Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In-flight Beauty Bag

I made it alive to Amsterdam and I'm pretty much wiped out at this point. I arrived at 7 AM Amsterdam time which translates to 1 AM New York time and after multiple hours of signing leases, getting keys and being transported (thank goodness I did not have to brave a new public transport system on my first morning) I just want to take a nap. I pretty much knew I'd be extremely tired and not in the mood to blog so I drafted this post ahead of time! Enjoy!

Being the curious person I am, I love seeing what others keep in their TSA friendly beauty pouches and I'll be happy to show you mine! I had a clear zip up pouch from a Nuxe set laying around and find it a lot better for toting around in a carry on as opposed to just a plastic bag.

I refuse to wear makeup on the plane as there really is little point and the air is so dry. Thus I chose a few skincare essentials that will keep my skin happy and comfortable for the seven hour flight from New York to Amsterdam. I have a small bottle of Nuxe's Micellar Cleansing Water to refresh my skin (a few cotton pads are also going in my carry-on) and a mini of L'Occitane's Essential Water to act as a toner. For moisturizing I have the Nuxe Anti-Fatigue Moisturizing Cream and a bit of Clarins' UV Plus HP Sunscreen right before I land. I also threw in my Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream which should last me my five month stay. If I had a sheet mask on hand, I would have packed that as well for extra hydration but alas....

I have a hoard of perfume samples so I'm taking a bunch with me to Amsterdam so I can use them up. The little drawstring mesh bag just keeps them looking a bit neater.

For the lips I have my trusty Rosebud Strawberry Lip Balm to keep moisture locked in. The Sugar Fresh Lipbalms in Original and Rose are going to be my go-to for days out when I need the SPF. The Korres Jasmine Lip Butter is a no fuss nude color that I will try to use up on this trip.

Lastly I packed some space saving samples that are little extras "just in case". In the event that the cleansing water is not enough clean for my skin, I can use the Malin+Goetz Grapefruit Cleanser. To get an extra injection of moisture I might layer the L'Occitane Precious Serum under my moisturizer. Right before I fall asleep I want to give my eyes a bit of a boost with Kiehls' Rosa Artica Eye Cream and prior to landing I'll dab on a bit of Origins' GinZing to brighten my eyes.

How do you pack your in-flight beauty pouch? Do you go all out and bring every step of your skincare routine plus a few extras or do you go with a simple lip balm and hand cream?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Travel Makeup Bag: Study Abroad Edition

The big reveal has finally come: I'm studying abroad! Tomorrow I'll be on my way to the airport headed for Amsterdam, the Netherlands where I will be living and studying for the next five months! I've been somewhat hush hush about this whole thing (aside from a few tweets to Twitter friends) because I'm such a nervous person and I did not want to announce the trip until I was absolutely sure I was going. Over the last few weeks I've been gathering the beauty bits I want to take with me for my adventures abroad and I must say I'm quite proud of my self restraint.

My makeup bag is from Muji and I first fell in love with it when I was browsing Muji's online shop. Seeing that Julie had the same bag cemented my feelings for it and I finally bit the bullet and bought the pouch. I love how it has multiple compartments and the size is just right. I am showing liquid products here but they will all go in my TSA plastic baggy (post on that to come) as I want all my makeup to go in my carry on.

Choosing base products was relatively easy. I am bringing my Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream which is perfect for an effortless everyday look. On the days when I want to look more perfected, I'll have the Too Faced Amazing Face Foundation which I've decanted into a pump bottle from Muji. I only filled the bottle about one third of the way as I do not think I'll be wearing foundation too often. The plastic pump bottle is way more practical for traveling than the original glass bottle which does not come with a pump. I am only bringing one concealer which is Benefit's Erase Paste. For a liquid highlight I'm toting along a mini of Tarte's Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Iluuminating Serum which I can wear alone or mix into my foundation for an overall sheen. For powder I have Mac's Mineralize Skinfinish Natural which is a tad dark for me but I do not plan on packing it on. I'm also bringing my Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Pressed Powder Foundation which is on it's last legs because I want to finish it up!

