Showing posts with label Nordstrom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nordstrom. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Holiday Beauty and Grooming Gifts from Nordstrom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fall Foundations

It's time for a foundation update now that we are transitioning to fall weather. I've been testing some new base formulas over the past few months. I have an assortment of foundations to share today by coverage type which I've found suitable for my normal combination skin. These days my skin is slightly oily in the T-zone with a few dry patches around the chin area as I'm working to clear up my skin. I still have super sensitive skin that reacts to a lot of foundations so if you're like me, I this roundup helps you find something new to try.

In case you have completely different skin type and foundation preferences, I highly recommend you give Nordstrom's online foundation search tool to help you find the right foundation for you. There is a quick and easy form for you to fill out where you select skin type, coverage and finish preference. This filters brands and formulas for you to check out. I highly recommend you give it a try.

I've split my fall foundation edit into three categories: Natural Coverage, Medium-to-Full Coverage and Powder Foundations. My personal foundation preference is for something that is natural looking and lightweight but also has decent coverage to even out the skin and create a flawless base. Many have asked me if it's necessary for add-ons like primers and powder. I don't think all foundations need a primer, but I'm a firm believer in setting with powder. Many times I set with a powder foundation by dusting the face with a brush. Some think it's too much to layer powder foundation on top of liquid foundation but if you layer it right, it's not too much. (More on primers and powders in a separate post.)

Up first are three new powder foundations I've been testing. If you've read The Beauty Look Book for a long time you will know that my holy grail powder foundation is the Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Matte Powder Foundation. My color is usually Warm 100 and has worked for me even though I've gotten darker over the summer. I decided to try a few new formulas.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Ultra Definition Powder Foundation is indeed a high-def kind of product. It's a super pigmented and super velvety kind of powder foundation that has medium to full coverage. You can use this one wet or dry, I prefer dry with a sponge or dusted with a brush. For me trying powder foundation is tricky - as the skin warms up, powders often darken or oxidize in color. The Urban Decay Naked Skin Powder Foundation does warm up to the skin but doesn't darken. It holds up really well with minor touch ups needed on the nose for me. I use Medium Light Warm. There are a number of shade options with different undertones.

The Tom Ford Flawless Powder Foundation launched a few months ago. This is extremely pricey at $80 but the formula is amazing. With a simple base of moisturizer the sponge applies this on the skin and makes all your pores disappear. Skin appears smooth and truly flawless. It's easy to build - the texture in the compact looks and feels powdery but there is no fall out on the face and it doesn't cake. The downside (aside from the steep price tag) is the limited color selection. I'm in between Fawn and Sable. It was suggested I opt for Fawn as the closest match. I'm about 1.5 shades darker now compared to what I am most of the year. For right now I can get by with Fawn but it's a tad bit too pale. It will be perfect for winter. That being said I do hope they expand the color selection to match the liquids because this formula is incredible.

Giorgio Armani also launched a new foundation called the Luminous Silk Compact. Color selection jumps around in this one as well. I am normally anywhere from a 6, 6.5 to 7 in the Luminous Silk and Lasting Silk. The powders I saw seemed to run on the dark side. I was matched to 4 and I was super skeptical about the counter rep's matching skills because I expected to be 5.5 or 6.5. She was right. It warms up on the skin. I would say this is one of the sheerer powder foundations I've tried. If you like a super natural look this is a good one. It is very smooth and finely milled. I prefer more coverage but it's great as a setting powder or layered over a sheer foundation.

Swatches next to Chanel Double Perfection Lumiere Powder Foundation (right now I use 40 Beige) and Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Matte in Warm 100


Next up are some natural medium coverage foundations. Some of these are more on the sheer side but each of these will offer enough coverage to even the skin and cover minor imperfections. I have a few tried and true mixed in with a new to me formula.

Amore Pacific Color Control Cushion Compact was featured a few weeks ago. This is the first cushion compact I've tried and my color match is Tan Gold 204. Several of you mentioned you hoped shade 102 would launch in the US and the good news is that I just noticed that it's now online at Nordstrom! The Amore Pacific Cushion Compact is the most natural looking foundation I've tried that still gives medium coverage. It melts into your face to look like skin but as you press it into your face you will see it transform into what I call your skin but better. Color selection is limited so I'm thrilled that Tan Gold is my perfect match (it warms up and adjusts within the first 2-5 minutes but doesn't darken further after it sets).

The NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer is one of my holy grail base products because it's really not like a traditional tinted moisturizer. When my friends ask me for a recommendation on a foundation that's natural this is the one I recommend first. It's usually followed by a response along the lines of, "oh but I don't like tinted moisturizers, they're too sheer and greasy." I agree that most are, but this one is very different. It's more like a natural foundation with a super lightweight texture that makes the skin glow naturally. I'm usually Groenland year round but after getting a tan I've found the next shade up St. Moritz to be a better match. If you haven't tried this formula I highly recommend you do. It has the perfect natural coverage and glows without feeling too glowy and doesn't get greasy or too emollient throughout the day.

La Mer Reparative Skin Tint is something I featured over the summer. This is one of the few skincare + foundation in one kind of products that I actually like. The formula melds into the skin beautifully and offers natural medium coverage. Over time it improves the texture of the skin adding moisture without feeling heavy. The only downside is the color selection is limited and it's also very expensive but if you can find a color match it's well worth the splurge. It helps rebalance the skin and lasts all day long. If you have normal to dry skin this one is really good.

The Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream was a pleasant surprise for me. I received a few press sample recently and gave it a try. I have to say it far exceeded my expectations - the concept of a gel cream didn't sound appealing to me since most gel-like foundations feel sticky and often look too dewy on my skin. This formula has thoroughly impressed me, I like it just as much as the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer and the added bonus is the color selection seems better than most lines. This is a BB Cream, CC Cream and Tinted Moisturizer in one. I'm usually not a fan of BB or CC creams because I don't like the way they feel on my face. The Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue feels weightless and blends into the skin beautifully.


The final category for my fall foundation roundup is medium to full coverage formulas. This is my formula of choice since I prefer bases that cover my skin more to create an even base. All of these have been featured before on the blog, they are my tried and true.

Tom Ford makes excellent foundation. The Traceless Foundation Stick is hands down the best foundation stick I've ever tried. It's super creamy and easy to blend on the skin. It covers imperfections without looking cakey. Since it's super pigmented I recommend layering this on areas you need extra coverage instead of applying it all over the face. I love the formula but the pigment is too rich for the entire face everyday (at least for me). The Traceless Perfecting Foundation is something I use regularly. I am normally a match to Bisque 4 but right now Natural 5 is my perfect summer match.

The NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation is another holy grail for full coverage foundations. This one gets mixed reviews - some love it, others hate it. It's super concentrated and a little goes a long way. It lasts all day on my normal combination skin and covers the face really really well. If I were to compare this to a lipstick, I would say this is similar to Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution. Both are more matte in finish but have this luminous quality that makes it look natural and not flat. I do think you need to prep the skin properly with a good moisturizer and primer if you have any dryness or uneven texture on the skin (I like the Dolce & Gabbana Primer or any of the ones from NARS). My shades are Santa Fe and Punjab, both of which are too light for me now. Since a little goes a long way I still have a lot of both shades and didn't want to purchase a third since I'll be losing my tan soon.

Last but not least, Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet is a classic staple for me. I've repurchased it several times. I alternate between Beige 30 and Beige 40 depending on my skintone. It offers medium buildable coverage and feels lightweight. Even though the name "velvet" implies a matte finish, I find it's a natural luminous matte. It doesn't look or feel heavy. In terms of foundation recommendations this one usually is #2 on my list. Many often ask, "but what about the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua? it sounds better and lighter." Both are good formulas, the Perfection Lumiere Velvet is my favorite because it covers better and has a slightly matte finish. It also lasts all day and feels weightless. The Vitalumiere Aqua is also natural looking and I know many love it. On me it feels a bit too dewy, I would say it's better suited for you if you like glowy makeup or have normal to dry skin.


If you're looking for a new foundation to try, I hope you found this roundup helpful. Finding the right foundation can take time. There are so many factors to consider from color matching, formula, finish and lasting power. As usual, I'd love to hear about your foundation favorites or new discoveries. Do you have anything that's a go-to for fall?

Many thanks to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions my own. Press samples include the items from Bare Minerals and Amore Pacific. All others purchased by me. 

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!


