I'm not a fan of going out to stores on Black Friday. I don't think I've ever actually participated in that tradition, nor is anything I want to buy so important that I would risk being trampled for it. The only time I will risk being trampled is going to a New Kids On The Block concert. haha
So happy am I that I have the internet available to me for shopping online at home, in my pajamas, drinking wine. I was on shopping lock-down for the majority of fall as we saved up for our two vacations. Come Black Friday, I was ready to shop my fingers to the bone! Read on for a look at what I bought and a collection of mini-reviews of items and recommendations....
I like to think of myself as frugal. I don't like paying full price for anything, so taking advantage of sale prices is awesome. There are also coupon codes and special offer codes to take advantage of. Before we get started, I want to make sure to point out a few resources in case any are new to you:
- Ebates - I shop through Ebates anytime I shop online. You sign up through their website and search for whatever store you are online shopping from. Click the link to the website of the retailer and you will earn a percentage back from your purchase. Different retailers offer different percentages back, but it is nice nonetheless. And it adds up! I've earned $365 back from purchases I have made. (Lane Bryant, Torrid, Sephora, Ulta, Catherines, ASOS, Macy's, Dressbarn, Nordstrom, Avenue, Eloquii, Fashion To Figure, Forever 21, Old Navy, JCPenney, Kiyonna, Kohl's, Target, SWAK Designs, Simply Be, Zulily....are just a few of the stores offering percentages back.) If you do ANY kind of online shopping, I highly recommend using Ebates.
- RetailMeNot - Is a collection of coupon codes offered at many retailers. You can usually tell the active ones from the ones that don't work any more. Sometimes you just have to try multiple codes.
- Groupon Coupons - Also offers thousands of coupons and offers for various retailers. Just search for the store you are shopping from and see if they have any active offers.
Alrighty! Let's get to the fun stuff:
First up is clothes and accessories.
Lace Plunge Bras (Torrid)- My eyes were glued to Torrid first and foremost because I wanted the bras to go on sale! I have mentioned how great their plunge bra is before, and I am sticking to that. A lot of my LB bras are getting older and uncomfortable, so it was time to restock. I've sworn by my Lane Bryant bras for so long, I wasn't prepared for anything else to work very well. But I find the Torrid bras to fit so much better. I'm a 42B (sometimes A), so it is extremely hard for me to find a bra that fits right. The Torrid bra cups are pretty well-sized, though sometime they are a little big when my boobs settle in the cups after a few hours. A little fluff and all is well. The Torrid bras are also more comfortable because the band is wider all the way around. They have not rolled or cut into me like my Lane Bryant bras do. (LB doesn't have wider bands in B cups sizes. I would need to be a C or higher for the wider band that is more comfortable.) I own three Torrid bras now, all the plunge style, and have been wearing them consistently. My clothes fit better and I am much more comfortable throughout the day. If you haven't tried Torrid bras yet, go try some on in-store and let me know what you think. I bought both the black and teal in a 42B. (I also own a pretty pink and navy one as well.)
Patterned Jogger Lounge Pants (Lane Bryant) - Most of my "house clothes" (aka pajama pants that I don't wear to bed) are too big for me now and drag on the floor and look generally sloppy. I bought a pair of leopard jogger style lounge/pajama pants from Lane Bryant earlier in the fall and love them! So when they were offered in polka dots and plaid, I snatched them up! These are super cute and very comfy. They don't stretch out too much and fit me way better than my larger sized (and extremely old) current house pants. (I bought these joggers in a 22/24.)
Dark Wash Girlfriend Jean (Catherines) - I have been awaiting Catherines to offer their Girlfriend Jean in a dark wash. As soon as I saw these online, I snatched them up! My light wash Girlfriend Jean is one of my favorite pairs of jeans and great for traveling because the waistband doesn't stretch out and get saggy like my other jeans. Yay!
Olivia Crossbody Bag (Charming Charlie) - The grey/pewter version of this bag was one I bought in Las Vegas last November. It has since come in handy and been my go-to clutch for dressier occasions. I wanted to make sure I had it in black too, so when Charming Charlie had a $10 of code, I used it to purchase the black version online. It seems to be sold out now, but they have carried this style for two years in a row now. I'm looking forward to more colors!
Women's Stretch Sole Flat (Crocs via Amazon) - I initially bought the turquoise flats in preparation for my Thanksgiving trip. I wanted a comfortable shoe to wear for flying that I could easily slip on and off, but that was cute enough to wear with multiple things. I'm only a fan of Crocs when you can't tell that they are Crocs. Otherwise, they usually look hideous. The turquoise was on sale in my size (11) for more than 50% off, so I snatched them up. They turned out to be super cute and extremely comfortable, perfect for my trip. I have wide feet, but these fit well just as they are. When I got home, I found the black pair on sale at 6pm.com. I even bought my husband the men's loafer version for Christmas. His feet are very wide, so he had to size up.
Next up is an array of beauty products.
