Wednesday, November 6th, 2013


Holiday Indulgences

One question I get asked a lot prior to Sephora’s winter sale (20% off for VIBs with code VIBTOPIA, 11/7 through 11/11!) is, “What do you recommend?” This is a loaded question! There are so many ways to answer this question! The way I tend to frame my answer is in the context of, “What have I wanted to buy but felt was a little too expensive normally? What favorites do I need to stock-up on?” I think sales offer us an opportunity to indulge in something that might be above our price point comfort zone the rest of the year, or be more willing to take a chance on a brand we’re not familiar with (because they’re not cheap!) as well as stock-up on things we know we’ll use over and over again.

Of course, it being the holiday season, there are also plenty of seasonal offerings to indulge in like sets and palettes–you can see my top palette picks in full here as well as some picks for sets and kits generally. Those both cover some of the seasonal offerings, and this post is less focused on seasonal/limited edition as it is just really fantastic products that I highly recommend from trying them.

Products to Indulge In — Lips

  • Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick ($22 @ Sephora, see my review here) — great if you love creamy, more emollient lipsticks with high pigmentation and moderate lasting power
  • YSL Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stains ($34 @ Sephora, see my review here) — long-wearing, moderately pigmented color that doesn’t dry out lips
  • Givenchy Le Rouge ($36 @ Sephora, see my review here) — creamy, luminous opaque lip color that wears well, makes lips look smoother than they really are
  • Guerlain Rouge G Lip Color ($49.50 @ Sephora, see my review here) — Rouge G is a long-time favorite (still reigning supreme after years and years of trying new formulas) for long-wear, hydration, opacity, and feel
  • Buxom Full-Bodied Lipstick ($21 @ Sephora, see my review here) — superbly hydrating, smooth, rich color that wears well
  • Bobbi Brown High Shimmer Lipgloss ($24 @ Sephora, see my review here) — for a high-gloss, insanely shimmering/glimmering gloss

Products to Indulge In — Face

  • Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush ($26 @ Sephora, see my review here) — a variety of gorgeous shades from intensely pigmented to subtly neutral with a soft, blendable formula
  • Illamasqua Velvet Blusher ($26 @ Sephora, see my review here) — perfect for someone who loves the feel and blendability of of a cream blush but look and finish of a powder
  • Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder ($45 @ Sephora, see my review here) — a gorgeous finishing/luminizing powder to give that something special to the skin (and don’t forget the Ambient Lighting Palette!)
  • Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer ($ @ Sephora, see my review here) — creates a lovely, smooth canvas and helps keep makeup on longer

Products to Indulge In — Eyes

Most of what I wanted to recommend (in terms of what came to mind) were palettes, which I’ve recommended previously here.

  • Hourglass Visionaire Eyeshadow Duo ($38 @ Sephora, see my review here) — buttery, soft texture and intense color payoff
  • bareMinerals Ready Eyeshadow ($30 & up @ Sephora, see my review here) — one of my all-time favorite eyeshadow formulas for texture and color payoff
  • Dior Diorshow Fusion Mono Eyeshadows ($30 @ Sephora, see my review here) — obsessed with these pigmented cream eyeshadows that wear well

Products to Indulge In — Nails

  • Marc Jacobs Beauty Enamored Hi-Shine Nail Lacquer ($18 @ Sephora, see my review here) — high-shine, long-wearing formula with a nice range of colors/textures
  • Illamasqua Nail Varnish ($17 @ Sephora, see my review here) — one of my all-time favorites for application, wear, and range
  • Guerlain Nail Lacquer ($23 @ Sephora, see my review here) — so glossy and high-shine, pigmented, long-wearing

Products to Stock-Up On

These are your favorites, but this is a little list of basics that we sometimes blank on but often have a favorite we use quite frequently, so consider what you reach for in these product types:

  • Eyeshadow Primer
  • Lip Balm/Lip Care
  • Foundation
  • Skincare
  • Mascara
  • Shampoo/Conditioner/Sprays
  • Top/Base Coats (for nails)
  • Makeup Remover

Are you indulging in Sephora’s upcoming VIB sale? What’s on your list? What would you recommend to someone?

And if you aren’t a VIB, while Sephora has hinted at upcoming promotions for BIs as well, they haven’t confirmed what that means (could just be more samples, free shipping, etc. or it could be really awesome), Beauty.com’s F&F sale is open to all with 20% off.

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

I shared my favorite oranges yesterday for Halloween, so of course, the other side of the coin is rich, inky blacks! Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Illamasqua Creator — a deep, dark black with silver flecks and sparkle with a glossy, high-shine finish
  2. Chanel Mirifique — a sparkling, creamy, deep dark black
  3. Urban Decay Perversion — a cult favorite; deep, dark, inky matte black for the lash line
  4. Milani Pitch Black — a deep, dark black eyeshadow with a matte finish for under $10
  5. Sugarpill Stella — a deep, dark black loose eyeshadow with teal, violet, pink, and emerald green micro-shimmer

What are your favorite black-hued beauty products?

