Real Techniques 301 Flat Contour Brush

RealTechniquesFlatContourBrushI’d been searching for a flat-top contour brush for awhile, but (of course) I was being picky: I wanted a brush that could apply contour precisely, but could also blend it out seamlessly. Every brush I found was either too flat, had edges that were too sharp, or had bristles that were too short or long. Finally, I found what I think could be a perfect fit: Real Techniques Bold Metals 301 Flat Contour Brush ($26). It’s the Goldilocks of contour brushes!

This brush is part of the Bold Metals collection, a more upscale offshoot of the standard Real Techniques line (which I am not a fan of). The quality, in my opinion (judging by this brush) is higher, and that is reflected in the price. The bristles are very densely-packed, and work for blending, too.

To start, the brush is very well-constructed. It’s weighted, which is nice when you’re working in the curves and edges of the face. The rose gold handle is beautiful. The bristles are synthetic, so they work with powder and cream products, and they are so soft against the skin. They really make this brush a dream to use.

Real Techniques 301 Flat Contour BrushTo start, I contoured with powder (Anastasia’s Contour Kit). First lesson I learned: dip this brush with a light hand. The dense bristles pick up a lot of product. It takes a little getting used to. I used the flat head to create the contour lines under my cheekbones, and across my forehead, temples, and jawline. I then used the brush to blend by sweeping the brush upward where I applied product (on my jawline, I swept the product down onto my neck). You can also use circular motions to buff the product out. This brush both laid down and blended contour powder effortlessly and gorgeously.

Real Techniques 301 Flat Contour BrushI wasn’t expecting to be too impressed with this brush, but I’m pleasantly surprised. I’ve also been using it to apply powder and cream highlighters, and it’s fantastic for that, too. The construction and quality is on par with some of my pricier brushes (MAC, It Cosmetics Velvet Luxe line), yet the price isn’t quite as high as those other brands. It’s a happy medium! Goldilocks would be thrilled.Real Techniques 301 Flat Contour BrushHave you tried any of the brushes from the Bold Metals line? I’d love to hear what you think!

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Laura Geller Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator in Gilded Honey

geller-gilded-honeyThis summer, everyone seems to be obsessed with a bronzed, glowy look (if I see #highlightonfleek one more time in my Instagram feed, I’m going to scream). Yet I get where everyone is coming from: the combo of bronzed skin and luminous highlight is completely gorgeous and quintessentially summer. One product that’s been blowing up the blogosphere in the last few weeks (aside from Champagne Pop, obviously) is Laura Geller’s Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator in Gilded Honey ($26).

The first thing that drew me in was the shade and the shimmer payoff. The creamy gold hue is almost an exact dupe for MAC’s beloved limited edition (and now discontinued) Extra Dimension Skinfinish powder in Whisper of Gilt. The shimmer in this is insanely beautiful; it really pops, especially when paired with bronzy skin. Another reason this is so gorgeous is the formula: although it’s a powder, it feels and applies like a cream, which gives the appearance of it melting into your skin for a truly lit-from-within look.IMG_2756 Continue reading

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NuMe White Truffle Haircare Collection

nume-white-truffleI have recently fallen in love with NuMe hair tools. I am currently writing a review on the tools I’ve purchased, but in the meantime, I wanted to tell you about their White Truffle haircare line. My hair has seen better days, as it is showing signs of dryness and damage from heat styling and highlighting. I was looking for a product to help restore it back to health, and since the NuMe tools were so good, I purchased the Shampoo and Conditioner from their new(ish), luxe White Truffle line.

This shampoo and conditioner is an amazing combo. I use them every other time I wash my hair and my hair feels softer, looks shinier, and just generally healthier overall. In addition to loving the product itself, I like the thoughtful packaging design; the pumps make these feel fancy, and are so convenient in the shower.

I did not purchase these items at full price, because although the product size is generous, they are still way too expensive at full price. Luckily, NuMe is awesome about discount codes, and they regularly offer them to customer on a rotating selection of tools and products.

Speaking of…this set normally retails for $130, but NuMe is giving my readers a discount! You can get the entire collection for just $50 with the code WHITETRUFFLE.

You get the whole shebang — the shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, leave-in conditioner, and argan oil-infused hair primer. The deal is active until August 20, 2015. Happy shopping! And honestly, I know the hype about NuMe has reached a fever pitch and I thought it was completely ridiculous until I actually tried their tools and products. Now I am a total convert! Believe me when I say that this brand is worth the hype.

