Review, Swatches, and Dupes: Too Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette + GIVEAWAY





The latest addition to the Too Faced chocolate empire is here! The Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette is the warmer companion to the original Chocolate Bar Palette, and currently available exclusively to Sephora VIB's (although you can anticipate a full release soon). For $49, you get 16 shadows packaged in a hard, chocolate bar-shaped case with a magnetic closure, and reasonably-sized mirror. They've also managed to make the Semi Sweet Palette slightly thinner than the original version - a win for those that foresee this as being a good travel palette. 

Here are the shades included:
Licorice: Matte black
Coconut Creme: Matte cream
Nougat: Cool, light matte brown
Truffled: Matte chocolate 
Hot Fudge: Deep shimmery cool dark brown
Cocoa Chili: Shimmery matte brown with gold shimmer
Pink Sugar: Iridescent sheer pink shimmer
Puddin': Matte taupe
Blueberry Swirl: Shimmery pale teal
Peanut Butter: Warm matte camel
Frosting: Shimmery bronze
Rum Raisin: Shimmery taupe
Mousse: Warm matte brown
Caramel: Warm golden brown
Bon Bon: Rose gold
Butter Pecan: Frosty cream

Overall, each of these shades perform just as I would hope Too Faced might. The mattes are smooth, buttery, and apply very evenly. The same can be said of the shimmers, except the finish is so finely milled, they almost take on a metallic finish - perfect for those who don't like a lot of chunky sparkle. For those that do, however, Cocoa Chili and Pink Sugar provide exactly what you are looking for. Pink Sugar in particular is a different kind of shadow than I'm used to seeing from Too Faced. Rather than intense pigmentation with complete opacity, it offers a sheer iridescent wash of shimmer that would act best as a transforming overcoat. While I appreciate what they were trying to do by offering up such a unique finish, I don't think it complements the rest of the shades within the palette, and it applies pretty sparsely. Needless to say, Pink Sugar it's my least favorite shadow in the palette. Still, I was very impressed with the shadow quality, and how flattering some of the warmest shades in the palette are.

The Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette is a win! If you have original, you'll encounter a few duplicates, or similar shadows, between the two. But I think having both is worth the diversity you'll get between the purples and plums of the original, and the warmer neutrals and teal in the Semi Sweet version.

Scroll down for the chance to WIN the palette for yourself! 

ELF Holiday Set Overview + Giveaway!




I've been talking a lot about mid to high end makeup when covering 2015 holiday sets. But a recent package sent to me from ELF served as a reminder that there are quite a few affordable options when it comes to beauty gifting. Check out the video to hear my thoughts, and see quick demos of the sets I got my hands on, and scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win them all!

Products Mentioned:

  • ELF Perfect Eyes Set - Complete with a 9-pan neutral palette, Lengthening & Defining Mascara, and Brightening Eye Liner in Black, I was shocked at how nice the shadows are. While the mascara and liner aren't for me, they definitely complete this set with the ability to create anything from a soft, neutral eye, to something a little more sultry and smoky.  
  • ELF Cheeky Glow Set - Easily my favorite of everything I've tried from their holiday collection, ELF's Cheeky Glow Set includes a cheek trio with a matte bronzer, golden pink blush, and champagne highlighter, along with an angled blush brush to apply. While the brush isn't the softest I've used, the cheek trio is everything you could need in a daily highlight and contour routine, and then some! Each shade applies smoothly, blends evenly, and will flatter a wide variety of skin tones. 
  • ELF Full Lips Set - This set comes it at a close second in the list of favorites. With a long-wearing lipliner, lipstick, and matte lip color in various shades of holiday reds, this is a great set for the lip lover. I was personally most impressed with the Matte Lip Color for how smoothly it glided on the lips without tugging, or drying them out. The formula has definitely improved since I first tried it. 
  • ELF Lashes Set - I gave up on ELF lashes a few years ago when my eyes couldn't stop watering while wearing them. Between getting used to wearing false lashes, and ELF's lash bands getting thinner, and less rigid, these were actually my cop of tea! Each of the three different styles included amplify the appearance of lashes beyond that of what a mascara can, yet they don't look overly done-up and fake - perfect for the beginner lash wearer. 
Overall, there are definitely some winners in this year's holiday collections from ELF. While some are currently unavailable on their site, they can be found in Target and Walmart stores, so get shopping!

Review: Sonia Kashuk Limited Edition All That Jazz 10 Piece Brush Set

Sonia Kashuk Limited Edition All That Jazz 10 Piece Brush Set

Sonia Kashuk Limited Edition All That Jazz 10 Piece Brush Set
While in Target the other day, I came across a shiny new brush set from Sonia Kashuk that I couldn't say no to. I've heard such great things about the brand overall, and these gilded beauties were calling my name! At just $34.99 for 10 brushes, I knew they had to be mine.

