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Review: Erborian Glow Creme

There’s no denying that glowy skin is trending right now, and with good reason. It gives such a healthy, youthful appearance that it’s hard to resist adding some luminosity to the skin. The market is booming with products to help you achieve that glow, from highlighters to primers to luminous foundations, but how do you know which one is right for you? Today, I’m bringing you a review of the Erborian Glow Creme, an iridescent makeup priming lotion that might be just what you’re looking for, along with a comparison to some other popular options.

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Recent Favorites + A Flop

It’s been a few months since my last favorites post, but they’re some of my favorite posts to write. I’ve got some great products to share with you today that I’ve really been loving (including some non-beauty favorites!). Hopefully you’ll love them too!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette

 

C’mon, we all saw this one coming, right? I’ve said several times that the Anastasia shadows are my favorite formula, and if you’ve been following me for a while then you’ll know that I’m completely addicted to orange/red/bronze tones. This is a perfect everyday palette for me, I haven’t even touched anything else since I got this (with the exception of dipping into my MAC single in Blanc Type, which is what I pretty much always use on my brow bone). I foresee this being a favorite for a very long time.

The reason I love it, beyond the versatility of the color selection (don’t be intimidated by the orange and red tones, you can work them in in a way that still keeps a mostly neutral look, if that’s your jam), is because the eyeshadows are so freaking pigmented, yet blendable and buildable. I know a lot of people complain that the formula kicks up too much, and it does kick up a lot, so be careful not to use too much pressure when you dip your brush in and to lightly tap off the excess. Personally, I don’t mind the kick up because in my experience shadows that do that tend to blend better, and because I don’t get much fallout from most Anastasia shadows. They probably wouldn’t be the best shadows for a beginner because they do take a little bit of skill to work with. For a beginner, I would recommend something like the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette because the shadows practically blend themselves out (they actually blend too much for my liking, to the point where I feel like they’re not intense enough, but that’s personal preference, and not a problem that most beginners are likely to have).

Verb Ghost Oil

 

I’ve tried Verb’s detangler in the past, and it didn’t work for me at all (to be fair, my hair is giant ball of evil, most hair products don’t help), so when I saw Verb’s Ghost Oil in my November Ipsy bag, I didn’t get my hopes up. Needless to say, I was pretty surprised when adding a couple of drops of this to my hair actually made a huge difference in my ability to brush my hair out (way less tangles!) and made it feel and look healthier. I split my hair in half along my part while it’s still damp, add a dime-sized amount of oil to my hand and rub my palms together, then rub my hands over my hair, being sure to coat all of the layers of my hair, not just the top and bottom. I also keep it about an inch or two away from my roots. Then, I repeat on the other side. Most people probably won’t need to section their hair or use quite so much oil, but I have absurdly thick hair that still requires quite a bit of product even after I chopped off several inches. What can I say, my hair is a problem child. This oil is also lightweight, and has a very light, barely noticeable scent that doesn’t really smell like anything specific. It’s definitely not something that would compete with your perfume or give you a headache. I’ve tried tons of hair oils, but this is by far my favorite.

Urban Decay Primer Potion in Enigma

 

Enigma is basically the product I’ve needed my whole life. I have super oily eyelids, and Urban Decay’s Primer Potion works significantly better for me than any other primer I’ve tried. What makes Enigma so special is the tint, which is a light beige. It works perfectly to camouflage the veins on my eyelids, which I’ve never been able to achieve with a concealer the way that most people can because my eyelids are so oily. Setting concealer with powder, applying concealer over a primer, nope doesn’t work, creases in 30 minutes. I don’t always want to wear eyeshadow, but the veiny-ness of my eyelids sort of acts like dark circles and makes me look tired and disheveled (I’m probably both, but no one else needs to know that!). Enigma allows me to look more put together without having to wear eyeshadow and keeps my eyelids from getting too oily throughout the day. Sometimes I wear it with eyeshadow, other times I wear it on its own with a little bit of face powder over top to take away some of the tacky feeling. As an added benefit, Urban Decay donates 100% of the purchase price of this product to charity organizations that support women. So far, they’ve donated over 1.28 million dollars!

Cosmo Monster Aqua Gel Sunscreen

 

I’m surprised I haven’t seen more people talk about this Cosmo Monster sunscreen, it’s a total winner! I hadn’t heard of this brand before, but I was excited to see a sunscreen in the Oily/Combo edition of the September/October Jini Beauty Box. After giving it a try over the past month+, I can honestly say I love this stuff! I’m actually surprised by how much I love it because I typically don’t like gel face products as they tend to feel quite sticky. This one feels like water (hence the “aqua” in the name) and doesn’t leave any sort of sticky or slippery film on the skin. It’s also clear, has a very mild sunscreen smell, and plays well with makeup. It feels so lightweight on my face, just like a moisturizer, but it has an SPF of 50, heck yeah! It’s also only about $10, so budget-friendly too! Like I said, I don’t know why more people don’t talk about this. I have nothing negative to say about it, and have even been reaching for it over my (super) expensive Radical sunscreen. Super glad to have discovered this thanks to Jini Beauty Box!

Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Magic Wand Makeup Remover Swabs

 

These makeup remover swabs are another awesome find from the September/October Jini Beauty Box. I’d heard of them before but hadn’t gotten around to trying them, until they arrived in my Jini Beauty Box. The way these work is you twist one end of the cotton swab and pull that end off, which releases makeup remover from the stick portion into the cotton portion of the swab. They’re a super easy and convenient way to fix mistakes, especially to clean up winged eyeliner. These would also be great for travel or to keep in your purse. The makeup remover in these is really effective and non-irritating. Love ’em!

Stok Cold Brewed Coffee Shots

These little pods of joy are a life saver. Not literally. Well, maybe a little bit literal if you’ve ever seen me after I’ve been drinking crappy hotel coffee for a few days. Have you ever wished you could amp up the amount of caffeine in your coffee? If you have, you’ll probably fall in love with these. Housed in little pods like the creamer you get at a diner, Stok is a pod of cold-brewed, highly caffeinated black coffee. I found them at my local Smith’s (Kroger in some parts of the country) about a month ago, and since finals were coming up, I threw them into my cart without a second thought. Not only were these great for adding caffeine to my coffee and keeping me sane during finals, they also prevented disaster yesterday morning when the only coffee left in the house was decaf. Decaf coffee, man. Not only is it caffeine-free, it just doesn’t taste right. Thankfully, we were well stocked with Stok, so no one had to go caffeine-free! I’ve also been experimenting with other uses for these. So far I’ve tried adding them to hot cocoa and oatmeal, by subbing a little bit of the water for a pod of Stok. Works great! Adds a tiny bit of coffee flavor (plus caffeine!) without overpowering the other flavors. In the future, I want to try adding them to brownies (if you’ve never tried adding a bit of coffee to your brownies you’re missing out!), protein shakes, and maybe even homemade protein bars. There’s a lot of applications for these beyond adding them to a cup of coffee. I can’t wait to play around with them some more!

Better Oats Oat Revolution Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

This is my favorite oatmeal ever. I’ve actually been eating it for years, but just recently went back to it after awhile without it because I was sick of eating bars for breakfast every day. I hate making breakfast in the morning, if I can’t find something quick and simple, I’m just getting by on coffee until lunch. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for me to reach for something unhealthy for breakfast, but this oatmeal gives me a healthy option that doesn’t require much brain power or effort. I love the way this oatmeal tastes, I love that it has added flax seeds for omega-3s, but most of all I love the measuring cup pouch. After you dump the oatmeal into a bowl, you fill the pouch up to the line with water and dump it into the bowl, no need for a separate measuring cup! Simple enough for my mornings, but so good I eat it for dinner sometimes!

FitnessBlender

If you workout at home like I do, but are tired of the same boring, overly peppy or bootcamp style workouts that are popular for at-home workouts, try FitnessBlender. I found them years ago and have been working out with their videos ever since. I recently got back into working out after not having the time or space for it for the past two years, and it felt great to come back to their videos. They have over 500 free workouts on their YouTube channel, ranging from beginner to advanced, kickboxing to yoga, and a wide variety of workout formats to keep things from getting boring. They also have workout plans that you can purchase if you’d like someone to do all of the workout planning for you, but they never push you to buy their plans, and all of the videos are completely free. There’s no gimmick to FitnessBlender, and the workouts truly work. In the past I lost quite a bit of weight with FitnessBlender (I never weigh myself, so I don’t have an exact number, but I’d estimate it was 30+ lbs), and their workouts also helped me to significantly increase my endurance and strength. I’m so much healthier thanks to FitnessBlender, and it’s been so great to get to workout with them again. Seriously, I can’t recommend them highly enough, give them a try!

