Showing posts with label Hourglass. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hourglass. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Palette in Surreal Light


I've been playing with something very exciting which is the new Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Palette in Surreal Light ($80 for 9.6 g). It's a limited-edition for this season a part of their holiday launch. Right now you can find it at Sephora, Nordstrom and Hourglass but it will be available at all other counters soon. The colors have good pigment and enough color to show up on medium to tan skin. I'd consider myself to be medium bordering on light-medium now and the colors show up very well on me.

I've been a long-time fan of Hourglass Cosmetics especially when it comes to their entire Ambient Lighting Powder line. The Ambient Lighting Powder in Luminous Light (originally reviewed here) is one of my top picks for powder highlighters for my skintone. It gives that glow from within kind of effect, melds beautifully with the skin, looks glowy but natural, doesn't emphasize pores and lasts forever! (Well almost ... mine has lasted years!) Since the initial launch back in 2013 I've looked forward to each new year's launch. They've added something special to the line with new products and variations. Last year's palette was the first launch I skipped because of the repeated shades. This year's palette is cased in marble pattern packaging (gorgeous!) and has shades that are different from existing colors.

You have five shades of powder. All are finely milled with a soft touch. There will be some powdery kick up if you dip your brush in the palette but there isn't any fallout once it's on your face. The colors and product sizes:


Colors:
  • Finishing Powder in Surreal Light (4 g / 0.14 oz) is a sheer nude warm shimmer, I thought this would be too shimmery to use as an all over setting powder but it actually works well without making me look like a statue, it has a yellow undertone
  • Bronzer in Surreal Bronze Light (1.4 g / 0.04 oz) is a neutral bronzer shade, it's lighter than the two existing Hourglass bronzers by a little bit making it more natural looking
  • Blush in Surreal Glow (1.4 g / 0.04 oz) is a what Hourglass calls a "pale peony blush pink" it's a nude pink on my skin and it shows up
  • Blush in Surreal Effect (1.4 g / 0.04 oz) is a cooler-toned rose pink compared to the other shades in the palette, there is a soft warm peachy shimmer mixed throughout which makes the color itself more on the neutral warm side
  • Strobe Powder in Surreal Strobe Light (1.4 g / 0.04 oz) is a golden peach yellow shimmer highlight
Below are close ups of the palette in different lighting. I did order two (by accident) and as you can see the swirl patterns are unique in every palette similar to that of the Ambient Lighting Blushes and Ambient Lighting Bronzers. If you're new to the Ambient Lighting collection the powders brighten and highlight the skin. Their powders have what Hourglass calls "... Photoluminescent Technology to capture, diffuse and soften surrounding light to refine the appearance of skin." These powders do indeed smooth the skin.

I've been able to use all five colors on the face at once. I'll use the Finishing Powder to set my foundation all over the face (it's not too glowy for me). I'll mix both shades of blush and apply them on the cheeks, although you can definitely just use one. Bronzer is added to warm up the face. The strobe powder is used to highlight temples, cheekbones or eyes. You can use it however you feel comfortable using it though - no need to use all the colors at once.

 Close ups:



Swatched with numbers labeled according to the chart on the back of the box and what's on the Hourglass website:


Swatch comparisons below:


Thoughts on comparisons:
  • Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Brilliant Strobe Light (review here) is paler and brighter than Surreal Light
  • Ambient Lighting Powder in Luminous Light (review here) is almost pink by comparison to Surreal Light
  • Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure (review here) is cooler-toned and more mauve than either of the Surreal Blushes
  • Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush (review here) is brighter, deeper and warmer than Surreal Effect
  • Ambient Lighting Bronzers in Luminous Bronze Light and Radiant Bronze Light (review here) are both more golden and bronzey compared to the palette
  • I didn't swatch compare the Surreal Strobe Light because it's one of the darker more yellow/gold highlighters in the Hourglass line and I could not find anything similar


The powders perform really well and I like that it has enough color to show up even though the overall feel is neutral. Sometimes those neutral palettes can be a bit too neutral but this one has visible color. The pans are small - I remember from last year's reviews many had done comparisons on the pan sizes in the palette to individual full sized products. I think the biggest complaint about this one is the price for the size and product amounts but this year's palette does contain more product in grams and ounces compared to last year's. I do think the $80 price tag is extremely steep but I don't feel as though it's outrageous. Here's a comparison break down in price per grams:
  • Palette $80 for 9.6 g is $8.33/g
  • Powders are $46 for 10 g which is $4.60/g
  • Blushes are $38 for 4.2 g which is $9.05/g
  • Bronzers are $50 for 11 g which is $4.55/g
  • Strobe Powders are $38 for 4.6 g which is $8.26/g
I personally feel this was worth the splurge. I love all things glowy and this is one of the most natural highlighter palettes I've tested. There are a number of highlighter palettes I've seen pop up online (in particular at Sephora) so you may want to do some browsing or swatching in stores if you can before deciding which one to buy. I've taken a quick peek online and this is the only one I've bought so far and I'm very happy with that decision. The packaging is so pretty, colors work really well for my medium olive toned skin. Many of you keep asking what MAC shade I am for reference and I've been severely allergic to MAC Studio Fix for many years so I stopped using it. I've always been in between NC30 and NC35 but it's been a long time since I last tested any of their foundations so out of curiosity I went and got shade matched. For MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation I can go with either NC35 or NC37 (for some reason NC37 is a bit lighter than NC35) and for Matchmaster I'm a 3.0 (but it runs slightly less yellow than I like). In the Hourglass Vanish Seamless Foundation I'm in between Warm Ivory and Nude. In NARS I'm in between Groenland and St. Moritz for the Velvet Matte Skin Tint.

