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Saturday, January 31, 2015

What's New At the Drugstore Haul + Swatches


Drugstore brands are starting to launch their Spring 2015 products, and I was all over them! I'm sharing my thoughts, and some swatches, to let you know whether you can pass, or gotta have 'em. Matte lips and shimmery shadows look like they're making it big next season - will you be adopting the trend?

Products Mentioned:

See more pictures after the jump!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review & Demo: Real Techniques Bold Metals Brush Collection

Since they first launched a few years ago, Real Techniques affordable, yet high quality brush collection has quickly become a fan favorite. While they've steadily added more brushes to the original line, they've recently launched a shiny new collection (literally) that aims to fill the luxury brush gap. 

The Bold Metals Collection contains 7 brushes - a mix of tools for both the eyes and face:
  • Triangle Foundation Brush - Similar to a flat foundation brush, the triangle foundation brush has a large flat edge for applying foundation all over the face - but also has edges to ensure product makes into hard-to-reach creases. 
  • Arched Powder Brush - A somewhat flat powder brush ideal for applying setting powder, bronzer, and even blush.  
  • Oval Shadow Brush - A large shadow brush built for patting shadow across the lid. I personally also love this for doing precision work around the face as well!
  • Pointed Crease Brush - The perfect combination of a pencil brush and crease brush, this tool is perfect for diffusing shadow throughout the crease or applying concealer. 
  • Angled Liner Brush - This is smaller than your average angled liner brush and allows for more control when working on the upper lash line or brows.
  • Flat Contour Brush - Probably the most unique tool from the line, this brush is ideal for applying intense contour around the perimeter, and in the contours of the face.
  • Tapered Blush Brush - A smaller powder brush designed to blend blush and highlight.
As far as quality goes, this brush line gets it right. I haven't experienced any shedding - even after washing. The synthetic fibers are (for the most part) very soft and effective at applying product. The one exception is the Triangle Foundation Brush - the fibers were somewhat stiff and encourage streaking when I applied my foundation.

I think Real Techniques have managed to create a great set of unique brushes that fill any gaps left from their original line. While there are a few that I wouldn't call must-haves, I definitely have my favorites: the Pointed Crease Brush and Flat Contour Brush. The rest are wonderful, and absolutely functional, but those were the star pieces to this collection for me. 

Be sure to watch the video above to learn more about how I like to use each brush, any dupes I may have spotted, and how I came to pick my favorites. 

Have you tried the Real Techniques Bold Metals Collection yet?

See more pictures after the jump!

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Monday, January 26, 2015

LORAC Unzipped Gold Palette Tutorial

I recently reviewed the LORAC Unzipped Gold Palette, and wanted to share one of the looks I love to create with it! But, whether you just bought the palette for yourself, or have a whole stash of gold shadows you're dying to put to use, it's a gilded look you can draw inspiration from either way. Check out the tutorial above, and the links below for product details!


Want to learn more about the latest palette from LORAC? Check out the swatches below, and take a peek at the review linked above!

LORAC Unzipped Gold Palette

LORAC Unzipped Gold Palette | Top Row

LORAC Unzipped Gold Palette | Bottom Row


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Review & Swatches: LORAC Unzipped Gold Palette

LORAC Unzipped Gold Palette

LORAC Unzipped Gold Palette

I was pretty late to LORAC's Unzipped Palette party. Despite hearing rave reviews about the buttery smooth plum-toned shadows, I had held out up until a few weeks ago. Needless to say, it is totally worth the hype! Fortunately, I realized this just in the nick of time to catch the launch of their Unzipped Gold Palette. I wasn't about to make the same mistake as before!

LORAC's new palette retails for $42, while the original remains at $40. Much like the original palette, you get 10 shadows that include a nice range of shades, and a great mix of textures. One of my concerns when I purchased this palette was that the gold shades would be too warm to flatter neutral or cool-leaning skin tones. I'm happy to say that's not the case! One of the warmest shadows in the palette is Unlimited - a shimmery gold that isn't too much warmer than Urban Decay's fan favorite Half-Baked (see comparison picture below). All of the shadows - both matte and shimmer - are very smooth and apply evenly over the lid while maintaining their pigmentation.

While I think all of the shades are awesome, there are a few notable shadows I want to point out. Unpredictable is a fantastic gold with a hint of peachy-pink shift. There isn't enough pink such that some might worry it's unflattering - just enough to add some interest. Unlocked is an unbelievably beautiful shimmery cream with a strong gold iridescence. This is a shade I have come to love for both the inner corner, and as a facial highlight! The last absolute jaw-dropper is Unleashed. It has amazing color payoff, and a beautiful metallic finish - so faceted it would be great worn both within a look or alone on the lid.

