MAC Holiday ’16: Nutcracker Sweet Mini Kits

mac-nutcracker-sweet-minisIt’s been awhile since I’ve been really impressed by any collection, but MAC’s holiday 2016 lineup, Nutcracker Sweet, is one that made me stop and take notice. The individual products are versatile enough to work well beyond the holiday season, and the gift sets are pretty universally appealing, making them really giftable. Since this collection is massive, I’m going to break it down into a few posts. Today, I start off with the mini kits, which all house tinier versions of limited-edition products.

mac-nutcracker-glossNude Lip Gloss Kit ($35): Fashion Whim (pale beige Cremesheen Glass), Pure Delight (light coral nude Cremesheen Glass), Prancin’ Dancin’ (copper shimmer Dazzleglass), Nutty & Naughty (midtone pinky-brown Cremesheen Glass).

mac-nutcracker-gloss2Red Lip Gloss Kit ($35): Galaxy Rose (midtone violet pink Cremesheen Glass), Gumdrop (cherry red Cremesheen Glass), Courting Chic (deep berry red with gold sparkles Cremesheen Glass), Phiff! (sheer yellow peach Dazzleglass).

mac-nutcracker-lipsticksNude Lipstick Kit ($35): Creme Cup (light blue-based pink; Cremesheen), Whirl (dirty rose; Matte), Nouvelle Vogue (soft midtone blue-based pink; Matte), Kinda Sexy (neutral pinky rose; Matte).

mac-nutcracker-lipstick2Red Lipstick Kit ($35): MAC Red (bright bluish-red; Satin), Lady Danger (bright coral-red; Matte), Diva (reddish burgundy; Matte), Rebel (midtone plum; Satin).

mac-nutcracker-pigmentBronze Pigment Glitter Kit ($35): Includes Sugar Rush (pale peach Pigment), Stardream (metallic nude peach Pigment), Handsome Prince (warm bronze Pigment), and Reigning Riches (copper Glitter).

mac-nutcracker-pigment2Gold Pigment Glitter Kit ($35): English Gilt (champagne Pigment), Gold (gold Glitter), Reflects Red (warm red Glitter), Heritage Rouge (dirty brownish plum Pigment).

mac-nutcracker-liquid-lipstickNude Patentpolish Kit ($35): Pleasure’s All Mine (warm light nude), It’s Really Me (warm nude), Revved Up (creamy peach), French Kiss (warm caramel).

mac-nutcracker-liquid2Pink Patentpolish Kit ($35): Patentpink (pale lilac), Fearless (bright blue-based pink), Hopelessly Devoted (bright fuschia), Ruby (midtone rose).

What do you think of this subcollection of minis? Any that you’re eyeing for gifts–or yourself?

Images via MAC

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The Most Gorgeous Holiday Cards and More From Basic Invite

foil_holidays_2016Around this time of year, I always start frantically searching for holiday cards that are stylish, customizable and won’t break my budget. I just don’t want to send boring boxed cards. When Basic Invite reached out to share their elegant, customizable stationery with me, I knew my search for this year’s holiday cards was over.

Basic Invite offers stationery that is anything but basic. They have more than 250 unique holiday card designs and more than 40 envelope colors from which to choose. Gold and silver foil has been added to their 2016 holiday line, so you can add a beautiful metallic finish to your custom cards.

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There are a few key aspects where Basic Invite really stands apart from other online stationery retailers. They provide customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design, you can change the color of each element on the card to more than 180 different options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it.

You can also order a printed sample of your actual invitation–not a prototype–so you can see exactly how your piece will look printedYou can see the finished design and feel the paper quality before you place an order. I wish I knew about them when I was planning my wedding!

basic-holidayRight now Basic Invite is offering 30% off with coupon code holi30, so you can get beautiful holiday cards and save some cash. And to help you save even more, they are also offering complimentary address printing on all holiday card orders during the 2016 season.

I’m all about reducing the stress of the holidays, and this company goes above and beyond to try to make things easier for customers. They just introduced an address capturing service that allows customers to share a link on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any social media platform to request the addresses of their family and friends. The info will then be stored in the customer’s account and can be selected during the design process. How easy is that?!

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-9-26-35-pmAlthough right now I’m focused on holiday greetings, their wedding announcements and invitations are to die for. They also have an amazing selection of cute baby shower invitationsnewborn birth announcements, thank you cardsfirst birthday invitations, and keepsake guestbooks –all at an affordable price. So you can send gorgeous stationery with your own personal touch without breaking the bank.

basic_invite_bannounce8Check out Basic Invite‘s website, have fun designing your own unique cards, and take some of the stress out of the holidays!

