Lit Up: Natasha Denona Face Glow Cream Shimmer

NatashaDenonaFaceGlowI am obsessed with highlighters/illuminators/luminizers/anything that makes my skin glowy and radiant. There are so many great products in this category out now, it’s kind of ridiculous that I’d only heard of Natasha Denona Face Glow Cream Shimmer ($42) recently. I am usually all about a very noticeable highlight, but this product is making me love a subtle, lit-from-within glow.IMG_7643This is part of Natasha’s Glow collection, a 4-piece line of products that work together to create Natasha’s signature glowy look. In addition to Face Glow, the collection includes Face Glow Foundation, Allover Glow Face & Body Shimmer Powder, and Body Glow. The products aren’t cheap, but the quality is outstanding; well worth the price.IMG_7650I got this this cream stick in the shade “Light.” It appears sort of pinky-nude in person, but goes on as a near-perfect match for my skin; all you see is shimmer, no color. It highlights skin beautifully (especially on cheekbones), and makes you look alive and refresh. This product gives such a vibrancy. It’s not a disco ball effect (like you’d get from Becca Champagne Pop and Laura Gellar Gilded Honey), but rather a subtle, diffused light that makes skin look dewy and fresh. There is definitely shimmer in this, but it’s more muted than some of the stronger highlighters. The effect is soft yet noticeable, and it translates beautifully into virtually any makeup look. Because it’s a cream formula, I dab it directly onto my cheekbones from the stick, and then blend as needed with my fingertips. For other areas of the face (like browbones and Cupid’s bow), I use my finger to dab it on and buff it out. The cream spreads and blends easily. Applying this is really effortless.IMG_7646This photo does not do this glow justice. It melts beautifully into the skin for a warm glow with a light veil of shimmer. The effect is obviously more pronounced under lighting, but still looks natural — never harsh.

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Lazy Girl Skincare: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

garnier-micellar-waterGarnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water ($8) is a waterless cleanser designed to completely remove makeup, dirt, and impurities from skin without stripping it of its natural oils. The technology behind this is pretty interesting: suspended inside the water are microscopic fat-based molecules called micelles. Being a fat themselves, the micelles absorb other fats (oils) on your skin and whisk it away, along with all the other potential gunk that’s clogging your pores (makeup, dirt, etc.).

To me, this stuff is like a magic potion in a bottle. Sometimes I can be super lazy about washing my face at the end of a long day. I occasionally rely on makeup removing wipes to clean my face at night, and this was a great alternative for me. All you do is wet a cotton pad/ball with this cleanser, swipe it over your skin, and you’re done. You don’t wash anything off, and there’s no water involved. It’s so effortless, compared to actually washing my face. Same outcome with less work? I’ll take it. Continue reading

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The Truth About Morphe Brushes

morphe-face-brushesYou can’t go on Instagram or YouTube accounts in the makeup world without hearing about Morphe brushes. Morphe is the California-based line of affordable makeup brushes that the company says are pro quality. I avoided them for quite a long time because of my very similar experience with Sigma brushes; they were supposed to be premium quality, and my experience with them was anything but positive. Their brushes fell apart on me after just a few months of light use.

I was in need of a new foundation brush (since my Sigma one fell apart), and wanted a buffing concealer brush because I only had a flat brush in my inventory. I ordered Morphe’s much-raved-about M439 Foundation Deluxe Buffer Brush ($14) and the M335 Chubby Buffer Brush ($7).

I’ll start with the M439. I am so blown away by this brush. The synthetic bristles are densely-packed to form an ultra-plush domed head that’s perfect for flawlessly applying foundation and buffing it into the skin. When you use this brush in a light circular motion, it really works the product into skin so it looks like you, as opposed to makeup sitting on top of your skin. Also, I use so much less product with this brush. Foundation doesn’t really sink into the brush head too far–it sits on top of the dome head–which means you need to use less. I haven’t ever really experienced this with any brand of brushes before. I’ve been using it since September, and it’s still in the same shape as the day it arrived at my door. I literally do not have one negative thing to say about this brush. I love it! Continue reading

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The New Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer

anastasia-beverly-hills-brow-definerAnastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer ($23) was just released last week, but it’s already making waves online. The most notable feature of this retractable brow pencil is the triangular tip, which allows you to fill in brows three ways for ultimate precision: drag the pencil on its flat side through your brow to deposit a lot of color quickly; use the angled tip to create thick strokes; and use the thinnest tip to create fine, hair-like strokes. All of these application methods are shown in the image below.ABH-brow-definer-swatchesI think the easiest way to talk about this pencil is to compare it to two other products already on the market because it’s similar to one in formulation, and the other in design.