For eye basics I have a tube of Too Faced's Shadow Insurance and a jumble of eyeliners. The Buxom Insider Eyeliner in Chocolate Citrine is a great travel option as it's retractable. The only "colorful" liner I'm bringing is NYC's Waterproof Eyeliner in Smokey Plum. I also have my Eyeko Skinny Liquid Liner in case I want a very precise black cat eye. Of course I threw in my Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencils in Zero and Bourbon. I have been using Bourbon a for about half a year in the attempt to finish it before I leave but alas it will have to come along. I'm packing my current mascara which is Maybelline's The Falsies Flared Waterproof and I really like how it holds a curl and adds length. I'm bringing along a mini of Benefit's They're Real Mascara which I have yet to try but hope it performs well. The Nars Pencil Sharpener also deserves a spot in my makeup bag as it has sharp blades and the rubberized packaging makes it incredibly easy to grip.

Cream eyeshadows are great as bases or used alone on lazy days so I'm packing Benefit's Creaseless Cream Shadow in R.S.V.P and Bobbi Brown's Long Wear Cream Shadow in Galaxy. A vial of Mac's Gold Mode Pigment is for dramatic sparkly eye looks and perfect for a night out. All three of these products are very tiny yet long lasting as you only need a tiny bit each time.

These are the last of the eye and cheek products and you can see my love for small palettes. I am very happy with what I've picked and I think I'm all set for everyday makeup looks. The Stila Merry & Bright Palette and Stila Sensational in Sydney Palette include the perfect neutral shadows and two convertible colors in completely different colors.

Although I'm not a huge fan of the Benefit Powda Wowza trio, it's compact and has a matte bronzer (Hoola) and two shimmery blushes (Coralista and Bella Bamba). I hope I can finish these powders up whilst away. The NYX Eyeshadow Trio in Suede, Sahara and Chocolate is a must have because I fill in my brows with the two brown shades and the champagne is a nice cheek highlight.

As for lip products I chose Revlon's Colorburst Lipstick in Soft Nude and L'oreal Colour Riche Caresse Stick in Sunset Angora as I wanted a neutral and bright lipstick. I also packed the Tarte Lipsurgence Lip Tint  in Swank as it's one of my favorite low maintenance red lip products. I decided to choose three sample lipglosses to save on space and hopefully I can finish these tubes and throw them out instead of bringing them back. I have Smashbox's Reflection High Shine Gloss, Cargo's Lipgloss in Morocco and Jouer's Moisturizing Lipgloss in Nude.

Another great thing about this makeup bag is that there is a special compartment for brushes with a plastic lined flap for easy cleaning. I chose five essential face brushes to fill these spots. From left to right I have the E.L.F Studio Blush Brush for cream blush, the Real Techniques Buffing Brush for foundation, the Ecotools Blush Brush for blush, the E.L.F Studio Powder Brush for BB cream, bronzer and whatever else I might need it for, and the E.L.F Studio Complexion Brush for powder.

As for my eye brushes and smaller tools, I am keeping them in my little Real Techniques brush roll. I also added my Essence of Beauty Angled Blush and Contour Brush which I use for bronzer and highlight. I chose mostly low end brushes and am leaving my Mac brushes at home as I am highly paranoid about losing pricier products. My eye brushes are mostly a mix of E.L.F, Ecotools, Essence of Beauty and a Sonia Kashuk Eyebrow Spoolie. The little blue gadget on the left is actually a foldable mini scissor that should come in handy.

So that is a rundown of my makeup bag as I head off to my new temporary home! Have you ever had to pack for an extended time away? How much (or little) would you try to condense your beauty stash for the trip?

Friday, January 25, 2013

November, December and January 2013 Empties

As some of you might have noticed, there was no empties post at the end of last month and that is because I wanted to lump together the products I've used up throughout November, December and January into one post. This will be the last regular monthly empties post for the time being and in a few days you will find out why (a few of you may already know if you follow me on Twitter!)

