Showing posts with label Laura Mercier. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Laura Mercier. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Holiday Beauty and Grooming Gifts from Nordstrom

The holiday shopping season has begun and there are a number of great beauty and grooming sets this year to suit every kind of recipient at multiple price points. I wish there was a one-gift fits all to make holiday shopping easier and more efficient but this is rarely the case for me. If you want a one-stop-shop, Nordstrom makes it really easy to find gifts for everyone in one place. They will gift wrap your gifts or give you beautiful silver boxes and ribbon to pack things up yourself which makes gifting easy. I've teamed up with Nordstrom today to share some of my top picks for gifts by recipient.

For the home, you can't go wrong with the holiday scents and gift sets from Diptyque. The Holiday Colored Glass Trio ($100 for 3) for this year is absolutely stunning with a huge wow factor. It comes with three 2.4 oz candles in this year's holiday scents Sapin, Oliban and Liquidamber. I can't get over how beautiful the packaging is this year. The Diptyque boxes are always beautiful as well.

There are a number of options and if you're new to Diptyque you might be slightly confused with the options. I've done a size comparison post before, but the quick version is shown below.
  • 1.2 oz is the smallest size available and only available in the 5 Piece Mini Candle Set (5 pieces for $75) or 10 Piece Mini Candle Set ($130). These sets are usually only available during the holiday seasons.
  • 2.4 oz candles are sold individually or in sets. Holiday scents with special packaging are usually priced higher ($35) than the ones with the clear glass jars ($32). There are sets available usually in trios.
  • 6.5 oz candles are the standard size and priced at $60 for the ones with clear glass. Holiday or seasonal editions are priced higher, this year's version is $70. These are typically sold individually although this year there are a few fragrance + candle sets available.

For the beauty lover who travels a lot, the Laura Mercier Stroke of Genius Set ($98) comes with six short-handled brushes in a dark brown pebbled clutch. I've bought many Laura Mercier Brush sets over the years, they always make really good high quality travel size sets. The ones included in this year are Flat Eyeliner Brush, Eye Crease Brush, All Over Eye Colour Brush, Ponytail Brush, Cheek Colour Brush, Secret Camouflage Brush. I've bought previous season sets for my mom and aunts and the brushes are well-loved.

For your BFF there are a number of good mini color sets from Laura Mercier. Picking makeup for friends or family can be tricky but Laura Mercier has several sets under $50 that have universally flattering shades. One is the Laura Mercier Haute Lips Trio ($38) which has a full-size Paint Wash Liquid Lip Colour in Petal Pink, a deluxe size Crème Smooth Lip Colour in Pink Dusk and mini Lip Pencil in Baby Lips. I picked up one below but don't have swatches because it is indeed a gift for one of my friends. Another good trio set is the In the Glow Trio ($38) for cheeks and eyes, these have clutch-sized minis perfect for on-the-go or evening touch ups.

A luxe gift for your BFF is the Chanel Turn Up the Shine Glossimer Set ($92). This is a luxurious splurge, but for that someone extra special you can't go wrong with Glossimers. This year's set has Beige Star, Rose Tendre and Murmure, all creams and non-shimmers. I have all three shades and love them. For the person who wants natural color and shine this is a good one. If you think shimmer is preferred, the two shades from the Vamp Attitude holiday collection are stunning. I'll add swatches below.

For the extra extra special someone or beauty lover who has almost everything, the ultimate splurge is the Armani Luxe is More Eyeshadow Palette ($140). When I saw this pop up online I thought there is no way this palette is worth the high price tag. I swatched it in store and was so amazed by the shimmer and pigment. The palette is pretty large too and the colors have the most exquisite shimmers. I'll have a detailed review soon. For now a sneak preview of the top and bottom layers. It has 10 eyeshadows, two concealers and one powder.

For the men in your life whether it's a boyfriend, husband, brother, dad, uncle etc. you can't go wrong with Kiehl's or Jack Black. So many of my friends have asked me for grooming recommendations for their boyfriends or husbands. They often want to help steer them into better grooming habits without being too pushy or hurt feelings. I've found starter sets with good packaging often get used - no extra nudging or pushing required. The Kiehl's Men's Starter Kit ($43) is something I bought for my husband and he's discovered a number of good staples. It's priced just right and has a little bit of everything for face, body, hands and shaving. Jack Black's The Jack Pack ($49) is also another good one, my husband swears by the Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser but it's not for everyone (some people like my brother-in-law don't like the thick mask-like texture).

Either way, both Kiehl's and Jack Black have good sets to fit everyone's tastes. There are a lot of unisex sets and I've found the holiday offerings have a good sampling of products for those just starting out or looking to try something new. (The Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Cream also comes in a trio this year and it's my husband's favorite hand cream formula.)

Last but not least, one thing I like to do for smaller gifts is split up sets and mix and match things. It's like giving stocking stuffers but one step up. I'm completely obsessed with Sugarfina Champagne Gummy Bears ($7 to $20 depending on size) and I'm so excited Nordstrom has these!! There are a few sweet sets which you can't go wrong with. I think it would be really fun to mix a small box of gummies with a hand cream and mini candle from a set or mini lip gloss.

I hope you found some ideas from my first holiday gift guide this season! What do you have on your list? I'm up for more inspiration or suggestions as I've just started my holiday shopping and have a lot more on my list.

