Sunday, May 18, 2014

Brand Focus #2: The Best of NYX Cosmetics

Hi there, and welcome to my blog! This evening I thought I would do another post dedicated to a particular makeup brand, NYX Cosmetics. NYX is another one of my all time favorite drugstore brands, and I've recently been rekindling my love for them. NYX is extremely affordable and cruelty free, and make some really special products. I usually purchase NYX from Ulta or directly from their website.

First, I want to talk about the NYX Xtreme Lip Creams. Dare I say these might be my favorite lip products... ever? They are really incredible though; smooth, pigmented, long-wearing, and a great color selection. The only negative thing I can possibly say about these is in regards to the smell. Other lip products from NYX that I own have very nice smells to them, but these really kind of smell like rotting fruit. I feel like I just insulted a good friend saying that, but it's the truth. However, the smell is not noticeable at all once I've applied these to my lips, so it isn't a huge issue for me.

NYX Xtreme Lip Cream in Nude Peach Fuzz, Bonfire, and Buttery Nude

NYX Xtreme Lip Cream in Buttery Nude, Nude Peach Fuzz, and Bonfire

NYX Xtreme Lip Cream in Buttery Nude, Nude Peach Fuzz, and Bonfire

Here, my friends, is the lovely Infinite Shadow Stick in Flushed by NYX. I did not include a swatch of this product simply because the swatches I attempted to take did not do this gorgeous color justice. This is the most stunning rose gold color I have ever seen! Ironically enough, there's actually another shade of this product named "Rose Gold", but I find that one to be less rosy and more of a plain gold / slight coppery shade. This applies very nicely without tugging or pulling on the eyelid. While I prefer to layer this underneath shadows, it could also be worn on its own. It also has amazing staying power; once it sets, it dries down very quickly and won't budge!

NYX Infinite Shadow Stick in Flushed

One of my favorite setting powders of all time is the Stay Matte But Not Flat Powder Foundation in Ivory. I wouldn't really call this a foundation, as it has a very sheer amount of coverage. For someone who already has nice skin and just wants a product for oil control, this would serve that purpose well. For me, this works best when I use it around my T-zone and as an on-the-go touch-up powder. It has a very smooth texture and also slightly blurs the appearance of the pores around my nose.

NYX Stay Matte But Not Flat Powder Foundation in Ivory

The NYX Powder Blushes are my favorites from the drugstore. Two shades I purchased recently are Amber and Taupe, both of which I have been loving! Taupe is a particularly interesting shade in that it doesn't look like your typical blush. This is a sort of matte brown shade with a neutral undertone - perfect for contouring! As of late, this is all I have been using for that purpose. Amber is a bright rosy coral shade that is also shimmer-free. These colors are both super build-able, which means women with deeper skin tones should be able to get a good amount of color payoff. If you're extremely pale like me, these can be used with a light hand and blended out.

NYX Powder Blushes in Taupe and Amber

Bottom: Taupe, Top: Amber

Left: Taupe, Right: Amber

One of the best go-to lip liners for me is the Retractable Lip Liner in Nude Pink by NYX. I've never been someone who feels the need to use lip liner, so I purchased this on a whim. It doesn't appear very nude in the swatches below, but comes out to be a "your lips but better" kind of color. I think this would work more so as a nude for women with deeper skin tones. The fact that it's retractable makes it very easy to use, and the product itself has a smooth, creamy formula. I may have to go pick this up in a few more colors soon... 

NYX Retractable Lip Liner in Nude Pink

NYX Retractable Lip Liner in Nude Pink

And that wraps up this post! If you have any questions about any of these products, don't be shy! Thanks for reading. :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Real Techniques Brush Review

I'm sure just about everyone who is into makeup has heard of Real Techniques, but I still thought I would share my take on a variety of brushes I own by them. Real Techniques is a brand of high quality makeup brushes and tools that can be found at the drugstore (I usually purchase mine from Ulta) for a very reasonable price. While I certainly don't own all of the brushes from their line, I would consider Real Techniques my favorite line of makeup brushes on the market. Not only are they easy to use and incredibly soft, but the prices are excellent and they're very easy to find!

