I’m back!

After a two year hiatus, I’ve decided to re-dedicate this blog to my travels and enthusiasm for photography, gastronomy, and beauty. Stay tuned!

Cordoba, Spain

2015 Makeup Favorites

It’s the new year, and I’ve been reflecting on some of my favorite products from 2015. This post will be exclusive to makeup, while my upcoming post will be on skincare and fragrances. I tried to pick only 1 from each category but forgive me on the mascara since I couldn’t help but pick two for completely different reasons!

  •  Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup: Holy crap, this foundation has the most beautiful and natural-looking coverage, and doesn’t feel heavy at all. I ordered this during Sephora’s VIB sale in November and coincidentally when I went into the store asking for a foundation recommendation, this is what they suggested to me. With certain brands, it can be a slight struggle finding foundation suitable for warm undertones, but this one states right in the product description that any shades ending in “.0” are warm tones, and any ending in “.5” are cool tones. Therefore, 4.0 should, and does, work great for me.
  • e.l.f. Blending Brush: I wrote an entire post about this brush a few months ago, and since then, I’ve used this brush to apply my foundation almost every day. The brush has remained fully intact, with no bristles that have loosened. For $6, this brush remains an amazing value and I see no reason to switch up the way I apply foundation for a LONG time.
  • Stila One Step Correct: I’ve been a long time supporter of Smashbox’s primer, but wanted to venture out and try something that would lessen the redness in my cheeks. I actually picked this up during Ulta’s Black Friday sale because they were selling the 0.5 oz size for only $10, so I figured it was totally worth a try. This product is a great in-between if you are not a fan of silicone-based primers, yet think other primers like Hourglass’s mineral veil or MUFE’s is too watery. I feel like this absorbs quickly into my skin, and since I’m not expecting some miracle product that gets rid of all redness, I’m pleased by a noticeable smoothing in my skin tone. The clear tube that shows the multiple colors in the formula is also an interesting change from the usual clear/opaque white stuff 🙂
  • Tarte Bronzer in Park Avenue Princess: I received this in my first Ipsy glam bag during the summer, and it’s an extremely versatile and natural-looking bronzer. A little goes a lonnng way, which is why it looks like I’ve barely used this thing even though I used it almost every day for a couple months. I love layering this over blush too when I feel like the blush I’m wearing looks too unnatural, and this instantly adds another dimension to my makeup.
  • theBalm Frat Boy Blush: Finding a suitable blush tends to be a struggle because I have redness in my cheeks, so I hate when a blush accentuates the redness that I’m trying to hide. My friend actually received this little sample in her Birchbox but was kind enough to give this to me to try out. Needless to say, I’m completely in love with the natural “glow” it gives, without making it obvious I’m wearing blush. I have always used Benefit’s Dandelion because I loved the smell, but this one is a great alternative and the size is so travel friendly.
  • Eyeko Black Magic Mascara: If all you need in a mascara is for it to lengthen and not clump, this is seriously the mascara for you. I got this as one of my samples in Birchbox and was so pleased that it lived up to all the hype. One added bonus is that this stuff seriously stays on SO WELL and almost has a waterproof quality to it.
  • KIKO Dawn Till Dusk Mascara (Discontinued): I bought this when I went to Europe last Summer, and was super bummed when I went to research this and realized it had been discontinued. I won’t go into too much detail about how great this product is, but just trust that for the $6 I paid at the time, this was just as good as the $20+ mascaras that I’ve purchased in the past. It made my lashes look super full and also did a pretty good job at lengthening. The only “con” was that it smudged easily if it was drizzling outside — meaning, if it was raining or snowing outside, sometimes there would be smudging around my eyes. Still, it was awesome for most days!

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Have any of you tried these products? If so, what did you think about them? Also, let me know what some of your favorites from last year were as well! As always, thank you for reading!

December Birchbox

This will be my last post in for 2015, as I’m getting ready to to ring in the new year! This month’s Birchbox design was absolutely stunning to me, being reminiscent of winter, but not so much in the sense of your typical holiday season colors (contrary to the Ipsy bag design this month, which I love for different reasons). Unlike last month when I jumped at the opportunity to select the curated box, I didn’t preselect anything for this month since I wanted it to be a total surprise. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too excited about the items I received, so the box was almost my favorite thing.

