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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review & Dupes: Melt Cosmetics Love Sick & Dark Matter Eye Shadow Stacks

The word on Melt Cosmetics eye shadow stacks is spreading far and wide across the beauty blogosphere, and I wanted to get in on the fun with a review! While the word is that these shadows are phenomenal, I have to admit that I was sucked in by the unique packaging. The shadows are housed in magnetized disks that stack together nicely, capped with a mirrored disk on top. While this definitely makes them exceptionally compact, those that do their makeup on-the-go frequently, or don't have an area to spread their products out on during application might find it a little cumbersome. Still, the magnets are strong, and stayed intact when I threw them in my purse for the day to see how they fared during travel!

While $48 a stack might seem steep for these, the pans actually contain almost 3 times the product of an average shadow. By weight, they are comparable in price to well-known affordable brand Makeup Geek!

Here are the shades in each stack:

Love Sick

  • Promiscuous: An iridescent, vibrant violet blue (couldn't find a dupe for this shade)
  • Fixated: Matte blue-grey (couldn't find a dupe for this shade)
  • Amelie: Peachy gold duo-chrome (similar to Makeup Geek's Cosmopolitan)
  • Love Sick: Matte burgundy red (couldn't find a dupe for this one)

Dark Matter

  • Blurr: Light matte brown (similar to Makeup Geek's Creme Brulee)
  • Unseen: Medium cool matte brown (similar to Makeup Geek's Frappé
  • Enigma: Rusted red-brown (leans more brown than Makeup Geek's Bitten)
  • Dark Matter: The blackest black you've ever seen! (deeper, and more matte than Makeup Geek's Corrupt)
Overall, these shadows have a drier texture that I think is reflected in the swatches. But make no mistake - they wear beautifully. They are incredibly pigmented even without a primer, and despite being mostly matte textures, there isn't a chalky shadow in the bunch!

These are amazing shadows - definitely worth the fanfare they're receiving! I recommend them to those who want workhorse shadows that they can reach for all the time. 

See more pictures after the jump!

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Monday, February 23, 2015

February IPSY Unbagging and Reviews!

This month, IPSY won the monthly subscription battle! While I subscribe to both it and BOXYCHARM, I rarely have time to feature both. February's IPSY offered a ton of value, and some great discount codes, so it's one I felt needed to be shared. Check out the products I received below, and see them in action in the video above!

Products Included & Discounts:

  • Pencil Me In Cosmetics Natural Eye Liner - Use code IPSY20 for 20% off: While the color I received was beautiful, the formula is a tad dry, and didn't last on my water line. For the money, I recommend Jordana's 12 Hour Made to Last Liquid Eye liner Pencils - they are just as affordable, but are so smooth and creamy, and have unbelievable lasting power. 
  • ModelCo Blush - Get 20% off with code IPSY20: I received the shade Peach Bellini in my bag and am IN LOVE with the shade. The opacity is brilliant, and there's just enough golden shimmer to add a subtle highlight. At $22 a piece, this was an excellent addition to the bag! 
  • Luxie Beauty Large Angled Face Brush - Use code IPSY30 for 30% off your purchase: This is the first I've heard of Luxie Beauty, but I love what I've tried. This full size angled blush brush worked beautifully to blend ModelCo's Blush. Initially, I thought this brush was just $6.40 - a great price! But I've since found it's on sale, and the typical price range for these brushes is between $8 and $18. It's a tad steep, but you can get 30% off the entire site this month with the code above!
  • CARGO Cosmetics New Essential Lip Gloss: This was the biggest bummer in the bag. CARGO's Essential Lip Gloss is supposed to offer high-shine, but instead offered a milky consistency that royally unflattered my dry lips, and fell into my fine lip lines. Fortunately, it was only a mini gloss, so not a lot of product will go to waste. But it's nice to know this is a gloss line I can save my money on!
  • EVA NYC Up All Night Volumizing Spray - Use code EVANYC65 for 65% off: I'm all for trying new volumizing products, so I was happy to receive this in February's bag. Used on damp hair, I found this added just enough texture to the roots to add volume without weighing the ends down. Spritzed on to dry second-day hair, and blown dry, I found it provided a nice refresher that dry shampoo can't (and you don't have to worry about white powder deposits through your hair). Bonus: it acts as a heat protectant, and smells AMAZING. They are offering a stellar discount code as well - so now's the time to try!
What new products are you loving from your monthly subscription?


