Showing posts with label MAC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MAC. Show all posts

Saturday, October 31, 2015

October Beauty and Grooming Favorites

I fell in love with a lot this past month. I have a roundup of my favorites in beauty and skincare today along with my husband's October grooming lineup. Cases shown above are from Muji (left) and Truffle (right).

Skincare and Haircare

Up first is hair care and skin care. The items in last month's roundup are still in heavy rotation right now but instead of re-posting everything, I've highlighted some new favorites for this month.

Featured above from left to right:
  • Original and Mineral No Knott Detangling Spray is something I've been loving for months now. I bought this in a travel set online which has mini sizes. It's a miracle worker for my hair - I spritz it on after I wash my hair and I can brush my hair without any tugging or pulling. I've ordered the full size from Net-A-Porter. It has a lightweight clean scent, the product is certified organic and made in the USA. It adds a tiny bit of shine.
  • Kate Somerville Age Arrest Serum is something I've been using the past two months and it's possibly my new favorite serum. It's part of the anti-aging line and it's a skin renewal product. It contains tetrapeptides which help support collagen and elastin production. It also has marine extracts to reduce lines, wrinkles and sooth skin. One to two pumps of this gives the skin a smooth base and it really does make lines disappear in front of my eyes. It gives the skin a smooth look and feel unlike any serum I've tried before. I haven't tried the cream or other items in the line but I'm super curious now.
  • Pixi Glow Tonic has been raved about on so many blogs I read (it seems to have a cult following) I had to stop by my Target to check it out. I picked up the mini size and have been using it daily (morning and night after washing). I can't say that it gives my skin a glow, but as an exfoliating toner I am impressed. It brightens and makes the skin feel clean and hydrated. There's no stinging. It's very gentle. For those who are anti-alcohol in skincare this one is alcohol-free. It's seemed to keep my skin clear and texture seems better.
  • Molton Brown Replenishing Hand Cream in Gingerlily is a go-to right now. I'm really a huge fan of all the Molton Brown hand creams, but there's something refreshing and bright about Gingerlily that lifts the mood. You can also find it in this set here and also here. This weekend they have a sale at Receive 10% off orders $65+ with code FALL10, receive 20% off orders $95+ with code FALL20 at checkout.
  • L'Occitane Immortelle Precious Mist is one of my top two picks for face mists right now. The bottle dispenses a superfine mist and it's ultra refreshing and lightweight. Skin feels well hydrated but not overly moisturized. I love the fresh smell it has.
  • Erborian Bamboo Waterlock has been a favorite for moisture masks. It's a gel-like green mask. I featured it a few weeks ago in my Korean Beauty roundup. You can read the full review here.


For makeup, I've been really loving neutral lips. Lip glosses and lip sticks seem to be what I've been gravitating towards a lot lately. There are a lot of really good rich-in-pigment formulas these days.

From left to right:
  • Sephora Pro Full Coverage Airbrush #53 is hands down my favorite foundation brush right now. It gives smooth streak-free coverage for liquid foundations. I like the Mini #53.5 version as well for cream contours, but the full size is better for foundation. Find the full review here.
  • Marc Jacobs Beauty O!Mega Mascara is something I've used up and repurchased. It's something I've been reaching for because it's super dark and rich in color. The brush is well designed so it defines and separates lashes but is also volumizing. On me it doesn't smudge or flake.
  • Club Clio Waterproof Pen Liner in Kill Black is at the top of my list for glossy liquid liners. I got this in the Birchbox From Korea With Love set and I've been hooked. It dries to a glossy finish. It's cry proof (lasted through a tear-jerker movie for me). You can find it at Birchbox (waitlisted), Peach and Lily (in a set), Club Clio and Amazon.
  • MAC Vamplify Lip Glosses launched months ago. I was super late to the game with this and by the time they popped on my radar almost all the colors sold out. The good news is Spanking Haute and Tuned in restocked online. I ordered them immediately. I hope MAC makes them permanent, these are really good creamy full coverage glosses.
  • MAC Subculture is my perfect nude pink your lips but better lip liner. Swatches and roundup of neutral lipliners in this post here.
  • Chanel Glossimers in Beige Star 206 and Rose Tendre 204 are still in heavy rotation. They were part of the Les Beiges collection this year. Swatches + review here. For holiday both colors are also in this Turn Up The Shine Glossimer Trio Set.
  • For lipsticks, October's top three favorites are the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Very Victoria (reviewed here), Buxom Bold Gel Lipstick in Rebel Rose (swatches here) and Dior Addict Fluid Stick in Avante Garde (swatches here). All three are neutrals that wear beautifully for everyday.
  • The Charlotte Tilbury The Retoucher Concealer in #3 has been really good for concealing under the eyes and brightening the complexion. Swatches of all the Charlotte Tilbury concealer shades in this Concealer Roundup here.
  • Last but not least is the Edward Bess All Over Seduction in Sunlight. It's still my holy grail cream luminizer. It's perfect for cheeks and eyes. I've hit pan on mine again and just opened up a new one.