  • MSC Skin Care Lavender and Bergamot Body Nectar: After I struggled multiple times to get this this product open, I was pretty disappointed in the smell since I’m not a huge fan of Lavender, and the word “Home” in its name gave me the initial impression that this could be used in a diffuser or something. I’m honestly just tired of receiving oils, whether it be for my face, body, or hair. So, needless to say, I won’t be using this product. It also has pretty sub-par reviews on Birchbox, with an average rating of 3.7/5 stars out of over 900 reviews at the time of this post. In addition, the value is pretty low since you can purchase a 119 ml bottle for only $12.
  • CoastalScents Style Eyes mini palette in Formal Eyes: Of all the mini eye shadow palette combinations that were revealed in the spoilers, this one is probably what I would likely use the most, so I appreciate that they did “correctly” select this one for me. I think it’s a great item to bring for travel, but nothing to really write home about as far as the pigmentation of the shadows, or shade.
  • Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow: For some reason, I was initially really skeptical about this product, but finally decided to use it today and it’s actually pretty nice. I didn’t even put primer on so we’ll see how it wears throughout the day. The only thing I thought was kind of weird about this was the smell, so I probably wouldn’t repurchase. It has pretty decent coverage for a BB Cream, though, so it’ll come in handy on those days where I’m running super late and just need to get out the door.
  • COOLA Cucumber Moisturizer for Face: I like Coola products, but in my opinion they are super overpriced. Though I appreciate the fact that their products almost always contain SPF, why exactly does this facial moisturizer need to have a cucumber scent? It’s like they originally planned on making a cucumber-scented body sunscreen, but then decided to change the formula halfway through, lol. Anyway, I can find use for this even if I’m not a fan of the smell, so I’ll accept it.
  • Beauty Protector Protect & Oil: I have soo many hair serums and I literally use a pea-sized amount every time I wash my hair, so these hair oils will last me multiple lifetimes. I haven’t had a chance to give this a try, but so far the reviews I’ve glanced at on Birchbox sound promising!

035 - Birchbox December

Overall, this month just wasn’t that great to me, especially compared to what I received in December’s Ipsy, which I posted about yesterday. Maybe I just simply don’t need 2 beauty subscriptions going on at the same time, but we all know that as soon as I cancel one, the other will inevitably start becoming a dud. One thing I’ve definitely noticed about Birchbox is the fragrance samples and random fragrance oils, which I have NEVER received from Ipsy.

I’ll go ahead and say that I’ve already selected the Korean beauty curated box from Birchbox for January to avoid any unpleasant surprises, so at least I know next month will definitely be better! I’m wishing everyone a great New Years Eve, and an amazing 2016!

December Ipsy

Hi everyone! Totally know it’s been over a month since my last post, but I wanted to squeeze in something before the new year. Here are the products I received in Ipsy this month, and I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty pleased with everything, especially the bag that it all came in. Read on for more info!

  • Pacifica Power of Love Natural Lipstick in Tender Heart: I love some of Pacifica’s fragrances and lotions, and wasn’t really aware that they even produced makeup. This is a highly wearable shade of lipstick, and isn’t very drying either. I could see myself wearing this year-round, and I’m pretty sure it’s full-size, so that’s a huge win!
  • FORMULA X in Revved Up: I already had a nail polish from Sephora’s old OPI line in almost this exact shade, but…I wasn’t opposed to trying it out in FORMULA X. The glittery formula was really easy to apply, and you can’t notice any streaks either. The only downside was that it began to chip after not even 24 hours — I probably should have added an additional coat during my original application, but still, I’m not extremely impressed with the quality. I have a ton of other shades in Formula X that have much better staying power. The shade is lovely for the holiday season though!
  • LATHER honey moisture mask: This is essentially a sleeping mask, as the directions note to leave on your face for 20 minutes, and not to rinse off the excess product afterward. The winters here are so dry, so it was pretty awesome receiving this. I’m not a fan of the smell, which kind of reminds me of baby powder, but i’m hoping it’s at least highly effective.
  • Beau Gâchis Paris Concealer Brush: Yay, concealer brush! I have a couple in my makeup brush collection right now, but I’ve been pretty lazy and haven’t really used them during my daily makeup application, as most of the time I just dab my finger on a couple of spots and call it good. The quality of the brush seems great compared to my Sephora one on hand.
  • Klorane Floral Water Make-up Remover: Love love love travel-size makeup removers. I’ve been gravitating more towards the makeup remover wipes simply for convenience, but I can always use some extra makeup remover.

