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In favorites, review on
June 2, 2016

May 2016 Favorites

Confession: I’m a summer-hater. Yep, I hate the warmer weather, and the long days spent feeling like I’m trapped inside the house because it’s too hot to do anything outside. I’m a fall/winter kind of girl. I want cloudy skies, the crunch of dead leaves (or better yet, snow! but good luck finding that in Vegas), and curling up under a blanket to binge-watch Netflix, burn candles, and crack the window to let in a bit of the crisp air. Every summer month that I can check off the list is one less month of tortuous heat, and one step closer to the few blissful months of cooler weather. So am I sad to see May go? Nope, not at all. Ok, maybe a little bit, but only because we’ve had an extraordinarily mild spring and early summer. Up until last week, it was still cool enough to leave the windows open. Ahh, if only it was like that all the time. Another good thing about the end of the month? New favorites! I’ve got some great products to talk about today, so let’s get to it.

 

Missha Near Skin pH Balancing Cleansing Gel

If you’ve been following my Instagram (@hey_itscristine) for the last 2 months, this first product will come as no surprise. I post my skincare routine most nights, and this cleanser has been featured almost every night since I first received it in a Jini Beauty Box (reviews and additional information about Jini Beauty can be found here). In terms of the greater K-beauty landscape, make no mistake, this is a kinda boring cleanser. But it works wonderfully, which is the most important part when you have skin that likes to act out on a regular basis. The Missha Near Skin pH Balancing Cleansing Gel is a low pH cleanser (raise your hand if you’re riding that #lowphlife wave), foams gently, doesn’t strip my skin but still leaves my face feeling clean, and it has also helped to get my acne under control. Since using it, I have fewer breakouts, my skin tone is more even, and my skin is striking a more even balance between oil and hydration. Bonus: the scent is totally non-assaulting. It’s a soft herbal scent (garden herbal, not Woodstock herbal) and it’s not strong enough to be headache inducing unless you’re super sensitive to fragrance. My skin is acne-prone, clog-prone, and oily-dehydrated (man that was a lot of hyphens), so I tend to end up in a weird skincare limbo with many products. Products that are geared toward oily skin tend to be too harsh and make my skin feel like a raisin, and products aimed at dry skin often leave me feeling like a grease ball. Finding the right balance for my skin sometimes feels like a bit of a mythical quest, but I feel like I just leveled up with this cleanser. Just before this cleanser arrived, I had been buying up low pH cleansers left and right. I now have a cabinet full of low pH cleansers, but most days, this is the only one I even consider reaching for.

From Beauteque:

Ingredients: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Water, Lauramidopropyl Betaine, PEG-8, Dipropylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Glycerin, Sodium benzoate, Spring Water (?), Licorice Extract, Diospyros Kaki Leaf Extract, Ganoderma Lucidum (Mushroom) Extract, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Silk Amino Acids, Quillaia Extract, Sapidus Mukurossi Peel Extract, Yucca Schidigera Root Extract, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Citric Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizinate, Sodium Hydroxide, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Butylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl glycol, Ethylene glycol phenyl ether, Disodium EDTA, Chlorphenesin, Fragrance

Mmm, just look at those extracts. This is a total under-the-radar product, likely because of its lack of bells and whistles, as well as it not being carried by many of the major Western shops, but I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a good one.

Where to find it: Beauteque $20.99+shipping, $15.99 eBay via RubyRubyStore (one of RoseRoseShop’s eBay stores), VutyDesign $16.45+shipping

Marc Anthony 3 Day Smooth Perfect Blow Dry Cream

This next item is as much of a surprise to me as it is to you. I received the Marc Anthony Perfect Blow Dry Smoothing Cream in an Ipsy bag a few months ago, and to be honest, I kind of rolled my eyes at it. Another smoothing cream that was going to do basically nothing for my problem child hair, I thought. I was so wrong. Well, kinda. Its smoothing powers are about on par with every other smoothing cream, serum, or oil I’ve ever tried: it kinda smooths my hair if I heat style it, but it’s no miracle worker. I still end up with the world’s least regal lion’s mane, but like, zoo lion instead of wild lion. Think the before picture of Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries. My hair is poofy and frizzy no matter what, unless I heat style it or don’t brush it. I’ll let you guess which one I usually choose. So if it didn’t do much to tame my hair, then why is it a favorite?

Because this stuff holds my style better than literally anything I have ever used. I have a metric shitton of hair, it’s heavy, stubborn, and you betta believe it doesn’t hold a curl for more than a few hours, and that’s if I’m lucky. I first began to realize that this was holding my style during my last trip to San Francisco. I had straightened my hair before I left Vegas to keep it more manageable for the next couple of days, but at the end of the day, I’m all about that #bunlife. When I let my hair down the next morning, my hair was less dented than usual, and I could actually get away with leaving my hair as it was rather than having to fire up my flat iron to straighten out the kinks. At this point, I thought maybe I just hadn’t twisted my hair as tightly as usual, or that I hadn’t managed to squish my hair into the hotel pillow as violently as I do at home. I began to realize it wasn’t all in my head when I braided my hair the next day, let it out later in the day, and still had perfectly formed waves at dinner. I can get my waves to stay if I braid my hair when it’s wet, but never when it’s dry. The icing on the cake didn’t occur until I got home and decided to curl my hair one day to test my hypothesis, which ended up being correct. It held my curls all day, and if I’m careful about the way I put my hair up at night, I actually have the mythical, magical, second day curls. I never in a million years thought I would have second day curls. Back in the day when I was still using a curling iron with a clip instead of the clipless curing wand I use now, I could barely manage to achieve second hour curls. Hair spray, no hair spray, didn’t matter, my curls always fell, even if I clipped them to cool. The Marc Anthony Smoothing Cream holds my style without making it feel crunchy or caked with product, which is important to me because I run my hands through my hair a lot. It smells like vanilla, which isn’t my favorite scent in the world, but the scent doesn’t hang around and compete with my perfume after it’s dry, so it really doesn’t bother me. I’m so, so in love with this product. I can finally curl my hair without feeling like I just wasted my time!

