Friday, June 26, 2015

Laura Mercier Lush Nectarine Blush: Coral Cheek Perfection

For those of you who watch certain Youtubers, Laura Mercier's Lush Nectarine is probably a blush you're familiar with. It's the epitome of a coral summer flush. I finally picked this up after years of having it on my mind and it's pretty much everything that everyone says it is. No surprises here, folks! 

I've been quickly building a small collection of Laura Mercier goodies in the past few months. I really like Laura Mercier's clean, smart aesthetic and how the focus is on the actual products you apply on your face. I'm all about cute and glamorous packaging but I also admire sleek and simple. 

Laura Mercier blushes come in small square compacts with only 3.6 grams of product. That's a quarter less blush than a regular Nars blush so these are quite small. Keep in mind that these retail for $26 so the price is reflective of the fact that you're getting a bit less than say Nars. Each blush can be popped out of its compact and transferred into an empty custom compact which also fits eyeshadows. I'm a huge fan of these mix-and-match concepts as they're wonderful for traveling. 

For some odd reason, Lush Nectarine is described as a "matte soft peach coral" but there's absolutely nothing matte or soft about this blush. It clearly has golden shimmers in it and the color is very bright. I am careful to pick this up on a very fluffy brush and sweep on the tiniest amount to build up the color because this blush packs a pigmented punch. This isn't the sort of blush you can easily put on absentmindedly because the color can be quite stark if you don't take the time to blend it out. The color is absolutely gorgeous and it will look beautiful on most skin tones. Fairer skin toned people will have to be extra careful about using the lightest hand but deep skintones will look lovely with this color on. 

I'm very pleased with this first blush acquisition from Laura Mercier and hope to add a few more to my collection. Next time, I'll probably go for a true matte blush!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lorac Pro Palettes 1 & 2: Swatches and Comparisons

Up until last month, I had absolutely no interest in the Lorac Pro Palettes which I've seen featured on blogs and Youtube videos countless times in the past few years. For the longest time these palettes just didn't appeal to me. I thought the shades were meh and that the eyeshadow formulation itself couldn't be that great. But right when Lorac announced their 35% off Memorial Day sale, something shifted in my makeup hoarding mind and I decided I needed both the Lorac Pro Palette and Lorac Pro Palette 2.... 

Both palettes retail for $42 and come with their own mini Behind the Scenes Eye Primer which is a decent enough primer. You get 16 shadows in each palette; the top eight are mattes and the bottom eight are shimmers. Note that the shadow pans are smaller than the average palette pan and contain only .02 ounces whereas the Urban Decay Naked Palette shadows are .05 ounces. Overall you get more shadow in something like the Naked Palette but the Lorac Pro Palettes are $12 less expensive and realistically I'm not one to use up an eyeshadow no matter the size. 

Additionally, the Lorac Pro Palettes are very lightweight and thin, practically half the width of a Naked Palette. The cardboard packaging has a rubbery finish, similar to Nars packaging, and a magnetic closure. 

The original Lorac Pro Palette has more of your basic neutrals with the only standout color being Garnet, a rusty red. I really like the shimmers and warm mattes. I could have done without White, Light Pink and Slate but that's just my personal preference. Champagne is my least favorite shade out of both palettes because it's the only color with glitter in it and it isn't as smooth and buttery as the other shadows. 

At first glance the Lorac Pro Palette 2 has more unique shades because Navy and Jade really jump out at you. But taken as a whole, this is very much a neutral palette. I purchased this palette because I liked the look of Rose, Mocha and Chrome. I also appreciate the light Brown and Nectar mattes. I wish this palette had a darker matte brown though. I don't care for Snow, Silver or Charcoal at all since cool toned whites and grays look weird on my yellow toned skin. 

My shade pickiness aside, the quality of these shadows is superb. I almost feel bad that I had judged these palettes before ever swatching them. I've swatched the matte rows of the two palettes next to each other so you can see the differences between them better. These mattes are very buttery and easy to blend. As with some creamy eyeshadows, these can kick up a fair bit of powder and get messy quickly though. Just gently dab your brush in, tap off excess and you'll be fine.

