MAC Summer ’15: Wash & Dry

mac-wash-dry-3MAC’s summer ’15 collection, Wash & Dry, has inspired heated debate online. Some love it, others hate it. Personally, I don’t love it, but there are some solid staples in this roundup, which is great if you’re running low on bronzer, brow products, and the like. It does feel a little tired to me, and the holographic packaging is not my thing. But I’m really into the HiLight powder and the Studio Sculpt Bronzers.mac-wash-dry2Pro Longwear Waterproof Brow Set ($17):

  • Emphatically Blonde (soft muted beige taupe)
  • Toasted Blonde (dirty blonde)
  • Bold Brunette (muted blackish brown)
  • Red Chestnut (gold brown with gold shimmer)
  • Quiet Brunette (muted mid-tone grey)
  • Brown Ebony (asphalt black)
  • Clear

Fluidline Brow Gelcreme ($16):

  • Ash Blonde (pale soft taupe)
  • Dirty Blonde (soft taupe-brown)
  • Redhead (muted golden brown)
  • True Brunette (soft brown)
  • Deep Dark Brunette (rich brunette)

Eyebrows Brow Pencil ($16):

  • Delineated (cork/taupe)
  • Tapered (red-brown)
  • Accentuated (ashy grey brown)
  • Stylized (brown)

mac-wash-dry-hiliteHiLight Powder ($35.50): Ombre shimmery powder ranging from coral to neutral.

mac-studio-sculptStudio Sculpt Defining Bronzing Powder ($35.50): Golden Rinse (pale bronze with fine shimmer), Delicates (neutral deep bronze with fine shimmer).

bronzing-powderBronzing Powder ($27.50): These are the two standard bronzers MAC releases every year in their summer collections: Refined Golden and Matte Bronze.

.Lipglass ($16.50):

  • Domestic Diva (frosty pink)
  • Girl On Board (pale creamy nude)
  • Hot/Cold (true red)
  • Laundry List (vivid orange)

Click through to see the full collection and product details.

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Makeup Must-Have: Beautyblender (and How to Clean It)

beautyblenderIn a previous Makeup Must-Have post, I included the beautyblender ($20). The biggest question I get about this little egg-shaped sponge is, “Is it really worth it?” My answer is definitely yes. I’ve used many knockoffs of this little egg, and they don’t come close. If you know how to use it and care for it properly, this is one tool you’ll keep going back to over and over because it makes your makeup look flawless.

Because I wasn’t using it correctly when I first got it, I didn’t reap the maximum benefits. Here are some tips on how to use the Beautyblender.

1. Hold it under warm running water and squeeze it a few times until it grows in size. Then gently squeeze out any excess water by cradling the sponge in a towel for a few seconds. You want it to be damp, but not dripping wet.
2. Dab your foundation or product of choice onto the back of your hand, and dip the bottom of the egg into the product.
3. Dab the bottom of the sponge on your skin until you reach the desired level of coverage. You can also gently pinch the sides of the egg and roll the bottom of the sponge across your cheeks and forehead to get the same effect.
4. To get into areas that are hard to reach and/or need more coverage (like the sides of your nose and the undereyes), dip the pointed tip into product and gently stipple. Your makeup really will glide on flawlessly!

Read on for tips on how to clean your Beautyblender.IMG_0476

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Tarteguard SPF30

tarteguardI sometimes can’t stand putting tons of skincare products on my face in the morning. I feel like they can make my face feel somewhat sticky all day, and I hate that feeling. So it’s really hard for me to commit to wearing sunscreen every day. I’ve made daily sunscreen application a new year’s resolution for YEARS and still have not stuck to it. That’s got to change.

I originally started using the new Tarteguard 30 Sunscreen Lotion  ($32) because I liked the packaging. The bright purple bottle has a soft-touch feel to it, and is a fun alternative to most sunscreen tubes, which are super boring (and kind of serious looking). Since purchasing it, I’ve been SO GOOD about using it daily. My philosophy on sunscreen (and any product that I should be using regularly) is that if it’s in a package that makes you want to use it, buy it. Anything that encourages me to have better habits is fine by me. Bonus points if it looks pretty in my medicine cabinet, like this purple bottle!

Wearing sunscreen is important year-round, but I feel like people really start paying attention to it during the summer months. If you haven’t been using sunscreen, now is a great time to start making it a habit!

Bottom line? Sunscreen. Every single day. Forever and ever. Promise.

Image via Tarte

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A New Fave: Clarins Intense Bronze Self-Tanning Tint

clarins-intense-bronze-tanning-tintThis is the first self-tanning post of 2015…which means summer is just around the corner! I’ve been steadily using self-tanners since early April, so I’m already immersed in the latest and greatest. Clarins is awesome, and they sent me a bottle of their Intense Bronze Self Tanning Tint ($37) to try out and review for you.

I’ll start off by saying I really, really like this product. One of the main reasons is this: it was designed with skincare in mind. Clarins is one the leading innovators in skincare products, and that carries over into their self-tanning products (which is partly why they’re so good!). And with Clarins’ amazing reputation as one of the best self-tanning lines on the market, this makes their product roster even more desirable.

clarins-intense-bronze-self-tanning-tintSo, back to skincare: this was designed specifically for the face and neck. I’d been using regular self-tanning lotion on my face lately and had been fighting breakouts left and right. Nothing else in my routine had changed, so I knew the tanner was at fault. After a few weeks of using this product, I am breakout free. I have no issues with sensitivity or anything else like that.