Of course I've gone through quite a few skincare products these past few months. I used up all my Jurlique Purely Bright Radiance Serum* which I applied every night to reduce my acne scars. Although it is hard to determine exactly how much it helped to speed up the healing process, I actually think it worked and it helped lighten my scars as opposed to not applying anything at all. I would consider purchasing it even though the price is somewhat high. The Caudalie Cleansing Water is a decent makeup remover and I used it when I had only a bit of tinted moisturizer or concealer to remove. I prefer cleansing oils for heavy makeup but cleansing waters are more refreshing and gentle when I'm not wearing too much on my face. Technically I am not completely finished with the Boots Botanics Soothing Eye Makeup Remover but I decanted the half I have left into a flip top bottle as the screw lid was getting annoying. This is a run of the mill duo phase eye makeup remover that works well. I picked up the Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash during their Earth Day recycling event two years ago and I really enjoyed using this cleanser. The minty scent is refreshing and the lather is very thick despite not having sodium laureth sulfate in the ingredients list. I highly recommend this cleanser if you have oily, combination or normal skin. A little goes a long way and one tube will last you ages!

After hearing many raves about Caudalie's Vinosource S.O.S Thirst Quenching Serum, I was excited to get a sample to try out. Although the serum is lightweight and easily absorbed, I felt like I had to use quite a bit to really feel the moisturizing benefits. I think less pricey alternatives could work just as well. I probably don't need to use an eye cream but I'd like to think starting young will postpone the crows feet a few years. The Korres Evening Primrose Eye Cream is a moisturizing eye cream that doesn't really go much in the way of easing lines but it feels very nice after a serum and sinks in well. I think this is a great eye cream if you're only looking for a bit of concentrated moisture. I was hesitant to try the Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel because it's loaded with green shimmers. Yes, shimmer. In a cleanser. Why!? Despite the strange look it is a nice non-foaming cleanser that works well after removing makeup with cleansing oil. The scent is quite artificial, similar to many other Mario Badescu products I've sampled. The Nivea Soft Moisturizing Creme was a freebie from CVS (join their ExtraCare program and they regularly send coupons for free goodies!) and I used it as a hand cream. It's honestly just lotion in a tiny tub but the scent is really great and it moisturized without leaving a sticky residue.

I received a mini Melvita Rose Floral Water Spray in one of my Birchboxes and I kept it in my everyday makeup pouch to spritz on during the hot summer days and whenever I needed a refresher. I absolutely love the scent of the water and think it's a nice treat to refresh one's complexion throughout the day. The Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer was another sample from Birchbox and unfortunately I did not get along with it. The texture was very primer-like in that it felt like I was slathering on silicone on my skin. I used this up as a cuticle cream as that's how I use up moisturizers I don't like. The Lashem Measurable Difference Lash Gel was another Birchbox find and the tiny tube lasted me about a month of use. I diligently applied the gel to my upper and lower lashes every night and found that my lashes look a tiny bit longer and just the slightest healthier. I did not get any averse side effects but the first few times I used it my eyelids would get somewhat itchy. The price is too high for a full sized tube but I'm curious to try RapidLash  now. After some success with the Jurlique serum I just mentioned, the Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution was a letdown. This spot reducer is much more liquid in texture and it instantly disappeared into my skin. I tried to use it as a concentrated, targeted treatment by applying it only on top of scars. Perhaps I needed a bigger size to really see results but the two weeks I used it were pretty pointless. The Mario Badescu Kiwi Face Scrub was a pathetic scrub as it was a green cleanser loaded with seed particles that were too big to have any exfoliating effects. The scent was nauseatingly artificial and in general the product did nothing for my skin.

I finished all of my somewhat recent Lush haulings in potted form and I have reviewed all three products in depth previously. I enjoyed the Almond Coconut Smoothie the most followed by the Ro's Argan Body Conditioner followed by the Charity Pot Hand and Body Lotion. Please click through to read more about my thoughts on these Lush products.

