Thursday, January 8, 2015

2014 favorites

Better late than never! Here are some of the things I couldn't stop using throughout 2014. Although I am always playing with new products, these are my dependable staples that are used daily or rotated in often.

Starting with the base products...
Pixi Glow Tonic is still number one, I basically order it in bulk at this point. Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer is easily my favorite primer, I've gone through several samples and small sizes but can't bring myself to spend the money on a full size. NARS Sheer Glow is the foundation I always seem go back to no matter what. I finally picked up a summer shade this year, Barcelona. For concealer, I can't even count how many times I've repurchased NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. I've explored some heavy duty concealers this year, but NARS can't be beat for it's ease of use on a daily basis. NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder is another one I've repurchased several times, it's perfect in every way except the price... please let me know if you have any suggestions for an affordable alternative! I started out with a mini size of Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer, and found that I couldn't live without it after it ran out. It's not very "bronze" in tone which makes it great as a quick one step contour/bronze. Early in the year I was all about the cream blush, and Le Blush Crème de Chanel in Révélation was my go to. Later on in the year I fell in love with the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes. I reviewed Radiant Magenta originally, but I've since fallen hard for Diffused Heat. It's just perfection on my skin tone. Hard Candy So Baked Bronzer in Tiki has been my long time daily highlight for a soft golden glow, bonus points for affordability. This one is still my fast favorite, but it's "special occasion only" since it was limited edition. I'm terrified to use it up!

On to eye products...
Anastasia Tinted Brow Gel is one of those less flashy products that I use every single day without even thinking, until I tried something different and realized just how perfect the Anastasia one is. No flaking or smudging, it looks natural, and it's easy to apply. I rotate through an embarrassing amount of eyeshadows, but I surprised even myself with how much I reached for my NARS Narsissist Palette. Everything I need in one perfectly packaged and portable. Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze also must be mentioned here, it's what I reach for everytime I'm in a rush for an easy wash of color. No matter what eyeshadow I use however, NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base is underneath it. I used to be dedicated to Urban Decay, but this easily beats it. Eyeliner winner has to go to Milani Eye Tech Extreme Liquid Eye Liner for being both affordable and excellent quality. I had to dig this one out of my empties bag for the photo, I've probably gone through 3 of these in the last year. If only it was available in colors other than black! I've also had a slight obsession with navy eyeliner this year, and Mally Evercolor Starlight Waterproof Eyeliner in Sailor was probably the one I reached for the most (NARS Eyeliner Stylo in Atlantic is a close second). I can't stick to one mascara, but if I had to pick one, L'Oreal Voluminous Waterproof has been my most repurchased. Truly waterproof, holds a curl, and mostly clump free.

And finally, lip products...
This was way to difficult. I just have SO MANY and could never narrow it down. I still love the Bare Minerals, Clarins, and have also recently been blown away by the new NARS Audacious line and the new Chanel lip glosses. You can pretty much always find a MAC lipstick or a Revlon lip butter in my purse. However, the one that I had to show is Maybelline Baby Lips in Cherry Me. This is my easy, no thought choice to grab for a flush of color that is incredibly comfortable to wear. It's like that comfy pair of jeans that you throw on without ever having to really think about it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

lazy sunday: summer eye shadow favorites

I found myself incredibly busy at work this summer, and every weekend was packed with activities. Now that I finally have a chance to breathe, here's a quick look at the eye shadows that I have been wearing some combination of non-stop. In a hurry? Try a quick wash of NARS Himalia, I've found fingers to be the easiest way to apply. Don't forget the eyeliner though, a blue adds some subtle contrast. For the easy every day look with some definition, try Chanel Mirage with Milani Bella Bronze in the crease. And for the ultimate bronze look, try NARS Isolde on the lid with Bobbi Brown Camel in the crease. It's hard to go wrong with any combination of the above.

Speaking of blue eyeliner, I've been on the hunt for a good one and NARS  Eyeliner Stylo in Atlantic is perfection. Their extra fine felt tip makes application a breeze, and the color manages to add both definition and subtle contrast. Think sophisticated blue, not 80's blue.

Quick bonus favorite - Chanel Nail Polish in Holiday has been on my nails non-stop all summer. How could I possibly resist this orange perfection after reading this post???

