Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Urban Decay Cosmetics Favorites and My Top Picks for Neutral Makeup Lovers


Readers often ask me if I had to pick one high-quality eyeshadow palettes, what would it be? Picking a good eyeshadow palette depends on a number of things such as what kind of look you want, your skin tone, hair color, eye color, shimmer vs matte preferences and lifestyle. For my neutral makeup loving self, I find my most-reached-for palettes are Urban Decay Naked2 or Naked3. They both have a really good mix of neutral shades with matte, shimmer and satiny finishes. I find them extremely versatile and for me they are my do-it-all kind of palette. You can create so many different looks for day and night. If you like more neutral cool tones, I recommend Naked2. If you want something warmer or more unique, I vote for Naked3. I love the soft romantic feminine tones and they are neutral enough so you don't end up looking like you have pink-eye if you wear these.

 Naked vs Naked2 vs Naked3 swatched


For those who prefer matte-eyeshadow the new Naked2 Basics is a godsend. I'm not usually a fan of an all-matte eye look because matte shadows end up looking so flat on my skin and age my face. I will occasionally use one as a liner because I like a soft defined line along upper lashes. The Naked2 Basics has completely changed my outlook on matte shadows. It has a selection of medium taupe neutrals where every single one is wearable and layerable. I prefer it over the original Naked Basics which I found was too pale for my skin tone.


If you're the type who prefers to pick out individual shades, Urban Decay has a wide selection of beautiful taupes and sandy shimmers in the single Eyeshadow format. My favorites include Chase (a soft metallic gold), Suspect (shimmering sand), Busted (dark plum taupe), Lost (shimmering brown) and YDK (metallic taupe). They are on the shimmery side but I don't find them too frosty. The texture of the Urban Decay eyeshadows is amazing. They have this rich almost buttery feel that melds in with the skin. I don't need an eyeshadow base with these and they last all day. I like mixing and layering these with the matte shades for added depth. There are also some matte options available individually.

Some other favorites from Urban Decay include their 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils. These have a super creamy texture and apply easily. I like these because they really do glide onto the eyes and don't tug at all. They last pretty long on me with normal wear, although if it's really hot and humid they will smudge a little by late evening. I like to use them along the upper lash lines as a base for deeper/smokey eyeshadows. I find they bring out the pigment shadows when they are layered over the liners. My top three picks are Zero (matte black), Underground (soft shimmery neutral taupe) and Rockstar (a deep eggplant).



I haven't explored much in the lip arena from Urban Decay recently. Their lipsticks and glosses have been repeatedly revamped and repackaged. I purchased the Naked Ultra Nourishing Lip Glosses in Liar recently and really like it. There are 9 variations of nude in the lipgloss lineup, all of which looked really stunning but the sheer texture and finish make many of them look similar on my lips. I picked out Liar which is a gorgeous sheer cool mauve pink. It has a slight minty feel but doesn't numb the lips. It's a good everyday swipe and go color that adds just the right amount of shine. I like that it's smooth and not sticky. It gives a super lush lip look.


Last but not least, I'm a huge fan of the Naked Skin Beauty Balms. I have the original one (which now comes in extended shades) and the Bronzing Beauty Balm. I like to use the Naked Skin Beauty Balm as a primer. I find when I use it over moisturizer and under foundation, it helps liquids blend better on the skin. The Bronzing Beauty Balm is something I like to use as a subtle contouring product or a base for powder blushes. It adds a bit of dewy texture and color to help powder sheer or light blushes go on better without looking heavy or changing colors. I also like using the Bronzing Balm mixed in with foundations if they are too light (I tend to tan easily) so it works wonders to adjust foundation colors for me.



Here's a quick summary of my favorite Urban Decay items:


Urban Decay Cosmetics has just re-launched their line at Nordstrom. I remember back in the 90's through the early 2000's when Nordstrom had their modern/edgy beauty section with Urban Decay items when they had these out-of-this-world nail polish colors, iridescent blushes and scented shimmer body powder. I was sad when the line was pulled but I'm really happy that is is back now.

I hope this has been a helpful overview of some of my Urban Decay favorites. I've played with the line for over a decade now and I'm glad many of favorites are still in the line (like the Stray Dog, Sin and YDK eyeshadows). If you're looking for an eyeshadow palette to start with, I do think the Naked Palettes are the best for the price, quality, ease of use and versatility. I consider all 3 of the Naked Palettes and the new Naked2 Basics must-haves in my makeup wardrobe.

