Must-Have Makeup Academy Brushes!

More and more readers are letting me know they're seeing Makeup Academy displays at nearby CVS/pharmacies, and having questions about which products I've tried. I've already talked about my favorite Makeup Academy lip and false lash eye products, so this time I'm tackling my must-have brushes!There are quite a few to try and experience, so I thought I would give you a rundown of which brushes I've been loving lately, and how I prefer to use them. Check out the video above to find out how you can try before you buy at your nearest Makeup Academy display, where to get coupons so you can save on your next purchase, and see my favorite brushes from the line in action!

  • Angled Shadow Brush: A tool that makes creating the coveted "outer-v" area of the eye a snap. Just stamp it down where you want your outer boundary and blend!
  • Smudger/Detailer Brush: The perfect choice for precision work in the inner corner, brow bone, or smudging liner, as well as patting precise amounts of shadow on the lid.
  • All Over Shadow Brush: As the name suggests, it's the perfect brush for sweeping shadow across the lid. However, it also doubles as a great way to seamlessly blend shadows into the crease.

  • Angled Foundation Brush: Similar to a traditional foundation brush, this tool allows you to "paint" your foundation on with the added benefit of an angled edge to more precisely apply product in the under eye area, down the nose, and around the lips. Tip: It also makes easy work out of applying cream contour - the shape of the brush does all of the work!
  • Angled Blush Brush: An ideal brush for sweeping powder contour shades into the cheek bones, as well as applying powder blush and highlight to the tops of the cheekbones.
  • Mineral Brush: Another multi-tasker, I like to use the brush to apply setting powder, however it's also fantastic at buffing out powder foundation!
  • Powder Brush: Whether it's allover setting powder, or bronzer, this brush is a great tool for applying a light dusting or products naturally around the face.

You can find Makeup Academy exclusively at CVS/pharmacy - follow them on Facebook and Twitter for more updates, and keep tabs on the latest happenings with the hashtag #MUAatCVS!

Review & Swatches: Urban Decay Vice 3 Palette

'Tis the season to start revving your wish lists! October wasn't halfway over before holiday collections were on the shelves. Naturally, I dove in head first to get a jumpstart on reviews. First up: Urban Decay Vice 3 Palette!

Despite being the third volume within the range, this is my first experience with one of Urban Decay's Vice Palettes. While they have all been incredibly tempting, the've flown off the shelves before I could get my hands on one. This year, I kept my eyes open and snatched it up right away! It turns out, I'm glad I did because the shade range in this palette is fantastic!

In total there are 20 BRAND NEW shadows housed within a hard plastic case, complete with a large mirror and fabric makeup bag! The shades included range not only in color, but also in texture - something Urban Decay has sometimes struggled with. I'm happy to say that there is a great mix of both shimmery and matte shades within this palette - most of which are ultra smooth and creamy. With everything from solid neutrals to seriously hot hues, Vice 3 can manage anything from a natural daytime look to a look fit for a rave! The only outlier I found when it came to shadow quality was the shade Heroine. It's a deep, nearly-matte navy that came off a little chalky and took quite a bit of layering to achieve the pigmentation seen in the pan. It was an unfortunate loss given how beautifully it complemented the deeper shades within the palette.

Despite the letdown with Heroine, you can't beat $60 for 20 Urban Decay shadows! Given the quality of the rest and the luxe feel of the packaging, I think it's safe to say that this palette delivers. Given the wide variety of shades included, it's safe to say that this would be a great gift for many (including yourself)!

Are you indulging in Urban Decay's Vice 3?

Review & Swatches: Anastasia Beverly Hills Waterproof Créme Color

I'm a cream makeup fanatic. Provided it eventually dries down, the texture makes for such versatility and more often than not looks as close to "natural" as it gets. Cream foundation, cream blush, cream highlight - you name it, I have it, and probably prefer it to the many powder alternatives within my collection. All that being said, it's really no surprise that when I got the email notifying me of new colors within the Anastasia Waterproof Créme Color, all of the shades managed to make their way into my card within minutes. I never know how this happens. But ultimately I'm glad it did because these shadows are everything I hoped for and more!