Sephora's $10 Black Friday Deals are always so fun to receive in the mail! They are some great kits, so I take the opportunity to try new products as well as stock up on things I need more of. Sephora also offers a once-a-year fee of $10 to get free 2-day shipping all year. Some of these kits are still available, so I am going to do a run-down of each in case they appeal to you:
- Ole Henriksen Cleanse and Glow On the Go - Includes the African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser and The Clean Truth Cleansing Cloths. I have used both of these products before and like them. They smell like oranges! I think Ole Henriksen is a quality brand. I've been using cleansing cloths to take my makeup off now instead of harsher astringents. My face is much happier! I typically use the Yes To Blueberries wipes or Yes To Coconut wipes.
- First Aid Beauty FAB Cleanse and Exfoliate Kit - Includes the Face Cleanser and Facial Radiance Pads. This is my first time trying the cleanser and radiance pads. The pads are pre-moistened face cleansing pads (think Noxema pads back in the day). But they feel hydrating as well and cleansing and don't seem to irritate my skin. I use them after my initial cleansing cloth to take up extra dirt and oil from my face. The cleanser is creamy and feels great on. I haven't used them a whole lot yet, so I can't speak to everything they are supposed to do; but I like them. Sara of The Pretty Intellectual posted about First Aid Beauty in her Gift Guide earlier in December. She has been using a handful of the products every day, loves them, and feels like her skin is "smoother, clearer, and more hydrated than ever."
- Boscia Black Charcoal Pore Perfection Set - Includes the Detoxifying Black Cleanser and Black Charcoal Blotting Linens. The cleanser warms up and kind of smells like smoke or a perm, which can be a bit odd at first. It does leave my skin feeling and looking clean and fabulous. I am still working through some blotting papers in my purse, so I haven't tried these yet. They have really good reviews though.
- First Aid Beauty So Long, Dry! - Includes the Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration and Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask. I've used the Oatmeal Mask once so far. It left my skin feeling so soft and smooth. The Intense Hydration moisturizer is my JAM lately. I've been using it almost every day for a few months and love it so much! I use it as more of an overnight moisturizer and even took it on my recent vacation over Thanksgiving. My skin acted so much better than usual. I'm often wary of thicker, "more hydrating" moisturizers because of my oily skin. I don't want anything to make me more oily. But this stuff is amazing. I love it! Once I run out of the current large sample tube I am using, I am going to buy a full size and save this tube for more traveling.
- Origins Task Maskers - Includes the Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask, and Original Skin Retexturizing Mask. I personally love the Drink Up and Clear Improvement the best. I find the First Aid Beauty products to be more hydrating, but the active charcoal mask is especially helpful to my oily and blackhead prone skin. I have been purchasing this little kit every year.
- Jack Black Comfort and Joy Duo - Includes the Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF 20 and Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 20 in Natural Mint. I love the Jack Black lip balm (the Shea Butter and Vitamin E one smells like a sugar cookie). I have been using the moisturizer during the day and really like it. It isn't too heavy and doesn't make my face more oily than usual.
Royal and Langnickel just launched a makeup brush collection not too long ago. I received an Eyeshadow Shader Brush in an Ipsy bag and really liked it. Through Ipsy, I received a discount code on any purchase from the brand's website, so I snatched up a few more brushes to try. They are pretty inexpensive, but feel very nice. The handles are thick and a little rubberized, so they feel good in the hand. I haven't had a chance to use them a whole lot yet, but so far I really like them. They also offer brush kits that come in little holders and would make great gifts. I bought the Buffer Brush, the Crease/Smudge Brush, Multi-Purpose Powder Brush, and Powder Brush. Some of my MAC brushes are dying, so I am hoping these replace them okay.
As I mentioned before, I love offer codes. When I buy from Sephora, I try to work it so I get as many free samples as I possibly can. This allows me to be able to try more new-to-me products and have back up travel sized items. I automatically got three free samples with my purchase, but I used 100 reward points for the BareMinerals lip balm and used a code for the Late-Night Necessities Sample Bag. It had some awesome things in it as well, like the Kat Von D liner that I haven't tried yet and products I like already from Origins, Make Up For Ever, and Dr. Brandt. I haven't used all of these products, but I will talk about the ones I have used:
- First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Sleeping Cream - The sample was small, but it packed a great punch. This cream is smooth and creamy and hydrating. My skin felt so soft and supple the next morning. It made me sad the sample was so small, but I definitely want to buy a full size now.
- Benefit The Porefessional - I use this primer and the Dr. Brandt equivalent on a daily basis (when I do my makeup). It really helps to minimize pores and give your skin a more airbrushed finish, creating a great canvas for your makeup. I've been hooked for a couple years now, so anytime I get more samples I am happy.
- BareMinerals Pop of Passion Lip Oil-Balm in Plumberry Pop (Swatch on right of photo) - I love BareMinerals and a majority of the products I have tried or own from the brand. I was excited about this balm because the color is so pretty (like a pinkier version of my lips, but better). I have tried it a few times now and am on the fence about it. The color is beautiful. It is very pigmented and lasts all day. But this product is supposed to be an oil-rich formula that hydrates your lips while making them shiny and providing a stain. It just made my lips feel dry as the day went on, which is how most stains act anyway. I didn't really notice any extra hydrating properties. If you want a stain, this delivers for sure. It just didn't add any hydration for me.
