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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Loving Right Now


The week is flying by so quickly, I can't believe it's almost Friday. I picked up a couple new fragrances that have been on my wish list for ages. I picked up the small bottle of the Les Exclusifs de Chanel in Beige and Byredo Black Saffron (reviews coming in the next few weeks). Also new acquisitions are MAC Cremesheen Pearl Lipsticks in Shanghai Spice and Peach Blossom, both repurchases of lipsticks I used up a while ago. MAC lipsticks usually dry out my lips but I still can't stop using them because some of the neutrals are really good.

The Le Volume de Chanel Mascara is a long-time favorite. I just found out they released a waterproof version so I ordered it. So far I'm really liking it and I hope they release more colors in the waterproof or bring back the Navy Blue one because as far as colored mascaras go, that one was my favorite.

Also on the lips this week are Chanel Glossimer in Seashell and YSL Pop Water Glossy Stains (swatches and review here). For cheeks I still can't get over how much I love the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Radiant Light (also in a palette form). I'm going to call this one my never-ending bronzer. I use it a lot and still haven't made a dent. It will probably last me forever.

Non-beauty related is my love for these rimless aviators (more colors here). It's virtually impossible for me to find small sunglasses these days when oversized everything is in everywhere. Most of my sunglasses are several years old and it's rare these days to find smaller frames to fit my face shape and size. These are 59mm and the perfect size for me. I bought them in multiple colors (three to be exact).

Last but not least, I've been really liking the Armani Eye Tints (#9 shown above). I am eager to see how the YSL Pop Water Full Metal Shadows compare (still waiting on these to ship, I have a few on backorder).

What are you loving this week? Any new beauty discoveries or staples you're loving right now?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Hourglass Equilibrium Biomimetic Skin Active Serum


Hourglass Cosmetics launched their first skincare products in January of this year with two items in a line they call Equilibrium. There are two items both are available in limited quantites at the Hourglass Store on Abbot Kinney, Bergdorf Goodman (New York, in store) and Liberty (London, in store).

Equilibrium Day Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($115 for 1.7 fl oz/50 ml) is a daytime treatment that is designed to give radiant, supple and healthy-looking skin created from within. From Hourglass:
  • This is designed to complement the evening treatment, and shield skin from the sun with SPF 30. It contains a plant-derived phosphatidylglycerol, which improves skin’s texture and tone. The light, luxurious fluid also contains a blend of four organic chemical compounds providing broad spectrum SPF 30 to shield the skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Equilibrium Biomimetic Skin Active Serum ($350 for 1.7 fl oz/50 ml) is a rebalancing product intended for night time use only. Description per Hourglass:
  • This revolutionary nighttime re-balancing treatment contains a powerful family of ingredients designed to counteract the visible signs of aging - resulting in radiant, healthy-looking skin created from within. The serum is created using an ultrasonication process, producing microscopic oil droplets which deliver the ingredients into the skin at the most optimal level.

Equilibrium at the Abbot Kinney store opening last September, more on the beautiful store here

Hourglass kindly sent me a sample of the Equilibrium Biomimetic Skin Active Serum for review back at the beginning of the year and I've been putting it to the test for 50+ nights. This is a resurfacing and rebalancing night time treatment that comes in a black pump bottle. The bottle is made of Miron violet glass to protect the contents from harmful light. The product description recommends use of the product for 40-56 days (after a full cellular turnover cycle) to see full results. I wanted to give this a thorough test drive in order to provide as detailed a review as possible on using this.


In testing the Equilibrium Biomimetic Skin Active Serum I saw results in two weeks. If you've followed my skincare posts, you know that ver the past year and a half I've had fluctuations with skin issues. I've discovered a number of products that have helped to rebalance the skin and bring it back to it's normal state. Testing skincare is usually touch and go - you have to really test things over a long period of time to see if they end up working as you hoped. The biggest issue I've had with my skin included texture issues all over the face, breakouts on the chin area and scarring. The items I've tried and tested from Ole Henriksen, Tatcha, SK-II and regular go-to's have helped with the texture and breakouts.



The Hourglass Equilibrium Serum has helped keep my skin clear and removed my chin breakouts and has worked remarkably well in fading scars. This is a fluid type of product that is very gentle on the skin and has a moisturizing feel without any detectable scent. It absorbs nicely into the skin so it doesn't feel like there is product that is just sitting on your face that will slide off once your head hits the pillow. It feels very soothing on the skin which is a huge plus for my sensitive face. The results have been incredibly good. My skin has noticeably (and dramatically) improved in texture and clarity. 


There are three other night time treatments that I've used over the past couple of years that I will offer a comparison to.

1) Chanel La Nuit de Chanel is part of the Resynchronizing line. I bought this and used it up entirely. I found consistent use helped keep my skin clear but wasn't strong enough to help with serious scars or texture issues. I used it up and really liked it, I will probably go back to this once my skin returns to it's normal state. If you have normal sensitive skin that needs basic and simple hydration at night, I highly recommend this.

2) The SK-II Skin Refining Treatment is something I used and love. It improved my skin's texture significantly after several months of use. This one is gentle on the face and after using this I noticed better skin texture, clearer complexion and a glow. The Hourglass by comparison exceeds the SK-II in terms of giving you results faster more dramatic improvement in skin. Both are good and over time they will give you a similar result (better complexion and texture), the SK-II will take a bit longer to give you the same results.