Sunday, September 20, 2015

On My Radar / New in Beauty

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you've had a great weekend. A few things on my beauty radar right now (from top left, clockwise):
  • Chanel has a new mini launch with some new products. There are two new Joues Contraste Powder Blushes in Golden Sun and Vibration along with a new highlighter called Infiniment Chanel Illuminating Powder. I bought one blush and the highlighter - they are almost too pretty to touch. I hope to start testing soon.
  • For holiday Hourglass has launched their Ambient Lighting Edit palette. It comes with three Ambient Lighting Powders, two Ambient Lighting Blushes and one Ambient Light Bronzer. It looks phenomenal - however since I already own five of the six colors individually and in other palettes, I think this will probably be redundant to own. I use the powders I have regularly and have yet to hit pan in any of them (they last forever!).
  • I've been on a foundation brush kick - I've been testing a number of different ones in search for a cheaper alternative to my holy grail Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush. I'll have a roundup very soon, two of the latest I've tested include the MAC #196 Slanted Foundation Brush and the new Chanel #8 Two in One Fluid and Powder Brush.
  • Tatcha has a new Soothing Indigo Mini Set. It has travel sizes of the Rice Enzyme Powder, Recovery Cream, Silk Hand Cream and Body Butter. The Indigo line is really good for sensitive skin that is prone to irritation. Anytime my skin is dry, itchy or irritated, this line works wonders to soothe the skin and calms down redness. (There's a promo code CLEAN20 to receive a complimentary travel-size Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil on any order over $20. Offer expires 9/30/2015)
  • Truffle has some new products for fall. They've launched a new Privacy Wristlet in black and cabernet. The cabernet color also comes in their document cases, clarity clutches and privacy clutch (it's gorgeous!).
  • Lipstick Queen has a new full pigment lipgloss called Seven Deadly Sins. There are six colors available online from Space NK. In a season filled with new lip products, formulas and colors, I do not need another lipstick or lipgloss - but somehow I'm still intrigued by these. Lust looks like the perfect berry red based on online swatches.
  • Drybar products just launched at! Both my husband and I swear by The Chaser Shine Cream. Other favorites of mine include the Mai Tai Spritzer and Hold Me Hair Clips. I've loved everything I've tried from the line.
  • YSL has launched four new Matte La Lacque Couture Nail Lacquers. I'm not a fan of the matte nail look, but  I might make an exception for the YSL formula (the glossy ones are really really good).
What's on your beauty radar this week?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

T3 Featherweight Compact Dryer + SinglePass Compact Flat Iron Set - Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Beauty Exclusive 2015

I picked up the T3 Compact Styling Set ($150, limited-edition set) from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. It's a two-piece value set that comes with the Featherweight Compact Folding Dryer (retails separately for $150) and SinglePass Compact Flat Iron (retails separately for $79). I've had the compact dryer on my wishlist for a while and the sale helped me pull the trigger. Both are very compact and perfect for travel or if you have limited space in your bathroom. I've been testing both for a few days and have comparisons to other styling hair tools that I currently own.

The T3 Featherweight Compact Dryer is really well designed. It comes in a simple sleek black design with a removable nozzle. I like that it's lightweight but still has a lot of power. The noise level is minimal, it's designed with a quiet motor which you can still hear but it's not as loud as others that I've tried. The handle absorbs vibration from the motor which is nice so it's not bothersome if you have to dry your hair for an extended amount of time. It comes with 2 speeds and 2 heat settings along with a cool shot option. I have thick hair that gets frizzy without any hair treatment (product or styling tool) so it takes a long time for me to dry my hair. Dry time with this one was fairly quick - about 15 to 20 minutes when dried in sections.

I photographed the dryer in my hands so you could get a sense of the size. It's small and compact but not too small. I like that it has a folding option which makes it nice for travel or storage. (On the nails is Chanel Le Vernis in Chataigne, new for fall.)

I now own three hair dryers with this purchase: T3 Featherweight Compact Folding Dryer, Drybar Buttercup Blow Dryer and a mini from Original & Mineral. The best ones I've owned were from Solano, in particular the Supersolano which is hands down well worth the price - it makes the hair ultra sleek and shiny and doesn't overheat the hair. I went through two and after my second one died (after about 6 years) I decided to try new things. I wish I hadn't because they are just so good.

