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!

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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!

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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!

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!

August’s Ipsy Glam Bag

It’s been awhile since I last blogged — starting a new job has definitely taken it’s toll. I did want to share what I received in August’s Ipsy, though, before the month was over. I was a huge fan of the items I received in July’s glam bag, and part of me was thinking it must have been a fluke since I was a new subscriber 🙂 I received this bag in the mail a few days ago and finally had some time to try the items. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m as, if not more, impressed with August!

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  1. Trust Fund Nail Polish in “Elegantly Wasted”: I get a kick out of this shade’s name, but it’s a great color and is 5-free. I applied it without any base or top coat, and 2 coats of the color stayed on for 3 days before any chipping started to occur. The applicator was also easy to use and I would repurchase more colors in a heartbeat if they weren’t around $16 a piece….
  2. Starlooks Luxe Longwear Eyeliner pen: I’m always looking for a good liquid eyeliner, and this one being full-size certainly doesn’t disappoint. The pigmentation is awesome, and it doesn’t smudge after wearing it for an entire day. The felt tip is also more stiff than, say, Kat Von D’s tattoo liner, and I actually really like that.  Soo happy with this product and I would totally repurchase, although it retails for $18 so it isn’t exactly on the cheap side.
  3. OZ Naturals Amino Herbal Hydration Mask: I haven’t had a chance to try this mask yet but I look forward to using it when Fall comes and the air becomes more dry.
  4. Hikari Lip gloss in Merlot: Another full-size item! I don’t use a ton of lip products, but I was surprised at how much I liked this formula. It’s quite moisturizing and the color is really suitable for medium skin tones. I’m too chicken to wear this to work during the day, but I would definitely wear it on an evening out.
  5. Batiste Dry Shampoo: Haven’t had a chance to try this yet, but I can definitely use some of this for the next time I travel.

Taking just my last 2 boxes into consideration, I love the variety of products that I’ve gotten, and that I didn’t receive any face makeup this month. The value of this box is also well over $50 and these are all items I would use, so I couldn’t be happier.

I’d love to hear what you guys received this month and what your favorite items are 🙂

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July Favorites!

Since I haven’t been blogging for very long, this is my first “monthly favorites” post. Not sure if I’ll be able to keep this up every month, but in July I definitely tried a ton of new products, and these were the ones I discovered, and/or used regularly.

L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Powder: I’ve read countless reviews on the liquid foundation from this line, and have yet to try it because during the few attempts at trying to purchase, they were always out of my shade. While at Ulta about a month ago, I decided to try this powder instead because it retailed for $12.99 and was 40% off during a special promotion, making it worth trying even if it ended up being a dud. The shade I picked up was “Natural Beige” with yellow undertones, and as soon as tried it at home, I knew it was the perfect shade for me!

It comes with a sponge applicator and mirror that sits nicely below the powder, and although I’m usually not a fan of these applicators, it absorbed and distributed the product very well, and gave you the option of either light or heavier coverage.

I would argue the 16-HR staying power is a little unfounded, but I totally stand by the fact that this product mattifies while still managing to give you a natural look. I’m so glad I decided to bring this to Europe because whenever I thought my face looked a little oily, I used this to touch-up and it never broke me out.

I highly recommend giving this one a try, whether you loved or hated the liquid foundation in this line.

MAC Studio Fix Concealer: So many MAC products are popular among bloggers, and this concealer is no exception. It works extremely well for spot-coverage, and I apply it with a brush or my finger, depending on what I’m trying to achieve. The staying power of this is unbelievable and if I wanted to use this solely to cover all the redness in my cheeks, it would do the job.

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NYX Green CC Cream in Medium/Dark: This is another product that I purchased during the month while I was looking to try a drugstore product that could combat redness. NYX has both a Light/Medium, and a Medium/Dark for Green, and I opted for the latter because I felt that whenever I choose the lighter shade, it tends to whiten my skin too much, and then my foundation doesn’t look right.

People with dry skin and redness, pay attention! This is lightweight, and it comes out green from the tube (love the applicator tip btw, it’s narrow so you don’t have to worry about too much product coming out), and then dries in a light beige color. I literally did a comparison where I only put it on 1 side of my face, waited 5 minutes, and I could totally tell that the redness was reduced on that 1 side. The complaints I’ve read are that it doesn’t fully cover redness like concealer does, but I believe that’s not the point of a CC cream. This is supposed to be one of the first things you put on to try to neutralize redness, and I found it to be moisturizing as well. People with oily skin might be turned off by the moisturizing aspect, but properly hydrating your skin can combat excessive oil production, so I wouldn’t write this product off entirely.

At $13.99 retail, this definitely isn’t a “cheap” drugstore product, but I find it to be very effective, and compared to Stila and MUFE that have similar products, this price is a steal. The only thing it’s “missing” is some SPF, but that’s what moisturizer is for, I suppose. Also, Ulta has BOGO 50% of NYX all the time, and I happened to purchase this from Ulta when they had 40% off NYX, which was amaaaazing!

Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream: I’ve never been an eye cream person, but I may have found a cream that I enjoy using. This is a really popular product so I won’t ramble on about it very much, but I’m really going to make an attempt as using up this whole tube!

What were some of your favorites in July? Do you use any of my favorites? Thank you for reading!

ipsy july glambag

First Ipsy — Initial Impression of July’s Glam Bag

After reading so much about Birchbox and Ipsy over the last year, I finally decided to take the plunge and subscribe to Ipsy. Although I’ll most likely subscribe to Birchbox in the future, Ipsy has really been impressing me with its items in the last few months and I liked the idea of receiving a little pouch with every glam bag. I had no idea when I was going to even receive my first bag since I was on the wait list and never received any shipment notifications. This ended up coming while my mail was on hold, so I finally opened everything on Monday 🙂

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One of the featured potential “hero items” this month was the Tarte Park Ave Princess Bronzer, and I was pleasantly surprised when I found it in here. There is some shimmer in this, which is actually a welcome for me since most of the bronzers I have are matte now. Although this is not full-sized, there’s still 0.11 oz of product in here so it will last me a long time!

Ofra Cosmetics Eyeshadow and Highlighter in Bliss: I was kind of annoyed that I received so much face makeup in this bag (the tarte bronzer and this eyeshadow look like they’re almost the same shade in the photo above!) and I had never heard of this brand before. The packaging of this item did not excite me at all since they essentially took a pan for a refillable palette and put it in some plastic. I went to Ofra’s website and managed to find at least something that would give me an idea as to what the product’s value is, and the brand in general. Good news: I tried this as a highlighter and absolutely loved it! Goes to show…can’t judge a book by its cover!

Pur-lisse Ultra Skin Brightening Serum: Yay, I was happy about getting a face product in this glam bag, and one that wasn’t a cleanser. This has Vitamin C in it, which I hope will help fade dark spots.

Bellapierre Cosmetics Mineral Lipstick in P.I.N.K: You may have gathered from my past posts that I’m not a huge lip color wearer, so you can imagine my reaction when I received this. Can’t believe this product retails for $19.99! I put it on my lips and the shade is actually extremely wearable, and much less “pink” than the color displayed on their website. I might exfoliate and prep my lips later and try to wear this, lol.

Coolway Beachy Salt Spray: I definitely don’t need anymore hair products so this one’s going to one of my friends.

Overall, I’m very pleased with my first Ipsy bag, so I’ll continue my subscription and await what August has to offer. Did any of you receive the same items as me in July? Which were your favorite products that you received? Thanks for reading!