3) I've also written about and used the Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Treatment (reviewed here). This one also improved my skin's texture and reduced breakouts on the chin area. This one isn't the best for those with sensitive noses because it is fragranced. If you have super delicate skin you find this one tingles too much. I found the scent to be ok, but many have commented they found it too strong.

So out of the four night-time treatments I've tested, my top two picks include the Hourglass and SK-II. I didn't want to fall in love with the Hourglass one due to the hefty price tag but it truly delivers results and performs exceptionally well. My husband has commented on how much my skin has improved after I used this and asked "what are you doing differently?" It's gentle enough for nightly use - in testing this, I would recommend using this almost every night to get the best results (skipping this for 3+ nights resulted in breakouts coming back after testing some other products). I give this a super huge thumbs up.


The Equilibrium line is available at select locations: Hourglass Store on Abbot Kinney, Bergdorf Goodman (New York, in store), Liberty (London, in store). More online at Hourglass Cosmetics. Have you tried any of the Hourglass Equilibrium products? If not, what do you currently use at night?  

The Equilibrium serum was provided courtesy of Hourglass for review consideration.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine's Day Pink for Lips


This week I'm loving all shades of pink for the lips, in preparation for Valentine's Day I've compiled a list of new pinks that I've been testing along with some older favorites. Today's focus is on lip glosses with a glossy sheen that will give the lips a lush glow.



  • Marc Jacobs Lust for Lacquer Lip Vinyl Sheer in Pink Diamond is a glossy sheer pink gold that gives the lips a tint of gold and pink, right now it seems to be removed from Sephora and Marc Jacobs Beauty so I'm not sure if these are being phased out or reformulated, for a similar effect check out MAC Nympette Lipglass
  • Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in Rose Shimmer 01 is a sheer light pink balm-like gloss, on the lips it gives a sheer natural wash of light pink with a tiny bit of shimmer, it has a soft vanilla scent
  • NARS Lip Gloss in Turkish Delight is a super pale powdery pink gloss, on my super pigmented lips this is high maintenance when worn alone, I find it's best worn as a layering lipgloss mainly because I have a lot of color in my lips
  • Zelens Lip Glaze in Rose is a lush baby pink cream, I have a hard time pulling off baby pinks on the lips that are non-shimmers, they are often too pale on my lip but this one was surprisingly good, it's pricey for a lip gloss but the texture and color are really really good, coverage is medium
  • Bite Beauty Lush Fruit Gloss in Strawberry is something I bought in the mini size over the holiday, this is the first Bite Lip Gloss I've tried and the color is absolute perfection for the perfect light-to-medium rose pink but the formula is less than stellar. I wonder if this is one of those glosses you need to "break in" with a few wears to make the formula better, it settled into lip lines like crazy which is a shame because the color and pigment is so pretty
  • Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Pink Pop is sheer bright pink gloss perfection, I love a good bright lip gloss that has a sheer texture because they give the lips just enough color to get that glow, this one has a very strong vanilla scent so if you're sensitive to fragrance, you might not be able to wear this one easily
  • Giorgio Armani Flash Lacquer in 521 is a sheer medium cool-toned pink, it's very sheer so alone it will give you a very subtle tint of color, it's lovely over a lipstick or lipliner 
  • NARS Lip Gloss in Angelika is a bright cool-toned pink with gold flecks of shimmer, this one is a pretty azalea pink kind of color with medium coverage
  • Hourglass Extreme Sheen Lip Gloss in Ballet is a lipgloss that acts more like a liquid lipstick, this one has crazy intense pigment and covers the lip entirely, if you want a glossy bright pink with super rich coverage, this is the best one I've tried
  • MAC Viva Glam Miley Cyrus is a super fun glitzy pink, I'm usually ultra conservative when it comes to anything with visible sparkles that is more than just shimmer, but this one is really pretty on the lips, I'm not sure that I would be able to rock this comfortably everyday, but it's not too glitzy if you layer a sheer wash of this on top of a lipstick
  • Zelens Lip Glaze in Pink is a healthy medium-bright pink, it has medium coverage leaning slightly more towards full but still has a glossy finish so it's not like a liquid lipstick, it's like Laura Mercier's Pink Pop amped up a few notches in terms of pigment and oomph, I highly recommend the formula because it plumps the lips naturally and feels ultra hydrating and smooth
  • Chanel Glossimer in Crazy Fuchsia is part of the spring collection, it's a super pigmented glossimer that has the prettiest mix of pink, violet and rose shimmers, long-time readers know I'm all about lighter neutral lips, but this one is just insanely gorgeous

Lip swatches on me (for reference some of these were taken over different days, foundations worn include the NARS All Day Weightless Luminous Foundation in Punjab and Tom Ford Traceless Perfecting Foundation in Bisque 04 with various setting powders):


I hope you found this lip gloss guide helpful in terms of picking out pink lip glosses with a diverse range of finishes, textures and different levels of color. To narrow down my top picks by category:

Favorite sheer light pink:
Clarins Instant Light Perfector in Rose Shimmer and Zelens Rose Lip Glaze

Favorite medium pink:
Laura Mercier Pink Pop and Zelens Pink Lip Glaze

Most unique:
Chanel Crazy Fuchsia Glossimer

This is by no means a comprehensive of all the pink lip glosses I've tried or adore, but rather an edited version of what I've been testing or using right now. What are your favorite pink lip glosses?

