try this!
  • Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask – This is an amazing product and I’ve gone through several bottles of it. I love applying this at night during the winter time because it keeps my skin well moisturized. This is also a great product to apply right before a flight!
  • Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask – I’ve also used this in the past. It is a great mask for oily skin and clogged pores.
  • Origins Maskimizer – I have seen a couple YouTubers talk about this product so I was really interested to try it. This is supposed to be sprayed onto face prior to applying on mask to prep your skin for the mask. However, I did not see any difference after several usage. Make sure to close your mouth because it tastes awful!!
  • Atelier Orange Sanguine Cologne – This is a lovely scent and I like this small sample size to keep in my purse.

You can see the Sephora unboxing video and additional photos below to learn more about the products!

play by sephora may 2016

play by sephora may 2016

play by sephora may 2016

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Beauty, Skincare

Morning Skin Care Routine v2

May 16, 2016

morning skincare routine for oily skin

I realized the last time I wrote about my morning skin care routine was almost a year ago, so it’s time for an update! I don’t tend to change my skin care routine often–once something works for me, I tend to stick to it! However, when I reviewed my old post, I realized there have been many updates, so here are the products I have been using every morning:

Step 1: Cleanse
Since my face is already clean in the morning (no makeup), I love using this PeterThomasRoth Gentle Foaming Cleanser. I apply two pumps on my hands and then gently clean my face in circular motion. This cleanser is super gentle, is fragrance free, the wheat amino acids help to hydrate and strengthen the skin, and vitamins A, C and E provide powerful antioxidant protection.

Step 2: Tone
Toners are used after cleansing to restore your skin’s pH balance. A great toner will also help your skin look refreshed, brighter, and smoother. I started using the Kate Somerville Clarifying Treatment Toner a couple months ago. This is particularly great for oily-skin. It is alcohol and fragrance free, removes dead skin, and lightens discoloration.

Step 3: Essence
Essence is a new step to my skincare routine. What is essence? Essence have highly concentrated antioxidants, vitamins, organic acids, and sometimes fermented probiotics, all for the purpose of enhancing your skin from the inside out. It specifically targets wrinkles, fine lines, and dull and uneven skin tones. With regular use you will notice smoother and brighter skin. I have heard so much about the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, but it is EXTREMELY expensive. $99 for a 2.5oz and $290 for a 11oz. Crazy, huh? So I started looking for a dupe and found the Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence. This article has good information on the fermented yeast extract used in both of these products. If you’re new to essence, I would suggest using the Missha Essence first. Also, if you live in Asia this product is significantly cheaper.

Step 4: Serum
There are hundreds of serums in the market and they do different things, so it’s important to do the research. I have been using the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum for over a year. It is a high potency serum with vitamin C to help brighten, boost collagen, and minimize fine lines and wrinkles. Ole Henriksen is an amazing natural skincare brand. If you haven’t tried the products, I would recommend starting with this mini bundle set.

Step 5: Moisturize
The Origins GinZing Moisturizer was mentioned in my last skin care post–I can’t believe I still haven’t used this up yet! I guess one container will last almost a year! This moisturizer is extremely light weight and helps to brighten my face. For eyes, I have been using the Clinique All About Eyes Rich cream for over 5 years! It is extremely hydrating and minimizes dark circles.

I know there are a few products/steps, but it takes less than 5 minutes to apply all of these! My morning skin care is actually much lighter than my night time routine. I will post an updated night time routine soon!

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Favorite Surprise in a Box! May Rocksbox

May 11, 2016

may rocksbox

Back in January, I wrote about my first Rocksbox and how this subscription box works. Since then, I’ve received 4 more boxes and this has become one of my favorite subscription boxes to receive! I don’t own many pieces of jewelry and my taste changes regularly, so Rocksbox is great because it allows me to select and try different jewelry. Here are some pros and cons:


  • Ability to add pieces to a wishlist, and each month at least one of those pieces will be sent
  • Extremely fast delivery. For example, when I send a box back, as soon as the tracker gets scanned, Rocksbox will immediately send a new box out. It’s possible to get 2-3 boxes in one month!
  • $10 credit added to the account each month (expires in a month so you cannot keep accruing)
  • Amazing customer service
  • Super convenient


