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August 13, 2016

What’s In My Go-To Eye Shadow Palette?

Hey friends! As you probably know by now, things have been very hectic for me lately between house hunting, packing, getting ready for a friend’s wedding, and preparing to start at a new school and a new job. Early on in the craziness, I realized that one of the tasks that slows me down the most when I’m trying to get ready is trying to decide which eye shadows I want to wear. I love changing my look up day to day, but realistically, I just don’t have that much time to put into it right now (well, that and I don’t wanna scare our realtor away with one of my glam grunge smoky eye looks, she’s pretty traditional). In order to keep myself from digging through my palettes, I put together an assortment of eye shadows in my Makeup Geek Travel Palette that would allow me to do a range of eye looks and give me everything I needed to accomplish a quick look with just one palette. Today I’ll be sharing my palette with you, as well as the logic behind my choice of shadows. Swatches are at the end of the post!

First up is MAC Blanc Type (Note: I was only able to find this in a compact as of  8/10/16, but when I purchased it back in the spring, it was available as a pro palette refill, not sure why it’s only in the compact now). I finally gave in and purchased a few MAC eye shadows after they dropped the price to $6 for the pro palette refill pans. The few MAC shadows I own were purchased specifically to fill certain gaps in my collection, which is why there are several in this palette. Blanc Type was purchased because I was searching for a matte white shade to use as a brow bone highlight and an all-over base color to tone down the stickiness from my eye primer. I couldn’t seem to find anything that was pigmented enough and applied smoothly, so I caved and grabbed Blanc Type. I’m glad I did because it’s exactly what I was looking for. In comparison to some of the other formulas I’m used to working with (Makeup Geek, Urban Decay, Anastasia Beverly Hills), it’s a lot drier, but it goes on exactly the way I want it to: pigmented enough to hide the discoloration on my eyelids, but not so pigmented that it looks as stark as if I had put White Out on my eyelids. It’s also more of a creamy bone white, which makes it work well for a matte brow bone highlight. I almost never do a look without this eye shadow, so when I was putting my palette together, this was a no-brainer.

Working from left to right, the next shadow is MAC Malt. I purchased this shadow hoping it would be a dupe for one of my all-time favorite ColourPop shades: Bill. Bill and Malt are both pinky beige shades that look extra awesome in the crease if you have green eyes. They’re not exact dupes, Bill has more of a dusty purple undertone that Malt lacks. Malt is also more brown. Both work as neutrals with a little somethin’ extra. As much as I love Bill, I wanted something I could pop into a magnetic palette so I wouldn’t always have to dig through my singles drawer for Bill. I’ve also noticed that the ColourPop formula doesn’t always play well with normal eye shadow formulas, it seems like the ColourPop shadows occasionally develop a satin texture that makes it difficult to blend them with other shadows. Although they’re not identical, I use Malt and Bill in essentially the same way: as a transition or crease color for cool-toned looks, especially with purples and taupes.

Continuing on, we have MAC Soft Brown. Soft Brown is a matte, muted warm brown. You would think this shade would be easily dupe-able, but there’s something about it that puts it in the Goldilocks zone. It’s warm without being too warm, blends easily, and is pigmented without being too bold. I reach for it on a regular basis, especially when I’m doing a more minimal look because the muted brown makes it easy to use as a “one and done” crease color. Even though it leans warm, it’s probably the most neutral matte brown in this palette, which makes it easy to pair with various other shades of brown, copper, and gold.

Next up is Urban Decay Twice Baked, which I depotted from one of my Urban Decay palettes. Twice Baked is a deep, cool-toned satin-finish brown with gold microshimmer, but I treat it as a matte. The microshimmer tends to get swept away when Twice Baked is blended, so I’m able to use it as a crease color without looking like I have glitter in my crease. I believe the formula has been updated since this shadow was made, so there may be a difference in color and/or texture. The texture of this shadow is actually what I love most about it. The pigment isn’t packed as densely into this shade as the typical Urban Decay formula, which makes it much easier to create a diffused look. That’s what earned it a space in this palette. It can be used to easily deepen up the crease or outer-v without having to spend a ton of time blending it out.