Men's Grooming

My husband rounded up several of his grooming favorites from the past month. Some he tried first in sample mini sizes from various gift with purchases or samples I got for him. There are a few he liked so much that he bought the full size of. Others are repeat staples. From left to right below:
  • Jack Black Epic Moisture Nourishing Oil is a lightweight pre-shave oil. According to my husband this is the best one he's tried so far. Pre-shave oils are designed to prepare the face for shaving by moisturize the skin and creating a barrier in between the skin and razor. It's been instrumental in preventing razor burn. He likes that it comes beautifully packaged in a large container. Most other pre-shave oils come in small plastic bottles. The one from Jack Black lasts longer because of the size. It also comes in glass which makes it sturdy. It has no scent which is a huge plus compared to other brands that often smell earthy or like vegetable oil.
  • Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve is a hand cream he got in the Men's Starter Kit. He's completely obsessed with this and keeps stealing mine even though he has two of his own. He's really picky with hand creams. Scent and texture are key because he doesn't like heavily scented hand lotions. The Kiehl's has a soft scent but it disappears after a few minutes. Texture is also important, he likes this one because it absorbs quickly into the skin and doesn't have any greasy residue but hydrates the hands really well. You can find it in a number of gift sets this holiday. If you're looking for a good one for your dad, brother, boyfriend or husband, the Costello Tagliapietra for Kiehl's Ultimate Man Full Body Refueling Set is a really good one. It also has the Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap which is another staple/favorite.
  • Baxter of California is a line my husband recently started testing. He ordered the Herbal Mint Toner and Shave Tonic to start. In terms of toner he says he's not a toner kind of guy but since I told him it's something I found essential in my skincare routine he looked for one to purchase and test out. He's liked the Baxter Herbal Mint Toner enough to keep using it (he's about 1/2 way through the bottle). It makes his skin feel clean but moisturized. He likes that it has Witch Hazel which helps calm the skin. The Shave Tonic is something he says is kick a** awesome. For him packaging is key and the glass sturdy bottle and color of the green liquid is amazing for him. He uses this as the first step in shaving to prep the skin. It's also really good post-shave to moisturize the skin.
  • For hair Drybar The Chaser Shine Pomade is still a regular staple for grooming his hair (it's also my favorite). It's great for shine and styling but for him, once he puts it on, he can't touch his hair for the rest of the day or else there is glossy residue that will transfer to hands, hats or the headrest of the car. He tested out a mini size of Baxter's Grooming Lotion and says that it's better for everyday. It does the same thing and makes hair more manageable but without the added shine. Comparing the two, he prefers the Baxter feel and look. His hair is still soft and not greasy. However he likes the way the Drybar Chaser looks better.
  • For cologne, I got him a mini sample of Dior Sauvage (Sephora Beauty Insider 250 point perk). He likes it as a good everyday cologne that is suitable for year round wear. He says the intensity is just right that it's strong enough to smell manly but not so overpowering that it's overwhelming. In terms of lasting power he says it lasts just as long as Tom Ford and Chanel. It will stay on through lunch time before he notices it disappears. The scent is mild enough that he can touch up mid-day without feeling like he doused himself with cologne. He likes it enough that he's willing to buy the full size.
  • Harry's After Shave Lotion is one of his favorite after shave lotions because of the packaging and texture. He likes that it moisturizes the face and helps the skin heal after shaving. It smells clean and isn't heavy. The dispenser pump packaging is a huge plus for him.
  • Last but not least is the Nuxe Men 24 Hour Protection Deodorant. I bought this for him since he liked the Men's Shower Gel from the line. He's usually not a fan of rollerball deodorants but he gave this a try and it's the best men's deodorant he has tried. It has no alcohol or aluminum salts. It dries quickly, after he showers and puts it on, it's dried by the time he puts on his shirt. It leaves no white marks or residue. It prevents sweaty patches on the shirt. It is the best thing he's tried that prevents under arm odor. He has super sensitive skin that peels or gets irritated with a lot of deodorants, with this one his skin is perfectly fine without any reactions. You can find it at a number of different places. I've ordered from Nuxe. He's ordered some from
That wraps up our October beauty and grooming favorites! I hope enjoyed reading about what we tested and loved this past month. As usual I'd love to hear about your top beauty and grooming favorites. If you have any new discoveries please share in the comments!