The shimmers are lovely as well and I'm head over heels in love with the midtone shades. You can see the chunky sparkles from Champagne on the top row and Jade didn't come off the smoothest but everything else looks really nice. These shadows are very blendable, almost to the point where you might blend everything away if you're not being mindful. If I had to pick only one of the palettes, I'd go with the first palette since it has more wearable colors (I probably won't wear the silver or gray in the second palette) but I think both palettes are worth having if you come across a good sale.

I take back my hesitations about these palettes and have to say the quality is very good considering the price is noticeably less expensive than comparable mid-high end makeup brands. The shadows aren't perfect as they can be a little powdery but overall they're a pleasure to work with. When I'm going on an extended trip, I'll be all set if I just brought one of these palettes since you have so many mattes and shimmers to play with. I have my eyes on the Lorac Unzipped Palettes next.... 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Affordable Summer Shimmer with Physician's Formula

When I spotted these cheek products from Physician's Formula, my first thought was that these look too pretty to be from the drugstore. The Bronze Booster Glow-Boosting Airbrushing Bronzing Veil (what a mouthful) caught my eye because the texture of the powder looked like the Mac In Extra Dimension formula. These aren't new releases from Physician's Formula but I don't believe I've seen any reviews or swatches before. I thought both of these would be lovely for the summer so I scooped them up when Rite Aid was having a BOGO sale a few weeks ago.

To my dismay the metallic finish of the bronzer is simply an overspray. I purchased the shade Light to Medium in the hopes that it might be a highlighter when I'm at my tannest skin tone. Alas, this is not meant to be a highlighter and suits my skin as an all over bronzer. Under the ultra shimmery overspray, the rest of the bronzer still has a distinct pearl quality. The bronzer gives a true glow without looking shimmery or glittery. I've been using it alone as a bronzing contour and it doesn't highlight pores or imperfections.

The swatch on the left is the color of the overspray and the right side is what the true bronzer looks like. This bronzer definitely leans warm and isn't the best if you want to chisel natural looking cheek bones. What it is great for is adding a healthy, tan glow to your complexion. If you want to accentuate a summer tan, this would be perfect. If you're one to wear makeup to the beach or pool, you could use this over your face and body as well since you get 12 grams of product and you're only paying about $15.

I used the bronzer in my most recent Get Ready With Me and First Impressions video. I layered it over a matte bronzer but I find that I don't really need to do that since the shimmer doesn't translate into sparkle on the skin.

The Argan Wear Ultra-Nourishing Argan Oil Blush also has a gold sparkly overspray which you can see in the very first photo in this post. I took a brush and gently brushed away the top layer of product so you could see what the blush actually looks like. I chose the shade Rose, a vibrant pink that looks almost intimidating in the pan but with a light hand, it looks very natural on medium to deep skintones. Another thing I should mention is that this blush has a distinct exotic perfume scent. I don't particularly enjoy it but you can't smell it when you're wearing the product.

Again, on the left we have a swatch of the blush with the overspray and on the right is what the blush looks like without the glittery accents. Even after dabbing my brush in the pan and wiping away all of the overspray, there are still bits of shimmer and glitter that wind up on my face. The blush has a satin finish but the pesky glitter particles linger. Despite this, I really like the color of the blush and the satin finish doesn't look too shiny but definitely gives the cheeks a nice brightness. Although the color is quite deep in the pan, the pigmentation is not too strong and you can lightly build up the color to whatever intensity you prefer.

These are two fantastic cheek products by Physician's Formula and I'm consistently impressed by their face powders. If you seek a healthy summer complexion, head over to the drugstore and check out this bronzer and blush because they're worth every penny!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Travel Makeup Bag: 10 Days in Scandinavia

Tomorrow I'm jetting off to Norway followed by Sweden for a much needed 10-day trip. Since it's a relatively short trip and I'm only allowing myself to bring a carry on, let's see what makeup necessities I'm bringing. Everything fits into a pleather Zoeva pouch that came with one of their brush sets but I'll need to transfer some of the cream products into my clear liquids pouch. 

