Monday, December 29, 2014

Best of 2014! | Setting Powder, Bronzer, Blush, + Highlighter!

Greetings fine people!  Today's Best of 2014 post is dedicated to some of my favorites in the beauty realm: setting powder, bronzer, blush, and highlighter!  Kick back with a warm cuppa tea and let's chat!

DRUGSTORE: L'Oreal Paris True Match Mineral Pressed Powder, $12.99 USD.  This powder is so creamy and fine and it keeps my face free of shine all day.  The pretty white and clear compact contains a mirror and sponge.  Add that to it's smaller overall size and it's a perfect purse companion!
HIGH-END: YSL Poudre Compact Radiance (Radiance-Enhancing Pressed Powder), $47.00 USD.  I picked this up randomly during a Sephora sale without doing any background research beforehand.  It turned out to be one of the best setting powders I've used!  The powder is finely-milled and helps control oil in my t-zone.  I typically don't have to powder my nose (or forehead or cheeks) in the late afternoon hours when I've set my makeup with this little gem.  I got almost a full year's worth of use out of this compact, and believe me, I used it nearly every morning!

DRUGSTORE: Wet N' Wild Color Icon Bronzer SPF 15 in Reserve Your Cabana, $3.99 USD.  While I use this as a highlighter, it can double as an illuminating setting powder for Fair, Light, and Light-Medium skin tones, as well.  The color and finish falls between Hourglass Dim Light and Incandescent Light.  In fact, if you layer one over the other, the resulting shade is a very near match to Reserve Your Cabana!  
HIGH-END: Hourglass Dim Light Ambient Lighting Powder, $45.00 USD.  This creamy peachy beige powder gives the skin a beautiful "lit from within" appearance without the glitter.  It's also one of the 3 powders housed in the Ambient Lighting Palette, so if you're not sure which one to try, get the palette and try 3! | FULL REVIEW HERE (of Mood and Diffused Light).

DRUGSTORE: I was overly involved with my mission to hit pan on the Too Faced Chocolate Soleil this year that I didn't purchase a single drugstore bronzer offering!  If you found a favorite, please share it in the comments!
HIGH-END: Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Medium/Deep Matte Bronzer, $30.00 USD.  How could I not pick this constant companion?  I've had it since March 2013 and use it almost every day.  The matte finish and believable shade of bronze on my NW20 (winter) - NW25 (summer) skin has just been so good, I haven't really explored many others. | FULL REVIEW HERE.

DRUGSTORE: Wet N' Wild Color Icon Bronzer SPF 15 in Reserve Your Cabana, $3.99 USD.  I know!  Again?!  But yes, trust me when I say this is the *perfect* highlighter for people who don't want their pores to appear enlarged or their skin to look frosty!  This subtle peachy illuminator gives the skin an enchanting glow without the "vamps on holiday" glitter.  Thank you to Mary/aLoveTart and Sarah/tatt2sandwarpaint for the recommendation!
HIGH-END: Bobbi Brown Sandstone Shimmer Brick Compact (LE), $ USD.  This is a highlighter for those about to rock!  It's definitely not called a "shimmer brick" for nothin'!  When swirled together, the 5 shades combine into a beautiful shimmering light copper color.  This one does require a light hand (for me), but the finished look on skin is that of a bronzed goddess returning from a weekend in Belize. It is limited edition and is out of stock at Sephora, Bobbi Brown, and Nordstrom, but I did find it available at Macy's.  If you want it, act soon!  This one also pulls double duty as an eyeshadow!

