Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit

ABHContourKitThe Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit ($40) is one product that I have always wanted but could never bring myself to splurge on. This palette of pressed powders has been on the market for quite some time. I put off buying it because of the price, and because I have MAC’s Mineralize Skinfinish Natural powder in Dark that I use for contouring. But that always felt a little too warm to me; ideally, you are supposed to contour with cool-toned powders because they mimic natural shadows. I caved and bought the Anastasia palette because I really love the cool shades in here, and they’re something I don’t have a lot of.

I purchased the Light to Medium kit, which is the original version of it. It is now also available in Medium to Tan, which I have not tried.

Let me just start off by saying I LOVE THIS PALETTE. I am kicking myself for not buying it sooner. These powders are gorgeous: incredibly blendable, highly pigmented, and long-wearing. They make contouring a breeze. Totally worth the price.

ABHContour2There are six shades in this palette:

Vanilla (suitable for neutral and warm undertones)
Banana (suitable for neutral, cool, and warm undertones)
Sand (suitable for neutral, cool, and warm undertones)
Java (suitable for cool undertones)
Fawn (suitable for neutral or cool undertones)
Havana (suitable for warm or cool undertones)

Each one is finely milled, which makes blending (a key component of contouring) effortless.

ABHContour3If you’re not sure exactly how to use and where to place these shades, check out some tutorials on YouTube. Once you get the hang of it, it’s relatively simple and doesn’t take more than a few minutes.

To place and blend the contour powders, I use the MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush. It fits right into the hollows of my cheeks and glides nicely around the temples and hairline. To apply the highlighter powders, I use the MAC 116 Blush Brush. This is just the combo that works best for me.

ABHContour4This is also the first powder with which I have ever been able to contour my nose. Everything else I tried was either off in color or just did not blend correclty. Now, I use the Fawn powder along the sides and tip of my nose and blend out with a small eyeshadow brush, which was in an amazing set of makeup brushes from Costco (!!). It’s the prefect size for placing the powder exactly where I want it and working in a small area of the face.

I mostly use this for nighttime looks, but I have applied it during the day. It wears for hours and hours. As long as you blend thoroughly, the contour powders never look dirty or muddy. This is already a staple product that I will turn to again and again.

Do you have the Contour Kit? What do you think of it?

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Blush Crush

blush-crushI’m having a love affair with blush tones lately. Maybe it’s because the cherry blossoms have finally popped up here in Philly. Whatever the reason, shades of blush feel so right for spring, and I want to incorporate them in as many ways as I can!

1. Tory Burch Bloom Quilted Shoulder Bag ($347): This gorgeous quilted bag, a Bloomingdales exclusive, is elegant and ladylike, yet roomy enough to haul all your essentials. I recently ordered this from Bloomingdales, and the customer service was outstanding; the best I’ve received in a long time (maybe ever!) from any brand.

2. Smashbox L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color in Beverly Hills Blush ($29): I love multitasking beauty products, and this chunky stick is so easy to swipe on cheeks and lips. The sponge on the other end makes for effortless on-the-go blending.

3. Adrianna Papell Embellished Blouson Gown ($260): The beading lends this gown a lovely Art Deco vibe.

4. NARS Lip Gloss in Istria ($26): I’ve been wearing this everywhere lately. Solo or layered over lipstick, it’s a soft blush pink that’s so springy and feminine.

5. J.Crew Pop Floral Bracelet ($39.99, plus 30% off): Not quite nude, but not truly pink, this bracelet is tinted with a blush hue that works like a neutral with your wardrobe. It’s a great piece if you’re not that into statement jewelry; you just get a flash of prettiness on the wrist, and the shape makes it unexpected.

6. J.Crew Crystal Foliage Earrings ($69.99, plus an additional 50% off): These beauties feature a gorgeous mix of blush shades. They are definitely big earrings (which I love), yet they’re not heavy. I’ve been wearing them every Saturday night.

7. LOFT Arrow Embroidered Scarf ($29.99): I love the way this scarf is feminine and a little boho, thanks to the tassels on the ends. It’s airy, too; perfect for tossing in your bag when it gets chilly at night (or you’re in an air-conditioned office or movie theater).

8. Jeffrey Campbell “Dola” Sandals ($188): These sandals get a dose of glamor from crystal detailing, yet they’re totally walkable and comfy.