The Real Techniques "Core Collection" features four brushes for the face; the Buffing Brush, the Contour Brush, the Pointed Foundation Brush, and the Detailer Brush.

My favorite of these four is the Buffing Brush. This is the brush that ignited my love for Real Techniques and made me decide to purchase more! This brush is fantastic for applying cream and powder foundations, as the bristles are packed super dense which gives even coverage. The Contour Brush is great for - you guessed it - contouring! This has been my go-to brush for contouring ever since I bought it. The Pointed Foundation Brush is probably my least used Real Techniques brush, as I find this leaves a streaky appearance when used with liquid products. This is decent for applying thicker, creamier concealers in larger areas of the face. The Detailer Brush is great for covering blemishes here and there.

The Real Techniques "Starter Kit" features five brushes for the eyes; the Deluxe Crease Brush, the Base Shadow Brush, the Brow Brush, the Accent Brush, and the Pixel-Point Eyeliner Brush.

I honestly love all five of these brushes! The Deluxe Crease Brush is not only great to use in the crease, but it's also the perfect size and density to apply concealers. I use the Base Shadow Brush almost every single time I apply eye shadow of any kind. The Brow Brush is undoubtedly the best thing I've found for filling in brows with powder. Both the Accent and Pixel-Point Eyeliner Brushes are great for applying gel eyeliner or smudging eye shadow along the upper and lower lash lines for a "smoky" kind of look.

The Real Techniques Limited Edition Duo Fiber Collection features three brushes; the Duo-Fiber Eye Brush, the Duo-Fiber Face Brush, and the Duo-Fiber Contour Brush. 

The purpose of duo fiber brushes is to soften any harsh lines or edges that result during makeup application. One of the most important things when doing your makeup is to take the time to blend. These brushes are perfect for that; you can never have too much blending! I often use the Duo-Fiber Eye Brush in my crease to apply a light wash of color. The Duo-Fiber Face Brush is great for applying a light-weight powder to set your face makeup, without adding more coverage. And lastly, the Duo-Fiber Contour Brush is excellent for blending out your contour and also for highlighting on top of the cheekbones. As the name suggests, this brush trio is limited edition, but it's currently still available on Ulta's website!

Finally we come to the brushes that I have purchased individually. These are the Blush Brush, the Setting Brush, the Stippling Brush, and the Expert Face Brush. 

The Blush Brush is particularly great because of it's large size and tapered edges. This allows for a natural sweep of color across the cheeks, using either blush or bronzer. The Setting Brush is the only thing I will use to set concealer under my eyes because it's the perfect size and it's so soft! The Stippling Brush is great for applying cream blushes to the cheeks. The Expert Face Brush gives a similar effect as the Buffing Brush from the "Core Collection", however it is smaller in size and slightly denser. This makes it ideal for applying any thinner liquid foundations.

So, I think that just about wraps it up! The quality of these brushes as I mentioned is just fantastic, and I believe these would be useful for both beginners and pros with makeup.

Let me know what your favorite Real Techniques brushes are, and if there are any others I should try! Thanks so much for reading, and have a great day. :)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Favorite Spring Lip Products

Since it's finally warming up here in Seattle, I thought I would talk about some of my favorite Spring lip colors. I usually find that my go-to products in Spring remain some of my favorites throughout the Summer as well.

Here we have the NYX Cosmetics Butter Lip Gloss in Peach Cobbler, MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Coral Bliss, Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Coral, Maybelline Color Elixir in Celestial Coral, and Rimmel London Show Off Lip Lacquers in Aurora and Luna. The order in which they are listed corresponds to the pictures below.