Check back for more NuMe reviews!

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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks

nordstrom-anniversary-sale-2015-picksThere are a few days left of Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale. This is probably your best chance to score significant discounts on new fall pieces. There is tons of merchandise left online, in addition to what’s available in your local store. This amazing opportunity to stock your closet is short-lived, as prices go up August 3, 2015–so shop now!

Here are some of my favorite selections. To show you how good this sale is, I’ve listed the sale price, then the full retail price.

1. Tory Burch “Joanna” Riding Boot ($320; reg. $495)
2. Sultra “The Bombshell” 1-Inch Rod Curling Wand ($99; reg. $130)
3. PMD Personal Microderm Kit ($107; reg. $159)
4. rag & bone/JEAN “The Dre” Slim Boyfriend Jeans (Watts) (reg. $285)
5. Sam Edelman “Paige” Fringed Ankle Bootie ($110; reg. $169.95)
6. Bobbi Brown “Secret to Standout Eyes” Set ($85, beauty exclusive)
7. Michael Kors “Slim Runway” Chronograph Watch ($167; reg. $250)
8. Kate Spade “Le Pavilion” iPhone 6 case ($26; reg. $40)
9. Halogen Embellished Plaid Shirt ($65; reg. $98)
10. Zella “Live In” Capris ($29; reg. $44)
11. Haute Hippie Stud Detail Floral Print Silk Dress ($330; reg. $495)
12. UGG “Tate” Slipper ($80; reg. 118.95)
13. Wildfox ‘Malibu’ Sunglasses ($120; reg. $179)
14. Nike Free Flyknit 5.0 TR ($97; reg. $130)

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Summer Hair Must-Haves

SummerHairEssentials2015Summer is hands down the worst time to try to have good hair. Humidity, heat, chlorine, and saltwater are all ingredients for damaged, frizzy hair. Your mane needs a little extra TLC and some key tools and products to help keep it in tip-top shape all summer long. Take a look at what I recommend.

1. Dry Shampoo. Obviously. I’m really into Arrojo ReFINISH Dry Shampoo right now, because it gives texture–great for wavy styles–in addition to nixing grease.

2. Beach Wave Spray gives an artfully-mussed beachy look in a few seconds. John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves Sea Salt Spray is my go-to this summer.

3. Deep Conditioning Mask. When your hair is damaged, processed, or you spend a lot of time in the pool, a deep conditioning mask is a must. PHYTO Phytokeratine Ultra Repairing Mask is great for its intense hydration.

4. Flatiron. I’m all about resisting heat styling whenever possible, but unless your hair is naturally stick-straight, you’re not going to get that smooth-as-glass look without an iron when the humidity spikes. The T3 SinglePass Iron ($160) is an indulgent dream come true for stressed strands, as it gives you smooth, straight locks with just one pass, cutting down on damage.

5. Repairing Shampoo & Conditioner. Hair gets dry and brittle during summer, and damage repair products can really help. Living Proof Restore Shampoo & Conditioner reduce damage by creating a protective shield around each strand of hair that allows it to heal without damaging it further in the process.

6. Clipless Curling Wand. I got the Fahrenheit 4 in 1 Curling Wand with a Groupon a few years ago, and I never imagined it would be as amazing as it is. It’s perfect for creating loose, beachy waves. The interchangeable wands, at different sizes, are a saving grace: when I cut my hair shorter a few months ago, I popped on the tapered wand, and it saved me from buying a whole new iron. I love it!

7. Ionic Hairdryer. I love my Karmin Salon Series Ionic Hairdryer because when I have to blowdry my hair in high temps, this one drastically cuts down on the time. Read my full review on it here.

8. For blondes:
A purple shampoo is a must for reducing brassiness and toning your hair in between salon visits. Aveda Blue Malva Shampoo & Conditioner are classics that work well on all shades of hair.)

9. For color-treated/processed hair:
Using a color-safe shampoo & conditioner will help keep your beautiful color true and possibly extend your time between touch-ups. Goldwell Dual Senses Extra Rich Color Shampoo & Conditioner are two solid options at a decent price point.