Onto the ones I own. I've had the Drybar Buttercup Blow Dryer for quite some time and really like it. It dries the hair nicely, it's large but not heavy, noise level isn't too loud and it comes in a fun bright yellow color. Since it's a larger dryer there is more room for options. It has three temperature settings, two speeds and self-lock cool shot so you don't have to hold it down with your thumb.

I bought the Original & Mineral one that came in a Net-A-Porter set which is super cute and compact. It has a lot of power for something that tiny, but unfortunately the design is very simplistic and the handle doesn't absorb any vibrations so you can feel it in your hand. It does a good job at drying the hair quickly though which is nice.

The T3 Compact Dryer has less power compared to the Drybar, but more power than the O&M. I've brought the Drybar one with me on trips although it does take up a lot of space. The T3 is much more travel-friendly. It's also dual voltage 125V/250V for worldwide use while the Drybar option is 100V/120V and requires a step-down converter + adapter.

Close ups of the options:

The T3 SinglePass Compact Flat Iron is basically a free add-on with the Nordstrom Anniversary Set. I purchased the SinglePass Straightening Iron (full size) a number of years ago and hated it. It left my hair frizzy and made it look fried. Based on the number of rave reviews on the compact version, I decided to give it a try since the set came at a really good price. The SinglePass Compact Flat Iron performs much better than the Full Size (maybe I had a dud), but I would say for me it doesn't really live up to the name "single pass." It takes at least two passes per section for my super thick hair but it does leave the hair shiny, sleek and smooth. I could probably section off smaller amounts of hair but it would take 3 times longer to straighten everything. The iron is really well designed and comes with a cap which I wish all flat irons came with.

Comparisons to two other flat irons I own. GHD Bird of Paradise is a full-size flat iron that measures 26.5 cm long with plates that are 2.4 cm x 9 cm. I've had this since December of last year and really like it although out of all the flat irons I've owned, the HAI Ceramic Convertible Iron is hands down the best one I've tried (mine died after I dropped it on a hard surface, but it lasted 4 years before it stopped working).

The CHI Smart Titanium Ceramic Travel Iron is fairly new to me. I received this one at a QVC event a few weeks ago and really like it. I can't find the temperature listing anywhere but I was told it heats up to 390 degrees. This one measures 22 cm long with plates that are 2 cm x 7.5 cm. For my hair it does a better job at straightening with a single stroke but it is very small so it takes longer to straighten my hair.

The T3 SinglePass Compact Flat Iron by comparison heats up to 410 degrees. It's similar in size to the CHI. The T3 Compact Iron is 22 cm long with plates that are 2 cm wide x 7.8 cm long.

I'm overall really pleased with the set. I had the Compact Dryer on my wishlist and the Flat Iron with this set was an added bonus. I really like the Dryer - it performs well, it's compact and well designed. It will be my travel dryer for all my upcoming trips.

For the flat iron I have mixed feelings. With any travel sized flat iron I think it should be expected that it won't work the same as a full sized flat iron for my super thick hair. The T3 SinglePass Compact Flat Iron works well but it takes more time for me to straighten my hair compared to ones from GHD and HAI. Out of the two travel flat irons I featured, I have a slight preference for the CHI, although the two are very close in performance. The T3 has a more visually pleasing design and the cap is an added bonus for me (even though many brands have an extra storage or carrying case for travel).

That being said I have close friends who are die-hard loyal fans of T3 and swear by the line. Since I don't need two travel flat irons, I will probably be regifting this one to a friend.

The T3 Compact Styling Set retails for $150 and is currently a Nordstrom Anniversary Beauty Exclusive (it's a $229 value). In case you miss out on the sale this month, you can purchase the Featherweight Compact Dryer and SinglePass Compact Flat Iron individually. I give the compact dryer a huge thumbs up and the compact flat iron a semi-thumbs up mainly because I am super picky about flat irons in general, but it's great for the size and travel purposes.

Did you check out the T3 Styling Set from the sale? Do you have any T3 favorites? If not what are your favorite styling tools?

The CHI flat iron was gifted as a press sample. All other items purchased by me.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks

I've been browsing items from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale for a few days now. I stopped by my local store for Early Access last week to take a quick peek and bought two of the beauty exclusives from MAC and Dior. Since things looked like they were selling out quickly I stopped by my local store again today - there were a lot of things I had on my list that sold out including the Deborah Lippmann Undressed Set and YSL Rock Attitude Glossy Stain. If you see something on your radar I recommend you order online or visit your store as soon as you can.