One quick note on brush testing. There is an Ambient Lighting Edit Brush ($46) which is a double-sided brush designed and sized for this palette. In my experience Hourglass brushes are very well made and perform well. They're synthetic and PETA-approved. I did not buy it but have been using my Wayne Goss Brush #2 for the smaller pans and MAC #187 Duo Fibre brush for the finishing powder.


Bottom line spendy but worth it for me. It exceeded my expectations. I knew I would like it but didn't know if I could "love" it at the $80 price. After testing it I can say that I do love it. It will be a great one for travel and it's a palette I can see myself using every single shade. It's an exquisite well-executed palette. I'm not sure if the shades will show up on deeper skintones but if you're about 3-4 shades darker than me I do think it will still show up. Now that you know what MAC shade I am if you have tested it any have any thoughts let me know in the comments.

You can find the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Palette in Surreal Light at Sephora, Nordstrom and Hourglass but it should launch at all other counters very soon. The palette is limited-edition.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Fall Transition Makeup Bag


As we transition to the fall season I feel a shift in my mood for makeup to cooler tones and my fragrance preference has changed for deeper more complex kinds of scents. I always look forward to new launches and beauty trends for fall and this season has brought quite a few smaller mini collections rather than color-themed launches (with a few exceptions). There doesn't appear to be any "it" color this season and if right now you're unsure of what to wear for the upcoming fall season I say go for anything! I really don't think you can go wrong with any color this season whether it's shopping your own stash or adding a new lip or nail color. Mauves and plums will always be a classic go-to for the fall and will be wearable all the way through winter. I've teamed up with Nordstrom to round up some of my favorite timeless and classic colors. If you can't wear purplish plums on the lips or cheeks, you may want to opt for light to neutral mauves or reddish plums which I feel are easier to pull off.

Since everyone has different interests and preferences for what they like in beauty, I've split the beauty recommendations by category for lips, cheeks, nails, eyes and fragrance. Many of you have asked for a full dedicated feature on fall fragrance for perfumes and one for home fragrance - I promise to have one on each very soon! I'm testing a few more items and will hope to have reviews over the next two weeks.


Up first are the lip recommendations, my personal favorite. Quite a few of you have asked for neutral light pink-mauve lip recommendations for colors that won't turn too blue or fuchsia on the lips. I have a wide range from light to deep that I like.


Shown above:
  1. MAC Viva Glam Ariana Grande II Lipglass is a really pretty soft neutral mauve lipglass. It has a tiny bit of shimmer and looks very natural on the lips.
  2. MAC Lipstick in Modesty has been a classic light pink mauve lip color. It's similar to Syrup which is another very pretty color. Modesty has a bit more warmth with more pink. The coverage is more opaque as well. They're very close - some of my friends have told me they can't wear Syrup because it's a bit too cool toned, in that case opt for Modesty!
  3. Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfector #07 is a sheer tinted balm. It's also a light mauve color and the formula is a really good one to add a hint of color + hydration.
  4. Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Colors are relatively new to me. I discovered them this year and Bobbi is one of the newest shades that is a grege-beige color that doesn't wash me out. It's creamy and gives the lips full coverage with one swipe.
  5. Diptyque repackaged their Nourishing Lip Balm in tube format this season. It has a nicely hydrating formula that's thick and coats the lips with a veil of moisture. In terms of clear squeeze tube balms I think the AmorePacific Moisture Bound Lip Treatment is still my favorite for sensitive lips that can't tolerate scent. Both are very good though.
  6. Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfector #08 is a pretty warm deep plum red. Finish is sheer to medium. The color is deeper and brighter than the rest of the shades in the formula so this shows up better on the lips.
  7. Bobbi Brown Nourishing Lip Color in Desert Rose is a super creamy rose berry kind of shade. It's a lush full coverage formula and very comforting on the lips. 
  8. Chanel Rouge Allure Ink just launched in eight shades. Most are very bright and vibrant - I bought the only neutral which isn't plum or mauve. Amoureux is a pinky peach color. The verdict is still out on this one. I'll have a more detailed review soon but for now below is a sneak preview swatch.
  9. Chanel Rouge Coco Stylo in Recit is one of the prettiest plum reds I've tried before. This formula is excellent and I highly recommend it. All the shades are phenomenal in that range.
  10. Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color in Neutral Rose is one of the most classic kinds of warm pink rose colors I can think of.


Next are cheeks. I'm sure by now many of you are already well stocked on plums or mauves for lips. For me finding a coordinating cheek color has been tricky. I used to always gravitate towards peaches, corals or bronze for the cheeks for the summer and finding a good versatile cheek color to go with any variation of plum/mauve was tricky but I have managed to find three.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure is one I find goes well with the lighter mauve lips or darker lips. For something a bit more neutral with brown and pink mixed in is Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic in Sex on Fire. It has the prettiest soft glow to it (not overly shimmery) so it wears very naturally on the skin while adding color and depth. MAC Blush in Plum Foolery is a classic shimmery plum. The gold shimmer adds an interesting warmth to the skin which I find naturally flattering. In the event you don't do shimmer on the cheeks, you may want to check out MAC Breath of Plum for a matte version.