I also love the result it gives: a toasty bronze that delivers a gentle glow immediately and deepens in a few hours. It’s a solid, even, realistic-looking color that doesn’t look like it came from a bottle. This product is a new formula in the self-tanning world; it’s a liquid tint. You shake a a few dabs onto a cotton pad and sweep the pad over your face and neck. It takes about two seconds, and you get a great tan. I love products that are easy and effective, and this wins in both areas. I apply it before bed and wake up tan.

The liquid can stain, so be careful not to get it on clothing, and wash your hands immediately after application, as it tends to soak through the cotton pad as you apply. I usually end up with stained fingertips, but the color washes right out.

Bottom line: Get this. I love it. I’ll be forever hesitant to return to traditional self-tanning lotions for my face.

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 website.

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Josie Maran Brow Marker & Powder

jose-maran-brow-marker-powderJosie Maran’s Brow Marker & Powder ($24) took the concept of defining brows and turned it on its head. First, if you’re still hesitant about brow markers, try one! One of the biggest issues women face is sparse spots in the brows. To cover these and fake the appearance of a full, shapely brow, you need to apply color to the skin itself. Traditional powders hard a hard time adhering to skin, so they’re better for those who are only looking to beef up brows where there is actual hair. Markers are amazing for filling in bare spots because the color adheres to skin, is long-lasting, and doesn’t fade or smudge during wear. And Josie Maran’s marker is awesome. Because you don’t want a harsh, drawn-on look, apply the marker only to sparse spots. You’ll then blend everything in and create a uniform look with the powder on the opposite end of the marker. Maran took brow powder (traditionally found in pressed form), whipped up a loose formula, added it to a vial in a cap, and created a sponge tip that dips into the powder when the cap is removed.

The only thing I don’t totally love about this product is it comes in one universal shade, which is pretty good for a wide range of hair colors and skin tones, but if you have really light brows or porcelain skin, this probably won’t work.

Image via Josie Maran

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The Best High-End Mascaras

best-luxe-mascarasOften, you can get a great drugstore dupe for high-end makeup items, but I’m a firm believer that mascara is worth splurging on. It’s pretty much my favorite beauty product of all time, so I don’t mind spending a little extra, especially if it means scrimping on other items. I’ve tried a lot of drugstore versions, and almost every one has fallen short compared to specialty products. These are my favorite formulas.

1. Urban Decay Perversion Mascara ($22): My current favorite. I wear this every day, as it instantly became a staple in my makeup bag as soon as I tried it. The big brush gives thick, long, jet-black lashes that create a beautiful fringe. It gives all you need in just one coat, but you can layer it on without it getting clumpy for extra drama. It’s long-wearing, doesn’t flake, and doesn’t irritate contact lenses…it just doesn’t give up. I love it.

2. Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Mascara ($32): This used to be my all-time fave. It’s seen been ousted by Perversion (partly because Perversion is $10 cheaper), but it’s still an amazing luxury mascara. It gives both volume and definition without clumping or flaking, and makes for really beautiful lashes. Think falsies, but more natural and easier to wear.

3. Kevyn Aucoin The Mascara – Volume ($28): This mascara doesn’t look like much, but it is so amazing. The skinny brush gets right up into the lashline for a thick fan of lush black lashes. It’s a cult favorite for a reason!

4. Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara ($22): The secret to this mascara is its double-helix wand, which deposits color evenly and gets in between lashes to coat every single hair for maximum volume. It gets its inky black color from minerals, and it’s infused with argan oil to nourish lashes as you wear it. It really does make an impact!

5. Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash Mascara ($23): This mascara has a thicker, waxier formula, so you think it will be heavy, but it’s light and doesn’t weigh down lashes at all, and has no problem holding a curl. It’s great for lashes that are solid black, wispy and so, so pretty.

6. Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara ($32): This mascara is totally blow-you-away awesome, but I’ve given up on adding into my kit because of the price. If you’re in the mood to splurge, this has everything you’d ever want in a mascara: smooth formula, fat brush that creates loads of volume and length, inky black color, pretty gold tube. It’s called Faux Cils (False Lashes) for a reason!

7. Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara ($10): A tiny brush that packs a powerful punch. It’s tricky to coat lower lashes in mascara, as traditional brushes can often be too clunky, and result in undereye mascara smears. This tiny brush makes it easier to maneuver in that cramped space, and the effect is so pretty (think big, doll-like eyes).

8. Origins GinZing Brightening Mascara ($18.50): While this one doesn’t totally live up to its claims, it’s a solid mascara. Volumizing and never flaky. It’s equally good for everyday wear and nighttime looks.

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Spring Nailpolishes

spring-nailpolishes-2015I usually lighten up my nail color come spring. Below some pretty shades, both new and classic, that I’m loving for this season.

1. Deborah Lippmann Nail Lacquer in P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)($18)
2. OPI Nail Lacquer in Do You Lilac It? ($9.50)
3. essie Nail Polish in Mint Candy Apple ($8.50)
4. Formula X in Legendary ($10.50)
5. Burberry Beauty Nail Polish in No. 100 Nude Beige ($22)
6. Nails Inc. Luxe Boho Polish in Primrose Hill Walk ($15, LE)
7. tenoverten Nail Polish in Spring ($10)
8. essie Cream Nail Polish in Garden Variety ($8.50)
9. Formula X in Lively ($10.50)

What are your favorite spring polishes? Do you generally go lighter during the season, or do you wear dark colors year-round?

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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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