  • Only receives 3 pieces per box. This may be plenty to some people, but I would love to receive 5-10 pieces in a box because it’ll allow me to layer and combine
  • The inventory seems to be from past season because whenever I search online for specific pieces, they are usually out of stock or replaced by new colors, especially the Kendra Scott pieces
  • Limited brands. I think there are only a handful of brands, and only a couple well-known ones. I wish it carries more brands and variety
  • The discount to purchase jewelry is not great–about $10. This amounts to ~15% off. Since all of these pieces have been worn by other people, I would rather spend an additional $10 to purchase it brand new from another retailer

Here are the three pieces I received this month and the cost to purchase:

  • Perry Street Patrice Necklace $54 – Gorgeous statement necklace and I love the lilac stones. I don’t own any statement pieces, so it was fun to try this out
  • Gorjana Taner Bar Mini Studs in Silver $32 – Pretty stud but I already have something similar
  • Kendra Scott Elisa Silver Necklace in Platinum Drusy $52 – Love love love this! I wore this almost every day and thought about purchasing this from Rocksbox since it was slightly discounted and I have a $10 credit. However, there were some imperfection on the stone and I prefer to purchase this new, so I purchased a rose gold piece directly from Nordstrom

If you want to give Rocksbox a try, you can use coupon code emilybff1121 to receive a free month!

Beauty, Makeup, Nails

April Beauty Discoveries

May 2, 2016

Tom Ford Soleil Contouring Compact The Afternooner, Anastasia That Glow, Dior Polka Dots Manicure Kit Confettis, Jouer Crème Liquid Lipstick in Melon

May already?! Summer is just around the corner and I’ve been having fun trying out new makeup from the recent Sephora sale! These are new beauty discoveries and favorites. Lets get started!

Tom Ford Soleil Contouring Compact The Afternooner – I am in love with this palette. The packaging is stunning–white cover with gold interior and large mirror. This is a huge all-in-one compact–it has a highlighter, blush, and bronzer that looks extremely beautiful together. I apply these separately or swirl all three colors together on the cheeks. The colors are natural and very pigmented–it’s important to apply with a light hand. The texture is a cream-like powder and the product stays on all day. This is a limited edition and out of stock in many places, so backorder this soon if you want this!

Anastasia That Glow – I am all about highlighting these days! When I first purchased this product, I was going to return it because I already have a couple other highlighters but quickly changed my mind. All the colors are beautiful, but my favorites are bubbly and dripping in gold. I love the shimmer on them. This palette is sold out at most retailers as well!

Dior Polka Dots Manicure Kit Confettis – How fun is this kit?? Perfect for spring and summer! The kit comes with two miniature nail polishes with the standard Dior applicator brush and a dotting pencil. The colors are beautiful and complimentary, perfect for the polka dot design.

Jouer Crème Liquid Lipstick in Melon – This is currently one of the most popular lipsticks so most colors are sold out! I purchased one to see what all the hype was about and I understand now. It’s easy to apply, stays on ALL DAY, is moisturizing, and does not transfer onto other things.

Let me know in the comments below if there is a product you’ve been loving recently!

Tom Ford Soleil Contouring Compact The Afternooner

Tom Ford Soleil Contouring Compact The Afternooner

Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit

Dior Polka Dots Manicure Kit Confettis

Dior Polka Dots Manicure Kit Confettis

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Beauty, Skincare

Double Cleansing: The Essential Step to Healthy Skin

April 21, 2016

Double Cleansing

I like my skin squeaky clean. I used to “double cleanse” by using the same face wash twice because once never fully removed makeup and dirt. However, this was extremely harsh on my sensitive skin. So, why is double cleansing important? A lot of stuff  get on our face in just one day. We often apply several skincare products (toner, essence, serum, moisturizer, sunscreen) and makeup. Throughout the day we are exposed to dirt and toxins from the environment. Water-based cleansers cannot effectively remove oil-based debris, so it is essential to cleanse with an oil-based cleanser. Double cleansing is an important step to healthy skin!

What is the correct way to double cleanse? The first step is to use an oil-based cleanser. Oil is extremely effective in lifting anything that is oil-based, such as makeup, sunscreen and excess oil. The product is applied to dry skin and will gently dissolve everything. I was ecstatic that oil-based cleansers do not leave my face oily or cause breakouts! The second step is to use a water-based cleanser to remove any remaining impurities and to provide a deeper cleanse. A gentle water-based cleanser should be used since most of the makeup and dirt are already removed during step one.