- May Coop Raw Sauce - "Raw Sauce" sounds weird, but it is a hydrating serum made from maple tree sap that you put on before any other serums, moisturizers, etc. It preps the skin to better absorb products and helps boost their effectiveness. I've only used it once so far, so I can't speak to the work it does, but it feels nice on the skin. It is a very light serum that doesn't feel greasy at all. PS - It has AMAZING reviews, so read up.
- Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask - This lip mask sample came with 3 different colored lip masks. Think of it as a thick balm gloss that super hydrates. A little goes a long way, so this small sample will actually last me quite a while. The product is thick, like petroleum jelly, and does do a great job and re-hydrating dry, chapped lips. It felt really good on (though it is thick and sticky), but it left my lips supple and soft. My lips have been so dry in this cold weather, so this sample has been very appreciated.
- Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural in No. 9 Copper Pink (Swatch on right of photo) - This pinky brown is totally "my lips but better". It is a great natural/neutral lip color that goes with my skintone very well. It isn't a stain, but it is creamy and easy to wear. I'd love to try these in more colors.
- Origins Ginzing Refreshing Eye Cream - I've tried samples of this product before. I do think it makes my eye area look better, but I don't find it particularly extra hydrating. To its credit, it doesn't claim to be super hydrating. It claims to de-puff and reduce dark circles. I think it probably delivers on those things, but I personally need something a bit more hydrating in the eye area.
- Dr. Brandt PoreDermabrasion Pore Perfecting Exfoliator - While Dr. Brandt products are on the pretty expensive side, they work! I have loved every Dr. Brandt product I have used thus far. This exfoliator is awesome! I like exfoliation that is on the grittier side, but not rough. Typically, I add baking soda to my regular cleanser and scrub my face a couple times a week. But I like having a cleanser I don't have to add anything too. I also bought a Dr. Brandt kit from Birchbox this month. It has a wrinkle-reducing product that I am looking forward to trying as well.
- Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper - So excited! I haven't tried this eyeliner yet, but it is very popular with many beauty bloggers/vloggers and has great reviews. Trooper is the black color. It also comes in brown. Kat Von D has been putting out consistently great products, so check out the brand if you get a chance.
- First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Oil-Free Mattifying Gel Moisturizer - I use this more as a mattifying gel than a moisturizer, but it gets the job done. It does not make me oilier and keeps the shine at bay for a longer stretch of time. I still need to blot a few times throughout the day, but I am much shinier when I do not wear this. I also use the Dr. Brandt Pores No More Anti-Aging Mattifying Lotion that I bought a full size of and it works very well.
I also had a gift card from my birthday that I decided to finally use. I LOVE the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders. Although they are a little pricey, they are worth it for their performance, quality, and how long they last. I own two full-size powders in Dim Light and Luminous Light. Luminous is my absolute favorite because it has a little more shimmer to it. Basically, these powders mimic soft light that reflects off the skin and gives you a radiant, flawless glow. They are subtle, but they are amazing! I don't leave home without putting it on; and I can definitely tell the difference when I don't use it. It blurs imperfections and just gives your skin a beautiful finish. So I used my gift card on this Ambient Lighting Palette of three: Dim Light, Incandescent Light, and Radiant Light. Once I am done with my makeup, I use a buffing brush to buff one (or more) of these on my skin. Then I finish with a setting spray.
I've recently become obsessed with It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye concealer. I tried a sample through a kit or something and bought a full size for my recent vacation. (Ulta had it 50% off on Black Friday, so I bought more.) I used it so much and LOVE IT! It is a full coverage, long-wearing, waterproof concealer. While it is meant for the under eye area, I use it all over my face to cover imperfections and such. I wear the shade Neutral Medium. It is a thicker formula, so I have to apply it with a damp makeup sponge to thin it out a little. Just try it! The It Cosmetics eyeliners are some of my all time faves already, which makes me want to try everything the brand offers.
Finally, I bring you some matte lipsticks from a company that was totally new to me, NicoletBeauty on Etsy. I started following the brand on Instagram because I loved the colors. The CEO often models the lip shades on the Instagram feed, as well as reposts swatches from customers who have taken pictures of themselves wearing the lipstick (including me!). The matte lipsticks are creamy and wear a long time. They are super pigmented and really gorgeous. She posts sale codes on Instagram, so you can take advantage of those from time to time. Nicolet Av is my favorite so far. It reminds me of the color of Revlon's Balm Stain in Lovesick, which is my absolute favorite. Perris is dark but different than what I usually wear, so I really like it. (I am wearing it in this post.) I do not know why my Perris looks so splotchy in the photos. It goes on as well as the others and doesn't look like that in person.
Have you tried any of these products or brands? I would love to hear your take on any of the mentioned products. Did you do any shopping or take advantage of any great deals over the holidays that you'd love to share? Do you have a beauty product, accessory, or clothing item you just cannot live without?