Game Changers

Throughout our cosmetics lives, we delight in the moments where we find our holy grail products. The best mascara, the greatest concealer, the perfect shade of foundation. This is one of the main reasons the beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar business; we’re all constantly on the search for the next best thing.

Over the past year, I’ve come across some products that were game changers for me, products I’ve used every day since I bought them and will never be without.

While I’ve tried some great things that are certainly now part of my beauty arsenal, most of the time they become part of a rotation rather than a staple. The products/techniques below are ones I won’t soon forget.

  • beautyblender
  • corrector
  • nude liner
  • mixing foundation

Each of these probably deserves its own review, but I’ll give you a quick run down as they are important enough to be in my every day lineup.

beautyblender: While to some it may be simply a makeup sponge, and an overpriced one at that, I will tell you that it’s worth every penny.

To use it properly, run the sponge under water and squeeze out the excess. When the sponge is damp, you can roll or bounce foundation onto your skin. The result is a flawless, airbrushed finish. It’s unlike any other applicator I’ve ever tried.

The egg shape allows for seamless blending in every area of your skin, including around the nose and under the eyes. It can sheer out full coverage foundation on your good skin days, and still make full coverage foundations look natural on not-so-good skin days.

The beautyblender is sold at Sephora and Nordstrom, among other online retailers, for $20. If you take care of it and wash it regularly, it will last you a long time. If you frequent beauty.com and have products on your wish list, they are holding a promotion giving you a free beautyblender and mini cleanser when you spend $40, plus they offer free shipping on orders over $25. That offer is good until 4/30/13.

Corrector: There are all sorts of products labeled as “correctors” when it comes to cosmetics; essentially every product can be viewed as a corrector in some way, can’t it? Although I prefer to think of them as enhancers.

The corrector I’m referring to here is for under eye circles. For those who are plagued with blue tones peeking out under your eyes in the morning, look no further than Pixie, Bobbi Brown and Armani who all offer orange or peach based “correctors” to counteract those colors.

At first, I thought this was just another ploy to get us to buy another product we don’t really need. Au contraire.

I am a firm believer in correcting before concealing, especially if I skip a day. It’s a noticeable difference. If you just conceal, you will still get a slight shadow peeking out, making you look made up but still tired; no one wants that. If you first correct the blue tones, THEN go over with concealer, you will have a smooth and even canvas making you look bright-eyed and awake.

Nude liner: This is so essential that I never leave the house without it. It’s an instant brightener for your eyes, literally. I have used Stila’s Topaz and Tarte’s EmphasEYES Inner Rim brightener, and the latter is my favorite. I use it on the lower lash line (waterline) where some women tend to put black. Black closes off the eyes, making them appear smaller. When you use a flesh or nude color liner, it makes your eyes appear bigger and brighter. It also conceals any redness you may have from lack of sleep or stress. It’s a quick fix to swipe on and go!

Mixing foundations: As someone with very fair skin, finding the right shade of foundation is somewhat of a challenge. Not to mention the formula, although we have a lot more choices than we used to. I usually just look immediately to the far left, where the lightest foundation in a line sits.

While the foundation may be the lightest shade offered, it might lean golden or pink. I prefer foundations with neutral undertones, and this isn’t always easy to achieve.

So I decided to play artist and start mixing colors until I found the right one.

Luckily for me, this shade is reached by combining two inexpensive foundations, the price of which together is less than one high-end bottle. I mix Maybelline’s Fit Me foundation in 110 (golden) with Maybelline’s Dream Liquid Moose foundation in Porcelain Ivory (pink).

The two together provide a natural, satin finish that is a dead on match for my skin tone. If you find yourself in a similar situation, think outside the box a little bit and start mixing.

There are also lines like Illamasqua, sold at Sephora, that offer a white mixing base that serves to lighten any shade of foundation.

 

Hopefully you find these as helpful as I do! What are some of your holy grail products?