Press samples in this post sent for review consideration include items from Kate Somerville, Molton Brown, Buxom Cosmetics and Erborian. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Inside My Bag

I have a peek at what's inside my bag this week. My well-loved Prada Saffiano Tote has held up remarkably well over the past couple of years, I'm really impressed with how sturdy the leather is. I had read mixed reviews about the quality, stitching and durability. I do take good care of my bags, but overtime it's a given that the edges will become worn, some stitching comes loose and scratches are almost always inevitable. With this one, all the stitching has remained in tact. The edges haven't shown any wear or scuffs. There are little studs/feet at the base which I think is a huge plus in protecting it if you set it on the ground or on a chair. Perhaps the biggest plus for me is that it has kept it's shape.

Onto what's inside my bag this week:

Truffle Privacy Clutch (small size) in Cabernet (c/o)
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk (swatched on lips here, also here)
MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil Cultured (swatched here)
Elizabeth & James Hand Cream in Nirvana White
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lustre in Blondie (swatched here)
Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in Bitch Perfect (swatched here)
Glossier Coconut Balmdotcom (c/o, currently sold out)
Molton Brown Hand Cream Gingerlily (c/o)
YSL Pop Water Glossy Stain 203 (currently 10% off at Nordstrom, swatched here)

Truffle launched a new color for fall called Cabernet which is a deep plum wine color. The color comes in a wide selection of options: Small Clarity Clutch, Large Clarity Clutch, Document Case, Privacy Clutch and a new style called the Privacy Wristlet. All the items are in the textured leather that has a coating making it super durable. I teamed up with Truffle to shoot some of their new products for their website. Also note their Nude Privacy Clutches are back in stock with an updated look. It now has the white contrast trim. Here are a few shots below that didn't make the cut, hope this helps for size reference.

Large Privacy Clutch measures 9” H X 12” W
Small Privacy Clutch measures 7 1/2” H X 9 3/4” W
Zip Wristlet measures 5" H x 8" W

What's inside your bag this week?

Items sent courtesy of brands indicated with c/o beside them. All others purchased by me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On My Radar / New In Beauty

Here's a beauty roundup of new launches I have on my radar this week. From top left, clockwise:

The holiday collection from Chanel called Vamp Attitude just launched. I am still working on swatches for the Rouge Allure releases, but I know I will need the Le Vernis in Rose Fusion and the Le Top Coat Lamé Rouge Noir ($27 each).

Wander Beauty is a new brand that's popped up on my radar. They sent a couple of the Exquisite Liquid Shadows ($26 each) for me to try (they are stunning, review soon). I've been browsing their site and the Paris Collection features four items for lips, cheeks, eyes and highlight that look like they could create the perfect polished look. Have you tried this line yet?

Eve Lom has launched a number of gift sets for the holiday. The Icons Gift Set ($260) contains their Cleanser, Intense Firming Serum, Daily Protection SPF 50, Eye Lift and a Muslin Cloth. There is a price break for this set (individually the items total a little over $300). Other options such as The Perfectors Set and The Classics which have different items and are at lower price points. If you've been eyeing any of these, don't forget Space NK US has their Explore promotion that's going on online through Sunday. Use code EXPLORE15 at checkout for $25 off any orders $100 or more.

Net-A-Porter has this amazing Smith & Cult The Shining Lip Lacquer Set ($150). It has eight lip lacquers packaged in a pretty black box. You can find the colors individually in case you're one who prefer to pick out your own colors.

Bite Beauty always launches cute sets over the holidays. I ordered the Discovery Set ($55) a few weeks ago, I hope to review it soon. The Best Bite Rewind has four mini matte creme lip crayons. This one has more color for those who like something brighter with more variety. This one has been calling my name too.

Holiday season is the season of palettes. I stopped buying holiday or seasonal palettes years ago because I found if I didn't like all the colors the palettes didn't end up getting much use. The NARS x Stephen Klein One Shocking Moment Cheek Palette ($69) looks soooo pretty though. It has the Contour Blush in Paloma, Bronzing Powder in Laguna, four blushes in Robotic, Blasphemy, Luster and Dolce Vita. If you've seen or tried this let me know what you think!