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Shop My Stash Saturday: Naked 2 Palette

Today's tutorial is brought to you by lovely subscriber Kathleen! She asked if I could "shop my stash" and do a tutorial with some much-loved oldies in my collection. I was more than happy to deliver! She got first request, and picked Urban Decay's Naked 2 Palette. So here it is - a steely grey smoky eye using my favorite shades in the palette. Hope you enjoy it, and leave your requests in the comments below!

Products Used & Reviews:


Top 5 in Under 5: Beauty Innovations

Groundbreaking beauty products are hard to come by (which is why it's taken me so long to compile this list of 5). But occasionally I'll come across a game-changer that uses an innovation in packaging, formula, etc. to make it unlike any other product available. While it's easy to fall prey to gimmicks, I've found 5 products that truly use their unique qualities to blow similar products out of the water. Check them out! 

Top 5 Beauty Innovations:

  • TYRA Oops Liner: Surprisingly the first of its kind, Tyra's doubled-ended liner and corrector draws an ultra-precise jet black line, but comes with a corrector pen for those days when your fine motor skills are taking a snooze. 
  • EM Cosmetics Chiaroscuro: With contour and highlight sticks blowing up big in the beauty community, EM Cosmetics was the first to package the two together in one double-ended stick. The best part: The quality is awesome. Both highlight and contour creams and easily blendadble, and lay nicely over liquid, cream, or powder products.  
  • EDDIE FUNKHOUSER Quatro Variable Lash Mascara: A returning favorite, this mascara has a wand that transforms into 4 different shapes to accommodate multiple lash needs. While there are a few similar mascaras on the market, I found Eddie's formula performed the best on my lashes - no flakes, no smudges, no budging. 
  • MYH Cosmetics TOTL Mascara and Liner: For the minimalist that wants to cut down on the number of products in their daily routine, this should be a go-to. With the twist of a cap, what looks like a normal mascara wand transforms into an ultra-fine liner. While there is a little bit of a learning curve when it comes to application, the end results are awesome. Watch the video above for a demo!
  • Dollup Makeup Case: This is easily my favorite product of the bunch - and by far the most unique! The Dollup Case appears to be a normal (albeit ultra-cute) clutch on the outside, but opens up to become the ultimate beauty work station. Inside, you'll find elastic holsters to hold brushes, liners, lip glosses, and more, and a mirror that swings open to prop the case open, and allow you to do your makeup without fumbling for a mirror. The best part: there's a free-form magnetic palette underneath the mirror! Some of my favorite shadows and blushes come in single pans, but get left out of my travel stash because they're more cumbersome to travel with than a pre-formed palette. Never again with a Dollup! 

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review & Demo: Physicians Formula Nude Wear Touch of Glow Foundation

Among the latest launches in Physicians Formula Spring 2015 collection, the Touch of Glow Foundation ($14.99) was one I knew I had to try. Typically, I reach for foundations with a satin or matte finish - because I always find it's easier to start with a matte canvas and strategically apply highlight, rather than start with a "radiant" base and battle excessive shine all day. But something about this particularly harsh winter had me wanting something a little lighter to get that "lit from within" glow that comes naturally in the spring and summer. I had to see how this "weightless fluid foundation" that offered a "veil of radiance" really performed. 

While this consistency of this foundation is on the thinner side, it blend beautifully into the skin. It looks overwhelmingly dewy when first applied (check out the video above for a demo), but dries down to a soft, powdery finish - leaving a subtle glow along the high points of the face. I think the powdery finish is the key that makes this foundation last as long as it does. I experienced flawless wear over the course of a 10 hour day! 