I know I’m a little late to the December Ipsy party, but hopefully everyone enjoyed their bags. I’ve been subscribing since July, and this was probably one of the better months, as far as product quality quality goes, even though this bag didn’t have a terribly high value. Also, I like that there was no fragrance or oil in here, unlike in my Birchbox for this month. Let me know if you received any of the same products as me, and what your thoughts are.

Thank you for reading, and please remember to follow me in Instagram so I can follow back!

November Birchbox

November will be the 3rd month that I’ve been subbing to Birchbox, and I’m happy to report that opting for the curated box from Glamlifeguru’s Tati Westbrook this month was a great decision. As soon as I saw the spoilers, I knew this box was going to be worth it because of the high-end skincare products it contained, and also the fact that I was guaranteed to not receive another perfume sample 😉 Usually I don’t have much time to try and review the products before I make a post, but the box came almost a week ago so I’ve been able to use all of these by now. Read on for my thoughts!

  1. Avene Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum: I can’t rave enough about this product as it’s probably the best item I’ve tried from BB. I use this in the evening, and I’m amazed that it’s not greasy at all, but my skin looks glowy and radiant when I wake up. The sample was enough for about a week’s worth of usage and I’m really contemplating purchasing this once I’ve used up more of my other moisturizers. The smell is also light and quite pleasant, so no complaints there. The full-size of this retails for $36 and the sample is about 1/10th of the full-size.
  2. Jouer Lip Enhancer: I’m not a huge lip product junkie but I love anything that moisturizes. Jouer is a brand that I’ve wanted to try and have debated their quarterly subscription box a few times, but didn’t want to contribute to my already overflowing collection of unused products.This lip treatment claims to not only moisturize, but also provide a “boost” to your lips (although that’s hilariously not actually something I strive for). Fortunately for me, I didn’t notice a difference when I wore this, and it worked well simply for hydration purposes. The full-size for this is $16 and I received almost $8’s worth of product in the sample.
  3. Shiseido ULTIMUNE EYE Power Infusing Eye Concentrate: I’ve never understood the people who use an eye cream for a few days and claim they notice a difference…but I definitely have no complaints about this product and the size is extremely generous. I’m also totally a fan of the smell! The full-size for this is $65 and I believe the sample I received was almost 1/3 of the full-size.
  4. Livingproof PhD dry shampoo: I’ll admit seeing this product in the spoiler was what convinced me to go with the curated box this month. I read a lot of great things about this, and the size of the sample I received retails for $12, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong. Some people find the smell to be overpowering, but I actually really like it. My biggest complaint with this item, however, is the extremely noticeable residue and the lack of control on how much product is distributed. I have black hair so I’m pretty picky about dry shampoos, but this one definitely left a bright white residue, which was impossible to rub out of my scalp in some areas, and it also clung randomly to some of my hairs. Ironically, this was the only dud for me in the box so I’ll probably give this to someone else with lighter colored hair 🙂
  5. LOC One & Done Shadow Stick in Day Trip: Shadow sticks were something that I’m pretty sure I used in high school and have since stopped owning…however, I’ve gotta admit this might be an exception. It’s sooo nicely pigmented and long-wearing, and I think the shade is perfect for the holidays. This makes me want to check out some of the other items from Tati’s makeup line too.

Hands down, this was the best BB I’ve received to-date. I was extremely impressed with the curated items, even though part of what I love about sub boxes is never truly knowing what you’re going to get. In this case, all of these items were worth trying for me and all but the dry shampoo worked out very well. I can’t wait for December’s box!

Let me know if you opted for the curated box this month, or what products you liked if you went with the regular box 🙂 As always, thank you for reading!

elf blending brush

The $6 Brush You Need In Your Life

I used to be willing to shell out $30+ for a good foundation brush because I believed so strongly in its role for achieving a smooth and even application. Sephora’s Pro Airbrush #55 has consistently been my go-to, but I’ve been in the market for a replacement brush and didn’t want to shell out so much money again.