For those that already own the original Unzipped Palette and are concerned about duplicating the shades - I was happy to find that there aren't any! Those that look similar in their pans are swatched below (there are also some swatches comparing shadows from the LORAC PRO Palette too).

Overall, two thumbs way up for LORAC's Unzipped Gold Palette! This is a must-have for any neutral-lover with a taste for gold. 

See more pictures after the jump!

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Review & Demo: Physicians Formula Eye Booster Lash Extensions Kit

Physicians Formula's new Eye Booster Lash Extensions Kit is the latest two-part false fiber mascara system to hit the shelves - but it's the first option to come from the drugstore! I tried Too Faced Better than False Lashes when it first came out, and was pretty impressed with the results. Naturally, I had to see if this was a way to get the look for less!

Physician's Formula Kit retails for $14.99, but I ordered mine from ULTA and received a $7 mail-in rebate! If it worked, this would prove to be the most affordable false-fiber extension system out there.
The process starts with a coat of mascara. The formula is right in the middle of wet and dry - perfect to ensure thorough coverage without clumping. The wand has a slight curve, so it's perfect for achieving a nice curl. Overall, I like the mascara worn alone! So far, so good.

Next up in the process are the fibers. With a wand that's shorter and wider than that from Too Faced, I find it's a little easier to maneuver through the lashes. It does, however, result in a ton of fallout (seen in the pictures below). And unlike the Too Faced fibers, these are black. The biggest tip I can provide with this mascara is that you apply it before the rest of your face makeup since the fibers are nearly impossible to remove once you'll applied your foundation and concealer.

Last step is another coat of mascara to seal the fibers to the lashes. Physicians Formula says you can repeat steps 2 and 3 until you reach the effect you want. Overall, I have to say that this process was best at adding volume to my lashes (which is by no means a downside as I'm always in search of a great volumizing mascara). But it definitely doesn't give the appearance of extensions.

They claim 24 hour wear with this formula - something I can confirm since I didn't experience any smudging or flaking over a full day of wear.

This is definitely a winning mascara in my book! While it might not add as much length as someone looking for an "extensions" mascara might hope, I think it makes lashes look amazing. At the very least, it's an affordable way to get the look of a high end extensions system without sacrificing quality. 

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

6 tips to wear marsala - 2015 Pantone Color of the Year Tutorial

I recently shared my favorite Marsala beauty picks in this week's Makeup Wars, and a few of you had questions about how to incorporate this color into a makeup look. The red undertones that make Marsala the perfect flush for lips and cheeks can also make you look sickly when worn around the eyes. Here are my tips for making this hue work for you:
  1. Pick your Marsala. Technically, "Marsala" is one color as defined by Pantone's color system - it's described as "a naturally robust and earthy wine red." But, like so many colors, it's not necessarily one-size-fits-all. Find a Marsala-esque shade with cooler berry undertones, or warm brick undertones, depending on whether your own skin leans cool or warm, and your more likely to love how it flatters your skin.  
  2. Make your Marsala. If you don't have, or don't want to go out in search of, a Marsala shade to add to your collection, make your own by combining a berry-toned wine shade with a mid-tone nude or brown. This will allow you to strike the perfect berry-brown balance for your skin tone. Check out the tutorial above to see how I did this to create my lip color!
  3. Start with the Lips. I find this shade least intimidating on the lips. Worn as a light tint, it comes off as a "your lips but better" shade, but it can also be built for some serious drama.  
  4. Work to the Cheeks. Because Marsala is a bold color in its own right, wearing a blush in the shade can be easily overdone. Once you choose your blush, start with a light hand and a fluffy brush to lightly dust over your cheeks. Building up blush is always easier than removing it. That being said, if you overdo it, don't worry! You can use excess product on your foundation brush or sponge to cover some of the excess pigment. 
  5. Brave the Eyes. My #1 trick for playing it safe with Marsala around the eyes is relying on a good liner. Whether it's black or brown, pick a neural shade to act as a buffer between the whites of your eyes and the Marsala on your lid. If you're not big on using a darker liner on your waterline, reach for a flesh-toned eyeliner to cover any pink pigment in your waterline that Marsala might emphasize. 
  6. Nail it. When in doubt, try Marsala on your nails! It's a great way to get used to seeing the shade next to your skin tone, and could be the gateway to trying it elsewhere. For some nail polish recommendations, check out link #10 at the bottom of the post!
Onto the tutorial - here's a complete list of the products mentioned in the tutorial at the top of the post, along with some reviews and links to where you can purchase each. 