Where to find it: Ulta $8.99+shipping, Drugstore.com $8.99+shipping

Thierry Mugler Alien Eau de Parfum

Speaking of perfume, I can’t believe I haven’t included this one in a favorites post yet. I remembered to include it in this one because when I was at the movies two weeks ago, the woman working behind the counter seemed like she was ready to climb over the counter and start following me around, Pluto style.

 

For the record, this is also how one of my cats, Nicholas, sniffs things. That’s how he’s ended up snorting ants and getting stung in the nose by a bee.

During the brief transaction, she must have told me I smelled amazing at least 3 times. I can’t blame her, I felt the same way the first time I smelled Alien by Thierry Mugler. It’s a truly unique scent. It’s sweet, metallic, slightly woody, reminds me of raw crystals before they’ve been polished, and somehow smells a bit like sunlight, which is part of the inspiration behind the fragrance. It’s powerful without being overpowering or dominating, yet sweet and approachable, like meeting someone who’s kinda famous, but not like, famous famous. There’s something wildly intoxicating about it, something that’s equal parts cozy and exciting. It’s a wonderful fragrance, and after wearing it most days for the last five months, I’m still completely in love. You’ve got to smell this fragrance, and make sure to spray it on your skin for the full effect. It smells nice in the air or on paper, but on skin, it’s magic.

Where to find it (1 oz refillable bottle): Sephora $80, Ulta $80, Macy’s $29 roller ball, $80 1 oz

Paqui Haunted Ghost Pepper Tortilla Chips

You may be wondering why there’s a bag of chips in the main image for this post. No, they’re not a beauty product, but I need to talk about them anyway because these chips are fucking amazing. I love spicy food and have yet to find anything that’s actually too spicy.  I’m a hot sauce on ‘errthang kind of gal, and if something is hot enough to make my eyes water, it’s a keeper. When I tried these chips, I just about died from happiness. They’re tortilla chips coated with a blend of spices that includes ghost peppers, with a hint of smokiness. They’re so gloriously spicy, but still flavorful. I had tears streaming down my cheeks from the spiciness, and kept muttering “They’re so good…” over and over again to my sister, who was looking at me like I had lost my mind. Paqui is a smaller company, so these chips may be difficult to find in your area (there’s a store locator on their website, see below), but if you love spicy food, these are so, so worth the effort to hunt them down. I have to go out of my way to get them because they’re not sold at my regular grocery store, but for these chips, I’ll do it. I’m so in love with these chips, I held on to the empty bag for two weeks. Yeah, I’m in a committed snacking relationship with these chips.

Where to find it: Paqui.com $3.99, Store locator

Nyx Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade

Another new addition in my life is the Nyx Tame and Frame Tinted Brow Pomade. For the past couple of years, I’ve been using Anastasia Beverly Hills brow powder, but recently I’ve noticed I have a few stubborn spots that don’t hold onto powder well. Brow pencils would have been the most simple, logical solution, but they kind of freak me out. I like my brows to look natural, but they can go from 0 to ‘please make your eyebrows stop staring at me’ with one wrong move, which lord knows my resting bitch face does not need. Power brows are not a good look on me.

This pomade seemed like it would be a great solution to my problem because it’s not crazy opaque like the ABH Brow Pomade and doesn’t give the harsh line of a pencil, but sticks to the skin better than powder. I’m so glad I tried this product, because not only has it solved my problem, it’s also made doing my brows quicker and easier, plus I’m able to shape my brows (especially the tail) more. I love having that added bit of control. The highs have been getting into the 90s in the past two weeks, and so far the Nyx Tame & Frame has stayed in place perfectly without smudging or fading. A common complaint that I hear about the ABH Brow Pomade is that it’s too intense, but that’s not a problem with this product. My brows look perfectly filled in without being too over the top. Love it!

Where to find it: Ulta $6.99+shipping, Nyx $7.00+shipping

Essence Make Me Brow

Another possible brow dupe I’ve been investigating is the Essence Make Me Brow as a possible alternative to the infamous Benefit Gimme Brow. I absolutely love the Gimme Brow, but I noticed the Essence Make Me Brow as I was scrolling through Target’s beauty section one day, and thought I’d give it a try since it’s so much cheaper. I love Essence’s lip liners and their All About Matt powder (though I won’t repurchase that because the packaging fell apart on me >.<), so I was pretty optimistic about trying the Make Me Brow. Luckily, Essence didn’t let me down.

The two products are almost identical, the main differences being that the Make Me Brow is slightly more wet, which gives it a better hold, and the ‘Blondy Brows’ color is just a touch warmer than its Benefit counterpart. This is actually perfect for me because I need that extra bit of warmth to counteract the ashy tones in my eyebrows and help them match my (dyed) red hair. I also feel like the Make Me Brow does a better job of holding my brow hairs in place without making them crunchy. The one advantage that I feel like the Benefit Gimme Brow has over the Essence Make Me Brow is the amount of fibers each contains. The Benefit Gimme Brow seems to have more fibers, making it easier to make brows look full and voluminous. However, this could just be because I only have a sample size of the Benefit Gimme Brow, which could mean that the fibers are more densely packed than they would be in a full sized product. I would totally recommend this product if you’re looking for a good tinted brow gel, and especially if you’re trying to find a cheaper alternative to the Benefit Gimme Brow.