There are 7 shades within the range:
  • JET: Blackest black
  • LAVISH: Shimmery deep copper
  • SABLE: Dark chocolate brown
  • GUNMETAL: Shimmery grey
  • EMERALD: Shimmery, rich emerald green
  • AZURE: Shimmery bright blue
  • HONEY: Matte flesh tone

Described as "ultra-pigmented, waterproof color for the eyes that won't crease or smudge," these do (or rather don't do) just that. Once on, these dry down almost immediately and don't move until you want them to. Worn unprimed and unset with powder, these powdered through 10 hours of wear and didn't look any worse for the wear. While some cream shadows can be used as shadow bases, these dry relatively fast so I wouldn't go looking to them if you want a sticky base for powders to cling to. That being said, they will amp up the color of any shadow you lay over top!

Bottom line: you need these créme colors in your life. No matter what you are using them for, you can count on them staying all day with intense pigmentation.

Review & Swatches: NYX Simply Lip Creams

Not over the chubby lip pencil trend? You're in luck! NYX is throwing down in the popular makeup category with their new Simply Lip Cream Collection. Divided into 4 color categories, there are 6 shades within each giving you 24 NEW ways to screw up your holiday budget! At $6.49 a pencil, they won't do too much damage on your pocket book - but I dare you to walk away from browsing with just one shade. You can't! Here are the shades I'm swatching:

  • Enchanted - A light mauve-oink
  • First Base - A pale pink
  • XOXO - A bright coral pink
  • Fairest - A soft cool nude
  • Peaches - A light pink-toned nude
  • Sable - A medium mauve-nude
  • Covet - A deep blackened maroon
  • Enamored - A deep brown-black
  • Seduction - A bright orange-leaning red
  • Russian Roulette - A berry-toned red
  • Knock Out - A brick red
Although NYX says these have a glossy finish, I would say these differentiate themselves from the other drugstore releases because they don't have a balmy or glossy finish. Rather, they are opaque and creamy like a lipstick. The lasting power is pretty stellar at around 4+ hours - even for the nude shades. While they don't necessarily hydrate, I didn't find they dehydrated my lips either. The only downside I found with these shades is that there's some variation when it comes to application. Some shades are easily layered for intense pigmentation and complete opacity, while others come off as streaky. While not an absolute deal breaker, it's something to be aware of when it comes time to buy.

Overall, these are a must-have - catch them while they are buy one get one half off at ULTA for an especially good deal!

What shades have you tried from the NYX Simply Lip Cream Collection?

Review, Swatches, & Comparison: IT Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Celebration Palette

IT Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Celebration Palette

IT Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Palette made a huge splash when it debuted nearly a year ago. With 14 matte shades, and one shimmer "transformer", it promised a ton of versatility along with the quality IT Cosmetics is known for - and it delivered! Needless to say, when I found out they released a limited edition extension of this much-loved palette, I had to give it a try.

The Naturally Pretty Celebration Palette once again offers 14 matte shadows, but they are changing the game up with a shimmery gradient shadow that fades from champagne to gold. While each of the shadows have the same buttery texture and fantastic pigmentation you can expect from IT Cosmetics, there are quite a few shades that are similar between the original version of this palette and the holiday edition. Generally, the shades are cooler in the Celebration palette, but there were quite a few  between the two that I felt were easily duplicated - so many that I don't think it's necessary to own both. Scroll down to see swatches of each similar shade!

Overall, I have to say that I prefer the shade range and packaging of the Naturally Pretty Celebration Palette. Both palettes have excellent shadow quality, but the added versatility the gradient shade provides, and the more streamlined packaging of the Celebration Palette make it the winner of the two. It's Limited Edition, so if it strikes your fancy get it quick!

Want to see just how versatile this palette is? Scroll down to the bottom of the post to see step-by-step tutorials using both neutrals and plums!

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