The first is one you’re probably familiar with: Anastasia’s beloved Brow Wiz Pencil ($21). The formulas of these two pencils are quite similar: creamy, smooth, and blendable. I got the Taupe shade, and it’s slightly lighter than the Brow Wiz in Taupe.ABH-brow-definer3ABH-browdefiner2For those of you who are familiar with the Brow Wiz, the Definer is overall a bit larger. The pencil body is thicker and the spoolie on the opposite end is larger. While the bodies may look similar, the tips are totally different; the Brow Wiz has one of the skinniest tips of any brow pencils on the market. Even when I used the thin tip of the Brow Definer, the effect wasn’t the same as the Brow Wiz; there was able to achieve slightly less perfection for detailed work in my brows.

A quick note about the weight and the amount of product you actually get in this pencil. The Brow Definer is 0.007 oz., whereas the Brow Wiz is 0.003 oz. While it seems like you get more product, it’s only because the Brow Definer is wider. It’s about the same amount of pencil inside the pencil body.ABH-brow-definer7

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Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Mascara

Marc-Jacobs-Velvet-NoirMarc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara ($26) is the best mascara I’ve tried in years.

If you like mascaras with a formula that’s not too wet, this will be right up your alley. In just one coat, it makes my lashes look super thick and voluminous while simultaneously stretching them to new lengths. When you start to layer on coats, the look is intensified — really dramatic, like false lashes.

The hourglass brush deposits the most product in the center of the lashline to lengthen lashes in the most visible portion of the eye. It claims to give you 1800% more volume, but who can measure statistics like that? (And who conducts these studies?!) The pigment is really black, so that also helps add drama.

The difference it makes is striking. Since I started wearing this, people have complimented me repeatedly. This mascara really opens up my eyes. One thing that I don’t totally love is that this tends to flake during the day. But that’s the only thing that’s holding it back from being absolutely perfect, so I’ll deal with it. It doesn’t smudge, smear, or otherwise wear off.

I LOVE this mascara. It really is the best I’ve tried in a long, long time.

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Best & Worst of 2015

Last year, I discovered so many new beauty products — most of which were awesome. However, there were a few duds mixed in, too. Here are the best and worst products that I tried in 2015.

The Best of 2015

UD-Naked-SmokyUrban Decay Naked Smoky Eyeshadow Palette ($54): UD’s Naked palettes are my go-to; I have all of them and I love the versatile looks you can create with them, the blendability, pigmentation, and wear. A smoky shadow palette was missing from the lineup, until it debuted in July. And it’s just as good as the other Nakeds, and contains everything you need to nail a perfect smoky eye.

Champagne-PopBecca x Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Champagne Pop ($38, LE): Becca’s highlighters are some of the best on the market, and when they teamed up with highlight queen/YouTuber Jaclyn Hill, they hit a homerun. Champagne Pop is a universally-flattering peachy champagne shade, and it’s loaded with gorgeous shimmer that really pops on skin, but doesn’t look like chunky glitter. This is the glowiest of all highlighters I’ve tried.

ABHilluminator2Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminators ($28, 4 shades): These buttery pressed powder highlighters are packed with shimmer, yet glide on skin smoothly (again, no chunky shimmer). They give beautiful light to the skin, and can be layered for more intensity. I really like the So Hollywood (gold, pictured) and Riviera (rose gold) shades.

PMDPMD Personal Microderm PMD Personal Microderm Device – Teal ($159): I was skeptical about the PMD, but after using it for about 7 months, I see a noticeable difference in my skin. It exfoliates like nothing else and keeps my skin radiant and youthful-looking.

Loving-Tan-MousseLoving Tan Self-Tanning Mousses ($35-$40): These mousses are the best I’ve found outside of a professional airbrush tan. The color is that deep, rich, natural-looking brown with a reddish undertone — the way skin naturally looks when you’ve been out in the sun too long. Going out in the sun without protection is not an option for me (sun damage!), and this is truly the best at-home alternative I’ve found to a professional airbrush application. I apply it with a mitt for streak-free results. I’ve used both the Deluxe Bronzing Mousse ($35) and 2-Hour Express Mousse ($40) in Dark, and they’ve both given me great results.

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Farmaesthetics Lip Softener

FarmaestheticsLipSoftenerAbout two years ago, Farmaesthetics sent me some of their products to try out. While I loved all of their all-natural products, there was one that drastically improved my life (and any time you can say that about a beauty product, you know it’s a keeper!). In that little box was a tiny pot that has gotten me through two winters so far, and is still going strong: their Lip Softener ($12). I’ve written about this before, but I wanted to revisit it because it truly is one of the best products I have ever used.

