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!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Recent Favorites & Go-Tos: January 2017

I'm back with my latest installment of new things I'm loving and old products I've rediscovered in my stash. Recently I found a few skincare bits that really impressed me upon first use as well as a lot of makeup basics that make getting ready easier in the morning. 

On the skincare front, I've gotten back into sheet mask mode because my skin has been really dry and quite flakey. The Too Cool For School Egg Cream Masks were a really nice surprise. The sheet mask is a thick, yet ultra soft cotton-like material and the gel-like essence feels super refreshing. The Hydration and Pore Tightening versions are my favorite, though the Firming variation is also good. 

About once a week I've been using the Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Treatment and it makes such a difference in my skin the next day. The gel has a mix of glycolic, lactic and citric acids to eat away at dead skin and reveal a smoother complexion. The first time I used this I did feel a strong tingly sensation that hurt a bit but every time afterward, it hasn't irritated my skin. I got a small sample jar from an epic Ole Henriksen GWP and would consider buying a full size bottle.

A mask I didn't expect to like as much as I do is the Fresh Rose Face Mask. I rarely see a difference after using wash-off masks but this one left my skin looking more firm and healthy. The scent is intoxicating and the texture of the mask is very luxurious. 

As for makeup, I've been mostly shopping my stash but I've found a few new gems as well. I got a sample of the Make Up For Ever Step 1 Smoothing Primer and it's amazing at filling in my pores and making my skin look airbrushed. It's very comparable to Benefit's The Porefessional. A tiny little bit goes a long way so I've gotten a lot of uses out of this tiny tube. 

I'm on the last bits of my favorite Laneige Cushion Concealer so I've been rotating in the Tarte CC Undereye Corrector in Light/Medium and it's great for canceling out my under eye circles without looking like a mask. It reminds me of Benefit's Erase Paste but not as pink and not as sticky so it's easier to blend out. The packaging is also super slim and lightweight, making it a perfect travel makeup product.

Many years ago I expressed my disappointment in the Benefit boxed powders but I ended up liking the color of Hoola bronzer and Coralista makes an easy everyday blush. While I still think there are way better blushes, I managed to hit pan on Coralista and I'm almost done with Hoola. The two shades look really nice together and they've made a really easy cheek combo. I'm still not crazy about Bella Bamba but I think I can manage to make a dent in it when my skintone is darker. 

Hoola is starting to look a bit too warm on me in the last two weeks so I've transitioned into using Burberry's Earthy Blush as a contour. I've rediscovered how much I love using this as a contour shade in the winter. Earthy has a hint of pink so sometimes I'll blend this up higher than I would a more warm bronzer and skip blush. I would consider getting the full size of this powder if I run out of this mini compact. 

I had never really been interested in the Dior Fusion Mono Eyeshadows but their limited edition shade Infinity from this past holiday collection caught my eye. It is gorgeous. So gorgeous that I bought it at full price in the store (if you know me well, you'll know I rarely do that when it comes to beauty products). It's a beautiful golden brown taupe that is perfectly neutral - not too cool and not too warm. It's lovely! The texture is very interesting in that it's kind of a dense mousse. The one downside about this is that shimmer particles fall out onto my cheeks somehow.... But it's such a gorgeous shade that I can live with a little extra sparkle (I'm going to figure out a way to minimize the fall out). It's still available on the Bloomingdales website so I would highly recommend you pick this up while you can. 

What beauty items have made the top of your list this month? I have a ton of products that I purchased in November and December that I haven't tested, much less shared on the blog. So I have a feeling I'll be finding at least a handful of new favorites soon!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

What I Got In My Beautylish Lucky Bag 2017

Despite saying that I wouldn't participate in another grab bag after unboxing last year's Beautylish Lucky Bag, I couldn't help myself and ordered one this year (technically last year since you have to pre-order them the day after Christmas and they ship in January). For those of you who aren't familiar with the Beautylish Lucky Bags, you pay $75 (and $7 shipping) for an assortment of mystery products worth over $150. Some bags are "extra lucky" and contain things ranging from an entire set of Wayne Goss brushes to the 12-pan Viseart eyeshadow palettes. I had a $20 off voucher from the Beautylish holiday event (spend $100 get a $20 off voucher for your next purchase) so I only paid $62 altogether.

Once again, I was in a state of anxiety over what would be in my bag. I was constantly refreshing Instagram and checking on Sephora's community board to see what everyone else was getting. I saw some amazing items (By Terry face palettes, Viseart palettes, ABH Modern Renaissance palette, Wayne Goss face brushes, you get the idea) as well as some extremely underwhelming ones (an unlabeled brush that Beautylish claims is a special-edition Chikuhodo and the Jeffree Star Beauty Killer palette). Lo and behold, I got an okay bag, again. Here's the value breakdown of what I got:

Wayne Goss Brow Set $55 (I got this in my lucky bag last year - see the individual brushes here)
Makeup Atelier Paris 5 Eyeshadow Palette in Natural Chestnut $35
Natasha Denona Blush Duo Palette in #8 Toutou/Peach $38
Smith & Cult Nail Polish in Dark Like Me $18
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray Travel Size $22
Bioderma Sensibio H2O 100 ml $6.90

Total retail value: $174.90

I still think the Wayne Goss brow set is very overpriced, though I have been using at least two of the brushes from the set every day I've worn makeup in the last year. I wish I had gotten the Wayne Goss eye brush instead. Nonetheless, brow brushes are an essential so at least I have a backup.

I was hoping for a Viseart or Natasha Denona eyeshadow palette but the Makeup Atelier Paris one isn't bad. All five shadows are matte neutrals so I'm sure this palette will come in handy for travel. The three lighter shades look very similar so I wish they could have replaced one with a shimmery pop of color.

Out of everything in the bag, I'm most excited to try the Natasha Denona blush duo. The lighter shade can probably work as a highlight when I'm more tan. I like that you can easily use each shade on its own or mix the two for the perfect flush. Both shades have a bit of shimmer but the powders feel ultra smooth and not glittery at all.

I've been wanting to try a polish from Smith & Cult so I was happy to see this in my bag. The vampy shade looks great for this time of year. If I like the formula, I'll consider picking up more shades in the future.

The Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray is a cult-favorite hair product but I just don't seem to understand why. It's not really a dry shampoo though it does help cut down on the oily-scalp feeling and provide a bit of volume. It leaves a strange texture to my hair that I can't quite explain. I guess I can consider it a good thing that I wouldn't purchase this again since it's so pricey.

The baby bottles of Bioderma are adorable to look at and convenient for travel or keeping in your gym bag - my only gripe is that they aren't refillable. I used to be a big fan of Bioderma but I've since found that the Garnier Micellar Water is just as good and quite a bit cheaper.

Was this all worth $62? Probably. I'm thankful that I didn't get any of the items I absolutely wouldn't get use out of. But at the same time I really didn't need any of the things I received. Will I partake in next year's lucky bag? I'm not a gambler at all - I've never bought the lottery for myself nor do I have any interest in casinos - but I'd be lying if I said I'm not tempted by the "what if" factor of lucky bags.

This was my last purchase of 2016 to end a year of some crazy beauty spending and I'm dialing my beauty spending way down this year. Just don't be surprised if you see a lot of new products here since I've yet to swatch and review the mountain of eyeshadows, blushes, highlighters and other makeup I've accumulated!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My 2017 Beauty Resolutions

I'm usually not one for resolutions at the beginning of the year - my main reason being that I'm terrible at following through on them. But this year I'm hoping it will be a little different.

Without going into details, last year majorly sucked. I'm not talking about the macro world issues that took place, although those were pretty bad, but about my little corner of the universe. I bring this up because you might have noticed a decrease in the number of blog posts I've published in the past year. Or if you look at my Instagram feed, you might have seen my unusually high number of beauty purchases in recent months. Let's just say I've been using beauty shopping as a coping mechanism and that I need to stop this habit right now.

I looked back at my post from the beginning of last year where I loosely laid out the guidelines I had in mind. I acknowledged my poor resolution-keeping skills and said I wouldn't do any project pan or make a dent challenges. I didn't embark on any of those but I did try a lip stash challenge... which I promptly abandoned a few weeks later (which is why you never saw an update). I got better at de-stashing makeup I wasn't using last year and gave away a lot of things to friends.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the goals I'll be trying to accomplish with regards to my beauty habits:

Cut back significantly on makeup purchases - This especially goes for eyeshadows, cheek products and lip products. I have amassed so many eyeshadows, blushes, highlighters, bronzers and lippies that there's no way I can use up even a fifth of my stash before it goes bad.... I guess I've always known that but writing it out makes it that much worse. The allure of "limited edition" sometimes trips me up but I'm going to try to resist them all for at least the first half of 2017.

Spend less time researching beauty products - From keeping up on new launches to finding out when the best deals are, I spend a lot of my free time researching about beauty. This year, I'm dedicating more time to learning about other things I care about rather than enticing myself with more things I want to purchase.

Use my expensive makeup products more - I want to get better at treating my pricey makeup items less like pretty things to look at and more like, well, makeup. I often hesitate to travel with my high end products for fear of losing or breaking them. But that's quite silly because they were made to be used. I did not shell out $50 for a highlighter only to use it in a flatlay....

Hit pan on at least six shades in my Urban Decay Naked Palette - This is one of the oldest high end eyeshadow palettes I have in my collection and also one of my most versatile. I can do a whole look with just this palette and it's very easy to mix-and-match other shadows with this palette as well. I already see a bit of a dip in Naked (the lighter of the two matte browns) but I think this particular goal could take the entire year to complete.

Share more looks and FOTDs - A lot of my blog content depends on new purchases which gives me an excuse to purchase something. That's just silly since this isn't a job for me (and I don't intend on making it so). I want to share more makeup combinations and ideas with you guys, even if they're simple neutral looks (since that's what I go for 90% of the time).

Continue investing in high quality brushes and rotating out less-used ones - I've been steadily adding to my collection of luxury Japanese-made makeup brushes. But doing a less good job of giving away brushes I don't use as much. I want to continue slowly adding in unique, functional brushes to fill gaps in my collection while passing on the older brushes I don't reach for anymore to someone who would be able to use them.

Most of my beauty resolutions are more akin to guidelines, apart from panning the Naked Palette, because I've found that works better for me. I have more concrete resolutions for the non-beauty parts of my life that I'm a lot more excited about. Here's to hoping I can accomplish those (and we'll see how the beauty ones fare).

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

November & December 2016 Empties & Last Declutter of the Year

It wouldn't be the end of the year without one final empties post of 2016. I think this was the year my empties posts became a lot more repetitive because I've repurchased a lot of products that just work for me and I see no reason to try something different. A few of those repeat-purchases include the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, Clean & Clear Oil Blotting Sheets, L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara, Beauty Blender Solid Cleanser and Origins Super Spot Remover.

I also think the IOPE Bio Intensive Essence should get a shout out since I've used up a few bottles of that in the past. I also really liked using the Shiseido Ultimune Eye Concentrate* at night and the Shiseido Bio Performance Glow Revival Eye Treatment* in the day. The Lagom Cellus Mist Toner was a pleasant face mist and I'm glad I bought it during Peach & Lily's sample sale. I really got into using my Beauty Blender more in the last couple of months. My only gripe with it is that I have to wash it immediately after every use, or else I find the stains very hard to remove. I have two more Beauty Blender backups from a haul I did last year but after those are looking a little worse for wear I think I'll look into some of the more affordable dupes.

As for things that was OK but nothing too impressive, the Shu Uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil was fine at removing makeup but there was nothing about it that makes me want to repurchase it. The Shiseido Pureness Cleansing Sheets were a free gift and were fine to remove a very light layer of makeup if I was super lazy but I generally don't like reaching for cleansing wipes. I mostly used these sheets to wipe swatches off my arms.

I've been hauling beauty products left and right for the last few weeks so I had to let go of things in my stash that just weren't getting any use. It's not that these things were bad but I didn't reach for them for one reason or another. I stupidly bought the L'Oreal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation in a shade much too dark for me at 40% off because my actual shade was out of stock (that will be the last time I do that). Most people seem to love the Maybelline Age Rewind Concealers but I didn't see the appeal at all. It was difficult to blend and always looked patchy on my face. I successfully let go of a bunch of lip products that I never reach for as well as some eyeshadows I've been holding onto for no reason.

This will be my last post of the year so I hope all of you have a great New Years and I'll see you in 2017!

*Products marked with an asterisk were provided for consideration by PR. All thoughts are my 100% honest opinions.