The All That Jazz brush set includes the following:
  • 1 Powder Brush
  • 1 Flat Top Blusher Brush
  • 1 Angled Duo-Fiber Face Brush
  • 1 Foundation Brush
  • 1 Eyeshadow Brush
  • 1 Blending Brush
  • 1 Crease Brush
  • 1 Angled Duo-Fiber Eye Brush
  • 1 Precision Eye Brush
  • 1 Lash/Brow Groomer
Each brush has a ferrule wrapped perfectly in gold, and handles that use a mix of gold and black lacquer to create a luxurious feel. While the bristles aren't as soft as I thought they would be, they definitely get the job done - and without any shedding. In general, every kind of brush you could need in a daily makeup routine is represented in this set. However, I would have liked to see a smaller shadow brush. The one that's included is larger and fluffier than I think many will find is convenient for patting shadow neatly on the lid. If anything, the one brush this collection could use in a smaller one with flat, smooth bristles for packing shadow or cream products across the lid. The rest, however, are amazing!

While these sets are no longer available online, you can check out Target's website and find them stocked in a store near you. Whether you're looking to start or build upon your brush collection, or even gift it to someone else, I really recommend it!

What are your favorites from Sonia Kashuk?

Review & Swatches: LORAC The Royal 3D Liquid Lustre Set


LORAC The Royal 3D Liquid Lustre Set
After listening to rave reviews since their debut, I decided to jump on the LORAC 3D Liquid Lustre bandwagon with their 2014 holiday release: The Royal 3D Liquid Lustre Set. For $28, you get 4 limited edition shades that normally retail for $16 individually!

My initial reservation about diving into these had to do with the formula. It's clear that these consist of an ultra-shimmery glitter pre-mixed with a liquid medium because the two separate when left sitting. My fear was that the liquid would be a mess to try and apply, and the glitter would appear sparse. I'm happy to say, it's not so! If you shake the bottle up thoroughly to mix the two, and put 1-2 drops of product on the back of your hand, some of the liquid evaporates almost instantly so it doesn't run all over your hand. With about 30 second to work with before the liquid medium dries up completely, you're given plenty of time to use a flat shader brush to pat product across the lid. Another concern I had was that the liquid base wouldn't completely dry - instead, it would leave more of a sheen that could easily smudge throughout wear. Wrong again! Once dry, these act as more of a loose glitter that you've pat on over a sticky base - which also means you might experience some fallout. To prevent it, I recommend priming with something like Too Faced Glitter Glue, or a cream shadow.

The shades included in this quad are the following:

  • Opal - an iridescent white
  • 24K - yellow gold
  • Rose Quartz - multi-dimensional pink
  • Amethyst - a deep black with silver shift
Whether you indulge in this set, or the two permanent shades (Diamond and Gold), I really recommend these if you love shimmer. They can be worn as a light splash of glimmer across the lid, or built to a full-on flitter layer, but they add beautiful dimension to any look no matter what. I definitely recommend this set for the steal that it is!


Review: Covergirl Ultra Smooth Hair Smoothing Founation



It's been a while since I've tried a new foundation from the drugstore, but when I spotted Covergirl's new Ultra Smooth Smoothing Foundation (and its intriguing packaging), I knew it was time to hop back in the foundation-trying saddle!

Covergirl's Ultra Smooth Hair Smoothing Foundation comes with no other promises beyond easing the application of your foundation over fine peach fuzz. Paired with a flexible rubber applicator (check out the video to see a close-up), the general idea is that you use the applicator to apply product in the direction of hair growth, smoothing it down to foundation lays flawlessly. To cut to the chase, I found that the tool applied product too heavily, and actually emphasized the appearance of hair (and pores when used over the rest of the face). Needless to say, the applicator is not my cup of tea. 

Beyond that, the foundation is easily layered to provide relatively full coverage with a satin finish. I immediately loved it the moment I applied it! However, as it wore throughout the day, satin turned into dewy - something I welcome when it develops naturally into a healthy "glow". But by the end of the day, the glow was a full on meltdown - wearing away in the areas that tend to trouble my problematic combination skin. 

Overall, given the unusually high drugstore price tag ($16+), I wouldn't recommend this foundation. The tool proved pretty useless, and the wear wasn't I had hoped. I could see this working well for those with a dry skin type, but even some of those in the comment section of the video review heard that those with dry skin said it didn't work for them. All-in-all, it's a pass!

What drugstore foundations have you been loving lately?

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