Where to find it: Target $2.99+shipping, Ulta $2.99+shipping

Benefit Dew The Hula

Benefit makes some of my favorite products, so it’s really no surprise to me when they knock another one outta the park. I snagged the Benefit Dew The Hula liquid bronzer as soon as it was available as a sample at Sephora, but quickly did a double-take when I saw it in person. When I first pumped it on the back of my hand, I thought there was no way in hell this bronzer was going to work on my pale skin.

Turns out, it’s a gorgeous bronzer on pale skin, but the downside is that it pretty much only works on fair to light-medium skin, even medium-deep skin is a bit of a stretch once it’s blended out. I really hope they make some darker shades of this so that everyone can use it, because it’s an awesome product. The way it blends out looks so natural, and reminds me of watercolor. You can see it in action in the photo below:

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My favorite way to apply it is to stipple it on with a MakeupGeek Cheek Highlighter Brush, then go over it with a damp BeautyBlender to really press it into the skin. A lot of liquid products dry too quickly, making them difficult to blend out, but I haven’t found that to be a problem with this. The one problem I have with this (other than the color selection) is that it’s not sweat-proof. It’ll hold up through a normal day’s wear just fine, but if you live in a hot/humid climate, it’ll come off as soon as you start sweating. Other than that, I absolutely love this product. I think it’ll work best on a yellow or olive undertone, it would probably look orange if you have a pink undertone or are any lighter than MAC NC 15, which is the shade I wear.

Where to find it: $28+shipping at Benefit, Birchbox, Sephora, Ulta

ColourPop Smokin’ Whistles

What goes better with bronzer than a bangin’ highlight? Answer: nothing. I’ve had the ColourPop highlighter in Smokin’ Whistles for several months now, and I just keep falling more in love with it. I have trouble finding a highlighter that contrasts enough with my pale skin that it really stands out, but doesn’t look too icy. Even though I’m quite pale, I have olive undertones, which makes anything that’s too icy look super weird against my skin, and golden highlights blend in to my skin color too much to really give that wet look.

Smokin’ Whistles has a slightly beige undertone that makes it work well on my skin tone, plus a ton of super fine microglitter that makes it pop, especially in the sunlight. It goes on super smooth without looking chunky, and sinks into the skin like a cream, but has the durability and finish of a powder without looking too dry.

It’s absolutely stunning, and something you should definitely consider picking up if you have fair to medium skin. You can see it in use in the photo below.

Where to find it: ColourPop $8+shipping (listed as Smoke N Whistles on the website, but the label on my product says Smokin’ Whistles, so that’s what I usually refer to it as)

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SocialEyes Minx Lashes

When I first ordered the SocialEyes Minx lashes, I had no idea what I was going to do with them, I just knew I wanted to try something a bit spikier since it was out of my comfort zone. I’ll be honest, I was totally intimidated by this style at first. I was worried they’d look too chunky, and I didn’t know what the hell to pair them with. As I was putting the finishing touches on the look shown above, I was going through all of my lashes trying to find the right combination, but nothing looked right. Finally, I tried these, and voila! Perfect! I’ve received loads of compliments on these lashes, both online and in-person, so clearly my apprehension was unwarranted. SocialEyes has become my go-to lash brand because they’re such great quality at an affordable price. They’re also vegan and cruelty-free!

Where to find it: SocialEyes $6.95+shipping

Sunglass Spot Sunglasses

These have quickly become my favorite sunglasses. I was tired of buying Forever21 sunglasses that were cute, but shitty quality, and I didn’t want to splurge on a style I wasn’t sure I was going to like. I found SunglassSpot on Instagram and decided to order a few pairs since they’re only $5. These ended up being my favorite style. I like that they have a nose piece because my nose is so small that I have an issue with sunglasses sliding down my face all the time, so these stay in place better than most. I love the way this style feels a little bit retro because of the cat eye, yet modern because of the cutout. I think they look super chic, and the quality actually is better than the glasses I was buying from Forever21, though still not as high quality as designer sunglasses. They have dupes for a lot of the sunglass styles you’ve probably seen floating around Instagram, so if there’s something you’ve been eyeing but don’t want to spend the money on, or want to try a cheaper version first before splurging on the designer style, check their website because there’s a pretty good chance they’ll have what you’re looking for.

Where to find it: SunglassSpot $5+shipping

Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Naked2 and Turn On

I’m going to make a bold proclamation: this is my favorite lipstick ever. EVER. Naturally, because I’m in love with it, it appears to be discontinued. Urban Decay revamped their entire lipstick line, keeping many of the original colors as well as bringing out new ones for a total of 120 shades now under the Vice name. I snagged Naked2 and Turn On when the Revolution lipsticks were marked down to $11 as they were being phased out. So why bother mentioning a product that’s no longer available? Two reasons: there may still be some stragglers available, (so if you see them, swoop them up!!) and because I suspect that Naked2 may have just gotten a new name: Safe Word. I haven’t seen Safe Word in-person yet, so I can’t confirm with 100% certainty that they’re the same shades, but they look incredibly similar in Temptalia’s swatches, so even if they aren’t the exact same, that’ll be the closest dupe (or possibly Insanity). I’ve always struggled with finding a lipstick that actually looked nude on me and not just pink, but Naked2 has just enough brown to make it my perfect nude.

Naked2 on the lips:

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I’ve also been loving Turn On for the spring/summer because it’s a bright, juicy raspberry pink that doesn’t look too shocking. I’d describe it as Anarchy’s more responsible younger sister. In the new formula, it looks similar to Afterdark, but they’re not exact dupes as Afterdark appears to be a hair darker and has microglitter.