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MAC Cremesheen Pearl Collection

mac-cremesheen-pearlMAC is launching a new collection, Cremesheen Pearl, a shimmering twist on a longstanding classic. The Cremesheen Lipstick and Cremesheen Glass formulas get infused with pearly pigments and a moisturizing serum blend. These are now part of MAC’s permanent lineup. In addition to the formulas being permanent, they have also re-released previously limited edition shades, and all shades are now permanent. I love the creamy, rich finish of the original Cremesheen formula, so I’m curious to see how this boost of radiance translates on lips.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 9.14.20 AMLipstick ($16.50). All shades are now permanent.

  • Nippon (creamy midtone coral pink)
  • Koi Coral (pale peachy nude)
  • Star Magnolia (bright carnation pink)
  • Little Buddha (bright peachy pink)
  • Pickled Plum (bright blue-pink)mac-cremesheen-pearl-lipsticks-red
  • Tokyo Tizzy (bright yellow-orange)
  • Obi Orange (intense reddish-orange)
  • Pretty Boy (intense pink coral)
  • Dozen Carnations (intense warm tomato red)
  • Sweet Sakura (true red with soft gold pearl)

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 9.14.14 AMCremesheen Glass ($20). These are permanent now, but the shades were all released in previous limited edition collections.

  • Partial to Pink (light creamy yellow-pink with light gold pearl)
  • Richer, Lusher (peach coral)
  • Floating Lotus (frosted soft rose)
  • Double Happiness (frosted light nude)
  • Pagoda (frosted cool pink)

Available online now; launches tomorrow (July 23, 2015) at stores and counters in North America. International release is scheduled for August 2015.

mac-cremesheen-pearlImages via MAC

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Champagne Pop!

champagnepopBecca Cosmetics teamed up with YouTube beauty guru Jaclyn Hill to create a new shade of their iconic (and amazing) Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed highlighting powder. Champagne Pop ($38, LE) is a gold, peachy, universally flattering shade that looks good and shows up on a wide range of skin tones. In short, it’s amazing.

Let me preface this whole post by saying I don’t generally go for powder highlighters. On fair skin like mine, the lighter shades don’t show up, and the darker ones look muddy or off. Plus, they can get cakey or break up on different skin textures. I almost always personally opt for a cream or liquid illuminator, but Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfector is the exception. The shade Moonstone is my go-to highlighter. I switch it out with Becca’s cream Shimmering Skin Perfector (which I do think shows up better on my fair skin). These two are my holy grail highlighters.

I was pretty excited when I heard that Jaclyn Hill had created a new shade of this iconic highlighter that was designed to pop on a wide range of skin colors (even though I’m not really into major brands collaborating with YouTubers, but whatever). When I swept this on my cheekbones, I literally squealed with delight when I looked in the mirror. This is such a noticeable highlight! If you prefer a subtle glow, don’t consider purchasing this; it is NOT for you. This is a very prominent shimmer that stays noticeably luminous while “melting” into the skin.  It looks perfectly glowy and summery paired with bronzed skin. I can’t describe how absolutely gorgeous it is when it glistens on the skin.

champagnepopswatchThe photo above doesn’t even really capture how dramatic this highlighter is. Trust me when I say it is intense in the best way possible!

This highlighter is pricey, as are all of Becca’s highlighters. In my opinion, it is totally worth the money. It is hands down the best highlighter I’ve tried on my fair skin. This product is a homerun. Although it is similar to Becca’s Opal shade; if you already have that, you really don’t need this (although Champagne Pop does “pop” more on the skin).

This is a limited edition shade, and because of the frenzy that it has incited, it’s selling out quickly. It’s a Sephora exclusive, so if you’re interested in getting your hands on one, call your local store to see if it’s in stock. It is currently available online.

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Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette

urban-decay-naked-smokyI’m so excited to write this post, because I’ve been waiting for Urban Decay’s Naked Smoky Palette ($54) since before it even existed! UD’s Naked eyeshadow palettes are amazing; the shadows are high-quality, densely pigmented, blend effortlessly, and wear beautifully. I have all of the Naked palettes, and always have at least one in my makeup bag. I keep buying them because they’re so good! What I like most about them, aside from the quality, is their versatility. With a range of both light and dark shades, they are great for everyday use, and make the perfect travel companion because they contain everything you need to create a varying range of eye looks. All that was missing from the mostly neutral lineup of previous Naked palettes was one filled with smoky shadows.naked-smoky-shades2