Unlike the "light" or "barely there" coverage the packaging suggested, I found that two pumps of this foundation almost completely evened out my complexion. I still had to add some additional concealer in my under eye area, and color correction on my cheeks, but it really accomplishes a lot without looking like too much on the skin. 

Final verdict: two thumbs up! If you're interested in trying a lightweight foundation with a radiant finish, this is a great one to pick for the lasting power. The only major downside is the severely limited shade range. Of the two shades available, I use the shade "light", and when I'm not self-tanning, there's a pretty noticeable difference between my natural skin tone and the foundation. There aren't any options for those with fair, medium/deep, and deep skin tones. 

Have you tried Physicians Formula Touch of Glow Foundation?

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Smashbox Double Exposure Palette Review & Tutorials

Smashbox Double Exposure Palette 

Smashbox Double Exposure Palette 
Although I've been using it for quite some time,  I've finally gotten around to creating a tutorial using the Smashbox Double Exposure Palette. Upon posting it, I realized that, while I had talked about it a bit in a Sephora haul, I hadn't given it the review I promised! Today, I'm sharing both - let's get into it!

Like the Full Exposure Palette, the Double Exposure Palette contains 14 shadows. But rather than being split 50/50 between matte and shimmery neutrals, it contains a wide variety of colors that appear satin, or shimmery when used dry, but intensify to deeper metallic shades when foiled with a liquid mixing medium ( ELF's Makeup Lock & Seal is my preferred medium, and the one I use in the tutorial below). Like the original Full Exposure formula, the texture of these shadows leans a little dry - unlike those from the Master Class Palette (from what I've heard). But worn with a base, they can be very subtle, yet buildable. Worn wet, they assume the texture of a cream shadow and blend beautifully into one another. Some shades simply intensify when they transform, but others change color entirely!

For $52, this palette offers a lot of versatility for the both the neutral and adventurous shadow lover. I really recommend it!

See more pictures after the jump!


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review, Swatches, & Demo: NYX Prismatic Shadows in Liquid Gold and Jaded

Metallic shadows are having a moment, but they're so hard to find affordably. Often, they appear metallic in the pan, and translate into an uneven shimmery mess on the lid (although, let's be honest, it isn't just a problem for drugstore products). NYX Prismatic Shadows are some of the latest metallic shadows to hit drugstore shelves - and at $6, they surely won't break the bank. But are they worth it? I picked up a few for myself to try them out.

Of the 12 shades in the line, I picked up 2 - Liquid Gold (warm copper gold), and Jaded (a deep jade green). Both are smooth and creamy to the touch, yet have a somewhat drier texture than I've experience from similar metallic shadows (like Makeup Geek's Foiled Shadows). When applied, the shadows glide on effortlessly, with amazing pigmentation - even without a primer! They recommend applying with a flat brush, but I've also found that packing it straight on the lid with my finger is a great way to build up pigmentation.

In short, these are some amazing shadows that I recommend highly for those looking for a way to incorporate metallic shadows into their look without battling patchy shimmer, or breaking the bank.

What are your favorite metallic shadows?
See more pictures after the jump!

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Review, Swatches, & Comparison: Too Faced Cocoa Contour Face Contouring and Highlighting Kit

Too Faced Cocoa Contour Palette is the latest addition to the brand's extensive line of products meant to help get your glow on. Created as an extension to their well-known Chocolate Soleil Bronzers, the Cocoa Contour kit has the same delicious scent, but includes 4 totally new shades:

  • Light Cocoa - A satin finish setting powder/highlight that's very similar to Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders in Dim Light and Incandescent Light
  • Medium Cocoa - A medium cool brown matte powder
  • Dark Cocoa - A deeper, warm brown matte powder
  • Pop of Light - A gold shimmer with a nearly translucent powder base. 
Medium Cocoa is slightly cooler than Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer, while Dark Cocoa is quite a bit warmer than Chocolate Soleil Bronzer - these are two totally new bronzer shades within the Two Faced line. 

This palette also comes with one of their Teddy Bear Hair Brushes (an angled Bronze Buki brush that's great for contouring), and a booklet with three different ways to use these powders for anything from a light bronzing, to a completely sculpted glam look.  