Products Used:

My Marsala Picks

Monday, January 19, 2015

Makeup Wars: 2015 Marsala Product Picks

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Another year, another color pick from Pantone! The 2015 Color of the year is Marsala, and it's one I'm very excited about because it's such a versatile, flattering shade to all. Described as a "robust and earthy wine red," Marsala is proving to be a shade that can be used effortlessly as an eyeshadow, blush, and lip color.

On this week's Makeup Wars, we're sharing all things Marsala - whether it's our favorite product picks, tutorials, or something entirely different. I decided to talk about the products I pulled from my collection to rock the trend. No matter if you're shopping for Marsala for the first time, or shopping your own collection, there's a little bit of something in here for everyone.

My Marsala Picks (and reviews):

  • Sleek iDivine Sunset Palette - For a slew of wine-tinged marsala picks, this is the affordable palette for you!
  • Jesse's Girl Pure Pigment Eye Dust in Rouge Flambe - If you have plenty of makeup, and just want to pick up one shadow to rock the trend, this is what you need! This affordable pigment can be used as an eyeshadow, blush, mixed with lip gloss, and more. It's also strikingly similar to the next high-end pick...
  • Urban Decay Vice 3 Palette - Sonic - It was difficult to find a lone Marsala shadow, so I took to scouring my palettes. One that was right under my nose was Urban Decays latest Vice Palette - the shade Sonic is the perfect pick for a metallic Marsala shadow. 
  • Maybelline EyeStudio Eyeshadow Quad in Taupe Temptress - For those that aren't totally on board with the Marsala trend, or want to work the color into their looks more subtly, this is the pick for you! The deepest shade in Maybelline's Taupe Temptress quad contains Marsala-hued shimmer.
  • Black Radiance Artisan Color Baked Blush in Warm Berry - For a supremely pigmented matte blush that also doubles as an eyeshadow, this is a great, affordable pick!
  • Maybelline Master Hi-Light Highlighting Blush in Mauve - Those that want a more subtle, buildable blush that also includes a highlight will love this one from Maybelline.
  • Rimmel Lasting Finish 1000 Kisses Contouring Lip Pencil in Wine - This lip liner leans a tad berry for a true Marsala pick, but it's beautiful nonetheless!
  • Wet n Wild Lipstick in Spiked With Rum - For those that prefer matt lipsticks, this is a great, pigmented pick (and happens to be the most affordable in the bunch)!
  • Covergirl Lipstick in Soulmate - If you prefer something a tad more sheer, this is a slightly more berry-toned pick.
  • Maybelline ColorSensation Lipstick in Rum Riche - This is the balm-finish counterpart to Wet n Wild's Spiked With Rum.
  • Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick by Kate Moss in 11 -  For a deep, dramatic berry-toned Marsala, this is the lipstick for you!
Be sure to share your picks in the comments below, and don't forget to check out the links at the bottom of the post to see what other Makeup Wars participants are serving up! 


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: L'Oréal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation

It's time to talk about another matte foundation to hit the drugstore: L'Oréal's Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation. Given my recent disappointment with Maybelline's Fit Me Matte + Poreless, I really hoped L'Oreal's foundation would hit the mark.

Unlike any other L'Oréal foundation, Pro-Matte has a checklist of qualities outlined on the back:
  • Finish: Demi-Matte
  • Wear Up to: 24HR
  • Coverage: Medium
  • Texture: Air-Light
It's often hard to know exactly what some drugstore foundations mean to accomplish, so I appreciated that L'Oréal laid absolutely everything out here. I would say the finish is pretty matte, with coverage that's easily buildable from medium to slightly more - so far they are 2 for 2 on these claims!

As far as L'Oréal foundations go, I would place their Magic Nude Liquid Powder Foundation in the "air-light" category, while Pro-Matte is slightly thicker. That's not to say it's heavy by any means - it's easily layered without becoming caky.

Onto the wear time. I don't need my foundation to last 24 hours, so I wasn't about to pull an all-nighter in the name of beauty. But I have to say I'm really impressed with the way it wore over a typical work day! The major wear and tear I saw was mostly self-inflicted. The area around my nose is pretty patchy due to constant allergy-triggered nose blowing, and there's patchiness in my undereye area from a new mascara I'm testing.