I only double cleanse at night, but some people double cleanse twice daily if they are overly oily. Even if you don’t wear sunscreen or makeup, I would still recommend double cleansing once a day because of all the pollutants we cannot see. I have been double cleansing since I returned from Taiwan a month ago because this method is very common in Asia so I was able to purchase lots of products at a lower price. Here are some of the products I would recommend:

Step 1: Oil-based Cleansers

Step 2: Water-Based Cleansers

Beauty, Makeup, Skincare

Sephora VIB Rouge Sale Haul

April 12, 2016

Sephora Love Note VIP Sale

The Sephora Love Note Sale is happening right now and all members of the rewards program, Beauty Insiders, can use the coupon code. This discount can be applied to EVERY ITEM on the Sephora website and in-store! No restrictions! Sephora only has this offer twice a year, so it is a great time to take advantage of this discount now! Here is the information:

Beauty Insiders: 10% off, use code BINOTE through 4/12
VIBs: 15% off, use code VIBNOTE through 4/13
VIB Rouge: 15% off, use code ROUGENOTE through 4/13

Normally during these sales I love to stock up on old favorites and splurge on a couple expensive items I have been wanting to try. Makeup and skincare products can be expensive, especially the ones at Sephora, but there are a couple strategies I use to keep the cost down: sale events, bundle sets, flash sales, etc. If you want to learn more, please read this popular post: How to Save Money on Beauty Products.

Most of the items I purchased are new products I’ve never tried, so I cannot speak on how well they work. I will do a more thorough review after I’ve had the chance to try them.


  • Drunk Elephant All Glowy Set (sold out) – Unfortunately this set is all sold out and it may have been a limited edition because the URL doesn’t even work anymore. Anyways… this was an amazing value because the set was $90 and included the full size Glycolic Night Serum, which is also priced at $90, and two small samples. I’ve heard so many great things about the night serum, and it even received a 5-star expert review on beautypedia, which hardly ever happens! The entire Drunk Elephant line is rated 5-stars so I am excited to try all the items in this set. I actually purchased two of these sets suspecting this will sell out during the sale and thought my mother-in-law or friends might want one. However, no one has claimed one and now that I suspect this is a limited edition, I won’t be returning the extra set!
  • Sunday Riley Power Couple Duo – These two products are so hyped up and every beauty guru claim they are must-have skincare items. If you purchase these two products separately, they are extremely expensive. When bundled, they are still crazy expensive but at least you get more value. I have tried samples of these from Sephora but they weren’t enough to see a difference because results typically appear after 2 weeks. Having said all of that, I will return this bundle because I do not need this and the two Drunk Elephant sets.
  • Kate Somerville Clarifying Treatment Toner – I was searching for a new toner for oily skin and one that is alcohol free. I love Kate Somerville, so thought this is worth a try!

Sephora Love Note VIP Sale


  • Anastasia Glow Kit – This is a beautiful, high quality highlighting palette. However, I will be returning this because I don’t need this many highlights and I still have two Becca ones that I need to use up.
  • Tom Ford Soleil Contouring Compact – The packaging and colors are perfection! This is a great all-in-one palette with a highlight, blush, and bronzer. However, it’s super expensive and I don’t know if it’s worth the price. I am currently researching other all-in-one palettes right now, so I haven’t decided if I will return or keep this item. This went out of stock immediately after the sale started so I feel lucky to get my hands on one.

Sephora Love Note VIP Sale


  • Travel Bag – I have many travel bags, but they are all bags that are either good for makeup, brushes, or toiletries. I have been wanting something that will hold everything together so that I will only need to pack and carry one bag. I don’t pack too many items so I think everything will fit in here. I am traveling this weekend so I’m excited to test this out!
  • Tarte Contour & Bronzer Brush – Honestly, I was eying the NARS Ita Brush to up my contouring game, but the $55 price tag for just one brush is unacceptable, so I picked this slightly more affordable Tarte brush. I was hoping to find one even cheaper, but I couldn’t find one in the shape and quality that I want.
  • Beautyblender pro – I have been using the beautyblender since Sephora started carrying it years ago and always have one on hand. I decided to purchase this in black because it won’t look as dirty as the pink after routine uses.
  • Clarisonic Brush Head Twin Pack – I love my Clarisonic and use it every day, but one negative is the need to replace the brush head every 3 months. If you don’t have a Clarisonic and you’re looking for a cleaning tool, I would recommend getting the Foreo LUNA mini 2, which has amazing reviews and most people prefer it over the Clarisonic because the Foreo products do not trap bacteria like the Clarisonic brush heads and it’s just a one time payment.

Sephora Love Note VIP Sale

Did you get a chance to shop the Sephora sale?? If so, let me know what you purchased! I love reading about other people’s beauty hauls!

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