Where to find it: Naked2 Belk $11, Ulta $11+shipping, couldn’t find Turn On anywhere

Algenist Power Eye Serum

Rounding out my May favorites is Algenist Power 360 Eye Serum. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was doing a whole lot, but when I forgot to use it for a few days, I noticed a big difference. This serum makes my fine lines less visible, and my eye area appears smoother and more firm.

My favorite part about it is the texture. It feels more like a face primer that a typical eye cream. It sinks into my skin quickly and easily, and most importantly, it doesn’t migrate and get into my eyes. I have extremely sensitive eyes, so if a product is too creamy and slides around, I wake up with red, irritated eyes the next day, no matter how careful I am about keeping the product a safe distance from my actual eyeball when I apply it. This eye serum has never irritated my eyes at all, which is a welcome relief.

From Algenist.com:

Ingredients: Water (Aqua, Eau), Dimethicone, Isododecane, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Polysilicone-11, Isohexadecane, Pentylene Glycol, Algae Exopolysaccharides, Chlorella Protothecoides, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract, Darutoside, Polygonum Bistorta Root Extract, Nannochloropsis Oculata Extract, Albizia Julibrissin Bark Extract, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, N-Hydroxysuccinimide, Chrysin, Mica, Adenosine, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 80, Pullulan, Tocopheryl Acetate, Steareth-20, Disodium EDTA, Chlorhexidine Digluconate, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol.

It’s expensive, but in my opinion, it’s totally worth it. I’ve always heard good things about Algenist, and I think it’s about time I hopped on that bandwagon.

Where to find it: Sephora $70 (0.5 fl oz/15 ml), Algenist $28 (0.17 fl oz/5 ml)

What were your favorite products this month?

—Cristine

In favorites on
May 6, 2016

April 2016 Favorites

If this was a food blog, the picture below would be the absolutely delicious flatbread pizza I had for lunch today, or maybe the spicy vegetable soup I made last Friday night. Alas, we’re talking about beauty favorites today, so you’ll have to find your foodporn elsewhere. And, uh, sorry if I just made you hungry. On the bright side, I’ve got some great products to share with you today.