Beauty Exclusives I picked up include the Dior Eye Reviver Palette in Rosy Nordy Girl and the Vernis in Majesty (peach). They also had some of the fall collection out, I picked up the Cosmopolite Nail Polish (muted plum).

I think the best value find for me is the T3 Compact Styling Set which is priced at $150. The Compact Folding Dryer is $150 by itself so with this Nordstrom set you basically get the flat iron for free. I love that the dryer will fold into a more compact size. If I could have only bought one thing from the sale, this would be it (they are boxed together).

MAC seemed to be selling through their sets faster than usual at the store. I picked up the MAC Look in a Box Pretty Natural Lip Kit that has Subculture Lipliner, Pretty Natural Lipstick and Feeling Fine Lipglass. I picked up mine during early access. Today my local store was completely sold out. It seems to have sold out online too but right now just came back. If you missed out - order soon, or keep the link bookmarked. It keeps popping back in stock. I'm a sucker for a good nude pink lipstick. Subculture Lipliner is a staple neutral I think everyone should own anyways.

Palettes are always big during the sale. I picked up three palettes, two are gifts for friends but I think now I want them too.  The Chanel Travel Palette is something I picked up for a friend. It has the Les Beiges Powder 20, a blush, five eye colors, lip colors, mini brushes and a small mascara. I am not a fan of compacts that don't have separators for cream and powder - I can see this one becoming a mess. Still it's really pretty and the pink blush and lips are so so gorgeous.

Lorac has the best priced deal with a $15 The Skinny Black Eyeshadow Palette. I bought this because it's a steal - how can anyone resist? My store had about 20 or so left on the floor display - there seemed to be a lot left.

For me, I picked up the new MAC Nordstrom's Finest Exclusive 15 Pan. It's not a Anniversary Sale Exclusive, but my associate said it's a Nordstrom Exclusive (kinda confusing to me). I'm sure it has a lot of repeats for me because I already own a lot of singles but the convenience of having everything in one palette is appealing.

There seemed to be a lot of new fall items trickling in. Armani had a display unit for the new powder foundation but it didn't have any product inside, nor did they have anything to sell. I'm hoping it will launch soon because I'm eager to test it out. I did pick up a few Fluid Sheers, left to right is 14, 17 and 18. It's been a while since I last checked out anything from Armani but I've been told 17 and 18 are new.

All of Chanel Fall is now in store and online. I picked up a few items last week from Saks. Today I picked up a few more items including the three Le Vernis shades in Vert Obscur, Ecorce Sanguine and Chataigne. There are two new eye palettes: Tisse D'Automne Quadra Eyeshadow and a new Les 5 Ombre Eyeshadow Palette. I hope to swatch this weekend and have reviews soon.

I ran out of some nail care products so I restocked on the Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil (purple) and Cuticle Remover (white). I picked up her new All About That Base base coat.

Last but not least I picked up three clothing items - I ordered mine online and they arrived a few days ago. Rag and Bone Theo Pullover is a super soft black v-neck sweater. I find sizing in brands these days all over the place for tops. For most Rag and Bone I am an XS - this sweater fits nicely but has a slightly loose feel. It's not too large on me but the look is slightly more relaxed than what the model shows. I ordered a Splendid Jersey Wrap Robe which runs true to size. I also ordered these J Brand Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans.

Did you pick up anything from the sale? Or are you planning to shop the sale this weekend? What did you end up picking out? I keep forgetting to stop by the shoes section - although since it's summer I can't get into the mood for boots.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access Starts Today

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access starts today for Nordstrom Cardholders. At the top of my list each year for the sale are the Beauty Exclusives, Paige Denim and anything from Zella (I'm obsessed with their capris). The catalog arrived last week with a sneak peek. I'm happy to see there is a wider selection online and in stores. Be sure to check out the gift with purchase offerings too - store options may vary. On my wishlist and radar:

Diptyque has three gift sets this year, each set has a 6.5 oz candle, a 3.4 oz eau de toilette and a solid perfume. The options are Do Son and Tubéreuse, L'Ombre dans L'Eau and Baies and Philosykos and Figuier.

