Beauty products I’m loving (& gift with purchase promos!)

I haven’t done a beauty post in a while, but there’s a few good gift-with-purchase promos right now (might be ending soon) that all the women in my family took advantage of and wanted to share! It’s a good chance to get a bonus on favorites that otherwise don’t go on sale. I’m a slight GWP junkie…the mini cosmetic pouches for keeping the interior of handbags clean, the travel-friendly versions of favorite products, and of course getting to try out new products…what’s not to love? FYI, Macy’s offers free shipping & returns on beauty purchases with no minimum, Nordstrom offer that for all types of purchases, and Sephora has free 3-day ship on orders over $50.
favorite makeup jewelry vanity tray setup_extra petite

various beauty favorites discussed below // vintage tray // jewelry box

Macy’s: Lancome 7pc GWP with a $35+ purchase – a nice little set with low purchase minimum! You get the choice of a mini moisturizer & eye cream, a mini blush & lipstick (out of 2 shades), plus makeup bag, travel-sized Définicils mascara and Bi-Facil eye makeup remover. Their eye makeup remover is my forever favorite (be sure to shake it up before each use) – gentle and conditioning on sensitive skin, yet one swipe takes off even waterproof products. The travel-sized bottle usually costs $15 by itself! And if you spend $75+, you get to choose one additional bonus gift out of these three 3pc sets. It looks so confusing on the webpage, but once you add qualifying product into your cart, the GWP choices will show up there automatically. Shop all qualifying items here.

– Estée Lauder 7pc GWP with a minimum $45 purchase: enter either code LIFT, GLAM, or REPAIR at checkout based on which set you’d like. I actually just bought their Pure Color Envy lipstick last month in Insatiable Ivory (which is $32 by itself) as my ‘creamy nude pink’ and am kicking myself because a full-sized tube of that color is included in the “GLAM” option!
– Lancôme 6pc GWP with a minimum $42.50 purchase: two choices, enter either code WARM or COOL at teint idol 24hr foundation makeup_asian skin tone

I also wanted to share a few products I’ve been loving lately, some of which qualify for the above promos! For reference, I have dry, sensitive skin that’s especially redness and rash-prone, so I have to be careful about the products I use on it.

1. Stay all day fuller-coverage foundation: Lancome Teint Idole 24hr long wear foundation ($47) at Macy’sSephora or Nordstrom. The right foundation really depends on your own skin type…I ask for a sample at the store counters whenever possible to try back at home, and see how it wears throughout the day. I needed a fuller-coverage foundation for my unpredictable skin, and this one came highly recommended. I actually didn’t love how it looked on me when applied with a brush, but using a slightly damp Beauty Blender sponge made all the difference. It looks very natural on my skin, covers large pores / skin issues, and lasts throughout the day (I do set it with Laura Mercier powder). Here’s how shade 260 Bisque N looks on half my face with no primer nor powder, vs. my bare skin:
lancome teint idol 24hr foundation beauty blender before and after_asian makeup
If you don’t need fuller coverage, one of my all-time favorites is still Laura Mercier’s Flawless Fluide (I use “Linen”). True to its name, it applies on so fluidly for light to medium coverage, and the finish is silky smooth and natural. Per the reviews it looks like it may be best for those with dry or combination skin, not oily skin.

2. Moisturizing lipcolor to pop against summer skin: Estée Lauder pure color envy lipstick ($32), at Macy’s. I have super dry lips despite frequent treatments, and it’s hard to find bright colors that don’t accentuate flakes. After trying no less than a dozen options (several nice contenders thanks to your recommendations!), this one was my favorite for the punchy orange color as well as a formula that glides on smoothly, doesn’t settle into lines/flakes, and keeps my lips feeling hydrated for a long time. I’m wearing Daring (orange-red) in this post and Insatiable Ivory (nude pink that’s included in the GWP set) in this post.

3. Mascara that actually holds a curl: Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Waterproof ($27.50 or $13 for travel size) at Macy’s, Sephora or Nordstrom. The waterproof version of this doesn’t get much love in the mascara world, but I swear by it for one very important purpose: holding a high curl on otherwise stick-straight, downward-pointing lashes! It’s only the waterproof version, too – this was a tip from a makeup artist a while ago, and I have yet to find another mascara that will keep lashes up as high. It makes a huge difference in “opening up” small eyes, and I wish I had a photo but my tube is misplaced and I’m impatiently awaiting a replacement in the mail – hence also why my lashes are straight and downward in this post!