The Zelens Lip Glazes, Hourglass Extreme Sheen Lip Gloss and Laura Mercier Lip Glace were provided as press samples for review consideration, all others purchased by me.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hourglass Modernist Eyeshadow Palette in Infinity


Hourglass just released seven new eyeshadows called the Modernist Eyeshadow Palette ($58 each for 5 x 0.035 oz/1.0g). Each palette seems to offer a diverse range of textures and finishes. There are different color variations for a soft to more dramatic eye. I went with the safe option and purchased Infinity a soft palette of warm neutrals which includes Warm Ivory, Dusty Rose, Bronzed Mauve, Cool Taupe, Dark Cocoa.


The shadows are extremely soft powders with an easy to blend texture. Pigment is very good on this palette and easy to blend and layer for a softly defined eye. Many of my readers have commented on the lack of soft satiny matte palettes in the high-end beauty market. If you've been on the hunt for a good palette of soft mattes (with one wearable shimmer) this is the answer to what you've been searching for. The only downside is the soft texture is so soft that there is a lot of powder kick-up when you swipe the palette with the brush. I didn't find that the powder fallout translated to how it applied on the eyes though. With a good brush (like MAC 217, 219 or 239) I was able to get a soft medium gradient.

With soft neutral mattes like these sometimes the colors can end up looking muted or the same on the lids. I like to start with the medium shimmer shades first and then add the others to either highlight or contour the rest of the eye. The middle shimmer color is very soft but adheres well to the lids. The other mattes are softer and lighter in texture (although they have good pigment) and for me are better used as washes. The darkest color is best used with a damp brush or over a creamy liner to help the enhance the pigment.

The packaging and product design is incredibly unique. The powders in the compact are pressed together making them look like a wave pattern. When there is no separator between colors in palettes I usually get worried. I like tiny dividers because I find they make it easier for me to dip my brush into the palette without having to worry about mixing colors. The stripes are large enough for my MAC brushes for now. I do wonder how it will work once the surface is worn down after use.

They come packaged in a similar design to the Ambient Lighting Powder Palette, but the Modernist Eyeshadow Palettes are smaller. For the price and for consistency, I do wish they were larger in size.


Swatches:


Larger and heavier swatches:


Comparisons:


Burberry Nude Blush (review)
Urban Decay Naked2 Basics (swatched)


Tom Ford Orchid Haze (review)
Tom Ford Cocoa Mirage (review)

Based on the comparisons above you can see similarities in the shades to other palettes. If you own a lot of neutrals you may find this easy to dupe. To me it seems to be a cross between Orchid Haze and Cocoa Mirage from Tom Ford. I've found this palette beautiful to wear and gives a lovely soft defined eye. I do wish the powder texture was a bit less soft because the palette itself can get quite messy with the powder kick-up, although as mentioned above, they meld nicely on the eyes and I experienced no fall out once I put it on the skin.

I know from reading other reviews that there are mixed thoughts on this, my recommendation is try before you buy if you are skeptical. Reviews with thumbs up from Goss Makeup Artist. Lukewarm review from Color Me Loud. Thumbs down from Temptalia.

I personally am really happy with my purchase, I haven't seen or tested the others to give you a review on the entire collection of the Modernist Palettes (some look like they have more dramatic sparkles). Given the mixed reviews I don't suspect this will be a universally loved palette, but I do know I'm not alone with my thumbs up thoughts on this.

You can find the Hourglass Modernist Eyeshadow Palettes now at Sephora, Barneys New York and Hourglass Cosmetics. It will be available at other retailers later this month.

Did you try any of these palettes? What did you think? 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter Glow


This time of year my skin feels like it lacks natural luster so I rely on illuminators and soft nude shimmers to fake that glow-from-within. Today I'm sharing my favorite go-to's along with thoughts on a few new items I've been testing to get that soft glow. Picks include items for nails, lips, cheeks and eyes. When it comes to shimmers I like to mix them in for one to two areas of the face with color rather than wear champagne shimmers all over the face, otherwise it's just too much. I like using these as a cheekbone or very soft brow bone highlight too in order to add dimension.

First up are pale shimmers for the lips. I am always a huge fan of those soft pale shimmers for the lips but can't always pull them off easily. I have medium pigmented lips with olive skin so often times pale shimmers make me feel like I have white lips. Two I've discovered that work for my lips include Rouge Dior Baume in Star and Lipstick Queen Ice Queen. Both have that lovely translucent quality with multidimensional shimmer to prevent these from looking too frosted.  


Both look similar in photographs on my lips but I think they are different enough to justify both. The Rouge Dior Baume in Star has a cooler-toned quality and is sheerer. Lipstick Queen Ice Queen looks lighter in the photos but it has a higher level of frost which reflects more. It has a mix of silver and gold particles which makes it a good layering lipstick. I have a slight preference for the Lipstick Queen because the shimmering quality is really pretty. If you are anti-shimmer for lips, you may find it too frosty.



