Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Sparkling Everyday Nude Lipgloss by Paul & Joe

Paul & Joe seems to be one of those brands that only a small minority of beauty bloggers know about which is a bit of a shame since it's a lovely, feminine beauty line. Back when I first started reading blogs, my favorite bloggers would talk about Paul & Joe lipsticks and eyeshadows but the products were way out of my high school budget. Fast forward to now and I'm still iffy about spending $29 on a lipgloss but I bought this when Birchbox had a coupon code for 20% off.  

Paul & Joe seems to be especially popular in Japan and this lipgloss is also made in Japan. The packaging is very simple and pretty to look at. I have the shade 01 Savoir-Faire which is a midtone beige pink with shimmer. I actually meant to purchase a non-shimmery nude pink shade but the online swatches didn't indicate that there was shimmer in this.

The applicator of this lipgloss is particularly interesting because it features a paddled spatula. On one side you have a plastic edge and the other is a regular flocked side. The applicator is rather long and is very flexible. I don't think it makes applying the product easier or more difficult. It's just different.

Based on the color on the applicator, I was worried that the color would be too dark to be a suitable nude for me. But this lipgloss is very sheer and as you can see, it just enhances my natural lip color by adding some shine and shimmer. The shimmers are very fine and not gritty at all so I'm rather pleased with this gloss. The formula is non tacky but after a couple of hours of wear, in addition to eating and drinking, the glossiness fades and leaves some shimmer behind.

The Paul & Joe Glossy Lip Color is a nice gloss but not necessarily a must have, especially considering the price point. While I'm happy to have this everyday nude in my collection, I'm not rushing out to purchase additional shades. Have you tried anything from Paul & Joe? Any recommendations from this line?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Before and After: Missha Magic Cushion - A New Favorite Find

My love for BB cushions started last year when I was introduced to the Laneige BB Cushion and since then, more and more brands have caught onto the BB cushion trend. Missha recently did a massive giveaway of their Magic Cushion and I was lucky enough to score one. My thoughts? It's just as brilliant as the Laneige cushion!

In terms of packaging, most BB cushions are the same. The Missha Magic Cushion looks a lot like the Laneige BB Cushion with the white and silver case and large mirror. As far as I know, all BB cushion sponges are pretty much identical and work wonderfully with this lightweight formula. The Misshe Magic Cushion is refillable so you can pop out the inner portion when it's used up. I find that the smaller compact closely more securely than the Laneige version.

The Missha Magic Cushion is a standard .5 fluid ounces as is the Laneige one and other cushion foundations. The Missha cushion retails for $16 but does not come with a refill pack so it works out to be about the same price as Laneige's. Missha frequently runs promotions so it would recommend waiting for a sale to try this out.

This product has SPF 50+ PA+++ which is the same as the Laneige version as well. The most noticeable different between the two cushions is that the Laneige is very heavily scented while the Missha doesn't have a strong smell at all. The Missha Magic Cushion has a slight sunscreen scent but is otherwise not very fragrant.

One of the downfalls of the Missha Magic Cushion is the limited shade selection. There are only two shades and I have the darker one, #23. If you have a darker skintone than me, you won't be able to use this product which is a shame. Hopefully Missha can expand their shade range with this product like they did with the popular Perfect Cover BB Cream. 

Here is an unedited before and after that shows the level of coverage and skin-like appearance of the Missha Magic Cushion. The product leans a bit pink but in real life it's not too noticeable. A little product goes a long way and a very light layer evens out my skintone considerably and diminished most of the redness. I have a lot of capillaries on my jaw and cheek and this foundation covers it up without any cakiness. Like the Laneige BB Cushion, this one is very luminous and glowy. I do have to blot two to three times over the course of an entire day but at the end of the night, my makeup still looks reasonably good.

The Missha Magic Cushion reaffirms my fondness for BB cushion base products. I like the ease of use, comfortability and overall look that it gives. Overall, I give this BB cushion two big thumbs up and I highly recommend it!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Luxurious Multi-Purpose Oil from Shiseido for Face, Body and Hair

As we bid the last days of warm summer air goodbye, I'm finally allowing myself to unbox some of the products I've been reserving to use in the fall and winter. The Shiseido 'Future Solution LX' Replenishing Treatment Oil* which was recently launched for Fall 2015 is one of the products I was most excited to use. On the evenings when I have a few extra minutes to pamper my skin, I love to use a body oil instead of a body lotion and this ultra luxe oil looks and smells like the ultimate treat. This body oil claims to have age-defending properties that protect your skin from environmental stress. At $175 for 2.5 ounces, I had extremely high hopes that this would be the holy grail of body oils.

I've always liked the packaging of Shiseido's Future Solution LX products but the oil comes housed in a much nicer bottle than the even pricier serums from the line. A clear glass bottle contains the oil and the pump is surrounded by a pearly piece of plastic. The cap is plastic but features a beautiful golden emblem. The pump is easy to control and dispenses a generous amount if you plan on using this as a face oil. I usually do about three squirts for enough product for the top half of my body and two squirts each for my legs.

The oil itself is very lightweight and easily absorbed.  Compared to the NUXE Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil, this actually absorbs much faster and doesn't feel slippery on the skin afterwards like the NUXE one tends to. It's also colorless so you don't have to worry about staining your clothing.

The scent is very floral and it's a scent I like but it's very, very strong. If you're not big on scented beauty products, you can save yourself some money and skip this. I like the scent enough to slather this on my limbs but am wary of using ultra-fragranced products on my face so I don't use this as a face oil. 

