REVIEW: Maybelline’s Color Sensational Shine Compulsion Lipstick

Maybelline's Color Sensational Shine Compulsion Lipstick Levitate Beauty

I’m about to say something that might shock some of you: I hate lipstick! Yes, I have a pretty decent lipstick collection because it looks so pretty and I really want to like it. But within hours of wearing it, my lips are suddenly as dry and cracked as the Sahara.

Therefore, I normally forgo lipstick to avoid chapped lips and I’ll use a tinted chapstick or a lip gloss instead. But I was recently gifted Maybelline’s Color Sensational Shine Compulsion Lipstick which claims to leave your lips both “Beautifully hydrated,” shiny, and pigmented. I can get on board with all of these things, so I was eager to try it out!

I received the shade Scarlet Flame, which is a bit too bright of a red for my personal preference. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that it does live up to its claims! It applied smoothly with a glossy finish, almost like a lip gloss. After wearing it for 4 hours, I wouldn’t say that my lips felt specifically “hydrated” considering I don’t think it added any moisture, but my lips definitely weren’t chapped by the end of the night!

Maybelline color sensational lipstick swatch

For the price ($7.99) I’d definitely repurchase. It feels very much like a lipgloss with the pigment of a lipstick, and I’m excited to have a lipstick option that won’t dry my lips. I’d love to have this in a darker shade like Scarlett Mauve or Spicy Sangria.

Do you have any other hydrating lipstick recommendations? Tell me in the comments!


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REVIEW: Sunday Riley Space Race


After enjoying my first Sunday Riley Purchase earlier this year, I was eager to try more of their products. And since I’m constantly looking for products that control oil and treat acne, I decided to test out the Space Race collection which includes the: Martian Mattifying Toner, UFO Oil, and Martian Mask. I’ve slowly goldilocks-ed my way through each of the 3 products, one of which was absolutely not the right fit for me and another that I’d repurchase in a heartbeat.

Here’s my review for each in the order in which I purchased them:

Sunday Riley Martian

My mom was kind enough to get me something that had been on my wish list for a while: Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner for oily and acne-prone skin.

The packaging boasts an impressive key ingredients list including:

  • Bentonite Clay to mattify and absorb excess oil
  • Marhsmallow and Green Tea to soothe and reduce redness
  • Manuka to smooth and mattify

I was sold! This sounded like something I wanted to slather all over my face every morning to keep it matte throughout the day. But upon trying this toner I noticed it smelled strongly of alcohol. Lo and behold, I took a look at the full ingredients list (not just the ones highlighted by Sunday Riley) and the second one on the list: Alcohol Denat. Sigh.

It’s mostly my fault because I occasionally get so excited about a product that I don’t fully check the ingredients until it’s physically in my hands. But I was more than a bit disappointed by this. It’s misleading that they state their key ingredient, Bentonite Clay, is responsible for reducing oil when clearly alcohol is responsible for the doing the mattifying.

Just to get into alcohol denat. quickly, I’m not 100% against all products that contain it. When you spot it towards the bottom of the ingredients list, it’s probably there for purposes of preserving the product or making the texture smoother and more “luxurious” feeling and it probably won’t cause irritation unless you’re especially sensitive. But when it’s one of the first ingredients, it will often cause irritation, dryness, and breakouts for most people. Furthermore, alcohol denat. can damage your skin’s protective barrier, making your skin ineffective at keeping moisture in, which will then lead to your skin overproducing oil to compensate.

So this toner was a no-go for me. But I didn’t let this deter me from testing out the remaining two products.

Side note: since drafting my review on this product a few months ago, Liah Yoo has posted an incredibly useful video about alcohol in skincare!

Sunday Riley UFO

I’ve been using Stridex as my BHA of choice for years! But while it’s incredibly effective at reducing my breakouts and exfoliating, it’s also quite drying. During my search for a new BHA, Maria (of Maria Likes Makeup) brought up Sunday Riley UFO as an option, although she still prefers Stridex to anything else she’s tried.

Sunday Riley UFO is a quick-absorbing oil that contains 1.5% Salicylic Acid. Sunday Riley lists Tea Tree oil and Black Cumin seed oil as their “key oils,” (although the ingredients list a total of 12 other oils including Milk Thistle, Cucumber, and Pomegranate, so while it didn’t irritate me, be extra diligent about patch testing in case one of these many oils irritates you).

