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Friday, December 26, 2014

What's New At the Drugstore HAUL!


Frequent drugstore shoppers will know that a lot of new products have been popping up on beauty shelves. Slowly, but surely, I've been accumulating bits and pieces as I come across them, and it's time for a haul! Check out the video above for my thoughts on all of the new products I've tried, and continue scrolling to see enlarged pictures and swatches!

Products Mentioned:

  • L'Oréal Infallible Eye Crayons
  • L'Oréal Brow Stylist Plumper
  • Milani Fierce Foil Eye Shine Palettes
  • Milani Fierce Foil Liner
  • L'Oréal Infallible Pro Matte Gloss
  • COVERGIRL Lip Lavas

See more pictures after the jump!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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! 

See more pictures after the jump!

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

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!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

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?
See more pictures after the jump!

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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!

See more pictures after the jump!

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Friday, December 12, 2014

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?

See more pictures after the jump!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gift Idea + GIVEAWAY: Old Factory Candles | Fall Harvest Trio

Occasionally people will take notice of the candles I have burning in the backgrounds of my videos, and ask me about my favorite candles or scents. The truth is: I don't have one! I always enjoy trying new candles, and experimenting with fragrance blends - they can make such a difference in the ambiance of a home. Naturally, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to try a new-to-me candle brand that offers not one, but three candles in one gift set - just in time for the season gifting, no?

A little bit more about Old Factory Candles: 
Each candle burns clean and even for 20 hours. Hand-poured in the USA with natural soy wax, self-trimming wicks, and premium fragrance oils. Each gift set is themed around a group of related fragrances.

They were kind enough to give me my pick of the 12 different scent profiles they offer, and I had to go with Fall Harvest - a trio that includes Pumpkin Spice, Cranberry, and Autumn Leaves. While they offer the option to gift wrap, I tend to like the rustic packaging the candles already arrive in. You open it up to find three mini jars neatly tucked away, and ready to burn. When lit, the scents are noticeable, but not overwhelming, and don't have a hint of fake "chemical" smell about them. I think they really captured the essence of their namesakes, and were fun to burn together in difference combinations. You could walk into my apartment and almost think I had pumpkin pie with a cranberry side ready to dish up - until you realized that cooking in an apartment my size is a joke. Overall, two thumbs up! You'll definitely see them burning in videos to come, and they might even make it on my shopping list for those who are particularly hard to buy for this holiday season (hello, "Man Cave" trio)!

Old Factory Candle Gift Sets are sold exclusively on Amazon, and they're giving 1 Making Up the Midwest reader the chance to win a gift set of their choice! To enter, you need to have an Amazon account, a PayPal account (for shipping reimbursement), live in the U.S., and comment below with the gift set trio you would want to win. Check out their Amazon page to learn more about the sets they offer. The giveaway ends 12/18/2015 - good luck!
See more pictures after the jump!

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Holiday Makeup Tutorial

Products Mentioned (and reviews):

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review & Demo: IT Cosmetics Build-A-Brow Waterproof 5-in-1 Micro Fiber Créme Gel Stain & Brush

IT Cosmetics Build-A-Brow is the latest brow star to come from the brand that hasn't had a product miss to date. Naturally, I was eager to give it a try! Unlike pencils they've released in the past, the latest addition is a créme gel stain. It comes in a glass pot, and is available in 5 shades - Blonde, Auburn, Universal Taupe (my shade), Dark Brown, Gray. While they promise a wider release come 2015, it's currently exclusive to QVC, and is paired with a dual-ended liner and spool brush - currently available for just $26.36! For that, Build-A-Brow promises to do the following:
  • Build brow volume with microfibers
  • Fill sparse areas
  • Set brows in place
  • Last 24 hours
  • Condition brows

I'm pleased to say it it delivers! While I couldn't find any signs of brow-thickening fibers (they really are micro), my brows definitely felt thicker after application, and the dense formula clings to brows nicely to provide a medium that will keep them in place all day. The biggest problem I have with brow products is keeping them in place when there isn't hair to cling to - often a problem on the inner and outer portions of my brows. This formula sticks nicely to the skin, and really does stain for all-day wear. 