Do you have any Urban Decay favorites? Everytime I check out the eyeshadows, I am amazed that I'm always discovering new shades.



Many thanks to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Inside My Bag


Inside my Prada Saffiano (in camel) bag this week:

NARS Lipgloss in Ophelia (swatches here)
Urban Decay Naked Lipgloss in Liar (swatches soon)
Guerlain Maxi Lash Waterproof Mascara (review here)
Chanel Les Beiges 20 (swatches)
Revlon Marchesa Tweezers
Louis Vuitton Empriente Wallet
Dior Rouge Baume in Milly (review soon)
Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black mini (review)
Smythson Notebook

What's in your handbag right now?

Monday, September 29, 2014

NARS All Day Luminous Powder Foundation


The latest from NARS is the All Day Luminous Powder Foundation ($48 for 0.42 oz/12 g). It's a super lightweight powder foundation that comes in 15 different shades. I was sent the shade Punjab (Medium 1) for review which is a good match for my medium with olive/golden tones. NARS also sent a press sample of the new Powder Foundation Sponge puff ($6.00) which can be used to roll or pat the product onto the face. For reference, I use the Radiant Cream Compact Foundation in Punjab (swatches here) and the Tinted Moisturizer in Groenland (swatched here). The Powder Foundation in Punjab seems to be slightly lighter than the Cream Compact version but it warms up on the skin to adjust nicely without oxidizing or darkening as the day goes on. The description from NARS:

NARS Cosmetics introduces All Day Luminous Powder Foundation. Silky and ultrafine to the touch, this medium buildable foundation offers versatile coverage and shine control with broad spectrum SPF 24 that lasts up to 12-hours. NARS exclusive Light Reflecting Complex™ optimizes light reflection to enhance skin’s translucency while Luminosity Enhancing Technology – a blend of 17 amino acids, Vitamin C derivative and Marine Fennel – promotes cell renewal and helps reduce the look of hyper-pigmentation and wrinkles.

The NARS powder foundation comes in a square mirrored compact. It has a compartment at the bottom for a square sponge. The sponge itself is interesting because it has two different textures, one is more fluffy and velvety like a puff, the other side is a spongey texture. I prefer the spongey side because it picks up more product and applies smoothly on the face. I tested the separate round puff as well and found it gave more coverage with a buffed-looking finish to the face.


I am extremely picky when it comes to powder foundation. Many end up looking heavy or cakey, emphasize pores or dry patches or even end up breaking me out. I have tested quite a few and my current top two picks include Dolce & Gabbana Powder Foundation in Warm 100 and Chanel Double Perfection Lumiere Powder Foundation in 20 or 30 Beige depending on how dark/tan I am. Although powder foundations are often designed to be worn alone instead of a liquid/cream foundation, I almost always use my powder foundations over liquids or tinted moisturizer as a setting powder. Both the Dolce & Gabbana and Chanel have this beautiful soft velvety finish that blends very nicely on the skin. They both cover imperfections, stay put, look natural and don't darken. The NARS All Day Luminous Powder Foundation by comparison is quite a bit lighter in texture while still offering medium buildable coverage. I like that you can control the coverage easily.

A quick look at the packaging:



On the nails, Louboutin Miss Loubi


I tested the NARS several ways, alone and then also on top of different foundations. I also tested it with the sponge and also with a brush.

When used alone I found it performed really well with just moisturizer and primer. Right now, my current skin prep routine includes a layer of SK-II Cellumination Cream Illuminating Moisturizer or By Terry Cellularose Nutri Baume as moisturizer followed by a primer like the NARS Light Optimizing Primer. As a standalone foundation, I found it covered the skin nicely and evened out the complexion. There was no caking or seeping into pores. It is incredibly lightweight so you don't feel like you have anything on your face. I found it amazing at how it gave my skin a luminous glow even though there is no hint of shimmer in the powder itself. I found it did last all day from around 7:30 am through 7:00 pm without any touchups required. I found it applied best with the square sponge that comes in the compact or with the round puff you can purchase separately.

Over foundation it looked equally nice. I tested it over the NARS Radiant Cream Compact, Tinted Moisturizer and also over Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Flawless Fluide. It applied smoothly with a fluffy brush over other foundations. With the sponge I found it was a bit too heavy-looking with the powder foundation + foundation combination. I do think your skin needs to be well-prepped and moisturized for smooth application, although I find this to be the case with any powder foundation in general.

