I kicked off a new blog series titled Return to Sender last year where I review disappointing products that I purchased & returned because they didn’t meet my expectations or work for me. As a beauty blogger, it’s important for me to be completely honest about the products that I purchase, whether they work out great for me or not. This series is not intended to bash or “hate” any particular product or brand. It’s just my opinion based on my own personal experience trying these products out. Your experience and opinion may be different, which is totally fine. It always makes me happy when my friends find products they love, even if they don’t work out for me. With that said, let’s get started.
1. Milani Contour & Highlight Cream & Liquid Duo
I love Milani Cosmetics, and I rarely come across a product that I don’t like from this brand. Unfortunately, this was one of those rare products. This product has a contour stick on one end and a liquid highlighter on the other side. The highlighter has somewhat of a liquid eyeshadow consistency. It’s not too thick but not too thin. I found it difficult to blend out without moving my makeup underneath…. actually, it was difficult to blend out, period. It doesn’t have a high-shine finish for those seeking a highlighter with a bright, metallic look. I just couldn’t get this side of the product to work, but I was willing to keep it if the contour stick was fabulous. It wasn’t. It was actually incredibly disappointing. I regularly use contour sticks and love the ease and blendability that most of them have. This one blends into the skin and completely disappears. It didn’t matter what type of brush I used or how much pressure I applied to blend it out, it disappeared into nothing within a few seconds. After applying this product, you are left with either a stark contour line that requires blending or you are left with nothing…after the product melts completely into the skin or else absorbs 100% into the brush, not sure which. This sadly went back to the store.
- Price: $11 retail (Price may vary at drugstores)
- Where to Purchase: Walgreens
2. Nude Skincare Perfect Cleanse Omega Cleansing Jelly
This product is a cleansing Jelly that applies as a jelly and turns into a milk when mixed with water. I originally heard about this cleanser from watching Stephanie Nicole. She raves about this cleanser and uses it primarily as her morning cleanse. Since we have the same skin type, and I have been in the process of overhauling my cleanser supply, I decided to give this a try. This product was available primarily on Sephora’s website, but it’s currently out of stock. It was available on sale for a clearance price when I purchased it, so I’m unsure of Sephora’s plans to restock again.
I don’t have anything horrible to say about this product honestly, but I didn’t feel like it offered anything amazing above and beyond my other cleansers. I actually like the feel and results of my other cleansers much better than the Nude Perfect Cleanse. The Perfect Cleanse is OK, but I don’t personally believe it deserves the large hype it’s been getting. For $26.60 (a clearance sale price) for 3.4 oz, I expect much better than “ok.” On the positive side, this cleanser doesn’t strip the skin and make it feel tight or dry after using, which is very important whether you have dry skin or oily skin. This is not a “foaming” cleanser, which is a good thing. Foaming cleansers are known to dry out the skin and strip the skin of good oils and hydration.
Overall, this is a decent cleanser, but nothing great or miraculous, and I returned this in favor of my existing cleanser supply (stay tuned for a blog on my recommendations soon).
- Price: $26.60 (clearance price)
3. Milani Spotlight Face & Eye Strobe Palette
Unfortunately I purchased 2 Milani products recently that didn’t work well for me personally, and the Spotlight Face & Eye Strobe Palette was the second one. I purchased this palette in the shade Sun Light, which contains shades that will work best for medium / tanned skin tones. The palette is currently available in 3 shade options: 01 Sun Light, 02 Candle Light, and 03 Golden Light. Each palette has 3 shades in it which can be blended together to provide a 4th shade or used individually. The individual shades are best used as a highlighter, bronzer, and blush. I have included swatch photos of the Sun Light palette. The colors in this palette were too dark for my skin tone, but that’s not why I returned it or included it on this list.
The formula is incredibly dry when I touch it with my fingers. It honestly feels as if someone left the pan sitting open for several months and let the product completely dry out. That obviously didn’t happen since the product came sealed and is fairly new to the market.