First up, the two foundations I’ve been absolutely in love with for the past couple of months.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Liquid Makeup in Shade 1
Urban Decay Naked Skin is one of my favorite foundations I’ve ever used. Not only is shade 1 the closest color match for my apparently weird skin tone (#PaleOliveProblems), it’s amazingly lightweight, comfortable, makes my oily-dehydrated skin look good, and provides just the right amount of coverage (for me). 
Urban Decay Naked Skin Liquid Makeup in Shade 1
If you’re a hardcore full-coverage foundation lover, you probably won’t like this foundation, but if you enjoy a light to medium coverage there’s a good chance you’ll love this. It looks like skin and lasts for several hours, but its one major flaw is that it doesn’t stand up to humidity or sweat. That’s part of why I’ve been mixing it with one of my other favorite foundations…
Rimmel Lasting Finish foundation in shade 100 Ivory
I picked up the Rimmel Lasting Finish foundation after I heard Kayla Hagey (Instagram, YouTube) recommend it, and it definitely did not disappoint. I have this in two shades 90 and 100 (above), which was the shade I originally purchased because I had heard that it was good for people with an olive undertone. I definitely would say that it’s one of the most green-toned pale(ish) foundations available, and definitely one of the best foundations from the drugstore. Unfortunately it’s a bit too dark for me, and shade 90 is way too pink. Mixed together, they make a color that is nowhere near my skin tone no matter what ratio I use, so I tried mixing it with the Urban Decay Naked Skin. 
Rimmel Lasting Finish foundation in shade 100
Ho-ly shit. Not only is it a perfect color match for me, it’s basically my perfect foundation formulation too. The Rimmel Lasting Finish holds up very well to sweat and humidity, and has a thicker, higher coverage than the Urban Decay Naked Skin. Basically, it makes up for anything that could be considered a flaw about the Urban Decay Naked Skin, without adding any of its own flaws to the mixture. In fact, I would actually call the Rimmel Lasting Finish a perfect foundation, except for one little thing: it doesn’t have a pump. Even without a pump, it’s one of the best foundations I’ve ever used, drugstore or high-end. I’ll be doing full reviews of both of these foundations later, but in the mean time, feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments down below.
Ah, we meet again my old friend.
My next favorite is a mascara I’ve purchased over and over again, which is really saying something since I almost never repurchase mascara. Between subscription boxes and gifts with purchase, I basically have no need to purchase mascara (or black eyeliner) for at least the next year, but the one thing I didn’t have in my stash was a waterproof mascara. I’d used the Covergirl Lash Blast Waterproof for a couple of years when I was a teenager, but as my stash grew, I stopped repurchasing it. After using it again, I’m reminded of why I love it. As the weather gets warmer, my mascara has a tendency to smudge, but this mascara stays put all day. It also helps my lashes to stay curled, which is an issue I’ve only been having for the last year or two. I normally prefer lengthening mascaras to volumizing ones, mostly because volumizing mascaras tend to be too clumpy for my liking, but this one keeps my lashes separated. There are two downsides to this mascara: first, that it’s quite dry, which can make the lashes feel a little bit crunchy. Second, it’s a bitch to remove. So much so that when I’m feeling lazy, I’ll take off all of the rest of my makeup and just leave the mascara ’til morning. It’s the only makeup I ever sleep in, but I love this mascara enough that I’m willing to forgive its flaws. 
If you’re wondering what nail polish I’m wearing, it’s Julep Florence.
The Sinful Colors Sinful Shine Top Coat is a surprise favorite. Not so much because it’s cheap, since I already know I love Sinful Colors polishes, but because it significantly outperforms the majority of the other top coats I’ve tried. The photo you see above is my nails after almost a week and I’m just starting to get tip wear, which is practically unheard of for me since I’m quite rough on my hands. The only top coat I can compare this to is cult-favorite Seche Vite, but I definitely prefer this top coat. The formula of Sinful Shine is very thin, as opposed to the thick, goopy texture of Seche Vite. The thinner formula also means that my polish doesn’t peel off in whole sheets like it sometimes did with Seche Vite. It also doesn’t change the color of my polish, which is a problem I had with Seche Vite. Seche Vite would give a slightly yellow tint to my polish, which was more noticeable with some polishes than others. I’ve used Sinful Shine with several different formulations of polish, and it’s worked beautifully with all of them. I can’t find anything negative to say about this top coat, it’s wonderful. 
The Smashbox BB Cream Eyes has been a favorite for quite some time now. Unfortunately this concealer has a few negatives, but it’s still one of my favorite concealers. Concealers are a tricky product for me in general since I have ungodly dark circles under my eyes, but this is one of the most pigmented concealers I’ve tried that doesn’t have the heavy, creamy texture that tends to slide around or melt off throughout the day. It stays in place wonderfully without making my under eye area look dry, and with the added SPF, it’s my go-to concealer for summer.
Smashbox BB Cream Eyes in Fair/Light
It’s a totally underrated concealer, but there are a few flaws which are what I suspect prevents it from being talked about more frequently in the beauty community. First, the packaging is messy. The brush-tip applicator does make it easy to apply, which is a plus, but while spreading the product, it tends to get messy, and like all other concealers that dispense this way, it’s difficult to control how much product comes out, often leading to a messy cap. It’s also got a limited color range, and none of the colors match me exactly. I use Fair/Light first, almost like a color corrector, then apply Fair on top to get it to match my skin tone. Together, they work amazingly to conceal my dark circles, and it lasts all day. Considering the issues I have with concealers, I’m willing to forgive a little mess.
I’ve been loving the Naked Cosmetics pigment in Sierra Nevada since I received it in an Ipsy bag. I just can’t resist that gorgeous gold shine. It actually reminds me a lot of Urban Decay’s eyeshadow in Midnight Cowboy Rides Again, a shade which I love dearly, but often avoid because of the glitter fallout. Sierra Nevada provides a similar effect without the fallout, so I’ve been turning to this as an alternative. It’s surprising that a pigment could be less messy than a pan eyeshadow, but somehow, it is.
Naked Cosmetics Pigment in Sierra Nevada
Another product that I received in an Ipsy bag was the ‘Just Blending In’ brush from L.A.B.² It’s an excellently crafted brush—the bristles are just the right length, with the right amount of give to create a easy blend. 
As an added bonus, it’s super affordable at $6.99, but you’d never know it from the quality. The bristles are soft, it doesn’t shed at all, and the entire brush feels very sturdy. 
If you’re looking for a way to add some color to your look for summer, the Urban Decay 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Woodstock is an easy, gorgeous way to do it. 
It’s got a fine brush tip that makes it easy to draw a wing, and it truly is long-wearing. This even holds up to my watery eyes, though I don’t think it’s quite waterproof enough that it could withstand swimming underwater—but you’re welcome to try. Just be sure to shake it up first for full color payoff. 
I’ve also been loving the Afterglow blushes from Urban Decay. I have Video and Kinky, but I’m totally dying for the whole line. They’re basically my perfect blush. They’re blendable and buildable, and offer a great range of shades that will suit every skin color from fair to deep. They’re also wonderfully silky. For me, blush is a product I can easily do without, but these have me reaching for them almost every day.
Video—Matte dusty rose
Kinky—apricot with a subtle gold microshimmer

Left: Kinky Right: Video
The final products I want to talk about today are two lip + cheek pencils from Nudestix. The first, Whisper, is a cool-toned muted rose.
Nudestix Lip + Cheek Pencil in Whisper

The other shade I’ve been loving is Mystic, which is a soft raspberry shade. I love both of these because they’re such easy to wear, comfortable lip products. There’s a bit of a difference between the formula of the two shades: Mystic is a bit glossier and a bit more hydrating, but they’re both excellent products. 
Nudestix Lip + Cheek Pencil in Mystic

Left: Whisper Right: Mystic They look super similar here, but Mystic is warmer and more red than Whisper is in-person.
That’s it for this month’s favorites. It was really a couple of months worth of favorites since it’s been a little while since my last favorites post. Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these products and what your favorites were this month. If you’d like to, you can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

My Favorite Make Up and Skincare Products of 2015 (Plus a few non-beauty favorites!)

Most of these year-end favorites posts begin with a look back on the year, but to be honest I really don’t care, and you probably don’t either, so let’s just get to the good stuff.