While the Pop of Light Shade has shimmer that's a little too chunky for my taste, the three Cocoa powders are ultra-fine and blend beautifully both into each other, and into the skin.

If you can get over the shimmer in the Pop of Light powder, I really recommend this palette as minimalist's contour palette dream. With 4 shades, it's very simple, yet has absolutely everything you need to get the job done. The only downside is that, because these shades aren't found elsewhere in the Too Faced Cosmetics Bronzer line (unlike the other collections they've created in the past), you have to re-buy the entire palette when you run out of one shade.
See more pictures after the jump!

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Dupe or dud: BECCA's The One Perfecting Brush versus ELF Ultimate Kabuki Brush

Given how similar they appear to be, I had to put BECCA's The One Perfecting Brush ($49) and ELF Studio Ultimate Kabuki Brush ($10) to the test to see if you absolutely have to splurge, or if you could save on a brush designed to do just about everything. Created to buff, blend, sweep, and stipple, the unique shape of these brushes is that of a long, flat kabuki, and created to apply primer, foundation, concealer, blush, bronzer, contour, and highlighter. While I could easily justify spending $49 on a brush that claimed to replace every face brush in my daily routine, spending $10 is far more attractive. Here's how the two compare:

ELF's Studio Ultimate Kabuki Brush:

  • Synthetic taklon fibers are easy to clean and absorb less product that natural hair
  • A wider brush makes it harder to do more precision work, and fit into the hollows of the cheeks, and temples to apply contour.
  • Longer, widely fanned fibers make for a slightly less responsive brush
BECCA The One Perfect Brush:
  • Natural "non-porous" hair more effectively buffs product in for a flawless finish, but absorbs more product.
  • Shorter bristles, and a more narrow width make it easier to be more precise
  • They recommend using conditioner to keep hair from frizzing - those with skin that's sensitive to hair product will want to keep this in mind.
Despite requiring a little more work, the natural fibers of the BECCA brush blends product together flawlessly, and the narrow width makes it unbelievably easy to work with - even in the toughest crevices. While ELF's wasn't a total dud, it couldn't accomplish nearly as many tasks as BECCAs could due to the size. If you want a brush that does it all, The One Perfecting Brush is the way to go! If you are willing to throw a few more brushes into your daily routine, and save while you're at it, I've included some of my favorite ELF face brushes below (each just $3 each). 
Which brush do you prefer - ELF's or BECCA's?
See more pictures after the jump!

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Review & Swatches: Hourglass Modernist Eyeshadow Palettes in Color Field and Graphite

After falling in love with their unmatched Ambient Lighting Powders, I knew that when Hourglass released their Modernist Eyeshadow Palettes ($58), I would be one of the first in line to give them a try. I purchased the Graphite and Color Field Palettes online about a month ago - I would come to find that I should have popped into a store to give them a swatch beforehand! Each shadow contains 5 shades, and a total of 1 gram of product (the Ambient Lighting Powder Palette contains 3, and retail for the same amount). Steep, but I was hoping they were worth it. 

Graphite was my first pick - the mix of cool and warm tones, and variety of textures made this such an interesting palette to me. Unfortunately, the quality just isn't there. The biggest disappointment was the gold shadow - it was patchy when swatched, and virtually nonexistent when worn. I was also surprised at how patchy the deepest satin taupe shade applied. In the look posted below, you can see how unevenly it lays, and that's after a TON of blending! Needless to say, mine will be going back. 

Color Field is my color kryptonite. I'm the biggest sucker for khaki and olive greens, so this palette called my name. I'm happy to report that the quality is vastly better than that of Graphite! Each shadow is buttery smooth, and supremely pigmented both when swatched, and applied. The only thing holding me back from wholeheartedly recommending this to anyone who asks is how unique the color palette is. Given my obsession with these shades, it's not surprising that I own other palettes that are similar. You can watch the video above for visual comparisons of a few palettes. Ultimately, I concluded that, while there are palettes that provide similar color palettes, the hardest shades to duplicate were the satin finish shades. Nearly all of the more affordable shades were either completely matte, or overwhelmingly shimmery, and some might be looking for the satin finish that falls precisely in the middle - that's exactly what you get with gorgeous light taupes in this palette. 