Flop:

L’Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper Transparent Brow Gel

I hate this brow gel, plain and simple. It’s a total disappointment. Like when your parents tell you they’re getting you a puppy for Christmas, but they come home with some animatronic thing from Toys R’ Us. Yeah, that bad. Sure, it’s clear and it doesn’t flake off in weird white patches that look like dandruff, so it’s got that going for it. But ya know what else it doesn’t have? Hold. Staying power. Things a good brow gel really needs to have. The brush on this is nice and small, but the brow gel itself doesn’t hold my brow hairs in place at all, it just has some weird waxy feel that makes it seem like I put Vaseline on my eyebrows. Not cool, man, not cool. I wasn’t expecting this to be as good as Anastasia brow gel, but c’mon. Even my Essence Make Me Brow (a Benefit Gimme Brow dupe) has better hold than this, and that’s meant more so for adding color and volume to the brows, the hold it just an added bonus. This L’Oreal brow gel isn’t even worth the $6 I paid for it. Pass.

That’s it for this month! What are some of your recent favorites?

-Cristine

In how-to, Makeup on
January 25, 2016

Grunge-Inspired Burgundy Smokey Eyes With Brown Lips

I’m so excited to share this look with you today! I know it’s going to be something you either love or hate, but I had so much fun creating this look, and I love the way it came out. My day-to-day style is more on the glam side, but I love and appreciate all styles of makeup. I’ve got a definite soft spot for messy grunge looks like this one. Something about it just felt right. I may have to start wearing messier, smokier looks more often! Details on how I created it are down below.

 

 

 

The key to this look is layering. That’s how you’ll be able to get that really smoked-out look, rather than looking like you just got punched in the face. Also, concealer. I have super dark under-eye circles, so to make a look like this work, I have to do a whole lot of color correcting and concealing.

Because I knew I was going to be smoking things out under the eyes and keeping things messy, I opted to do my foundation and concealer first. There’s nothing special about the skin here, it’s just a layer of Rimmel Lasting Finish all over. I’ve used this a couple of times now, and so far I’m really enjoying it. I have to mix two colors, but I like the formula enough to go through the trouble of doing it, which is saying something. The concealer under the eyes was a bit tricky. I ended up layering the Urban Decay Naked concealer with the Maybelline Fit Me concealer over the darkest parts of my under-eye circles because it has more of a pink/peach undertone that works to cancel out the blue/purple. I normally use the Benefit Erase Paste, but the texture of that is quite sticky, which would have made it difficult to blend shadow underneath the eyes. I also put on some L’Oreal True Match powder over the Fit Me concealer to make it even more opaque and color correct a bit more since the shade I used it a little bit peachy. I used the contour shade from the Lancome Blush Subtil palette to give my face just a touch of warmth, and then concentrated Urban Decay Naked2 in the hollows of my cheeks. That’s a fantastic contour for pale skin, by the way. For the brows, I wanted to keep them quite undone, so I ran a bit of Benefit Gimme Brow through them, and only used the Anastasia brow powder where I needed to fill in larger spaces.

The eyes are actually absurdly simple, just time consuming due to the amount of layering and blending. I packed MakeupGeek Cherry Cola all over the lid, blended it, and started to create the basic shape. I initially went all the way into the inner corner, but wiped some of that away with a Q-tip because it was looking a little too round for my liking. I continued to layer on Cherry Cola, bringing it out just a little bit farther each time until it was almost as far out as I wanted it. At that point, I switched to Cocoa Bear to add in a warm brown hue, then went over the edge of everything with Creme Brulee to create a gradient effect. I re-intensified the lid with more of Cherry Cola, then lined the lash line and the waterline top and bottom with Anastasia Creme Color in Jet, setting it and smoking it out with a bit of Noir from the World Traveler palette. To create a more seamless transition between the black and burgundy, I softly blended in a bit of Fudge between the edges of the two colors. Layer on some mascara, and that’s it for the eyes!

Lips are the ColourPop Lippie Stick and Lippie Pencil created by the lovely KathleenLights as part of her second collab with ColourPop, Where The Night Is. I absolutely love this color! I do think that the formula of the ColourPop Lippie Pencils could be better, though. They’re too creamy for my liking. I had the hardest time getting a sharp line. I still love this color though, just thought that was worth mentioning in case you were thinking of buying any of the ColourPop Lippie Pencils. My favorite lip liners are (were?) from Essence, but I just discovered that they changed the formula! I haven’t used them yet, so I can’t say whether or not I like them. Just know that if it has a silver cap, it’s the old formula and if the cap is the same color as the rest of the packaging, then it’s the new formula.