Many thanks to Nordstrom for teaming up to sponsor this post. All items purchased by me. As always, all opinions my own.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Favorite Neutral Pink and Nude Lip Liner Pencils

I'm a neutral nude lipstick lover but I since I have pigmented lips I can't always pull off nudes. Many tend to either look super pale and chalky like concealer or are too dark on me - I know everyone has a different definition of nude when it comes to makeup, but to me a true nude is a your lips but better kind of color that is light and close to your natural skintone. I adore shades like MAC Cherish, Blankety, Creme Cup etc but they are almost impossible for me to wear alone without looking like I've swiped concealer all over my lips. Lip pencils often make it possible for me to wear lighter nude colors with blending or by creating a good softly lined base. If you've tried ordering lip pencils online like me then you know how hard it is to tell what the color looks like based on online swatches. I thought I'd roundup 20+ of my favorite neutral lip pencils alongside cult classics (some of which do not work for me even though they are wildly popular). As you'll see below many times you can't tell what the color will really look like until you swatch it. Also like nude neutral lipsticks, lip pencils have a wide variety of different undertones: warm, cool, pink, beige, peach, plum and brown.

Above photo: Diptyque Room Spray in Baies, Chêne candle recycled (boutique exclusive), stacked Blushes from Chanel and Hourglass 

A bit of background on what I look for in lip liners. I like ones that are soft and glide over the lips. I'm usually not a line and fill kind of girl when it comes to lip liners. I prefer to wear them around the outer edge and blend it slightly inwards to the center of lips to create an outlined base and then fill with a gloss or lipstick. Since many pencils are super pigmented and super saturated in color to help extend the wear of lipstick, I find lining and filling the entire lip leaves the lips looking really dry and emphasizes lines. This of course can be fixed with a good lip balm, lip primer or gloss.

I have 28 lip pencils to share swatches of, I'll link previous lip swatches if I have them. I was debating whether or not to swatch all on my lips - but nudes tend to look so different on me compared to everyone else. I think the swatches on the arms will help show the differences.

  1. Le Metier de Beaute Dualistic Lip Pencil in Nudite is a medium pinky brown creamy lip pencil, this one glides on the lips easily and is very pigmented, it has a smooth texture
  2. H&M Lip Liner in Au Naturel is included in the roundup because it's a new one and the perfect neutral nude color and at $5.99 I couldn't resist ordering it, on bare lips it's a disaster for me, you definitely need to prep the lips with a bit of lip balm or primer, this is borderline too pale, but it works
  3. MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Cultured is new to me, it's a long-wear mauvey nude pink
  4. MAC Lip Pencil in Subculture is my perfect nude pink, it has reached holy grail status for me, I've gone through 4 of them in my life, it's the best light pink nude that is still wearable
  5. MAC Lip Pencil in Oak is a classic light flesh nude, it's a classic for me because it has no orange undertone in it but doesn't make me look dead, unfortunately I think it might be on the discontinue list - the only place I could find it was on Bloomingdale's so I ordered 3 backups
  6. MAC Lip Pencil in Stripdown is another good true flesh nude, it's brown in undertone and slightly warmer than Oak, it's a good one but I know many find it too brown/grey
  7. MAC Lip Pencil in Boldly Bare comes second to my favorite Subculture, it's what I wanted Spice to always be, Boldly Bare is the perfect pinky warm medium nude that works wonders with pale lip colors and glosses
  8. MAC Lip Pencil in Spice is a cult classic that was so popular when I was in high school, every cool girl owned it, on me it was always so brown and pulled orangey on my lips even though it swatches more neutral, I still use and wear it to tweak lip colors, it's just not my favorite
  9. MAC Lip Pencil in Dervish isn't really a nude, it's more of a neutral medium rosy pink, but it falls into the neutral category for me, it's a classic staple I think everyone should try
  10. MAC Lip Pencil in Whirl is another really good nude, it pulls more mauvey nude rose which I adore, the cool tones prevents it from looking orange or brown on my lips, it has enough depth to really define the lips perfectly
  11. MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Double-Time is a neutral medium warm brown-pink-nude, this lasts all day without budging
  12. MAC Lip Pencil in Soar is a medium to dark pink, it's a bit darker and deeper on me than the traditional neutral, if you have deeper skin or deeper lips, this will probably pull more neutral on you than it does on me
  13. MAC Lip Pencil in Hover is another deeper neutral, it's one of the deepest neutrals I own
  14. MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Staunchly Stylish almost matches Subculture but it's slightly deeper and has a more pigmented finish
  15. Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Re-Size and Re-Shape Lip Liner in Iconic Nude is my perfect true nude in the sense that it's a flesh-toned beige nude, this is a classic pigmented pencil that I think might be a universally flattering color
  16. Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Re-Size and Re-Shape Lip Liner in Pillow Talk is a classic rosy pink neutral, this one goes well with a lot of the Charlotte Tilbury Lipsticks like Bitch Perfect, Confession, Penelope Pink etc.
  17. Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Re-Size and Re-Shape Lip Liner in Pink Venus is a warm peachy pink, the color warms up the lips and adds life to the face
  18. Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Natural is a classic light neutral pink nude beige, if you're looking for the perfect beige pink nude, this is it, compared to other formulas Chanel can tug on the lips a little, but they aren't drying
  19. Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Beige Satin is one of the lightest colors I own, it's borderline too pale for me, but I like mixing it with beige and nude lipsticks
  20. Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Beige Innocent is another pale pearly lip pencil from Chanel, it's almost identical to Beige Satin but slightly lighter
  21. Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Nude is a cult classic that has been used on me for every single Chanel makeover I've had, it's always seemed to be darker than what I envisioned a nude to be, but it's almost magical - artists have used this with every lip color imaginable from red, pink, coral, beige, peach - this somehow transforms and defines lip colors in the most amazing way
  22. Laura Mercier Lip Pencil in Naked is light baby pink neutral, it looks super light on me, but when I blend it out, it evens out the lip tone
  23. Laura Mercier Lip Pencil in Chestnut is another cult classic that is super popular, it's always recommended for the lipsticks I look at when shopping at the counter, it's a mauvey warm neutral
  24. Marc Jacobs Beauty (P)Outliner Lip Pencil in Honey(bun) is a super pigmented creamy twist up lip pencil, all three shades of the (P)Outliner are reviewed here, Honey(bun) is a neutral bright peachy color
  25. Marc Jacobs Beauty (P)Outliner Lip Pencil in Prim(rose) is a rosey pink brown neutral
  26. Marc Jacobs Beauty (P)Outliner Lip Pencil in Nude(ist) is a beige brown nude
  27. Edward Bess Defining Lip Liner in Natural is in my top picks for lip pencil formula, it comes in a sleek twist up tube and mine have never dried out, I've gone through several pencils, it's a great go-with-everything kind of neutral, texture is smooth and doesn't tug the lips
  28. Nudestix Lip & Cheek Pencil in Soul is one of the few chubby pencils I really really like. I own a number of chubby sticks from different brands but always find them a pain to sharpen (they always get so messy). Nudestix has a wide number of great nudes, Soul is my perfect warm peach nude (swatched on lips here)
One more view of all the pencils:

From the * clockwise, Le Metier de Beaute Nudite, H&M Au Naturel, MAC Cultured, MAC Subculture, MAC Oak, MAC Stripdown, MAC Boldly Bare, MAC Spice, MAC Dervish, MAC Whirl, MAC Double-Time, MAC Soar, MAC Hover, MAC Staunchly Stylish, Nudestix Soul, Edward Bess Natural, Marc Jacobs Beauty Nudite, Marc Jacobs Beauty Primrose, Marc Jacobs Beauty Honeybun, Laura Mercier Chestnut, Laura Mercier Naked, Chanel Nude, Chanel Beige Innocent, Chanel Beige Satin, Chanel Natural, Charlotte Tilbury Pink Venus, Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk, Charlotte Tilbury Iconic Nude

Truffle Small Clarity Clutch in new Nude

In case you're in need of some recommendations for clear or sheer lipglosses to layer over liners if you like to line and fill, here are a few of my favorites. In terms of lip primers, I swear by the MAC Prep+Prime Lip and Buxom True Nude Lip Foundation in Naked.

Below shown from left to right:
I hope you found this roundup of neutral lip pencils helpful! I think the swatches show how different many of them are even though they look really similar just based on the pencils themselves. If I were pressed to rank my top picks, my absolute favorites/staples are:

MAC Subculture
MAC Whirl
Edward Bess Natural
Chanel Nude
Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk

Do you have a favorite neutral lip pencil? I'd love to hear about what your holy grail neutrals are!

Press samples featured include Marc Jacobs (P)Outliners x3, Marc Jacobs Enamored Hi-Shine Lip Lacquer in Moonglow, Nudestix Soul, Buxom True Nude Lip Foundation, Truffle Clarity Clutch

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sephora Beauty Insider Sale / VIB Rouge Haul

I took advantage of the Sephora Beauty Insider sale and used my VIB Rouge discount for a massive haul. I planned on stocking up on skincare and haircare staples, but there seemed to be a wave of new beauty launches too. I ended up placing a couple of orders online. Here is the majority of what I bought. I have one more package coming in the mail but I'll be out of town when it arrives at my home later this week. Be warned, this list is very long.

1 + 2 + 3 / Surratt Beauty just launched at Sephora, most of what I wanted was already sold out by the time the sale started, but I managed to order three Artistique Blushes in Guimauve, Parfait and Aurelole plus the Large Custom Palette Case. I also bought one Lip Lustre in Coquette.

4 / Urban Decay released the Naked Skin Ultra Definition Powder Foundation in a wide range of colors. Each of the main shades come in Warm, Neutral and Cool. I picked out Medium Light Warm, I hope this is the right color for me, it's hard to tell in stores.

5 / Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders in Dim Light and Diffused Light come highly recommended by my readers as all over setting powders. I have Dim Light in the Palette Form which I really like but feel it's easier to dip a large fluffy brush in a larger compact. I've been obsessed with Diffused Light after testing it for a few days, it's the perfect all over setting powder.

6 / Koh Gen Do Cleansing Wipes are a must for me. I stocked up on the 3-pack.

7 / Laura Mercier Baked Blush Bronze Compact in Ritual is new for me, but I don't think it's a new shade. I have swiped it a couple times on the hand and it looks very dark, but there is a pretty pink glow mixed in. From what I have read, each one has different swirl patterns.

8 / Lavanila is new to me and I usually buy Dove deodorants but the concept of a soft vanilla scent in deodorant seemed really interesting. Fresh Vanilla Lemon is a light vanilla with a hint of citrus.

9 / SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil has been on my list to try for a long time. I decided to use the discount to save on this since full retail is $70. Review to come as I play with this.

