Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring Cheek Picks: Blushes, Bronzers and Highlights

It's been a hot minute since I last blogged but I haven't forgotten about this space! It weighs on my mind quite frequently that I haven't been as "good" of a blogger recently. The excuse is pretty much the same as always - life. I also haven't been wearing as much makeup as I used to and when I do, I reach for things I know will work.

Anyway, my long-winded excuses for my absence could be a whole separate blog post. Today I swatching some of the blushes, bronzers and highlights that have been gracing my cheeks recently. Some of these are old standbys and others haven't been featured on the blog yet so it's a nice mix of what has stood the test of time for me as well as a way for me to review some of my newer acquisitions. Most of these are on the higher end of the beauty spectrum but there are a couple of affordable loves too.

Highlight is one of the things I neglect the most (along with lip color) when I'm getting ready in a rush. But when I make time for it, I see a huge difference and I think to myself that I should wear it more often. The Diorskin Nude Air Luminizer in 001 was something I wanted since the first limited edition release but I waited until last year's year-end VIB $20 off coupon before purchasing it. It's stunning both in the compact and on the cheekbones. It has a lovely ever-so-slightly-peach champagne sheen that is so unique. It's pigmented but not frosty at all on the skin. I like to apply it with my Wayne Goss fan brush. 

The highlighter in the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow is similar in base color to the Dior highlighter but with less shimmer. Whereas the Dior one has a gelee texture, the Charlotte Tilbury one has a regular powder formulation. It's a pretty highlighter but not one I specifically reach for - I mostly use it if I'm grabbing for the contour shade in the palette. I'll get to that in a bit. 

The last highlighter is also in a contour/highlight duo and it's the Kevyn Aucoin The Creamy Glow Duo in Sculpting Candlelight. This cream highlight is very subtle and reminds me of RMS' Living Luminizer. The Living Luminizer is a cult favorite but it's just too subtle for me. I like a lot of glow if I'm going to take the time to apply a highlight. Again, I really only reach for this if I'm using the contour in the duo (and even then, I usually skip the highlight entirely or reach for another one). 

I find myself reaching for bronzers and contours more often than highlighters because it slims down my face. I've gained quite a few pounds over the last couple of months and chiseling out some cheekbones gives instant satisfaction (for the record, I have been exercising a lot more though). The Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow bronzer, or should I say "sculpt", is nice. That's it. Just nice. I'm not sure what I was expecting from a $68 bronzer and highlighter but I don't consider this an amazing holy grail product. The bronzer is a good color for when I'm more fair because it doesn't pull orange and I think I can still get away with using it in the summer to deepen my tan. There is shimmer in the powder but it doesn't translate obviously on the skin. I must admit the packaging for this product is beautiful and perfectly functional. The rose gold casing is classy and the mirror is a great size for makeup application on the go.

A contour I do happen to love is the one from the Kevyn Aucoin The Creamy Glow Duo in Sculpting Candlelight. It's teeny tiny but a little goes a long way. I've had this for awhile and have used it many times but only just hit pan on this the other day. This cream blends out so easily with a duo fiber stippling brush and is the perfect contour shade that doesn't look too warm or cool. I bought the Kevyn Aucoin Contour Book The Art of Sculpting + Defining Volume II (bleh what a long name) during the VIB sale last year and haven't really touched it yet. But once I use up this small duo, I think the contour book will be a staple on my vanity. It's a phenomenal value and I think it's now permanent at Sephora so definitely check it out. 

Last up in the bronzer category is the Physician's Formula Butter Bronzer which seemed like a big hit in the beauty blogging/YouTube community. I debated on getting this because I heard the scent is very strong (and it is) but ultimately my curiosity around the buttery formula won me over. It is a very dense, almost creamy-feeling powder and I like this a lot. The shade I got is called Bronze, which is the darker of the two options. The other shade is called Light Bronze, though both are quite light already.... All in all, it's a great budget option. I always wait for a BOGO Physicians Formula deal because they have some of the highest prices in the drugstore. 

Maybe all the cherry blossom photos I've been seeing on Instagram influenced my blush selection. All three of these scream girly and spring to me but I think these shades generally look nice year-round. First up is a newer blush in my collection: Laura Geller's Baked Blush in Bora Bora. This is the prettiest cotton candy baby pink that has the tiniest hint of warmth to it that makes it wearable on my skin tone. The pastel shade gives a nice pop of radiance to my cheeks and the shimmer isn't too garish. I really like Laura Geller's baked powders and would be tempted to collect many more if I was more drawn to the packaging (the black plastic compact is functional but it's simply not cute, sleek or luxe.