Moving on to the next row, we have Makeup Geek Creme Brulee. Creme Brulee is a matte, peachy brown. I use it as a transition when I’m doing warmer looks. It’s actually similar to MAC Soft Brown, but whereas Soft Brown leans pink, Creme Brulee leans orange, and is also a little bit lighter. it may seem odd to have both of these in the same palette, but I use them differently, so for me it makes sense. I use Soft Brown when I want to keep a look neutral, and Creme Brulee when I want to make a look warmer.

Following Creme Brulee is MAC Texture, which has quickly become one of my favorite shadows. Similar to Twice Baked, Texture is a satin-finish eye shadow with gold microshimmer that doesn’t really show up once the shadow is blended out. In comparison to Makeup Geek Creme Brulee, MAC Texture is deeper and more of a true brown with a warm yellow undertone. I love this eye shadow because I can use it as an all over lid color, blend it into the crease and add way too much mascara two coats of mascara and have a one-shadow look that perfectly walks the tightrope between sultry and everyday “pulled together” makeup. I also use this in the crease when I want a neutral gold look, or with copper tones to create a look that really brings out the golden brown flecks in the center of my eyes.

Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear is a warm matte brown that reminds of hot chocolate with a bit of cinnamon mixed in. I mostly use this as a crease color or to deepen my outer corner, sort of like the warm counterpart to Urban Decay Twice Baked. I also love to use this along the lower lash line because the warm tones really make my green eyes stand out. This and the following shadow were also the closest I could get to putting one of my beloved orange eye shadows in this palette and still have it be a neutral, everyday palette.

Now we’re getting to the more fun shadows #glitterbomb4lyfe. Urban Decay Chopper is one of my favorite copper shades, especially because of the silver microglitter. When it comes to makeup, I love mixing metals because I love the contrast. Copper tones like Chopper are even better because they bring out both the green and the gold in my eyes. Chopper + Creme Brulee + Cocoa Bear = heart eyes. Add Estee Lauder Tiger Eye on the lips and the heart eyes of warm-tone loving makeup addicts everywhere will be exploding. It puts the warm tones on its skin.

Now we take a quick jaunt over to the softer shades that I often use to highlight my inner corner. Urban Decay Virgin is a soft white satin that adds a ton of brightness to a look. It also reflects the light nicely without having any shimmer to it, which would be great for people who prefer a soft-focus inner corner highlight. Although I find this shadow kind of boring, it’s a very silky, pigmented shadow that pairs well with nearly any eye look. It could also double as a highlighter on very pale skin. I’ve used it that way a few times when I was in a hurry, but I prefer a stronger, more golden highlight most days.

While the name Missionary sounds boring, this shade from Urban Decay is actually the perfect pale taupe that should be in every neutral eye shadow lover’s collection, which makes it extra tragic that it’s not available as a single. Missionary is a highly reflective satin with gray, silver, and a touch of  pale brown. For whatever reason, something about it reminds me of the moon. It doesn’t look like much when it’s swatched, but on the eyes, it’s magic. The reflectiveness of this shadow really opens up the eyes without screaming for attention the way a shimmery or glittery shade does. It enhances the eyes in a very subtle way, very ingenue or “girl next door.” This looks especially beautiful with Malt and a touch of gray-brown, such as Urban Decay Naked2 or Makeup Geek Bedrock right in the outer part of the crease.

This next shadow was featured in my favorites this month, so obviously it’s something I’ve been using a lot recently. Urban Decay Sidecar is an eye shadow that, for whatever reason, I kind of overlooked until recently. Sidecar is like Chopper’s laid back but equally beautiful cousin. Both are satins with silver microglitter, though the microglitter in Sidecar is more subtle because it is smaller and contrasts less with the cool taupe base of Sidecar. I’d pair this with Malt + Twice Baked for a low key  glitter addicts anonymous glam look.