Overall, if the Color Field palette looks like you want to add to your makeup stash, I recommend it. Just stay away from Graphite!

Have you tried Hourglass Modernist Eyeshadow Palettes?

See more pictures after the jump!

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Beauty Q&A: LORAC Unzipped Gold Palette Dupe, Fiber Mascaras, and more!

Q: What's on your nails?!
A: In the past few videos, I've received lots of questions about my nails. They are actually press-ons! ImPRESS Press on Nails in Swept Away, to be precise. 

Q: Can you recreate the the look you created with LORAC's Unzipped Gold Palette using the Makeup Geek Vegas Lights Palette
A: Not that I could manage! Although the two are gold-themed palettes, there aren't any overlapping shades. Makeup Geek's is much warmer, and includes a metallic cranberry and orange that LORAC's lacks.

Q: Is the Physicians Formula Instant Extensions Mascara similar to the L'Oréal Voluminous False Fiber Mascara once the mascara and fibers are mixed?
A: They are very similar, but I find the fibers in L'Oréal's mascara to be shorter, and more fine. They are better at adding length to the lashes, while Physician's Formula is best for volume. 

Q: Is CoverGirl's Eye Shadow Quad in Blooming Blushes similar to BH Cosmetics Forever Nude palette? 
A: While both have very similar, romantic hues, CoverGirl's leans more purple. Additionally, BH Cosmetics Palette offers more than just shadows - you get lip and cheek products as well! Overall, there's no overlap in shades between the two.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

I need your vote!

Hey, guys! I'm putting up a quick post to ask for your help. I've entered into the Physicians Formula #EyeBooster Video Challenge (you might remember my recent review of the new dynamic lash duo). I created an abbreviated version of how I layer up for fab lashes, and submitted it! If you have a quick minute, I would love it if you took a second of it to vote here! While you're there, you'll want to check out the rest of the fantastic submissions. There are some fun channels in the running that you'll definitely want to subscribe to!

Thank you so much for your continued support - I can't tell you how much it means to me. 


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

January BOXYCHARM Unboxing!

Another month, another great BOXYCHARM box! This month's box is all about celebrating in style - that means getting bronzed and beautiful! Learn more about what I received below:

Products Included:

  • Tarte Maracuja Bronzing Serum ($47)- My new favorite way to self-tan, this serum is light enough to soak quickly into skin without adding any extra weight. The tan develops quickly and evenly, and doesn't become a splotchy mess when it begins to fade.
    • Get 20% off your purchase with code SWEET or BOXYJAN
  • Mirabella Prime for Face ($29) - I prefer primers that feel powdery, rather than sleek and smooth, but Mirabella's primer adds great value to this box!
  • Beauty For Real The Perfect Lip Pencil ($14) - This is a universally flattering nude lip pencil that's perfect for getting the overdrawn look that's so trendy at the moment. 
  • Beauty For Real True Color Lip Cream in Always There ($22) - I wish I had this when I did my marsala roundup! This is the perfect shade between berry red, and brick red, and applied as a smooth, opaque cream lip color.
  • Pur~lisse Skin Sparkle Flash Tattoo ($12) - I've been wanting to try flash tattoos since they first launched, but never knew where I would where them (and thus couldn't justify the purchase). This was the perfect opportunity to give them a try!


Monday, February 2, 2015

Stash Dash Giveaway!

Like everyone, I made a resolution to get my organization act together in the new year. I'm happy to say I accomplished it sooner than anticipated! Last weekend I spent some time doing a much needed dash through my makeup to toss expired products and arrange the rest. During my "Stash Dash", I stumbled across duplicate products I've been saving for a giveaway I never got around to having. Some are press samples I had already purchased prior to receiving them, and some are extras I redeemed using Ipsy points - but all are products I love! For a chance to win it all, enter in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!


