Review: Valentia Night Revive Retinol Serum

I received this samples to test and keep from BrandBacker and Valentia, but the opinions in this post are honest and entirely my own. Besides the product, I was not compensated in any other way. Read my disclosure policy here.

Now that I’m 26(!), I’m taking my skincare routine way more seriously. I’m also trying to taking my budgeting seriously, so I rely on great, affordable brands like Valentia. I’m still using my detoxifying clay mask about once a week and now I’m adding their Night Revive Retinol Serum to my routine.

Valentia Retinol Serum Review | Shades of Sarah

Retinol (vitamin A) is kind of a big deal when it comes to anti-aging — it helps prevents wrinkles, evens out skin tone and  handles breakouts. Now, I definitely has issues with redness and breakouts, and I am starting to see some fine lines on my forehead (boo!). So I was curious if I would see any improvements by trying this product about twice a week. (By the way, Valentia’s retinol serum also includes vitamin C and E and — bonus — is cruelty-free.)

It’s been a couple weeks since I started using this serum, and here’s what I can tell you so far…

  • There was some more redness and breakouts when I first started using it. From what I’ve read from other bloggers, though, this is to be to expected. There was also some peeling, which I was not a fan of. Retinol is intense, and not really recommended for daily use.
  • Since the first week, my skin has calmed down some. I have oily/combination skin, and it’s feeling balanced I would say. I’m not the best about applying SPF on a daily basis, but I make sure to do so the mornings after using this serum.
  • Using this makes me want to really nail down a nighttime skincare routine. Next up: finding a light night cream that won’t leave my face too slick.

Interested in trying retinol for yourself? Get it on Amazon for $35 or check out their websiteInstagram, and Facebook. I’m definitely going to keep using this — this cute, little bottle is a few months’ supply, so we’ll see how my skin is at the end of it!

~ Sarah

Embrace Yourself With Vera Wang Fragrances

This post was sponsored by Vera Wang Fragrances as part of an Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products and other compensation to facilitate my review.

Growing up, like many girls, I would watch my mom perform her beauty rituals: body lotion, makeup, perfume. When I was little, I was very sensitive to the scent of perfume, but now it seems to be a mark of sophistication. Like you’re a pulled-together twentysomething once you have a “signature scent.”

Figuring out that signature scent though? It can be tricky, especially on a budget. The good news is that Kohl’s carries the super luxe and affordable Vera Wang Embrace fragrance collection. The newest fragrance is Marigold and Gardenia, a sweet scent for summer that reminds me of white sangria. Actually, maybe it’s a good idea to spritz some on before grabbing some summery drinks for a date night. 😉

Vera Wang Embrace | Shades of Sarah

When you’re rushing out the door, a fancy fragrance might not be one of your nonnegotiables. In a way, that’s the power of a signature spritz — you’re happy to put yourself together and add those final touches to your ensemble. (Since I work above a warehouse, I wear jeans nearly all day, every day now. I need all the fancy I can get.) Marigold and Gardenia is floral and fresh enough to elevate even a casual summer outfit can be elevated with this fresh floral scent. There’s something cool and yep, sexy, about that.

Vera Wang Embrace | Shades of Sarah

Turns out finding a fun fragrance doesn’t have to be an intimindating thing! For only $29.99, you can try the new scent and grab one for your mom or best friend. (Green tea and pear blossoms? You might be next.) Or you could be one of the lucky few to win the whole collection by entering Influence Central’s giveaway! (P.S. Giveaway is open until July 12th.)

Vera Wang Embrace Fragrance Collections

Have you tried finding your signature scent?

~ Sarah

Review: Valentia Detoxifying Clay Mask

I received this samples to test and keep from BrandBacker and Valentia, but the opinions in this post are honest and entirely my own. Besides the product, I was not compensated in any other way. Read my disclosure policy here.

Valentia Skin Detoxifying Clay Mask | Shades of Sarah

I didn’t start experimenting with face masks until last year, but I was quickly hooked. They’re fun and effective, but the drugstore ones I was trying are so full of not-so-fun ingredients. I was excited to try Valentia, a new-to-me cruelty-free brand that specializes in natural and organic ingredients. I tried the Valentia Skin Detoxifying Clay Mask, which is available on Amazon and their website. It’s made with kaolin clay, hibiscus and cranberry fibers, and is made in the U.S. (another bonus!).

Valentia Clay Mask | Shades of Sarah

When I first applied the mask I was a little nervous because there was a tingling sensation, but it didn’t last long and I didn’t experience any other discomfort as the mask dried. I tend to use masks before hopping into the shower, and I liked that the mask is made with some natural exfoliators for scrubbing action. My skin felt nice and smooth afterwards (I have relatively low-key oily/combination skin, so I don’t need nor expect a dramatic transformation).

I’ve been using it about twice a week or so, and I haven’t found it to be overly drying or anything. It’s keeping well, which is something I worry about with more natural-based products. Although the packaging isn’t anything special, I actually like the mask coming in a tub versus a tube (whereas I prefer pumps for eye creams). I’m definitely interested in trying more Valentia products, so it’s a good thing they’re having a sale for the rest of May! Use code REFRESH35 for 35% off your order on (free shipping on orders $30 and over). Let me know if you try anything! You can also follow Valentia on Facebook and Instagram.

~ Sarah