Close up of the powder surface, it has a very soft silky texture:



Swatches:



Swatch comparisons:



After testing this for a few weeks I give this a huge thumbs up. There's no detectable scent and it's huge for me that I didn't get any breakouts or irritation or clogged pores from using this (many powder foundations don't work for my sensitive skin). Right now Punjab is the perfect match, it looks a bit peachy in the compact but it applies good on my olive skin. I like that it has enough yellow undertone so it doesn't turn pinkish on me. If you have olive or golden skin tones you know the pain of finding awesome formulas that don't match the skin color because they are too pink or warm. Bottom line it does last all day and it has a lovely soft luminous silky looking finish.

The NARS All Day Luminous Powder Foundation is currently exclusive to NARS Boutiques and narscosmetics.com but will be available at other retailers like Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and Sephora starting October which is right around the corner. The Powder Foundation retails for $48 and the round Powder Foundation Sponge retails separately for $6.



The powder foundation and puff was provided courtesy of NARS for review consideration. 

Truffle Clarity Clutch Giveaway


I recently discovered Truffle Clarity Clutches and have been completely obsessed ever since. They are perfect for keeping everything organized and compact especially for those who are constantly on-the-go. I use them as makeup bags and also for storage of small accessories. The clear pouch allows you to see exactly what you have in your bag (no fishing around) and the flat design makes them compact enough to fit into a tote easily. See them in action here and here. I've found mine to be indispensable.

I have exciting news to share today: Truffle is hosting a giveaway with The Beauty Look Book for 3 of their Small Clarity Clutches (US only). 3 separate winners will be randomly selected via the Rafflecopter widget, each selected winner will be able to pick out 1 Small Clarity Clutch in their color choice to be shipped from Truffle.

Make sure you enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. There are multiple ways to enter, each type will get you more entry points. Note this is for the US only and you must also be 18 years or older to qualify to enter. Please be sure to enter through the widget, any comments below will not be considered an entry for this particular giveaway. Refer to terms and conditions in widget for more information. Entries will be gathered through 10/5/2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Thank you Truffle for hosting this awesome giveaway!
Be sure to visit their website to peek inside one :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

On My Radar / New in Beauty


I hope everyone has been enjoying the weekend. We're still experiencing really warm weather in Southern California but it's finally started to cool down a little bit. Fall and holiday items are trickling in stores but it doesn't feel like fall yet. A few new items I've spotted that are on my current beauty radar:

Chanel has re-released some cult classics in the new Collection Les Rouges Culte (1). There are three Le Vernis shades in Rouge Flamboyant, Laque Rouge, and Rouge No. 19 along with three featured shades of Rouge Coco Shine in Boheme, Dialogue and Suspense. In my mind Chanel can do no wrong when it comes to reds so I ordered the nail polishes and will swatch them as soon as they arrive.

I'm always on the hunt for cool stationary. I find hand-written notes can be fun and they add that personal touch which I feel is slowly disappearing in this digital age of e-mails and texts. Connor has this cute Emoji Stationary Set (2) which I have on my wish list. I have their desk calendar and love their exquisite designs and the card stock they use is very good quality.

Marc Jacobs Beauty has some new items for fall and holiday. There are 9 new shades of Enamored Hi-Shine Nail Lacquer (3) for fall (hover over the shades on Sephora to see which colors are labeled as "new"). I have my eyes on Blanche (white cream), Cobra (black grape) and Louise (ballet pink beige). There are some new items for holiday which includes a new Collector's Edition Midnight in Paris shade that comes in a keepsake box.

Also for fall, there are several new palettes of the Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No.7 - Plush Shadow (4). I just ordered Enigma which has a mix of black, grey, taupe and pink. I'll be swatching in the next couple weeks and report back.

L'Occitane recently released the Bonne Mère Collection (5). There are a number of shower gels and soaps in this line that is very gentle. Each comforting formula is hypoallergenic and PH neutral, made without parabens or phenoxyethanol. I've been testing a couple of the shower gels in Rosemary and Olive over the past couple of months and they are amazing. Rosemary is such a unique one with a refreshing one that has a beautiful scent (it's not like actual rosemary like I expected).

Laura Mercier Peach Hope Lip Glacé (6) is a shimmering coral peach with gold flecks. 100% of the profits go to the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund.

The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette (7) will launch next month (you can add your e-mail to the wait list at Sephora). It's a definite must-have on my list, I hope to have swatches of this beauty this week as well. First impressions are that it took my breath away as soon as I opened it.

Diptyque Benjoin (8) is an online exclusive that is described as somewhere in between vanilla and caramel. It sounds like it could be either incredibly amazing or overly sweet. I have this on the way to my house and will report back as soon as I am able to burn it. This one is available for a limited time.