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Earth Day Beauty 2015

earth-day-beauty-2015In keeping with my Earth Day tradition, I’m sharing some products that celebrate the spirit of the day by being all natural. Some even give back to the environment or community. Purchasing these products will either safeguard your own health, or directly benefit specific environmental organizations.

aveda-light-the-way2015Aveda Light the Way Candle ($12): I buy one of these every year to support clean water charities around the world. All proceeds from this year’s candle goes to the Global Greengrants Fund, which supports clean water projects in communities across the world. The 2015 candle is blended with spices from Madagascar; it seems very autumnal to me, so I’ve tucked it away to burn later in the year. Also note: this year’s candle is smaller in size than previous years.

SW-creamS.W. Basics Cream ($32): This Brooklyn-based brand makes organic skincare products in small batches. Their ultra-hydrating all-purpose Cream is composed of just three ingredients: wild-harvested shea butter, extra virgin olive and coconut oils. It’s great as an all-over moisturizer. Five percent of every purchase (on all products) throughout April supports MissionBlue, an organization that works to improve oceans that are overfished, polluted, or home to endangered species.

kiehls-creamy-eyeKiehl’s Limited-Edition Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado ($47): With labels designed by Elizabeth Olsen and Maggie Q. During April, 100% of net profits from these products (up to $50,000) will be donated to Recycle Across America, an organization advocating for simpler and more effective recycling procedures in the U.S.

kjaer-weis-cream-blushKJAER WEIS Cream Blush in Blossoming ($56): This organic line is expensive, but they offer an “Intelligent Refill System:” you purchase the full product and packaging once, and the company offers lower-priced product refills to save packaging. Founder Kirsten Kjaer Weis developed this cream blush to give you a glow that resembles the flush you get after working out.

drunk-elephant-shaba-complexDrunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum ($85; restocking soon): This newish (est. 2012) brand uses only non-toxic ingredients, yet they claim this anti-aging eye serum is almost as effective as Botox–without the needles.

tata-harper-maskTata Harper Resurfacing Mask ($55): This exfoliator is one of the best on the market. It just happens to be all natural.

scmidts-deodorantSchmidt’s Natural Deodorant ($9): Aluminum-based deodorants have a clinically-proven link to breast cancer. Yet, the majority of us keep using them because the “natural” deodorant options either don’t work, or are too hard to find. Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant is a solid cream formula that’s affordable, easily shoppable online, and totally not what you imagine when you think of natural deodorant…it’s luxe and performs amazingly! Available in spa-esque scents like Lavender + Sage, Bergamot + Lime, Cedarwood + Juniper, and Ylang-Ylang + Calendula.

soften-her-padsSoften Her {for men: The Soft Goat Beard Softener}: Disposable razors are clogging up landfills across the country. To cut back on trashed disposable razors, Soften Her developed a buffing pad that softens body hair, eliminates ingrowns, and exfoliates–all so you can cut back on tossing disposable razors. Each box of Soften Her ($12) contains 3 hypoallergenic pads that last up to 2 months each.

Want to see more all-natural beauty products? See my comprehensive list of Green Beauty Brands, and definitions of the terminology related to “natural” beauty products.

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Clarins Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector

clarins-instant-lightClarins kindly sent me a new product, Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector in Rose ($23), from their spring collection. I love a gloss-balm hybrid that delivers a dose of color, and this does just that.

Clarins says that the product delivers 4 hours of hydration to plump and illuminate the lips. While I didn’t time it on my watch, I can say that it is very moisturizing and long-wearing. It’s loaded with vitamin E and rice bran oil, so lips are nourished while you wear it.

clarins-instant-light2Judging by appearance, Instant Light is more on the gloss side, although in terms of texture and wear, it definitely feels like a balm. It’s comfortable, cushy, and even a little slick–but not at all tacky or clumpy like some glosses can be. The Rose shade is a beautiful see-through pink, like your lips, but better. It also comes in My Pink (a pink that adjusts to your personal pH levels), Coral, Rosewood, Red, and Orange.

clarins-instant-light3It’s one of those seemingly simple products that makes a big impact. It’s earned a spot as one of the top staples in my makeup bag.

The product in this post was provided by the brand for consideration. Gifted products in no way guarantee a positive review or coverage on this blog.