Fingers L to R: Milani Lady Blush, Tarte Tipsy, City Color Fresh Melon
DRUGSTORE: We have a TIE!  First up: City Color Cosmetics Fresh Melon Be Matte Blush, $4.99 USD.  This buttery soft, pigmented coral was my ride or die throughout the summer!  It outlasted numerous weeks of humid, 90 degree temperatures and never appeared faded on my skin at the end of the day.  The generously sized pan contains 8.9 grams of product (for reference, a Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush is 5.6 grams).  Secondly: Milani Rose Powder Blush in Lady Blush, $7.99 USD.  If you missed out on these all-stars of the drugstore, I have exciting news: Milani has announced they will become a part of the permanent line in 2015 and they've been spotted at CVS by Nouveau Cheap reader Autumn
HIGH-END: Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Tipsy, $26.00 USD. This orange-y coral adds the prettiest pop of color to the complexion and lasts through anything you throw at it.  I wore this on my wedding day on the apples of my cheeks!

DRUGSTORE: Maybelline Master Hi-Light Hi-Lighting Bronzer in Light Bronze, $9.99 USD.  This gorgeous neutral blush/bronzer hybrid yields a glowing (but never sparkly) rose gold tone.  Thank you to Marge/IG@margecarlos for convincing me to try something from the line!  
HIGH-END: Another TIE!  Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure, $35.00 USD.  I'd call this a must-have for anyone who'd rather spend their hard-earned cash on a blush that will go with any lip or eye look.  The neutral pink color and hint of radiance literally matches EVERYTHING.  Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Swish & Pop Blusher in Love Glow, $40.00 USD.  Hands-down, the most luxurious blush I've ever owned.  It has a nice heft to it, and the small details like the tiny star on the inside of the compact make it even more of a charmer.  The outer ring of color can be applied to the cheekbones and the inner shade can be popped on the apples, or you can swirl your brush throughout and do whatever you like.  Either way, the luminous finish is understated and beautiful, and the soft pink shade of Love Glow will be flattering across most skin tones. 

Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer

What were your favorite finds in these categories?  Anything you think I should try next year?

>> Stay tuned for the next installment of my Best of 2014 series: EYES! 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Glossier Phase 1 Set Giveaway | And the winner is...

The winner of the Glossier Phase 1 Set giveaway is Ana Vera!  Congratulations!

Thank you to everyone who participated!  Stay tuned for more giveaways in the new year!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Best of 2014! | BASE PRODUCTS! (My Favorite Drugstore + High-End Makeup Picks)

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!  Can you guys believe 2014 is almost over??  This was one of the best years of my life.  Just 8 months ago, I was walking down the aisle to marry the best guy I could've ever dreamed up!  We left for a Puerto Rican adventure the next day and the memories made over the course of the wedding and honeymoon were so wonderful, I think of them whenever when I need a pick-me-up.  
My hair had it's own little story arc in 2014.  I cut it in Condado, PR on our honeymoon, went blonde, tried to fix it by going blonder, went back to brunette, and finally, invested in some hair vitamins in an attempt to grow it out long once again.  Biggest thanks go to Stephanie for devising a long-distance at-home hair color fix; my hair would not be the same without you!
2014 was a good year for makeup as well.  I may not have mastered the cut crease or become a pro at doing an ombr√© lip, but I did discover a plethora of products that made my life easier (and more enjoyabe).  I thought I'd share my favorites with you in a Best of 2014 series.  Today we're focusing on the building blocks: base products!


DRUGSTORE: I didn't find a drugstore primer this year that I loved.  Did you?  What would you recommend?
HIGH-END: Too Faced Hangover Rx Replenishing Face Primer, $32.00 USD.  This silicone-free primer adds hydration without leaving my combination skin an oily mess.  

DRUGSTORE: Lumene Time Freeze CC Cream, $14.99 USD.  I would put this product up against any high-end base product and I believe it would out-perform it.  The silky finish, high-coverage cream leaves my face looking airbrushed. | FULL REVIEW HERE.
HIGH-END: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF30, $42.00 USD.  What more can I say about this?  The raves are true.  Beautiful dewy finish, surprisingly good coverage, and a solid SPF rating. | FULL REVIEW HERE.