There are a lot of value sets and multi-packs including the Rose Balm Lip Trio, Supergoop! 3 Pack of SPF 50 Mists, Phyto Hydration Brilliance Kit, and this Lancome Mascara Wardrobe. YSL has a Rock Attitude Glossy Stain Trio with Glossy Stain No. 7 Corail Aquatique, Pop Water No. 204 Onde Rose and Plump Up No. 200 (swatches in this post here of 2 of the shades).

NARS has a gorgeous Blame it on NARS Cheek Palette exclusive to Nordstrom along with a couple Lip Pencil Trios.

Dior has four Nordstrom exclusives this year. On my radar is the neutral Rosy Eye Reviver Palette and this peachy Majesty Nail Polish. I hope to check them out in person today.

Also on my wishlist includes the Compact Styling Set from T3 (on sale), Look in a Box Pretty Neutral Set from MAC, and possibly this Lorac Palette (because it's only $15).

Shoes are always good for fall preview. These Enzo Angiolini Manna Heels look like classic staples but might be too high of a heel for me. (Have you tried these before?) I'm in some need of a couple pairs of ankle booties. The Dolce Vita Kadie Bootie is exactly what I've been looking for.

Last but not least, Longchamp has several colors of their Le Pliage Expandable Tote for the sale in Black, Navy, Red and Slate. When we were in Paris, my husband and I picked up Expandable 21 inch version (not on sale) because our carry ons weren't quite enough (after this purchase, we each had 2 bags to carry on flights). After using it for 3 weeks I'm a huge fan of expandable bags.

A few other things on my radar.

Are you shopping Early Access? What's on your list?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Foundation Rotation for Spring

This time of year many of my readers have asked for foundation recommendations as they have mentioned they need something new in their beauty wardrobe as we transition to warmer spring weather. There seem to be quite a few new foundation releases and being curious, I stopped by my local Nordstrom to check out some of the latest formulas. Right now Nordstrom has a foundation guide online with filters to help you find the best formula for you by category. You can also filter your search by price points, brand and store availability if you want to try in store. The three main categories they have include:

1) coverage - sheer / medium / full
2) finish - luminous / matte / natural
3) skin type - aging / combination / dry / normal / oily

For coverage I prefer a medium to full finish because I don't have perfect skin, although it's improved significantly over the past year. For finish I tend to prefer something luminous but not too glowy as mattes tend to make my face look flat. On skin type, I am approaching my mid-30's so anti-aging is something I am concerned with, but I prefer to look for anti-aging ingredients in skincare. Aside from aging concerns, my skin is combination and sensitive. I have a roundup of some foundations that I have in rotation right now along with thoughts on each one I've tested by coverage type. I would say all of these have a natural to luminous finish.

Full Coverage:
Laura Mercier Silk Creme Oil Free Foundation (I use Sand Beige)

Medium to Full Coverage:
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation (I use Punjab, sometimes I mix in Santa Fe)
Tom Ford Traceless Perfecting Foundation (my match is Bisque 4)

Sheer to Medium Coverage:
NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer (Groenland)
Chanel CC Cream (30 Beige)

Sheer Coverage:
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer (Sand)
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow (20 Beige and 30 Beige)


Hands down, my current favorite formulas are from NARS. The All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation offers medium to full coverage with 2-3 pumps. It's very concentrated so a little goes a long way and you need to shake the bottle before pumping out any product. I've found application works best by blending with fingers or a damp beauty blender. Having a good base for this is key. I really like the Dolce & Gabbana Primer or the NARS Pro Prime Radiance Enhancing Primers right now. For color I am closer to a NARS Punjab, but I tend to tan and lighten easily so I picked up Santa Fe to mix in for days when I feel slightly lighter.

The Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in Groenland has been a long-time staple for me. I have Alaska to show below for comparisons, but my go-to shade for a long time has been Groenland. I like this because it's not as rich as a traditional tinted moisturizer but has more of a lightweight foundation feel. It glides on the skin and covers in the most natural way melting into the skin. It gives the skin a radiant glow without looking too dewy or shiny. There is no shimmer in it but it still gives the face a  luminous look while offering an impressive amount of natural coverage. I like this set with the NARS Light Reflecting Loose Powder or Hourglass Diffused Light.