Sunday, October 19, 2014

lord & berry eye liners & lipsticks

Featuring PR samples

It's going to be all classic French style today, red lips and black eye liner. After I reviewed the Runway Lip Crayons, Lord & Berry offered to send me some of their products from their standard line. I've always wanted to try the brand since it is not readily available in the US but I often see it featured by British bloggers. For those of us in the US, it has limited availability through ASOS. As a bonus, it seems to be showing up on Hautelook starting Monday, 10/20/14.

Velluto Eye Pencil & Shadow. This is one of the more interesting products, it's the opposite of long wearing liners and is made to smudge and blend easily. This is easy to use when I want a soft blended eyeliner look, or a quick smoky blended under-eyeshadow look.

Luxury Liner Eye Liner. This is a mechanical style liner with long wearing finish. It is my hands down favorite of the bunch and I find myself reaching for it almost everyday. It has a waxy texture which I really prefer, and a medium black color.

Smudgeproof Waterproof Eye Liner. This is very similar to the Urban Decay 24/7 liners or Rimmel Scandaleyes. It has that soft creamy texture that everyone seems to love, however I can't use them because of my contact lenses. (I'm curious if anyone else has this issue!)

Paillettes Eye Pencil. This is a basic pencil liner with silver glitter. I've only used this on a few occasions when I want something a little different at night. I'm not really into glitter, although it is relatively subtle glitter. I haven't noticed any fallout.

Sketch Eye Shadow Pencil. This is creamy smooth black cream shadow perfection. Anyone looking for thick black liner, or the perfect black cream eyeshadow should get this. Opaque, blends easily, and sets, this is the perfect base for any smoky eye look.

Eye liner swatches:

H2Ohhh! Designer Lip Gloss in 4250. Smooth and moisturizing lip gloss that reminds me of the NYX Butter Glosses. On it's own it really gathers into lip lines. I don't really wear nudes though, so the only way I've used this is on top of other lipsticks to tone them down a little.

20100 Crayon Lipstick in Scarlett. A rich creamy true red lip pencil. Slightly moisturizing but not at all long wearing. Love this worn lightly as a soft hazy stain.

Vogue Semi-Matte Lipstick in Red. This is a lovely creamy matte lipstick. It's not really moisturizing, but it doesn't dry out my lips either, and like most matte lipsticks it is long wearing. A powerful orange-red that really makes an impact.

Lipstick swatches:

Everything I received was, if not suited to my personal tastes, very solid quality. I am looking forward to seeing what products are available through Hautelook tomorrow, perhaps I will be able to pick up some eye shadows and other lipstick colors. No such thing as too much lipstick!

Disclosure: These items were sent to me free of charge. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

nars summer 2014 color collection

At the NARS booth for TMSLA, they were including a card with purchase for 20% off at their Melrose location. I visited the boutique back around the end of April just when their new summer collection was released, and was incredibly impressed with both the layout of the boutique and the friendly and talented artists. They unexpectedly offered to do my makeup in order to really "play around" with all of the new products. It was one of the best experiences I've had with a makeup artist and suffice to say, I left with a lot of new makeup tips and a smaller bank account.

The first must have item that I knew I wanted was the new Contour Blush ($42). I was going to get the medium shade, Paloma, but they talked me into getting the lightest shade, Olympia. I'm glad they did, because it is a foolproof subtle daytime contour color (I'll still be sticking with my Kevin Aucoin Sculpting Powder for evenings). After playing around on my own for the past few weeks, I've found this to be a very unique product. The contour shade has a definite pink tone, but not really enough to be a normal blush. I like to use it right below my cheekbone, but above where I would normally contour. It gives the subtle effect of wearing both. While the highlight side is incredibly subtle on the face because it's matte, the NARS artist said her favorite way to use it is as a browbone highlight.

Next up were the new summer collection eyeshadows. The single in Malacca ($25) was the obvious choice, especially once I swatched it and they applied it. For having such a duochrome appearance in the pan, it can be applied softly and blended out look like a complex brown shade, or easily built up to it's smoky max. I had a difficult time deciding between the Tropical Princess and Lost Coast duos ($35 each). Lost Coast seemed like the more obvious wearable choice at first, but this is where the NARS artist pretty much blew my mind. The secret to the Tropical Princess duo is layering. First she used the golden shade in the Isolde duo all over the lid (now on my wish list, by the way). Next she put Malacca in the outer corner and really blended it out and into the crease. The final step was to layer the green shade from Tropical princess over the lid, and the entire look just popped in this perfect, subtle way. I can't get enough now of layering both the green and purple over everything. It looks especially nice under the eye as well for a subtle pop of color. It can even be easily built up on it's own if that's your thing (gorgeous and unique on pale skin as seen here).