DRUGSTORE: Maybelline Dream Wonder Fluid-Touch Foundation, $6.15 USD.  I've literally forsaken all others in favor of this foundation.  Weightless, medium coverage that can be built up to full, and the matte finish is a god-send for anyone with oily or combination skin.  As soon as I finish this foundation, I'll be repurchasing it!  
HIGH-END: Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet, $45.00 USD.  Another beautiful, weightless formula that made my oily summer skin very happy.  Any liquid foundation that allows me to skip finishing powder is a true celebrity in my makeup bag! | FULL REVIEW HERE.

DRUGSTORE: Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller, $12.99 USD.  Caffeine, lemon essence, and mineral pigments combine forces to reduce puffiness while brightening my under-eye area.  The thin, serum-like consistency blends like a dream.  I love putting the tube in the fridge during the warmer months for an even more bombastic cooling/puff-reducing experience!
HIGH-END: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, $29.00 USD. This thick but fabulously blendable concealer is great for under the eyes and on the face.  Apply it to the tops of the cheekbones, bridge of the nose, chin, and forehead, and blend it out with a brush or wet blending sponge for that certain je ne sais quoi J-Lo glow. | FULL REVIEW HERE.


What were some of your fave base products?  If you could only name one base makeup item as your best of the year, what would it be?

>> Stay tuned for the next Best of 2014 installment featuring my favorite powders, bronzers, blush, and highlighters!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Review + GIVEAWAY! | 10 Reasons Why You Need the Glossier Phase 1 Set ❤

If you haven't heard, Glossier is a line founded by Emily Weiss, creator of Into The Gloss.  I first heard of the line through a friend's Instagram post and knew right away I wanted to try it.  After a month of testing the kit and loving the products, I thought I'd make a list of the 10 Reasons Why You Need the Glossier Phase 1 Set!
1. The set contains everything you need to hydrate, calm, and even out your skin.
2. Running late?  Keep your kit in the cute reusable pink bubble pouch it comes in.  Wash your face, grab your pouch, and hit the road!
3.  All Glossier products are cruelty-free.
4. The Balm Dotcom Universal Skin Salve is an incredibly moisturizing (non-sticky, unscented and taste-free) balm for your lips or any other part of your body that's desperately seeking hydration salvation.  If you only buy 1 thing from Glossier, do yourself a favor and spring for this $12.00 20ml tube of magic.  I've forsaken all other lip balms in favor of this, including my previous holy grail (Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask)!
5. Got a case of dull winter skin?  Spritz on The Soothing Face Mist for a burst of calming rosewater bliss and follow it up with a dab of the Priming Moisturizer for a glowing, vibrant face.
6. The Perfecting Skin Tint, a watery, ultra-thin tint of color, is as easy to apply as a moisturizer and adds a dewy, imperceptible hint of tint.  Perfect for days when you need a bit of evening out but don't want to go full coverage.  Follow it up with a few dabs of concealer on any blemishes and voila!  It's your skin, but better.
7. The Priming Moisturizer can be layered on depending on your skin's need for hydration.  I have combination skin and this moisturizer works very well for me alone or under makeup.
8.  There's something empowering about buying products created by a fellow blogger, especially when they're this incredible and take the guesswork out of caring for your skin.  
9. If you're a creative type and love to personalize your goods, the Glossier Phase 1 Set comes with a sheet of adorable stickers for you to adorn your products with and make them your own.
10. Need a pick-me-up at the end of a rough day?  Spritz the Soothing Facial Mist onto your face and take a deep breath.  Ahhhhhhh!
I am giving away one Glossier Phase 1 Set to my lovely readers!  This giveaway is open internationally, but please be mindful of your country's cosmetics mailing regulations.  I don't want your set to be returned by Customs!  The giveaway closes at midnight on Saturday, December 27th.  The winner will be chosen by random draw, contacted by email, and announced here on the blog on Sunday, December 28th! 

This kit goes perfectly with my 2015 word of the year, "Simplify."  My goal is to unclutter both objects and ideas from my physical and mental space that are no longer serving a positive purpose.  There's nothing better than the feeling of being freed from things that are no longer bringing happiness into your life.  I've already started clearing out space in my life to make room for new opportunities and experiences and I'm really looking forward to the new year!