I finally used up all of the Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask. Okay, fine, I used up almost all of it.... I had just a tiny bit left (50 grams) before I got super fed up with it and just threw it out. I've had this mask for years and it's taken me forever to use up so much of it simply because I don't enjoy using it. Although it helps dry out pimples and mattify the skin temporarily, I feel like my skin is not clean after I wash off the mask. The scent is not my favorite either and the giant size is somewhat off putting (does that even make sense?!). The squeeze tube seems sanitary but the thick mask is hard to squeeze out and numerous times I've ended up with green clay on my clothes and on bathroom tiles. If you're on a tight budget and are not fussy with your skincare, this is the clay mask for you. The Revlon Colorstay Mineral Mousse Mineral Foundation is hardly used but I threw it out as it was past it's expiration date and the product was clearly separated. I bought this foundation after reading some good reviews online but I stupidly chose the shade in Light Medium which I can only wear in the summer. Unfortunately, the consistency is quite thick and I dislike wearing heavy bases in the heat so I rarely wore this. I believe this foundation is discontinued. Next are a few mascaras that I did not get along well with. The Physician's Formula Organic Wear Mascara was a good deal as it came in a two pack (gave the other to a friend) and there was some sort of sale at CVS. The brush is very thick and the bristles are dense but short. I usually only wear waterproof formulas now but I figured this couldn't be that bad since I used to wear regular mascara all the time. While this thickened my lashes a bit, it smudged really badly and I was always left with panda eyes whenever I wore it. The Blinc Tubing Mascara was a Birchbox sample and I was beyond excited to try it out since I had never tried a tubing mascara before. Basically this mascara coats your lashes with synthetic tubes and you only need warm water to get the tubes off. This mascara did not lengthen, volumize or hold a curl and was a pain to remove. I hated using eye makeup remover for my eyeshadow and liner then going in with a tissue soaked in warm water to remove the tubes. The tubes require a bit of tugging and a lot of time time to remove. Lastly the Covergirl Natureluxe Water Resistant Mascara was my first time venturing into Covergirl mascaras so I was expecting decent results. Unfortunately the bristles seemed a bit sparse and my lashes barely benefited. Also, why make a water resistant formula?! It did not feel resistant at all and it might as well have been a regular formula as my curl did not hold well and I would get mascara smudges by the end of the day.

With my oily combination skin I need to carry blotting papers in my everyday bag and the Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens served me well. I still like the Clean and Clear ones better though! I went through another Soft Lips Lip Balm which I think I will always have on hand. This particular tube actually broke and I had to toss out about the last fifth of the balm. I used up another baby sample of the Dr. Jart Premium BB Cream which has good coverage but I prefer the Dr. Jart Water Fuse BB Cream more. I used up a tube of Smashbox's Photofinish Primer which lasted me ages despite being a small sample. I quite liked this primer as it did not make me break out but I am often too lazy and forgetful to be bothered with face primer. I used up the LiQWd Volumizing Catalyst which was a Birchbox sample but did not see any results at all. It had a cirtus scent and did not make my hair any worse but I will not be trying out the full size.

I go through numerous packet samples regularly but don't often post about them. These were some standout samples that I feel are worth mentioned. The LiQWd Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner were not all that volumizing but they softened my hair and made my locks very sleek. The Amika Nourishing Mask was yet another Birchbox sample and while it looks small, it lasted me about six uses! I only needed a dollar coin sized amount to spread through my hair and it was a nice treatment to repair my hair. The scent was pleasant although a tiny bit strong for my preference. The Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser was a nice surprise because it felt very gentle on the skin and yet it cleansed very well without leaving my skin dry. My skin felt softer after use and I would consider purchasing the full sized bottle.

I threw out two brushes from my collection which rarely happens. I loved my Ecotools Brow and Lash Comb but as you can see the lash part broke quite awhile ago. I forget how that happened.... I finally realized how grimy the brush looked and bought a lash spoolie from Sonia Kashuk and could toss this broken brush out. The E.L.F Studio Angled Liner Brush was great for gel liner or setting my pencil liner. Unfortunately the black paint on the handle started pealing quite badly and the brush head detached. I usually put a bit of clear nail polish whenever my brushes fall apart (happened a few times with my E.L.F Studio Brushes) but the peeling paint meant this was a goner.

If you successfully read this entire post, then I thank and congratulate you! Empties posts are definitely lengthy but very rewarding to write as I get to finalize my opinions on products. What have you finished recently? Were you sad to see it go or excited to get rid of it?

* Products marked with an asterisk (*) were provided by PR companies for consideration. All thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Top 5: High End Neutral Eyeshadows

Months and months ago I set out to pick five of my favorite neutral eyeshadows from the drugstore which resulted in THIS post. Since then, I've been meaning to round up my most loved neutral eyeshadows on the pricier end but I've been putting off the task til now. Without further ado, these are my top five, go-to neutral shadows that get a lot more love than all the rest!

