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

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.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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




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


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

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

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

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

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




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


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

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

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



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





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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: Travel and Trial-Sized Beauty


Here is my first gift guide for the holiday season. This time of year always brings about tempting value sets and travel-sized beauty gifts. I think these travel-friendly sets are a great way to try new skincare without committing to the full-sized options. For color, if you're one of the types that takes forever to use up an eyeliner or lipstick, minis are the way to go and get more options for the same price. Here are some gifts this year that I think look like great samplers.

2 Sephora Favorites Glitz and Glam Party Essentials Sampler
6 Diptyque 5 Piece Mini Candle Set
8 Fresh Sugar Cravings Kissing Trio 
12 Marc Jacobs Beauty The Sky-liner 7 Piece Mini Set
13 NARS Virtual Domination Cheek Palette

Have you bought any good sets this year yet? I'd love to hear what you've been eyeing and any loves so far. I'm always up for recommendations on what is the latest and greatest on the market for the holiday sets and gifts.

Some more gift set ideas below:



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lip Primer and Lip Balms In Rotation


This post is inspired by and dedicated to my reader Gabby who sent me an e-mail last month asking if I could recommend a good lip primer for underneath lipstick. She liked the Jo Malone Vitamin E Treatment I featured a while ago, but found it didn't do much for priming the lips for lipstick. It occurred to me that there are different kinds of "lip prep." One kind of lip prep is to prime the lips for lipstick, the other kind is more of a skincare/moisture treatment.

Above shown:


I have sensitive lips that are prone to drying and peeling with many brands of lipstick (like MAC and some Chanel formulas). I use lip balm liberally on the low key makeup days, when I'm running errands, or in the evening after I've taken my makeup off. In the mornings if my lips feel dry I will prepare the lips with lip balm after washing the face and let it sit a few minutes while I do the rest of my makeup (for me lips are always last).

I like to use lip balm for lip prep in the morning, but Gabby is right, not all lip treatments are necessarily good for priming the lips for lipstick wear. A long time ago, MAC used to make a clear lipstick product called Lipmix (now they have the squeeze tube versions) that I used for a lip primer. They discontinued it but released their MAC Prep + Prime Lip ($16) which is a clear primer in a twist up tube. I like that this is color-free and really helps to smooth out the surface of the lip. It has a moisturizing feel but dries to a slightly tacky-matte feel to help lipstick and lipliner glide on easily. It also helps lip products stay put. Some lipsticks and glosses have a high shine finish or a glossy sheer formula which have a lot of slip. Those won't hold up much longer than usual with the MAC Prep + Prime, but for your regular lipstick formula and gloss, the Prep + Prime Lip helps extend the wear of my lip products and also helps it glide on better.


For lip balms, I have a lot in rotation. In this post I'll focus mainly on the clear treatments I've been loving. I prefer lip balms in stick or squeeze tube format because I find them easier to apply, but the only stick lip treatment I use these days is the Caudalie Lip Conditioner ($12). One tube lasted me quite a long time, even with regular use. It's smooth and lightweight without having that waxy feel. It has a soft lightweight citrus scent which is really nice. It soothes dry lips instantly. (Also in this Hand + Lip Duo Set.) Right now I'm on my second tube.

I've been a long-time Chanel fan, but haven't always been a fan of their lip balms. The Hydra Beauty Nourishing Lip Balm ($50) is a newer one that they released (to replace their Hydramax). It has a really smooth and slightly hard texture. It's smooth, lightweight and moisturizing. It has a soft hint of the fragrance used in the Hydra Beauty line. I like that it comes in a sleek-looking pot. It feels nice and smooth on the lips, but for me others are more hydrating. This is something I will use this to the end, but I probably will not repurchase. It's a good one if you have normal lips. If you have lips prone to drying with lipstick use, you may need something richer.


By Terry Baume de Rose ($60) is a classic. It's the most expensive lip balm I own, but it's at the top of my list of favorites. It's soothing, hydrating and feels super luxurious. It has a soft rose scent with a slightly pink tint, but it goes on the lips clear. One pot is very large and will last you a very long time. (You can see reviews of the tinted versions here and here.)


Malin + Goetz Mojito Lip Balm ($12) is #2 on my favorites list. It comes in a little squeeze tube and has a clear gel-like formula. It glides on easily, doesn't slip, moisturizes and feels amazing. There is a regular version as well which I also like. I prefer the Mojito one because it has a fun soft sweet lime scent without being too citrusy.