Tom Ford Traceless Perfecting Foundation is my second favorite for a medium to full coverage foundation right now. It covers really well, lasts all day and photographs nicely without giving your face a white cast. Being that it gives a fuller coverage compared to other formulas, it isn't as fluid or liquid as other formulas and feels slightly thick, but it doesn't feel heavy on the face. It lasts all day long without many touch ups required and holds up in warmer weather nicely. It is on the pricey side but I've had nothing but good experiences with this one.


Next up is Laura Mercier. The Tinted Moisturizer is a classic cult-favorite in her line but I have a love/hate relationship with this one. There have been shade extensions and although the formula is sheer and very forgiving, I feel that there are only certain times during the year when I can wear this. Spring to summer is one when I have more color and have a better color match to Sand. Due to the sheer coverage I find this is good only on the good-skin days. If you're one who only needs a light base and something to even out the skin naturally, this is a really good one.

The latest from Laura Mercier is her Silk Creme reformulations in the Oil Free and Moisturizing formulas. I tried the Oil Free at the counter since I just used up the Flawless Fluide in Honey (which a lot thinner in texture and quite fluid). For the Silk Creme, I am in between shades but the nice thing about the Silk Creme Oil Free is that it adjusts and warms up on the skin without oxidizing. These new formulas are designed to be "Photo Ready" that have a natural matte finish that is long-wearing. I found the Oil Free to be full coverage on my skin. It's ultra concentrated and a bit on the thick side but a tiny bit goes a very long way and you don't need a lot. I didn't quite see a matte finish, on me it looked a bit dewy but it did last a remarkably long time (with powder to set of course) without budging or fading. The texture does feel a bit heavier than others so you will need to experiment with application. I decided on Sand Beige for now (it has a lot of olive), although I will probably need Cashew Beige (more golden) in the summer.


Swatches Set 1 with NARS, Tom Ford and Laura Mercier:


Chanel has some new shades of the CC Cream out this season (finally!). The formula originally came in two of the lighter colors in the US. This spring/summer they've added 30 Beige and 40 Beige. The color selection is still extremely limited so I am thrilled I was able to find a match to the 30 Beige. The Chanel CC Cream is something that offers medium but buildable coverage and contains SPF 50. It is on the semi-thick side like many CC Creams but it's still has a lightweight feel. It's very hydrating but not too moisturizing which is perfect for my normal/combination skin. If you have normal to dry skin and found that the NARS foundations weren't moisturizing enough, I highly recommend you try the Chanel CC Creams - it offers a fresh glow with medium natural coverage that makes the complexion look healthy. I've swatched all three shade options below and compared it to other Chanel formulas as well.

Another favorite for me this time of year is the Chanel Les Beiges All-In-One Healthy Glow Fluid. This one has been listed as limited-edition since it launched last year so I'm surprised it is still available. This is a glow fluid tinted foundation that has a tinted moisturizer feel. It comes with SPF 15 and has a more lightweight texture compared to the CC Cream. It's also sheerer in finish making it more forgiving in terms of color match, but they are all on the pinkish side. I am a 20 Beige right now, but I also own the 30 Beige and mix the two occasionally depending on my skin tone. Below are swatches of all the Les Beiges foundations (they skipped shade 50 for some reason). Also included are the Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet foundations I've used in 20 Beige and 30 Beige.

Swatches Set 2:

When it comes to base makeup, I'm not particularly adventurous in trying new brands. I usually stick to the ones I like and look for new releases because of formulas, color selection and texture. I have a lot of olive and yellow in my skin so many foundations turn pinkish on me. MAC and Bobbi Brown have really good color selections but I can't wear the formulas (they irritate my skin with tiny red bumps). Armani has really good formulas but these days they often have a gap in color options and usually are missing my shade. 

Recap of what I have in rotation below (you can click the icons to shop the formulas):

If you're in search of a new foundation I hope you found this roundup helpful. Out of all the formulas my top three picks are the NARS All Day Weightless Luminous, NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer and the Chanel CC Cream (because I'm a huge Chanel foundation fan).

Do you have a favorite go-to foundation right now or do you switch things up this time of year?

This post was sponsored by Nordstrom. As always all opinions my own. All items purchased by me. For more information, refer to my disclosures.


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