The last item I was sold on was their Yachiyo Kabuki brush ($55). I've been wanting a brush like this for a long time, in particular the Hakuhodo one, but the price has really held me off. Figured with the 20% off and the expert guidance from the NARS artist on how to use it, now was as good a time as any to go for it. The trick to using the Yachiyo is to hold it from the very end, and let the flexible handle and stiff/soft brush do all the blending work for you. It makes every blush from subtle to intensely pigmented blend like a dream.

I'm still lusting after the Iraklion Soft Touch Shadow Pencil and the Lost Coast eyeshadow duo that I resisted. Another trip to the NARS Melrose boutique is probably in order soon!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

lazy sunday: summer foundations

So, I've suddenly become tan. It sort of snuck up on me. This means it's time to pull out some of those "too dark" foundations, or use it as an excuse to pick up some new ones I've been wanting to try. So here are my current favorites that I've been using a lot recently, with my thoughts on what I love (and don't love) about them. Keep in mind that my skin is very much combination and I breakout easily.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Foundation SPF 15 in Warm Beige ($48, $33.75 at CCO):
I've wanted this foundation for a LONG time, and when I finally made a trip to the Cosmetics Company Outlet about 3 weeks ago and saw it for only $33.75, it was the first thing in my basket. So far I've found it to be a great day-to-day long wearing foundation. It is a lot lighter than something like a Double Wear, and has more medium coverage with a satin finish. The texture is surprisingly watery, but even so I prefer to use it with my beauty blender. Lasting power definitely maxes out at 12 hours. I can see it starting to break down by the time I get home from work, but that's really all I need my foundations to do. The packaging is a simple glass jar and pump, which is perfect at home but not so great for traveling. The biggest downside is that it does my skin no favors. It has lavender in it which smells lovely, but has no benefit other than irritate your skin. While I don't think it's caused any major breakouts, it hasn't helped and I make sure to thoroughly wash my face in the evening.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick in Warm Beige ($44):
I've had this for a few months now, but it was slightly too dark. Instead of returning it, I could tell that it would be perfect for summer. It has medium coverage and disappears into the skin once blended.  The finish is not quite matte or dewy, just very skin-like. I've found it to be ideal when I'm in the mood for partial foundation, I just put a little down the center of my face and blend into nothingness. It can also double as a concealer because it builds so easily. The packaging is a lovely simple tube that is perfect for both storage at home and for traveling. The downsides are the lasting power and the size. It maxes out around 8 hours for me before I notice it breaking down, and it only has 0.31 oz. While most foundation sticks are on the smaller side, I just feel like I'm using it up way too fast already. Even Tom Ford gives you 0.5 oz!

bareMinerals bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation in Bare Nude ($29):
See my first impressions post here. I've since exchanged Bare Ivory for Bare Nude and have continued to fall more and more in love with this. I highly recommend visiting a bareMinerals boutique and getting color matched, we went through about 4 shades before we landed on this one which just disappeared into my skin. It was also a good lesson in pushing the SA's a little, she was ready to stop on the 2nd one but I kept saying it wasn't quite right yet. Anyway, I've really found most of my points from my original post hold true, I use only 4 drops for my entire face and buff, buff, buff, buff. It just seems to even out my skin tone and give a wonderful glow. Any more than 4 drops is too much, but the correct color match has definitely helped with my previous issue of it "sitting" on top of the skin. Even with a light moisturizer now it seems to just disappear and give me more even-looking skin all day long. A little mineral veil on top, at least down the t-zone, helps it last all day. As mentioned in my first impressions post, in my opinion this is absolutely a sheer foundation, not at all full coverage. The biggest issue I have is covering any spots. Because the foundation is so lightweight, I feel like any concealer is very visible on top. I try to keep it minimal and well blended.

One thing you may have noticed, especially from the swatches below, is that these are all very yellow toned foundations which can be difficult to find. Bobbi Brown is  well known for their yellow foundations, and the new bareMinerals Bare Skin has a great range of "golden" shades. I've been known in the past to actually mix OCC Traffic in with foundations before to make them more yellow, especially drugstore foundations. Maybe I'll do a post on that in the future.

I hope this has helped anyone looking for a new foundation. This is one of those products that is so personal, and I would love to hear your thoughts or recommendations.