MAC Magic of the Night Collection launches in stores this week. There are already some items that popped up online and as usual many pieces have already sold out within minutes of launching online. I was able to order Please Me Lipstick ($18) and Shaft of Gold In Extra Dimension Skinfinish ($33). I'm hoping nothing in my order gets cancelled.

What's on your beauty radar this week?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Mini Sephora + Nordstrom Beauty Haul

I did a haul last week at Sephora and Nordstrom, both stores are dangerous for the wallet but oh so fun. I had four items on my shopping list and as usual, ended up with more than I intended. These days I prefer to shop online more than in store because it's easier, more convenient and saves time, but every now and then it's fun to go see things in person.

From Nordstrom at MAC I picked up the Viva Glam Miley Cyrus II Lipglass. The first one from last year really surprised me - I fell in love with it even though it's packed with lots of sparkle. Last year's (which is still available) was a sparkling hot sheer pink (swatched here). This year's version is a bright sheer coral that's also sparkly but super pretty. I don't usually like high-sparkle glosses but I highly recommend checking out both. I also picked up a Cremesheen Pearl Lipstick in Koi Coral for a friend. It's so pretty I think I need to pick up one for myself.

Sephora has the cutest new shopping bags, although I still see the older glossy bags around. After seeing the October Beauty Insider 250 Perk for Bite Beauty on Instagram, I went to the store to track it down since it hasn't popped up online yet. This month's color is Kir Royale which is a deep wine berry plum color. It's available individually as the Luminous Creme Lipstick. It's a brighter color than it looks in the tube - but I'm trying to be braver in wearing bolder lip colors for fall.

Here are quick swatches of the Bite Beauty Kir Royale and MAC Viva Glam Miley Cyrus II:

Burberry Beauty finally launched at Sephora and one near me received items in store! I've had the Fresh Glow Luminous Highlighting Pen and Effortless Contouring Pen for Face and Eyes on my radar since August. I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy both. I opted for the Medium No. 01 Contour shade (the lighter option). I haven't played with them yet except to swatch them in store on the hand but I'll have a review soon. In the meantime you can see the Medium Contour Pen in action in this lovely video from RaeView on her YouTube Channel in her Tutorial | London Fashion Week GRWM, Burberry SS16 Makeup. Both the Highlighting and Contour Pen are also applied by Wendy Rowe in the Burberry Spring/Summer 2016 Runway Make-up Tutorial | Sephora video too. They look super easy to use and apply for contouring-challenged people like me.

Sheet masks have been on my radar over the past few months. I'm still smitten with Tatcha and Kiehl's but decided to try some others. Dr. Jart+ Brightening Infusion Hydrogel Mask has mixed reviews but there were single sheets available in store so I decided to pick one up to try it. If you've tried any of Dr. Jart+ masks let me know what you think!

Last but not least, I've been on the hunt for a new concealer. I did a favorites roundup last year on my tried and true and while there's nothing wrong with the ones I use, I've been wanting something new. I've been testing and swatching several over the past few months in store. It's taken me a while to decide on some. I'll have a more detailed roundup on the best ones for spots versus under eyes. Two additions are the Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer (I picked up Medium Neutral) and the Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer (I ordered 8 online and also picked up 7 last week).

If you have Beauty Insider Points to redeem I think the October Beauty Insider 250 Point Perk for Bite Beauty is worth trying to track down. I suspect it will launch online like the others did (I passed on the pink and coral ones). You can get the lipstick individually, but the gloss is super pretty. I highly recommend it - it's such a pretty color for fall.

Have you hauled anything recently? Would love to hear about any new beauty picks!


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

Friday, October 2, 2015

Monthly Beauty Favorites: Skincare

Happy October everyone! I hope you had a great September. It's officially fall but we're still having really warm sunny days in the high 70s and it feels like fall weather will never arrive. September brought about a number of new beauty discoveries, in particular new lipsticks. I think I fell in love with every single new lipstick formula I tried from Charlotte Tilbury (hands down one of the best mattes ever), Louboutin (oh so luxurious), Buxom Cosmetics (so many good colors with an amazing formula) and Tom Ford (how can you not love TF lipsticks?).

