Showing posts with label Tom Ford Beauty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tom Ford Beauty. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2015

Splurge vs. Save

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A few holiday treat ideas whether you're looking for a splurge or something more affordable.

There are so many good sets this year, I'll have holiday gift guide roundups of the best gifts I've found by price point and recipient coming soon. I love a good lip and hand duo - who doesn't need an extra boost of moisture during the holiday season? La Mer's The Replenishing Collection Duo ($75) is quite the splurge with a 1.7 oz of The Hand Treatment and 0.32 oz. of The Lip Balm. A more affordable option is the L'Occitane Shea Butter Hugs and Kisses Duo ($20 each) which is perfect for sensitive noses and skin. The Hugs and Kisses Duos come in a variety of other scented options (this one for example is to die for!!).

For the lips, matte full coverage lip colors are often in. They have bold color, rich pigment and matte formulas tend to last longer. Hands down the one of the best matte lipstick formula is the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipsticks ($32 each) because it's a luminous long-wearing and hydrating matte. Very Victoria (swatched here) is an amazing nude. 1975 Red is a limited-edition color that's a vibrant bright warm red (swatched here). Buxom Bold Gel Lipstick ($22) is a more affordable option. The Matte formula is pretty darn good and priced right (plus if you're a Sephora VIB you can get 20% off until November 16th with code VIB20). Swatches of all the Buxom Bold Gel Lipsticks here. I found Buxom Sinful Cinnamon to be an almost exact dupe for Charlotte Tilbury Very Victoria. Also Buxom Wildfire is identical in color to Charlotte Tilbury 1975 Red. I will say though that the Charlotte Tilbury formula really can't be beat (or matched).

For the holiday season, quick and easy gifts are candles. I'm a huge fan of Jo Malone and Diptyque candles for pine scents. Jo Malone Pine and Eucalyptus ($65) has the perfect Christmas-y vibe to it. A couple cheaper alternatives for holiday home scents are the Nest Birchwood Pine ($35) and Henri Bendel White Spruce ($35).

For the nails, I love a good sparkly gold, bright red or deep vamp, but for those who like a good neutral nude pink that will give your hands a polished look without making them look dead, Tom Ford Sugar Dune ($35, swatched here) is my holy grail nude pink cream. Dior Lady (review here) also reached holy grail status but was limited-edition and I'm so sad you can't find it anymore. The closest dupe I've found is Essie Topless and Barefoot (swatched here). It's a really good neutral that isn't sheer and gives the hands a polished feel.

Last but not least for those who love flat zip pouches, the Tory Burch York Duo Leather Pouches ($195 for set of 2) is quite the splurge. Both are made of textured Saffiano leather and are very thick and sturdy. I own the Black and Light Oak duo, I really like both, but it was a big ouch to the wallet. A less expensive alternative but something still high quality is the Truffle Privacy Clutch ($54). It's made of textured leather and is quite sturdy. With these two, you can't compare them exactly since one is a duo and one is a single, but the function is similar. I use the Truffle Privacy Clutches more often - the shape, size and simple sleek design is versatile as a makeup bag, pouch for your purse or a clutch. For those who like smaller pouches Truffle launched the Privacy Wristlet ($48 in three colors).

Have a great Monday!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Sephora VIB Rouge Sale Beauty Haul

The Sephora VIB Holiday 20% off sale starts today for VIB Members in store (with your e-mail code or coupon mailer) and online with code VIB20. I am a VIB Rouge member and tested the code today to see if it would work (because several e-mailed me asking me to test it) but it doesn't. I have a roundup of what I bought last week when the code worked for VIB Rouge Members along with some quick swatches of the color/makeup items. I shopped in store - there were a few things in my online cart that were online exclusives but I didn't check out before the sale ended - no biggie since I splurged on a lot of other goodies. Here's the damage below.

For my husband, I picked up the Dior Sauvage Eau De Toilette Spray in the 2 oz bottle. He prefers smaller bottles because they take up less counter space. I had the 3 piece gift set on my list for him, but it's an online exclusive and he's picky about after shave lotions. I decided to stay with what was safe. I also picked up the Tom Ford Costa Azzurra Eau de Parfum for him. It's a fresh scent but still has enough masculine notes to wear year round. Sephora has the exclusive on the small 1 oz size so I thought I'd try it. I should have just bought the regular 1.7 oz size but my curiosity got the best of me with the tiny bottle.