10 / Christian Louboutin Nail Colour in Wherever is a deep but bright blue cream. I reviewed all of The Nudes here. I have several of the brighter Pops Colors and love the formula.

11 / Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7 in The Lolita and The Lover are really pretty neutrals. Swatches and review posted here.

12 / Tatcha Aburatorigami Japanese Beauty Papers Duo is a Sephora exclusive. Review of the full size version here. This duo has a small pack of Evening Papers in a darker color that is purse-sized. I haven't tried them yet but I couldn't resist a small one for clutches or small bags.

13 / YSL Gloss Volupte in Nude Carat has been on my radar for a while. The sale made me do it.

14 / I've loved everything I've tried from the Drybar line. These Hold Me Hair Clips are perfect for sectioning hair up when you curl, straighten or blow dry the hair. They are large and angled so they really grip large sections of hair without tugging, pulling or getting tangled without leaving dents.

15 / Tarte is a line I haven't explored much of but the Smolder Eyes Amazonian Clay Waterproof Eyeliner has gotten so many raves. I bought Sunstone Bronze.

16 / Surratt Beauty Surreal Skin Concealer seems promising as it comes highly recommended by Beauty Professor. I don't have immediate access but I ordered Shades 4 and 5 based on her swatches. I'm excited to try it.

Other items on their way include some haircare, skincare and lipgloss:

Make Up For Ever Plexi Gloss in 101, 201 and 105P

There are still a few more hours left to shop the sale. It ends tonight online, codes valid through end of today 4/21/2015 11:59 PM PDT.

VIB Rouge Members get 15% off with code ROUGELOVE
VIB Members get 15% off with code VIBLOVE
Beauty Insider Members get 10% off with code BILOVE

Did you buy anything from the Sephora sale? I would love to hear about your hauls!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

New In Beauty / On My Radar

Today I have another roundup of new beauty items on my radar. This time of year is my favorite because all the pretty spring-summery colors and fragrances start coming out. The Sephora Beauty Insider sale starts soon (the 12th for VIB Rouge) so if you're a beauty addict like me, you've probably started a wish list and have been moving things in and out of your online shipping cart.

1 / Last week I was lucky to get an early sneak peek at the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzers ($50 each). You can see a little preview here and here. I'm hoping to have the review up this weekend but I can say right now they are amazing. They are currently available exclusively at for VIB/VIB Rouge Members, launch for everyone on 4/15 online at Sephora and Hourglass Cosmetics and hit stores in May.

2 / To celebrate the opening of the Diptyque Beverly Hills Boutique, the store has released a limited-edition Beverly Hills Candle ($70) exclusive to the store that has lemon + mint essential oils,  orchid and freesia accord. 10% of the proceeds will be donated to LA> a leading independent nonprofit contemporary art space in Los Angeles supporting artistic and curatorial freedom. The candle is exclusive to the boutique, you can order one by calling the Beverly Hills store at (310) 385-5941.

3 / Also new from Diptyque is the Florabellio Eau de Toilette (in a 50 ml is $90 and 100 ml is $125). It's available starting this month and is supposed to be a mix of sweet, salty, apple blossom and apricot-scented osmanthus mist. The Diptyque South Coast Plaza Boutique has a promo going on if you pre-order the fragrance they will include a 12 ml mini of Florabellio as a gift with purchase. You can reach the store at (714) 850-9995, ask for Raven.

4 / Christopher Kane for NARS Summer 2015 Collection features some stunning beauty pieces. It launches online at and Boutiques on April 15th, everywhere else May 1st. 

5 / Jo Malone has three newly packaged colognes that are special-edition versions of some previously released scents ($125 each for 3.4 oz). Plum Blossom comes in a purple cap and label, Osmanthus Blossom comes with a spring green packaging, Sakura Cherry Blossom comes with the pink packaging.

6 / Laura Mercier has released eight new shades of the Creme Lip Color Smooth Formula ($27 each). The new shades include a mix of nudes and rose and plum: Lychee Parfait, Biscotti, Milky Way, Crushed Pecan, Praline Cream, Rose, Audrey and Dry Rose. Some of the names look familiar to me from her older formulas. I think a trip to the counter is in order for me soon.

7 / Tarte has a new Showstopper Clay Palette ($38) which looks perfect for summer. It has six warm-toned shadows, blush, bronzer and highlighter all in one. It's in my Sephora shopping cart right now since the store locator function shows it's online only right at this moment.

8 / Caudalie has four new masks. I ordered all four on Monday since I'm on the verge of running out of my Glamglow and Aesop masks. I have high hopes for these and will review once I put them to the test. I like the concept of different masks for different needs. The four options include the Purifying Mask, the Instant Detox Mask, the Moisturizing Mask and the Glycolic Peel Mask ($39 each).

What's on your beauty radar this week? Are you planning your Sephora haul like me?
What's in your shopping cart?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Trending Now: Spring Neutrals

I can't tell you how happy I am that neutrals are in this spring season. There's usually something neutral-toned with every seasonal release but this year the focus is on nude and neutral colors for eyes, lip, cheeks and. I've pulled a mix of items from fresh new releases along with some classic favorites to share today.

For blush there a number of great neutral colors that will add a nude glow to the skin. I like a neutral blush that won't darken or look muddy once it sets on the skin. For the cheeks I prefer something that has a bit of a sheen to add dimension and give depth to the face. Texture and blendability are important so you can layer and build color easily.