I decided to do a different favorites roundup this month and focus on skincare loves. Smooth clear skin has been a focus lately and I've been trying new things over the past few months. It takes time to see visible results - so here are some things I've been putting to the test and absolutely love. My skin has improved a lot - even my husband has commented on it. As always if you have any skincare recommendations I'm all ears! I just picked up this AmorePacific Moisture Bound Set because so many of you raved about the Enzyme Peel in the comments.

Here's what I've been loving this month (the bag above is one of the pouches from the MAC Clearly MAC Trio):

My go-to moisturizer all throughout the summer has been the Eve Lom Brightening Cream ($110 for 1.7 fl oz). It's described as a hydra-cream designed to "correct pigmentation and boost luminosity to reveal beautifully radiant and even-toned skin." It has a brightening ingredient called Dermapep™ that corrects hyperpigmentation - after using this I've noticed my skin is visibly more bright, complexion is smooth and dark spots become less noticeable. I would say it's better as a daily lightweight moisturizer rather than a spot corrector - but it has kept my skin smooth, lightly hydrated and works well with all the foundations I use. Even with daily use for months I still have a good portion of the jar left - so I'm thrilled it's lasted a long time.

Last month I had the opportunity to receive a complimentary facial at the Kate Somerville Clinic on Melrose (more on this soon). It was hands down the best facial I've ever had and I highly recommend the clinic. Since then I've been slowly incorporating some Kate Somerville items in my routine. On your first visit they provide a detailed questionnaire for you to fill out on your skin type, preferences and goals. Mine included dark spot correction, texture improvement, anti-aging prevention, help with wrinkles on my forehead, brightening. The facial and products are used in various treatment processes in concentrated formulas based on your needs. Three things I've been loving:
  • The Daily Detox Cleanser ($34 for 4 fl oz) is a really good deep-cleaning cleanser for everyday. I use it with my Clarisonic. It helps fight acne and removes impurities from the skin. It's helped to rebalance my skin and even with the heat we've been having my skin is less oily. It contains phytic acid which helps fade post-acne scars and reduce inflammation. I can't rave about this enough.
  • Dermal Quench Liquid Lift Advanced Wrinkle Treatment ($95 for 2.5 oz) was recommended as a replacement for my regular toner. It's a product that helps combat all my skin issues: aging, wrinkles, uneven skintone. It also helps with dryness - and I've seen a big improvement in my skin. Forehead lines have started to soften and using this helps prep the skin for serums or moisturizers.
  • RetAsphere 2-in-1 Retinol Night Cream ($85 for 1 fl oz) is something I've been experimenting with as well. It's been recommended by many that I incorporate some kind of retinol treatments into my routine. I have super sensitive skin and things I've tried in the past have been too strong for me. This one is ultra gentle and as a night time treatment, I've noticed it's helped smooth the skin while increasing firmness. My skin looks more glowing and soft. I've tried this every other night for several weeks and I've had no irritation.
The Aesop Parsley Seed Mask ($39 for 60 ml) still remains a tried and true favorite. It's my go-to cleansing and clarifying mask that really draws out all the yuck from your skin. It's recommended use for 2x per week, but I've found it gentle enough for me to use 4x per week on trouble spots. I love how effective it is while still being suitable for sensitive skin.

I've tested a number of cleansing oils and have several favorites. These days I've been loving the SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil ($70 for 8.4 oz). It has a lightweight pleasantly refreshing scent to it. It has a good medium thickness to it - it's fluid but not too fluid. I love how it blends into the skin easily and seamlessly. It emulsifies well with warm water and removes all trace of makeup (I still remove my waterproof mascara/eyeliner with a cotton pad first though). Leaves the skin feeling completely clean, soft and hydrated with no greasy residue.

Tatcha is always a favorite in my regular skincare routine. The Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35 ($68 for 2 fl oz) is my holy grail face sunscreen. It has a smooth texture that disappears completely into the skin (no white cast). It helps control oil on me and doubles as an amazing primer for foundation. The Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream ($38 for 2 fl oz) is a staple for sensitive or dry skin. I've bought many tubes and given them as gifts to friends. The entire Indigo line is phenomenal. If you're new to the line, there is a mini set that I also recommend.

I've featured the MAC Prep + Prime Blemish Control Gel ($22 for 05 fl oz) before and it's still a staple. It's one of the few acne spot treatments I can use during the day without it making the skin look weird and goopy (others leave a weird clear film that is noticeable). It's also one of the few that really works to help acne spots disappear without making the skin super red by the next day. I think I'm on my third tube - I also recommended my husband try it and it's strong enough for his skin.