For the nails, I've been obsessed with Rescue Beauty Lounge Bubblegum Punk for a fun multi-colored shimmer frost. It has an ultra smooth finish even though it's on the sparkly side. I can never resist pale shimmers for nails, but some are hard to work with if they are frosts. Marc Jacobs Beauty has released two new Hi-Shine Enamored Nail Polishes. Blanche was released last fall. It's a metallic soft white which I found took some extra effort to make work. Being a metallic I found brush strokes visible with two coats, but they disappeared a bit with the third coat. I have yet to find a good white shimmer that is streak-free. This one is pretty good if you are patient. Milk is a new addition to their Runway Shades. This is an iridescent beige that flashes pink and opal. I adore these kinds of colors but I know some women find the colors like this difficult to work with on their skin tone (something about the beige makes the skin look sallow). Milk flashes enough iridescent shimmer to prevent the beige base from dominating. I find it very wearable.



For highlighting, there are a number of multi-tasking products for eyes and cheeks. I love a good shimmer that gives a glow without looking frosty. I know everyone has different preferences for what degree of shimmer they are comfortable wearing so I'll give a summary ranking of what I think is the most subtle to the most frosted.

First up are creamy ones. NARS St. Lucia Multiple is the latest from NARS (currently a Nordstrom exclusive, available at all NARS counters in March, review here). It's a multi-purpose creamy twist up stick. On me it gives a natural glowy soft pink highlight to the cheeks and eyes. On fairer skins this will probably give you more color and look more blush-like.

My holy grail cream highlighter is Edward Bess All Over Seduction. He has two shades, Sunlight is the paler one (shown below) and Afterglow is a bronzey version. Both are incredibly natural and glowy. The texture blends in beautifully with the skin and the shimmer is finely milled. If you're afraid of shimmer I highly recommend you check these out because it's impossible to overdo and looks amazing on everyone I've seen it applied on.

One of the newest illuminators I've been testing is the Chantecaille Liquid Lumiere Anti-Aging Face Illuminator in Sheen (I received this as part of the Net-A-Porter holiday beauty box but it's available separately). At first swipe I found the shimmer in this one to be on the high side but after playing with this I found it blended out to a soft smooth veil of shimmer. It does have more shimmer than Armani Fluid Sheers or the Edward Bess Sunlight but it is still very wearable. The pigment and shimmer is intense but it's concentrated so you only need a tiny amount. A little goes a long way. If you're one of those beauty lovers who is in search of a liquid highlighter that won't disappear on the skin once you blend it this is a good one to look into. I've dabbed it on top of the cheekbones or eyes (after foundation/powder) and it doesn't disrupt your makeup base. Check out the review on Best Things in Beauty to see how the colors look once blended properly. 



For additional highlighters, my go-to powder highlighter is from Hourglass. The Ambient Lighting Palette (review here) goes with me on all trips. I use the full size versions at home and take this palette with me for on-the-go or on vacations. The palette came out after the individual ones were released, so I have some duplicate colors. If you're new to these powders, I hands down say go for the palette. There is a good amount of product so it will last you a long time and it's super convenient to use and carry with you.

I used to use the Kevyn Aucoin Celetial Powder in Candlelight a long time ago when it had the larger compact packaging. I liked it but didn't love it. Several have recommended I check it out again claiming it reached holy grail status for them. I like the new compact packaging and the powder is lovely but I don't love it. I find it a bit too pale for my medium-olive skin. That being said if you thought the Hourglass Luminous Light was too shimmery or glowy I recommend the Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight because it is a notch down in the shimmer intensity. If you prefer neutral to cool-toned highlighters then you will really like Candlelight. I have friends who are on the fair side (Chanel Beige 10 or MAC NC20) and they swear by this one.

Last but not least, I think the NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadows in Himalia and Dione are the best shimmers on the market. It has a really good blendable cream texture. The shimmer/frost is high on this so your mileage may vary. Full review here. If you don't have a lot of the colors you may want to check out the NARSissist Dual Intensity Eyeshadow Palette. I already own 5 of the 8 shades so I'm having a hard time justifying a purchase since it will result in a lot of dupes for me.



What do you like to use to get a nice glow in the winter time?

The Lipstick Queen Ice Queen, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette, Rescue Beauty Lounge Bubblegum Punk Nail Polish and Chantecaille Illuminator were provided as press samples for review consideration. All other items purchased by me.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

On My Radar / New In Beauty


Happy weekend everyone! New spring collections and launches are starting to trickle in. Spring seems to be filled with some lovely pinks and roses. A few things on my beauty radar, from top left clockwise:

Guerlain Spring is filled with soft delicate pinks. I have my eye on the Les Precieux Eyeshadow Palette, Rosy Silk and Peach Satin Kiss Kiss Lipsticks and Baby Rose Nail Lacquer.

Diptyque's latest is the Rose and Ivy Collection. There is a new candle out called Rosafolia. Available now at online Diptyque and in Diptyque Boutiques. In addition there is a new scented oval and perfume released with the collection.