Eyes:

Makeup Geek Poppy (coral) and Creme Bruleé (peachy tan) have become two of my all-time favorite eye shadows. Both blend beautifully, and on my pale skin, Creme Bruleé is an awesome transition. Poppy is easily one of my most-used shadows of the past year, and I’ve said before that I’ll find any excuse to work it into a look because I just love the warmth that it adds, especially to neutral looks. Confession: I’ve actually used Poppy on my brows when they were coming off a bit too cool-toned for my liking. Sounds horrifying, but as long as you use a light hand, it works wonders and no one will be able to tell that you have a coral eye shadow in your brows.
I love these two palettes from Anastasia Beverly Hills (World Traveler, bottom, and Self-Made, top). I think they’re an excellent value for the money and with the exception of one shadow in each palette, they perform beautifully. I’m especially fond of the titanium finish shadow included in both of these palettes, Pink Champagne. It has an incredible reflective quality, similar to a foiled eye shadow, and it can really alter the look of other shadows depending on how you layer it. I also really love Morocco and Intense Gaze from the World Traveler palette, and Blush and Sherbert (especially in the crease) from the Self-Made palette. In general, I love the formula of the ABH eye shadows and I can’t wait to get more (come to mommy, Henna, you beautiful orange gem).
The Julep Gel Eye Gliders are such an underrated product. These are the softest, silkiest eye pencils I’ve ever used. Not even Urban Decay makes liners as soft as these, and I don’t have the same problem with these smearing that I do with many of the Urban Decay 24/7 pencils. These truly do glide when you apply them, so much so that I’m sometimes not even sure if I’m touching the pencil to my skin. The formula of these is just absolutely beautiful, and I plan on purchasing the entire line eventually. I already have several more of these, but I wanted to include my two most-used shades, which are Champagne Shimmer and Bronze Shimmer. I love Champagne Shimmer as an inner corner highlight, and Bronze Shimmer is a great alternative to black for adding definition without the harshness of a black liner.
You can tell I really love a product when I’ve worn the writing off of it! On the right is ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in XO, which was part of the limited edition collaboration with Shannon from Shaaanxo. I love all of the shadows in her ColourPop collection, but this one is my absolute favorite. I love it as an inner corner highlight or all over the lid. It’s a more neutral gold than many of the others in my collection, which is part of why I wear it so much, it’s just so versatile! I’m going to be so sad when I run out of this shadow. On the left is ColourPop Mixed Tape which also gets a lot of use from me. Because of my uber-dark under-eye circles, I have trouble wearing purple eye shadows without emphasizing the darkness under my eyes, but between the satin finish and the slight grey and brown tones, Mixed Tape is a lot more flattering on me than most other purples.

Face:

The Julep Blank Canvas Mattifying Face Primer is another underrated product. I wouldn’t say that it’s mattifying in the sense that it controls oil throughout the day, it’s more like it gives you a soft matte finish to start with. Most primers make my skin feel oily because of the slippery silicone texture, but this primer has a gel texture that has a slight amount of slip and a slight amount of stick, allowing the foundation to blend nicely while helping it to stick to the skin and last longer. This primer is especially helpful when my skin is dry or I have flaky patches from healing breakouts because it helps to smooth out those areas. For that reason, I’d highly recommend this for combination skin. It would also work well for mildly oily or mildly dry skin, but if you’re at either extreme of the spectrum, you’re better off going with a primer that will infuse moisture or control oil. This is my absolute favorite primer of all time, and no matter what I try, I always go back to this one. 
The Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Flawless Fluide is another product I always return to. The shade I have, Vanillé, is actually a bit too dark for me right now (actually all of my foundations are too dark for me right now, I’ve been somehow getting even more pale than I already was. Pretty soon I’ll be translucent -.-), but I’ve still been trying to make it work because I really enjoy the formula. One thing I want to be sure to mention about this foundation is that many people feel that it’s not enough coverage for them. With one layer, it’s a light to medium coverage, but I almost always apply two layers to cover up the redness and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in my skin, and with two layers it’s a solid medium to soft full coverage. My favorite way to apply it is with a flat foundation brush (the kind that looks like a paint brush), then I go over it with a beauty blender to make sure there are no brush strokes, but I also like applying it with my fingers to reduce product loss. It’s a very thin, runny consistency, but it’s also very pigmented, which is what I love most about it. Because of the texture, it looks very much like skin, more so than any other foundation I’ve used. It also doesn’t emphasize dry patches or make me feel oily throughout the day. When it comes to makeup, the two things I’m most fussy about are my skin and my lashes, so I don’t mind applying two layers to get a beautiful finish with the amount of coverage that I want, especially since this is one of the only foundations I can keep on my face during the summer without melting into a puddle or getting streaks from sweat (TMI? maybe, but it’s a very real problem when you live in a place that’s hotter than Satan’s balls). 
The Laura Mercier Translucent setting powder is a more recent addition to my routine, but I spent about half of this year searching for a setting powder that wouldn’t make my skin look dry and cakey, and this has been the winner. I’ve mentioned before that when a product gets a lot of hype, I go running in the other direction, and this product was no exception. I tried several other powders before finally giving this one a try, and even then, I was only willing to give it a try because it was 30% off. What finally pushed me over the edge with this product (other than the sale) was the fact that it’s actually translucent rather than white, like many of the other most raved about setting powders are, such as the one from NARS. Several of my friends have recommended that one to me, and I’ll probably try it at some point out of sheer curiosity, but white powders freak. me. out. I don’t care how pale I am, I want to avoid a white cast or, even worse, flash back. Depending on how matte I want my skin to be that day, I apply it with either a beauty blender or a fluffy powder brush, like the Real Techniques blush brush. I’m not about to sit here and tell you “OMG it’s a miracle product!!!!!” because it’s not, it will still make your skin look a bit dry if you have dry skin or oily-dehydrated skin like I do, but for me it’s been far, far preferable to the other powders I’ve used, especially because it’s so silky. I have to set my foundation to keep it from moving around, and this is the best way I’ve found to do that so far. So is it worth the hype? Yes and no. No, in the sense that people talk it up to be some kind of sent-from-the-gods product, but yes in the sense that it’s a damn good powder. 
The Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (Poured) in Opal and the Benefit Watts Up! are my absolute favorite highlighters. I tend to prefer cream highlighters to powder because I like the way that they blend in to the skin rather than sitting on top of it, which is a big part of why I like these so much. They also blend out without disturbing my foundation or making it break up throughout the day. I’d say that the glow from Becca Opal is more intense than Benefit Watts Up, so I reach for Watts Up on more natural or casual days, and Opal when I want to do the happy highlighter dance (you know what I’m talking about—when you keep moving your face around to catch the glow of your highlighter, I know you do it too!). 
I’m not much of a blush person, partially because my cheeks are where I tend to break out the most and I don’t want to ruin my concealer, and partially because I’m so pale that I can go from zero to clown in two brush strokes. I can easily skip blush and be perfectly happy most days, but these are two of my favorites for both color and formula. I have a full review and swatches on Vasanti Himalayas here, It remains one of my favorite blushes because of how buildable and versatile it is. I can use a light hand for a soft rosy flush, or layer it for a more intense look. I’m especially fond of colors such as Himalayas and ColourPop Between The Sheets because they give me more of a subdued, almost neutral blush. I like to apply Between The Sheets with an angled kabuki brush because it picks up just the right amount of product. I like the formula of this blush (it’s the only blush I own from ColourPop, so I can’t speak for the line as a whole) because it doesn’t emphasize any flaky bits from healing spots as powder blushes tend to do, so if I’m trying to cover a breakout but still want to wear blush, this is what I usually reach for.