The brush that comes with the stain is slightly different than your typical angled brow brush. Its "fence" shape is effective at really gripping hairs for a more even application, and creating more hair-like structures where you might naturally be lacking. 

Overall, two thumbs up! This is truly an all-in-one brow product that will eliminate quite a few products in your daily routine. 
See more pictures after the jump!

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Review & Swatches: Paula Dorf Aztec City Eyeshadow Palette + FREE Teal Mascara for Readers!

Just in time for fall, Paula Dorf was kind enough to send me the Aztec City Eyeshadow Palette - a cool mix of neutrals and soft, yet colorful hues. The palette comes in a sleek black lacquered packaging with a sizable mirror inside, and a dual-ended brush built for building color, buffing it out, and lining.

As it's my first Paula Dorf product, I really didn't know what to expect with this palette. I'm happy to say that I was really pleased with how these shadows performed! This palette includes a frosty gold-white, and duo-chrome gold-blue, a shimmery lilac with subtle silver shimmer, a medium matte brown, and a deep matte chocolate brown. The last two shades are great not only for blending shadows throughout the crease, and adding depth to the outer corner, but also filling in brows! This palette is a multi-tasker. As far as performance goes, I was happy with how smooth and easy to blend each shadow is. While I did find that the colorful shades sheered out during use, it allowed the duo-chrome qualities of the frosted white and teal to really pop.

In addition to the palette, they also sent me a mascara, and an exclusive deal for you! Their Lash Color mascara in teal is one that promises smudge and flake-proof mascara that build to thicken and lengthen lashes. I found it provided just enough of a teal hue to bring out the green in my eyes, but wasn't so bold that it took away from the contrast I typically need a mascara to provide. While I found it was best at separating and lengthening my lashes, it definitely lived up to its budge-proof name. No flakes or smudges here! To snag a free teal mascara for yourself, you can use code TEAL with any purchase of an Aztec City Eyeshadow Palette from Paula Dorf's website!

What Paula Dorf products have you tried? What are your favorites?
See more pictures after the jump!

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Review & Swatches: Makeup Geek Foiled Eyeshadows

Makeup Geek Foiled Eyeshadows

Makeup Geek Foiled Eyeshadows

Makeup Geek's Marlena has done it again! Her latest launch is a collection of 10 Foiled Eyeshadows formulated to provide highly pigmented metallic wear with just one swipe. At $9.99 a piece, they are a little more expensive than her regular shadow line. But the reason for the price hike is made readily evident with one swipe of a shadow. The formula of Makeup Geek's new foiled shadows are unlike any I've ever felt. They are as close to a cream formula as it can get without actually being a cream. They're that smooth. They are softer than L'Oréal's Infallible Shadows, yet not as cushy as Colourpop's Super Shock Shadows. They're in a category all their own!

When you purchase all 10 shadows together, the set is $89.00, so I decided to go for it. Here are the new shades:
  • Magic Act: Golden champagne
  • In the Spotlight: Light peach
  • Grandstand: Bronze
  • Flame Thrower: Electric copper
  • Mesmerized: Taupe
  • Center Stage: Navy Blue
  • Caitlin Rose: Electric Purple
  • Showtime: Burgundy
  • Houdini: Blackened Teal
  • Jester: Golden grassy green

Each shadow from the line is consistently amazing. The texture, pigmentation, and ease with which they blend onto the lid, and into each other, is fantastic! Worn without a primer, I found that these lasted crease-free for 7+ hours, but started fading at around the 8 hour mark. With a primer, you can count on them staying in place until you want them removed. 