Last week, I saw this e.l.f. Blending Brush on a fellow blogger’s page, and was really excited that e.l.f. decided to make it because it’s shaped very similarly to Sephora’s Pro Full Coverage Airbrush #53 that costs $38. This e.l.f. brush on the other hand, you guessed it, is only $6!

elf blending brush

The brush arrived yesterday, and I used it to apply liquid foundation, per the video that Sephora had for its #53 brush, which involved putting 1 pump of foundation on the back of my hand (I’ve used Smashbox for as long as I can remember), dabbing the bristles in, and then sweeping the brush across my cheeks, down to my chin, and then across my forehead and down the middle of my face again. The coverage that I ended up with was very natural-looking, and the greatest part was that I could tell there was barely any trace of foundation left on the brush after application. As you can tell, the bristles on this brush are much shorter than the bristles on the #55 that I currently use, and combined with the density of the fibers, this basically keeps product from getting trapped and unused. I also used this to apply powder shortly after, and it continued to glide across my face smoothly.

I purchased this brush last week when they had a promo for free shipping with any order, but now it appears the brush is excluded from site-wide promos, probably because so many people have raved about this and e.l.f. has realized they can capitalize on this awesome product. Some of you who have followed my blog from the beginning probably remember my comparison of e.l.f.’s contour brush with Marc Jacob’s similar brush, and at that time, it was quite clear the e.l.f. brush was a less luxurious-feeling, but still effective, dupe. However, in this case, e.l.f. has really upped its game, and my $6 contouring brush back then now feels inferior to this blending brush. Not only does this brush have a most substantial weight to it, but the bristles also feel like they’re much higher quality.

I’m so pleased with this brush, and hope you all are able to get your hands on this to experience how well it multi-tasks! I probably won’t be ordering from e.l.f.’s website again anytime soon, but I would love to get a bunch of these for people as holiday gifts. Let me know if you’ve tried this brush yet, and as always, thank you for reading!

Sephora Favorites Discovery Collection Perfume

During my last Sephora splurge (which you can read about here), I purchased this perfume sampler which contains more “boutique” brands and scents that you wouldn’t commonly find. I guess I mainly wanted a break from the Marc Jacobs, D&G, CK, and whatever other scents they tend to always give perfume samples for. In the last couple of years, my fragrance preference has changed drastically from previously liking only fruity fragrances, to now liking floral scents and being much more open to earthy scents as well.

This set is still available on Sephora’s website, and retails for $34, which is a little less than $7 per perfume. I find the containers to be very cute for displaying, but only the NEST one has a roller ball applicator. The rest of them are all, which can be a pain in the ass. I’ll definitely say that if they were all spray perfumes, I’d probably be more tempted to use them.

  1. Nest – Indigo: This is my absolutely FAVORITE out of all of these. It’s so different from the perfumes that I usually wear, such as Chloe, which is much more crisp. The fragrance is so inviting and I can totally smell the hints of bergamot and wild fig.
  2. Tocca – Cleopatra: My second favorite in this set…you get your crisp grapefruit, but also a sensual jasmine, and I love how the fragrance evolves the longer you wear it.
  3. Atelier Cologne – Orange Sanguine: I really like this scent and it’s exactly as the name sounds. Pure orange goodness. The only drawback to this is that the scent doesn’t last very long at all. Add that to the fact that the method of application can be a pain, I haven’t used this very much.
  4. TOKYO MILK Tainted Love: This would have been a scent that I absolutely hated a couple years ago. It’s has notes of dark vanilla, sandalwood, yet smells very sweet. It’s the perfect “going out” evening scent, and a little goes a long way with this one. I also like how the smell changes throughout the day as you have it on.
  5. Clean – Warm Cotton: If you like scented dryer sheets, this one’s definitely for you. This is probably the only one out of the collection that I’m not highly fond of, just because I don’t want to walk around smelling like I just did a boatload of laundry, haha. I haven’t tried combining it with any other scent though, and that might make it better. Just not for me right now!

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So…for $34 is it worth it? I liked being able to sample these fragrances in these cute containers, but it probably wasn’t my best purchase. I would probably consider repurchasing this as a gift, but only for fragrance lovers who want to try something a little more “outside the box”. This might be a good item to pick up in November when Sephora has their annual store-wide sale for Beauty Insiders, though.

Have you guys worn any of these fragrances before? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks so much for reading 🙂