Lips:

The ColourPop Lippie Primer (I grudgingly type ‘lippie’ every time because it’s the name of the product, but holy mother of god do I hate that word, sorry if you’re #teamlippie, I’m just not about that life) has become an everyday product for me. I love that it hydrates my lips while giving me a slightly tacky base to apply my products to. I definitely feel like this keeps my lipstick on longer too, which is awesome because I hate having to reapply lipstick.
I don’t know about you, but lip liners are something I just don’t feel the need to splurge on. The thought of paying for a MAC lip liner makes me cringe, especially since there are so many great options at the drugstore. If there’s something magical about high-end lip liners, I don’t want to know. With the exception of the limited color range (I turn to NYX for more colorful options) I’m perfectly satisfied with this lip liner by Essence, which is only $1.49. In The Nude is my most used shade because it has just enough brown and grey to work well with my skin tone. Lipsticks and lip liners that are typically described as nudes are almost always waaay too pink on me. That’s also why I love NYX Butter Gloss in Madeline, especially paired with this Essence lip liner. I like the NYX Butter Gloss formula in general, but I’m specifically talking about Madeline as a favorite because I love how brown it is. So much more flattering on me than a pale pink, like the NYX Butter Gloss in Eclair, which I’ve heard so many people talk about as being a great nude lip gloss. It might be a nude on them, but on me it’s far from it, which is why I’m not a fan of the term ‘nude’ as a color descriptor. ‘Nude’ shades vary so, so much depending on skin color, undertone, etc. so don’t get discouraged if the ‘nude’ shade everyone is raving about just didn’t look right on you. 
Manna Kadar Lip Locked Priming Gloss Stain is another one of those products that doesn’t get the attention is deserves. I’ve heard KathleenLights talk about it recently, but that’s about it. It’s such a unique product because it’s a liquidy, shiny, almost opaque gloss, but the pigment stains the lips slightly, so as it wears away, you lose some of the glossiness, but not the color. The shade shown here, Lucky, is my favorite, but I also have it in a more purple/mauve shade and I love that one as well. 
You might be wishing I would shut up about the Ofra and Jeffree Star liquid lipsticks already, but I just love them so much. I’m always really hesitant to purchase liquid lipsticks because the formula can be so hit or miss, and when they’re bad, they’re usually awful to the point of being unwearable. These, however, are practically perfect. They’re both comfortable to wear, easy to apply, and when they finally do start to wear away, they don’t get flaky and weird. The Ofra formula is thicker, which makes them easier to apply for me personally, but they dry down about 90%, whereas the Jeffree Star formula is more of a true liquid and dries down all the way. I love them both. Colors shown here are Ofra Miami Fever and Jeffree Star Unicorn Blood.

Tools:

The Real Techniques Deluxe Crease Brush is an amazing multi-tasker. I use it to buff out eye shadow when I’ve gone a bit overboard, blend in concealer, and even to contour. I love this brush so freaking much, especially for the price. Brushes are another thing I just can’t bring myself to spend a lot of money on, they don’t excite me. I just want them to work well, and these definitely do. I’ve had that RT brush for over two years now and it’s held up very well with no shedding. 
The Essence Precise Eyeliner brush is a hidden gem. I originally just threw it into my cart to hit the free shipping threshold at Ulta, and because my previous favorite angled liner brush had mysteriously disappeared (I think one of my cats took it, those sneaky little bastards), but I’ve completely fallen in love with this brush because it’s so thin. It makes winged eyeliner so much easier for me and it’s held up through several washings already. Plus, it’s only $1.99. Yes, please. 