As usual I tried to pare my routine down and take sample minis that I have on hand to cut down on the bulk. I also aim to bring long wearing products that I don't need to fuss with. I'll list out the items by category so you can see exactly what I'm bringing and link to separate reviews and swatches where applicable. 

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer (sample)
Laneige Cushion Concealer in Medium*
Dr. Jart+ WaterFuse BB Cream (sample)
Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Cream (not pictured because I added this in after taking the photo - sample)
Marcelle Golden Glow BB Cream (sample)
Laura Mercier Invisible Pressed Setting Powder (sample)

Catrice Sun Glow Matt Bronzing Powder in Deep Bronze
Stila Convertible Color in Peony
theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer (sample)

Nars Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base (sample)
KIKO Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 06
Inglot Eyeshadow Duo in AMC Shine 08 and 107R
Physician's Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum in Ultra Black
Shiseido Eyelash Curler
Maybelline The Colossal Volume Express Cat Eyes Waterproof Mascara
Lioele Auto Eyebrow Pencil in #2

Benefit Posie Balm (sample)
Holika Holika Pure Mellow Moisture Tint in Red
I probably will have a handful of other lipbalms and lip products floating in my other everyday makeup bag....

I tend to be very minimal in terms of makeup when I travel because my skin usually goes crazy from the flight and I'm not in the mood to fuss with products when my skin is unhappy. I could have been even more strict and not included the eyeshadow primer and duo altogether and left the highlighter out. But I figured I'd bring them along "just in case".

Regardless of what beauty bits I'm taking with me, I'm sure I'll be spending less time getting ready and more time taking in all the sights that Norway and Sweden have to offer! I'm excited to take lots of photos and get back into travel posts! Until then, I'll have a few prescheduled reviews for the next week and a half.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Laneige Cushion Concealer: A BB Cushion for Undereyes

My comparison and demo video of the Laneige BB Cushion and Etude House BB Cushion is by far my most popular Youtube endeavor with over 164,000 views. Those of you who watched that video will know that I'm a big fan of the Laneige BB Cushion so you can imagine my surprise when I found out they also make a concealer in the same line. The Laneige Cushion Concealer* claims to be a makeup product with skincare benefits. How does it stack up to the popular Laneige BB Cushion?

The Laneige Cushion Concealer comes in two shades: light and medium. Medium works on my summer complexion which isn't too dark at the moment whereas light will fare better for me in the winter. Those of you who are of a deeper skin tone than I am are, unfortunately, out of luck. The product includes SPF30+ which is great since not many under eye products contain SPF and it can be tricky applying a sunscreen so close to the eye area. This concealer has a sweet floral scent to it, similar to the BB Cushion. The tube contains 2.5 ml of product and retails for $20 at Target. Compared to the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer, which has 6 ml of product, you're getting less than half the product for more than double the price. Laneige is a mid-high end skincare brand in Korea (think a notch pricier than Mac on the makeup price ladder) so $20 seems normal. 

The Laneige Cushion Concealer is a click pen applicator with a very soft, doe foot applicator. The applicator material is not a sponge but a flocked fiber that feels very smooth and delicate. The size of the applicator is smaller than that of the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer so you can get this toward the inner corner of your eyes with ease. 

The opaque outer packaging is a chic white hard plastic that feels substantial in the hands. There is a clear bar that shows you how much concealer is left in the packaging which I really appreciate. Unfortunately, as with pretty much any click pen style applicator, it takes an unknown number of clicks before product comes oozing out rapidly.... With this it was no exception. I clicked the pen one too many times and dispensed about a fifth of what little product you get during my first use. 

Here I've swatched the Laneige Cushion Concealer in Medium on the left next to Maybelline's Instant Age Rewind Concealer in Neutralizer on the right. Clearly the Laneige concealer is much darker and more peach toned. Although the shade looks very dark on my arm, it blends very easily and looks very natural under my eyes. The texture of this concealer is moisturizing yet lightweight and not greasy at all.

