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2017 in Review | The Best and the Worst

Beauty, Lifestyle, HealthMaría Elena RodríguezComment
best buys of 2017

This year was far from normal to say the least. From traveling to Europe for the first time, posting consistently once a week and surviving a devastating natural disaster. 2017 was intense, but it was all that I needed to check my priorities. 

I made some big lifestyle changes and some huge decisions along the way. It was transformative to say the least, but I couldn't be happier for the outcome. So here are the highs and lows that helped me get there:

Beauty

Bite Beauty Everyday Agave Lip Collection

As many of the products I discover, I discovered this one out of a whim. I always like using a nourishing lip balm after my nighttime skincare routine and before I fall asleep and this one has been perfect. It's a little expensive, but it's worth the splurge since a little bit goes a long way. 

You can read my initial review here.

Grab Bite Beauty Everyday Agave Lip collection here

 

OLEHENRIKSEN Transforming Walnut Scrub

ole henriksen walnut scrub

You all know my love for Ole Henriksen, but first thing first: This scrub STINKS! But boy does it work. If you can pass through the smell and are diligent about using this product at least once a week you will see the amazing results. 

You can read my initial review here.

Grab the Ole Henriksen Transforming Walnut Scrub here

 

tarte Tarteist™ Lash Paint Mascara

I have the most stubborn eyelashes. They are the hardest to curl and give some volume. But this mascara is doing her part on my lashes. Plus, it's buildable and perfect for those days when you want to give your makeup look that extra sultriness. 

You can read my initial review here.

Grab the Tarte Tarteist Lash Paint Mascara here. 

 

Herbivore Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask

herbivore blue tansy

This is an effective but expensive mask. It smells great and it feels really luxurious. Plus, you will see the results right away. I've been using this mask before special occasions or if my skin is looking a little dull.

I talk more about this product here

You can buy the Herbivore Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask here

 

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer

Just as I suspected, this concealer quickly gained holy grail status. The hype is real guys! If you suffer of dark circles like I do, this concealer will change your life. Just keep in mind that it's super full coverage, which is why I only use it for special occasions. For my every day I've been using the Wet N' Wild Photo Focus Concealer

You can read my initial review here.

Grab the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer here. 

 

Glossier Serums

glossier serums

I started using these serums after my sister raved about them so much. You all know my love for the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum, but since I've been leaning more towards more natural and less ingredients skincare I thought it was time to give these a try. 

These are definetely lighter than I thought and from my experience, you will start to see results after a week or so. The only downside is that it's 0.5 oz and for the price and for the price and daily usage, I don't think it's appropriate. Wishing they come out with a full 1oz and more cost effective packaging! 

Grab Glossier's The Supper Pack Serums here

 

Hello, World!

glossier perfume

If you follow me on Instagram you know I went to the Glossier Showroom in Chelsey, NYC this past November. I had no idea I would love this perfume, but once I smelled it, I knew it had to be mine. Some of you know that I've been really into warm and spicy scents this year and that is exactly what this smells like. But it's not basic at all. Am I explaining myself? Describing scents is so hard!

Anyways... you can grab the Glossier You Perfume here

 

All of the Nirvana Perfumes

Speaking about warm and spicy perfumes, Nirvana by Elizabeth and James stole my heart this year. From their deliciously sexy Nirvana Bourbon perfume to their new Nirvana Amethyst perfect for the holidays. If you want to captivate someone, try one of these perfumes. 

Grab a trio of Nirvana by Elizabeth and James Perfumes here

 

Rose Water Sprays

Notice that I wrote "sprays" not "spray"? That's because I don't care about the brand. I just love spraying rose water spray in my face. Does it make my skin any different? No. Does it make me feel like a queen? Absolutely! It feels like an added luxury to my skincare regimen.

Grab Mario Badescu's Rose Water Spray here

 

Too Faced Sweet Peach Eyeshadow Palette

too faced sweet peach palette

This is the only palette I've been using. I am not big on using eyeshadow, but when I do, I like some high quality, super blendable and long wearing shadows. The shades I love the most from this palette are Summer Yum and Luscious. Peaches 'N Cream is perfect for blending out at the end. 