I’ve been using UFO on and off for a little over a month now and while I do find it effective at controlling my breakouts, I’ve had a hard time fitting it into my routine because of the fact that it’s an oil combined with a BHA, so I can’t use other oils on my BHA days. So while I like UFO, it doesn’t really fit my needs currently and I won’t rush to repurchase if I run out (especially at $40 for a .7 oz bottle). I’m more likely to go for a BHA toner or switch back to Stridex so that I have the option of using other oils on the days that I exfoliate. However, if you don’t mind combining your BHA and oil into one step, I think it’s worth trying.

Sunday Riley Saturn Mask

Sunday Riley’s Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask is my most recent Sunday Riley purchase and my favorite by far! A few of the mask’s main ingredients are Niacinamide, Sulfur, and Zinc, which I already know my skin loves. It comes out of the tube as a really fun bright green color! Sadly, it’s not as insta-worthy on your face because it’s transparent when you apply a thin layer, but I won’t give it any points off for that.

The directions say you can also use it as an overnight mask although I haven’t tested that suggestion because I’m worried it’ll be too much for my skin.  I highly recommend it to my fellow oily/acne-prone peeps because it’s not overdrying, unlike most of the clay masks I use to keep my oiliness at bay in the summer. 10/10 would mask again and would repurchase.


Have you had any recent skincare hits or misses? Tell me in the comments below!


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Glossier lash slick

A few weeks ago I stopped by the Glossier showroom in SoHo on my way home from a meeting. Big mistake because I have so little self control when it comes to makeup or skincare. I was so proud of myself for successfully leaving the showroom without buying a single product, but within the week that followed, Glossier released their first ever mascara! And that’s how Lash Slick made it into my cart along with the stretch concealer, skin tint, and cloud paint that I’d also been eyeing.

And I’m happy to report that I’m loving Glossier’s Lash Slick! This product is completely worth the hype surrounding it because I love tubing mascara! I’m incredibly picky with mascara because I almost always end up with raccoon eyes, but when I learned about tubing mascara a couple of years ago my life was changed.

So What is Tubing Mascara?

For those that have never used one, tubing mascaras contain polymers that wrap around each individual lash creating a tube, unlike normal mascaras which are simply painted on to your eyelashes. The tubes lengthen each lash and provide water-resistant durability. If you’re prone to oily lids or watery eyes that lead to dark smudges by the end of the day, you’ll fall in love with tubing mascara. It’s smudge proof through tears, workouts, and even on pools days (and I have personally tested tubing mascara in all of these scenarios).

Glossier lash slick

The coolest part of tubing mascara is that they’re incredibly easy to remove! You don’t even need a makeup remover. All you need to do is splash you lashes with warm water and *gently* pull the tubes off with your fingers or a cotton round. You’ll see that it looks sort of like black gooey eyelashes are coming off, but don’t worry it’s just the tube that formed around your eyelash.

Final Thoughts on Glossier’s Lash Slick

I’m no stranger to tubing mascara, my favorite is a drug store mascara: L’Oréal Double Extend Beauty Tube Mascara ($9).

But Glossier blew me away with their secret weapon: that wand! I loved seeing their Instagram story that showed just how many brushes they tested before deciding on this one. Their dedication to finding the perfect wand shows, because it’s flawless! It really helps to separate the lashes so that they don’t look clumpy. I think it leaves me with a much more natural look than the L’Oréal mascara.

Glossier Lash Slick Wand Instagram Story
Screenshots on Glossier’s Instagram story show behind the scenes of their journey to find the perfect mascara wand for Lash Slick!

The only downside I’ve noticed for all tubing mascara, including Lash Slick: if you curl your eyelashes, the curl doesn’t hold for as long as other mascaras. But it’s totally worth it to me if it means I don’t have to worry about smudging. I can say that after 12 hours of wearing Lash Slick on my top eyelashes, I had absolutely no smudging. And I only had slight smudging after a night out wearing it on my bottom lashes.

Smudge free after 12 hours of wearing Lash Slick! My lashes are lengthened but still super natural-looking.

I won’t be getting rid of my L’Oreal tubing mascara anytime soon because I did find that it adds slightly more volume and drama to my look and it has better staying-power on my lower lashes. But Lash Slick has made an amazing addition to my (tiny) mascara collection. It gives such a natural your-lashes-but-better sort of look, and it is without a doubt an amazing every day mascara. If you’ve never tried tubing mascaras, I highly recommend checking it out!

Have you tried Lash Slick yet? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of Lash Slick or tubing mascaras in general!


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MINI REVIEW: Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 25

Kiehl's Butterstick Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 25 Naturally Nude

Do you need to use sunscreen on your lips?

The short answer is yes: sunscreen is necessary on every part of your body that gets exposed to the sun. And a few weeks ago I realized I’d been making a terrible mistake: I wear sunscreen every single day without fail, but my lips have been totally unprotected! So I picked up Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment in shade “Naturally Nude.”

It has an SPF of 25 and uses 3 UV filters: Avenobenzone 3%, Octinoxate 6%, Octocrylene 6%. It contains a blend of hydrating ingredients like Coconut Oil, Squalene, Shea Butter, and Cocoa Butter. And best of all, it gives my lips a natural pink tint on days that I don’t feel like wearing lipstick. It also comes in several other shades, including an untinted option. I’m constantly putting it on my lips because it’s so soft and hydrating.

Budget-Friendly Sunscreen Lip Balms

At $19.95, the Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 25 is a bit pricey for a lip balm in my opinion, but I’d repurchase because I find it really hydrating and I love having a tinted lip balm with the added benefits of a sunscreen. I’ve been really impressed with every Kiehl’s lip product I’ve tried this year and this one is no exception. But more budget-friendly lip sunscreen options (although untinted) are Coola Liplux ($12) and Supergoop AcaiFusion ($9.50).

Are you using a sunscreen lip balm? What’s your favorite?


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Do Fermented Ingredients Benefit Your Skin?

IUNIK Rose galactomyces toner Korean skincare kbeauty

I recently received this Rose Galactomyces Essential Toner to test from iUNIK, a Korean-based brand focused on helping your skin with its offering of minimalist, natural products at a reasonable price point. I love rose toners because they smell great and they’re gentle, hydrating, and calming on my skin. But the word ‘galactomyces’ really threw me off – I had absolutely no idea what Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate (GFF) was in the ingredients list so I decided to do some digging.

As it turns out, Galactomyces are fungi! They’re a byproduct of fermented sake and they’re used quite often in Japanese and Korean skincare products. It’s even the star ingredient of SKII’s toner (which they call Pitera)! GFF is beneficial for brightening and evening skin tone, moisturizing, controlling sebum production, decreasing acne, and reducing pore size.

iunik rose galactomyces toner, vitamin hyaluronic acid vitalizing toner, centella calming gel cream

iUNIK’s Rose Galactomyces Essential Toner contains 70% Rose Damascena Flower Water and 10% GFF. It claims to moisturize, rebalance, and soften sensitive skin. Of the 3 products I’ve tried from iUNIK, this one has been my favorite by far. It’s a very thin, watery consistency and absorbs into my skin almost immediately. I find that my face feels softer and more supple/hydrated after I use it.

I honestly think this is a great toner to use after cleansing and since learning about how beneficial fermented products are for my skin, I’m excited to continue using it in my routine. At it’s price point of $22, I wouldn’t hesitate to re-purchase.


iUNIK’s toner was gifted to me in exchange for my honest review.


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First Impressions: Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy Mask

First Impressions: Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy Mask

It’s been pretty hard to miss these gorgeous Herbivore Botanicals products all over Instagram and I’ve been dying to know what all the hype was about. So I finally gave in and bought the Blue Tansy Mask and Lapis Oil Duo! And because I’m always up for some exfoliating, I went for the Blue Tansy Mask first.

Prior to using the mask, I had no idea what Blue Tansy was, so I did some digging. Like all Herbivore Botanicals products, the mask is made with natural, food-grade ingredients and is cruelty free. Blue Tansy is a Moroccan chamomile whose terpenes (like that sticky stuff you find on conifer trees) are naturally blue and supposedly smell really sweet. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (the way most chamomile’s do) and because it’s so aromatic, it can help your body regulate hormones and de-stress. And in addition to the Blue Tansy, this is an exfoliating mask that contains both AHA’s and White Willow Bark (a naturally occurring BHA) so it’s great for inflamed or acne-prone skin.

I decided to patch test this only on my left cheek for the first time because that’s where my texture issues are. Despite the vibrant blue color of the mask, it’s basically clear when you apply a thin layer to your face.

Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy Mask Lapis Oil Levitate BeautyI can definitely attest to the aromatic qualities of the blue Tansy ingredient. The mask smells different, but not bad. It’s a very herbal, somewhat sweet scent. The box says you may feel slight tingling sensations, but I didn’t experience any tingling at all.

I chose to leave it on for 10 minutes the first time to make sure I didn’t have any reactions to it, but you can leave it on for up to 20. After time was up, I wiped it off with a wet cotton round as directed. It wiped off very easily and I was left with glowing, baby smooth skin!

So far I really enjoy it as a luxury feel-good product and for the soothing smell and benefits of the Blue Tansy. Plus, I’m a sucker for pretty packaging! But if you’re on a budget and looking for a similar exfoliating mask, try out the Deciem AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution.


Keep an eye out for a mini-review of the Lapis Oil later this week! And as always, don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on Instagram @Levitate.Beauty for daily skincare updates and reviews.

Adding Vitamin C To Your Routine

Levitate Beauty Sunday Riley ceo

Normally I keep my morning skincare routine pretty simple: splash my face with water, apply moisturizer, and finish up with sunscreen before starting my makeup. But recently I introduced vitamin c into my routine in the form of Sunday Riley C.E.O. (which is arguably their most instagrammed product). My skin has visibly benefited from this addition within a few short weeks! My skin looks more glow-y and my hyperpigmentation has gotten lighter within the short time I’ve used it.

What are the benefits?

If you read my post about Skincare Mistakes, you’ll remember that I recommended vitamin c as a safe alternative to using citrus on your face (which can be quite harmful to your skin).

Vitamin C has so many great benefits including:

  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Promotion of collagen production (making your skin firmer and more youthful looking)
  • Brightening of skin tone and reduced appearance of pigmentation
  • There is also some evidence that it reduces the damage caused by UV light exposure. So it’s a great addition you your routine along with (but not instead of) sunscreen. Just to be incredibly clear here: you absolutely still need sunscreen. Every day. Don’t skip this step!

So What Is Vitamin C Exactly?

Levitate Beauty Sunday Riley ceo derma Doctor Kakadu c

Vitamin C serums can come in different forms: L-ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate and THD ascorbate. L-ascorbic Acid is most common because the most vitamin c research has been done on it (Paula’s Choice states this as the reason they only use L-ascorbic acid).

Sunday Riley, however, uses what they call the “gold standard of vitamin c”: THD Ascorbate. THD Ascorbate is supposed to be more “lipid soluble” meaning it penetrates the skin better than many other forms of vitamin c that are water soluble and can’t penetrate the lipid barrier to reach the dermis. Reaching the dermis is important because this is where collagen is made.

When Do You Use It?

Cosrx Low ph good morning cleanser Biore Uv aqua rich sunscreen levitate Beauty

After patch testing successfully, start introducing it every other day and slowly increase if you want to. Because it helps prevent UV damage I choose to use it every morning, rather than at night. I added it to my morning routine in the following order: Splash with water (or cleanser), Sunday Riley CEO, Moisturizer, sunscreen.

Which Vitamin C Should You Choose?

While I’m currently using Sunday Riley’s CEO, there are so many different brands to choose from. However, when purchasing vitamin c, it’s important to remember that it should come in an opaque or dark tinted bottle, as prolonged exposure to air and light can make it ineffective (unless it comes as a powder, in which case it’s stable enough to see sunlight).

Here are some of my recommendations:

Sunday Riley CEO ($85) –

 sunday riley ceo Vitamin c serum

Drunk Elephant C-Firma ($80) –

C-Firma Day Serum Airless Pump Drunk Elephant

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster ($49) –

Paula’s choice c15 vitamin c serum booster

Clinique Fresh Pressed Vitamin C Booster Set of 4 ($79) –
Clinique Fresh Pressed Vitamin C Daily Booster, 4 vials

Budget-friendly pick:  The Ordinary 100% L-ascorbic Powder ($5.80) –

The Ordinary Deciem Vitamin C L-ascot if Acid Powder

Do you use Vitamin C in your routine already? What’s your favorite?


Be sure to follow my skincare journey on Instagram @Levitate.Beauty!