My lips get really chapped in cold weather. Besides the pain caused by cracked, bleeding lips, it’s just not a good look. No balm has ever really helped heal my lips, but this was a gamechanger for me. It moisturizes like no other lip balm I’ve ever used. It contains only a few ingredients: oils (almond, grapefruit peel), waxes (beeswax and orange), botanicals (calendula, peppermint), and vitamin E. I think the reason it helps heal my lips is because the oils really sink in and moisturize, helping to prevent cracked, dry skin.

I keep this on my bedside table and apply it every night in cold weather. I literally do not know how I’d get through winter without it.

Image via Farmaesthetics

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Holiday Gift Idea Roundup

HolidayGiftGuide2015Whether you’re searching for stocking stuffers, that one perfect gift, or have yet to start shopping, here are some great gifts at various price points for the ladies in your life.

1. Illume Luxe Boxed Mercury Candle in Balsam & Cedar ($54)
2. Kendra Scott “Rayne” Necklace ($80)
3. Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne ($65)
4. Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminator ($28)
5. Dior “Chicago 2″ Aviator Sunglasses ($395)
6. Sonix “Liana Peach” iPhone 6/6s Case ($35): I’m loving Sonix cases because they let the color of your iPhone 6 show through the back while adorning it with pretty designs — and still maintaining the iPhone 6’s slim profile.
7. J.Crew Mixed Crystal Necklace ($135, plus 30% off)
8. Tory Burch York Buckle Tote in French Grey
9. 2016 Agenda ($22)

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Budget Beauty: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

RTmiraclecomplexionspongemainHonestly, I loved my BeautyBlender. But every time it came to replace it, the pricetag would get to me; I would think, “Why am I paying $20 for a sponge?!” It got to the point where I wasn’t willing to pay that much anymore, so I sought out a dupe. Found one! Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge ($7) is just as good as the Beautyblender, but for less than half the price.

The Miracle Complexion Sponge is shaped a little differently than the Beautyblender. The top is egg-shaped, so you still get that soft point that’s great for getting into smaller areas of the face and covering blemishes. A cross-section of this sponge was sliced off diagonally at the opposite end, creating a broad, flat surface and a cleaner edge, which is nice for coverage on larger areas of the face (like the cheeks).

RTsponge2You use this the same way you use the Beautyblender: hold it under running water, and squeeze until it’s just slightly damp. When you do this, this sponge will expand in size (like the BB), but you’ll notice that it feels a little different than the BB. It’s bouncier to the touch, and slightly less squishy. There’s a slight firmness to this, whereas when the BB is wet, it’s really soft and malleable.RTsponge3In terms of performance, this truly does apply product in the same way the Beautyblender does. Coverage is smooth, even, and can be layered. This sponge blends out product nicely for natural-looking results. I also like the way it diffuses cream products, like blush and highlighter, for a lit-from-within glow. The sponge really makes products look like they are part of the skin, rather than sitting on top of the skin. All surfaces of this sponge glide comfortably over the face. For the money you save in purchasing this product, I think it’s definitely worth saying goodbye to your Beautyblender…or at least taking a temporary break from it.

And, for what it’s worth, I purchased this sponge and wrote this review with a completely open mind. I had bought several Real Techniques brushes before and thought they were solid tools, but nothing that blew me away. The fact that this comes from a brand that I think is good, but not great, really says a lot about this particular product.

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ColourPop Super Shock Shadows Review & Swatches

colourpopI recently placed three orders with ColourPop because everyone is freaking out over their Super Shock Shadows. The little pots of eyeshadow are only $5 each. So I thought, how good can they possibly be?

Turns out, they are AWESOME! I cannot even believe that these eyeshadows are cheaper than typical drugstore items.

The texture is unlike any eye makeup I’ve used before. It feels like a cream, not a powder, and the surface is slightly bouncy. They are made to tap onto the lids with your fingertips or a flat synthetic brush. When I run my finger over the product, it makes a little indentation and you can see the product actually moving around in the pan.

The formula is high quality; much better than I expected from something so inexpensive. In addition to the heavy pigmentation, the shades are buildable and don’t lose their integrity if you layer them on the lid for a more intense look. They blend out nicely with a fluffy brush. I did notice a slight variation in pigmentation between shades; for example, I had trouble building up Mixed Tape to the same degree of intensity that I could get with Fairfax in one to two layers. For the shades that contain glitter, I did experience some fallout during application, but once the shadows were on my eyes, there was almost no fallout (a few shades did have very, very minimal fallout during wear…but I mean literally just a few flecks of glitter).

I wanted to swatch all of the shades I bought so you can see the differences in the finishes and the richness of the pigmentation. Please excuse the flash glare in some of the photos; the reason this post is so late is because the photos were giving me so much trouble. After three mini photoshoots, I had to just go with what the images I was able to capture.

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