I start by clamping my curler at the very base of the lashes, then move upwards to the midpoint of they lashes and clamp again to get a fuller curl. Next, I lower my eyelids about halfway then use this wand to really press lashes upwards while applying the mascara (a q-tip dipped in Bi-Facil can quickly remove anything that gets on your lids). For added volume and length, I’ll layer Too Faced or Bobbi Brown mascara on top (which are each amazing, but when applied by themselves will make my lashes straight again in no time) then finish off with a Lancôme one to prevent smudging/running throughout the day.

fresh soy cleanser sensitive skin_clarisonic pink mia

4. A gentle, non-drying facial cleanser: Fresh soy face cleanser ($15+) at Sephora or Nordstrom. I initially got a sample as part of a Sephora bday gift and liked it enough to buy more. Most other cleansers leave my already dry skin feeling like a prune! This is actually a fragrance-free product for those who are sensitive, but the cucumber extract has a distinct, fresh, scent that I love. I use this on my Clarisonic brush sometimes for a more thorough cleaning, but it feels and smells the best to me when just lathered directly on the face. This was the start of a costly addiction as I’ve gone on to try so many other Fresh products which I love indulging in! p.s. Nordstrom has a Fresh value set and also Clarisonic brushes galore in their Anniversary sale, which ends this weekend!

5. Lastly, I’d love your recommendations on a good facial sunscreen! I wish I paid more attention to sun protection when I was younger, but better late than never, right? I currently still use Supergoop’s makeup-setting spray with SPF50, but it has room for improvement and sprays more in spurts than a fine mist. I’m looking for something safe for sensitive skin, with fairly high SPF, and I’m open to products that are applied either before or after makeup. I’m also hoping to avoid anything with a strong smell or casts a ghastly white sheen on the face (typical of regular sunscreens)!


102 thoughts on “Beauty products I’m loving (& gift with purchase promos!)

  • Reply unknown August 7, 2016 at 12:59 am

    I'm a huge advocate for SPF so my recommendations are La Roche Posay Anthelios 50 mineral ultra light sunscreen fluid or my most recent pick which is the Derma E Antioxidant Natural Sunscreen. It wears great under makeup and is paraben, fragrance free and uses clear nano-particle free zinc oxide which is chemical-free broad spectrum uvb protection. Hope that helps!

  • Reply T Bui August 7, 2016 at 2:04 am

    For sunscreen, I love using John Masters SPF 30. It's paraben-free, gives me a glow (without looking like a ghost!), and feels great the whole day.

  • Reply Anonymous August 7, 2016 at 3:11 am

    Another great post ! Keep going 🙂

    Jillian –

  • Reply Ev August 7, 2016 at 3:55 am

    Nice post dear 😉

  • Reply Claudia Rollin August 7, 2016 at 8:20 am

    So beautiful and great recommendations!

  • Reply Anonymous August 7, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Try ELTAMD UV Clear or tinted. It protects and treats at same time. I have been using it for nearly two years, my skin is smooth and clear with no sun burn. I buy mine from, it is listed as one of their authorized dealers.

  • Reply Julia Mazzucato August 7, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    I loved this post! It was so well photographed and composed.
    Julia // Little Miss Haute Couture

  • Reply Anonymous August 7, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

    This is holy grail status for me. It's specifically designed for sensitive skin. I get no white cast. Not sticky at all. It moisturizes well enough that I don't need a separate lotion. There is a very slight sheen to it, making you look like you have a slight glow, which could be a good or bad thing. It doesn't bother me. I wear makeup (including foundation) over it anyway. It never pills or balls up. Plus it has 3 great skincare ingredients: niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and lactic acid. I got turned on to the benefits of lactic acid from Lisa Eldridge. It has no smell. Doesn't clog my pores. No parabens. I love it!

  • Reply Anonymous August 7, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    I normally use the Tarte Lights, Camera, Splash mascara, however I have been looking for a new mascara to try out, so I will definitely give the Lancome one a test 🙂

  • Reply Anonymous August 7, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    I agree. I even indicated the same above. Cruelty free products are far better for your body as they contain natural ingredients. It has been documented that women are putting harsh unwanted chemicals into their bodies by using most beauty products.

  • Reply affecionada August 7, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    I'm in the market for some good sunscreens as well, so I'm loving sifting through the comments! I've heard good things about La Roche Posay's offerings, and I've been wanting to try Coola. x

    Jen | affecionada

  • Reply Natalia Alvarez August 7, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    I love Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 42 For Face! I buy it at Sephora. Goes on so nicely, easy to put makeup on over it.

  • Reply Claud August 7, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Hi Jean, Great post as always!! Wearing sunscreen is a must here where I live. I love Evo Lom Daily Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 50. I also like the EltaMD that some else mentioned above. But my latest favorite is Supergoop! 'City Sunscreen' Serum SPF 30+ PA+++. I have found this last one the best to wear under makeup. And Nordies offers a great 'Day to Day' Set in which the sunscreen serum is included. 🙂 🙂

  • Reply yutzyjbear August 8, 2016 at 12:04 am

    For dry lips… I have the same issue… (and know drinking more water would help)… but I did find the lip conditioner included in Estee Lauder's GWP (Code Lift) is the most amazing thing EVER! Not sure if you can purchase it separately, but I am ordering more random items from Estee Lauder just because I want a second back up travel kit with all the fabulous travel sized items! Check it out!

  • Reply Unknown August 8, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Elta MD sunscreen is the best out there, hands down. Nice and light, not greasy. They sell it at dermatologists' offices, laser centers, etc. (so you know it's a legit brand), but you can also get it on Amazon:

  • Reply Anonymous August 8, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Hi Jean… I am in my early 30s and swear by the Obagi Nu-derm line. I use either the gentle cleanser or foaming gel (with my clarisonic), then Obagi toner, Obagi 15% vitamin c serum and then the Matte SPF 30 sunblock over this before Andalou tinted-moisturizer every morning (which also has spf 15). The Obagi line is incredible. At about $30/tube I only use it for my face, neck and decolletage when wearing lower necklines… but this line (and my big sunhats) has made all the difference! I come from a fair-skinned family so have always been over-zealous with spf but hate the chalky creams too!


    PS: is where I buy all my Obagi. The frequently have 25% off sales.

  • Reply Emily Amy August 8, 2016 at 10:01 am

    I also use Elta MD (recommended from my Derm). I've used it for 2+ years now. There is a slight tint (which I like). It's mineral and it works for sensitive skin. I've used it under mineral powder foundation as well as liquid. The cost on Amazon is much cheaper than most facial sunscreens.

  • Reply Lorena August 8, 2016 at 11:06 am

    So many great options here and
    For sunscreen recommendations: Bioderma – its sunscreen and color and works really well.

  • Reply Tracy August 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    If you want to go the K-beauty route, I love LOVE Secret Key Snail Repairing Sun Cream. It costs less than $10 through amazon and it smells like oranges. I love it even more than the famous Biore.

  • Reply MaggieN August 8, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    EltaMD is the holy grail of sunscreen for a gal with sensitive skin like me. Light weight, no white cast, easily blends in, decent price. Here's the one I use:

    I don't know the difference between this and other EltaMD products, I initially picked it due to the cheaper price (lol) and it has worked like a charm so far.

  • Reply kimchee August 8, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Agree with this one! Texture is amazing.

  • Reply monic sutter August 8, 2016 at 10:12 pm



  • Reply Sofia Papastamelos August 8, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    I like the Supergoop city serum sunscreen for underneath makeup. If you are looking for a great foundation with SPF built in I use IT Cosmetics CC cream with SPF50. It's the best!!

  • Reply Anonymous August 9, 2016 at 12:46 am

    I've been reading all the posts and there are so many suggestions! I really hope you do a whole blog post about the sunscreen you ended up liking the most. Thanks!

  • Reply Anonymous August 9, 2016 at 12:48 am

    Are there any sunscreens to apply over makeup??

  • Reply Anonymous August 9, 2016 at 12:59 am

    Does anybody know any Asian sunscreen(s) that are not tested on animals?

  • Reply Anonymous August 9, 2016 at 1:52 am

    I stock up on Shiseido's Aneesa sunblock at the airport (duty free) when I fly through Seoul or any asian country. It comes off well if you double cleanse (oil based, then regular cleansing). Great in humid climates.

  • Reply Rebecka August 9, 2016 at 4:34 am

    Love the Before and after comparison, great post! xoxo

  • Reply Jessica | Pharmacist | Lifestyle Blog August 9, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Thank you for the post Jean! I love Sephora and the VIB Rouge benefits along with Nordstrom and it's free samples with purchase besides all the gift with purchase offers! Bobbi Brown online also has rotating offers when you purchase from their website including great travel palettes!

    Petite Style Script

  • Reply Kim August 9, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Omg Reddit has an Asian beauty forum?! Seriously camping out there for the rest of the week!

  • Reply Kim August 9, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Thank you for starting this conversation on beauty and especially sunscreen. The comments here are probably as good as your post. I don't think the perfect sunscreen exists. In order to get rid of the whiteness it seems that a chemical block is necessary – even the higher end products that claim to be physical blocks contain a chemical component in addition to the physical – and the chemicals used are supposedly really bad for you. The problem I've had with actual physical block sunscreens (high percentage zinc oxide usually in combination with tio2 without the chemical blocks) besides the whiteness is that you need something to adhere these oxides to your skin and that's usually some kind of greasy oil, especially in the more "natural" products. Another issue I've had is that the pricier department store type brands I've tried really don't offer adequate protection under longer sun exposure. Like if I am only in the sun for ten minutes per day it's fine, but if I spend maybe half an hour plus outside, I get burned if I don't reapply. Other drugstore sport type sunscreens seem to offer more lasting and perhaps "stronger" protection, but they seem to all be chemical blocks. Some of the popular brands also contain parabens. I'm going to look into the Asian brands, but expect to find parabens in them. So frustrating! At this point it's more about just trying to find a product I enjoy using that's affordable. Bookmarking this post.

  • Reply kitty August 9, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    My skin is similar to yours (dry, super sensitive) and I use dermalogica super sensitive shield — it's only spf 30, but it doesn't make my skin burn. The tinted version also works well.,default,pd.html

  • Reply Shruti Chawla August 10, 2016 at 1:57 am

    Nice List! I love La Roche Posey sunscreen for every day use.

  • Reply Julie Hiller August 10, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I know it isn't rare, but I love Neutrogena's sunscreen for sensitive skin. It goes on super light and packs a heavy SPF.

    Lifestyle by Joules

  • Reply Anonymous August 10, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Hi Elizabeth, can you tell why you like Sunkiller better than Biore?

  • Reply Anonymous August 10, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Can anybody recommend any Asian sunscreens not tested on animals?

  • Reply she August 10, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    I have very dry lips too, it will have a lot of crack lines every morning, and it makes it hard for me to put on lipstick. So I purchased laneige lip mask and apply it every night before i sleep…that thing works! now my lips are smooth everyday when i wake up

  • Reply Anonymous August 10, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Didn't read through all the other comments, so hopefully not repeating, but I love Josie Maran's spf daily moisturizer. Has 47 spf uv a and b and goes on great under makeup. Very moisturizing but not greasy feeling. My favorite go-to for everyday.


  • Reply Elizabeth August 10, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    hey, the Aqua Rich is a 'daily use' sunscreen which means it's not quite as resistant to sweat and oil. the sunkiller, while not extremely waterproof or tenacious, is a bit more so. I also find it more moisturizing, and it is alcohol free (the aqua rich, although loved by many dry skinned ladies, does have some alcohol in it)

  • Reply Anonymous August 11, 2016 at 10:06 am

    I have a recommendation for an over makeup sunscreen. I apply Image Skincare Prevention 50 every morning and then apply foundation. Lately I have been applying Peter Thomas Roth's Instant Mineral spf 45 over my makeup throughout the day. It is a translucent powder with an incorporated brush applicator so it is easy to throw in my purse. I live in Florida so I have to be serious about sunscreen!

  • Reply Anonymous August 11, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    No one has mentioned Paula's Choice Resist Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30, but this is one of my favorites. It's physical-based but is tinted so it doesn't leave a white cast. It feels silky and goes on smoothly. It's also a moisturizer, although I usually wear a separate moisturizer, anyway. It reminds me of the EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 which is also tinted, but the Elta feels a little bit drier on the skin. I highly recommend the Paula's Choice. And no, I don't work for them. 🙂

  • Reply Sarah August 13, 2016 at 8:45 am

    I agree with the Paula's Choice redness relief recommendation. I also wait a few minutes before applying makeup but more like 5 rather than 10-15. There is also a version of this sunscreen for normal to dry skin.

  • Reply Anonymous August 13, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    I used to use Thomas Roth's Instant Mineral spf 45 until I read about the dangers/concerns about Titanium Dioxide in powder form (this ingredient is even banned in the EU in powder form). Do your research before choosing a powder or any spray sunscreen.

  • Reply Jocelyn August 15, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    EltaMD SPF products are eligible for a promo on Dermstore right now! 20% off with code: ELTAMD20 (*Sale ends 8/18/16 at 11:59 p.m. PT.)

  • Reply Unknown August 17, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    What nail polish is that?! It's pretty!

  • Reply Anonymous August 17, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    What nail polish is that?! It's pretty!

  • Reply Jennifer Gao August 18, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    I purchased this sunscreen while I was in Japan after a friend's recommendation and I swear by it everyday now. The consistency is literally a watery essence and leaves no film on skin. And it's super affordable. I believe this can be found on Amazon.

  • Reply Anonymous August 27, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Good morning,
    Recommendation: Epionce Ultra Shield Lotion SPF 50 (2.5 fl oz.)
    Question: What kind of eye make-up /eyeliner is the blogger wearing when she applying the foundation? Thanks.

  • Reply Invest in People August 30, 2016 at 1:18 am

    You can check products for health concerns at (since none in your list currently has a report). For sunscreen health ratings, incl ratings of UVB & UVA coverage, see

  • Reply Danielle 2.0 September 7, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    I love Elta MD UV Clear which has a spf 46. I have pretty sensitive and combo skin and this has really worked well for me. I love how high the SPF is and goes on so nicely, I'll probably never try anything else because i like it so much.

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