I believe I've featured the Becca Beach Tint Shimmer Souffle in Fig/Opal in a couple of travel makeup bag posts and it's one of those things I have to consciously try to not bring on vacation for the sake of switching things up. In the end I've given up on that notion because this little pot of blushing goodness is coming with me in a few days' time to Tulum. This is one of the few cream cheek products I can apply with my fingers and not feel like I need a brush. The color is subtle enough to not look overdone but it gives me some extra dimension. The packaging is also super compact and looks clean and chic without unnecessary frills. Sadly, I think these have been discontinued so I'll have to look for a new favorite once I run out of this or when this one goes bad (hopefully the former).

Another drugstore gem is the Milani Powder Blush in Tea Rose. I was very late to hop on the Milani rose blush bandwagon but look how pretty these are! The presentation is so nice, especially considering these are only a few dollars. This is an entirely matte blush that swatches quite patchy on your arm but they go onto the cheeks very nicely with a brush. The best thing about this blush formula is the longevity. This color stays vibrant on my cheeks from morning 'til the end of a long work day. The one complaint I have about this blush is the smell - it smells like old lady makeup.... I've read a couple of reviews that say the same thing but so far, it doesn't seem like this blush has gone past its expiration date. The smell doesn't bother me as long as I don't purposely sniff the blush directly so I can get past this one gripe.

Of course with dozens of blushes, bronzers and highlighters in my collection to choose from, I won't be limiting myself to just these few. These are just ones that have been rotating through my vanity recently and ones I wanted to give you my two cents on. Perhaps in a couple of months I'll share a few picks for the summer time!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

January, February and March 2017 Empties

My pile of bottles, tubes and other empties has been growing in the corner of my room and I knew I had to make a point to recap the things I've used up soon. The end of February came and went and I didn't have time to do my usual bi-monthly update so here it is a month late. At this point I might as well do empties posts quarterly instead of bi-monthly. We'll see if I can stand the huge pile of garbage accumulating every three months....

I'm definitely seeing a pattern when it comes to certain products. I've used up many a tub of First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream and Shiseido sunscreens are something I always go back to. I finally used up pretty much all of my Malin + Goetz Deodorant (what little that was left fell out of the tube and onto the floor so I just chucked it) and I've already repurchased it. Another repurchase I've already made is the Dior Creme de Rose Lipbalm which I originally said was too expensive but it's actually the perfect daytime lipbalm. I also love the Shiseido Full Lash Serum which I also have repurchased and need to buy another backup soon.

Now let's talk about a couple of things I tried for the first time and enjoyed. The Bobbi Brown Instant Long-Wear Makeup Remover is the best eye makeup remover I've ever used. It just takes everything, including waterproof mascara, off so easily. It's very expensive for how much you get (and eye makeup remover is something I run out of pretty quickly) which is the only reason I wouldn't repurchase this in a heartbeat. I have a pretty problematic scalp so I bought the 100% Pure Burdock and Neem Shampoo which is supposed to help with dandruff. I think it helped somewhat and I would consider repurchasing it in the future. I also really liked the Beautiful Nutrition Healthy Hair Diet Shampoo and think that might be my next shampoo purchase after I finish my current one.

As for things I really didn't care for, the super hyped up Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist failed to impress me. The full size mist retails for $48 but I just don't see what everyone loves about it. I'm actually a little glad I didn't like it because that saves me $48. The Lierac Cleansing Gel, which I received as a press sample, has been in my bathroom cabinet for a long time and I'm glad it's used up. I used about half the bottle to wash my face but found the strong fragrance off-putting and it was somewhat harsh on my skin. I used the rest of the product to wash some of my makeup brushes.

I have a couple of makeup empties this quarter which is nice to see. I finally finished the Stila One Step Correct Primer which is the clear one with the different colored swirls. It was a meh primer that didn't really do much for my skin besides adding another layer to separate my skin from my base makeup. I received it as gratis from when I worked in the beauty industry which is the only reason I had this primer. I finished another Laneige BB Cushion Concealer which has been my go-to under eye concealer for several years. It's no surprise I went through two more tubes of L'Oreal's Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara since it's my favorite mascara. I've probably gone through at least 10 tubes by now. Every time the drugstore has a 40% off promotion on L'Oreal, I make sure to stock up on a couple of tubes of this mascara. I finally finished the Lioele Eyebrow Pencil that I bought in Hong Kong back in 2013. More than once I questioned what sorcery was behind this eyebrow pencil that never seemed to end. Towards the end I realized this eyebrow pencil was a touch too dark for my liking and so I won't be repurchasing it. I also used up a Mac Pro Longwear Brow Set which was decent but the color was too warm for my brows. I'm currently pretty happy with the brow products I'm using so I'll have to do an update on that soon.

