They say good things come in small packages, but in a society where we’re always stressing bigger, better, more, more, more, sometimes it seems hard to believe.  Luckily, Stephie is here to remind us just how great the “little things” really can be.

I die for beauty product samples and recently Sephora has been on a tear!  A number of very exciting minis have overhauled my usual summer skincare and makeup routine. A Beauty Insider VIP-sized sample of DDF Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizing Dew is my new defacto nighttime summer moisturizer. During the winter, I opt for a thicker formula, but this one is truly hydrating without leaving my face an oil slick. It’s heavy duty moisture without the weight. For seriously sticky days, I turn to Elemis Daily Shine Control, a treatment moisturizer for oily to combination skin that fights shine while it moisturizes.  Two birds, one sample.

Of course, all of this goes under Laura Mercier Oil Free Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20, or what many beauty buffs would call the best all-around light coverage product on the market.  Speaking of SPF, a facialist recently told me not to use SPF 15, but  rather 50 on my face, neck, décolleté and hands every day to prevent aging. I took SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 for a test drive.  Not only does it not stink, but it also goes on (YES, girls) in a strangely accurate human skin color not that creepy pasty white.  SkinCeuticals avers it a “universal tint.”  Somehow I believe it.

Sephora hit a sour note with a Father’s Day promotion giving samples of men’s products. Who gifts dad three tiny tubes of random skincare? Awkward.  Rather than waste these samples, I selected a few men’s cleansers I could test myself and compared them with a Kiehl’s specimen stolen from my husband’s drawer (he only gets one). The test confirmed that although men’s cleansers can be truly awesomely gritty (Clinique Skin Supplies for Men Face Scrub) and wonderfully experientially tabacco-y (Kiehl’s Energizing Facial Fuel Skin Buffer for Men) or energizing and brightening (Anthony Logistics for Men Facial Scrub), there are simply no men’s cleansers that can remove eye makeup- ya hear that Adam Lambert?

Forget a chihuahua in your handbag: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser is an eyeliner-wearing lady’s best friend. It is also somehow gentle enough that if you left a smidge on, it would be good for your complexion. It has a lovely scent and a famous gelatinous texture (if you tapped a bowlful, it would jiggle). It’s better than anything the boys have got, trust me.

Summer means light and fresh for color on the face too.  Guerlain Terracotta Skin Healthy Glow Foundation is the only bronzer that doesn’t look dirty on my very fair pink-undertoned skin and a Sephora sample is what introduced me to it, (kinda makes up for the father’s day weirdness). Fear not: this gel formula did not make me look like I walked into a dusty clay factory, like some powder bronzers – it actually made me look tan (what a concept)! Smashbox O-GLOSS
Intuitive Lip Gloss provides a pretty pink counterpoint. The O-GLOW (cheek version) will not work if you pile on hydrators, sunscreens and tinted moisturizers like I recommend above, because it needs to come in contact with both bare skin and air to work. But, O-GLOSS provides that magical same out-of-thin air magical fuschia branded just for you – it works with your lip chemistry to create a shiny, entirely non-sticky “custom shade of pink” (usually in the hello-kitty cuteness category).

Now get your summer sampling on and don’t forget to wear your sunnies!