Clockwise from the left: Charlotte Tilbury First Love, Charlotte Tilbury Sex on Fire, NARS Reckless, MAC Tenderling, Tom Ford Frantic Pink

My all time favorite soft pink shimmer is Tom Ford Frantic Pink. There is nothing like it. It has a soft satiny silky feel with a buttery soft texture that melts into the skin. All the Tom Ford blushes I've tried are phenomenal and blend beautifully with a multi-dimensional finish that adds color and depth.

NARS Reckless is new for spring and it's a super pale powdery pink with tiny flecks of silver micro sparkle. I'm normally not one for glittery blushes but the shimmer in this one is fine enough to be wearable if you dust this lightly over matte blushes for an extra oomph.

As far as matte neutrals go, MAC Powder Blushes are the best ones I've tried. Tenderling is a classic soft tan with a very slight hint of pink. Other staples include Cubic (more pink), Prism (more nude) and Buff (a bit darker).

The Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Swish and Pop blushes are definitely worth checking out. These are similar to the Tom Ford in the soft and natural shimmery sheen but have two colors to mix. The outer ring is for the apples of the cheeks and the darker center color is to add a pop of color. I like to swirl my brush in the compact and apply both mixed to the face. First Love is the perfect nude that isn't too light. Sex on Fire is slightly darker and has more color but is still a really good neutral.

Beauty Look Book readers know I'm all about neutral lips. I could probably go on for days about neutrals. I'll have a roundup later on more spring releases for lips but for now I wanted to share my top picks that I've been loving right now.
Above from left to right: Tom Ford Lip Color Pink Dusk, Chanel Rouge Coco Adrienne, NARS Lip Gloss Guyane, Tom Ford Lip Gloss Rose Crush, Chanel Glossimer Sweet Beige, MAC Lipliner Boldly Bare, Charlotte Tilbury Lip Liner Pillow Talk

Tom Ford Pink Dusk is as good as it gets for me in terms of a natural pink lip that leans slightly neutral/nude but is still pink. I've used up a couple tubes of this one already. This comes with a steep price tag but it just works. No extra tweaking required and it has full flawless creamy coverage. In my experience there is no dupe that can match it in quality, pigment, coverage and color.

Chanel revamped all their Rouge Cocos (a full post on these soon). The new versions apply better on the lips with a texture that is smooth and hydrating. The coverage is medium on these. Adrienne is a soft warm pinky nude, similar to the Tom Ford Pink Dusk, but the Chanel is more beige and has a soft sheen to it. There is a very smooth shimmer to the Rouge Cocos that gives these a beautiful glow that isn't frosty.

NARS Guyane Lip Gloss is a super pale powdery cool nude pink. Alone it can look awful but this works wonders layered over other lipsticks or liners. (Above shown layered over MAC Boldly Bare Lip Liner). It works well with pinks, nudes, peach and rose lip colors.

Two lip liners I've been loving include Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk and MAC Boldly Bare. Both are really good neutrals that go with a wide range of lip colors. They are rich in color but blend nicely and help extend the wear of lipstick by creating a base. Both are good line + fill liners.

For nude gloss, Chanel Sweet Beige Glossimer is a classic soft beige with gold shimmer I think everyone should own. There is a slight hint of pink and brown in it so it won't wash you out. Tom Ford Rose Crush is the ultimate pigmented nude pink gloss. It covers the lips completely and adds a really pretty sheen.

For eyeshadow palettes, my top picks are still Urban Decay Naked2, Chanel Tisse Rivoli and Tom Ford Orchid Haze. Those are classic staples for me. If you're looking for something different and new, there are a number of new palettes and shadows that have just launched.

Above clockwise from left: MAC Amber Times Nine, Dior Eye Reviver Eyeshadow Palette, NARS Eyeshadow Valhalla, NARS Paint Porto Venere, Burberry Wet and Dry Glow Eyeshadow Shell, Laura Mercier Caviar Eye Stick Rosegold

MAC released several 9-pan palettes. Each palette comes with 9 mini-pan shadows in different color themes. MAC Amber Times Nine is the most neutral option with a variety textures ranging from matte, satin, shimmer and sparkle. The texture of the shadows are soft with medium but buildable pigment.

Dior released a new 6-pan palette filled with shimmery cool-toned neutrals. It's called the Dior Eye Reviver Eyeshadow Palette. These are ultra soft in texture with a finely milled shimmer that adds the prettiest sheen to the eyes. The shadows blend on the eyes for a natural look with very soft finish.

For single shadows, Laura Mercier Caviar Eye Stick in Rosegold is one of my holy grail champagne shimmery cream shadows. It's the perfect color for an all over wash and also works as a good base for powder shadows. Burberry's Wet & Dry Glow shadows are game changers for a unique gel/cream-to-powder kind of metallic. Shell is the prettiest soft pinky peach. If you want something more glitzy, NARS Valhalla is a super sparkly soft peach neutral. It's hard to tell in the swatch but it has peach and coppery bits of micro sparkle (versus the traditional silver or gold) which makes it super unique.

For nude eye bases, I typically prefer creams with a bit of shimmer. NARS Eye Paint in Porto Venere is a soft but pigmented nude powder pink that evens out the lids. If it seems to pale for you, MAC Paint Pots come in some good neutral matte cream colors. Above shown is Soft Ochre, Groundwork, Painterly and Layin Low.