Leave a comment on this post sharing one of your 2015 goals or your word of the year! ❤  If you don't have a Disqus account, please leave your email address so I can get in touch with you if you're the lucky winner! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Loves & Lemons | November 2014

Hi beauties!  So I know it's basically Christmas Eve but there were just too many goodies I loved in November I wanted to share, even though the post is a little late!  Without further adieu...

Makeup Revolution Redemption Palette Iconic 3: This palette truly has been a redemption for me.  You guys know I returned my Urban Decay Naked 3 palette shortly after purchasing it because I felt half the shades were well below UD's phenomenal standard.  After Naked 3 launched into superstardom, I began to think maybe I had a bad batch originally but I've never been keen on shelling out the money to try it again.  I know some people feel strongly about "knock off" makeup, but for me, the Makeup Revolution Iconic 3 is the better palette!  All of the shadows are buttery, soft, and stunningly pigmented.  The design is also more to my liking as it's streamlined and takes up less room.  I ended up taking this beauty on my trip to Arizona and it held up great during rigorous bag shuffling into overhead compartments and lots of trunk travel on the open road.  I plan to do a full review with swatches so you can see how gorgeous this palette is, but let me just break the most amazing news: It only cost £4.00!  ($6.26 USD/$7.18 CAD)
Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash: I love this!  It cleanses and exfoliates and leaves my skin fresh without feeling tight or dry.  I loved being able to try the smaller 2 oz size for $9.00 to see how my skin reacted before committing to the $24.00 6.7 oz bottle.
Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo: I've always heard raves about Moroccanoil products and have wanted to try something from the line.  I visited a salon here in Atlanta after my blonde ambition tour earlier this summer and the stylist finished off my hair with Moroccanoil Treatment.  I could not believe how fantastic my hair looked!  The Moisture Repair Shampoo is another stellar product from Moroccanoil.  It leaves my scalp balanced and my hair shiny without being weighed down or prone to oiliness.  Oh, and it smells AMAZZZZZZZING.
I could not have gotten through November without these little tubes o' bliss.  Both the Suvana Organic Paw Paw & Honey Balm (a recommendation from the lovely Taylor of My Lucite Dreams) and the Papaya Gold Paw Paw Moisturizing Balm were the biggest help to me during my month-long battle with chapped skin.  For the uninitiated, "paw paw" is another word for papaya, and paw paw ointment has been around since the turn of the century.  It's far more popular in Australia, but I think once word spreads of it's incredible soothing powers, it will be everywhere!  Paw Paw will be the new "BB Cream"! ;)  A lavishly thick and rich balm, this is a fantastic salve for dry, chapped, or cut skin.  If you suffer from any of these ailments, both of these ointments are incredible!
Rounding out my month-long balm obsession is the balm dotcom by Glossier.  This is my absolute FAVE.  After falling hard for Bite's Agave Lip Mask, I've been searching for a more budget-friendly lip balm option and this $12.00 tube is IT.  The balm dotcom is 100% scent and taste-free and stays put overnight, leaving my lips very hydrated and soft the next morning.  I've been using this balm during the day, too, instead of lipstick.  I LOVE IT.  HG.  Number 1.  FIVE STARS!  Last but not least, the Maybelline Dream Wonder Fluid-Touch Foundation has just been perfection!  It makes my skin look WAY better than it really is and allows me to skip concealer if I'm short on time.  Full review here.

The sole lemon of the month was the LE Bobbi Brown Mini Eye Palette.  The palette design is fantastic; it's smaller than a drugstore eye quad and would be perfect for travel.  The downside?  The shadows are dry, powdery, and incredibly sheer.  I even tried applying the shades wet (over a shadow primer) and they were still barely visible.  Huge disappointment.  I returned mine.  Save your $35!
So that's it for November!  Can you guys believe Christmas is only 17 days away?!  WOW!