For makeup, I picked up the following:
  • Burberry First Kiss Fresh Gloss Lip Balm in Coral Glow which is a stunning coral balm, it hydrates, feels good on the lips, and gives a healthy tint of color with a stunning glow
  • Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipsticks in Melted Nude and Melted Chihuahua have been on my list for ages, I can't believe it took me so long to buy these, Melted Nude might just be my new holy grail nude lip color, Chihuahua is what I wanted Kat Von D Lolita to be on me
  • Cover FX Illuminator in Sunlight has had so many raves, I had to try it, I've worn it 2x so far, I'm undecided about it, it's like but not pure love, for the price it's good
  • Sephora Colorful Contour Powder in Fiji and Highlighter in Secretive can't be beat at the $15 price tag (for each), I was hoping Secretive would be a dupe for Chanel Coups de Minuit, but the Sephora color is a lot sheerer in finish, Fiji is a nice warm subtle contour
  • Cover FX Illuminating Primer is another highly raved about primer, I have high hopes for it, currently testing, will report soon
  • Bite Beauty Mix and Mingle Duos in Café/Pepper (for me) and Latte/Cortado (as a gift) of course I could not resist these cute lip duos, Café is the best light pink ever, I wish it was available in the full size lipstick

Below swatches alongside a few other shades:

Burberry First Kiss Fresh Gloss Lip Balm in Coral Glow, Sweet Plum, Rose Blush (swatched here)
Too Faced Melted Lipsticks in Nude and Chihuahua
Kat Von D Beauty Lolita Lip Duo (swatched here)

Chanel Coups de Minuit (swatches here)
Sephora Colorful Highlighter and Contour Powder

For hair, skin, body I picked up a few items to restock and a couple new items:

If you shopped the sale last week or are planning to shop the VIB Sale this weekend, let me know what's on your list or what you picked up. Would love to hear about your hauls :)

If you're shopping in store, you can show the card or e-mail you received for the VIB Code or Coupon. If you're shopping online at use code VIB20 (good for VIB members only), you should be able to use it multiple times online from today until November 16th.

Happy shopping!

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. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

On My Radar / New in Beauty

Happy Tuesday everyone! I feel as though holiday beauty releases, gift sets and collections are starting to flood my e-mail inbox with daily notifications. I'm really excited about this year's gift sets - they look better than ever and there seem to some that are well-priced. I will have to make my lists and sort through them carefully before making purchases. A few things on my beauty radar this week.

First, three sales/gift with purchase events you might want to take note of. Space NK is having their explore event, details one post down, but use code EXPLORE15 for $25 off purchases of $100 or more (online only, valid through 10/25). Shopbop is having 25% Off Friends and Family Sale with code INTHEFAM25 (good for 3 days, ends 10/15). Neiman Marcus is having their Incircle Event so many lines have gift with purchase options.

From the top left clockwise:
  • Le Metier de Beaute and Neiman Marcus have created a limited-edition Breast Cancer Awareness Stephanie Kaleidoscope. I will be picking mine up later this week since they have their Incircle Event. There is a gift with purchase available with any $300 purchase (in store and online). More details once I pick mine up.
  • Chanel has some gorgeous releases for late fall into holiday. First there is a new Rouge Allure Collection featuring some new Rouge Allure Lipsticks (Inspiree and Eblouissante), Rouge Allure Velvet Lipsticks, new Rouge Double Colors (I picked up Bright Rose), Rouge Allure Gloss (in Ideale and Expressive), two new Le Vernis Nail Polishes in Singuliere and Troublant. Review on my picks soon.
  • Diptyque Holiday looks absolutely amazing. There will be three limited-edition holiday candles that launch November. You can pre-order some from Neiman Marcus now. Also the Diptyque South Coast Plaza store will have an exclusive early preview event at their store October 15th. You can call them (714) 850-9995 for details. They will have a gift with purchase and small bites available.
  • Molton Brown has two new hand treatments available. There is Alba White Truffle Hand Exfoliator and Alba White Truffle Hand Treatment. I've never thought about exfoliating the hands before - it will be interesting to see how the duo performs.
  • Buxom Cosmetics has a number of cute holiday sets with minis. The Don't Miss a Beat set has 6 mini lip polishes. If you want a bigger selection of colors, the Leave Your Mark Full-On Lip Polish & Lip Cream Set has 15 minis.
  • RMS Beauty has launched nine Nail Polishes. There are several different finishes in creams and metallics. I'm particularly intrigued with how the Luminizer shade will look on the hands.
  • The Sephora Beauty Insider 250 Point Perk for October Bite Beauty's Kir Royale has launched online!! Swatches of the lipstick and lipgloss in this post here. If you've been stalking Sephora for this bonus to arrive online, I just spotted it today.
  • Last but not least, some of Tom Ford Holiday has launched online for pre-order at Neiman Marcus. It's all very smokey and dark. I have my eye on the Waterproof Mascara in Noir and Nail Lacquer in Black Out (it looks like it could be a dupe for Chanel Steel).
What's on your beauty radar this week? Do you have anything on your wishlist or are you waiting to see more holiday launches before splurging?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Next Level Foundation Makeup Brushes