On a positive note, it’s not powdery and doesn’t kick up dust when you rub a brush into the pan. Even though the individual shades don’t work for my skin tone, I love the shade created when you take a brush a swirl them all together. Combined, it comes across as a rose gold shade with bronze undertones.
I just can’t get past the dryness. When I tried to applying it to my cheeks, it didn’t look good either; it looked dry. Any time you remove hydration from a product where it feels as dry as this one, it will usually emphasize any imperfections on you right skin such as fine lines, pores, dry skin, etc. No thanks. This went back to Walgreens.
- Price: $13 retail (price may vary at drugstores)
- Where to Purchase: Walgreens
4. Essence Pure Nude Highlighter
Yes, you read that correctly. I realize there’s recently been a ton of hype around this affordable, drugstore highlighter, but it just didn’t work out for me. It actually didn’t work out at all. My expectations normally aren’t very high for a drugstore highlighter, especially at this price point, but the positive reviews and blogs on this product raised my expectations higher than normal.
The Essence Pure Nude Highlighter isn’t advertised to give you a bright attention-grabbing glow but instead should provide a subtle, natural highlighting effect for every day use. Subtle doesn’t even begin to describe the effect that this highlighter gave me. It’s virtually non-existent, as you can see in the photo (shown right). You can see (maybe) that it’s very close to my skin tone, but that shouldn’t prevent it from providing a glow of some kind to my skin. In person, the highlighter appears more as a translucent powder. I tried applying it with a variety of different brushes, my fingers, and even tried removing the top layer of the product to ensure it wasn’t coated by a film of som sort…. all to no avail.
I’m actually interested in hearing feedback from others who have tried this recently. If you have tried it out, please comment below or on my Instagram feed and share your thoughts with me.
- Price: $4.49
- Where to Purchase: Ulta
5. Tarte Colored Clay CC Eye Primer Stick
I have been on the hunt for an eye primer that has color correcting technologies built in, counteract my hereditary dark eyelids and circles under my eyes. I’ve tried so many different products that were recommended by beauty vloggers, and it’s been very difficult finding something that can stand up to the challenge. Tarte has several products for sale as they make room for their new 2017 product lineup, so I grabbed a couple of eye primers / color correctors for the eyes and one for the face. Unfortunately, this Colored Clay CC Eye Primer Stick didn’t meet my expectations. I knew I was taking a risk because the reviews were pretty low for this product. However, upon detailed inspection, the low reviews were because of the packaging and not because of the product’s performance, so I gave it a chance. It did nothing to color correct the darkness on my eyelids and circles under my eyes. Instead, I found it rather slippery, almost oil-like in texture, and it just slipped all over my skin. It was horrible, to be honest. I don’t know if I received a bad product or if the others are the same. I can’t imagine applying makeup over this product. It’s so slick that it would just wipe right off, and it doesn’t even provide the color correcting benefits that it advertises.
Price: $21 regular / $12 clearance (subject to change)
Where to Purchase: Tarte
6. Tarte Colored Clay CC Primer
The Colored Clay CC Primer is advertised as a color correcting primer and mult-tasking skin perfector
that provides an even, airbrushed look. Tarte states that it can be worn under foundation as a primer or alone for “light coverage.” It’s available in 5 shades match most skin tones. It appears that Tarte is clearing this product out on their website to make room for new products. Aside from my eyes, I don’t have a ton of areas on my face that require color correcting. I do have a little redness on my cheeks, but that’s about it. My point is that this product didn’t have much work to do, but it didn’t really do anything at all. When I rubbed the stick onto my face, it just melted into my skin. I didn’t see any difference in the color, texture, evenness, or anything. It’s certainly not a product that provided “light coverage” where I could wear it alone without any foundation. Even though I got this relatively inexpensive for 50% off, I returned it. Not worth the $15.