What product were you reaching for all November long?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

EMPTIES! #4 | Fall 2014

Happy Sunday!  It's hard to believe it's nearly Thanksgiving here in the US!  Where has the year gone?  What's also hard to believe is the sheer volume of stuff I've used up this fall.  My empties bag overfloweth!  Here's what I've finished since my last empties post in August!

// HAIR //
1. The Body Shop Banana Shampoo and Conditioner: The shampoo was nice but basic, and I didn't find the conditioner hydrating enough for my fine, tangly hair. Would I repurchase? No.
2. Bumble and bumble Creme de Coco Tropical-Riche Shampoo: One of my favorite shampoos!  Smells lovely and makes my hair feel so healthy. Would I repurchase? Yes.
3. Bumble and bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil: "Featherlight" is the perfect description for this incredible hair oil that makes my hair look shampoo commercial shiny without making it feel oily and weighed down.  A super helper if you have color damaged ends! Would I repurchase? Yes, I purchased the .85 oz size!
4. Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser Strength Reconstructing Butter: Nothing but love for this pot o' conditioning magic that somehow manages to deeply hydrate and de-tangle without making my hair oily. Would I repurchase? Yes. I cannot wait to finish my current conditioner so I can buy another pot of this!
5. Wen Cleansing Conditioner in Cucumber Aloe: I love this as a weekly treat; nothing makes my hair feel like this!  It turns it into complete SILK.  I do want to find one without mint, though, because I'm just not a huge fan of the ice cold scalp feeling. Would I repurchase? Yes.

// BODY //

6. Bath & Body Works Fall Cranberry Harvest Gentle Foaming Hand Soap: [I know this belongs in the Hand & Nail category; I had a photography fail whale here.]  Such a lovely cranberry scent that screams Fall!  Jason and I decided we're bigger fans of non-foaming soaps, though, because this type of soap does the lathering work for you and it doesn't feel like you're getting a deep clean.  Would I repurchase? Not the self-foaming kind, but yes to their regular Anti-Bacterial soaps.
7. The Body Shop Honeymania Body Butter: I remember being intrigued by this line after reading Tracy at Beauty Reflections' review here. I bought one of the adorable honeycomb glycerin soaps and it was love.  The body butter is amazing and smells so fresh and light!  Usually honey scents are heady and overly sweet, but this one isn't.  Would I repurchase? Yes!
8. Chlo√© Eau de Parfum: I love this fresh floral!  I'm so proud of myself for finishing a perfume!  I feel like this empty deserve a medal. ;)  Would I repurchase? Yes.
9. Degree Invisible Solid Shower Clean Anti-Perspirant and Deodorant: I'm a big fan of Degree's Invisible Solid line.  They keep me dry and smelling great no matter how hot and humid the weather may get without resulting in that awful "plugged up sweat glands" feel I've experienced with several clinical strength-style AP's.  It also does not transfer onto clothes.  Would I repurchase? Yes, already working on my next stick!
10. Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter: You guys know I have a major soft spot for this product.  It smells CRAZY GOOD and hydrates beautifully.  This stuff has helped get me through the past few fall/winter seasons!  Would I repurchase? Yes, I just bought The Righteous Butter Body Lotion yesterday at Sephora!

// HAND & NAILS //
11. CVS Brand 100% Pure Acetone: I have no issues with acetone for polish removal, so this bottle is my go-to.  You can't beat the price!  Since falling in love with the CVS Remover with Built-In Brush, I've been using the bottle of Pure Acetone to change out the acetone in the remover pot when it needs it.  Would I repurchase? Yes, already have!
12. Orly Bonder Rubberized Base Coat: This has been my go-to base coat for years.  The rubberized finish causes the polish I layer over it to adhere and last longer than it would on a regular base coat.  Would I repurchase? Yes, already have!
13. Revlon Quick Dry Top Coat: This is my HG top coat.  Smooth, glassy shine and minimal dry time.  Bingo!  Would I repurchase? Yes, already have!
14. Southern Hospitality Sunday's Best Foot Creme: This is just loveliness in a pot.  It smells so fresh and clean, and the thickness of this (similar in consistency to L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, slightly thicker than Nivea Cream) delivers maximum hydration.  I used it for my hands and feet and looked forward to applying it at night! Would I repurchase? Yes!
15. Weleda Skin Food: I didn't love the scent at first, but it grew on me.  I applied this every night in bed as my overnight hand cream and my skin felt wonderful the next morning.  As far as the smell, which is earthy and herbal, Jason hated it, then liked it, then hated it again and cheered when I told him I'd finished the tube!  Would I repurchase? Unsure.