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Illamasqua Apocalips Lipstick Sleek Sunset Eyeshadow Palette Inglot #434 Marc Jacobs Th(ink) Giorgio Armani #701 Giorgio Armani #701 NARS Taj Mahal Cult Nails You're My Dandy Lion Fyrinnae Parental Advisory OCC Jubilee Illamasqua Stranger

October is a time that reminds me to be brave; to not be afraid of bold, unusual colors. Halloween is an often excuse to play with color in ways we’ve never felt comfortable doing so the rest of the year, but it also serves as a great reminder to: experiment more. play more. go outside of our comfort zone. embrace the unknown. thirst for something different. These are a few of my favorite more unique and unusual shades that I’ve come across, and I hope you’ll share your own unusual finds with me!

  1. Illamasqua Apocalips is a vivid, medium-dark blue-teal with a matte finish. I love the unusual color, but what I love even more is that it still applies and wears fairly well. It’s definitely a show-stopping color!
  2. Sleek Sunset Palette is a budget-friendly palette that’s top-to-bottom fantastic. No duds in the bunch; not only is this a feat for an eyeshadow palette in general, but to do so at under $15? It’s quite unusual!
  3. Inglot #434 is a cool-toned, purplish taupe–a glorious mix of purple, gray, and brown for something infinitely complex, bold but neutral.
  4. Marc Jacobs Beauty Th(ink) is a bold, cool-toned violet purple with a pearly shimmer that really opens up the eye–and it is a shade that had many, many readers asking, “What are you wearing?” Purple eyeliners that can be applied with opaque, rich color are hard to come by, but Th(ink) makes a strong case for one that does.
  5. Giorgio Armani #701 is a cool-toned, sheer bluish-purple gloss filled with blue and violet shimmer. It’s very intriguing on its own, but it can be layered over lipstick for a different look.
  6. NARS Taj Mahal is bold, bright, but not totally over-the-top, and it’s more of a tangerine than a full-on orange with red tones, so it has more golden, yellowy undertones.
  7. Cult Nails You’re My Dandy Lion is a warm, buttery yellow with a cream finish–and lo and behold, it applies beautifully. It’s practically a unicorn among polish!
  8. Fyrinnae Parental Advisory is a bold, bright, royal purple like I haven’t seen before. It’s so vibrant and pigmented–if you are a fiend for purple eyeshadow, it is a must-have.
  9. OCC Jubilee is a pale, aqua-green with a blue-purple duochrome. It’s metallic, shimmering, and reflective. I love the way the color shifts as you move, as it is layered over other products, and will lean one way or another depending on what is paired with.
  10. Illamasqua Stranger is a green-ish gold gloss with a high-shine finish, lots of metallic shimmer, and it is a shade that changes as you move.

I hope you’ll consider sharing your must-haves for October in the comments! Here’s a quickie list to get you started…

Must-Have Eye Products:
Must-Have Cheek/Face Products:
Must-Have Lip Products:
Must-Have Hair/Skin Products:

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Earthy… weathered… how about five shades of stormy gray? Gray can be such a basic shade, but it can add a lot of dimension and depth, too, and sometimes it can look so modern and clean on its own.

  1. NARS Transvaal — can be used as an eyeliner or cream eyeshadow, it’s a medium-dark, creamy gray with neutral-cool undertones
  2. MAC Typographic — a classic, dark gray with a matte finish
  3. Illamasqua Raindrops — a smattering of silver flakes suspended in a bluish-gray
  4. Inglot #387 — a cool-toned, blue-tinted gray with a mostly matte finish
  5. Zoya Dove — a medium, warm-toned gray cream

What’s your current go-to gray shade?

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Illamasqua Reflection Eyeshadow Palette
Illamasqua Reflection Eyeshadow Palette

Illamasqua Reflection Eyeshadow Palette ($46.50 for 0.20 oz.) is new for fall, and it is supposed to contain four “highly pigmented” eyeshadows with a “water-resistant” and “long-lasting” formula that is “silky” and “effortless” when applying and blending (per Illamasqua’s website). This is really a product that I think translates better in real life, under normal use, than it does in photos. It’s just not something that looks phenomenal in a close-up; no matter how lovely it seemed in person, the camera made the shades look a little iffy. If you like shimmering, sparkling cream eyeshadows, and you’re not going to be taking macro photos of your eye, I suspect you’ll still enjoy it. If you want your makeup to be immaculate, you’ll want to pass.