Overall, this foundation is a win for me! The only downside is the narrow shade range. I picked 103 Natural Buff, but it's a tad too dark, and much too warm for me. But the next shade lighter was too pink. Another deterrent for some might be the price. It's as high as $14.99 in some places, but I managed to snag it for $11 and some change at CVS. Of course, you can always look for BOGO 50% off discounts as well!

Have you tried L'Oréal's Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation?

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review: Rimmel WONDER'LASH Argan Oil Mascara

Rimmel's Wonder'Lash Mascara with Argan Oil is nothing new to the beauty lovers abroad, but it recently hit stateside, and I was compelled to try it the second I saw it in the "new display" section of my nearest Walgreens. It not only promises full, clump-free lashes, but it's one of the first mascaras from the drugstore that touts the addition of conditioning Argan Oil to the formula. 

To start, the brush that comes with this mascara is relatively large, and packed with shorter, evenly spaced plastic bristles. Combined with the thinner formula, I find it takes a few coats to completely affect my lashes, but ultimately it succeeds at adding curl and definition. 

Overall, I'm not impressed with what this formula does for my lashes, but the wear is a different story. Even though I used the version of this mascara that isn't waterproof, the lasting power was fantastic! After nearly 12 hours, there wasn't a flake in sight, and my lashes held their shape really well. However, there's one caveat: if you have issues with mascara transfer under your bottom lashes, you MUST set your concealer when wearing Rimmel's Wonder'Lash. Without a good powder, small black smudges under my eyes developed after just a few hours as the emollient mascara mixed with my cream concealer. 

There you have it! While it isn'y my favorite drugstore mascara, Rimmel's Wonder'Lash has its redeeming qualities - namely its lasting power. Let me know if you've tried it in the comments below!
See more pictures after the jump!

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

December BOXYCHARM Unboxing

After loads of recommendations from viewers, I'm finally taking a dive into BOXYCHARM! Much like Ipsy, and Birchbox, BOXYCHARM is a monthly subscription service that provides a new sampling of beauty products each month. While the two previously mentioned services are $10 a month, BOXYCHARM is $21, but promised 4 full size products, and 1 deluxe sample size, each month. Those who have been frustrated with receiving a box full of sample packets each month might find this is a welcome change, and worth the price hike. Personally, I thought December's box was a winner! It was certainly enough to keep me subscribed for another month. Check out what came, and see how I put it all together to create a look, in the video above!

Something else I want to mention about this service is the opportunity to get free products. You can earn "Charms", or points by accomplishing certain goals. Once you reach a certain threshold, you can redeem these points for full size products. Reviewing products, referring friends, and just being subscribed are all ways to rack up the Charms - I just redeemed some for a full size Lancome Eyeliner worth $27! This is definitely a service where the perks pile up fast. 

Products mentioned:

  • Eyelashi Mink Lashes ($29)
  • Coastal Scents Revealed Palette ($39.95)
  • Be A Bombshell Lipgloss ($14)
  • MISTURA Retractable Powder Brush ($19)
  • Eva NYC Hungry Hair Oil Treatment ($7 for a travel size)
What monthly subscription services are you subscribed to?