// FACE & LIPS //
16. Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask: Nothing works better for me than this.  My lips feel like a newborn baby's!  Would I repurchase? Yes, already halfway done with tube #2.
17. Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser: I really liked this.  It was gentle enough not to cause irritation but had enough grit to exfoliate my skin and leave it feeling smooth and healthy.  Would I repurchase? Yes.
18. Formula 10.0.6 Overnight Success Spot Minimizing Patches: These patches are BOSS!  Once your zit is done exploding (too graphic??), apply one of these clear patches over it and go to bed.  Wake up the next day with less swelling and redness.  I swear these heal blemishes faster than anything else.  Would I repurchase? Yes, though I still have 2 sheets to finish before I need to buy more.  The box comes with 3 sheets of 21 patches.
19. Garnier Nourishing Cleansing Oil: I loved this.  {Full review here.}  Would I repurchase? Yes.
20. Lumene Radiant Touch Refreshing Foam Cleanser: This is a gentle yet effective, fresh citrus-scented cleanser that doesn't leave your skin aching for moisture.  Would I repurchase? Yes.
21. Lush Bubblegum Lip Scrub: My HG lip scrub!  {Full review here.}  Would I repurchase? Yes, already have!
22. Nugg Soothing Face Mask: This didn't do much for me.  It felt like hair conditioner and the single-use pod contained enough product for 2-3 masks with no way to feasibly re-seal it.  Would I repurchase? No.

// MAKEUP //
23. Urban Decay Primer Potion in Sin: This was literally my first tube of eyeshadow primer and I loved it!  It was time to toss it though since it's way past it's use by date and the formula doesn't perform like it used to.  Would I repurchase? Yes, but I'd buy the original (clear) version.
24. Maybelline Volum Express The Colossal Cat Eyes: Not a fan.  The curved natural brush is very skinny -- which I usually love for reaching the roots, but this one didn't do much for my lashes. Would I repurchase? No.
25. MAC Extended Play Lash: A great straight natural skinny brush that reaches the roots and adds length to the lashes.  I do think the price is a bit high at $17.00 USD.  Best drugstore dupe for this is Maybelline Lash Discovery; they are nearly the same thing but the MAC brush is a bit longer.  Would I repurchase? No, but only because I'm all about that volume now!
26. Diorshow Waterproof Mascara: This was my wedding day splurge mascara!  I never wear waterproof formulas because I hate removing them but for the day I got married, waterproof was essential!  Although ironically I didn't even end up crying!  #NoCryingBOSS  Anywho, this moker gives mega volume and the large natural bristled brush wasn't so huge that I bumped it against my lid.  Would I repurchase? Maybe. I have no issues with it, I'd probably just opt for something cheaper from the drugstore.  
27. L'Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga Mascara: New favorite mascara!  The cone-shaped non-rubberized brush grabs every lash and whips up volume and length.  Thank you to one of my favorite Aussie beauty bloggers, Vita from Making Up 4 My Age, for putting me over the edge on whether or not I should try this! Would I repurchase? Yes, already have!
28. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara in I See Blue (LE): While Maybelline offers a Royal Blue Great Lash in their permanent line that I've bought numerous times since discovering it in high school, this limited edition color looked even brighter.  I do enjoy a colored mascara for a pop of something different from time to time.  The wand was perfect for defining my bottom lashes!  Would I repurchase? This was LE, but I'd repurchase the Royal Blue from the permanent line.
What did you finish this Fall?  Any new HG's?  Share!