NARS Eye-Opening Act is a new launch exclusive to Nordstrom. I will have a review out next week. It includes St. Lucia Multiple (which is stunning!), two eyeshadow palettes in Yeux Irresistible and Inoubliable Coup d'Oeil along with five new Velvet Shadow Sticks.

Hourglass Cosmetics has new Eyeshadow Palettes coming out this spring called Modernist Eyeshadow Palettes. Infinity is the first one released, available now at Barneys New York. I can't wait to see this in person.

Dior Kingdom of Colors has two new Nail Lacquers in Glory and Lady for spring. There is also a really interesting Top Coat that looks like confetti.   

YSL Volupté Tint-In-Oil is a lip tint suspended in oil. It comes in eight colors. I've read mixed reviews but I have three sitting in my shopping cart. I can't decide whether or not to pull the trigger and buy without testing first. 

Bite Beauty has a new Agave Lip Mask in Smashed which is a berry hue. I am putting this one to the test right now and hope to have a full review with swatches later next week.

The Sephora + Pantone Universe Shimmering Marsala Cheek Trio keeps calling my name. I think it's only a matter of time before I cave and purchase this too. If you bought it, I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

What's on your beauty radar this weekend?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Best Beauty Discoveries and Highlights of 2014


2014 has been a very exciting year and I feel incredibly blessed in so many ways. I am grateful for each and every one of my readers. Without your passion for all things beauty this blog would not be a possibility for me to keep up. Each week I am touched by the kindness some of you have shown through e-mail and comments. I think the internet and social media is amazing with the way it enables us to connect with each other across the world. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following me through this blog :) 

I have a roundup of beauty highlights in 2014. There have been so many great beauty releases and innovations this year. I think the holiday sets this season were the best ones I've seen to date. I've linked previous reviews of my favorite beauty discoveries for 2014 below. Please let me know what your top beauty discoveries were as well, I'd love to hear what your favorite picks were!
This year marked the year for a number of brand launches and store openings. New beauty brand launches in the US that I was really excited about included Gucci Beauty and Charlotte Tilbury. A number of brands added new stores and boutiques. Diptyque on Larchmont opened in Los Angeles. In Venice Beach Caudalie and Hourglass Cosmetics opened up boutiques. Another highlight for me was finally visiting the NARS Boutique on Melrose (although it opened a few years ago).

Additional highlights include a couple special features for The Beauty Look Book. In January I was really excited to be featured on Barneys New York - The Window. In March of this year I was beyond thrilled to discover that InstyleUK included me in their Top 50 Websites (thank you!!).

The best thing for me this year though was being able to connect with some bloggers and YouTubers in person (in beauty and fashion). Meeting them was incredibly inspiring. There are few things that give me that warm fuzzy feeling like seeing women support other women and I value their friendship, advice, encouragement and positive outlook on life. 

What were your top beauty discoveries this year?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Loving Right Now


I can't believe that this is the last week of 2014. I will have a year-end roundup/review shortly with some thoughts and reflections soon. For now I wanted to share a few things I'm loving right now. As always I would love to hear what you've been loving too! 

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes are a current favorite. It has the perfect mix of glow and pigment in one compact. I've been reaching for Luminous Flush lately which brightens the complexion and adds a nice healthy glow with the soft shimmer. Review + swatches here and here.

I'm a sucker for cute notebooks and Vianel has small Moleskin Pocket Notebooks that you can have personalized (for now the personalization is free of charge). I like that they give you a choice of engraving on the front or back of the notebook.

Tom Ford Lips & Boys in Peter is a pretty neutral nude shimmer I've been really pleased with. Based on reader comments, many of you seemed to like this one most in my recent post here. I like it so much that I bought a backup.

Marc Jacobs O'Mega Lash Volumizing Mascara is seriously good. When it comes to mascara it takes a lot to impress me, most mascaras turn grey on my lashes once they dry or smudge or flake. The Marc Jacobs O'Mega volumizes and separates my lashes without any clumping or flaking. It holds the curl without looking crunchy. Once it dries the color remains a true black. I will definitely be repurchasing it.

So many have raved about the Aesop Parley Seed Cleansing Masque. I have a few loves from Aesop for body products but many of the facial skincare products have a really strong earthy and herbal fragrance which I cannot tolerate. I decided to give this a try and am thoroughly impressed. This mask is amazing. It is gentle on the skin but really works to remove impurities from the pores. What I like about the Aesop mask is that it seems to be perfect for sensitive skin. It has a soothing feel once applied. There's no tingly or burning feeling. If you have super sensitive skin and want a good clarifying/cleansing mask I highly recommend looking into this one. It has a natural earthy scent but it's not too strong and actually quite soothing.

With the dry weather I've been exploring more in hand creams. I'll have a roundup of all the ones I've been testing later this week. One new discovery of mine is the Eve Lom Hand Cream. For those who cannot tolerate highly fragranced hand lotions this is a good one. It has no added fragrance but still has a nice super lightweight naturally clean scent. It has lightweight airy texture that moisturizes well and absorbs quickly into the skin. A more detailed review to come soon.

For the home, I've been obsessed with Diptyque Figuier. In my opinion this is the best fig candle that I've tried (it beats Henri Bendel and Jo Malone, although those are very good too). It's a good holiday candle that gives a warm and cozy feel to the home.