Ahh, here we have the magical, glorious, Pink Champagne from Anastasia Beverly Hills. This eye shadow makes me want to sing Lana Del Rey songs to it. If this eye shadow is not on my corpse when it goes up in flames, so help me I will haunt every surviving friend and family member I have (yes, I am going to make someone do my makeup before I’m cremated). This cool-toned pink shimmer/glitter hybrid is quite possibly the prettiest eye shadow in existence, especially if you’re a fan of glittery eye shadows. Seriously, this eye shadow is like “hey, we heard you liked glitter, so we put glitter on your glitter.” ABH calls it a titanium finish, and I definitely agree with that description. It’s like Makeup Geeks foiled eye shadows on steroids. I wear this with some variation of Creme Brulee, Soft Brown, and Texture. I’ll also add in Cocoa Bear and/or Twice Baked for added drama.

Midnight Cowboy Rides Again is the ultimate glitter bomb. There’s absolutely no way of wearing this eye shadow without having flecks of silver glitter all over your face (seriously, even after I clean the fallout off of my face with tape and do my foundation, I still get glitter all over because it rains silver glitter every time I blink), but for me, it’s worth it. It’s been reformulated since I last purchased it, and I actually have the reformulated pan in another palette, but it’s just a slightly less explosive glitter bomb. This eye shadow is in this palette partially because it’s a beautiful, fun, neutral gold that makes my heart happy, and partially because I’m trying to finish off this pan. The same goes for Grifter, which I’ll talk about at the end of this post. I wear MCRA (not to be confused with its less glittery relative, Midnight Cowboy) with any of the matte shades in this palette except for Malt.

On to the final row. Starting with Urban Decay Vert (discontinued), which actually is just in this palette as a space-filler for the most part. Vert is a green duochrome with a subtle blue flash. I used to wear it quite often, but haven’t done so much recently. However, I had a spot left open in my palette and the pan size was right, so I tossed it in here yesterday. I’d wear it with Creme Brulee and Texture on a day when I was craving color, but didn’t have time to dig through the rest of my eye shadows.

Urban Decay Cherry (discontinued) is another classic shade. I use this almost exclusively for highlighting my inner corners, especially when I’m doing a cool-toned look. Cherry is a reflective satin with a hint of pastel pink, and some silver microglitter. Cherry is comparable to Virgin, but Virgin is more neutral, doesn’t contain any microglitter, and is significantly less reflective.

I use Urban Decay Blunt as a golden alternative to Cherry. Similar to Cherry, I find that I never really reach for Blunt as a lid color, just an inner corner highlight. Blunt is a reflective pale gold satin.

The final neutral shade in this palette is Anastasia Beverly Hills Treasure (not available as a single). I use Treasure all over the lid as a less glittery alternative to Midnight Cowboy Rides Again or a more neutral golden alternative to Blunt on the inner corners. It’s slightly more reflective and less yellow than Blunt.

Rounding off the palette, we have Urban Decay Grifter (discontinued). Grifter is a silvery pale purple satin with silver glitter. It’s great for adding a bit of color without being too in-your face, which is why I had to have it in this palette to keep me from dying in a neutral eye shadow induced coma. As I mentioned before, I’m also trying to use this one up because I have another pan of the reformulated version that’s less of a glitterbomb.

That’s it for this palette. It’s not quite my perfect palette since I was limited by purpose, palette size, and pan shape, but it works great for what I need it to at the moment. I hope this post was helpful to you! Let me know which eye shadows you keep in your go-to palette or which eye shadows you reach for the most in the comments down below.

All swatches are done with a flat shader brush. Top row is over Too Faced Shadow Insurance, bottom row is on bare skin.

Left to right: Urban Decay Twice Baked || Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear || MAC Texture || Makeup Geek Creme Brulee || MAC Soft Brown || MAC Malt || Anastasia Beverly Hills Treasure || Urban Decay Blunt || Urban Decay Cherry || Urban Decay Missionary || Urban Decay Virgin || MAC Blanc Type (blends into my skin almost completely)

 

Left to right: MAC Malt || Anastasia Beverly Hills Treasure|| Urban Decay Blunt || Urban Decay Cherry ||Urban Decay Missionary || Urban Decay Virgin || MAC Blanc Type


Left to right: Urban Decay Twice Baked || Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear || MAC Texture || Makeup Geek Creme Brulee || MAC Soft Brown || MAC Malt || Anastasia Beverly Hills Treasure


Left side over Too Faced Shadow Insurance, right side over bare skin. All swatches done with a flat shader brush.