Last but not least for lips, I've been loving the Glossier Coconut Balmdotcom ($12) and Dior Crème de Rose ($28). Both are super hydrating and make the lips feel smooth without that greasy feel. My lips are super sensitive and I've gotten reaction to several lip balms (they go numb and then tingle and swell up). These are perfect for my sensitive lips and keep the dry flakes away.

I hope everyone has a great Friday and will have some time to enjoy the weekend! As always I'd love to hear about your current beauty favorites. It's a great way for me to learn about new things :)

Press samples featured in this post include items from Kate Somerville, Eve Lom, Tatcha and Glossier. All other items purchased by me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Few New MAC Additions: MACnificent Me! Eyeshadow Palette, Patentpolish Lip Pencils and Pro Longwear Lip Pencils

It's been a while since I've done a MAC haul - I'm usually not on top of my game with new collection launches, so many times everything sells out literally in the blink of an eye. This time I was on top of my e-mails and ordered a few items from the new MACnificent Me! Collection right when it launched (it launches in stores this Thursday). Also I picked up some of the Pro Longwear Lip Pencils from my local MAC store so I thought I'd do a roundup of my recent MAC acquisitions.

First up is the MACnificent Me! Eyeshadow Palette ($40 for 9 mini eyeshadows). I have a couple other x9 eyeshadow palettes in Amber and Burgundy - they are on the small side but are super cute and nice to bring along for travel if you're super tight on space. The colors in the MACnificent Me! palette make up the perfect neutral-cool-soft rose-nude-plum mix and the texture/pigment far exceeds the other two. The pans are very tiny - I prefer the full size pans, but the pigment in this one is really good.

Top Row: MACnificent Me! (f), Quiet Type (f), Dance in the Dark (m)
Middle Row: Fabulous DNA (f), Pleasing to the Eye (m), Sable (f)
Bottom Row: Frankly Frosty (m), In my Element (l), Cool Complement (m)

A quick look at the Burgundy and Amber next to the MACnificent Me! for comparison purposes:

Next up are the Patentpolish Lip Pencils ($20 each) from the MACnificent Me collection. I tried a few of these from the MAC Kelly Osborne Collection (from summer 2014). I ordered mine sight unseen as they looked like the perfect neutrals. I knew there might be a chance one or two of them would be too pale but I didn't want to miss out, so I ordered 4. These are indeed on the lighter side, but 3 of the 4 worked. These are super glossy chubby pencils. Lasting power is medium - better than the MAC lustre lipstick formula, but not as long as the matte formula. I like that they twist up so there's no sharpening required.
  • Make Me Proud is the perfect baby rose pink cream
  • My Flip Side is a really good nude brown color that doesn't make me look like a corpse
  • It's Really Me is a peach pink nude, on me it turns slightly pinkish, it's a gorgeous nude
  • Pleasure's All Mine is a weird super pale pink, in the heat of the sun, these started to melt a tiny bit when I was photographing it, this one turned a lighter color on the outside, on the lips, it's like concealer but worse

Last but not least is my first look at the Pro Longwear Lip Pencils ($20 each). I picked up three neutrals in the store - I should have been more discerning and picked up colors that were more different but I had my hand covered in at least 20 pencil marks. These lip liners are seriously long-lasting. They stay put on the lips for like forever. I was hoping to do lip swatches with my lips lined and filled in - but the formula does not look good on my lips all over. It's too thick and the pigment is super rich so it makes my lips look super dry. As a traditional lipliner though these are really good. There are a lot of good colors to choose from.
  • Cultured is the lightest one, it's a neutral pink mauve with a hint of pearl (it goes perfectly with Chanel Wild Rose Glossimer and makes it look really good)
  • Staunchly Stylish is a deeper pink
  • Double-Time is the perfect cafe brown pink neutral 

My MAC lip picks swatched side by side:

I'm really pleased with everything with the exception of Patentpolish in Pleasure's All Mine although I knew there was a chance at least one of the pencils would be too pale for my skintone. The MACnificent Me! eyeshadow palette is a real winner in the collection - it's the perfect rosy-toned neutral palette for fall I think will suit a number of skintones. Be sure to visit the MACnificent Me section of MAC's site to see the beautiful before and after photos transformations with the different beauty looks.