For a good natural highlight and contour, I don't think it gets more classic than the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow. It goes with everything for me and I love the packaging. The texture is really soft and blendable so it won't give you a harsh contoured look or sharp frost.



For eyes I love a good neutral shimmer whether it's tan, taupe, pink or bronze. Two favorites have been the NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadows in Himalia (tan) and Telesto (bronze). For fall NARS launched a shimmery warm pink Rigel. These work well as an easy all over wash to brighten the eyes. Mascara wise I've raved about the Bobbi Brown Eye Opening Mascara. I just bought a second tube for my on-the-go makeup bag. It thickens, volumizes, holds the curl and doesn't smudge. It has a big fluffy brush which grabs my skimpy lashes and coats them evenly. I'm so glad I discovered it! Lash curling is always a must and I still find that the MAC Full Lash Curler has been performing really well for my eye shape.


Three shades shown above swatched below alongside a few other colors:


For nails I have yet to see an "it" polish color for fall. I think the two classics you can never go wrong with are a good vamp in which case Chanel Vamp is a classic or a classic nude pink. For me the two best neutral nude pinks are Chanel Organdi or Tom Ford Sugar Dune (paler on me). A new dark almost-black shade called Gris Obscur launched with the Lip Inks. I spotted it in store at counters so it should be available online very soon.



Last but not least are a few fragrances. As mentioned above I'll have a full fall fragrance line up but these are three I'll be transitioning from season to season. First is the Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb which I still think is the perfect date night fragrance and the one my husband loves the most on me. It's one I consider very mainstream but one I think is just so so good in a spicy floral kind of way. I love that the Travel Spray version is indeed a spritzer versus the roller-ball format. Replica Lipstick On is one of the prettiest feminine fragrances that smells like vintage makeup. It's hard to describe in words except that it makes me feel girly without having that overly sweet smell. Le Labo Santal is one I recognize instantly on anyone who wears it whether they are male or female. I actually prefer it in candle form for the home but I love all things with any kind of sandalwood in them. 


What colors and scents are you wearing right now as we transition to fall? Are you embracing any on trend makeup shades or wearing classics? There are lots of great new fall beauty launches and each one has been unique in it's own way.

Would love to hear what you're keeping in your fall transition makeup bag or routine right now! For more recommendations Nordstrom has their Fall Beauty Trend Event section with Ultra Pretty Neutrals and Bold Shades of what is trending now at their stores.



Many thanks to Nordstrom for teaming up to sponsor this post. Press samples featured include the Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfectors, Chanel Rouge Coco Stylo, Chanel Vamp and Organdi and Replica Lipstick On.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Summer Hauls from Sephora and Nordstrom + eGift Card Giveaway


Happy Friday everyone! In the "what would you like to see" survey posted a few giveaways ago, an overwhelming number of you requested I do more haul posts. I tend to buy things in little bits here and there - with free shipping or affordable rush shipping, it's easy to place several orders as I think about things rather than do a larger one-time haul. Sometimes I'll see something in store and decide to wait and think about it and then a few days later I decide to buy it. July was a very pricey and spendy month due to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I already did two haul posts on my picks (here and here) - since it only happens once a year and there were so many good exclusives/value sets I could justify the extra haul. I also found a lot of little things at Sephora so I've combined my recent picks into a haul post.

Up first are Nordstrom picks, some are non-sale items:


My Nordstrom hauls, mostly from online orders:
  1. Antica Farmacista Santorini Reed Diffuser - I discovered the Acqua Reed Diffuser as shown in this home luxuries post and fell in love. Several of you told me there were a number of options on sale at Nordstrom. I bought five variations of the 8.5 oz version. I haven't opened any of them yet - for those who use these, do you use one at a time completely before opening another one? Unlike candles, I suspect you can use for a little bit and store away since the reeds become completely soaked with the oils?
  2. Antica Farmacista Reed Diffuser in Bergamot and Ocean Aria because I love the body cream version of this scent.
  3. Ivanka Trump Ellyn Lace Up Sandals in Rich Chestnut suede are super comfortable and I found them to be true to size. The color is just a tiny bit darker than the stock photo but very close, heel is at 2.5 inches which makes them easy to walk in and 100% pain-free (at least for me).
  4. Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder in Telluride is actually something I ordered from Sephora, but accidentally put it with the Nordstrom haul, it's a luminous soft pink with a very pearly finish, full review next week.
  5. Louboutin Loubilaque in Akenana and Bikini (not on sale), based on the good performance I saw with the Rouge Louboutin Loubilaque, I decided to order a few other shades, I haven't tested them on my lips yet because I swatched a number of other lip products the past couple of days and one item ruined my lips so I'm waiting for them to rebalance/recover.
  6. YSL Vinyl Lip Cream in 404, 407 and 412 are items I was really excited to try. I adore the Glossy Stains (reviewed here and here) and a cream version just sounded like a dream come true. 407 and 412 worked perfectly like a lightweight stain but in creamy form. 404 gave me a WTF moment - it was extremely streaky and for some reason turned my bottom lip bright red, almost like a reaction but there was no tingle, sting or odd feeling. It's now about 24 hours after I lip swatched it and my lip is still red. I tried makeup remover, cleanser and a very gentle rub with a washcloth - it's the oddest thing!
  7. Vince Camuto Drape Front Blazer is something I stalked the web for the anniversary sale, it went out of stock in Size 0 and 2 but restocked. I've been searching for a white blazer for a long time and this has a drapey flowy fabric that feels comfortable. It's a tiny bit long in the arms for me, but fits the shoulders well - it will need minor alterations for me, but I really like it.
  8. Vince Camuto Feina Booties are items I ordered as well, my local store was sold out, but they found them for me and had them shipped to my home. This is the first time I've tried Vince Camuto boots so I don't know how they size compared to other styles. The sales associate recommended I size down since in her experience they run big. Size 6 fits like a glove with room for thin socks.
  9. Hudson Nico Ankle Super Skinny Jeans are very comfortable and they fit like a glove. The fabric is thick enough to be sturdy but not stiff so these feel good to wear. I'm normally one who opts for Paige, but I was really pleased with these. The raw hem gives them an edgy look. As one who is short, these are the perfect length that I don't need them hemmed.
A look at the Vince Camuto Drape Front Blazer (Size 2, for reference I'm 5'3" and 125 pounds) and Hudson Nico Ankle Jeans (Size 27, sized the same as Paige and Citizens, I go up for Frame with 28s).