Top to Bottom: Urban Decay Chopper || Urban Decay Midnight Cowboy Rides Again || Anastasia Beverly Hills Pink Champagne || Urban Decay Sidecar || Urban Decay Grifter* || Urban Decay Vert

*note: There was still brown eye shadow on my brush when I did the bare skin swatch of Grifter, so refer to the left side for accurate color representation


xx Cristine

on
December 30, 2015

Most Disappointing Beauty Products of 2015

Disclaimer: we all have different taste in products and different needs. As such, the products that I don’t like might be favorites of yours. This post isn’t meant to offend anyone, by all means, if it works for you, great! These are all products that I just didn’t get along with, they’re not necessarily bad products.

Kicking it off with this Physician’s Formula City Glow Daily Defense bronzer in New York, my problem with this is the color more than anything. I use and love the Physician’s Formula Bronze Booster in light/medium, but this bronzer is just straight-up orange on me. In the pan it doesn’t look like it should be so orange, and I’ve tried it several different ways—colors mixed, separate, different brushes—and no matter what I do it always comes up orange on me. Such a bummer because it’s an otherwise great formula.

Next up is the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Blur Primer, which I reviewed here. Not only did this primer give me cystic acne spots, it’s just an all-around blasé product. It doesn’t make foundation last longer, it doesn’t make it look better, and it doesn’t give a glow to the skin. Even if this hadn’t broken me out, it still would have made it on this list because it just doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. Laaaame.

I purchased two Hurraw lip balms after hearing Shaaanxo talk about them, but this one really came down to personal preference. If you like thin, light, slick balms, you’ll probably love this, but I like a nice thick balm like the Tokyomilk Dark balm. I’ve heard several other people sing the praises of Hurraw lip balm, but it just wasn’t what I was hoping for. It may work well for keeping lips hydrated, but I really wouldn’t know because I could never keep it on for very long since it came off every time I took a sip of water.

Ahh, Julep Queen Anne, you fickle minx.
This shade is a freaking gorgeous multi-dimensional glitter with some holographic glitter thrown in for extra sparkle. So, so beautiful, yet so elusive. It chips in under 24 hours, and not little chips either, entire nails just peel right off. I tried it with several different top coats and it happened every single time. It’s not just me, either, the review page for this polish on Julep’s website is filled with other people with the same complaint. Some of the more recent reviews have been more positive, so maybe they’ve improved the formula since I purchased it, but for me, Queen Anne is definitely a dud.

I talked about Duo lash glue in a “products I wouldn’t repurchase” post I did earlier this year, and I still have the same issue with it: it irritates the crap outta my eyes. Oddly, it feels fine while I’m wearing it, but even if I scrub every trace of lash glue off before I go to bed, I still wake up with super red, irritated eyes the next morning. I don’t have this problem with any other lash glues that I’ve tried so far (I recommend Japonesque or House of Lashes), so clearly it’s something specific to this formula. I wanted to mention it again because I see so many people recommending it, but if you have sensitive eyes, proceed with caution.

The YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils was sent to me by Influenster, and when I got the email saying I was receiving it I was so excited. It was my first luxury mascara (though not my first high-end mascara) and I had understandably high hopes for it. If you’re gonna charge $32 for a mascara, it had better out-perform my drugstore mascaras. Sadly, this one didn’t (or maybe not-so-sadly for the sake of my bank account). You can see here, especially in the bottom picture, that it weighed my lashes down. My lashes stick straight out naturally, so I need mascara to give them some lift and hold my curl, but this made them heavy instead. It also made my lashes stick together more than most mascaras do, making it look like I have fewer lashes than I really do. I loved the way it smelled, how soft it made my lashes feel, and how dark it made my lashes, but overall, it was a let-down for me.