At this time, I believe all the items I featured are limited-edition MAC colors (except Staunchly Stylish). You can find the items in stores and counters right now. Online at Nordstrom, Macy's, Bloomingdale's and MAC.

Did you pick up anything from the MACnificent Me collection? Or have you picked up anything from the regular line recently?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Next Level Foundation Makeup Brushes

My friends and I often chat about beauty and since I'm a beauty blogger that tests quite a few things, I'm often asked "what do you think is the best _________?" Foundation brushes were the topic of discussion last month. My top three favorite tools are the Beautyblender Sponges (the pink one, the white and black ones are not as good even though they're supposed to be the same), Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush and the Tom Ford Foundation Brush. As soon as I said "Tom Ford" ooohs and aaahhs followed by the question, "ok, but how much do they cost?" At $72 each, neither of my friends were willing to splurge. They asked what made the brushes so good and I told them they were the only brushes I've tried that applies foundation streak-free and it requires no extra work to blend into the skin. Even though I had tried quite a few, I was tasked with a project to find a cheaper alternative that performed just as well. Suggested brands included Marc Jacobs Beauty, Urban Decay, Chanel and MAC. I have already tried and tested the Chanel #6 and MAC #190, both of which are good, but still give me streaks, luckily both brands have new ones out so I was able to test those. Given the fact that I am super picky about brushes that leave any kind of streaks, I was skeptical I would find anything as good as Tom Ford.

The seven brushes I tested include:

For quick reference, here are the brush tips/tops shown for size reference and shape, same order as what's shown above:

Foundations I tested the foundation brushes with: Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick (review), NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation (review here), Marc Jacobs Genius Gel (review), Tom Ford Traceless Perfecting Foundation (review + swatches), Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet Foundation (review)

I went into my local Sephora store to look at the Marc Jacobs Beauty brushes. I have had a really good experience using the Shape and Contour Brush for pressed powders, contouring powders and also foundation. It's super dense though so it's better suited for contouring. One of the makeup artists at Sephora recommended the Sephora Pro Full Coverage Airbrush #53 for flawless coverage. She said it's the best brush she's ever used - the shape allows you to get in the corners of the nose and blend easily and the wide flat shape allows for full coverage with just a few strokes. There's also the Mini Size #53.5 and Large Size #53XL for the body/decollete. I liked the look and price of the mini, but the regular size comes with a flip open cap that comes in super handy for storage/travel. It keeps the bristles in tact without coming in contact with other tools so it won't get kinked or smashed.

In the interest of wanting to see which one was better, I bought both. The artist was right. The regular size #53 is indeed better. It's larger and fluffier and allows for easier application with a few strokes on the face. The mini is still good but the size requires more brushing back and forth to cover the entire face. I was worried the regular size would be too large or that it would soak up a lot of product, but it actually is the perfect size and doesn't absorb too much foundation. These are made with Naturon fibers that are made from a synthetic PBT, it feature waves and pointed tips to emulate natural fibers.

I'm truly impressed with how good my foundation looked with these. These give flawless coverage that is completely streak free. I liked these best with liquid foundation (versus stick/creams). Huge huge thumbs up.

Side views of the Mini #53.5 versus Regular #53:

The Urban Decay Good Karma Optical Blurring Brush is something I've actually had sitting in my drawer for a while. It was gifted to me earlier this year. I've tried some other Urban Decay brushes before including the ones that come in the Naked Palettes. I'm usually not a huge fan of synthetic brushes although I'm slowly trying more and finding some really good ones these days. I put this one to the test. It has an ultra soft feel with a rounded tip. Urban Decay describes this as a vegan brush. The description of this one: "The brush’s handle is made of recycled aluminum, and its synthetic, cruelty-free brush hairs are more hygienic than real hair (but never get that stinky wet-hair smell)." I found it ultra soft and also does an amazing job at blending foundation flawlessly. For the price it's a really good option, but I can't call it a favorite for two reasons. The first is there was a bit of shedding before I washed it. The first washing resulted in a tiny bit more shedding but after that it was done. The second hesitation I have in giving this a glowing review is the brush head is a bit small. It's not bad - it's still easy to use, but after testing other brushes, I find others easier and better to get full coverage with less strokes and less blending. Still - if you're looking for something relatively inexpensive and that will blend liquids without any streaks, this is a good option. It blends foundation sticks on the face really nicely too and is super gentle on the skin.