More views on the blazer, for those curious about the home bits, bed is from Crate and Barrel, rug is from Pottery Barn, on the far right the reflection of the white block is an Ikea Alex unit.


Shoes, left are the Ivanka Trump Ellyn Sandals, true to size 6.5, right are the Vince Camuto Feina Booties which I bought in a 6 based on the sales associate's recommendation that they stretch out.


One more look at the Hudson Nico Jeans (top is an older style silk tee from J.Crew, shoes worn are by Stuart Weitzman which run large on me so I take these in a 6):


Up next are the Sephora haul picks:


Shown above:
  1. Sephora Play! July box contents includes minis of Benefit Dew the Hoola, Ouai Wave Spray, Smashbox Photofinish Foundation Primer, First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser, NEST Citrine Perfume and Beautyblender Blottertazzi, I have yet to try everything in last month's box, but Dew the Hoola is swatched here
  2. Urban Decay 24-7 Glide On Lip Pencil in Peyote is a cool-toned neutral pink with a tiny bit of shimmer, it's a great light pinky color that does last a long time
  3. Bare Minerals GEN NUDE Radiant Lipstick in Strip is a medium nude pink beige - finally balmy glossy lipsticks that have pigment! I picked up two shades (yes, they look almost identical) and love love love the way these feel and look, they're effortless kinds of nude with the feel of Chanel Rouge Coco Shines but more pigment.
  4. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Trance is a gorgeous pinky mauve shimmer, formula feels a bit thick and dry without a base but it does stay put on the lips, I'll need to experiment more with bases on this one. It's not drying, it just looks a bit dry if that makes sense.
  5. Bare Minerals GEN NUDE Radiant Lipstick in Honeybun is a nude beige tan cream.
  6. Formula X Color Curators in Makeup by Rose XOXO Edition in Mahhveous Rose, Puffin! and Acoustick Dreams, these look gorgeous for fall, I'll have swatches of all three shades soon.
  7. Hourglass Vanish Seamless Foundation in Nude which is one shade darker than Warm Ivory but too dark for my skintone. Warm Ivory is a better match, but if I mix both shades the match is a 100% exact match.
  8. Kat Von D Lock-It Creme Concealer in M19 and M27 - I matched myself in store and can't believe I braved using a tester on my face in store. When I applied it my skin was a bit dewy as it was late afternoon and hot. It blended to a flawless finish so I bought two shades. When I got home and tested it the following days I found it looked cakey and patchy under eyes on my regular skin. I'm still testing with other eye creams and primers as a base to see how best to make it work. I'm not ruling it out quite yet, I'm determined to put it to the full test as I really like her foundation.
  9. Becca Champagne Splits in Flowerchild and Champagne Pop - by this point I have Champagne Pop in all the forms possible and I do think it's a bit overkill. The individual powder and poured cream (both swatched here) are my favorites. I definitely did not need it in a split pan with a blush, but what can I say - I think we all get sucked in sometimes by pretty packaging.
  10. NARS Sculpting Multiple Duos in all three options, review to follow as soon as I can!
  11. Formula X The System Xcel is something that just popped up online, I already own and use the original System (reviewed here a while ago), the Xcel set is designed for a gel-effect so I'm curious to see how it compares to the original!
  12. Beauty Insider Points minis
Lip picks swatched:


I won't be reviewing everything in this haul in a separate posts, so here are lip swatches for reference. The Bare Minerals GEN Nude Matte Liquid Lipstick in Swag was one of the Beauty Insider minis (love the color, not a fan of the matte finish). Above Bare Minerals Strip and Honeybun look identical, on the lips you can see the difference. If you click to enlarge the photo you can see how patchy YSL 404 applied on my lips, especially on the lower lip.