 

 

 

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Ole Henriksen’s 3 Little Wonders

In hopes of making updates to this blog a more regular occurrence, I’ll keep the ball rolling with a product review. Well, a 3-in-1 product review in attempts to make up for lost time.

In the past 4 months, I’ve completely fallen in love with Ole Henriksen. And if you’re wondering as much as I was, his name is pronounced Ooo-Lah not Oh-lay. You also might be wondering who he is, or rather how good or bad his products are.

Last December, I was in the market for some new skin care and I had heard great things about Ole Henriksen and his thoughts on ingredients for glowing skin. I had my eye on the 3 Little Wonders kit. It features 3 generously sized products for $70, so essentially you’re getting to try a full-size product for free since the kit is valued at $101.

The kit includes:

  • 1 oz Truth Serum
  • 1 oz Invigorating Night Gel
  • 1 oz Sheer Transformation moisturizers886358-main-hero

It’s hard to say which product in the kit is my favorite, because I’ll they all play a part in visibly improving my complexion. They are all oil free, and formulated without Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalates, GMO and Triclosan. Now I don’t know what most of those are, but they sound bad so I don’t necessarily want to be rubbing them all over my face.

The first item in the kit, and possibly the front runner, is the Truth Serum which is loaded with Vitamin C that promotes brighter, healthier skin. It has a slight citrus smell, and its consistency is very thin. The bottle has a pump which is great for sanitary reasons, but sometimes it sticks and is a pain to get the right amount of product out. I use this first in my night time routine after removing my makeup and cleansing my face, but I use it in the morning as well after cleaner and before moisturizer.

Next up is the Invigorating Night Gel. This is basically a chemical exfoliant, (which I find more effective and more gentle than a physical one) so I only use it 2-3 times a week depending how my skin feels. I’ve never tried anything like this particular product, and it does make a difference. It might cause your skin to feel a bit tight and tingly at first, but that quickly dissipates when moisturizer is applied. It does wonders for evening skin tone and preventing breakouts. I use this product only at night, hence the name. My one qualm about it, and also about the moisturizer which I’ll talk about next, is that both come in jars rather than having pump applicators. Sticking your fingers in the product then on your face then back in the product night after night just screams for bacteria that is likely causing the problems you’re trying to avoid or correct in the first place.

Sheer Transformation is a light weight moisturizer that feels quite nice when applied. It makes skin noticeably smoother, or at least it does in when used in conjunction with the other products in the kit. There is no heavy scent, and it has not caused any irritation or a single breakout. I don’t think it was heavy enough for me in the winter months (for that I stick to my trust Clinique Moisture Surge) but I can tell this will be a staple for me come summer.

All in all, the 3 Little Wonders kit is a great introduction to Ole Henriksen’s line and it’s a great value. I will say that I have purchased the kit twice now, and it is a bit irritating that you don’t necessarily finish all the products at once so there is some overlap, especially with using the Invigorating Night Gel much less than the other two products. It is worth it though, at least for me, to try a new skin care regimen that actually performs the way it promises to.

Skin care is a sensitive area, and what works for me might not work for you and vice versa. As someone with very fair and sensitive skin, I will tell you this line has done no wrong for me so far in the four months I’ve been actively using it. If you’re interested, ask for some samples from your local Sephora. I also recommend introducing each product into your skin care routine one at a time, this way if you do suffer a reaction, you will be able to pin point the culprit rather than playing a guessing game.

Ole Henriksen is sold at Sephora, sephora.com and olehenriksen.com.

Celebrate Chic Week with Sephora!

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Calling all cosmetics connoisseurs! Don’t forget to take advantage of Sephora’s Chic Week! All beauty insiders get 15% off with code CHIC, 4/12 through 4/21. VIBs can take advantage beginning 4/11 through 4/22 (same code, VIBCHIC). Or you can print your email and bring the bar code to your local Sephora store.