Two of the Marc Jacobs Beauty foundation brushes have been on my wishlist for a long time, but since I was already 100% happy with the Tom Ford Brushes, I decided to pass, but in the end caved to test them. If you're like me you probably wonder if glowing reviews are often due to hype. In the case of Marc Jacobs Beauty brushes - the hype is real.

The newest brush The Face III Buffing Foundation Brush is on the expensive side but it's worth every penny. It's an ultra plush brush with a super dense head and rounded domed tip. It's dense but still very soft so it allows for easy blending and buffing in a circular motion. It works well with sheer and full coverage foundation. The material helps the foundation meld into the skin in the most amazing way - you get flawless coverage and is 100% streak free and it applies foundation evenly on the skin.

The Face II Sculpting Foundation brush isn't a new one but it's new for me. It has a beveled/angled tip that is perfect for sculpting the face. It's good for all over foundation - the angled tip glides along the sides of your face, temples and cheeks smoothly. Since the tip is slightly angled, it's skinny along the top and allows for perfect blending along the sides and corners of the nose. It's perfect for cream bronzer.

Between the two, I can't pick a favorite - they are both really phenomenal. They both blend liquids and creams flawlessly. I tried them both with liquid and cream foundations. The Buffing Brush is better to blend out stick/solid cream foundations on the face. The Sculpting is also versatile for liquid products and blending out cream bronzers or contouring products.

Side views at different angles to show the tapered shape of the Sculpting Brush:

Last but not least include two of the newest slanted flat top brushes from MAC and Chanel. The MAC Slanted Flat Top Brush #196 was really hard for me to locate - it was sold out almost everywhere I looked but I did find one counter that had one left. I was told that it's not limited-edition and will be permanent in stores but I'm not 100% sure. This was my ideal pick because it has a large brush head which I prefer for foundation - it allows for less blending. Unfortunately it did leave some streaks - it was easy to blend out but didn't give a streak-free finish like the others I tested. That being said this brush was designed for the MAC Studio Waterweight Foundation which reminds me of the Armani Maestro Fusion Foundation - both of which are very fluid and thin in texture. I prefer thicker more traditional foundations that are still liquid but not super thin. Perhaps it works better on thin texture foundations.

Chanel just launched a 2-in-1 Fluid and Powder Foundation Brush #8. I've tested this for about a week now and think it's amazing. It's still on the pricey side but relative to Tom Ford, it's pretty reasonable. This one glides on the skin perfectly and gives streak-free application. It has a smaller tip compared to the other brushes which means I had to dab and blend 3x as much to cover my entire face. It does seem to soak up a tiny bit more product compared to the other tools but I'm willing to deal with it since the application is so good. I haven't tested it with powders but for liquids I'm impressed.

Below you can see the MAC has shorter bristles while the Chanel has longer ones:

Side view, you can see the difference in size. I prefer the size of the MAC, but the performance of the Chanel is better.

I'm really impressed with a number of these brushes I tested. I wonder what took me so long to try out the Sephora Pro Full Coverage Airbrush #53 brush (it's better than the mini version). It's amazing and at $38 the price is right. Marc Jacobs Beauty of course never ceases to impress me. Both the Face II Sculpting and Face III Buffing Brushes are more expensive and quite a splurge - but they are really well made with sturdy handles and they have a well constructed design. I don't think you'll be disappointed with either and I don't think owning both is redundant.

I personally wasn't a huge fan of the Urban Decay Good Karma Optical Blurring Brush or MAC Slanted Flat Top Brush #196. Both are good brushes for the price. The Urban Decay is a bit too small for my taste although it's super soft and blends liquids beautifully. The MAC leaves visible streaks and although they are minimal and easy to blend out, I'd rather have something that gives me a flawless finish to save time. The short tip also makes it a bit hard to wash out - the liquids get up into the middle and it took extra work to get completely clean.

The new Chanel #8 Foundation Brush gives a flawless finish and I would say it's definitely superior to the original #6 Foundation Brush. I don't gravitate towards small angled brushes because I think they are better suited for detail application. For foundation I want something that will apply product in larger sweeping motions. The #8 is very good though - if you're in the market for an angled brush this is a good one to look at that won't break the bank.

In summary, I have found brushes that perform just as well as my beloved Tom Ford brushes at a cheaper price. My top two picks include the Sephora Pro Full Coverage Airbrush #53 (found exclusively at Sephora) and the Marc Jacobs Face III Buffing Brush (found at Sephora and Marc Jacobs Beauty).

I hope you found this roundup helpful! Do you have a favorite foundation brush?


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