 

Products:

Eyes:

Julep Blank Canvas Mattifying Eye Primer
Makeup Geek Creme Brulee, Cocoa Bear, and Cherry Cola
Anastasia Beverly Hills Fudge, Noir, Waterproof Creme Color in Jet
Essence Get Big Lashes Triple Black Mascara

Face:

Givenchy Mister Mat Mattifying Primer
Garnier BB Cream for Eyes
Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in 15 Fair
Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer in Light Warm
Rimmel Lasting Finish With Comfort Serum 091 Light Ivory and 100 Ivory (mixed)
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder in Medium Brown
Benefit Gimme Brow in Light/Medium
Laura Mercier Translucent Finishing Powder
L’Oreal True Match Powder N1 Soft Ivory
Lancome Blush Subtil Palette 385 Plum Elegance (contour shade only)
Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette- Naked2 (as contour)

Lips:

ColourPop Lippie Stick & Lippie Pencil in Taurus

Whether or not grunge is your thing, I highly encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. One of the best things about makeup is how easily you can change your look with just a few products or techniques. Have fun with it!

In Makeup, Maybelline, review, swatches on
January 8, 2016

[Swatch & Review] Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid in 10 Nude Flush

I’m not going to beat around the bush, this product is odd and disappointing. The color is beautiful, but the formula is perplexing, to say the least.

Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick in 10 Nude Flush
I’ve had this product for a few weeks now, but I’ve been waiting to review it until I heard a few other people talk about it because this product had me wondering if I was going crazy or if I had received a bad batch. It very clearly says “matte” in the product name, and even the description on Ulta.com says that the product is supposed to be matte, but there’s absolutely nothing matte about this.

From Ulta.com: “Maybelline’s Color Sensational Vivid Matte Liquid Lip Color has a creamy liquid base for a soft, cushiony feel. 

Benefits:

  • Vivid, matte finish
  • Infused with pure pigments for high-impact color
  • Glides on smooth and hydrates
  • Medium Coverage” 

Swatch of Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick in Nude Flush on NC15 skin. This was after 10 minutes of waiting for it to dry down, even a little bit. It looks sliiightly more matte on the lips, but not much.
Yes Maybelline, veeeerry matte. *eye roll*

Yo, Maybelline… this is a lip gloss. 



I waited and waited for this to dry down, tried applying heavier and lighter coats, nothing worked. Looking at the ingredients, it contains kaolin clay, which is what’s typically used to make lipsticks matte, but it looks like maybe not enough was added to the formula to create a matte finish. 

The texture of this product is very pleasant, like a very lightly whipped mousse. I’d definitely agree with the product description from Ulta.com: it has a very soft, smooth, cushiony feel to it, and it glides on well. It’s also adequately pigmented and non-sticky. 

 The wear time was around 2-3 hours, less if you eat or drink. Just taking a sip of water took a decent amount of product off in the center of my lips, and after a few more sips, I ended up with that awkward ring around my lips. 

The scent of this product is ok, it’s a generic sweet scent (maybe caramel or vanilla?) which doesn’t have that sharp, acrid smell that’s fairly common in synthetic fragrances, and I could only just barely smell it while I was applying it. It does, however, make the gloss taste a bit weird and plasticy (I almost feel like I can taste the clay in this in addition to the taste from the fragrance), so if that’s something that typically bothers you, avoid this product like the plague. For me, the taste of this is probably the second most off-putting thing about this product after the whole “Maybelline wtf this is a lip gloss” issue. Since the lipstick never dries down and is a bit on the liquidy side, it’s really easy to end up accidentally tasting the lip gloss. If that happens, you’re about to be in for a real bad time. Seriously, I started licking the back of my hand to get the taste out of my mouth, it was that bad.

Applicator for the Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick.


The applicator is what I would describe as an elongated doe-foot. It fits my lips well, but I think it applies too much product at once. It also has a slight angle, which I think is helpful, but overall, a standard doe-foot applicator would have been a better fit for this product. There’s a bit of flexibility to the wand, enough to make it easy to maneuver, but not enough that I felt like I could easily lose control of the wand and start flinging lip gloss everywhere if the wand snapped back too quickly.

There’s a slight angle to the applicator.
It’s also quite slim and flat



Another problem that I had with this product is that is clung to my dry patches, so if you were hoping this would be a good alternative for dry lips, no such luck. It would work if your lips are just dehydrated, but if you have any flakes, it’s a no-go.

I think that Maybelline would have been much better off marketing this as a whipped lip gloss, but trying to pass this off as matte is just ridiculous. On top of that, the longevity is crap and the taste is very unpleasant, to say the least. Such a disappointing product. The only way I can see this being an enjoyable product for anyone is if A) The taste doesn’t bother you B) You purchase it expecting a lip gloss, otherwise I’d say steer clear of these.

Oh, and Maybelline, here’s the definition of matte from Merriam-Webster since it looks like y’all forgot:

Simple Definition of matte

: having a surface that is not shiny


Full Definition of matte

:  lacking or deprived of luster or glossa :  having a usually smooth even surface free from shine or highlights

Hope that cleared things up for you 😉

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!

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!