Last but not least, I've been loving the Faux Fur Throw from Williams-Sonoma Home (used in the background of the photo above). It's super soft and thick and warm.

What have you been loving right now?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Beauty Look Book's Guide to Building a Makeup Wardrobe


This year I've received quite a few e-mails from new readers who just started getting into higher-end cosmetic brands. Being a beauty junkie and beauty blogger, I put dozens of products to the test each mont. This allows me to offer comparisons in order to help others determine differences or similarities across brands, formulas and product families.

For the makeup newbie it can be a bit overwhelming to sort through all the options. Finding good makeup that works for you often has to be done through trial and error. I think we've all been at that place where we bought something that ended up not working so well for our skin tone or skin type. Finding a store with a wide range of brands to choose from with a good return/exchange policy is one of the main reasons I really love to shop at Nordstrom. Today I've teamed up with them to create a personal beauty guide on how to start building a makeup wardrobe.

Most of my makeup preferences are for natural colors that will enhance features. New readers frequently e-mail me requesting a customized shopping list of my top beauty picks for them to take to the counter. Picking favorites is almost impossible for me since I really do love a lot of brands, but I've compiled an edited list that I think will be good for the makeup newbie. I've split my guide into three categories: Lips, Eyes and Cheeks.


For lips, if you're just starting to get into makeup, my recommendations would depend on what kind of look you want. Even if you want a natural color, texture and finish plays a major part in picking out the right lip product. Do you prefer sheer, glossy, velvety, full-coverage? Are you a lipstick or lipgloss kind of person? Do you like shimmer or prefer creams?
Chanel Rouge Allure Glosses offer rich pigment with high shine and flawless coverage. My favorite soft pink is Sensible 15. If you want a no-fuss medium to full coverage lip gloss that stays put, these will give a really pretty shine while adding a good amount of color. There are naturals and brights in this formula to suit a wide range of skin tones. Another really good full coverage lip gloss is the Dior Addict Fluid Stick. These are a hybrid lipstick + lipgloss and it packs in a ton of color with high shine. Whisper Beige 219 is a good natural beige nude that won't wash out the complexion.

If you prefer to ease into color and want just a tint of color and shine, Chanel Glossimers are among my favorite out of all the lip glosses in the market. Shades range from sparkling light pinks, bright corals, soft rose, beiges to plums. The holiday Chanel Give It Shine Glossimer Lip Trio has the perfect collection of shades to start your lip wardrobe. It has Amour (soft peach), Sweet Beige (nude beige shimmer) and Wild Rose (the perfect rose pink shine). These have a smooth texture with a naturally glossy sheen.

If you want a more budget-friendly lip gloss, MAC Lipglasses are hard to pass up. These are a bit sticky and tacky, but there are a lot of colors and finishes to choose from. Lovechild Lipglass is one of the most universally flattering colors I've seen. It's a soft plum with pink tones and gold shimmer. On me it pulls very natural, on fair skin it's the perfect plum, on darker or deeper skin tones it also looks good. Laura Mercier Lip Glacés also offer a wide range of colors with a natural finish. Pink Pop is a bright but sheer pink which brings the complexion to life with a sheer wash of bright color.

If you are more of a lipstick kind of person but want something natural, Chanel Rouge Coco Shines are my favorite no fuss swipe-and-go kind of lipstick. Boy 54 is the best classic rose pink shade that adds the prettiest hint of color and shine. The sheer formula won't be as long lasting as a regular lipstick but the color is flawless and formula is hydrating. These are really good if you're timid with bold colors and want something to ease into for lips. The sheer glossy formula is slightly transparent and lets you natural lip shine through.

If you want a full coverage lipstick but still want something that looks natural, the NARS Audacious Lipstick formula is hands down the best that has been released this year. The formula is full coverage with an amazing coverage that melds with the lip. If you have dry lips or peeling flakes you will need to moisturize or prep with a lip balm first, but if your lip is smooth, these are the best I have tried. It has a semi-matte and semi-velvety finish but there is a slight sheen to these which prevents it from looking flat. Raquel is my perfect nude pink. Brigitte is a nude pink beige that has more color but is still very natural.




For the eyes, there are a lot of different eyeshadows and liners that I adore. If I were pressed to pick my current top three favorites for eyeshadow, they would be Urban Decay Naked3, Chanel Tisse Rivoli and Dolce & Gabbana Smoky.


The Urban Decay Naked3 Palette is my most reached-for palette. It has 12 shades of neutral rosy-toned neutrals that can create a wide range of looks. There are shimmers, sparkles and mattes all of which have really incredible pigment. The texture of Urban Decay eyeshadows is buttery smooth and this particular palette doesn't have any glitter shades which is a huge plus for me (and any neutral makeup lover). This is the one palette that goes with me on almost every trip. It's a palette I find can go with everything. Pink shadow can be hard for me to wear (it often gives me a pink-eye look) but Naked3 is neutral enough to be very wearable. If you don't feel comfortable wearing rose-colored shadow the next best option is Naked2 which is more neutral and taupe-based.