On the left you can see my bare under eye and on the right is after blending a light layer of the Laneige Cushion Concealer. I'd say there is a pretty noticeable difference! The concealer does not sink into fine lines or crease when set with powder. The creamy texture makes it easy to blend and it practically melts into the skin. 

Laneige has knows how to make great base products, as evidenced by their BB Cushion and now their Cushion Concealer. I like the way this concealer looks and I prefer the slightly richer formulation as compared to the drugstore Maybelline concealer which everyone raves about. I only wish the Laneige concealer contained a bit more product as I can see this being an everyday staple that I use up quickly.

*This product was provided for consideration. All opinions are my own and 100% honest.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summer Skincare: Moisturizers and Sunscreens

The mercury is creeping into the 90's and with that comes a much needed skincare switch up. Today I'll share my thoughts on a few face and body moisturizers and sunscreens that I've been slathering on recently. 

For my night time moisturizer I've been using the Laneige Bright Renew Original Cream* which is supposed to reduce melanin production and fade dark spots with bio-brightening Melacrusher. Every month I get bouts of acne due to a combination of hormones and less than stellar eating and sleeping habits. I can't say for sure how much quicker my acne scarring is fading from using this moisturizer but I do think it is helping. The moisturizer isn't really a cream and more along the lines of a gel which my oily skin finds hydrating but not heavy or pore-clogging in the slightest. The one qualm I have with this product is the very strong, perfumed fragrance which can be cloying at times.

The next two moisturizers are made for the face but I use them for my body. The Clark's Botanicals Smoothing Marine Cream is an anti-aging cream with glycolic acid. I had a small sample of this that I used on my face and it was a gentle gel moisturizer that left my skin slightly clearer after use. Since this is a $115 product, I feel compelled to let you know that I received this product as gratis from a previous job although it is not remotely related to my blog activities. I have an abundance of moisturizers that my face cannot use up within a reasonable amount of time so I sometimes use face creams as body lotions. I use this one in particular on my back and shoulders because I have serious hyper-pigmentation issues on those areas of my body. The gentle glycolic acid exfoliates my skin while I sleep and leaves it feeling smoother. The discoloration has also faded slightly although it's still a work in progress. Again, the smell of this moisturizer can be difficult to tolerate however it's not a heavily perfume scented but just something unpleasant.

The Lierac Luminscence Illuminating Cream Complexion Perfector* is another brightening cream however the formulation doesn't suit my oily skin so I use it as a daytime body cream when I'm going for a healthy, glowy look. Unlike the Laneige cream, this product is definitely a cream consistency and it has shimmer particles in it to impart an immediate brightness. I don't particularly like using shimmery skincare but this works perfectly on the décolleté area and on legs when you're going out. I have issues with hyper-pigmentation due to sun exposure and dryness on my arms and legs so I like to mix this moisturizer with sunscreen if I'll be outdoors.

Here is a closer look at the consistencies and textures of the three moisturizers. The Laneige cream is definitely a gel texture whereas the Clark's Botanicals cream is more of a viscous liquid. The Lierac moisturizer is a cream that doesn't feel overly moisturizing but is not nearly as lightweight as the other two "creams". 

Suncare is important all year round but especially in the summer since I tend to spend more time outdoors. Earlier this year, Shiseido released their Wetforce sunscreens which become more effective when you're sweating or when your skin comes into contact with water. I use the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 50+* on my face and the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50+* on my body. I honestly use a lot of Shiseido skincare nowadays because I receive the skincare lines for consideration however I've purchased and loved Shiseido sunscreen before anything was sent to me. The Wetforce sunscreens are very similar in feel and scent to the Extra Smooth and Urban Environment sunscreens which I already love.

 What are your summer skincare moisturizer and sunscreen must haves? Let me know what you're currently using in the comments!