The NYX Cosmetics Butter Lip Gloss in Peach Cobbler is the best lip gloss I have used in a long, long time! Not only is the color gorgeous, but the formula is so comfortable and soft on the lips. I hate sticky lip products, so finding this gloss was nothing short of a miracle for me. Beyond that, these glosses are super affordable and smell like HEAVEN. I cannot praise this stuff enough!

MAC Cremesheen lipstick in Coral Bliss is a beautiful sheer, peachy nude. The more you build this up on the lips, the more that peach color will start to stand out. If you're nervous about trying a coral lip color, this is definitely a toned down, more wearable option. MAC lipsticks are famous for their amazing quality and yummy vanilla smell, and they're also reasonably priced in my opinion.

Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Coral is a super moisturizing, bright coral shade. This is great because the color is so vibrant, yet so easy to wear due to the balm-like feel of this product. If you layer on this color, it can also start to lean into a cherry red shade. This is perfect if you want to take your look from day to night. I mentioned this product in a different shade in my "A Few Products Worth Splurging On" post, which just goes to show my love for these!

Maybelline Color Elixir in Celestial Coral is another glossy type product, with a lot more shine to it than anything else here. The name of this color is somewhat deceptive; I would consider it more of a rose shade. Either way, it's a beautiful color. This gloss has a slightly sticky texture, but it actually hasn't bothered me too much. Another affordable option, this product comes in a huge range of colors.

Rimmel London Show Off Lip Lacquers in Aurora and Luna are two more great options for this time of year. Aurora is a deeper, slightly rosy coral shade, while Luna is a true nude peach. These start out looking glossy, but dry to a semi-matte finish. I have done a full review on these lacquers, which I will link right here for more info.

As you may have noticed, a lot of these products contain the word "coral" somewhere in the name. Corals and peaches are the staple colors this time of year as far as I'm concerned!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them down below in the comments. Have a great day!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Comparison: Beauty Blender vs. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

Hello all! Today I will be doing a comparison between the much hyped Beauty Blender and the (semi-new) Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. The Beauty Blender is over double the price of the Real Techniques sponge, so I was very hopeful that it would work out to be a dupe and save us all some money! I had to go on a little bit of a hunt to find the Real Techniques sponge, as my local Ulta was always sold out of them! However, I finally picked it up, and have owned it for a few months now.

Beauty Blender

Beauty Blender

Miracle Complexion Sponge

Miracle Complexion Sponge

Besides the obvious differences between the way these sponges look, there are some other differences I have noticed. I find that the Beauty Blender is significantly softer and more flexible than the Real Techniques sponge, which helps it to apply foundation and concealer with more ease. For some reason, the Beauty Blender is also much easier to clean compared to the Miracle Complexion Sponge, which is a bonus. Perhaps it's due to the softer, more malleable design of the Beauty Blender? However, the Miracle Complexion Sponge does have the unique feature of a completely flat side for applying foundation.
While the Miracle Complexion Sponge gets the job done, it really doesn't compare to the Beauty Blender in my opinion. I've heard so many people who love this product, but once you've used the Beauty Blender, it's hard to go back! This is the first time I have been under impressed with a product from Real Techniques, as their brushes really are my favorites. If you're on a budget and don't want to splurge on the Beauty Blender, I will say that this is the best sponge I've found from the drugstore by far.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't call these two products dupes. As I mentioned, lots of other people seem to find these sponges incredibly similar, but I honestly can't say that. The Beauty Blender is just so much softer and a lot more squishy, for lack of a better word.

You can purchase the Beauty Blender here and here.

The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is available here, here, and here.

(p.s. The sponges in the pictures above are clean; as you can see, they both stain fairly easily.)

Have you tried either or both of these sponges? What did you think? Let me know, along with any questions or suggestions! Thanks for reading. :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Few Products Worth Splurging On...