Every time I checked it in the mirror, I was struck by how pretty and sparkling the eyeshadows looked, but close-ups show that the product has room for improvement. Primarily, as these blend out, there’s an unevenness in texture that creates an almost patchy-looking appearance at times. I noticed that this happened a lot with Graphica, whereas Acute and Dart were much easier and forgiving. Precipice was a little chunky at times and was always the quickest shade to crease of the four.  They are water-resistant, so they won’t immediately smudge and run if your eyes are watery or water splashes on them, but if you rub at them long enough, they will move.

Precipice is described as a “soft lemon.” It’s a soft, light yellow with a sparkling, shimmering finish. It was semi-opaque when applied, but it is shade that worked best when sheered out. If it was applied in layers or at more semi-opaque coverage (in a single layer), it was quick to crease (two to three hours), but if it was sheered out, it held up better and lasted six and a half hours before creasing. Maybelline Shady Shores is darker, yellower. NYX Hot Yellow is a powder. Make Up For Ever #102 is matte, powder. See comparison swatches.

Acute is described as an “ash taupe.” It’s a subtly warm-toned, taupe (mix of gray and brown, heavier on the brown) with a shimmery, sparkling finish. It had good color payoff, and it could be applied with mostly opaque color in a single layer. This shade wore well with only faint creasing visible after eight hours of wear. Edward Bess Dusk is less sparkly, powder. Urban Decay Lost is a powder. Urban Decay Midnight Rodeo is similar. Urban Decay Rehab is less sparkly. MAC Satin Taupe is darker, powder. Chanel Topkapi #2 is similar, powder. See comparison swatches.

Dart is described as a “toasted bronze.” It’s a medium-dark brown with bronze shimmer. It had mostly opaque color coverage in a single layer, which could be softened slightly. It wore well on without creasing for seven hours, but I saw some faint creasing just before the eight-hour mark. Urban Decay Ambush is more frosted, powder. MAC Divine Decadence is darker, powder. Bobbi Brown Golden Bronze is yellower. Too Faced Gangsta is similar, powder. See comparison swatches.

Graphica is described as a “graphite grey.” It’s a medium-dark gray with silver and teal micro-shimmer. This had semi-opaque color–it was weaker compared to the rest of the palette–and when sheered out tended to look a bit patchy. This shade creased after six hours of wear. Urban Decay Redemption is cooler-toned, powder. MAC Polished Jet is more sparkly. Urban Decay Asphalt is similar, powder. MAC Nighttrain is similar, powder. Make Up For Ever #1 is similar. See comparison swatches.

The Glossover

palette

Reflection

B-

This is really a product that I think translates better in real life, under normal use, than it does in photos. It's just not something that looks phenomenal in a close-up; no matter how lovely it seemed in person, the camera made the shades look a little iffy. If you like shimmering, sparkling cream eyeshadows, and you're not going to be taking macro photos of your eye, I suspect you'll still enjoy it. If you want your makeup to be immaculate, you'll want to pass.

Product

8/10

Pigmentation

8.5/10

Texture

9.5/10

Longevity

6.5/10

Application

4.5/5

Results
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P
product

Precipice

C

Product

7/10

Pigmentation

8/10

Texture

9/10

Longevity

5.5/10

Application

4.5/5

Results
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Dupes
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Acute

A

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

10/10

Longevity

8/10

Application

5/5

Results
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Dupes
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Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Illamasqua Sleek Velvet Blusher
Illamasqua Sleek Velvet Blusher

Illamasqua Sleek Velvet Blusher ($26.00 for 0.18 oz.) is described as a “dusky coral.” It’s a medium-dark coral with a hint of pink and subtle warm undertones; there is a dusty/muted element to it, which may make it a great coral for anyone who has tended to shy away from the brighter releases. MAC Passion for Colour is lighter, powder. NARS Soulshine is powder. Chanel Presage is more orange. Edward Bess Secret Affair is powder. Tom Ford Flush is pinker, brighter, powder. Aveda Hibiscus is a powder. Burberry Blossom is a powder. Dior Coral Glow is a touch darker, powder. See comparison swatches.

This shade performed similarly to Peaked when I test-drove it yesterday. It wore well for eight hours and started to show some signs of fading after nine hours of wear. The consistency feels like a very thin, lightweight cream initially, but once it touches the skin, it turns slightly powdery. I feels more like a powder but retains the blendability of a cream product. The surface of the blush, though, feels stiff and hard, but whether you use fingertips or a brush to get the color off of the surface, you’ll have no trouble doing so–the blush is incredibly pigmented. It is buildable, blendable, and as a result, you can sheer out just a couple of dabs on the skin for a subtle flush or pat on more before blending for a more intense look. The formula reminded me a lot of Chanel’s Le Blush Creme de Chanel (and Illamasqua’s version is both cheaper and contains more product).

The Glossover

P
product

Sleek

A

Product

9.5/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

10/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

5/5

Results
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Dupes
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