All the Kat Von D Lock-It Creme Concealer shades swatched, if you're NARS Ginger the closest match is M25 and M27:



That concludes my haul picks from July from Nordstrom and Sephora. There are still a few more days left for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (prices go back up Aug 8th). I'm hosting one last giveaway for the summer and giving away three $100 eGift Cards. The selected winners will have a choice of getting an e-gift card to either Nordstrom or Sephora. Details:

Enter via the widget below, there are several ways to enter:
  • You must be 18 years or older
  • Open internationally
  • Three distinct winners will be selected at random via Rafflecopter
  • Winners will be selected at random on Sunday afternoon and contacted via e-mail by me
  • If you're a selected winner you must send me a response confirming within 48 hours or another winner will be selected, prizes will be sent by the following business day

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


Friday, July 22, 2016

Loving Right Now + Gift Card Giveaway


Happy Friday everyone! It's been one of those weeks I thought would never end and I am relieved that it's almost the weekend. Thank you to everyone who shared what you wanted to see on The Beauty Look Book blog in my last giveaway post. It's always great to hear feedback on what you've liked and also what you would like to read more about. There were a lot of requests for features on a wide range of topics and I am beyond flattered so many of you want to know what I think about well basically anything! Most popular requests were for higher end skincare (I did not realize you guys liked the skincare posts!), budget-friendly cosmetics, full skincare routine, current hair care routine, more hauls, favorites roundups, inside my purse posts, shoe features, tutorials, makeup storage, more travel (so happy many of you loved this), time management, exclusive promo events and videos!

Since reading your requests, I've started to pull items for a full summer skincare routine and hair care routine post. I do tend to test a lot of products on myself to review for you so my routine changes frequently - but I will pull my favorites and include items I've used up. A few notes:
  • Nordstrom Anniversary Sale hauls posted on the blog, makeup picks here and fashion and skincare items hauled here
  • Exclusive promo savings for readers via Space NK US here - my apologies for those who were not able to use the code on Oribe, after several e-mails to the team, they've fixed the code and it works on all Oribe items (full size and travel sizes)
  • Antica Farmacista is doing a special online promo code, enter code ANTICABLB at checkout for a mini body butter with any online order!
  • Summer bronzer edit posted here (many of you have been asking for this for weeks!)
  • On videos I am hoping to do some in the future!
  • Loving right now/favorites in this post here today!


Right now for skincare, hair care and the home, I'm loving the following:
  1. Chanel Fresh Body Cream is a summer go-to for body lotions. It smells lightweight and fresh and even though a tub is pricey. I use it sparingly but it has lasted a long time. It hydrates without feeling sticky and won't interfere with perfume. My wallet is crying at the thought of having to buy again but I think it is 100% worth the splurge.
  2. Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover is what I use right now to remove mascara and eye makeup, its gentle but effective and doesn't feel greasy. You can find it in two sets for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale in the Chubby Lash Set and Take the Day Off Set
  3. Antica Farmacista is a line I just discovered and I really don't know how this has passed my radar for so long, I received a few samples and the line is exquisite! My favorite item is the Cucumber and Lotus Flower Candle which is the perfect cooling relaxing scent for the home, I am going to need this one in all formats, detailed review next week - if you have any favorites from the line let me know! If you order online they're offering a free mini body butter with any order, use code ANTICABLB
  4. Shu Uemura Art of Hair Ample Angora Volumizing Mousse is something new to me, I will say up front I typically hate mousse products because they're usually sticky and make my hair hard to comb/brush, this one is really good though. I have naturally thick hair and find most volumizing products don't really add that much volume to my already thick hair (I have tried dozens of sprays, creams, lotions, shampoos etc.) This one combined with heat styling of the T3 PROi Dryer (best dryer ever, thanks RaeView for recommending to me!!) gives serious volume all the way through from roots to ends.
  5. La Mer The Tonic is a toner I alternate with the SK-II Clear Treatment Lotion, I like both but reach for the La Mer more these days to help remove impurities after cleansing and rebalance the skin. The formula has been a go-to for years and often times I try others in attempts to find a more affordable option, but this one never fails me.
  6. Kate Somerville Gentle Daily Wash is a favorite for every day multiple times a day. It's one of the few I can use frequently without it stripping my skin. I've tried and repurchased all her cleansers and this is the only one that won't irritate my skin on tender skin days. My brother has acne-prone skin that is even more sensitive than mine. I bought him this one to try and it's one of the few he says is gentle enough for his skin (he's in his early 20s). Also available in a larger 16 oz size with a pump and her Clinic Solutions Kit (I bought this for travel).