*Products marked with an asterisk were sent to me for consideration. All opinions are my own and 100% honest. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Sephora 500 Point Perk: Laura Mercier's Flawless in 5

If you've been saving up your Sephora beauty insider points, now might be a good time to spend them on a great summer set from Laura Mercier. I usually go for the 100 point perks as there's usually something in the 500 point perks that I won't use or there are only four items instead of five. Named Laura's Flawless in 5, this kit contains five brand staples that are great if you're entirely new to the line or you've already tried these, love them and want travel minis. I just received my Sephora order yesterday and wanted to get this post up since this 500 point perk is still available.

These are the five products you get along with the shades and net weight.

  • Flawless Skin Face Polish (0.4 oz.)
  • Foundation Primer – Radiance Bronze (0.5 oz)
  • Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 in Nude (0.5 oz)
  • Lip Glacé in Nectar (0.1 oz)
  • Matte Radiance Baked Powder Compact in Bronze 03 (0.06 oz)
Note that there is a tinted moisturizer with only one shade so if you're not a light, neutral skintone, this might not be worthwhile for you. 

Here are swatches of the four makeup products in the set. The bronzer is what drew me to this perk the most but unfortunately I had thought it would be the Radiance 01 shade which is the highlighter. I still like the Bronze 03 shade and it'll make a nice all-over bronzer rather than a contour for summer. The powder is super smooth and almost creamy to the touch. 

The lipgloss is a beautiful coral shade and I have another mini Laura Mercier lipgloss in Blush which I keep in my makeup bag to touch up throughout the day. The only minor complaint is that I don't like the cheap scent of these lipglosses. 

I was unsure how I would use the foundation primer in Radiance Bronze but it sheers out into a very subtle glow so no worries about looking orange. I've used up a one ounce bottle of their regular foundation primer in the past and have a deluxe sample of the Radiance (without the bronze) foundation primer so I'm excited to compare how these differ. 

Lastly is the tinted moisturizer in Nude which will not suit every skintone but it works for mine so I'm thankful. I've never used the regular tinted moisturizer, having only tried a sample of their oil-free version, but I suspect this will be an easy base for everyday. 

Lastly there is the Flawless Skin Face Polish which I already had a sample of (Laura Mercier is often generous with deluxe samples if you order directly from the brand's website) and like. It's not an amazing exfoliant by any means but it gets the job done.

Let me know if you've tried these products from Laura Mercier and if you think it's a great 500 point perk like I do! I hope these post was helpful in case you were thinking of picking up the set. Let me know if you do!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Nars Kuala Lumpur Eyeshadow Duo: The Unfortunate Dud

I'm doing back to back eyeshadow reviews and I find myself in near shock because I paid more for this Nars duo than the 16-shade Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette I reviewed in my last post. Granted I did get the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette with a $20 discount but this Nars duo retails for $35 so it's definitely on the higher end of the eyeshadow spectrum. As you can tell by the title, I am not impressed by this Nars product.... 

I wanted very much to love this eyeshadow duo. If you saw my Barneys haul when I bought this eyeshadow, you'll know that I lusted after it for many years because of the name. For those of you who might not know, Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia, the country where my parents are from. I love it when beauty product shades are named after places and especially ones that are important in my life. The shades in this duo look really promising in the pan as well. They're on the warmer neutral side of the spectrum and I could imagine myself wearing these regularly. The setup of the duo reminded me of the Clinique Duo in Strawberry Fudge which I got as a free GWP years back. But I like the texture of the Clinique shadows better and the shades are more complex and less glittery compared to Nars' Kuala Lumpur.

The swatch above looks decent but when you use a brush and apply the shadows to your lid, they fade into a sheer wash of shimmer. The rose gold is difficult to build up so it ends up looking rather yellow on my eyelids and the burgundy has chunks of shimmer and the base color doesn't adhere well to the skin. Even with an eyeshadow primer and cream shadow base these colors do not show up well. For $35 I expected way better quality. I really like Nars' Eyeshadow Duo in Kalahari so I had high hopes for Kuala Lumpur. Unfortunately that just isn't the case. 

For what it's worth I am keeping Nars Kuala Lumpur in my stash. If I am very careful to not blend much at all, the colors should be able to last on top of a pigmented cream shadow. Don't make the mistake I made. Skip Kuala Lumpur and seek out Kalahari instead.