Sometimes it can seem as if all of the expensive products out there are priced simply based on the brand name attached to them. While I can admit to spending (way) too much money on makeup, there are still times I question if price really does determine the quality of the product you're getting. The following products are some of the ones I have been the most impressed with recently, and truly feel are worth the high price tag.

First up is by far my favorite mineral foundation ever, the Tarte Amazonian Clay Airbrush Foundation. This is a powder with medium to full, buildable coverage. I have very dry skin overall, yet I still get oily around my nose throughout the day. This powder is amazing because it doesn't accentuate my dry patches at all, and it also helps control oil! In fact, this powder gives a more luminous finish to my skin than some of the liquid foundations I've used. If you're looking for a quick, one-step product, this would be the thing for you. It gives awesome coverage and has the smoothest, most skin-like application; just gorgeous! You can purchase this product from Sephora or Ulta.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Airbrush Foundation in Fair Honey

Next is the Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder Compact in the shade Highlight 01. I'm not sure why the word matte is in the name of this product, as it is a highlighter. Perhaps it refers to the lack of shimmer? To me, that really is what makes this stand out as such a fantastic product. It gives the most beautiful glow to the skin, and has the least shimmer of any other highlighter I've tried or seen. The small amount of shimmer that is present in this product is super finely milled and barely noticeable on the skin at all. For anyone with fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes, or pores on their cheeks, using a highlighter with shimmer can draw even more attention to these issues. If you struggle with this, I highly suggest checking out this powder. Yes, it is expensive, but a little goes a long way and the results are stunning. You can purchase this product here at Sephora.

Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder Compact in Highlight 01
Another product I would definitely save up for is the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, particularly in the shade Petal. This stuff is extremely moisturizing and great during the winter, especially for those of us with chronically chapped lips! All of these balms from Fresh also contain SPF 15. This shade is a great, wearable option for women of all skin tones. It's one of those "your lips but better" colors. I remember the first few times I wore this, I got so many compliments on my lip color! While these don't have the best staying power, considering that they're a balm they do stay on quite well. They're one of the most comfortable things I've ever put on my lips, and they're just so darn pretty! They leave my lips incredibly soft and nourished, even after the color has faded. I found mine at Sephora.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Petal

The following item is a tinted brow gel, Benefit Cosmetic's 'Gimme Brow. This product may not be enough for someone with thinner brows, or someone who's brows are really sparse. However, if you already have somewhat full brows and are more concerned with filling in random "blank spots", you will really enjoy this product. The tiny applicator this has is part of what makes it so unique, as it's super easy to get product onto every last brow-hair. It gives the most natural, full brows without looking heavy or overdone. This is a great product for everyday use, which is part of what makes it worth the higher price. This can be found at both Ulta and Sephora.
Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow in Light/Medium
While there are certainly many other high end products I have become smitten with, these are just a few of the ones I have been particularly loving. I chose these items based off of how often I use them and what I thought would be the most versatile for a variety of women. I have been using these items on a regular basis for months now, and would highly recommend them to anyone I know.
If you have any additional questions or thoughts, please leave them below! Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this post!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Brand Focus: My Top 5 items from Maybelline

Today I will be dedicating this post to one of my favorite drugstore brands; Maybelline. While there are many drugstore brands I have come to love, Maybelline was one of the first. Out of the numerous products I have tried from them over the years, these five products have remained tried and true favorites.