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

The seven brushes I tested include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 11, 2015

New Tom Ford Lip Colors for Fall 2015

Tom Ford added 16 new lip colors to his permanent beauty lineup. He launched three shades that were previously Asia Exclusives and also launched eight lipsticks in full-size form that were formerly in the small Lips & Boys size. I ordered several a few weeks ago - I'm a huge fan of Tom Ford Lipsticks (all his formulas) even though these come with a high price tag of $52 each, the formula is rich, creamy, pigmented, non-irritating and non-drying (they made it into my top three picks of favorite lipsticks). I have a review of 6 shades I picked out plus swatches of 15 of the 16 colors that I swatched at the counter (I missed one that I couldn't locate at the counter). The new colors that just launched include:

  • Bare Peach is a medium peach silver shimmer
  • Casino (formerly Blake from Lips & Boys) is a metallic plum-brown with gold frost
  • Dark & Stormy (formerly Pavlos from Lips & Boys) is a dark brown with a hint of red
  • Flash of Pink (formerly John from Lips & Boys) is the color I couldn't locate at the counter
  • Guilty Pleasure (formerly William from Lips & Boys) is a warm metallic peach gold
  • Lilac Nymph is a cool-toned lilac cream
  • Misbehaved is a medium peach cream
  • Naked Coral is a shimmering soft coral
  • Seventh Sin is a metallic copper gold
  • Showgirl (formerly Francesco from Lips & Boys) is a vibrant hot pink cream
  • So Vain is a mauve plum with a slight hint of gold shimmer
  • Something Wild is a medium warm hot pink
  • Sunset Boulevard (formerly Tomas from Lips & Boys) is a hot orange cream
  • Sweet Mystery (formerly Peter from Lips & Boys) is a shimmering champagne nude
  • Virgin Rose is a cool-toned baby pink
The colors I picked out are all neutrals of course. When I bought mine I ordered sight unseen and I did not know that some were repromotes of Lips & Boys. After seeing the other colors at the counter I was tempted by Virgin Rose but suspect it will be too cool-toned for my skin. Casino is gorgeous but looks identical Blake which I already own so I passed.

My picks include Naked Coral, Forbidden Pink, Sweet Mystery, Bare Peach, Guilty Pleasure and So Vain. All performed true to what I'm used to with other Tom Ford Lip Colors. They glide on the lips nicely. The shimmering colors are on the frosty side which emphasized lip lines - although I will say that my lips have been a bit dry lately. These days I prep my lips with Charlotte Tilbury Lip Magic or MAC Prep + Prime Lips and let it set for a minute before applying lip color. Both give the lips a nice smooth base with some hydration. They are good bases for lipstick because they have just the right amount of moisture and aren't too emollient which is a must - otherwise the lip color can tend to slide off.

Colors in different lighting, indoors without flash:

Swatches side by side, note most of the colors I picked had some kind of shimmer in them. Naked Coral, Forbidden Pink and So Vain are the ones with the least shimmer but the formula still has a very slight glossy sheen which makes them glow:

Close up and lip swatches. On my skin Naked Coral and Forbidden Pink are very close. My lips tend to make anything with a slightly bright base turn a bit so you will probably see more of a distinction on your lips versus mine. I have a very slight preference for Forbidden Pink because it has a warm pink base.