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Tom Ford’s New Clutch Has External Lipstick Holder

TFclutchTom Ford’s new minaudiere features a beauty-minded design twist: an external holster for his iconic lipsticks. The clutch comes with a tube of his Vanilla Suede color, but works with all of the designer’s lipsticks, as the cases are all the same size & shape. I’m not crazy about the thought of my lipstick being on the outside of my bag (I think it takes away from the bag’s aesthetic), but I do love the idea of freeing up more room inside for other essentials — especially on a clutch this small.

The plexiglass minaudiere is encrusted with silver pailettes (on the inside — so they’ll never fall off) and is topped off with a gold snake chain.

The only catch? You’ll have to shell out $3,950 to snag this limited-edition accessory.

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Urban Decay Summer ’15

Urban Decay is introducing several new products, and bringing lots of color, for summer. New items in their permanent lineup include Revolution High Color Lip Gloss and Afterglow 8-Hour Power Blush. They’ve also added eight new eyeshadow shades to their permanent collection, and a limited-edition charity Eyeshadow Primer Potion. Take a look.

UD-lipgloss-1Revolution High Color Lip Gloss ($22) are new glosses that are loaded with color. Shades, from left:

  • Savage (creamy hot pink)
  • Big Bang (bright purple with pink shimmer)
  • Vice (shimmery dark purple)
  • Bittersweet (creamy bright purple)
  • Liar (creamy medium pinky-nude)
  • Failbait (creamy light neutral pink)
  • Kinky (creamy nude)

UD-summer-glosses-2Revolution High Color Lip Gloss ($22):

  • Apocalypse (creamy dark wine)
  • Brick House (creamy dark brick red)
  • 69 (creamy bright red)
  • Assassin (shimmery candy apple red)
  • Punch Drunk (creamy bright orange)
  • Quiver (creamy rose)
  • Scandal (creamy vivid fuschia)

UD-eye-primersEyeshadow Primer Potion ($20):

  • Original (nude; permanent)
  • Anti-Aging (nude; permanent)
  • Minor Sin (champagne shimmer; permanent)
  • Eden (nude matte; permanent)
  • Enigma (neutral matte; limited edition; $24; all proceeds donated to the Ultraviolet Edge, UD’s global initiative to empower women.)

UD-summer-shadowsEyeshadow ($18): Eight new shades are added to the permanent lineup. Many of these shades are multidimensional, and change color as they catch the light. They are full of depth and I really recommend seeing them in person if you can. They’re very unique in their shades and texture. Shades, left to right from top left:

  • Riff (matte medium brown with micro shimmer)
  • Beware (matte warm brown)
  • Tonic (lilac with blue shift)
  • Backfire (burgundy with purple shift)
  • Lounge (red with green shift)
  • Fireball (peach with pink shift)
  • Dive Bar (medium blue with pink/purple shift)
  • Sideline (gold with green shift)

UD-summer-blush-1Afterglow 8-Hour Power Blush ($26) is a new long-wearing blush that is being put into the permanent collection. Shades, left to right from top left:

  • Obsessed (matte light pink)
  • Quickie (matte bright pink)
  • Crush (matte medium pink)
  • Video (matte medium nude )
  • Indecent (matte light peachy nude)
  • Kitty (pale peach with gold shimmer)

UD-summer-blush-2Shades, left to right from top left:

  • Rapture (shimmery deep mauve)
  • Fetish (matte midtone pinky-nude)
  • Bittersweet (matte bright purple)
  • Bang (matte bright orangey-red)
  • Quiver (matte midtone red)
  • Score (shimmery medium peachy pink)

The full collection will be available online and in North American specialty and department stores that carry Urban Decay on April 15.

What do you think: love it or meh?

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NARS Summer ’15: NARS x Christopher Kane

nars-christopher-kane-summer-2015For summer 2015, NARS has teamed up with fashion designer Christopher Kane for a collaboration that is truly gorgeous. I saw it a few weeks ago and haven’t had a chance to write about it until today, but it’s been on my mind ever since. The colors are bright, super-saturated, and definitively summery. All the NARS staples are here, in limited edition packaging, with Kane’s signature otherworldly twist applied to them.