This post was brought to you by Basic Invite. 

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Getting to Know the SiO Beauty System

siobeauty1A relatively new skincare company, SiO Beauty, reached out to me to ask if I wanted to try their product lineup. As I love new skincare innovations, I happily agreed–and this one sounded truly unique. The package that SiO sent included all of the products in their three-step system: Decollete Cleansing Discs ($45); a package of 2 SiO Skinpads ($99.95 for 2 pads, each reusable up to 15 times); and the Decollete Serum ($135). All prices listed indicate single purchase prices; prices vary if you enroll in their subscription purchasing program.

I turned to SiO to explain exactly how the Skinpad works:
“The SiO SkinPad is made from silicon and oxygen. Silicone in its most basic form is composed one one atom of oxygen and two atoms of silicon. These form polymers, which are then linked together to maximize the permeability of the material. By creating the ideal material oxygen is allowed to pass through, while moisture is locked in, creating the ultimate wrinkle-smoothing climate.”

So as you wear the pad, it helps draw moisture into the skin it’s covering to hydrate and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. The adhesive nature of the pad also helps gently pull skin taut, temporarily reducing the appearance of fine lines.

I tried the whole system for a few nights so I could give you my honest feedback on it.

sio-cleansing-discsFirst off, I would skip the decolette cleansing discs. They are thin, pre-moistened pads that cleanse, lightly exfoliate, and prep the skin for pad application. They’re supposed to enhance the effects of the Skinpad, but I noticed no difference when I did and didn’t use them. The price seems on the high side to me ($45 for 30 pads).

sio-skinpadThe pad itself is pretty great. I am so finicky about the feeling of certain things on my skin, and for the most part, the pad felt comfortable (and not noticeable) on my skin. I have a larger chest, and I think this would be easier for smaller-chested women to wear. I don’t have many wrinkles on my chest, so it was initially hard for me to gauge whether or not the product worked, but as I became more familiar with it, it seemed to reduce the appearance of fine lines. If you are unhappy with fine lines/wrinkles/creases on your decollette, this product could be a great solution for you. I love that the pads can be reused up to 15 times; they really do retain their sticky power for 15 days!

More details on this skincare system after the jump.

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Skincare Must-Have: Jade Roller

jaderollerIf you don’t have a jade roller, I highly recommend getting one! It’s my secret weapon in my skincare arsenal. I got mine on Amazon for less than $15.

So what’s the deal with this thing? The rollers, made from real jade stones, have been used as a skincare tool in Asian cultures for centuries. Their main benefit is lymphatic drainage; when you roll the smooth stone over your face and neck, it gently drains fluid from the lymph nodes beneath the surface, resulting in less puffiness. It also flushes out toxins in the process. I find it makes the most difference directly under my eyes. Over time, it can also help reduce the appearance of dark circles, and firm and tighten skin.

I usually apply eye cream before I get rolling. The jade roller makes the cream absorb better, and the cream helps the roller glide over skin effortlessly. I swipe the roller down and out under my eyes; on the rest of my face, I use upward strokes. Roll for a few minutes, and it’s like a mini facial massage…very relaxing!

You can store your roller in the fridge for even more of an instant tightening effect, but I don’t because the stone does stay cool as you use it.

Have you ever tried a jade roller? What do you think of it?

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Hair Rx

miracle-fillerMy hairstylist introduced me to one of my all-time favorite hair products: Pureology’s Perfect 4 Platinum Miracle Filler Treatment ($26). It’s a lightweight spray that you mist on your strands before blowdrying. It fills in gaps in damaged hair, making it stronger to prevent more breakage. It was developed with blondes in mind, but all shades of hair will benefit from this healing spray. If you have highlighted or high-lift blonde hair, the hair is more porous and fragile due to bleaching. Keravis, a vegetable protein, attaches to the hair cuticle, filling in holes caused by coloring, heat styling, and natural damage. Pureology claims this mist can recover up to 78% of strength lost during chemical lightening. When used in conjunction with the whole Perfect 4 Platinum system, it can help reduce the effects of stress on hair.

I’ve been using it for about 4 months, and it really does make a difference. The keravis helps give the appearance of smoother hair, while extracts of chamomile, coriander, and lemon work to and soften, boost shine, and brighten. It’s a nice treatment for all types of hair.