Last but not least is the Tatcha Camellia Moisturizing Lip Balm ($36, also in some holiday gift sets). It's a clear jelly-like solid with a thin layer of crushed 24K gold leaf on top. If you've ordered anything from Tatcha you know how beautiful the packaging and presentation of all their products are (even their shipping boxes are packaged and sealed beautifully). I've been using the Tatcha Lip Balm regularly. It has a lightweight refreshing scent unlike any other lip balm. The gold flakes break off the surface and add a hint of gold shimmer to the lips, but it's only on the surface. Some of mine transferred to the lid and I haven't removed it. This one feels very nice on the lips and provides instant moisture and relief to dry lips. It's a huge thumbs up from me. (Original review here.)


If I were to narrow down my top picks, the MAC Prep + Prime Lip is a definite must for me to prepare the lips for lipstick. For lip treatments, it's a three-way tie between By Terry, Malin + Goetz and Tatcha.





I hope you found this roundup helpful! I would love to hear about your favorite lip treatments, especially with the winter season approaching with dry weather, I think most of us will be in need of an extra moisture boost.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Concealers In Rotation


For years I've stuck to concealers from two lines: Clé de Peau Beauté and By Terry. I've never had much need for concealer but my skin changed this year. These slightly dark circles under the eyes started to appear and I've needed a lot more coverage in certain areas of the face with scars and blemishes. Both of my go-to concealers still work really well for me, but I've been experimenting more with other brands and products. I thought I'd share a round up of the ones I have in rotation right now plus what tools I use.


My personal preference for blending concealer is for rounded brushes made of synthetic materials. My most reached-for tools include the MAC 252, Chanel Concealer Brush #10 and Trish McEvoy Medium Laydown #40. All of them are about the same medium size which works best for me. I've tried smaller detail brushes during makeovers and while they are good for precise application, I usually find larger brushes for cream products work better for me. They blend concealers well and also double as cream shadow brushes. Some days I will use fingers or a sponge, but my preference these days is for the brush.

Concealers I use right now:

  • Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer in Almond is my current skin tone match. The Cle de Peau Beaute concealer is the best stick formula I've tried. It covers the skin very well but looks natural. It works well under the eye area when dabbed on with fingers to warm up the product and doesn't look cakey. The color selection is limited but they recently added two shades (all shades swatched here). This is one of the best I've tried, it's pricey but performs well and a tube will last you a very long time.
  • NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard and Ginger are new discoveries for me. I've had several of the older formulas in gift with purchase compacts in the past but wasn't impressed with the formula so I never thought to try the new formulas. A NARS artist recommended I try this during a makeover when I asked for a foundation with full coverage. She suggested the Radiant Creamy Concealer and it really does cover incredibly well and blends out to have a soft velvety looking finish. It comes with a sponge wand tip. I use both Custard and Ginger and mix them depending on what area of the face I am trying to cover. I've found this to live up to all the hype.
  • Edward Bess Extreme Cover Cream is a full coverage creamy concealer in a pot. This one is definitely the most creamy that I've tried. It's also the most pigmented but blends nicely to cover areas completely. Since the pigment is really intense, I recommend using only a tiny bit, otherwise it will be too heavy. The container is tiny but the formula packs a punch so it will last a very long time. All the shades swatched and review here. The color selection is a bit limited, but Medium is a good match for me. This one has a slightly dewy finish but does not get oily as the day wears on.
  • By Terry Touche Veloutée in Beige #3 is a highlighting concealer in a click pen type of packaging. This one gives a brightening effect even though the color Beige matches my skin tone exactly. I like it best under the eyes to cover dark circles and brighten the skin. It's also good on days you have a bit of redness around the nose. This one has a smooth medium coverage and dries to a semi-matte but natural finish.


Swatches of the shades below (with Clé de Peau Beige for reference):


If you ask me to recommend just one concealer, I would say that I think picking a good one depends on where you want to use it and what you want it to do: eyes, spots, cover completely or brighten? For me, a concealer for under the eye won't necessarily be suitable for spot coverage along the jawline or cheeks.

For under the under eye area, I look for colors that either brighten or have a bit of warmth. Many artists want to go lighter than my skintone to "brighten" the area, but it really just ends up looking ashy if it's too pale. If they insist on using one that is 1-2x lighter than I think they should I usually ask them to try 2 shades on me just to make sure I can see it for myself. I think all the concealers I listed above will work for under the eyes because they have a good blendable formula, but my favorite for under the eye area is the By Terry Touche Veloutee. It has a slightly sheerer coverage compared to the others which prevents the area from looking flat.