What's on your beauty radar this week?

P.S. Thank you to everyone who entered last week's giveaway! The winner has been announced on the widget, congrats to Denise P at e-mail deniseg*******d@sbcglobal.net, check your inbox, i just sent you a message :)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Formula X Translucents in Remarkable and Wonderous


Above: Leather pink clutch by Truffle, leopard clutch by Clare V, iPhone case by Gray Malin, Marc Jacobs Lipgloss in Pink Diamond, notepad by Garance Dore x Rifle Paper Co.

I stopped by Sephora a few weeks ago and picked up two of the Formula X Translucent nail polishes in Remarkable and Wonderous ($10.50 each for 12 ml/0.4 fl oz). I've been putting them to the test and they've held up extremely well. Both lasted 5 days before any tip wear started to show when used in conjunction with Formula X Base and Top Coats from The System set.


Remarkable is a sheer beige pink that applies more like a pale ivory on my nails. It's extremely sheer like the name implies but applies very smoothly on the nails. With two coats the whites of my nails show through. I applied it with three coats on my own to get more coverage. With two coats I had some uneven spots but overall it was still pretty smooth.




Wonderous is a sheer transparent pink. The color is also very sheer but it applies smoothly with two coats. I had an easier time getting this one on the nails with a flawless smooth finish. It gives the nails a very sheer polished and natural look. 




Overall huge thumbs up. I've been really impressed with all the colors I've tried so far from Sephora's Formula X line and the Translucent shades I just tested prove to be just as good in terms of lasting power (see more of my reviews, swatches and details on brush by clicking on the Formula X tag).

For more inspiration and swatch photos of more colors, I recommend you check out FormulaX.com which has a collage of swatches and photos of nail art. You can buy Formula X polishes online and instores at Sephora.


Do you have any favorites? I'd love to hear what shades you've tried!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tatcha Travel Kit


It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Tatcha skincare. It all started with the discovery of their Camellia Nourishing Lip Balm earlier this year and since then I've been hooked. I've ordered many items from Tatcha over the past few months and have been incredibly impressed with their service. If you've ordered from Tatcha's website you know first hand how much they value their customers. They pay extra attention to all the little details which makes opening your package a truly beautiful experience. All Tatcha products are packaged in exquisite boxes and the packages that come in the mail themselves are packed with extra care along with beautiful personalized hand-written notes. If you're new to Tatcha and unsure of where to start their Travel Kit ($125) is a perfect introduction to the line. In addition they have a number of individual Travel/Trial Sized items for purchase which are budget-friendly but have enough product to give their skincare a serious test-drive before committing to any of the full-sized versions.


The Travel Kit comes in a TSA friendly zip pouch with a clear front. It's big enough to hold travel essentials (the pouch itself measures about 8.7 x 9.4 in). Inside the kit:

  • LUMINOUS Deep Hydration Lifting Mask – 20ml | 0.68oz (mini review)
  • LUMINOUS Dewy Skin Mist – 40ml | 1.35oz
  • LUMINOUS Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Mask – 5ml | .16 fl. oz.
  • INDIGO Soothing Silk Hand Cream Travel Size – 10ml | .34 fl. oz. (review, also here)
  • PETAL FRESH Original Aburatorigami – 30 sheets (review)
  • GOLD Camellia Nourishing Lip Balm – 8ml | .28 fl. oz. (review)



I've tested all the items in the kit before although I haven't reviewed the Dewy Skin Mist or Deep Hydration Eye Mask. Both are very good for dry skin or if your face needs an extra boost of moisture. With the past month of hot and humid weather, I've skipped both from my weekly routine and opted for using just the Deep Hydration Lifting Mask once a week for my facial moisture boost needs. I have used the Deep Hydration Eye Mask during dry/cooler weather, it really helps to soothe the eye area when I get irritation and puffiness from weather changes.

A peek at my travel bag contents from a few weeks ago:
Highlighter: Edward Bess Sunlight
Tumi Villa Tote (old style/color, similar white version here)


All the items are available for purchase individually, but the set does give you a slight price break. Purchasing all the items individually would cost around $151 (not including the pouch). I love that the pouch helps keep everything flat and compact. There is enough room to add a few more items in addition to what comes in the kit which is nice. Definitely a huge thumbs up from me. You can find the Travel Kit for $125 on Tatcha.com (all items available for individual purchase as well).


Do you have any favorites from Tatcha?

Many thanks to Tatcha for sending the Travel Kit for review consideration.


 

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