I usually use styling products with a light hand, because they can really weigh down hair, making it look flat and/or greasy. Not this! I spray this liberally all over my freshly-washed damp hair–even the roots–and then layer a heat protectant spray on top. The end result is smoother, softer hair that lays nicer and looks less damaged. I highly recommend this product for all types and shades of hair, especially blondes!

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Fall Essentials

fall-essentials-2016Summer passed by in the blink of an eye, and I’m mentally transitioning to fall (although there are still quite a few weeks of hot weather left before I switch over my closet!). Here are some pieces I have my eye on for fall.

1. Sam Edelman “Petty” Boots  ($140): The wear-with-everything bootie.

2. MAC Cool Neutral x 15 Eyeshadow Palette ($65): Cool neutrals perfect for crafting the moody, intense fall eye.

3. Hourglass Femme Nude Lip Stylo in No. 1 Nude ($32): A portable, no-mess nude lip crayon that doesn’t dry out lips and goes great with darker fall eye looks.

4. DL1961 Emma Legging Jeans ($178): Super comfy skinny jeans with a little stretch that pair well with booties.

5. Monica Vinader Fiji Friendship Bracelet ($200): This pretty rose gold and grey bracelet is elegant and minimalistic on the wrist, and is such a meaningful gift for a friend.

6. Kendra Scott “Benning” Pendant Necklace in Rose Gold ($90)

7. Aqua Turtleneck Poncho ($88): Ideal for throwing on during cool evenings.

8. Illume Candle in Heirloom Pumpkin ($18): Beyond basic and I don’t care; this is the best pumpkin candle.

9. Platina Earrings ($48): I bought these and can’t wait to wear them with fall ensembles. They’re so lightweight and yet surprisingly large (they graze my shoulders).

10. milk_shake Whipped Cream ($20): A leave-in volumizing foam that doesn’t make hair crunchy and smells amazing.

11. Madewell “Lauren” Collarless Blazer ($148): The long and lean silhouette can be polished or casual.

12. Phytokeratine Repair Mask ($45): To help mend the stress that summer put on my tresses.

13. Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist ($48): To keep skin glowy into fall, even as the temps drop, I’ll be using this dewy mist.

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A Tale of Three Highlighters

three-highlightersAn influx of highlighters appeared on my doorstep over the last week, so instead of writing about them individually, I figured I would round them up into one post.

IMG_1630The Marc Jacobs Beauty Glow Stick ($42) is a cream highlighter. I received this from Influenster, and I have to say, when I saw this in stores, it wasn’t one of those must-have-immediately items. It just seemed like your standard cream highlighter. But when I uncapped this and smoothed it over my cheekbones, I was shocked by how shimmer-packed and flattering it was. It has both gold and silver shimmer in it, so it’s flattering to nearly every skin tone under the sun. It couldn’t be any easier: just swipe over your cheekbones directly from the stick, or dab on with fingertips or a synthetic brush. You can control the level of highlight by blending and layering. The end effect is gorgeous. This one took me by surprise!

IMG_1616BECCA’s Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid in Champagne Pop ($41) is the shade on which they collaborated with Jaclyn Hill. I love Champagne Pop Pressed; although it’s a powder, it’s creamy to the touch and packs such a glistening punch. I have literally been waiting a year for the liquid version, and I wish it lived up to the hype, but it falls a bit short. No doubt, this is a beautiful highlighter; the peachy champagne shade is a winner, and the shimmer is gorgeous and makes you look lit-from-within. But I have other shades of this product, and based on their finish, I thought this was going to look like a little more intense when applied. The effect is more subtle, more toned-down. I still love it, it’s just not quite as in-your-face as Champagne Pop Pressed (and sometimes, that’s a good thing). This reflects beautifully on the skin, and can be used on décolleté, legs, arms…anywhere you want a little radiance.

More shimmer and shine after the jump.

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ColourPop Birthday Boy Super Shock Shadow

colourpopbirthdayboyI am a huge fan of ColourPop’s Super Shock Shadows. They’re $5 each, they have a really cool cushy formula, and they last for hours and hours without any signs of wear or fading.

To celebrate their second birthday, the brand gave away a shadow pot in a new limited-edition shade to each customer who placed on order over Memorial Day weekend. Birthday Boy is a one-time-only shade that I describe as a cool, midtone taupe flecked with silver glitter and a slightly violet reflective finish. I usually wear it as an accent in the center of my lids. The formula appears to be the same as ColourPop’s other glitter-infused shadows.

It’s also in limited-editon packaging. Instead of their usual white pots, Birthday Boy comes in a purple pot with an iridescent crown on the clear portion of the cap.