Makeup Wars: Drugstore Brand Face-off

On this week's Makeup Wars, it's a battle of the drugstore brands! Each participant chose one affordable brand to focus on and share their favorites, create a look, or a do little bit of both. I opted for the latter and chose to put Physicians Formula in the spotlight. 

Although it's one of the more underrated drugstore brands, there are a ton of hidden gems within Physicians Formula's line. I was reminded of this recently when I brought a few of their products home in a recent drugstore haul. Inspired by the great finds, I combed through the rest of my collection to pull together the best of the best to create a full-face look using nothing but my favorites. Read on to find out what I picked and why:

Full Face Product Picks:

  • Extreme Shimmer Gel Cream Eyeshadow Nude Set - These cream shadows provide a nice shimmery wash of color to the lid, and won't budge for anything! I first tried them without primer or setting powder and found they lasted crease and fade-free all day. 
  • Extreme Shimmer Shadow Nude Palette - Initially, I was concerned this palette would be nothing but blah shadows coated in a glitter overspray. But Physicians Formula didn't disappoint! Each shadow ultra-smooth, highly pigmented, and shimmery through and through. While I applied them dry in this look, they can be used wet to create the ultimate foil finish.
  • Ooh La La Sexy Eyes Trio (Liner pen) - This is an old favorite for me. I fell in love with this entire liner trio when I first tried it last year, but I couldn't get over how pigmented the liquid liner was in particular. I'm happy to say that even after months of use, it still hasn't dried out!
  • Instant Lash Extensions Kit - This is another new find that's a great catch not only because gives lashes crazy volume and length, but because it dupes what a ton of other high end false-fiber mascaras have been trying to do for quite a while.
  • Nude Wear Touch of Glow Foundation - This is yet another new-to-me product that I've already fallen for. Typically, I'm not one to reach for a dewy foundation with my already "glowing" combination skin - but this is the exception. Although I mattify the finish in this look to achieve a more classic pin-up look, this foundation provides a medium coverage, with a luminous finish, and wears evenly and beautifully throughout the day.
  • Concealer Twins 2-in-1 Correct and Cover Cream - My dark circles were putting up a fight when I was putting this look together, so I decided to put them in their place with a one-two punch. This yellow-toned concealer works magic on blue or purple undereye discoloration, while the flesh-tone adds a little more coverage wherever it's needed. While it's not a product I reach for often, I was reminded of what a great multi-taker this concealer is when your undereyes need a little extra TLC. I have a feeling this will find a permanent position in my everyday routine quickly...
  • Youthful Wear Youth-Boosting Mattifying Powder - This is another old favorite that I pulled out when rounding up my brand favorites. Although I use it as a setting powder, it almost provides enough coverage to be used as a standalone foundation. I love the matte airbrushed finish it gives the skin without emphasizing dry patches or fine lines. 
  • BB All In 1 Bronzer Blush - It's safe to say I'm no stranger to Physicians Formula bronzers (check out the video at the bottom of the post for a complete guide to the Physicians Formula bronzer line). They make some of the best in the drugstore, with every finish imaginable. So when I saw one of their new additions while browsing ULTA's site, I had to give it a try. This dual-sided pan is fantastic for those with light/medium skin tones that want a bronzer, contour, and pink-toned blush all in one product.
  • Sexy Booster Sexy Glow Glossy Stain in Red (a near-perfect dupe for Urban Decay's Revolution Lipstick in 69) - This stain packs a serious red punch with a gorgeous glossy finish. While some glossy stains can leave you with dry, patchy lips a few hours after the finish has worn off, this isn't one of them. My lips feel completely comfortable throughout wear. Bonus: it leans slightly blue, so your teeth look whiter!

See more pictures after the jump!

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

What's New At the Drugstore Valentine's Day Tutorial

Getting a soft, romantic look for Valentine's Day (or any romantic occasion) doesn't mean you have to break the bank! I put together a purple smoky eye, with a few lip options, using some of the new products hitting drugstore shelves for Spring 2015. Watch the tutorial to learn how to get the look from start to finish, then hit up your nearest drugstore ASAP - these are some products you don't want to miss out on!

Products Used: