26 August 2015

nars fall 2015 color collection

It's over 90° this week in LA, which obviously means that fall makeup collections are out in force. Fall releases are always my favorite, I love the deeper berries and browns and plums.

The dual intensity eyeshadows were first on my wishlist. A sheer wash or a rich smoky eye are effortless with both of these, and using them wet is not even necessary. Telesto is a stunning warm golden bronze that applies beautifully. I've been using it blended over black eyeliner along the lash line for a simple daytime look. Pasiphae looks like a normal duochrome at a glance, and it's described by NARS as a "shimmering peacock burgundy". However, it comes across as a complex olive green with a brown undertone. I don't notice a lot of color shift like you would with a regular duochrome. I like the effect of this all on its own as a light wash of color all over the lid, it gives a soft grungy look with a twist and pairs well with just about any bright or deep lipstick.

The velvet shadow sticks were the other big part of this collection. I decided to stick to the lighter, neutral colors. Neither color that I picked up has any glitter, at most there is a very fine shimmer that gives depth. They are so smooth and blend easily with fingers or a brush. Hollywoodland is a light warm pearly gold, it works great as a highlight, both on the eye and on the face. Again, no glitter here, just a soft golden sheen. Oaxaca is a soft neutral taupe with a satin finish that makes an easy wash of color. These have a similar texture to the Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks or the By Terry Ombre Blackstars, so if you are in the majority that love those I'm sure you'll love these as well. However because of that, I run into a similar problem. I need an oil based remover to remove swatches on my hand, but on my lids they remain annoyingly tacky throughout the day. I'll continue to use them as a base for powder shadow or with translucent powder on top, but I really hoped they would be more like the Mally, Clinique, or Chanel eyeshadow sticks which all work really well for me.

Shade & sunlight swatches. From left to right: Pasiphae, Telesto, Hollywoodland, Oaxaca

17 August 2015


Time to go through my trash! Empties are one of my favorite posts to read, so it's about time I share mine. I don't tend to finish things I don't like, so many of these are products that I repurchase often.

First up, so many mascaras! Waterproof is my preferred formula since they are the only thing that hold a curl for me. Makeup Forever Aqua Smoky Lash really brought the drama, it was tricky to apply evenly but gave thick, dark lashes once I got the hang of it. No length though, and actually smudged a little throughout the day. Urban Decay Cannonball Mascara is one of the most lengthening mascaras I've found, it is a fiber mascara so it can get a little out of control if you aren't careful. Not a lot of volume unless I layered it, which can be problematic with the fibers, and it left my lashes a little crunchy. Throughout all of these, I was using Maybelline Lash Discovery on my lower lashes. Worked well, but the extra time to use two mascaras just isn't worth it for me. Essence Lashmania Waterproof Mascara was a cheap one that had caught my eye. It did the job but nothing remarkable, it had a really large brush and smudged a little by the end of the day. L'Oreal Voluminous Waterproof was a favorite for a while as you can tell. Great daytime mascara that gave both subtle volume and length. This is the most truly waterproof mascara I've used, you can go swimming with this and not end up with raccoon eyes. My current favorite is actually the Carbon Black Waterproof version of this, it's a little more dramatic and doesn't leave my lashes quite as crunchy. I had a free sample of Lancome Definicils mascara which I didn't like at all. Surprising since it's such a cult favorite, but then again I should have known better than to try a non-waterproof.

Paul Mitchell Hot Off The Press is absolutely incredible for curling or straightening my hair. The curls will hold for two entire days. This is a must have for me, and this is one of probably three bottles I've gone through. MoroccanOil Medium Hold Hairspray is another must have, I've probably gone through five of these. I'm really picky with my hairspray, I can't handle the smell of any from the drugstore and they don't have the lasting power I demand. This one has that amazing signature scent, lasts all day, and doesn't get white or flaky. L'Oreal Elnett is another cult classic that I didn't get along with. I found the smell to be unbearable, and it lingered all day long.

BareMinerals Pressed Mineral Veil is still a favorite as you can see, however I started running into some trouble when I got really pale last winter. I started to notice a slight pink cast on my skin. From there I tried the NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder which is incredible, it really helps my foundation last longer and gives a diffused look to the skin that is hard to explain. The only problem is that it is really pricy for something that I finish in about a month. I found the Sonia Kashuk Chic Luminosity Glow powder at Target, I think it is supposed to be a dupe for the NARS powder at 1/3 the price. It performs similarly, but it has a more visible powdery look than the NARS one. I've been using the Sonia Kashuk for every day and saving the NARS for special occasions. Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder is another must have, I use this every day to set my under eye concealer. It brightens and prevents creasing all day, but never looks dry or powdery. I didn't realize how essential this was for me until I ran out!

Clinique Air Brush Concealer sat unused for a while because the SA convinced me to get a color that was a little too dark at the time. I ended up using as my under eye concealer when I had a tan last summer and it was fine. Not a lot of coverage which is to be expected from this type of concealer, but quick and easy to use. NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer is another must have for me. This was probably one of about three that I finished. I use Custard normally, and also have it in Ginger for when I have a tan. Creamy enough for under eyes, but dry enough to use on my face as well. 

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer is one of the few face primers that doesn't make me break out, it's very lightweight and gives my skin a really nice soft glowy finish. I went through several samples and travel sizes before I finally broke down and bought a full size at TMSLA. NYX Dewy Finish Setting Spray was my go to during the winter when my skin was a little drier. Actually, this reminds me that I have wanted to try the matte version now that I have oily summer skin.

I'll keep this one simple, Urban Decay Primer Potion is the classic, but NARS Pro Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base is significantly better in my opinion. My eyeshadow looks the same at the end of the day as when I first applied it. Almost done with a second tube right now.

Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer is just the perfect bronzer and contour shade for my skin. I finished the sample size and have since bought a full size version. Bonus points for smelling like cocoa powder! Fresh Sugar Mini Lip Balm in Rose was a really nice everyday tinted pink balm, until it melted and squished into an unusable disaster. Perhaps the full size ones are more durable, but I'm just not sure that it would be worth it for the price. Milani Eye Tech Extreme Liquid Eye Liner is the best pen-style eyeliner at the drugstore. It had a nice opaque deep black color, and that perfectly bendy felt tip that helped to get a thin black line. 

10 August 2015

kiko haul

KIKO is finally available in the US! Every time I see their products on European blogs I get so jealous, as if I needed another reason to dream of traveling to Italy. So, I spent about an hour adding and removing things from my online cart, and here's what I ended up with. 

(Apologies in advance for the photo quality, had some difficulties with my normal camera and took these all on my iPhone!)

The main thing I knew I wanted was their stick cream shadows. I have trouble with many common brands of these (Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown, even By Terry), they don't set on my lids and end up feeling sticky all day. I end up using them as bases for powder. These Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadows are not nearly as sticky as most, I can wear them on their own with minimal issues. 15 Lilac is a lot pinker than I was expecting, but is really nice as a sheer wash on the lid. It also makes a nice base to give depth to sheer powder shadows. 07 Golden Beige is the dud for me, hello chunky glitter. 06 Golden Brown however is a great simple warm shimmery brown color for an easy wash of color on the lids.  05 Rosy Brown is another awesome one and done type of color, it has a pinky purple undertone with a slightly silvery shimmer which gives it that wet look. This has a very similar effect to By Terry Misty Rock if you are looking for an affordable alternative!

Their Infinity Eyeshadows are, first of all, huge! They are 2g each, for reference a normal MAC single shadow is 1.3g. I went for some basic colors to get an idea of the formula. I expected 201 Sparking Silk to be a satin finish, but (as the name would imply) it is matte with some fine sparkle. Luckily when you use a brush most of the sparkle seems to dust away. The Infinity+ Sparkle Eyeshadow in 402 Chocolate is basically a wash of shimmer. It's relatively sheer and has a lot of fall out. I like the look of it pressed over the top of a colored cream shadow (Lilac works nicely!). 240 Mat Dark Taupe is exactly what I had wanted, a medium dark matte neutral brown that is perfect for contouring the crease. It's very smooth and blends easily, I can see this becoming a staple. I also bought the Eyes Clics 03 Palette to house all three shadows, but it's a total disappointment. I was hoping for a compact palette but this thing is huge, probably about 3/4" thick. Is it meant to store other products inside? You totally can if you want.

The Unforgettable Mascara sounded promising, it's described as a long lasting curling mascara. However it does not curl or hold a lash curler curl on my lashes, as expected. Only waterproof mascara seems to work for me unfortunately. The other problem with this is the strong smell, anyone with a sensitive noise should beware.

Universal Fit Hydrating Foundation was something I was curious to try after seeing it on Lily Pebbles blog. It has a really nice lightweight texture, thin consistency, and a light/medium coverage. It sets to a nice satin finish and I almost don't feel the need to use a setting powder. The color I picked, 13 Warm Beige, is a shade dark for me right now but should be perfect when I get a bit of a tan. For now I've been mixing it with a tinted moisturizer that is a little too light, and it makes a nice sheer everyday base applied with a beautyblender sponge.

I loved their selection of colored pen type eyeliners. Miami Click Slick Eyeliner 05 Vivacious Blue is so bright and perfect for a colorful summer look! It is a little sheer and needs 2-3 layers to reach full opacity, as shown in the swatches. The "click" style dispenser is far from perfect also, have a tissue handy for the extra. The Ultimate Pen Longwear Eyeliner in 03 Green is really fun. I've been wearing dark blue liner a lot recently so I've enjoyed switching it up with the dark green, the effect is subtle enough to still wear to work also. The quality is great, opaque in one swipe and very long wearing.

I couldn't finish up my order without trying a few lipsticks as well. Smart Lipstick 917 Mauve Pink is a very simple lipstick, the color comes across a little light and frosted on my pigmented lips so I'm not sure I'll get much wear out of it. The Ultra Glossy Stylo Lipstick in 805 Strawberry Pink is probably my favorite of the three. It has a thick glossy texture that is comfortable, long wearing, and flattering on lip lines. I'd like to get some other colors of this, the pink is fun but a little bright for everyday. Finally, the Crystal Sheer Lipstick in 406 Tropical Orange. The packaging on this is pretty terrible, bulky plastic and tricky to open. The color though is amazing, love the sheer tint of orange. Make sure to exfoliate your lips a little though, it's comfortable but does emphasize any flakiness.

29 March 2015

the makeup show los angeles 2015

I was lucky enough to be able to attend The Makeup Show Los Angeles again for the third time in a row! In case you don't follow me on Twitter (@subtle_days) or my new-ish Instagram (also @subtle_days), here are a few photos I had posted from the event.

As you can see, I was able to catch a few of the seminars. First up was "Uncovering Flawless Skin" with Jessie Powers for MAKE UP FOR EVER, the upper photo on the upper right corner is a photo. The second photo collage was from "Editorial Beauty Secrets" with Valerie Hernandez for Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics. Definitely not something you see everyday! 

I always try to get to the show as soon as it starts at 9am and shop first to avoid the big afternoon crowds. I was prepared with a list and a cash budget - and was quite proud of how closely I stuck to both! I've been playing with almost everything this afternoon so here's a haul with some first impressions.

The first stop was Makeup Forever, I've been wanting to try their Mist & Fix. With the current heat wave in LA this will be put to the test over the next few weeks!

At NARS, I picked up a backup of my favorite Light Reflecting Setting Powder in the pressed version. I go through these to quickly to pay full price. I also couldn't resist their new Single Eyeshadow in Valhalla to pair with the St-Paul-de-Vence Duo Eyeshadow that I picked up recently.

Ellis Faas is always a fun stop to play with their infamous "bullet" style makeup. I decided on the Creamy Eyes in E108 and Milky Lips in L206. The eyeshadow has a blendable, almost mousse, texture and makes a great light wash of color or a base for powders. The lipstick will definitely become a quick favorite, it's a neutral pinky brown color that will be perfect for everyday.

I was very interested in looking at Senna Cosmetics. After much deliberation at their booth I decided on the Form A Brow Eyebrow Stencil Kit in Neutral (A4490, A4409, A4554), the Pro Makeup Brush in Brow Pro 40, and the Small Eye Color in Copper 11J15. This is my first time using real brow powders and they are everything I had hoped for, the three tones are perfect for creating a natural looking full brow look. The brush pairs perfectly, it's much softer than brow brushes I've seen in the past, but is still able to draw precise thin lines. The eyeshadow was an impulse buy, the color just jumped out at me. As a reference point, the texture reminds me a lot of Makeup Geek shadows.

It's been sold out recently at the Inglot near me, so I was excited to finally be able to get the HD Sculpting Powder in 501, which is a yellow face powder. I'm excited to see if it's similar to the often talked about Anastasia banana powder. The Hakuhodo booth is always stunning with their brushes all beautifully lined up, and I finally decided to get one this year. I picked Brush BJ142, which is a medium sized goat hair eyeshadow crease brush. It's incredibly soft and will be perfect for blending  pigmented eyeshadows. I finished my tube from last year so I picked up another Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. My skin seems to really like this simple moisturizer, and all the makeup artists swear by it. Another exciting purchase was from Beautylish, they were there with their newest launch, Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Water which is now easily available to those of us here in the US through their website!

My final stop was Nigel's Beauty Emporium booth. I picked up the Beautyblender Micro Minis which work so well with concealer and cream highlighters, and a large bottle of  the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer since I keep finishing every sample of it that I can get my hands on. It's the best primer I've tried that both makes foundation application smoother and extends the wear.

A fun and exhausting day, and I don't think I'll be purchasing any new makeup for the next month or two... Let me know if you have had the opportunity to attend The Makeup Show yet, and what your favorite part is!

15 March 2015

nars kalahari duo eyeshadow

I recently pulled out an old favorite from the back of my makeup drawer, the NARS Kalahari duo. I've had this photographed for ages but never got around to posting it!

The right side is a perfect one color all over lid shade. It is a perfect medium lightly shimmery brown taupe. I find myself reaching for it often as an easy work appropriate color with some black or navy liner, or to pair with a statement lipstick to give my eyes some definition.

Everything above can be said for the left side as well, except its a much warmer color with refined shimmer, closer to bronze. I like the effect when I use the NARS Iskandar eye paint all over, and this shade in the crease.

Of course these shades pair together perfectly as well, I like the bronze on inner half of the lid and the taupe on the outer half and through the crease blended out. Both are creamy and blend very easily, especially over any type of primer or cream base. Different color cream bases are always fun to create different effects as well.