I pulled a few other Tom Ford lipsticks to compare and see if a couple were truly dupes of the Lips & Boys. The ones I looked at are 90%+ identical, there are very slight differences. There are still a few of the Lips & Boys available online at Neiman Marcus. Reviews of previous reviews linked below:

One last shot of the new colors lined up side by side:

I definitely have dupes with Sweet Mystery and Guilty Pleasure. If you have either Peter or William you don't need the repromotes unless you love it, are running low and want to replenish. Naked Coral and Forbidden Pink are very close on me. I have a slight preference for Forbidden Pink although if you like lighter colors I'd recommend you opt for Naked Coral instead - it has a brighter look. Bare Peach is pure love although the shimmer in it requires lip prep so it doesn't emphasize lip lines. So Vain is a good cool-toned mauve plum that will be perfect for a fall transition color.

All the new lip colors are supposed to be permanent additions to the Tom Ford Lip Color line. I'm still tempted by Virgin Rose but I know it will almost certainly be too cool in color for my skin. Also with the other lipstick launches from other lines this fall, there are plenty of other colors and formulas to choose from.

The Tom Ford Lip Colors retail for $52 each. Available now at Tom Ford Beauty counters. Online at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Selfridges.

Monday, August 31, 2015

August Favorites

I have a monthly favorites roundup today featuring both beauty and grooming products for him and her. My husband had so much fun pulling his favorite things last month he wanted to participate again. We've both been experimenting with new products - for me it's a regular thing since I'm a beauty blogger and constantly trying new things. For him, he's found out trying new products takes quite a bit of time to figure out how they really perform. There are some things he wanted to toss after one use, but in the interest of giving things a thorough test drive he's opened up to giving items more than 1-2 uses before writing things off. Our August beauty and grooming favorites this month:
  1. Tom Ford Skin Illuminating Duo in Moodlight (reviewed here) is the must-have highlighter duo this season. It gives the skin the most stunning glow. There seems to be mixed information about whether or not it's limited-edition. I received an e-mail from the team at Tom Ford confirming that it's limited-edition. Others report it is permanent. To be safe I bought 2 backups. It's that good.
  2. R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo Spray (Travel Size) is something I picked up a month ago. I'm the type of person who washes her hair daily so I don't use dry shampoos a lot. There are days though where it's so hot my hair needs a quick refresh. Many are white in color and leave my black-brown hair looking dusty and grey (even if I brush it out). This one is colorless and smells amazing. A few spritzes absorbs oil and gives the hair texture. I give it a huge thumbs up.
  3. First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay has been a long time favorite. I've used this on and off for a year now (I like to switch up my cleansers). I think I've gone through 4 tubes. It's amazing in this hot humid weather at cleaning the skin, unclogs pores and is gentle but really effective.
  4. YSL Pop Water Glossy Stains have been in regular rotation (previously swatched/reviewed here). The colors are summer-perfect. It's so easy to swipe on the lips and the stain makes the color last long. My two favorites for the last month have been Pink Rain and Wet Nude.
  5. Surratt Beauty Lip Lustre in Soigne is one of the prettiest shimmering rose pinks. It looks very metallic in the tube and when swatched on the hands but on the lips it's not as frosty. It's the perfect soft rosy pink shimmer. See it on my lips here.
  6. I acquired a few minis of the La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream and it's heavenly. I have been rationing three tiny bottles for months now (since around May) and I've fallen head over heels. I don't want to splurge on the full size but there are some deal/value sets. I need to buy soon. It will be one of my biggest skincare splurges but it's amazing on my skin. It hydrates, feels smooth, doesn't get greasy and makes my face glow.
  7. Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow in Medium to Dark is my go-to bronzer this month. You can see the full review + swatches here. I'm completely obsessed.
  8. Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow is something I've been mixing in with foundation to add a subtle glow. I like that it has a yellowish golden undertone which I find rare in liquid illuminators which are often pinkish/opal.
  9. La Mer Illuminating Eye Gel is something I've been using since the spring. It's a good lightweight product for day and in this hot summer weather it's just what I need. For a real deep treatment my go-to is still Chanel Sublimage but it's a bit heavy for day in this super hot weather.
  10. This hakuho-do x Sephora Kusuriyubi Angled Concealer Brush is amazing. I did a full review earlier in the month which you can see here, but this is my favorite concealer brush of all time now.
  11. For the longest time my husband has been a loyal Jack Black user, but he opened up to trying some items I brought home from Kiehl's. He really likes the Facial Fuel Energizing Facewash for Men. It lathers up well and really cleans the skin making it feel refreshed without leaving any film or stripping the face. The entire Facial Fuel line has a good masculine look to the packaging which he finds appealing. I tried this one and have to say it's pretty darn good. For him, it helps prepare his skin for shaving by making it feel smooth.
  12. Kiehl's Facial Fuel Heavy Lifting Eye Repair is what he uses under his eyes to try and treat wrinkles and dry skin. This year he's been keen on researching products and changing his lifestyle to prevent aging (or at least try to delay it). He's on his second jar of this. He likes it because it hydrates and really helps with his wrinkles.
  13. Kiehl's Facial Fuel Energizing Moisture Treatment for Men has been in regular rotation for skincare. He likes this because it softens the skin without feeling greasy. It absorbs quickly and makes the skin feel invigorated. He actually got this one in Men's Starter Kit because he likes bottles with smaller packaging.
  14. Clarisonic Alpha Fit Cleansing System for Men is a new device designed specifically for men. My husband had tried my Aria with his own brush heads. He liked the concept but didn't like the design (he said it looked too girly and felt bulky). I bought this one for him - the video sold it for me. It has a good masculine look and fits in the hands easily. He uses his in the shower daily and finds it gives his skin a deep clean and has made a noticeable difference in texture and preventing blackheads/clogged pores. He has super thick facial hair and this Clarisonic has softened the ends of his hair so when he shaves it feels softer. It's on the pricey side but he's really happy with it. It fits on the shelf in our shower without taking up a lot of space.
  15. Nuxe Men Multi-Use Shower Gel is his favorite right now. He likes the way it smells and how it lathers (for him the lather is important). It leaves the skin feeling clean and moisturized. I'm a fan of the way it smells on him too. Review here.
  16. Penhaligon's Blenheim Bouquet Deodorant is something he bought because he was researching Penhaligon's shaving products. He decided to give this one a try based on online reviews he read. He likes it because it has a good fresh manly scent and doesn't make his skin peel.
That wraps it up for our beauty and grooming favorites for the month!
What were your favorites for August?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Loving Right Now