These are must-haves in my book! While the collection has a shade for everyone, I'm hoping Marlena formulates some new shades STAT. I'm obsessed with these, and think they'll be making frequent appearances in my daily makeup routine. 
See more pictures after the jump!

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review & Demo: KISS InstaWave

The Kiss InstaWave is the latest high tech hair tool to hit shelves, and they provided me with the opportunity to give it a try! I'm always looking for a way to achieve faster, kink-free curls that require minimal effort, so I was beyond excited to be able to give it a go.

This abbreviated curling iron has a shorter barrel, and is completely clip-less, but is surrounded by prongs meant to grab hair, and guide it around the barrel automatically. There are two heat settings, high and low, and a large button that determines the direction in which the prongs rotate - curls can go both away and toward your face.

You begin by choosing your heat setting and waiting for the heat indicator light to turn blue. Holding the wand vertically, place a section of your hair against the notched rim. You can then begin pressing the arrow in the direction in which you want your hair to curl. Then, pull the wand from your hair once it's been completely wrapped around the barrel for 5-10 seconds (I find my hair holds curls best when I hold it for 10 seconds). They say you can vary the kinds of curls you get out of the wand by varying the amount of time you keep your hair wrapped, but I find the size of the sections I curl more-so affects the kind of curl I get.

The only issue some might find with this iron is that, at times, the prongs can't completely grip fine hair. When this happens, my hair will only wrap around the barrel until about half way up the strand. Those that want ringlets that reach from root to tip might find that this tool won't always provide them.

Beyond that, however, this tool stands out to me above other that I've tried for a few different reasons. Not only does it mostly automate the curling process, but it allows you to curl sections of hair that vary in size. This makes achieving different kinds of curls fast, and easy. Additionally, this tool's open-ended barrel makes it very hard for your hair to get caught, and potentially singed.

The KISS InstaWave retails for $59.99, and I think it's worth it for the person that wants to make their daily hair routine a little faster and easier!

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review & Swatches: TYRA Smize Eye Duo

TYRA Smize Eye Duo

Tyra's Smize Eye Duo is a triple threat when it comes to getting glam. For $29, you get a Smack My Fat Lash Mascara in Le Black (typically $28 individually), and an Oops Liner & Corrector in Black Black Black (typically $26 individually). Overall, a great value! Now let's get into the nitty gritty.

The Oops Liner and Corrector is a dual-ended liner and remover pen - perfect for those just learning winged liner, or the winged-liner lover who just doesn't have it together that morning. On one end is a jumbo liner, that extends down into an extreme tapered tip. It works beautifully for creating both thick and thin lines, and product flows freely enough so that it only takes one pass to apply an opaque line. I also experienced great lasting power with this pen - it didn't budge in the slightest over the course of a day. On the other end is a corrector; a felt tip pen that dispenses makeup remover. If you flub a little with your liner, or always have trouble making your wings symmetric, this is a godsend. That they both come in one dual-ended product is just genius! 

The Smack My Fat Lash Mascara that comes in the set doesn't look so Le Black once the wand is first out of the tube. In fact, it's a mix of a vibrant blue tubing formula that conditions lashes, mixed with a black formula that contains fibers to lengthen lashes. After a few uses, the two colors blend together to create a shade that's essentially black, but supposedly the blue helps the whites of your eyes look whiter in the process. I found this formula leaned on the dry side, and was hard to layer without clumping up on my lashes. Luckily, I didn't think it needed more than one layer to both volumize and curl. Despite containing fibers, I didn't think this formula lengthened my lashes so much. Still, it lasted all day, without flaking or smudging, making it a great formula in my book!

Overall, I give this set two thumbs up, and definitely recommend buying the two together given how much you save. Given my experience with both this set, and the 4-Minute Tyover Set, Tyra's new makeup line is two for two! I have one last highlight and contour set that I'm excited to put to the test. Fingers crossed it lives up to the rest of the line!
See more pictures after the jump!

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