For nails there are a number of good classic neutrals and nudes. Christian Louboutin has ten flawless nudes in a variety of shades from pink, beige, to cream (swatches of all ten shades here). For a cool-toned pink neutral, Dior Lady has reached holy grail status. I will need a backup. If you want a neutral that isn't a flesh-toned nude, Chanel Particuliere is a classic but can pull warm on some skin tones. Dior Palais Royal is a cool-toned version of the Chanel. If you are looking for a good neutral beige cream that has good coverage, Tom Ford Toasted Sugar is really lovely.

What are your favorite neutrals for lips, cheeks, eyes and nails? Have you checked out any of the new spring releases this year? What are your favorites? I'd love to hear about your all-time favorites or new discoveries. For more ideas, Nordstrom has an entire beauty section dedicated to New Neutrals.

This post was sponsored by Nordstrom. Press samples include NARS Valhalla, NARS Reckless, NARS Guyane and Burberry Shell. All other items purchased by me. More information in my Disclosures.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Favorite Setting Powders: Pressed and Loose

I've discussed foundations, primers and tinted moisturizers on this blog but haven't done a roundup on my favorite beauty powders. One of the keys to making my foundation or tinted moisturizer last is to use a good setting powder to make everything stay put. I've rounded up my favorites for my sensitive medium-toned skin.

Finding a good powder can take time and a lot of testing. Just like foundation, some colored powders look good once you apply it but can end up darkening after a few hours. Others might be too matte and make your face look completely flat. Then there are powders that are too heavy and can end up looking cakey on your skin or feel like it just sits on your skin.

When it comes to setting powders, I like both translucent kinds and ones with medium to medium-full coverage. If a powder is tinted but too sheer, I find it can look too powdery on the skin and I'd rather just stick with something that is translucent.

Translucent Loose Powders

I have two favorites for translucent loose powder that I've repurchased several times over. First is the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder which is an oil-free loose powder. It has a silky texture and colorless finish. The powder itself looks white but it doesn't make you look pale or turn the skin white. At my darkest, I am a Chanel B40 and this works when I have a tan. It's lightweight but you can definitely see a soft transformation on your face once you apply it. This one sets foundation really well without looking too powdery or cakey. It's also good for my sensitive skin, doesn't irritate my face or emphasize pores.

My next favorite is the NARS Light Reflecting Loose Powder. This is another colorless powder that has contains what NARS calls a Light Reflecting Complex which optimizes light-reflection on the skin. It doesn't add any visible shimmer or glow but it sets the makeup really well and once applied it melts into the skin and photographs really well. It does help to blur any lines or pores but won't make them disappear completely. This gives a slightly more matte finish to the face compared to the Laura Mercier but it doesn't make the skin look flat.

Loose Powders - Tinted

I've tried and used up a number of loose powders including Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Laura Mercier (Mineral), Becca and Clinique. Loose powder is one of those things where I use up entirely even if I don't 100% love it as long as it doesn't irritate or break out my skin. For me it's challenging to find a tinted loose powder that has enough color or coverage. So many darken or look so powdery on the skin. Laura Mercier made several Loose Powders in Ivory and Beige but it appears they have been discontinued. I am hoping it makes a comeback or is simply being repackaged because Beige was one of the best loose powders I've used. The Laura Mercier Mineral Loose Powder is another alternative I've used before, it has a pearl finish similar to other mineral powders. In terms of loose mineral powders, the Laura Mercier is the best one I've tried, but it's a bit heavy for my personal preference.

My all time favorite loose powder is Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Natural Lighting Powder. It comes in one shade that will suit fair to medium skin tones. I do hope they add more colors in the future because this one is really good. It's made of an ultra-fine pearl powder formula that works to set foundation and add a bit of coverage to even out the skin. The soft pearls particles cover pores and balance skin surfaces for a natural glow. The shimmer in this one is visible but it's not over the top and it won't make your face look shimmery.

Powder Foundation

I typically prefer powder foundation to set my liquid foundation. I know you might think it sounds too heavy, but I've really loved the way dusting powder foundation with a brush over liquids gives a flawless canvas to work with. Those who have seen me in person usually can't tell I'm wearing foundation (which is always a good thing because you don't want it to look super obvious). My all time favorite used to be Chanel Double Perfection Powder but they've reformulated it several times and I've found that I am sometimes in between colors. Right now I'm in between Beige 20 and 30. If you can find a good color match this is a really good silky smooth powder that adds the perfect amount of medium coverage. Using a sponge will add more coverage but I prefer applying this one with a brush. It's a good touch up powder too for mid-day. It won't cake if you touch up your nose or forehead.

My current favorite is the Dolce & Gabbana Powder Foundation in Warm 100. I have alternated between Warm and Tan depending on how dark my skin is, but 100 has been my exact match for a long time. This one covers perfectly and flawlessly. It won't irritate or break out my super sensitive skin (MAC and Bobbi Brown always break me out). It has a soft velvety finish that doesn't cake, darken or look overdone while still giving you a decent amount of coverage to even out the skin.

Pressed Powder

I've avoided regular pressed powders for a long time because so many just don't look good on my skin. They look like they sit on the face or alter the color of my foundation. I've found three that are phenomenal. The Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Powders are among my favorite. (Review + swatches here). #20 is my match for an all over dusting powder. #30 and #40 are good for subtle contouring or adding color for warmth. These are ultra smooth powders that have a sheer to medium finish that just melts into the skin. I dust with a powder brush to set powder and it gives a sheer smooth finish.