All items are limited edition.

nars-christopher-kane-duo-shadowDuo Eyeshadow ($35) in Parallel Universe (glittery pink lilac and glittery pinky-violet)

Christopher-Kane-NARS-Outer-Limits-Eye-ShadowSingle Eyeshadow ($25) in Outer Limits (multitonal rose gold with notes of peach, pink, and champagne). Quick note: these shadows are very glittery, and you will inevitably deal with fallout during application. But the glitter is so gorgeous, it’s worth a little extra cleanup! Tap them on with a flat brush to minimize excess fallout and really pack on the color.

nars-christopher-kane-multiplesIlluminating Multiple ($39) in Quantum (shimmery vivid fuschia) and Violet Atom (shimmery cool light pink with pale lilac and silver undertones)

nars-christopher-kane-glossLip Gloss ($26) in Glow Pink (sheer bright fuschia), Nucleus (creamy warm peachy-beige), Mezmer (sheer neon pink), and Nebulous (neon coraly-orange)

nars-christopher-kane-blushBlush ($30) in Starscape (matte magenta) and Silent Nude (matte nude)nars-christopher-kane-promoThe collection is available on the NARS website, and at select North American stores and counters on April 15, 2015. The Illuminating Multiple in Quantum is exclusive to NARS boutiques and their website.

Images via NARS

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It’s Back: John Freida Beach Blonde Sea Waves

john-freida-sea-wavesBack in the ’90s, an amazing product hit drugstore shelves, and it instantly became a favorite among teenage girls all across America. It was John Freida Beach Blonde Ocean Waves Spray, and it was all the rage. The sea-green formula was separated in the bottle, so you’d shake it up before spritzing it on hair. First you’d be intoxicated by the scent. Then you’d look in the mirror and realize you had awesome hair. It was released seasonally (hitting the shelves in early spring), and sold out in all the major drugstores every year. And then John Freida discontinued it.

But it’s baaaack! After years of getting flack from its customer base, the company has finally relaunched this product. It’s got a new name, John Freida Beach Blonde Sea Waves Sea Salt Spray (approx. $9), a sleek new bottle, and a formula that’s mixed so you don’t have to shake it before spraying (which kind of takes away from the whole ritual, but also saves time).

This was the first sea salt spray I tried. I fell in love initially because of the smell (which is like summer in a bottle: coconutty, a little pineapple-y, and very sunscreen-y), but also, it brought out the natural wave in my hair before I ever really learned how to style it. And with all of the styling tools on the market today to enhance beachy waves (or create them if your hair is not naturally wavy), this product will only make your tresses look even more amazing. There is definitely some nostalgia tied to my love for this, but nonetheless, I am really looking forward to seeing if it performs as good as its ’90s predecessor.

They’ve also relaunched new versions of the other products in the original line: Beach Blonde Cool Dip Purifying Shampoo and Smooth Seas Detangling Conditioner. Of course, these were in my shower caddy in the ’90s, too. If you were a fan of this line, make a beeline to your nearest drugstore and stock up!

ocean-spray-90sPS: This is what the sea salt spray used to look like!

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Budget Beauty: Milani Brow & Eye Highlighters

milani-brow-highlightersI love Anastasia’s Brow Duality so much, I can’t live without it. The double-ended soft pencil is great for adding definition, lift, and highlight to the brow area. But I was tired of shelling out $23 for the pencil, because I was sure I could find a comparable product at a better price. If you’re looking for a solid dupe, I’ve got a great drugstore pick: Milani Brow & Eye Highlighters ($6.49).

milani2One tip of this dual-ended pencil has a creamy matte shade that gives lift and definition to the brow. You can use it above and below the arch to emphasize and sculpt the shape of your arch. The other side has a shimmery formula in a complementary (almost identical) shade, which adds an accent to the browbone. For extra definition, I double these up, using the matte and then the shimmery end. The only difference I’ve found between this and the Anastasia pencil is that the shimmery end of the Anastasia pencil packs a bit more of a punch. This one is very subtle, despite that it looks very shimmery in the pencil point.

milani3Both ends are easily blendable (I use my fingertip) and glide on smoothly without catching on the skin. If you keep the tips sharpened (which I obviously did not here), they’re very easy to control and allow you to be pretty precise. (And if you apply too much, just smudge it out and reapply.) They sharpen easily and without much of a mess.

milaniswatch copyI use the Matte Cream/Luminous Lift shade, a pale pinky nude tone that works well on cool skin. It also comes in Matte Beige/High Glow (champagne shades great for warm skin) and Vanilla/Natural Taupe (best for dark shades).

It’s not an absolutely necessary step in your makeup routine, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what a difference a swipe of this pencil under the arch of your brow makes. I certainly was!

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