If having 12 shadows to play with in one palette is too overwhelming and you need something more edited, Chanel Tisse Rivoli is my favorite neutral quad. The texture adheres well to the eyes and layers well. The colors are smooth and pigmented. For something with more dramatic color, Dolce & Gabbana Smoky (swatched here) is my holy grail smoky eyeshadow quad.

For a cream shadow that is a good over wash shadow the Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color in Rosegold is a good pick. It's a soft shimmery champagne with rose and gold tones. It is creamy and blends easily on the eyes. You do need to let it sit for a minute or so to dry and then afterwards they last pretty well. It also works as an eye base for powder shadows and helps bring out the pigment.

For liners and mascara, a simple classic black is a good place to start. Not all black eyeliners are good though. Some pull grey in undertone or can smudge easily. Finding good eye makeup that you don't have to worry about throughout the day is essential. My favorite mascara is the Armani Eyes to Kill Stretch because it grabs every little lash and volumizes, holds the curl, doesn't smudge, doesn't clump and defines the lashes really well. For me this one lasts all day without budging.

For liners, the Tom Ford Liquid Eyeliner is hands down the best liquid liner I've tried. It's extremely pricey but it is worth every penny and will last you a very long time. There are two ends with different sizes of tips which allows for precise application and complete control. If you're new to liquid liners, this hands down is the best one I've tested. It makes applying liquid liner super easy. If you prefer a pencil liner, Burberry's Effortless Kohl Eyeliners were just released this year. Jet Black is one of the deepest and richest black liners I've tried and it stays put all day from morning to night. It comes in a twist up pencil format with a built in sharpener at the end which I find very convenient (especially if you carry it on the go or when you travel).




Out of all the beauty products I own, I would say blush, bronzer and highlighters dominate my makeup collection by far. Picking out a few favorites was a difficult task. For the face I've narrowed down my recommendations to a few items that will multi-task.


If I could only wear one blush palette for the rest of my life I would pick out the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette. It has three shades in a mirrored compact that cover all the shades you could need to go with any look. Luminous Flush is a coral pink, Incandescent Electra is a soft peach, Mood Exposure is a plum rose. The colors are very pigmented with easy to control buildable color. There is a bit of highlighter mixed into each blush which gives these a luminous glow. Those who don't like shimmer need not fear with this one. The shimmer is finely milled and very natural on the face. It's impossible to overdo but the pigment is rich enough to add visible color.

For a bronzer and highlighter, Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow offers both in one  convenient mirrored compact. The bronzey shade can be used as a contouring powder, although I like it as a bronzer on me. The highlighter is a pale warm gold champagne which has a high frost but looks very natural on the skin. The two combined can be used on the cheeks, temples and eyes.

Liquid illuminators are also something I consider in a makeup wardrobe. They can be used as highlighters on top of powder/foundation to add a glow or they can be used under blush to help color adhere better. I like to use these on the eyes occasionally to highlight. If you need a bit of shimmer in your foundation these can be mixed in. My favorite liquid highlighter is the Soleil Tan de Chanel in Sunkissed. It's a pale golden champagne that dries to a semi-matte finish which means it stays put all day long. If you want more color options or want something more dewy, Armani Fluid Sheers are classic staples that will give you that glow from within look.



I hope you found this introductory guide useful! Whether you are new to higher-end makeup or want to know what my current favorites are, I hope this provides an edited list of recommendations for you to start exploring. If you could recommend your top 5 beauty picks to a makeup newbie, what would they be? I would really love to hear what your favorites are!





This post was sponsored by Nordstrom. All opinions are my own.
For more information please refer to my Disclosures

Friday, October 31, 2014

October Beauty Favorites


October's beauty favorites include:

SK-II Skin Refining Treatment (1) has been a miracle worker in improving my skin. It's a night time skincare treatment that helps to refine the skin and remove dead skin cells overnight. I have been using it regularly since September and it is gentle but very effective at clearing up the complexion and giving it a more radiant look.

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lustre Luxe Color-Lasting Lip Lacquers in Sweet Stiletto and Seduction (2) are both great pigmented neutrals. I have Sweet Stiletto swatched and reviewed here. Since then I've bought a few more of the glosses (and really like them). Let me know in the comments if you are interested in seeing a review.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette (3) has been a staple this past month. During my move, I had most of my beauty items packed away in bubble wrap and boxes, I kept a small handful of things in a makeup case for regular use. This was one of them, I used this almost exclusively the past few weeks. It's versatile and goes with just about any kind of look. Swatches and review can be found here.

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Moonlight (4) is a new shade I discovered in the Mini Caviar Stick Eye Color Set for this holiday. I just reviewed it a few days ago but purchased it the first week of October (sometimes testing takes a long time for me). I will definitely be purchasing the full size of this color soon. It's the perfect platinum warm taupe shimmer.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard and Ginger (5) are my two newest concealer discoveries. I'm super picky when it comes to concealer (I've used Clé de Peau Beauté and By Terry almost exclusively for years, swatches of all Cle de Peau Beaute shades here). I'll have a full review up next week, but the NARS lives up to the hype. It's quite incredible.

Wayne Goss Brush #16 is a large super soft domed brush (6). I bought it from Beautylish which describes it as being "designed for controlled application and pristine blending." This brush is one of the largest shadow brushes I own. I've been using it to apply Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder under the eyes. It's a soft but dense brush that picks up the powder nicely and gives smooth application.