The Charlotte Tilbury Air Brush Flawless Finish Skin Perfecting Micro-Powder is as good as pressed powders get. I saw this one applied on my friend at the Nordstrom Charlotte Tilbury counter at the grove. My friend already had some tinted moisturizer on, she just needed a touch up. I watched her skin transform into this amazing airbrushed finish that looked amazingly natural. It evens out the skin but won't alter the color of your foundation (as long as you get a good match). The only downside is the color selection is pretty limited and there's a big jump in between the three colors. I use #2 Medium and am a Chanel B30 in foundation. My friend is a Chanel B10 in foundation and was matched to #1 Fair.

Tom Ford Translucent Finishing Powder is another really good pressed powder. I've had this one applied on my face numbers times at the Tom Ford counter and it took me a long time before I was willing to splurge on this one (it's $77, yes ouch!). My match is Ivory Fawn which looks light in the compact but it has a sheer enough finish to be quite forgiving (I use the Traceless Perfecting in Bisque 4). The only downside (other than the ridiculous price tag) is the color selection is limited. There is a huge gap between Ivory Fawn and Sahara Dusk which is the next shade up. If you are either fair or tan you will have better luck finding a match compared to those of us with medium skin. Once I get tan in the summer, I will be in that gap.

For translucent pressed powders, I've found most end up looking and feeling too powdery on my skin. The only one I've tried and loved is the NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Powder which performs the same way on me as the loose version. It sets the foundation with a sheer finish and gives the skin a slightly matte looking finish. I prefer the loose version because I find it lasts longer on my skin compared to the pressed.

I hope you found this roundup of setting powders helpful! As always I'd love to hear from you what your favorites are. Do you have any tried and true powders? Do you prefer loose or pressed?

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.

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?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Favorite Makeup Tools for Face, Cheeks and Eyes

I've compiled several detailed brush guides this year but several of my readers have asked for a more consolidated list of recommendations. Like most of my beauty routine, when it comes to makeup tools, I rarely stick to just one brand. I think different lines have certain strengths in particular areas.  Some have a better shape while others are made of better materials. There is a lot to sort through in terms of brush shape, size, material and price point. For me, it's really important that I am able to test a brush in person before purchasing it so I tend to stick to main stream brands. Today I've compiled a list of my most reached-for tools for face, cheeks and eyes.

My top picks for brush brands include MAC, Chanel and Tom Ford. In my experience, the overall best brand for quality and price is MAC. I own many MAC brushes that have lasted me over a decade. I like that the brushes have a simple and sleek design and the quality is consistent among all the tools regardless of material or type.

Chanel is also another great brand that I use a lot for brushes and tools. They recently redesigned all their brushes (I think in the last year or so) for a more modern look. The tools work really well with all brands of makeup. There are many similarities in shapes between MAC and Chanel although the material is very different in most of the tools. 

If price is no object, Tom Ford hands down makes the best brushes I've ever tested. All the brushes are super soft and plush and perform the best out of all the tools I've tried. The cream foundation brush is the only brush that gives me a streak-free application for foundation or tinted moisturizer. Tom Ford's brushes are among the few brands I ordered sight unseen. I splurged on a brush set a few years ago and although it made a serious dent in my wallet but I have no regrets and it makes applying makeup a truly luxurious experience each day.

1 / Beautyblender ($19.95) is the best sponge I've used. I just discovered it this year and don't know how I ever got along without it. There are multiple colors and types of beautyblenders but the pink one performs the best. Use it damp and it expands and applies foundation flawlessly.

2 / MAC Duo Fibre Face Brush #187 ($42) everyone needs a good skunk brush. These are fluffy brushes with two types of material mixed in. The uses for this are endless. I like to use mine to apply powder bronzer or highlighters to the face. You can also use these with cream products or to buff out powder foundation or to blend items. MAC also makes the Duo Fiber brushes in a number of other formats like the Short Handled #187 and a tapered Blush #159 version. I like the classic version the best.

3 / MAC Large Angled Contour #168 ($35) is super soft and fluffy angled contour brush. I use this for bronzer or blush (primarily powders). It's also a good blending tool. The angled edge helps control application.

4 / Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush #02 ($72) is the best foundation brush I've used. It's one of the most expensive tools I own but worth every penny. When I use this to apply liquid or cream foundations, application is flawless and completely streak free. I normally prefer to use sponges for foundation but often times they soak up so much product. This is the closest thing I have to getting a sponge-finish look with foundation but in brush format.

5 / Chanel Foundation Brush #6 ($45) is my most reached-for foundation brush. It's not quite as perfect as the Tom Ford, but for me it's the next best thing. I like this for cream blushes too.

6 / Chanel Blush Brush #4 ($54) is my favorite blush brush because of the shape and material. It's medium-sized and compact but has just the right amount of density to pick up color and dispense it perfectly on the cheeks. MAC makes a lot of good blush brushes too which are very good quality, but I find myself reaching for the Chanel the most.

7 / Chanel Powder Brush #1 ($65) is my favorite dense but soft powder brush. I use this for loose powder, pressed powder and powder foundation. It comes out of the box tapered but once you wash it it fluffs up quite a bit while still retaining a round shape. I like that it's sturdy with a substantial handle but still easy to hold and maneuver.