I recently wore Birthday Boy layered over Vanity Fair during an 18-hour day where I was going nonstop. When I finally took off my makeup at midnight, I looked in the mirror and realized my shadow was all still perfectly intact. There was the tiniest bit of creasing on the inner corner of one eye, but that was literally it. No smudging/running under my eyes, no fading, no flaking, no creasing. I continue to be SO impressed with these shadows! I honestly can’t believe they are only $5 a pop.

I’ve found that these shadows are best worn without primer. Just press them onto lids with fingertips or a flat synthetic brush and blend out to diffuse. Glitter formulas are best pressed directly onto the areas you want–these are best unblended. All formulas layer beautifully, so you can build up the intensity.

Have you tried this shade or any of ColourPop’s shadows? What do you think?

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Ofra x DupeThat Highlighter in You Glow, Girl

IMG_1213 Ofra Cosmetics collaborated with DupeThat to create two exclusive highlighters ($24.95). DupeThat is an Instagram account that shows you amazing dupes for all types of beauty products (and they nail it every. single. time.). If you’re looking for a similar shade to a limited edition lipstick that’s no longer available, or a less expensive version of an eyeshadow that has a similar consistency, follow them! They find dupes for everything.

IMG_1215So they teamed up with Ofra Cosmetics to create two highlighter shades: You Glow, Girl, a cool, icy pink, and You Dew You, a peachy gold. I got You Glow, Girl because most of the highlighters I have are in the champagne or gold realms.

This is a seriously intense highlight. I love it. Although it’s a powder, it feels creamy in the pan and glides onto skin like a dream. It’s light as air, and you need only a swipe to pack a punch. I am all about that glow, so I’m obsessed with this.IMG_1195It looks amazing on my fair skin, and it still looked good after I self-tanned. I think this would suit a wide range of skin tones, and would appear even more noticeable on darker skin.

My standard application for this is on the tops of my cheekbones and under the arches of my brows. For extra glow, I tap it onto my Cupid’s bow and the tip of my nose. And since we had our first heatwave of the season, I’ve also dusted it on my decollete, arms, and legs — perfect for going out. I also use it as a highlight on the inner corners of my eyes.

Interested in ordering? Get 30% off this and the entire Ofra site with code DUPETHAT.

Have you tried these highlighters? If so, what are your thoughts?

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CLE Radiant Skin CCC Cream

CLE-CCC-CreamWhen a beauty-obsessed friend of mine texted me that she’d finally found the perfect BB/CC cream, I was all ears. She said it was from CLE, and she received it in her Ipsy bag. I’d never heard of the brand, so I went straight to social media to dig up some info. There isn’t much info on them on the Internet yet, but they are a Korean skincare/cosmetics brand based out of LA.

I ordered two tubes of this allegedly magical Radiant Skin CCC Cream ($31) in the Medium Light shade. When it arrived, it was so chicly packaged (see a snap on my Instagram). The packaging is everything I love: white and rose gold, with clean lines.

IMG_1216The first time I tried this, I hated it. The Micro Capsule Technology totally threw me off. Straight from the tube, the formula is white; there are little beads filled with color suspended in the cream that burst, creating a veil of color, as you apply the product to your skin. I couldn’t really get a feel for how much it would even out my skin once I started applying it to my face. It felt thick and heavy, and I washed it off immediately. My skin felt like it was suffocating.

IMG_1204Next time I tried it, I realized I’d gotten the application totally wrong. I had applied WAY too much. It was a whole different ballgame when I used the tiniest dab, and worked in sections. You can use the smallest amount of product and get really nice coverage — I am so not used to that! When I applied it the right way, it felt like nothing on my skin (which is what I wanted). I have been applying it with my Morphe M439 brush, and it looks great with that. It also disperses on my skin beautifully with a damp Beautyblender, which makes it glide on so smoothly. It’s definitely not full coverage; it’s light-t0-medium.

The finish is GORGEOUS: luminous and radiant. It’s very similar to my ride-or-die Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer and Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation. If you prefer a matte finish, you are not going to like this product. If you’re all about that glow, you’ll probably love it!

The Medium-Light shade is a great match for my skin tone. It comes in five shades, ranging from Light to Deep, to suit a pretty wide range of skin tones.

Since it’s a BB/CC-type cream, it’s also has the benefits of skincare mixed in the product. It sort of serves as an all-in-one primer, moisturizer, foundation, and it has SPF45. (Although I still apply moisturizer before this.)

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