The only products that aren't used up that I'm tossing are the Soap & Glory Kick Ass Concealer and the Maybelline Colorsensational Lipgloss in Mirrored Mauve. The concealer is from 2013 and while it's still usable, the packaging is utterly broken and it's a pain in the butt to use. I did like the salmon shade for under my eyes so at least I hit pan on it. I didn't care for the other concealer shade nor the powder at all. The Maybelline lipgloss is actually one of my favorite lipglosses ever but it's starting to smell a little different so in the bin it goes. Unfortunately it looks like they've discontinued that line of lipglosses so I won't be able to replace it with a new one. 

Being away from this space has made me quite a rambler, eh? Hopefully I didn't put any of you to sleep (unless you're reading this before bed, in which case, you're welcome). I have a couple of post ideas floating in my head but, to be honest, not enough drive to follow through on photographing and writing everything. I've been keeping pretty busy in pretty much every facet of my life other than my blog presence. I'm hoping I get bitten by the blogging bug again soon so I can muster up something worth posting! If you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to shout them out on Twitter or Instagram (@Karyi12)!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Singles: Chase and Lost

Urban Decay eyeshadows hold a special place in my heart because they were one of my first forays into the world of higher end shadows. I looked forward to their yearly Book of Shadows which launched around the holidays, saving up my weekend tutoring money until the launch. Of course, the Naked Palette is a makeup must-have and it's been getting a lot of use due to my goal to pan six shades

You'll get more bang for your buck when you purchase a palette but while some shades get featured over and over (Half Baked, Midnight Cowboy Rides Again, Smog), others you'll rarely see in palettes. The single eyeshadows are $19 a pop so they're pretty pricey. If you sign up for Urban Decay's rewards programs, you'll be able to get a free single eyeshadow with any purchase so I just bought one eyeshadow to get one free. 

The two shades I chose were Lost and Chase. Lost is described as a medium metallic brown and Chase is a bright bronze. Both have a lovely shimmery finish but are not glittery at all. I love Urban Decay eyeshadows for their ultra smooth, buttery texture. The metallic shadows like these are my favorite because they apply onto the eyelids very easily and blend out beautifully with other shades.

I would say Lost is a dark metallic brown rather than a medium metallic brown. Of course you can blend it out to make it less intense - I personally use it most as an outer corner shade to add depth. This would also make a super easy one-and-done smokey eye. Chase is a very rich gold but it leans a bit more neutral compared to Half Baked, which is more of a yellow gold. I'm really excited to use Chase as an all over lid color in the summer time when I have more warmth to my skin.

Urban Decay single eyeshadows don't get a lot of love because their palettes are the main attraction. But if you can't find a palette that works for you or you just prefer single shadows, definitely check out what Urban Decay has to offer!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

My Growing Stash of Clinique Cheek Pops & Lid Pops

I've taken a bit of a blogger break but I have every intention to make a comeback. There's been some technical difficulties, personal life stuff and I've been spending a lot more time doing things other than planning out my beauty purchases and holing myself in my room taking photos of lipstick. Not that there's anything wrong with the last bit but I just needed to take a step back and pursue other interests. But, trust me, I miss blogging and hope to put my blogging cap back on in a few weeks.

I've been itching to write a post on my new-ish Clinique additions. Ever since I raved about their Lid Pop in Petal Pop last year, I've wanted to get some more shades. I'm a little late to the Cheek Pop bandwagon but no matter - these are beautiful! I ordered Nude Pop and Melon Pop as well as another eyeshadow in Cream Pop.

When I saw Nude Pop in the pan I was a little worried it might look too muddy or too light to even show up on my skin. But on the skin it's the loveliest, natural peach nude blush for fair skin tones. I love, love, loveeee it! It gives my cheeks color without looking obvious at all. These powders have that special texture so they feel quite hard to the touch. That means when you swirl your brush in the pan, you'll never end up with too much product. Honestly, I haven't worn Melon Pop on my cheeks yet but it's a very pretty bright coral that will be a nice flush for spring and summer.

Cream Pop was the only other eyeshadow in the range that interested me besides Petal Pop. Cream Pop is a lovely shimmery beige that is the perfect all over lid color. It's the kind of shade you don't have to think about that imparts a pretty sheen on your eyes. It's not a must have just because there are so many potential dupes for it but I really like applying the Lid Pops with my fingers for a quick look.

The Lid Pops are a nice-to-have if you are okay with a semi-sheer eyeshadow (which I love for everyday office looks) but the Cheek Pops are really something you should consider for your stash. There are so many shades to choose from so you're bound to find one that suits your fancy. I'd love to add some of the more daring shades like Cola Pop to my growing collection but for now I can't put Nude Pop down.