For cover up on spots or acne scars, the Edward Bess will give the most opaque coverage followed by the NARS and then Clé de Peau Beauté.

My top two picks include the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer and Clé de Peau Beauté, but there are a few downsides. If you test the NARS concealers at the counter or store, you may find it difficult to find an exact match and might be in between colors (like myself). When it comes to foundations, powders and concealers I want to find an exact match, but it's not always possible. There are times I have to buy two shades to mix which can get pricey. If I can't find a almost exact match for concealer, I will skip it all together, but I've made an exception for the NARS. I found the price of the NARS reasonable and the formula is really amazing so I did not mind splurging on 2 tubes to mix colors. The downside for the Clé de Peau Beauté is also a limited color selection and price of $70 is very steep. That being said, I do think if you can find a good match I do think formula is well worth the price. A tube should last well over a year even if you use it on a regular basis as a spot cover. 





I hope you found this round up helpful! Do you have a favorite concealer?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Inside My Bag: MAC Clear Bag Set



I've received lots of requests about clear makeup bags ever since I featured a clear Bobbi Brown cosmetic bag in a few of my inside my bag posts. Unfortunately it was a gift with purchase a few years ago and was never released for purchase which is too bad because it was well made and compact enough to fit into most of my smaller purses. I've been on the hunt for something similar but haven't found anything quite like it. The Truffle Clarity Clutches are a favorite for their sleek look, high quality material and functional design but some have asked for other recommendations. I spotted these new MAC Clear Bag Sets ($25) and immediately went to my MAC counter to investigate. Size dimensions weren't disclosed online so I wasn't sure how small or large these were.

The MAC Clear Bag Set ($25) is a set of two sealable rectangular pouches. One side of each pouch is clear with a black back. They are sleek and compact and the set comes with two different sizes. The zipper glides nicely in a plastic format. Below shows what I was able to fit into each:


The Large Pouch measures approximately 9.4 inches by 5.75 inches. It fits quite a bit inside. I like my flat makeup bags to remain relatively flat so I didn't pack it full. I was able to get the following inside the pouch:


The Small Pouch measures approximately 9.4 inches by 3.1 inches, this one is ideal for smaller sized items like small brushes, pencils, skinny objects or minis. What I was able to fit into the smaller clear front pouch:

Revlon Tweezers


They are both fairly compact in size. The flat design makes them fit easily into your purse and keep everything compact. The material is just ok. It's nicely made but not the best quality. It's not as good as the material used on my Bobbi Brown case or Truffle Pouch. The design of the MAC Clear Bag Set is basic and simple with a no-fuss look, but it lacks a hard backing and the trim is very minimal around the edges which makes it easy to bend. I had one corner folded (accidentally) after putting it inside my purse. It didn't crease completely, but it did get mashed up a bit. The bag isn't ruined and it will probably go back to its original shape if I lay it flat for a short while. I find these functional but in the past I have had issues with other brands of pouches and bags that have the plastic zipper seal - I've found they aren't always the sturdiest and often become misaligned and the pouches stop sealing all together. Only time will tell with these, but so far they do seem to be pretty well made.


I've used these for a couple of weeks and they have held up pretty well although they aren't the sturdiest makeup bags I've tried so I don't know how long they will hold up. I like that the design is simple and sleek. They keep everything compact and having one clear side is nice so you don't have to go digging through your makeup bag to find things. The simplicity in the design has a slight downside in the sense the trim is almost non-exisiting so it is very easy to bend. With thinner plastic material I do sometimes worry about it stretching if things don't stay flat inside making the shape distorted.

Overall I think they are nice. I wouldn't call them must-haves simply because I would have preferred something with a sturdier design. Still, they are functional and I find the price is reasonable for a set of two pouches. These would certainly be a good storage option for brushes if you are looking for something to store them on-the-go.

I purchased the MAC Clear Bag Set for $25 from Nordstrom. It's also available at Macy's and Maccosmetics.com. Do you have a favorite clear makeup bag?



Monday, September 22, 2014

Trending Now: Plum Lips


Plum lips are always something I look forward to when we transition into fall each year. I find plum shades to be classic colors and look forward to each year's new take on the shade. There are so many beautiful variations of plum ranging from soft neutrals to reddish plums to deep dramatic vamps. I'm a neutral lip lover so I feel like I can't pull off dramatic colors easily. Also since I have a lot of pigment in my lips, plum colored lipsticks and lip glosses can often pull really red or extremely blue. Nordstrom Beauty has curated a selection of 30 shades on their Trending Now Section featuring dramatic colors for a Velvet Berry Lip. I've partnered with Nordstrom to share my favorite plum lip picks for neutral lip lovers (like myself).