For makeup and fragrance:
  1. Hourglass Ambient Luminous Light Palette is nothing but pure love, it's a Nordstrom Beauty Exclusive for this year's Anniversary Sale and I think it is perfect. If you already own the palette from last holiday or the individual colors you can skip this one. Also there's a new marble palette that's coming out for holiday that you might want to wait for as previewed on @gossmakeupartist's Instagram (it looks dreamy but I think the colors are different!). My review + swatches in this post here.
  2. Chanel Aqua Glossimers for summer are sheered out glossimers new for summer. Review on all the shades in this post here. These are nice for an effortless wash of shine and a hint of color.
  3. Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche in Sugarcane is a perfect baby pink that covers the lip entirely, I also like Honeycomb which is a perfect nude, swatches + review of the neutrals in this formula can be found in this post here
  4. MAC Sunblessed Cremesheen (in the Nordstrom Sunblessed Kit) is a great pinky nude on me even though it looks more peachy in the tube. Swatched on my lips here.
  5. Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips are almost too hot to handle. I adore her Matte Revolution formula and was thrilled to see more neutrals and brights launched in her Hot Lips Collection. All the shades purchased by me and swatched in this post.
  6. NARS Long Hot Summer Eyeshadow Palette (review soon) is an exclusive to NARS online and boutiques. This has great neutrals deep enough for medium to tan skintones. I'll review and swatch this soon.
  7. Tom Ford Soleil Blanc is the perfect white floral summer fragrance. I love it. Review here.
  8. YSL Glossy Stain 07 is a ripe juicy peach that has enough color to be more than a neutral but isn't too bright so it will suit neutral makeup lovers (also in the Nordstrom Rebel Nudes Set)
I'm hosting one more Nordstrom eGift Card Giveaway! I'm giving away 3 $100 USD eGift Cards to Nordstrom. Details as follows:
  • Open internationally
  • You must be 18 years old or older
  • Enter through widget
  • Entries will be collected through Sunday 7/24/2016 11:30 AM PST
  • Winners will be selected at random via the widget, emailed Sunday evening
a Rafflecopter giveaway
What are you loving right now? Did you haul anything good from the Nordstrom sale or any other places recently?

Press samples featured include Shu Uemura, Antica Farmacista, Bite Amuse Bouche.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick and Foundation Brush Review


Hourglass just launched a new foundation called the Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick ($46 for .25 oz/7.2 g) which is a new product described as having the full coverage of a concealer, fluid texture like that of a liquid, and weightless feel like a powder. It's a concentrated formula that combines foundation and concealer in one that you can build for full coverage but looks natural on the skin. Also launched with 26 shades of foundation include the Vanish Foundation Brush ($46) designed to buff and blend the new foundation formula to flawless smooth perfection. Both have launched at Sephora, Nordstrom, Hourglass Cosmetics and is currently on pre-order at Barney's New York.


I received two shades in Ivory and Warm Ivory to test out based on the note that I currently use NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tints in Groenland and St. Moritz mixed together. When I first saw both shades and swatched them I suspected they would both be on the light side for my skintone, but Warm Ivory warms up to give an exact match for me right now. The chart above breaks down the color options and ranges. I would say the sequence of names is accurate from light to dark, but the color swatches are not. For me Warm Ivory is definitely darker than Ivory but the card makes it look like the opposite.

First a look at the foundation. These come in compact triangle-shaped twist up sticks designed for precise application. I tested both shades out and found both work well for a good match which surprised me because they looked really light compared to other foundations I use. I tried it three different ways. Here's the before and after with Warm Ivory swiped and then buffed. In these photos I put around 3-4 swipes per side of the face and then buffed it out with the brush.


Method 1: Apply all over the face with 4 swipes per side over Creme de La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream and set with NARS All Day Luminous Powder Foundation in Punjab. The result was an oily mess within a couple of hours although I was outdoors for lunch in 85 degree weather on a hot day with mild humidity. This usually happens with all foundation sticks on my skin though if I use them all over the face.

Method 2: Apply on top of AmorePacific Moisture Bound Refreshing Hydra Gel + Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, then set with NARS All Day Luminous Powder Foundation in Punjab. I have not really used the Hourglass Primer a lot because I feel it's best suited for more oily/combo skintypes compared to mine. I have accumulated quite a few minis and a friend recommended I try it for summer. She was right, it extends the wear of foundation especially in warmer weather. This combination lasted all day, even through being outdoors in the afternoon for a few hours. By evening, makeup was a tiny bit dewy on the nose, but it stayed put without any creasing, melting or budging.

Method 3: Apply a light base such as any of my regular foundations all over, I tried it with my NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tints. Moisturizers used on separate days included the Creme de La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream and Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream (primers skipped on these days). Use the Hourglass Vanish Foundation stick like I use most of my foundation sticks along the T zone and areas I need more coverage and buff in. Then set with powder. This method also worked well in terms of lasting power.

A look at the product itself with swatches, Ivory next to Warm Ivory. In the tubes they look yellow/olive toned pre-swatching. Once you swatch they appear a bit more neutral.



Comparisons to two other foundation sticks:
  • Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation is currently my favorite stick foundation of choice. I had planned a summer base roundup and then samples of two foundation formulas arrived so I wanted to put those to the test before doing my roundup. This so far is the best full coverage foundation I've tried that covers dark spots but still looks natural. My shade match is 123. Initially I was matched to 128 (as seen in this story here) but I can change skin color quickly if I'm outdoors for an extended time (or lose it as well) so I alternate between the two.
    • The MUFE stick offers more coverage but has a more emollient texture (not greasy though). Product is also larger at 12.5 g.
  • Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick for many years was my go-to for foundation sticks (original review here). I've gone between two shades, 4 Bisque and 5 Natural. To this day I still think this is an exceptional product - but I cannot wear this all over the face. The best way for me to use this is on top of regular foundation on areas I need coverage. For my skintype which is normal combination, the all over the face method results in a very dewy mess within a couple of hours - with or without any primer. Coverage is smooth and easy to build for a flawless finish. A little goes a long way - it has a foundation makeup scent that is hard to describe almost like cardboard or paper that I've found in some foundations and for some reason I find really soothing. A single stick has lasted me well over a year and the product did not go bad.
    • For the TF vs Hourglass, the Tom Ford is probably better suited for normal to dry skin types, it is more dewy in finish, feels slightly thicker but not too thick, it also has more product at 15 g.


Sticks swatched side by side, note my arm is not the same shade as my face. Right now the MUFE 123 matches perfectly. Hourglass Vanish in Warm Ivory blends out to a more matte finish compared to the others.


A closer look at the twist design of the stick:

One more shade of swatches with NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint in St. Moritz (darker option) and Groenland (lighter option):






A quick note on the brush. I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to use. It reminds me of my Marc Jacobs The Face II Brush (full review on foundation brushes I love here) in the sense that it's angled to match the contour of the face. The Hourglass Vanish Foundation Brush is more compact, has a smaller head, but just as soft and a bit easier to move along the face because it's slightly less dense. It's super soft and fits in my hand perfectly. I haven't tested it with liquid foundations but I have with the other foundation sticks - it's amazing. I highly recommend it.


Overall thoughts:

  • The Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick does indeed offer a seamless smooth finish. It's easy to blend and does not look cakey, nor does it emphasize pores. 
  • Coverage is medium to full depending how much you layer. It does a good job at smoothing out dark spots or under eye circles, but I still prefer spot touch ups on blemishes and under eye with other concealers. (My favorites rounded up here.)
  • Lasting power will depend on your skin type and what products you use underneath. If you can normally wear foundation sticks all over the face without any issues this will probably work the same for you. I have never been able to wear a foundation stick all over the face with the exception of the MUFE Ultra HD Foundation Stick.
  • Best ways for me to wear the Hourglass Vanish Foundation stick was over the Mineral Veil Primer or over areas after applying regular foundation.
  • On color matching, I suspect based on the online stock swatches and chart that Sand might be a better match for me on my more tan days now that it's summer, but Warm Ivory works for a very good match - no tweaking required. Even though this is a full coverage product and I do recommend finding a match as close as possible, there is a natural quality to the finish that makes it forgiving even if it's not a 100% match. Warm Ivory swiped on my skin looks about 1-2 shades too light but as with most foundations you need to blend it out to see if it works. It matches my face to my neck well. I will check out the shades in store later this week though - if Sand is a better match I will let you know.


That wraps up my review of the latest from Hourglass. You can find both the Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick and Foundation Brush at Sephora, Nordstrom, and Hourglass Cosmetics right now. For the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale there is an Hourglass GWP going on (featured in this post).

Have you tried the Hourglass Vanish Foundation Stick yet? It launched online last week - so if any of you have ordered or tested let me know! If not, have you tried other Hourglass Foundations? Which ones?

Both the Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick and Foundation Brush provided for review consideration.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2016 Beauty Exclusives Haul


The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this year has quite a lot to offer for beauty exclusives. I've been a busy bee all weekend swatching and photographing my haul and today I have close ups and swatches of the palettes and sets I picked up. Early access goes through the end of 7/21 for card holders and the sale goes live for the public on 7/22. This beauty haul is quite extensive so grab a cup of tea or coffee or maybe a snack. While browsing the Beauty Exclusives section I noticed quite a few items weren't available at stores near me so I ordered a couple items sight unseen. For those who can't get to a store and need to order online I feel your pain about not being able to see things in person, I hope these swatches help! Don't forget to check out the Gift With Purchase listings too, there are some nice gifts available, I'm glad I checked for the La Mer and Hourglass gifts.

First a quick look at the Early Access Sections in store, walls of skincare from a wide range of brands. Skincare sets this year are priced at really good values/savings.


A look at some of the gift with purchase sets (full list online), there are some lines that give you options to choose from with different sets:


If you've been wanting to splurge on a Clarisonic, the sale is one of the best times to do so because they offer them at a discount. The Mia Fit is marked down to $153 from $219. The Alpha Fit for men is also marked down to $153. My husband loves his and recommended I buy another one for my brother.



Onto my haul picks. In this post I've focused primarily on the makeup and palettes. I did pick out a few hair care items and skincare sets, I'll post those in a separate post if you're interested so let me know in the comments. Bobbi Brown has several Bobbi On Trend Sets. It's been a while since I've explored her line but the options were too good to pass up.

The Sultry Bronze Eye Set has an eyeshadow palette with 6 colors (Pale Cream, Bikini Bronze Metallic, Seashell Shimmer Wash, Beach Bronze Shimmer Wash, Frappe and Smokey Brown), Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner in Chocolate Truffle, and Eye Opening Mascara in Black. The palette has 6 easy to use neutrals and the eyeliner is a nice alternative to black. I had low expectations for the mascara because I usually do not like mascaras in sets, but I was beyond impressed. It volumizes, thickens, defines and did not smudge all day. Thumbs up! There is a cooler-neutral toned option called Sultry Topaz which is also very pretty.

For lips there are two options Pink Lips Set and Nude Lips Set. I picked out the Nudes which has her Art Stick in Brown Berry (neutral nude peach), Sheer Lip Color in Pink Buff (perfect neutral pink) and Lip Gloss in Pink Sunset (sheer sparkling pink). I have lip swatches of all the lip items I picked out at the bottom of the post. Many of you like the lips lined up side by side for reference.