I mentioned the Vasanti blush in Himalayas in my favorites of 2015, and after loving that blush so much, I decided to try one of their liquid eye liners. I purchased the color Calm, which is an insanely gorgeous, unique lavender. I wanted this product to work so badly, and I wonder if maybe I just got a bad batch because right from the get-go it was thick, chunky, and difficult to apply. It’s intended to be a matte finish and it definitely is, I would actually compare the formula to that of a liquid lipstick, but kind of like the crusty bits you get around the edges of the tube from wiping off excess product. It just doesn’t glide on the way a liquid liner should, especially since the brush is a bit thicker than I would like it to be. I’ve tried to wear it on my eyes several times, but always ended up taking it off and switching to another product because I was unhappy with the results.

Makeup Geek Sorbet was another product that I had high hopes for based on previous experiences with the brand. I picked this one up when the new set of matte shadows launched, having already owned two, and having since expanded to around 25 shadows from MUG. Of those, the only one I’ve been disappointed by is Sorbet. It’s seriously lacking in the pigmentation department, even on my pale skin. It’s really not even pigmented enough to use as a transition shade, so the way I’ve been using it is to buff out the edges of a darker shadow or all over the lid to help other shadows blend. Swatched heavily, it will show up, but as far as realistic use of an eye shadow goes, it’s a definite disappointment.

Ahh, and now for the grand finale, the product I expect to appear on many “worst of 2015” lists, and the only product on this list to go beyond disappointing. This product pissed me off. A lot. By the time I got this sample, I’d already heard a lot of mixed reviews, so I was wary going into it, but wow, was this product infuriating. I mean, props to Benefit for being innovative, the shape of the tip and the overall concept is great, but that’s the end of the nice things I have to say about this product. Trying to get product out of the tip was difficult as it was hard to control the amount of product coming out and it balled up almost immediately as it made contact with my eyelid. Then, before I could even finish my line, it started to flake off. And if you wanted to go back over a line? Dream. On. (dream on, dream on, ahhhhhh…. *clears throat* hey, who says blog posts can’t have solos?) This is just a hot mess of a product that I consider to be beyond redemption, and that’s why it’s without a doubt, the worst product of 2015 as far as I’m concerned.

Hope you enjoyed, and like I said, everyone looks for different things in their beauty products, these were just the ones that didn’t work out for me.

The next time you hear from me will probably be in 2016, so have fun, be safe, and happy New Year!

on
December 30, 2015

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!
on
December 23, 2015

Glam Red, Green, and Gold Makeup, with a Twist of Orange featuring ColourPop Girl Power

When ColourPop released Girl Power as part of their fall 2015 collection, I had an instant case of heart eyes. C’mon, a vibrant red-orange eye shadow, did you seriously think that wasn’t going to make its way into my collection? I swooped it up soon after it released, and I practically drooled when I swatched it for the first time, yet it’s been sitting in my drawer for the past couple of months because I just couldn’t find the right look to incorporate it into. Last week as I was trying to come up with a way to put a spin on the classic red/green/gold combo we see so often this time of year, I realized that Girl Power was just red enough that it would still complement the green, but just orange enough that it would be a bit out of the ordinary. I’m so pleased with the way this look came out, and I’m already planning another look using Girl Power, it’s freaking gorgeous!

For the eyes, I used Urban Decay Primer Potion as a base, and Makeup Geek Creme Brulee as a transition. Then I layered and blended ColourPop’s Girl Power several times until it came up as high as I wanted it to and there were no harsh lines. Next, I applied an equal mixture of Damaged and Stash from the Urban Decay Vice 2 palette all over the lid up to the crease. I blended these together and used ColourPop Rebel to create a softer transition between the two colors. I also added Makeup Geek Charmed to the center of the eyelid to make it more reflective. For the wing, I used the Anastasia Creme Colour in Jet, and applied a pair of Yue Er Gong Zhu HW-05 lashes (I get these on ebay) using the House of Lashes dark adhesive. I wanted the bottom lash line to be a bit smokey, so I used a combo of Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear, Cherry Cola, Americano, and Creme Brulee. To finish off the eyes, I used a bit of ColourPop XO on the inner corners, then drew a line from the inner corner to about the center of my eyes using Urban Decay liquid eyeliner in the shade Eldorado, tapering it off as it got closer to the center of my eyes. 
For the face I used