Monday, January 5, 2015

Makeup Wars: Workout-Approved

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Working out, getting fit, or losing weight seem to make it into my new year's resolutions every year without fail - and I know I'm not alone! In this week's Makeup Wars, we're talking about our favorite workout-approved products. Personally, I steer clear of makeup during a workout because it never fails to lead to breakouts for my acne-prone skin. But it's a great opportunity to discuss the smudge-proof, budge-proof, and (most-importantly) sweat-proof products I would recommend to everyone - whether you're wearing them to workout, or just survive the summer. In addition to my makeup picks, I wanted to include the essentials I take (or use) nearly every time I workout - check them out below!
  • Best Eyeshadow: This is a 3-way tie. There are so many great waterproof eye formulas out there anymore that it really comes down to your preferred method of application. Here are my picks:
    • Anastasia Waterproof Créme Colors - these cream shadows are not only great worn alone, but also act as eye bases, and even liners!
    • L'Oréal Infallible Eye Crayons - Those that love the easy application and control of a pencil should give L'Oréal's new crayons a go.
    • Colourpop Super Shock Shadow - For cream shadows that come in every color under the sun, pack intense pigmentation, and serious lasting power, these are the way to go!
  • Best Blush: For blush that lasts all day, I always turn to a stain, and Tarte's famous Cheek Stains don't play around when it comes to lasting power.
  • Best Mascara: Although not necessarily my favorite in terms of what it does to my lashes, the most bulletproof mascara I've ever tried (that isn't a complete bear to remove) is blinc Mascara. The tubing formula wraps lashes in mascara, and doesn't flake, budge, or smudge, until you're ready to remove it.
  • Best Highlighter: I get the best lasting power out of liquid and cream products, so when it comes to highlighter I turn to BECCA's Shimmering Skin Perfector. I've fallen in love with the newly launched trio for a healthy sampling of 3 different shades.
Onto the fitness must-haves!
  • Microsoft Band: When I first jumped into the world of fitness trackers, I started with a FitBit. While I loved finally knowing the reality of my daily activity, I began to want more than just an amped up pedometer. This year marks the beginning of wedding dress workouts, so what better time to upgrade the workout tech? I received Microsoft's Band as a Christmas present and have been loving it ever since. It has a built-in heart rate monitor (no need for an uncomfortable chest strap), so it can more accurately track calorie burn, sleep, and workout stats. It also has GPS, so you can immediately see your running or walking route along with speed stats after you sync it with the app on your phone. There are also pre-programmed workouts you can select, and the band will guide you through the reps and exercises. Beyond just fitness, it also lets you know when you have missed calls, texts, emails, and social alerts!
  • ClassPass: My primary fitness source growing up was dance class. I could go to the studio every day, but it never felt like a workout because there was always a new routine to learn, or a competition to focus on. Competition days are long gone, so I've had to turn to alternative workouts. While I love running, sometimes I crave the new challenges and social energy of a class. The solution: ClassPass. For $79 a month, you get access to studios in your city that offer yoga, pilates, kickboxing, barre, and more. You could do a different kind of workout every day of the week - a girlfriend and I even did aerial yoga! Unfortunately, it's not available in every city just yet, but keep checking back to see when it's available in yours.
  • Yoga Mat: If you go the ClassPass route, a yoga matte will be invaluable as it's the #1 item I've found studios will require for class, but charge for if you don't have it. I bought a $20 mat in college, and have toted it around with me ever since! 
  • Yoga Capris: Whether I'm actually doing yoga, running, or trying out a new kind of activity, I LOVE yoga capris. Depending on the activity and ambient temperature, I find I can overheat in full-length pants, but don't feel comfortable in shorts. It might sound unusually specific, but they are a creature comfort I can't get moving without!
  • Bobble: I'm the worst at remembering to bring water to my workout. When I was younger, I made a habit of reaching for bottled water. But I just couldn't bring my older, more environmentally conscious self to do it. As a result, I would often forget to bring water altogether (a no-no if you want to crush your workout from start to finish). I compromised by finding a reusable bottle with a built-in filter!


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Review: Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation and Pressed Powder

Adding to the mix of matte drugstore foundations, Maybelline has launched a new Fit Me foundation duo - the Matte + Poreless Foundation and Pressed Powder. They've also updated their original Fit Me liquid foundation and pressed powder to reflect a "Dewy + Smooth" finish. Given that the original formula wasn't a match for my combination skin, I was eager to give the newest addition a try with the hope that it would provide all-day, flawless matte coverage. Check out action shots of the performance below!

Lets start with the liquid formula. The consistency is thin, which allows for buildable coverage. Whether you want to lightly even out your complexion, or (almost) completely cover minor hyperpigmentation and freckles, this foundation can do it! I'm pretty impressed with the coverage and matte finish this foundation achieves without looking heavy and caky. Unfortunately, the lasting power is a different story. Worn without the accompanying pressed powder, the flawless coverage and matte finish are long gone by the end of the day. While the pressed powder certainly helped extend the wear, it couldn't keep this foundation going for a full 10 hours - I noticed signs of wear and tear around the 6 hour mark.

On to the Pressed Powder. While it's offered in shades that match the coordinating liquid foundation, the Fit Me Matte + Poreless Pressed Powder doesn't offer any additional coverage. It really functions as more of a setting powder, but given the way my foundation wore throughout the day when I used it, it's not a very good one. I would recommend sticking to your preferred setting powder if it's already working for you. 

Overall, I wouldn't recommend either of these foundations. The full coverage and matte finish starts strong, but flops in the end. But that's not to say there aren't good matte foundation alternatives! For those that prefer liquid foundation, I recommend CoverGirl's Ready, Set, Gorgeous Liquid and Powder Foundations. These provide the same buildable coverage with a satin/matte finish. For a truly full coverage matte finish with less room to layer, Rimmel's Stay Matte Mousse Foundation is one of my favorites. And for those that like a stick foundation, Maybelline's Fit Me! Shine-Free foundation is great for layering up to build a flawless matte finish that lasts all day. 

See more pictures after the jump!

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