Grab a Too Faced Peach Palette here

Lifestyle

Filofax

I come and go with planners and I have used dozens of them over the years. Even two at once. But I've come to realize that the best system for me is one where I can keep all my to-do's, calendar and notes in one place. Hence, the Filofax system. Again, I don't mind paying a little extra for effectiveness and this system lets me customize my pages and add or edit whatever I want throughout the year. This helped me stay on track with this extra crazy year! 

Running

It all started with a 5K race and it ended up being the biggest lifestyle change I've done in my life. I was never a runner, in fact, I hated running. But something inside me shifted once I raced that 5K. I even credit running for my mental health after surviving Hurricane Maria, but you can read more about that in my article at Merodea

Yoga

Where do I even begin with this? I believe I got hooked on yoga by accident. It was just a way of stretching after running, but once I noticed that I had no sore legs after doing yoga and that boost in endorphins, I knew I wouldn't go back! 

Going Plant-Based

I have been going back and forth with this topic for a while. But just in time when I began running and doing yoga I decided to give this a try one more time. It has been a challenge, specially after María, but I have never felt better in my life. Let me know if you would like to read more about my transition to veganism! 

Traveling

These past two years have been huge in traveling for me. But now, I'm in the middle of a huge life transition which is why I will probably be putting some of my vacation time on hold. But all these experiences were amazing and necessary for me. You can read more about this here

Fails

Louis Vuitton Neverfull 

This was in my bucket list since forever. After I purchased my pre-loved Speedy 30, I wanted the Nerverfull to complete my collection. Then Europe happened and I was able to purchase it for a much better price. But after I got it for a few months it didn't feel right. I didn't feel like I deserved it and after Hurricane María almost washed us off the map, I knew I had to give her up. 

It's not that I'm against luxury products now. I'm just more consciously aware of everything and I just wish to have things in my life that add value to my life and I definetely didn't feel that way with the Neverfull. 


We have been posting our favorite posts of the year on Facebook and Twitter so make sure you check that out.

Until next time, 

María Elena

Tarte's Maracuja Oil vs Skyn Iceland's Artic Face Oil

BeautyMaría Elena RodríguezComment
maracuja oil vs artic oil tarte vs skyn iceland

Anyone who has read a few of my blog posts knows that I have been using the same combination of skincare for several years now: Tarte's Maracuja Oil and Ole Henriksen's Truth Serum. And even though I tried the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil (check out that blog post here) and Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Oil (check out that one here, before I went cruelty-free), I always came back to the Maracuja Oil. 

Current Skincare Combo

Current Skincare Combo

So once Skyn Iceland contacted me to try out a few of their skincare product, I was down to try their face oil, because I definetely needed to mix it up a bit! But to make things a little more intereresting first, here's why I like Tarte's Maracuja Oil:

Tarte's Maracuja Oil:

tarte maracuja oil review
This powerful, precious skincare oil is cold-pressed from the maracuja fruit, naturally rich in brightening vitamin C and replenishing essential fatty acids to nourish, protect and feed your skin. Harvested from the best in nature to restore balance and harmony, you can apply a few drops of this daily moisturizing face oil to quench dry skin and seal in hydration, as the gentle multi-tasker helps calm excess sebum production on oily and acne-prone skin. You can also mix it with your foundation for enhanced moisture and anti-aging benefits with a dewy, radiant finish. The weightless, hypoallergenic formula helps firm and soften without clogging pores, and works to provide an antioxidant barrier against environmental attack.
— tartecosmetics.com

Price Tag: $48 (1.7oz)

Ingredients: Passiflora edulis seed oil (aka maracuja oil) and tocopherol, which apparently is in the family of Vitamin E

Review: Here's a summary of everything I've said about the Maracuja Oil over my years blogging about it:

  • My skin loves Vitamin C and this oil is basically Vitamin C in a bottle, since maracuja is filled with it.  
  • Since it is an oil, it will feel very oily the minute you put it on, but it will settle on your skin and you wake up with the most radiant looking skin. 
  • I compared it with similar oils and it is not even remotely close to how good this one is. 
  • It smells bad!

Where to find it: Macy's, QVC, Ulta,  Amazon, Sephora or tartecosmetics.com

skyn iceland artic oil
Arctic Face Oil, composed of 99.9% Camelina Oil, is naturally sourced and cold-pressed to retain maximum nutrients. Extracted from the resilient Camelina Sativa plant, which thrives in sub-zero temperatures, it has a unique composition of 9 Essential Fatty Acids which enables it to survive in harsh weather. Most importantly, the Omega 3:6:9 ratio of this oil plays a critical role in normal skin function making this blend exceedingly curative and rejuvenating to skin. A natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, it also soothes, calms and protects skin.
— skyniceland.com

Price Tag: $35 (1.0oz)

Main Ingredient: Camelina Stavia Seed Oil, Tocopherol (just like Tarte!) and Helianthur Annus Seed Oil (wait, what?!).

Review: 

  • This oil has been making my skin look and feel as soft as a baby's butt.
  • Even though it doesn't have the best scent ever, it smells better than the maracuja oil.
  • I am more convinced now than ever that this is a pretty powerful dupe (in terms of results) for Sunday Riley's Luna Sleeping Night Oil. 
  • And just like Tarte's oil, Skyn Iceland is vegan and cruelty-free! <3

Where to find it: Ulta, Amazon or skyniceland.com.

Final Thoughts:

I will be re-purchasing Skyn Iceland's Artic Face Oil from now on. 


Do you use facial oils on the regular? Which one are you using right now?

Until next time, 

María Elena

 

Top Beauty Products of 2015

BeautyMaría ElenaComment

Yes people! I am alive. Want to know why I was missing? Because I don't think its fair for me or for you guys to post without any inspiration don't you think? The content would have been terrible. 

But to be 100% honest, I turned 25 this past November and I can't say I haven't had a mini quarter life crisis, even though I had a drafted post of "How I Got Over My Quarter Life Crisis Before it Happened" HA! I can be so optimistic at times. So as you can imagine, a lot of thinking, soul searching (super cheesy, I know) and after a weekend of cleaning, sleeping and just being with myself I can finally say I'm ready to start updating Ambinity for good this 2016! Sounds good right? 

Now, enough about the boring stuff... So what better way to start the year than by talking about all the good things from 2015?! YAAAS please. So here you go, my top beauty products from 2015:

 

Marshmallow Fireside Candle by Bath and Body Works

Why do I call this a "Beauty Favorite"? Because it helps me unwind before going to sleep. And we all know how important a good night sleep is for your beauty routine! This candle has been a favorite ever since BBW store opened in Puerto Rico. It's just how I like my candles: warm, vanilla-ish and with just a hint of spice. Heaven, just heaven. Fun Fact: I even like it more than my $65 candle. Yikes!

Cover FX Custom Cover Drops

I finally purchased this after watching Tati aka Glam Life Guru on Youtube rave about this on a First Impressions video. Even though this is definitely not a cheap foundation it is perfect for someone wanting save money due to its versatility. Just one drop mixed with your favorite moisturizer or sunblock makes it a tinted moisturizer. Want a bit more coverage? Upgrade to two, three or even four drops. Want a luminous look? Mix it in with your favorite liquid highlighter or facial oil. So many possibilities... I just love it!

Tarte 100% Maracuja Oil

Surprise? I don't think so. I don't know why but I kept trying different facial oils to see if it worked better, but nope! This oil loves my skin and I have been mixing it in with my Cover FX Custom Drops, which is working like magic. This would not be the first time I say this, but if you have oily skin, you need to try this asap

Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm

Although this is not 100% animal cruelty free, I had to include it because I have been using it every night throughout all 2015 (I purchased this before I officially became cruelty-free).  I am already looking for a dupe for this lip balm that actually compares to how velvety my lips felt even after cold and dry air. So I just ordered Glossier's The Balm Dot Com to see how it goes... As always, I'll keep you guys posted.

Sonia Kashuk's Eye Shadow Brush 

I've always thought you could apply eyeshadow with anything. Even your fingers, which is true. But when I got this brush everything changed. Not only does it feel super luxurious, it deposits the product on my eyelids perfectly. I've been specially loving this with my Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow.

Chloé Eau de Parfum

2015 is the year when I found my signature scent after years of wanting to switch from Miss Dior Cherie. It's not that I didn't like that scent, it's just that I smelled like that since High School and I was so over it! Chloe's scent is sophisticated yet youthful. It has a sweet but soft scent with a hint of spice I would say, but just go ahead and smell it by yourself. It could also be your signature scent. :)

Living Proof Sating Hair Serum

As you all know, I'm pretty low maintance with my hair, so I went from not wearing anything on my hair after I washed it to be entirely dependent on this stuff! It smells great and air drys my hair to perfection.

BeautyBlender

The original one. I tried the Real Techniques version of this for a while and I liked it, but not until I got the BeatyBlender on Sephora's VIB Sale. There should be a saying about "once you go beauty blender, you never go back", because let me tell you, I'm never using a brush to blend my foundation again.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal

If you've ever had a dull face day, you should buy this. Even if you have oily skin. I have oily skin and this gives my face a subtle glow that makes it look like I had 8 hours of sleep every day. I would suggest going for the travel size ($19) since a little goes a long way and that way you can really test it out before buying the $41 bottle.

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster

I never knew I needed a serum until I tried this. I love how it smells and how it makes my skin look and feel every morning after I've used this the night before. I have a complete review here.

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

Another super raved mascara that I was super excited to purchase since I found out this brand is cruelty-free! I don't know if it is better than sex but, it is definitely a great mascara. It's super dark, voluminizing and it can go from day to night with just one more coat. I will definitely be re-purchasing.

So that's it guys. I must say that I really missed writing, and I will definitely keep updating Ambinity throughout 2016, but with some changes. I'll keep you guys posted. ;)

See you soon!

María Elena

Ole Henriksen

Tarte's Maracuja Oil VS Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate

BeautyMaría ElenaComment

Guys sorry for the two day delay on this post! To be honest, as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I gotta change my routine to give you guys good content. Does this happen to any of you guys?  Anyhow, I wanted to start this new thing called "Beauty Battle", a new series in which I will be putting two products to the test and let you know which one I recommend and why.

This time, I wanted to write about my experience with facial oils, which has been quite interesting. When all this rave about facial oils started I was the first one saying it was crazy. I mean, why would you use oil on a greasy face?! Later I found out this actually helps your skin produce less oil since these products send the message to your skin that all the oil is provided already. Awesome right? My first try was Tarte's Maracuja Oil, a brand that I truly trust to experiment with any beauty trend. Then I wanted to test my luck with another beauty oil that had a great following and obsession among the beauty community: Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate. So without further due, here's my face to face (pun intended) review with these two:

Tarte's Maracuja Oil

First of all, did you know this is parcha oil?! I have a funny story here. When I purchased this, I was telling my mom I just ordered maracuja oil as this rare and natural thing that I was going to start putting on my skin to make it more beautiful. Then she looked at me with surprise and told me: "You're going to put parcha in your face?!". All my exotic feeling went away with her comment since here in Puerto Rico you can find this fruit everywhere, lol. But, as you guys know, putting parcha on my face has been a great experience, and I believe it's due to all the vitamin C it contains. 

As a disclaimer, it feels oily the minute you put it on, but after that, it just settles on your skin and you wake up with the most radiant looking skin. I'm not kidding. Just beware: it doesn't smell good... You can tell it's a natural product, but to be honest I think this is a good thing and you'll know why with my next review. 

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate

As I told you before, I bought this with great enthusiasm because the beauty community is obsessed with this oil and I had never tried a Kiehl's product before (I know, I'm super late on the hype!). First impression: OMG this smells great! It has a great strong smell that just makes you feel relaxed before going to sleep. Since I already used two bottles of Tarte's Maracuja Oil and loved it, I had great expectations for this super hyped product. But the end result? There was none. I didn't see any significant changes in my skin and I felt like it was a bit too oily for my taste when I woke up. Plus, even though I loved the smell, I ended up feeling like it shouldn't be good for my skin. My mom is using it for a week now and so far she has no complains, so I think this will be best if you have more mature skin. 

Final Verdict: Tarte's Maracuja Oil is a clear winner for me here and I can't wait to repurchase a jumbo size. I can even use it during the day, even though I have quite oily skin, which I still think is crazy! As for Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate, I would not recommend it for anyone with oily skin. If you have super dehydrated and/ or mature skin I would say go for it! You will love the smell and is definitely super moisturizing. 

So there you go guys! Ambinity's very first Beauty Battle. What did you guys think? Would you like to see more of these? Let me know in the comments bellow.