Maybelline Matte + Poreless shade 112, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla for the face, and a combination of Benefit Erase Paste and Smashbox BB Cream For Eyes, both in the shade Fair under the eyes. I set it all with the Laura Mercier translucent powder, then used the Physician’s Formula Bronze Booster in Light to Medium to bronze up my face. For my cheeks, I used the Vasanti Himalayas blush and the ColourPop highlighter in Smokin’ Whistles. My brows are Benefit Gimme Brow in Light/Medium, Anastasia clear brow gel, and brow powder in medium brown.

Lips are Jeffree Star Unicorn Blood, which I previously mentioned in my roundup of best lipsticks to wear to a holiday party.

Products:

Face:

  • L’Oreal Revitalift Miracle Blur
  • Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless (112)
  • Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer (Vanilla)
  • Benefit Erase Paste (Fair)
  • Smashbox BB for Eyes (Fair)
  • ColourPop Smokin’ Whistles
  • Laura Mercier Translucent Powder
  • Physician’s Formula Bronze Booster in Light to Medium
  • Vasanti Himalayas
  • Benefit Gimme Brow in Light/Medium
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder (Medium Brown)
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel

Eyes:

  • Urban Decay Primer Potion
  • Urban Decay Vice 2 (Damaged and Stash)
  • ColourPop Girl Power, Rebel, XO
  • House of Lashes Dark Adhesive
  • Yue Er Gong Zhu HW-05 lashes
  • Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill mascara
  • MAC False Lash mascara
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Creme Colour (Jet)
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Liquid Eyeliner (Eldorado)
  • Makeup Geek Charmed, Creme Brulee, Cherry Cola, Cocoa Bear, and Americano

Lips:

  • ColourPop Lippie Primer
  • Jeffree Star Cosmetics Unicorn Blood
Wishing you a very merry Christmas if you celebrate, and a wonderful rest of the week if not. Cheers!
on
December 13, 2015

Pink & Silver for the Holidays

Today’s look uses Makeup Geek blushes to define the crease and one of the MUG foiled eye shadows, High Wire, on the lid. I wanted to do something that was both colorful and festive, without going the traditional route of reds, greens, and golds. This would be a fun look for New Year’s Eve if heavy, smokey looks aren’t your thing. Full details are down below. I hope you’re enjoying your Sunday!

Products:
Face:

  • Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer—Smoothing
  • Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Flawless Fluide (vanillé)
  • MAC Studio Finish Concealer (NC 15)
  • Benefit Erase Paste (fair)
  • Maybelline Fit Me Concealer (10 + 15 mixed)
  • Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder
  • ColourPop Super Shock Cheek (Smokin’ Whistles)
  • Makeup Geek Blush (Spell Bound + Secret Admirer mixed)
Lips:
  • ColourPop Lip Primer
  • NYX Lip Pencil (Dolly Pink)
  • Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick (Anarchy)
Eyes:
  • Urban Decay Primer Potion (original)
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder (medium brown)
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel
  • Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara
  • Kat Von D Tattoo Liner (Trooper)
  • Makeup Geek Eye Shadow (Sorbet, Creme Brulee, High Wire)
  • Makeup Geek Blush (Spell Bound + Secret Admirer)
How I Did It:
  1. Applied UD Primer Potion all over the lid.
  2. Added a light dusting of MUG Sorbet to the crease to take away some of the stickiness from the primer and to help the other colors blend. 
  3. Mixed MUG Spell Bound + Secret Admirer and began to build this up through the crease and along the outer corner, creating a soft wing shape.
  4. Next, I added a very small amount of MUG Creme Brulee to the top edge of the outer corner and blended a little bit of Sorbet over the edges to create a seamless transition. 
  5. Then, I applied High Wire all over the lid with a densely packed flat eye shadow brush, following the shape of the line I had previously created with the blush, and softly blended the edges together.
  6. Finally, I lined my upper lash line with Kat Von D’s Tattoo Liner in Trooper to darken the lash line, and applied two coats of Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara top and bottom.