Charlotte Tilbury Air Brush Flawless Finish Skin Perfecting Micro-Powder Shade 2 is another new favorite (7). The powder comes in three shades, I was matched to #2 which is a very good match for my Chanel 30 / Tom Ford Bisque 04 skin tone. I'm normally not a fan of pressed powders because I find that they look chalky or end up darkening my face (I prefer powder foundations instead). This one by Charlotte Tilbury changed my outlook completely. I saw it applied on my friend who is very fair in Shade 1. The artist brushed it over her skin as a touchup without adding any foundation or concealer and the effect was quite incredible.

Urban Decay Naked2 Basics (8) is the best matte eyeshadow palette I have tried. You can see swatches in this post here. I've been reaching for this one quite frequently as my no-fuss go-to everyday kind of palette.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Dry Oil Spray (9) has made my favorites list for a nice pick-me-up. It has a really nice soothing scent and hydrates the skin nicely without being too heavy. More thoughts on three dry oils here.

By Terry released six tinted shades of her cult classic Baume de Rose called the Baume De Rose Nutri-Couleur. I splurged on four of the shades but I'm smitten with the plum shade in Fig Fiction (10).

Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil (11) is a regular favorite. The past month I've been using it more frequently as my hands and fingers have been dryer than normal. It smells like lush coconut. Works like a charm to fix dry cuticles.

Tom Ford Spanish Pink (12) is my favorite nude pink lipstick of the moment. There's nothing like it that I've tested. It has just the right amount of warmth in it to make it look slightly peachy but not too much. Swatches here.





What were your beauty favorites in October?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette


The latest addition to the Hourglass Ambient Lighting line is the Ambient Lighting Blush Palette ($58 for 3 shades, each 0.116 oz/3.3g). It's a limited-edition palette with three of the Ambient Lighting Blushes in Luminous Flush (champagne rose), Incandescent Electra (cool peach, exclusive to the palette) and Mood Exposure (soft plum). I've been a huge fan of the Ambient Lighting Powders (palette review and Luminous Light review here) and Blushes (review on individual colors here). The addition of a travel-friendly blush palette is just pure genius (for me at least).

If you're new to the Ambient Lighing Blushes, they are multi-dimensional powders with swirls of pigmented color and highlighter. They are infused with what Hourglass calls "photoluminescent technology" which creates depth and dimension. Hourglass claims these give your face an "otherworldly glow" and I can't find any words to better describe their Ambient Lighting products. All of the powders are handmade so no two look alike.


I've been testing the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette for the past couple of weeks and am really pleased with it. Two of the shades can be purchases individually which I already own, so while this is mostly a duplicate of what I have, I do find the packaging design and size of the palettes to be very user-friendly and perfect for travel. I almost always bring the highlighter palette with me on all trips. The compact is sleek and long so it fits easily into my travel bags.

The powders in the blush palette are identical in size to those in the highlighter palette. They are smaller compared to the blushes that you purchase individually. I've photographed them side by side for comparison purposes.


I've found the colors in the palette to look slightly lighter than the ones I own individually but they apply the same on the skin. In my experience, the Ambient Lighting Blushes are all very pigmented on my skin and show up just like blush with a couple exceptions. Dim Infusion and Etheral Glow are both very light and give a very slight hint of color on my medium/tan skin. If you are medium to dark, you may find these don't show up on you. In terms of application, all the other colors, including the shades in the Blush Palette show up very well on my skin. What I love about these is that they are soft but buildable. The blush color is very pigmented but the mix of the soft highlighter inside each shade gives the product a very beautiful glow. I do think these work best on skin that has a bit of moisture. If you have super dry skin or a very powdered face, you might find they don't show up as well. For me over foundation with powder on top these apply just fine. If you don't see any color you may want to add a bit of a sheer highlighter like Armani Fluid Sheers on the cheeks under these.

Comparisons of the individual blush shades in Luminous Light and Mood Exposure (they look different in the pans but swatch identical):


Swatches, on the face they are glowy and not frosty:



Close ups of each shade in the palette:




The Ambient Lighting Palette is bottom line love. After playing with this for a few weeks I've found it really versatile. The colors look good individually or with two of them layered (any combination works). All the colors look good with neutral pinks, nude, plum or peach lips. The blushes have enough color to bring life to the face, but are subtle enough to wear with a bold lip.

If you've been waiting and thinking about the blushes I think the palette is definitely something worth splurging on. Product size differences aside, the palette retails for $58 while three individual blushes at $35 each will cost you $100+. If you already own Luminous Flush and Mood Exposure, then I don't think this is something that falls into the "need" category, however I do think it's a must-have for me. The Ambient Lighting Blushes are compact in size already so they don't take up a lot of room in your makeup bag. I do really like the convenience and packaging of the Hourglass palettes and Incandescent Electra is one of the prettiest light peaches I've ever seen.

The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette is currently listed as limited-edition for this fall/holiday. You can find it now at Sephora and Hourglasscosmetics.com. It will also be available later this month at Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Net-A-Porter, Space NK.

The blush palette was provided courtesy of Hourglass for review consideration.

 

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