Price: $34 regular / $15 clearance (subject to change)
Where to Purchase: Tarte
7. The Ordinary Skincare Products
I recently purchased 3 products from The Ordinary: The Vitamin C Suspension, Matrixyl 10%, and Lactic Acid 10%. I returned every single product that I purchased. I wrote a thorough review detailing my short test of these products. It’s been 3 weeks since I stopped using them, and my skin is still recovering from the damage that was caused. In short, I experienced chemical burns from the Vitamin C and deep, cystic acne from the Matrixyl. The Lactic Acid didn’t seem to work at all. For more information, including prices and links to where you can purchase, please head over to my review here.
8. ColourPop Topaz Pressed Powder Face Duo
ColourPop has recently been trying their hands at pressed powder formulations of eyeshadows, and this duo was their first attempt at a powder highlighter and bronzer. They recently announced that all Super Shock bronzers were being discontinued, but I can only hope that they delay that plan until after they can improve their powder formulas a bit. Their eyeshadows are fine. This highlighter duo is horrible! Let’s start with the shade. Originally this duo was advertised to be for medium to tan skin tones. In reality, will only work for people with a deep tan or dark skin. It’s definitely not for people with fair skin or even light/medium skin.
The worst part of this is the glitter and texture. I couldn’t get the highlighter to grab onto a brush at all. When swiping or swirling a fan brush into the palette, it just flicked glitter all over the place, but it would never grab the actual product onto the brush. I tried to create a swatch using my fingers, and that was equally as horrible. The highlighter applies very patchy. Chunks of color would deposit onto the skin sporadically, while leaving patches of bare skin throughout the swatch. It is completely unusable. ColourPop does not offer refunds or exchanges, but I contacted them about this issue and included photos and video to back up my claims. In return, they graciously gave me a certificate for the value of the product that I could apply to a future purchase. I give them huge kudos for their customer service.
9. Eylure Vlogger Series Lashes
Who doesn’t want long, full, lushes like Nicole Guerriero? As soon as the Eylure Vlogger Series hit the market, I was going from store to store to find them. They’re primarily available at Walgreens, where you can find them in stores or online (depending on availability). I purchased 3 different styles even though, I admit, I didn’t know the other vloggers in the series. Each set comes with a “type”of lashes listed on the bottom of the box. Here’s what I purchased:
- Nicole Guerriero – Define
- Ann Le – Volume
- Nikki Phillippi – Lengthen
From what I understand, Nicole Guerriero has 2 different sets available, the ONEFOURTHREE lash and the Casually Glamorous. My local store only had the ONEFOURTHREE in stock, so that’s what I bought. This is the fuller, glam-like lash that is best for special occasions versus every day use. The set by Nikki Phillippi, MidnightMeow, came the closest to an every day lash set that I could find. None of these are really for beginners. There are more options available online, including lashes by KrazyRayRay. It appears that each vlogger has 2 lash options available each.
I wish I would have opened one of the boxes at the store because it would have saved me the trouble of going back to return them the next day. These lashes literally felt like thick plastic spiders, similar to a plastic toy spider you see around Halloween. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. These were so thick, hard, bulky, and inflexible. I honestly can’t imagine putting them any wear near my eyes! At the same time I bought these, I bought several other false eyelash sets by Ardell and another company, and none of those had the same thick, hard plastic texture to them. Honestly, I didn’t even try these on my eyes. I knew they wouldn’t work and that they would be far too uncomfortable to wear. I couldn’t even handle them with my fingers without them feeling hard and prickly. The box says “Featherlight feel,” but that’s not true at all. How disappointing! These should have been made with something that felt like real hair, not like they were made as a cheap toy for under $1. For drugstore lashes, they’re not cheap either.
Price: $8.99 can vary
Where to Purchase: Walgreens – Direct links to each lash available below:
Did you try products recently that didn’t meet your expectations? Comment below or head over to my Instagram page to chat about it!