Surprisingly, only one taupe shade made it to the top and that honor goes to Urban Decay's YDK. It is a midtone taupe with the slightest hint of purple mauve leanings. I love these as an all over lid shade with a bit of a darker shade in the crease with liner. This shade has a bit of micro glitter but the issue is easily solved by tapping off the excess before application. This shadow is included in the Naked2 Palette if you don't want to splurge on the individual compact.

Inglot's AMC Shine 08 is one of my favorite eye brightening shades as the light gold really wakens my lids without being too dramatic. The shimmery finish is not too frosty but imparts a soft focus effect that looks great on its own or paired with matte crease shades.

The golden pink duo-chrome shadow in the Clinique Strawberry Fudge Duo is one of those transformative shadows that I never tire of swatching. In the pan the shadow looks like a baby pink but when swatched there is an apparent golden look that works wonder at brightening the eye.

When I'm in the mood for a more dramatic smokey look, Mac's Tempting is often what I turn to. This brown shade is ultra pigmented and easy to work with. I like to pack on the shadow to my entire lid and use a fluffy brush to soften up the edges for a three minute smokey eye. If you aren't feeling so daring, this also makes a nice crease shade. I get a lot of compliments when I wear this shadow which is another bonus!

Of course I had to choose a dark, defining shadow and that would be Urban Decay's Twice Baked. Although the dark brown shadow is loaded with golden shimmers in the pan, when swatched the glitters seem to disappear and you're left with a satin finish brown color perfect for the outer corner. The shadow is warm and cool toned depending on what colors you pair it with.

That wraps up my top picks for neutral shadows if you have a bit more money to spend. Check out the video below to see more swatches and the shadows up close!

What are your favorite high end neutral shadows? 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mini Sephora Haul: The Clarins "It Kit"

It probably seems like I spend a shed load of money on beauty products. I do, don't get me wrong. But it's all justifiable! Or so I hope....

The reason for this little haul was the Clarins It Kit which is limited edition and a fabulous value. I've had my eye on this kit since it's release as it contains a full size of their UV Plus HP sunscreen as well as their Beauty Flash Balm and One Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser. Two minis of their Super Restorative Eye Cream and Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch round up the $50 set. I've been wanting to try products from Clarins for quite some time now and I'm almost out of sunscreen so I couldn't get this kit out of my head.

Sephora had a few good 100 point perks as well so I jumped at the chance of scoring the Clinique Chubby Stick in Mega Melon as well as the Fresh Soy Face Cleanser. You can never have too many lip balm tints or travel friendly cleansers! The Fresh Sugar Lip Polish has also been on my shopping list but it's hefty price tag put me off. Sephora had a special code so I got the mini for free. Of course, the week after I ordered all this, Sephora had an even better weekly offer where you could choose two deluxe samples for free....

Sneak a peek at the products in the video below!

So this will probably be my last Sephora haul until the end of the year when the beauty insider discounts start rolling in. Have you tried any of these products yet? Let me know your thoughts if you have!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Zoya Neely: A Pastel Mint Mani

Mint nails are a must for spring and summer and Neely fits the mood perfectly as part of Zoya's Lovely collection. Zoya described Neely as a "earliest spring green cream" which honestly doesn't give me much of a hint about the color. I would describe Neely as a muted green mint with a cream finish. If you've been intimidated by some of the brighter mint polishes out there, Neely might fit the bill.

The formula was easy to work with and the cream finish was opaque in two coats. I did three coats just to even out the nails. The polish was less thick and opaque than Zoya's Blu. Like Blu, I had minor cracking after three days of wear which was only noticeable from up close. The wear is average for me but if you have shorter nails and are gentler on your nails the polish will crack less.

I knew Neely resembled something I already had but I have no polishes that look remotely similar. As I was applying my Queen Helene Mint Julep face mask, I smirked as my nails blended perfectly into the goopy mask. Why not match your mani with your pampering weekly mask?

*This product was provided by Zoya for review purposes. I am not being compensated in any other way and my opinions are my own. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Luminous Winter Makeup Tutorial

The harsh winter air has been wrecking havoc on my skin and I've been digging through my beauty arsenal in the hopes of bringing some luminosity back to my complexion and overall appearance.

I've been getting a number of spots on my face but the point of this look is to even out the skintone rather than to mask imperfections. I've been loving the Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream in Light which feels refreshing when applied. To conceal under my eyes and on any blemishes I used the Benefit Erase Paste Concealer in Medium. I set my makeup with a bit of Neutrogena's Mineral Sheers Powder Foundation and misted my entire face with Thayers' Witch Hazel Toner in Rose to get rid of any powderiness.

The eyes are kept subtle with just a bit of shimmer a la Inglot's AMC Shine 08 Eyeshadow on the lid and a midtone matte brown from Maybelline's Chai Latte Quad in the crease. I applied Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide on Pencil Eyeliner in Bourbon on the upper lash line to define the eyes and set it with Inglot's Pearl 421 Eyeshadow to bring out the shimmer in the eyeliner. Curled lashes is really important to get the bright eyed effect so I applied generous coats of Maybelline's The Falsies Flared Waterproof Mascara. I wanted the brows to be a bit full and dark so I combed through them with the ModelCo Fibre LASHXTEND Mascara.

For the complexion I wanted to use a cream product to avoid adding more drying powder to my face. I opted for the Becca Beach Tint in Fig which is a lovely muted rose. It is a barely there blush that complements a natural look and gives very subtle shading to the cheeks. To get more of a glow on the high points of the face I swept theBalm's Mary Loumanizer Highlighter on the tops of my cheekbones, down the bridge of my nose, the chin and cupid's bow.

A bright lip ties the look together and a glossy lipstick is perfect for a winter makeup routine. I opted for the Dior Addict Lipstick in Dior Kiss which is a lovely pink shade with an amazing formula that glides onto the lips.

Check out the video below if you want to see how I created the look step by step!

How do you bring out your inner glow during the drab winter months? What are your favorite products for looking bright and awake?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Zoya Julie: A Lavender Polish You NEED!

When I saw the press images for Zoya's Lovely collection, I had an inkling that Julie, a pearly lavender, would be my favorite of the bunch. Even though I usually prefer cream finishes, there was something about this purple that looked special. It wasn't until I applied the polish to my nails that I could see the full effect of this stunning lilac and words cannot describe how much I adore this single polish.

Zoya describes Julie as a "soft wisteria purple metallic" which I disagree with. Julie is not metallic and the shimmer is really quite subtle. That isn't a bad thing because I think the muted shimmer makes this much more wearable for everyday. The light purple leans the slightest bit blue and under certain lighting conditions, the polish transforms into the most stunning periwinkle.

While Zoya claims Julie is full coverage, I don't think it's opaque as it could possibly be. One coat was simply sheer and three coats yielded perfect coverage. For me, this is not a con because I'd rather do three thin coats than two thick, goopy coats that crack and chip within three days. It was easy to layer Julie as the polish did not bunch up.

Wear time is excellent and I wore the polish for five days with no chipping and only the slightest bit of tip wear. There were absolutely no cracks and I simply did a tiny bit of filing to erase signs of tip wear.

Julie is a top notch contender for my favorite spring polish at the moment and probably my most beloved purple polish in my collection as well. I highly recommend this nail polish as everything from the color to the formula wins me over.

*This product was provided by Zoya for review purposes. I am not being compensated in any other way and my opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Origins Pinch Your Cheeks: The Overlooked Lip and Cheek Tint

I used to be all about dramatic, defined eyes and just clear balm on the lips but now my preference is often the reverse. A bright lip and barely there eyes is what I've been sporting much more often. But bold lip sticks and glosses can be high maintenance and I don't want to spend my day worrying about smeared red lipstick or berry gloss transferring to my hair and clothing. Enter: multitasking lip and cheek stains. I fell in love with theBalm's Stainiac and I've been looking for similar products to compare. Origins' Pinch Your Cheeks tints are a reasonable $12.50 and come in three wearable shades.

I often forget that Origins does makeup products and only came across these tints as I had two $10 off anything vouchers. For a mere $2.50 each, I had to give these a go.

I have two shades in Coralberry and Raspberry. Coralberry is not much of a coral but rather a orange toned red. Raspberry is noticeably darker and a true berry shade. The formula is akin to a gel but blends out easily like a liquid.

Both shades are very wearable and a little can go a long way if you intend to use these as blush. It is best to use a patting motion and multiple layers of products to blend the gel onto the cheeks.

On the lips I would suggest using a lip brush as the stain has a tendency to soak into the fingertips. The color looks a bit patchy in photos but in real life it is not as noticeable. The stain is comfortable and lasts for a few hours. There is no scent to the product but if you happen to lick your lips after applying there is a slight chemical taste that is not too appealing. Coralberry gives a nice tint of cherry red to my lips which is pretty all year round.

Raspberry is a deeper vampy lip color that I think looks especially nice in the colder months. These stains do not make my lips feel more chapped although in the swatches my lips look in need of some moisture.

The downfall to this product is the packaging. Although the silver aluminum squeeze tubes look sleek, it is hard to control how much product is dispensed. The Coralberry tube is barely dented but the product does not stop spewing out whenever I unscrew the cap. Raspberry on the other hand looks like it's been used for awhile however I've only used it twice. I had to squeeze the tube of Raspberry many times before a bit of product came out. These tiny tints seem like great travel companions but the possibility of the tubes getting mangled in your purse and then forcing out all of the product open reopening makes me think not. Also, the container only holds .1 fluid ounces which pales in comparison to theBalm's .3 fluid ounces and Benefit's Benetint's .4 fluid ounces. Those other tints also have better packaging as they have sponge tip and brush tip applicators respectively.

While the formula of the Origins Pinch Your Cheeks tints make these worth a haul, especially if you have a coupon or they're running a deal, the packaging flaw makes me hesitant to repurchase these. What's your favorite lip and cheek stain? Have you tried any of Origins' cosmetics?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Zoya Blu: Pristine Baby Blue for Winter to Spring

Despite the early sunsets and gray branches, spring beauty collections are already available and Zoya's Lovely Collection has all the pretty pastels you need this season. Zoya describes Blu as a "lucky hyacinth blue cream" but I would simply call it an opaque true baby blue. The color is stunning and even though it is quite stark, it doesn't look odd on my warm toned skin. Two coats ensures full coverage and there were no issues with streaking or unevenness. However, the wear time was not amazing and by the third day I had a few cracks on a few nails. The somewhat thicker nature of the polish makes this more susceptible to cracking from my experience. 

I tried to look for dupes in my polish collection but I don't have anything quite like Blu. Essie's St. Barth's Blue is on the left and pulls a bit more warm. Zoya's Kristen on the far right actually looks dark next to Blu because it has a more dusty, gray tinge.

If you're looking for a true bright baby blue, Zoya Blu is a great option. Despite the average wear time, it is a gorgeous shade and it would flatter many skin tones. What's your favorite baby blue polish?

*This product was provided by Zoya for review purposes. I am not being compensated in any other way and my opinions are my own. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

NYC on a Budget: Friday Evenings at the MOMA

Since I've done away with Monthly Wrap Up posts, in which I featured adventures and eats that I think readers will find interesting, a few new series will take their stead. As a native New Yorker, I am fortunate enough to have relatively easy access to a multitude of restaurants, shows, galleries, and entertainment. With my student status, I try to look for the best deals so that I can experience the city on a budget.

My first time at the Museum of Modern Art, MOMA for short, was about two years ago and I've been wanting to go back since. Back then I had managed to get in gratis with my student pass although I can't quite remember the details. However on the museum's website there doesn't seem to be a student discount at all so perhaps they've changed their pricing. Browsing through the website, I noticed that on Friday evenings from 4 p.m to 8 p.m anyone can enter for free! For four hours you can explore the museum without paying a cent, courtesy of Target. I was elated and hopped on the E train with a few friends for an evening at the MOMA.

Be warned, there is a tremendously long line if you want a free ticket. We got to the museum at around 4:45 and the line was around a block and one and a half avenues long. The wait was around 40 minutes per my rough calculations and it was a bit chilly but if you have some friends to weather the wait, it doesn't feel that long at all.