First up, the Maybelline Fit Me Concealers. This is probably the best multi-purpose concealer I've ever tried; I can use this around my nose to conceal redness, under my eyes to hide the darkness, and over blemishes. I've heard this concealer being compared to the NARS Creamy Concealer several times, so if you're looking to save some money, this could be a great option to try. My tube has lasted me forever!
Fit Me Concealer in the shade Fair
Next, one of Maybelline's many mascaras, The Rocket. It seems as if Maybelline is coming out with a new mascara every five seconds, but this one has definitely caught the attention of many. The first time I tried this, it didn't strike me as anything new or different, but the more I've used it, the more I've liked it! I usually end up hating the hard rubber mascara wands, as I always get mascara on my eyelid or poke my eye with it. There's something special about this one... I'm not sure if it's the formula that I'm loving so much, or maybe the rubber bristles are somehow different?
Volum'Express The Rocket Mascara
The Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo cream eye shadows are another favorite of mine. The staying power is excellent on me, and I love that I can wear these over a thin layer of standard eye primer or layer them underneath my powder eye shadows. The texture of these is very smooth and blendable, and can be applied using a brush or your finger. Two of my favorite shades are Bad To The Bronze and Tough As Taupe - great neutral colors! This line also has some vibrant, more colorful shades as well.  
Left/Right: Tough as Taupe, Bad to the Bronze
Next up are the Maybelline Color Sensational Color Whisper Lip colors. While these lipsticks claim to give a light wash of color to the lips, they're actually extremely pigmented! Along with the impressive pigmentation these give, they also have a very nice creamy texture on the lips. They glide on like butter, and leave a healthy look to the lips without being overly shiny. These aren't particularly moisturizing on me, but they're definitely not drying. I would of course recommend applying a good lip balm before using these.

Color Whisper Lip Color in Lust For Blush

Color Whisper Lip Color in Berry Ready
Lastly are the Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blushes. The texture of these is so incredibly bizarre, honestly like nothing else I've ever used. That being said, I'm not usually a big fan of cream blushes, so there may be similar products out there that I've never tried. It really does feel almost "bouncy" when you touch it. This blush is fantastic for a nice pop of color around the Spring and Summer time, without looking too bright or over-the-top. These apply very smoothly and leave a natural, light wash of color on the skin.
Dream Bouncy Blush in Rose Petal
Overall, I must say that Maybelline is one of my favorite brands out there. These are only a few examples of the lovely products they have to offer! Maybelline products can be found at Ulta, Walgreens, and pretty much any other drugstore.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know what you think of these products and if you have any further questions or comments! :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Palette Review: Stila In The Know Eye Shadow Palette

To anyone who may have previously visited my blog, I just want to quickly apologize for being absent for the past few months. I started this blog during a very busy time in my life, which obviously wasn't the smartest idea! However, I'm back and hoping to start posting much more regularly from here on out.

Today I will be reviewing the In The Know eye shadow palette from Stila. I have owned this for quite some time now, nearly a year, so I've had plenty of time to test this out and incorporate it into many different looks. This palette could be considered a sort of "dupe" for the Urban Decay Naked Basics palette, although the one by Stila has ten shades instead of six. I don't own the Naked Basics palette so I can't compare the two, but the In The Know palette definitely has more variety to it.

All ten shades in this palette are completely matte, making it a great "starter" palette for anyone new to makeup. Matte shadows also tend to work much better than shimmer for mature women.

shades from left to right
top row: air, wind, desert, clay, earth
bottom row: driftwood, fire, rain, smoke, ebony

As you can see, the first two shades are extremely close to my skin tone. Air is a true cream color, while wind has a bit more of a peach tone in it.  

Overall, the smooth formula and impressive pigmentation is very consistent throughout the palette. The only color I have an issue with is earth (top right corner). While the pigmentation of this shade is still good, the texture is not quite as smooth and tends to look a bit patchy. Other than that, I must say this palette is of very high quality!

This palette can be found at Sephora and Ulta for $39, which I personally think is a great price for what you get. The palette contains 14 grams of product, and also comes with a Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner in the shade Halfmoon as a little bonus.

All ten shades are very simple and true to color, as well as gorgeous alone or in combination with other shadows! The shade clay is one of my all time favorite transition colors to put in the crease.

I hope this little review was helpful! If you have any questions that I did not address, feel free to leave them below. Thank you for taking the time to read this post and check out my blog.

p.s. I apologize for the blurry photo, I'm still working on how to get a good angle!