Skincare:

After dragging my feet for ages, I finally started using Asian beauty products midway through the year. Of all the sheet masks I’ve tried so far, the My Scheming masks are my favorite. I purchased the My Scheming Chapter 2 Brightening and Clarifying Book of Masks from Beautius, which came with an assortment of several different masks. These masks are absolutely drenched in essence, so much so that I either use the excess as a body moisturizer or save it and use it on my face over the course of the next few days. They’re silk masks, which adhere to the face very well, making them more comfortable to wear, but the trade-off is that they’re also quite delicate, so you have to be careful when unfolding them. I really enjoyed all of the masks in this set and will be purchasing more varieties from My Scheming soon, especially this Mandelic Acid mask. I felt that it helped to soothe my breakouts while also brightening and moisturizing my skin.  
I’ve been using the Radical Skincare Skin Perfecting Screen for almost a year now and my love for it hasn’t waned at all. My only complaint about it is that it’s expensive at $55 for 1.35 oz. I plan to investigate some Asian sunscreens in 2016 as a more budget friendly alternative, but it’s going to take a lot to get me to stop using this stuff. It’s a very liquidy formula with gold veining throughout, which gives my skin a gorgeous luminosity without being glittery. It doesn’t make my makeup slide around, give me a white cast, or cause me to break out. It can also function as a primer, but most of the time I layer the Julep Blank Canvas primer over top of this because, like I said, I’m super fussy with my skin and I like the way that primer helps with the texture of my skin. I used to be so bad about wearing sunscreen, but this has converted me.
I initially discovered the Anthony Oil Free Facial Lotion when it arrived in a Birchbox mystery sample pack, and I’m so glad it did because I probably would have overlooked this product otherwise. They’ve changed the formula since I first tried it, it was originally a whipped texture that melted into the skin on contact, and to be honest, I miss that since it felt so pleasant, but the updated formula gives me the same amount of hydration, it’s just a much runnier formula. It’s very light-weight, but still very hydrating, so if most moisturizers make you feel like you’ve got something heavy and gross on your skin, this is a great one to try. I’m not a big fan of scent in skincare products, but this one does smell nice, slightly citrusy and fresh, but not overpowering. On its own, it’s not enough for me in the colder months, but I love it the rest of the year. In the winter, however, I slather so many different moisturizers onto my skin until I look like I’ve used the grease from the fryer in a fast food restaurant all over my face. Yep, I’m super cute when I go to bed at night. 
The Tokyomilk Dark lip balm is something I just can’t get enough of. I have it in almost every flavor, but my favorites are salted caramel and cocoa noir, which is a chocolate cherry flavor. They’re nice thick balms, which I really like. I hate feeling like I’ve just put a layer of oil on my lips or thin balms that just feel like they’re sliding around not really doing anything for my lips. I put this balm on at night and wake up to it still on my lips in the morning, so I know it’s really helping to create a barrier on my lips to stop moisture loss. I initially purchased one of these thinking it would just be a fun little gimmick with flavors like absinthe and cherry bourbon, but I was so pleasantly surprised by these. 
Lastly in the skincare category are Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil and Good Genes treatment. Part of me wishes I didn’t love these because of the price, but they both work so well for my skin that I don’t see myself being without these in my skincare lineup any time soon. I’d had several samples of Good Genes over the last couple of years, and every time I would try to convince myself that I really didn’t love it, and every time I failed. Then I got a deluxe sample of Luna and loved that, too. I decided I was finally going to purchase Good Genes during the Sephora VIB sale and would eventually purchase Luna once I could afford another splurge, but I got super lucky and just before the VIB sale, Sephora started carrying a duo of these two products that were each half the size of the full product. Many of us figured out that with the VIB discount, you could buy two of the duos and get the equivalent of the full sizes for less money, so that’s what I did (after having to stalk the Sephora website because it kept going out of stock, including disappearing out of my cart during the last stage of checkout). I have zero regrets about that purchase. I use these on alternating nights because I feel that they work better that way and since AHA and Retinol are best at different pH levels, it just makes more sense to use them this way to get the most out of them. Luna has been helping to address my hyperpigmentation, and Good Genes gives me a gorgeous glow while also helping to deal with my dry skin. I fuh-reaking love these and now I have a case of the heart eyes for the entire Sunday Riley brand (especially after seeing her video with the Pixiwoo sisters). R.I.P. bank account. 

Non-Beauty Favorites

Podcast: Real Ghost Stories Online. I love listening to podcasts while I’m doing schoolwork or taking care of things around the house, and this is easily my favorite podcast of all time. Real Ghost Stories Online is a podcast where people either write in or call in their true paranormal experiences. I love the conversations that the hosts, Tony and Jenny, have with each other, they’re just so funny and insightful and Jenny does a great job of selecting the stories to share on the air. There are several other paranormal podcasts that I listen to and enjoy, but I feel like RGSO is the best there is. Came for the ghost stories, stayed for the banter.
Youtubers: Leighannsays, Shameless Fripperies (Karima), Sharon Farrell, Karissa Pukas, GlamLifeGuru (Tati), Shaaanxo, Lisa Eldridge, and KathleenLights. 
Yes, that’s kind of a lot, but I genuinely love all of these people. They’re all very talented and have an authenticity to them that I really appreciate. Lisa, Karima, and Sharon are amazing at teaching, Shannon does amazing makeup looks with a great amount of variety, Tati, Kathleen, and Leigh Ann are refreshingly honest, funny, warm people, and Karissa is such a kind-hearted, fun person to watch. I’ve really enjoyed watching Leigh Ann, Sharon, Karissa, and Shannon’s vlogs as well. All of these people have taught me something, helped me in some way, and brought a smile to my face, and for that I’m very grateful. And that’s as mushy as this year-end wrap-up is going to get.
Music: If you’re interested, here’s a Spotify playlist of my favorite music from 2015. Normally I restrict these end-of-the-year playlists to songs/albums that actually came out that year, but so much of what I enjoyed this year was released in 2014 or beyond, so I’m cheating.

My Disappointing Products of 2015 will be up shortly, so be on the lookout for that. Definitely let me know what your favorite products were this year, and leave me your music, podcast, and Youtuber recommendations, I’m always looking for new content to follow in those categories!