A few months back, Sephora had their yearly VIB 20% off sale. I was a good girl (aka, somebody who doesn't make a lot of money), and I held off buying anything in the hopes that many of the winter kits and clearance items would go on a deep discount later on. Sure enough, Sephora reduced the price of many-a-sample-set AND added a 20% discount on all clearance items. I was able to get the Josie Maran Winter Dreams kit for $28, plus 20% off, instead of the original $34.
Here's the original packaging for the Winter Dreams kit. It contained the following items:
- Coconut Watercolor Eye Shadow in Rose Gold, 0.16oz (full size); retails for $18.
- Argan Black Oil mascara, 0.17oz (deluxe sample); full size is 0.27 and retails for $22.
- 100% Pure Argan Oil Light, 0.5oz (full size); retails for $16.
- Argan Illuminizer, 0.5oz (deluxe sample); full size is 1oz and retails for $28.
- Argan Infinity Lip and Cheek Oil in Limitless Pink, 0.16oz (deluxe sample); full size is 0.5oz and retails for $18, OR you can get a box of 2 deluxe samples for $16.
You probably noticed a ton of coconut and argan in Josie Maran's product names. This is because her line is famous for containing "nourishing oils," primarily--you guessed it--coconut oil and argan oil. In fact, the line got famous for its original Argan Oil, which a lot of people use on their skin, hair, and cuticles. I, however, am not particularly interested in Argan Oil; at the time of this posting, I actually have the bottle from this set up for sale.
The header image also includes a deluxe sample of the Infinity Lip and Cheek Oil in Timeless Coral, which is not included in this set. I actually purchased it in aforementioned deluxe sample duo several months back. (The other shade in the duo, Everlasting Honey, is part of my current giveaway prize!)
Because these products are all quite liquidy and contain oils in the base, you'll want to shake up or knead the bottles/tubes before usage. Otherwise, the pigment may separate from the rest of the formulation.
Enough of the technicalities--let's get on to the products!
Argan Illuminizer -- This is an incredibly creamy and pigmented liquid highlighter. It has a distinct gold color--compare it to the slightly pink MUFE Uplight #11 and the outright white Becca Pearl--and plenty of luminosity. Despite the fact that it looks very opaque and kind of scary in this swatch, it's actually very easy to sheer this product out: just use the tiiiiiiniest amount, or mix it with a bit of foundation. That can be a bit hard to do, however, because the pump is difficult to control, and even the half-a-pea size drop of product it produces on each pump is way too much. This is definitely a "sheeny" highlighter, with some very faint sparkle that can be detected in bright sunlight. I think it's GORGEOUS...but unfortunately, that warm gold color never looks quite right on my pale skin. :( This shade is more suited to medium to dark skintones. If they make more shades of this product, I'll definitely consider purchasing a full bottle. 5 out of 5.
Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow in Rose Gold -- Holy crap, where have these been all my life?! Granted, I have a weakness for liquid and cream shadows, but these are particularly phenomenal. Rose Gold is more of a coppery shade on me than an actual rose gold, but it's still very beautiful, and I could see it working on a lot of skintones. The product takes about 30 seconds to set. On the bright side, this gives you time to get in there with a brush and blend out the shade. On the bad side, if you blink too soon, the product can crease. Even after drying, this product maintains a wet, foiled look that photographs never do justice to. This is a great product for people like me who like "one eyeshadow looks" and a glossy sheen. Just one word of caution: people with oily eyelids will want to use a primer. 5 out of 5.
Argan Infinity Lip and Cheek Oils in Timeless Coral and Limitless Pink -- These got a lot of bad press when they were first released. Reviewers claimed that they had zero lasting power and faded quickly from both the lips and cheeks. Some people also stated that they were incredibly greasy. I have to disagree on two of those three counts. First of all, the texture of these is really beautiful: they're similar to the newer Becca Beach Tints, but even creamier and smoother. A small dab goes a long way, and they apply to my lips and cheeks with incredible ease. I think that a lot of the initial reviewers had oilier skin types, and this is definitely a product for normal to dry skin: even though my lips and skin are even dryer than usual in the winter, these sit comfortably on my skin and maintain a bit of a glow. They do not parch my lips or emphasize the dryness of my cheeks. That being said, I get a good 6 hours of wear out of these on my cheeks...and maybe 2 hours on my lips, if I'm lucky. Bonus points, though, for being one of the few products designed for lips and cheeks that actually works for both. 4 out of 5.
Argan Black Oil mascara -- I was incredibly excited to try this mascara because it promised a creamy, pitch black formula, and that's my favorite kind of mascara. And the formula is, indeed, quite creamy and dark; it feels luxurious to apply it to my lashes, and it makes them incredibly black. I get some length and volume out of this product, and it does hold a curl. However, I think most of the volume is a bit of an optical illusion, ie, "My lashes look thicker because they're so dark." Still, it's a really beautiful look, and I'd gladly continue wearing this mascara if I could. Unfortunately, this thing flakes like crazy. I have no idea why, because it isn't a dry formulation, but the Black Oil mascara starts to flake while I'm applying it. I have to dust off the fallout with a powder brush. Within 4 hours, I have black smudges all around the corners of my eyes and plenty of dark, dark flakes. So sad. 2 out of 5.
Here's a photo of me wearing one layer of the Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow in Rose Gold, the Lip and Cheek Oil in Limitless Pink on my lips and cheeks, the Black Oil mascara, and the Argan Illuminizer on my cheekbones and under my brow. As you can hopefully see, these products all sit very nicely on my dry skin. None of them dried me out or emphasized my parched skin, which is absolutely phenomenal. They're very effortless, natural products, the "easy" stuff I'd wear on a day-to-day basis. The only disappointment for me is the Black Oil mascara, but I have plenty of other mascaras I adore, so that's not a total loss.
I will note that I think the Josie Maran line is geared more towards dry-skinned people. This is great news for me, of course, but oily-skinned people may want to look elsewhere for their "natural look" products. (Pssst: I would suggest trying Becca or Bobbi Brown.) That being said, the liquid eyeshadows will probably impress plenty of people with their great texture and beautiful finish, and anybody who wants a glow could try out the highlighter.