If you’re anything like me, you keep a running list of products you’re dying to try. On mine this month are Hourglass’ ambient lighting powders (particularly Mood Light), NARS Belle de Jour lipstick (a classic NARS nude lipstick that believe it or not I have yet to try), NARS matte lip pencils in Sex Machine, Never Say Never and Roman Holiday, Urban Decay lip pencil in Paranoid, and Tarte’s cheek stain in Awakening.

With new products on the market and new collections launching what seems like monthly at least, it’s hard to resist temptation and not become a total junkie. Of course if you do give in, you might have yourself your own beauty blog! And find your wallet a little lighter. Lovelies, as we know, this can be an expensive habit so we should take advantages of discounts and perks whenever and wherever we can.

Get on over to your local Sephora or sephora.com and indulge a bit without paying full price.

What products are you eyeing?

theBalm Nude ‘Tude palette- Sale!

Eyeshadow palettes seem to be taking over the world of cosmetics as of late, in fact palettes are in general. Women seem to like the idea of having everything in one compact and the portability factor doesn’t hurt.

One of my favorite eyeshadow palettes is from a line called theBalm that used to be carried at Sephora but it is now only online and at a few select boutiques here and there. I wanted to let you know of the Nude ‘Tude palette now because theBalm is being featured on HauteLook today so you can snap it up for half price! It’s free to sign up on HauteLook and you can find some great deals on brand name items ranging from cosmetics to clothing to home furnishings.

The reason this palette is my favorite and most reached-for in my collection is because of the variety and quality of the eyeshadows it contains. They are smooth and incredibly pigmented, and blend together seamlessly to create beautiful gradient looks. The shades range from a deep smoky burgundy (my favorite) to a pure white, which I like to use to highlight my brow bone and tap on the inner corners of my eyes to brighten them and give some lift. It makes for a great travel palette as you have almost every color you’d need to create a look, plus it’s fun to pull out of your makeup bag. This palette is unique because of its ability to give you a neutral or colorful look, while most palettes are exclusive to one or the other. There is also a mix of matte and shimmer which is a nice surprise.

The packaging of this palette and of the line as a whole is beyond adorable, and I’m quite gullible to marketing efforts and product design. That being said though this palette delivers on quality as well as aesthetics which makes it all the more enjoyable. It features vintage pin-up girls as a display for each color with names like “Standoffish,” “Sophisticated,” and “Sassy.” There are two different palettes, one called “Naughty” with the pin-up girls, the version that I have, and one called “Nice” which is a vintage living room setting. Both contain the same shades, it’s just about your packaging preference.

You get 12 shades and a brush for $36, but as I said you can get it from HauteLook for $18 if you’re interested and act quickly. The offer is available through Friday 5/18 but this line tends to sell out quickly so check it out.

What’s your favorite eyeshadow palette? Or do you prefer singles? Do share!

 

Amazing Cosmetics Concealer

Since I accepted a new position and bid sleep adieu, also the reason for my sudden absence, I’ve been on the search for a pigmented, smooth, long-lasting and affordable concealer to brighten up my undereye area. In short, I was looking for a miracle. Well, I’m back to tell you that I’ve found a pretty good product, definitely the best concealer I’ve used.

Amazing Cosmetics concealer is…amazing. I’ve ignored the hype about this product for so long; it actually says “World’s Best Concealer” right on the packaging. But I always figured; don’t they all claim to be the best? Well I think Amazing Cosmetics takes the cake. While it is a bit pricey at $28 for a 0.2 oz tube, a little bit goes a long way so it will last you quite awhile.  To test out concealers, I usually dab the product on the back of my hand and see how it does at covering up any veins. This one almost completely hid the blue on my hand so I knew it was coming home with me.

The concealer covers extremely well without looking cakey or accentuating any fine lines. It’s slightly tacky so I find it best to apply as I do all my eye products, using a tapping motion rather than rubbing it across your skin. Tapping the product in allows it to absorb more smoothly and blend seamlessly with the warmth of your fingers. I tend to use my fingers rather than a brush for that reason.