It's the last week of August which means summer is coming to an end soon. I suspect we will still have really good weather in Southern California for the next few months - although I haven't been to the beach nearly enough this year. Right now I'm working my way through Chanel, Tom Ford, Sara Happ, and Eve Snow reviews along with some roundup features. Sometimes I feel as though the days go by so quickly and I find it challenging to accomplish as much I as I would like to. I need some organization and time management inspiration!

Right now I'm obsessed with Smith and Cult in She Said Yeah. It's such a pretty vibrant girly lilac periwinkle colored nail polish - I like it on the toes. For bronzers I'm obsessed with Tom Ford Small Bronzing Powder compacts. I don't know if they are limited-edition or not, but I picked up 2 of the Gold Dust. Armani Maestro Liquid Summer I got last year has still lasted me a long time (with a long way to go, I don't know if I will ever use it up). I like how it blends into the skin naturally. There are three shades now.

For the lips, I'm still obsessed with the Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfectors. I almost always have one or two colors in my purse. For fragrance I'm on a rollerball kick. I ordered this Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Coco mini recently. I'm forever in search of a good vanilla perfume I can wear that isn't too sweet. I'm completely in love with it but my husband is not a fan. He doesn't like vanilla scents on me at all (inserts sad face).

I featured R+Co in my July Favorites and I've been exploring more from the line. I've stocked up on a few mini sample packets from various gift with purchase offers. Most recently I was sent a sample of the Rockaway Salt Spray and it smells so so so amazing. The first few times I used it I sprayed too much too close to my roots. It does dry down even if you use too much but I recommend spritzing at least 6 inches from your hair. It gives a nice textured look and volume without making the hair feel crunchy.

The Supergoop! Sun Defying Sunscreen Oil with Meadowfoam SPF 50 has been on regular rotation for body. It absorbs quickly, doesn't feel greasy, doesn't have that sunscreen smell, keeps sunburns away and doesn't irritate my super sensitive skin. I started testing the cream Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50 with Cellular Response Technology and it also works well without irritation issues. I'll have a sunscreen testing roundup soon. 

Last but not least, Truffle has new Clarity Pouch colors! Above shown are Large Seafoam Mint Cranberry and Small Pewter Lime Slate.

What have you been loving this week?

Press samples in this feature include items Smith & Cult, R+Co, Clarins and Truffle.


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