When it comes to plums or dark dramatic lip colors in general I prefer sheerer lipsticks or lipgloss formulas. They are more forgiving on the lips when it comes to fading. The contrast between your natural lip and the lipstick can become obvious when the color starts to wear off. You can extend the wear with a lipliner blended over the lip to help the fading look less obvious. My favorites for plums include Chanel Nude (which isn't really a true nude) and MAC Beurre Creamstick Liner.

My top picks for lip glosses include:


  • MAC Lovechild Lipglass is the prettiest mix of purple, gold and rose, on me it goes on purple, on others I've seen it pull more pink, it's universally flattering in my mind and has been a long-time staple in my lip wardrobe
  • NARS Sixties Fan Lipgloss is a dark wine in the tube but goes on a sheer reddish plum, if you're a no-shimmer kind of lip person this is a good option for you, it layers well over lipliners and matte lipsticks
  • Chantecaille Mulberry Luminous Lipgloss is new for fall, it is a deep wine infused with gold and red and plum shimmers, the coverage is medium to full, you can layer it for more pigment
  • Tom Ford Love Bruise Ultra Shine Lipgloss is a soft blue-toned plum, it has a semi-transparent finish but still shows a decent amount of color, there is shimmer in this but it's subtle
  • Chanel Pagoda Glossimer has been a long time favorite, I'm so happy they didn't discontinue this shade (many of my favorites have been discontinued), if want my recommendation on just one high-end plum lipgloss, this is my favorite
  • MAC Viva Glam VI Lipglass is another classic plum, this one has quite a bit of sparkle in the tube, it has a mix of rose and silver sparkles, but on the lips it's not too sparkly, I've seen this on a number of different skin tones and it looks good on everyone




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My top picks for lipsticks include:



  • Burberry Blueberry Lip Mist is about as dark as I will go for lips, it's a blue-based plum, but on my lips it pulls more red, your mileage may vary on the color, but I love how it looks so different on everyone I've seen it on, the Lip Mists have this unique lipstick/gel texture that glides on the lips and hugs them so the color really adheres well
  • Chantecaille Lotus Lipstick was featured in the fall collection and sold out in all the stores near me, I had to have the store locate it online to ship to me, if you can find it, I highly recommend it, the color has a glossy finish that looks very natural and has quite a bit of color
  • MAC Plumful Lustre Lipstick is a sheer blue-toned plum, it's almost identical to Chantecaille Lotus on my lips in terms of color and coverage
  • Chanel Confident Rouge Coco Shine is a soft lighter plum, it's one of the few light plums I've been able to find in a lipstick form, if you have darker skin tones or lips you might find this pulls more pinkish rather than plum
  • Guerlain Fabulous Rose is new from the Kiss Kiss Shaping Cream formula, there are a number of stunning plums and wines, this one has a lot of shimmer but it melds into the lips naturally so it doesn't look frosty, for a plum I was torn between Fabulous Rose, Cherry Pink and Air Kiss and the artist recommended Fabulous Rose for a warmer plum that would still be natural



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For coordinating the rest of your beauty look, I recommend keeping the cheeks and eyes understated. Too much color can be overwhelming if you have a darker plum lip. My absolute favorite go-to blush is NARS Madly. It's a soft beige peach pink color that adds warmth and color to the face that coordinates well with almost any lip color (not just plum, but also nudes, pinks and peaches). For the eyes to keep it simple I like NARS All About Eve and Kalahari Eyeshadow Duos which go well with plum lips and add subtle definition to the eyes. I like that you can layer the shades of Kalahari over the Himalia Dual Intensity Eye Shadows for more intensity. If I need more color I like adding a deep plum or brown along the upper lash lines for definition. I'm still on the hunt for a good plum eyeliner (one that has some shimmer and is really dark) but for now I like darker plum shadows applied with a small smudge brush like MAC Beauty Marked or NARS Subra.

If you're one who prefers neutral lips but want to try something plum with more color, I hope my picks and swatches help give you some ideas on how to wear a more subdued plum. If you're all about color, I highly recommend you check out Nordstrom's Velvet Berry Lip selections.

Do you have a favorite berry or plum-colored lipstick or lipgloss?
I would love to hear what your beauty go-to's are!




Many thanks to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post.

 

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