With some concealers, after application you can still see a slight shadow peaking through, but with this one due to the saturation of the color, shadows are nearly eliminated. Of course this depends on the severity of your darkness, but apply at your discretion. The product applies well in layers, so it’s best to start with a very little amount and build up to your desired coverage.

It wears fairy well, I’d say 8 hours or so with no touch-ups, and I have combination skin. It settles slightly into fine lines, but not offensively so; I’ve never met a concealer that hasn’t. I came across this product in the checkout line at Sephora and since I had a 10% VIB coupon, I decided to pick it up. Sephora doesn’t carry the entire line of Amazing Cosmetics, but Ulta does. The concealer also comes in a 0.5oz tube for $40 if you really fall in love with it. There are 10 shades to choose from, and I picked up the color Fair which is a nice match for my skin.

I’m still currently using my Bobbi Brown undereye corrector in Bisque, and I tap a light layer of Amazing Cosmetics concealer over it and voila! Looks like I got 8 hours of sleep rather than 4.

J’Adore Dior…usually

I have a few favorite Houses when it comes to designers, and the House of Dior is in my top 5. I won’t get into couture and my irrational love of it, but rather concentrate on the subset of Dior that the average woman can get her hands on: the cosmetic line.

Dior cosmetics and fragrances are sold at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s and the like, but I prefer to have my swatch fests at Sephora. I was doing just that and fell in love with the spring collection, specifically the Garden Palette.

This palette was love at first sight. Well I suppose you could say it turned out to be lust because I got the palette home and was totally over it. While the five shades of soft pastels look beautiful in the pan, there is absolutely no color payoff when applied to your eyelids. The palette contains a pink shimmer, buttercup yellow shimmer, pale green shimmer, golden green shimmer and teal green shimmer. Note how they all end in “shimmer” because that they are, so I would not advise using only this palette to create a look. They are embossed with a rose print that’s undoubtedly gorgeous and makes you not even want to use the palette, which is exactly what would have happened had I not returned it. Sephora thankfully has a great return policy.

I bought the palette because when I heavily swatched them with my fingers the colors looked pigmented and felt smooth. But when I got home and applied some shades, it just looked as if there was shimmer all over my eyelids. This is fine if that’s the look you’re going for, but there was no color distinction at all. So at $59.00, this palette went back. It’s too bad because the colors are unique and beautiful…if only they actually showed up when applied.

I haven’t tried any other Dior shadows so I can’t offer a comparison…but I’m hoping this was a one-time fluke.

Caviar Chic

There’s a new trend hitting nail beds across the world, one that hasn’t been done as far as I can remember. While I’m not a fan of caviar on a cracker, I’m oddly drawn to the effect it gives on finger nails.

The manicure doesn’t involve actual caviar, of course, but micro beads or “caviar pearls” that adhere to nail polish that provide an interesting and textured look. The company that is pioneering the market is Ciaté recently put up for sale at Sephora.com. The kits will be sold in stores in May. There are currently three kits available; a white, pink and black. Each set contains a polish, the beads, a tiny funnel (to put the unused beads back in the bottle to preserve for another use,) and a tray.

The idea is similar to a glitter project you did when you were a kid. You paint all of your nails with one coat of your chosen polish, then start on them one by one. Paint a second of polish, then follow with sprinkling the beads over the nail. They will adhere immediately, letting any fallout land in the provided tray. Continue one by one until your nails are to your liking, pressing the beads down very gently to ensure they’re intact.

The concept is new and fun to me, but I don’t like being limited in color selection. Also, the kits are selling for $25 each, and the manicure really only lasts 3-4 days with the beads all in place. This brings me to my next point…which is that Michael’s (or your local craft store) sells similar  beads that will adhere to nail polish the exact same way, and you can buy them for around $5 or less. You can choose to put those beads over any polish you like. I haven’t tried this first hand, nor have I tried Ciaté’s yet, but I’m dying to.