I think Clinique really hit it out of park with their various Pop products. From the blushes to the lipsticks, I've heard rave reviews nearly all around. Have you tried the Clinique Pop line? What are your favorite products from the collection?

Monday, February 6, 2017

In My Stash: Anastasia Beverly Hills Single Eyeshadows

Months ago during Black Friday, Cyber Monday or one of those post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas promotions, Anastasia Beverly Hills put all their single eyeshadows on sale for 70% off retail price. I had been biding my time to add a few of her shadows to my collection because I had read nothing but raves about the formula. They're usually $12 a piece but with the discount, I got mine for less than $5 each. When you purchase four or eight shadow pans, you get a free palette to hold your shadows as well, which is pretty awesome. Let's take a look at the shades I picked out, check out some swatches and see what I think about these single shadows.

Each shadow pan is packaged in its own cardboard sleeve and I really appreciate how all the information from the shade name to the amount of product is neatly printed on the back of the pan. It drives me insane when brands have no labeling on the back of the pans of individual eyeshadows. If I ever mix these shadows in a free-form palette like a ZPalette or Make Up For Ever Metal Palette, I know exactly what this is. I believe all of these eyeshadows are made in the U.S.A. as well (some Anastasia palettes are made in China).

There should be no surprise that I picked out mostly warm neutral shades. I tried to pick a mix of different finishes to get a feel for how each performed. On the Sephora website the finishes are listed as matte, satin, shimmer, metallic or glitter.

Rose (metallic) is a warm mid-tone pink. It has nice pigmentation but it also contains some slightly large shimmer particles that make this less creamy than the other metallics. If you like rose gold and pink-bronze shades, you'll like this color a lot.

Belize (satin) is grouped with the metallic shadows on Sephora's website but it's definitely a satin shade. It's a dark tan with the slightest sheen. I chose this shade thinking it would make an easy all-over lid color but I'm not entirely smitten with it. The lasting power could be better for this shadow - I find that it fades noticeably over the course of a day. I think this would be best used as a transition crease shade for those with tan to deep skin tones.

Warm Taupe (matte) is the more cool-toned of the two medium brown mattes I picked up. The mattes have good pigmentation but can be quite powdery when you dip your brush into the pan. Actually, across the board the Anastasia shadows are quite powdery. I always have to make sure to tap my brush off because applying shadow to my eyes, or else I get loads of fall out on my cheeks. Anyway, back to Warm Taupe - it's a very handy color to have for everyone's collection and I would recommend it.

Fawn (matte) is the much warmer matte shadow - here it looks almost orangey next to Warm Taupe. Again, same deal as with Warm Taupe. I think it's a good staple transition color if you wear a lot of bronze and gold eyeshadows.

The other four eyeshadows I chose were a little more exciting. Now we're verging into some color but still within the neutral family.

Topaz (satin) is the quintessential shimmery bronze that I think everyone needs to have in their makeup stash. I don't know why this is categorized as a satin because it definitely is shimmery enough to constitute as a shimmer finish. This shadow had a really nice buttery texture and applied really well on the eyelids.

Comfort (satin) is a red wine shade with some shimmer as well. This shadow did not kick up a lot of loose powder like the other shadows which I appreciated. I haven't worn Comfort all that much but I think it will look lovely in the summer and fall over a dark brown cream shadow base. A more subtle way to use this would be to take it on a pencil brush and define the outer corner of the eyes to add some depth to a warm neutral eyeshadow look.

Chiffon (metallic) is one stunning shadow. It is a rich golden green eyeshadow with very complex and multidimensional, yet fine, shimmers. Swatched on my arm it looks more neutral and golden, but on my eyelids it looks very green. Either way, it's gorgeous and not one to miss from this range.

Chocolate Crumble (metallic) is another stunner. It reminds me of Laura Mercier's Caviar Stick in Amethyst but in powder form. It is a taupey purple with very fine, multidimensional shimmer. In the sunlight, this shadow sparkles like a glitter. This is another shadow that really pops if you layer it over a colored cream shadow base. I like applying this shadow with my finger because it helps the shimmers translate and stick onto my eyelids better.

I like the Anastasia Beverly Hills single eyeshadows but they aren't my favorite shadows in my collection. Some of the shades like Chiffon and Chocolate Crumble are pretty unique and I would recommend those. But the mattes could be more buttery and all of the shadows could be less powdery. Also, these aren't exactly budget shadows if you want to make a whole palette because eight shadows at retail price will set you back $96. Anastasia's pre-made palettes are a much better bang for your buck but if you have your heart set on a particular shade, it might be worth it to just get one or two (or just wait for another epic sale).

Have you tried the Anastasia Beverly Hills single shadows? If you have, let me know what your favorite shades are!