Charlotte Tilbury launched an exclusive Instant Look in a Palette called the Seductive Beauty for what she calls The Dolce Vita Look with deeper shades compared to her original. I was not impressed with the first one and found it sheer and chalky for my complexion. I am happy to report the Nordstrom Exclusive is a lot better, shows up on my skintone and is not chalky at all. The texture has the same softness for the powders but pigment is significantly better. The Nordstrom set comes with a mini mascara.
 The Nordstrom Seductive Look Palette:


Original Natural Look vs Nordstrom Seductive Look swatched side by side:


Diptyque has the cutest 5-piece set available for the sale. These are the baby sized candles you can't purchase individually in the 1.2 oz size (these are smaller than the 2.4 oz versions). This is the perfect way to try the line as it has the best Diptyque scents available. It would also make a great hostess gift.

Hourglass has launched an exclusive palette called the Ambient Luminous Light Palette which has Luminous Light, Luminous Flush and Luminous Bronze Light. I already own the shades individually but could not pass on the set because it's perfect for travel. There is a gift with purchase I took advantage of (I ordered 3 palettes, one for myself, two as gifts).

Palette swatched next to the individual colors I own to show that the colors in the palette are indeed the same color, pigment and quality as the individual ones:


NARS has quite a few options for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale including Survival Kit 1, Survival Kit 2, Nordstrom's Best Cheek Kit and the Cult Survival Kit. All the sets are seriously good - it as really hard to narrow down my pick given all options. I picked out the Survival Kit 1 which has Naiad Eyeshadow, Kalahari II Eyeshadow, Off Limits Blush, Mata Hari Blush, a mini Lip Gloss in Party Girl and a mini Audacious Mascara. This set is the most neutral and easy to wear option. Outer Limits Blush looked very shimmery upon first swipe on my face, but adding the matte Mata Hari on top softened the frost in a nice way.



YSL Rebel Nudes has three lip products in a black zip pouch. I actually already own all three items in the set but a friend asked me to pick it up for her as she was worried it would be sold out by the time the public sale started. I swatched the colors from my own stash, I think this set is a really good one. It has Glossy Stain in 200 Plump Up (clear which does plump and tingle), Glossy Stain 07 Corail Aquatique which pulls a brighter peach on my lips, and Rouge Volupte Shine Oil in Stick 47 Beige Blouse which is one of my favorite pink nudes for everyday.


Nordstrom has an exclusive Dior Anniversary Collection that seems to be more spring-like rather than summer or fall. The offerings are still really pretty. I picked up three of the Flash Luminizer Radiance Booster Pens in 003 Apricot (my match) and two of the shimmers in 500 Pearly Vanilla (gold) and 800 Pearly Pink (shimmering opal). These take about 40 clicks to get product going the first round (just as an FYI). I have only tested for a few days so I can't say yet if I think they are worth the splurge. I do like 003 under eyes as a medium coverage brightening under eye concealer. The shimmers help add radiance anywhere you want a soft glowy shimmer.

There is a new Addict Hydra-Gel Core Mirror Shine Lipstick which is the first time I've tried the new formula. Baby Dior is a sheer peachy pink in the tube but applies a sheer pale cool pink on my lips. It's hydrating and smooth with a glossy finish.

There are also two nail colors in the collection in Ruban and Steel Grey. I was hoping to swatch these on the nail for you but I just broke three of my nails so arm swatches will have to do for now.


Last but not least are two options from MAC. First is the C'est Chic Eyeshadow Palette which I am seriously tempted to buy for myself. The one I have shown below is a gift for a friend (her birthday is this month) and it has all mattes in neutral to warms and plums. She saw this and asked for it specifically. The one MAC set I picked up for myself is the Look in a Box Sunblessed Kit which has a full sized Frost Eyeshadow in Deception (plum taupe), Fluidline in Blacktrack, False Lashes Mascara and Cremesheen in Sunblessed (peachy nude). I think all four items in the set are excellent, the mascara doesn't really give me a false lash look, but it's a good defining deepening mascara that adds a bit of volume and doesn't smudge. I believe the eyeshadow and lipstick are exclusive to the set.

Lip swatches:


That wraps it up for my massive Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Beauty Haul! I hope you found the swatches and detailed photos helpful to help with your shopping decisions. Definitely browse the options online first, especially the gift with purchase options. I think I missed out on a few because I didn't realize there was a Bobbi Brown GWP available and my sales associate did not know either. There is a lot to choose from and these sets and savings are offered only once each year.

I'm really impressed with the offerings this year and am pleased with all my purchases. Out of all the color options for makeup, I think you really can't go wrong with anything. Lots of value sets to pick from. My top 3 favorite items I hauled include the Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look in a Palette Set, Bobbi Brown on Trend Nude Lip Set and Hourglass Ambient Luminous Light Palette. If I did not already own all the lip items in the YSL set, the Rebel Nudes set would also be added to my favorites list.

Have you shopped the sale for early access yet? What did you haul? Or are you waiting for the public sale on the 22nd? Let me know in the comments!



Many thanks to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions my own. All items selected and purchased by me.


 

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