Stay tuned!

Magnetic Nail Polish

I’ve been curious about the magnetic nail polish craze for a while but never bit the bullet until now. The effect is unlike anything else on the market and it’s definitely a conversation piece. I picked up a Nails Inc. polish in “Whitehall” which is a creamy teal. The polish on its own looks fantastic. It’s quite creamy and goes on like a dream, opaque in one coat. It leaves a fantastic shine on the nails without any top coat, but I almost always use one for good measure.

To get the design on your nails, you simply turn the cap over and place the lip on your cuticle allowing the magnet to do its work. Hold it over your finger, being careful not to touch it to your nail, for 10-15 seconds. You’re left with the interesting design that you can see in the photo. It’s almost a chevron print, but the lines aren’t as sharp. I actually like it for something different to wear on occasion, but I don’t see this being my every day nail polish. If you want to tone it down, you can use the magnet for effect on just your ring finger. This can be your accent nail while you paint the rest with just the color.

In terms of wear, the polish on its own isn’t so good. I applied it without a base or top coat to test out the true longevity of the formula. It was chipping by the next morning. I would strongly suggest applying both a base and top coat to seal the polish.

Nails Inc. originated in the UK but has made its way to the US via Sephora. The brand features a wide array of shades in a regular formula, and five in the magnetic series. There is a deep purple, grey, berry and brown along with the teal color that I bought. They all look beautiful, but at $16 each I might consider trying one of the brands that are imitating this polish.

What do you think of the effect?

Sephora + PANTONE

This gallery contains 9 photos.

I’m not usually one for a bold lip. Let alone anything orange. I usually stick to a pinkish nude or a classic red. But when it was announced that Sephora was teaming up with Pantone to create a collection surrounding … Continue reading

The Eyes Have It

There’s big news in the beauty world again, and the buzz word is eyeshadow. One of the brands that’s known for it is Urban Decay, and that’s exactly who is headlining recently. Urban Decay is the notoriously edgy company that was one of the first to release excellently pigmented eyeshadows in shades other than run-of-the-mill browns, greys, pinks and taupes. It has been sold at Sephora for as long as I can remember, and used to be one of the only truly innovative and exciting brands there.

Over the years Urban Decay has become famous not only for its eyeshadows, but for its palettes. In my opinion Urban Decay was instrumental in creating the palette craze that has taken over the cosmetics industry, steering customers away from purchasing a single eyeshadow for $18 when they can buy a palette of 6+ for anywhere from $40-$50. Customers are getting more product, more variety and convenient packaging while (seemingly) saving a buck. Although we all know that we set our minds to just spending that $18 and wind up shelling out more than double, but my previous reasoning is almost always our justification. That and they’re pretty.

The point of today’s rambling is to let you know of Urban Decay’s recent reformulation of its single eyeshadows, claiming to be smoother, more pigmented and more blendable than ever. Urban Decay has released a total of 68 shades for us to choose from, all coming in 5 possible finishes: satin, duotone, shimmer, sparkle and matte. With the variety of finishes and shades, you’re sure to find one that you like. The best part, however, is that you can choose 6 colors to place in your very own Urban Decay palette.

Customization is another sizable trend in the industry right now, and hats off to Urban Decay for making it even more enticing. Not only can you select whatever 6 shades catch your eye, but they are easily popped into the palette without any anxiety like that of depotting a MAC eyeshadow. With Urban Decay’s product, the eyeshadow has a magnetized backing that clicks into one of the 6 slots in the palette. This is quick, painless and interchangeable, so don’t think you have to limit yourself to ONLY choosing 6 shades.

You may have to restrain yourself.

All 68 eyeshadows ($18 each) and the palette (sold separately for $18.00) are now available at urbandecay.com and will be available shortly at Sephora.com and in Sephora stores. And never fear if a beloved shade of yours has been discontinued, Urban Decay has a dupe/suggestion list to give you a similar look. Go have yourself a swatch fest!