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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Loving Right Now


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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 9, 2015

Trending Now: Spring Neutrals


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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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


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

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




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

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

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

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


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



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



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

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine's Day Pink for Lips


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



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

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


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

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

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

Most unique:
Chanel Crazy Fuchsia Glossimer

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

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

Monday, December 29, 2014

Best Beauty Discoveries and Highlights of 2014


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

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

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

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

What were your top beauty discoveries this year?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Favorite Makeup Tools for Face, Cheeks and Eyes


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


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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





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

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.

 

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