The exhibits change regularly (check the website for more specific details) and I honestly did not do much research beforehand. As someone who is not trained in art aside from some rudimentary art history 101, I couldn't glean as much information as someone more passionate about modern art.

As a suggestion, reading the various blurbs on the walls about the general exhibits and artists helps a lot with understanding what you are looking at. Have an open mind while walking through the exhibits and you will probably have a more fruitful and pleasant time.

Van Gogh's The Starry Night is a permanent resident of the MOMA which was a surprise to me. Being just a few inches away from the textured surface of thick paint was quite surreal. I was taken aback by how little security there was between the painting and the general public as there was quite a crowd around the piece.

The largest crowd was around Edvard Munch's The Scream which is temporarily located at the MOMA until April 29th. In my honest opinion, aesthetically The Scream doesn't quite appeal to me as the pastel reminds me of third grade crayon doodles. Security was much tighter around this piece as the frame is surrounded by plexiglass and a guard is stationed nearby.

I will leave you with a bit of Monet's Water Lilies which grace one of the adjoining rooms on the fifth floor. Whether you like to muse over a few classic, well known works of art or exhibits of up and coming movements, a visit to the MOMA is well worth the trip. The free Friday evenings offer is just that extra bit of encouragement that you might need to get you going.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Maybelline Mirrored Mauve: An Underrated Drugstore Lipgloss!

I used to fancy higher end lip products over drugstore ones because experience taught me that more expensive glosses often have nicer packaging and better formulas. Drugstore brands are increasingly stepping up their game and now there are a few bargain lipglosses that I would call favorites. My newest love affair with drugstore lipgloss comes in the form of Maybelline's Colorsensational Lipgloss in Mirrored Mauve.

The Colorsensational glosses have been around for quite some time but only somewhat recently (perhaps sometime in 2012?) did Maybelline revamp the packaging into a sleek clear tube with a shiny cap. I love the simplicity of the packaging and there is a nice weight to the tube. Just by looking at the tube it is hard to tell that it is a Maybelline product, which works in this case because people might just think you're holding a more expensive, luxury gloss.

The applicator is a slightly slanted, long doe foot which applies gloss easily to the lips. It does not grab much product from the tube which can be annoying as I have to re-dip the brush about three to four times for one application.

The gloss has a sweet candy smell that brings back fond memories of my childhood years. I personally really love the scent of this gloss. Once the gloss is on the lips, the scent is not noticeable.

Mirrored Mauve is a deep berry nude with a cream finish. I chose this particular color because I have nothing like it in my collection so far. Depending on the lighting it can look a bit darker than the above swatch which looks almost baby pink-ish. I really love the shade and it seems more suitable for fall and winter. There are 12 permanent shades in this line including a fierce red and a few shimmery nudes.

The formula is creamy without being heavy or sticky. I would go as far as to say this is a moisturizing gloss that does not make my lips flake or peel during or after wear. This gloss does not give me the unpleasant white film that some glosses create where the lips meet which I highly appreciate. I really love the formula of this gloss and personally think it beats the Revlon Super Lustrous Lipglosses which almost everyone seems to adore.

So far I've only seen a handful of reviews praising the Maybelline Colorsensational Lipglosses which I think is quite strange as these are phenomenal in terms of formula, packaging, and price. These are definitely underrated drugstore lipglosses and I definitely want to pick up a few more in the future. Have you tried the Maybelline Colorsensational Lipglosses? What's your favorite drugstore lipgloss?

Monday, January 7, 2013

ORLY Nite Owl: A Subtle Sparkly Neutral

After all the glitzy party nails of yesteryear, a return to the office calls for understated, professional manicures. But that doesn't mean you have to reach for pale pinks and boring beiges. ORLY's Nite Owl is the perfect combination of sophisticated, neutral taupe with the most refined of silver shimmer flecks. Formula wise, I have always had good experience with ORLY. Nite Owl applies easily and three coats will give you glossy, opaque nails. The shimmer is not difficult to remove at all as it's not chunky glitter.

If brights and all-out sparkle is not up your alley, this is a must have polish for your collection. What are some of your go-to neutral polishes?