1 / MAC Blending Brush #217 ($24) is the best white fluffy brush you can find for $24. This is key for me in terms of blending shadows for a subtle gradient. I also like to use this as a regular eyeshadow brush when I want an all over lid color.

2 / MAC Eye Shading Brush #239 ($25) is in my top 2 picks along with MAC Brush #217. This is my all time favorite eyeshadow brush. It picks up color really well and blends powders together nicely. I like that it's dense but super soft.

3 / Tom Ford Eyeshadow Contour Brush #12 ($56) is another favorite. This is my do-it-all kind of brush. It applies shadow on the lids, it will contour or smoke out darker colors and the tip is dense for a smokey eye.

4 / MAC Shader Brush #242 ($25) is what I like for cream shadows (or concealer too). This one has lasted me the longest, I think it was one of the first MAC brushes I bought for myself. It has a really nice round tip making application easy and smooth on the eye (so it doesn't poke the skin).

5 / Chanel Large Eyeshadow Brush #25 ($38) is a medium to large eyeshadow brush that isn't too big or fluffy. I do like a good fluffy brush, but these days I find myself reaching for this one because it isn't as thick or dense making it easier for me to control color and application. If you want something fluffy, soft and more dense, the Bobbi Brown Eye Sweep Brush is one of my favorites.

6 / Laura Mercier Smudge Brush ($24) is a good dense detail brush. It's stiff but not too stiff so it's easy on sensitive skin or eyes. I like this one to smudge eyeshadow or eyeliner. I use this instead of a regular liner brush because I like a more smudged softer line to define the eyes. It offers precise application but if you are looking for something super precise, I'd recommend the Bobbi Brown Eye Liner Brush or the Angled Eye Definer Brush.

7 / Trish McEvoy Laydown #40 ($42) is one of my favorite multi-purpose brushes. I like this for powder eyeshadow, cream eyeshadow and concealer. I owned this back when Trish McEvoy had gold handles for the brushes (they are now lucite). It's the perfect shape, size and density for creams to get a good smooth and even application.

8 / Charlotte Tilbury Eyelash Curler ($20) is one of the newest eyelash curlers I've tried. When I first tried it I wasn't super impressed because it's called the "Life Changing Lashes" eyelash curler and well, it simply didn't change my life. I found it just as good as my Trish McEvoy and Chanel eyelash curlers but not anything super special. I've since tried a few others from other brands like Shiseido and Shu Uemura and have really come to appreciate the design and shape of the Charlotte Tilbury. It has just the right amount of curve to fit my eye shape. Many others are too flat or not curved enough. The wrong shape will either pinch my eyes around the corners or miss lashes making the curl uneven. I give the Charlotte Tilbury a huge thumbs up for the way it performs. 

9 / Trish McEvoy Eyelash Curler ($20) is a classic go-to for me. I have several of these right now and  it's been my most-replaced tool (some recommend you change or the pads these every 90 days, I tend to use these longer replacing once every 6 months). It just works the way an eyelash curler is supposed to. It grabs all the lashes and curls them evenly and in a round flared up shape. 

I have some additional thoughts on brushes focusing on double duty or recycling. Based on the above guides, you might be wondering what I recommend for eyeliner, concealer, crease, bronzer, brows or lips.

I think a lot of tools can be used multiple ways which means you can stretch out the uses. Having multiple brushes can be extremely useful so you don't have to worry about mixing colors or washing brushes frequently if you change from a light to a dark color for a certain tool. I do like brushes that will do multiple things though. For bronzer, I will sometimes use my blush or powder brushes. For the eye crease or contour I find the MAC #217 works just perfectly. For concealer I like blending with the fingers or a sponge.

For brow a lot of brow pencils come with a brush on the end to smooth out the color. I've bought a few brow combs before but find they don't last me very long so I like to recycle my mascara wands after they are used up. Rinse the end with soap and warm water and you've got a lash comb and brow comb in one that you can toss whenever without worrying about throwing money away.

Lip pencils often come with a lip brush at one end so I don't find the need to purchase a separate lip brush for gloss or lipstick. Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana have lip brushes which I find handy.

Last but not least, long time readers know I'm a fan of recycling candle jars. I use them to store brushes, pencils, lip gloss and office supplies. Diptyque and Jo Malone are my favorite to recycle. I just clean them out with warm-to-hot soapy water and a dish sponge. My candles don't always have a clean burn so often times there are remnants of wax stuck on the sides. Some recommend freezing or using boiling water. I find that using anything too drastic with temperature changes can crack the glass or melt off the sticker (which I like to keep in tact).

If you're just starting to build up your collection of makeup tools I hope you found this guide helpful. It can be overwhelming to sort through all the options so I have found the best way to start is to focus on one area at a time (i.e. start with eyeshadow brushes or blush brushes) and do your research. If you're an in-store kind of shopper, I highly recommend bringing a small list of options you've found interesting or with high ratings. Having a list can be helpful in case you want to see different brands in one store. Some brushes go by number so writing the numbers down is handy unless you have a super good memory, I often have to look at the numbers on my MAC brushes when someone asks me "which brush is that?"

Building a good brush collection will take some time but it doesn't have to be complicated. Brushes can be pricey especially when you add them up so I do recommend taking your time to research in advance to make sure you find ones that work best for your specific needs or wants.

I hope you found this guide on my favorites helpful to start!

This post was sponsored by Nordstrom. All opinions my own. All tools my own. For more information you can refer to my Disclosures.


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