naked-smoky-shades1naked-smoky-shades3So many people online expressed disinterest in a smoky palette because it was limiting; this one is not, and has already replaced my other Naked palettes in my current makeup bag rotation. The 12 shadows are incredibly versatile; they range from nude to black, and there’s a mix of matte, satin, and shimmer formulations. It proves that smoky eyes aren’t just about heavy black shadow loaded on the lids (although you can definitely do that with this palette, too): you can create dimensional looks with browns, greys, purples, nudes, and even a steely blue. Today, I’m wearing the brown & nude shades from this palette: Combust on the browbone, Whiskey all over the lid and into the crease, Radar layered on top, and Dirtysweet in the inner corners. It’s rich, multidimensional, and gorgeous, but I wouldn’t call it smoky, and that’s exactly why I love this palette so much: it gives you the option to create smoky looks, but doesn’t limit you to just those styles.

naked-smoky-paletteUD carefully thought out everything, and included a dual-ended tapered crease/pencil brush with this palette. I have never in my life used a brush that came with a palette before the Nakeds, but these brushes are really good! This one in particular is great because the tapered crease brush lays down color beautifully (it’s not so great for blending), and the pencil/smudger tip does its job expertly. They also upgraded the packaging of the palette itself. This one feels sturdier in my hands, has a magnetic closure for extra security, and a large mirror that spans the entire interior lid. I’m not crazy about the smoke effect on the packaging, but I can easily look past that.IMG_2061For those of you looking for inspiration for your eye looks, there is also a small fold-out brochure included with suggested shadow pairings and techniques (cateye, smoked out, and more). I liked seeing how the Urban Decay people paired up the shades…it encouraged me to experiment more with layering colors to achieve different end results.

In short, if you’re thinking about getting this palette, grab it. You won’t be disappointed. It’s available now online at Urban Decay, Sephora, and Ulta, and hits stores tomorrow, July 16.

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Best Beach Wave Sprays

beach-wave-spraysWhen the mercury rises and it’s too hot to spend time under a hairdryer, beach sprays are my go-to. They are the quickest, most effortless way to get hair that actually looks good without blowdrying it. Here are some that I’ve tried and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

1. Fekkai Soleil Beach Waves Spray ($20): This one is probably my all-time fave for several reasons: the scent, the summery packaging, and most importantly, the way it transforms blah, second-(or third)-day hair into tumbling, goddess-like waves.

2. John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves Sea Salt Spray ($10): A throwback to my teenage years in the ’90s, this summery mist is back and better than before. With its summery scent, you’ll really feel like you’re close to a beach. Great for using to create waves, or to break up and volumize iron-styled waves.

3. Bumble and bumble Surf Spray ($15): Of all the sprays here, this one creates the most authentically beachy style: a matte, salty, just-out-of-the-waves look.

4. John Masters Organics Sea Mist Sea Salt Spray With Lavender ($16): This one gives the loosest waves of the bunch, and makes your style a little more structured. I spray this conservatively on locks, compared to other products listed here. It can also double as a very light-hold hairspray in a pinch. And the lavender scent is so, so nice.

5. Olivine Atelier Love + Salt Amongst the Waves Beach Hair and Body Mist ($26): I love double-duty beauty products. Made with Himalayan pink salt and coconut oil, this spray is hydrating to both hair and skin. This gives more of an “undone” look, even on straight strands…for extra oomph, spritz this on locks before bed, braid your hair, and unravel in the morning to reveal beach babe waves.

6. ALTERNA Bamboo Beach Summer Ocean Waves Tousled Texture Spray ($22, LE): This one doubles as a wavemaker and a texturizer. If you need a little lift at the roots or just want to inject some volume into your locks, mist this on and fluff up hair a little. It instantly gives hair more volume and movement.

7. SACHAJUAN Ocean Mist ($31): I’ve found this one works best when you mist it on damp hair and let it airdry. You can then polish up your look with a curling wand or some styling cream to finish it.

8. Balmain Texturizing Salt Spray ($29): I have not tried this, but I had to include it because it’s so glamorous! The gorgeous bottle is sleek, clean, and chic, and I mean…it’s Balmain!

I’m always looking for recommendations on sprays…which are your favorites?

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4th of July Sales

july4salesThis weekend is a big one for deep discounts…here’s a roundup of some sales going on in beauty, fashion, and home. I hope you have a great holiday! Continue reading

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