Sadly, the area this oil disappoints the most is in the most critical area: the ingredients. According to Nordstrom, these are the ingredient in this "powerful treatment with six oils":

Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Peg/Poly(1,2-Butanediol)-52/32 Dimethyl Ether, Isopropyl Myristate, Mineral Oil(Paraffinum Liquidum/Huile Minerale), Diethylhexyl Succinate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Diphenylsiloxy Phenyl Trimethicone, Peg-20 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Fragrance (Parfum), Water(Aqua/Eau), Isostearic Acid, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Dipropylene Glycol, Linalool, Limonene, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Bht, Tocopherol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Citronellol, Geraniol, Benzyl Benzoate, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Alcohol, Red 17 (Ci 26100), Saccharomyces Ferment Lysate Filtrate, Beta-Carotene (Ci 75130), Piperidinepropionic Acid, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Phenoxyethanol.

As you can see, dimethicone is the primary ingredient in this oil and mineral oil is not too far behind. I don't avoid mineral oil but I know both of these ingredients are relatively inexpensive to put into beauty products. Fragrance is actually way above the blend of six oils that the product information references as well. 

While the look, feel and smell of the Shiseido 'Future Solution LX' Replenishing Treatment Oil makes it seem worth the $175 price tag, a closer examination of the ingredients casts some doubt. I will continue using this as a decadent treat but unfortunately I can't vouch for its age-defending claims and I can't recommend that this is a must have by any means. 

Do you use body or face oils? Which are your favorite?

*This product was provided by PR for consideration. All views are my 100% honest opinions. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Peachy Pink Nudes for Cheeks and Lips

Lately I've been gravitating towards neutral cream blushes and peachy nude lips for an effortless and natural look. I grabbed these four products from my vanity and everyday makeup bag and realized how similar they look swatched next to each other. Whether I'm going for a really simple look or a dramatic taupe smokey eye, these cheek and lip colors fit the bill nicely.

I've blogged about how much I like Stila's Convertible Color in Peony before and it's one of my most reached for blushes. If you're looking for a budget dupe, NYX's Stick Blush in Hibiscus comes pretty close. Hibiscus is a tad more pink and the formula is slightly more dense. Both blushes are easy to apply and blend on the cheeks and I highly recommend them both.

The next two products coincidentally share the same shade name. The Nudestix Lip + Cheek Pencil in Blush is new addition to my makeup stash a la the recent Birchbox CEW Prestige Box. I wore this on my cheeks and lips yesterday and was happy with the creaminess and blendability. It's the perfect my-lips-but-better nude for my skintone and lip color. My favorite lipgloss of late is the Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Blush. It's a beautiful shiny peach that makes my lips look healthy and plump and the formula is not too sticky or uncomfortable. I remember these glosses were pretty popular a few years ago but nobody seems to talk about them anymore. Laura Mercier tends to do a mini set for the holidays so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for that this year.

Have you tried any of these products? Do you have any peachy nude favorites to recommend?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Chicago Travel Diary: Eats and Sights

Chicago has been on my travel hit list for awhile now and in the last few months I've seen so many bloggers and acquaintances visiting the Windy City so it was inevitable that I would find myself there as well. I spent three days in Chicago with one of my very close high school friends and we were able to fit in a lot of sightseeing and yummy bites. Of course my first photo had to be of the signature Bean. We woke up at 6 a.m. for this relatively peaceful photo op but normally, it looks something like....

this. Yep, you have to wake up early if you want the landmark all to yourself but it has a different kind of charm during peak tourist hours as well.

Our first stop after an early morning flight was actually the Skydeck at the Willis Tower. I'm extremely scared of heights so it was a struggle to bring myself to stand over the glass panel that protrudes out of the 103rd floor. But I did it and I'll never have to make myself do it again. That morning was rather dreary so the lake seemed to merge into the sky. 

After a quick lunch at Chipotle (not very special but it was right next to Willis Tower and I can always go for some Chipotle when I'm hungry), we headed over to The Art Institute of Chicago where a few famous artworks reside. I'm by no means a refined art connoisseur but even I recognized a painting or two. The museum wasn't crowded at all on a Thursday afternoon and there was a varied selection of work from different places and periods of time.

My traveling companion had some eatery recommendations from her foodie friends so we checked out Avec in the West Loop. It did not disappoint in the slightest. 

If you're into sharing small plates, this is a solid place to check out. My personal favorite out of what we ordered was the squid ink pasta. Their menu changes regularly so this might not be available anymore but it sure was tasty. 

The restaurant is rather small and the chefs cook right behind the bar so you see everything being prepared. If I visit Chicago again anytime soon, I'll make it a point to go back and try some of the other menu items. 

If you're an architecture buff, Chicago is an awesome place to visit. We took an architecture boat tour which I enjoyed a lot because the guide was a really sweet older woman who was incredibly knowledgable. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire swept through the city and decimated large portions of downtown which led to a architectural renaissance of sorts. The Chicago River is beautiful by day or night and I highly recommend just strolling along the bridges and walkways.

The Navy Pier is a top ranked attraction and I would compare it to New York's South Street Seaport pre-Hurricane Sandy. There are a few rides including a Carousel and a Ferris Wheel (which we rode and I was terrified for most of it) that overlook the downtown area. If you have time to kill in the downtown area, you can catch the free trolley to Navy Pier but otherwise, I didn't find it particularly interesting. Perhaps on a sunnier day it would have been nicer but personally I probably wouldn't make it a point to visit this area again. 

A place I would make a beeline for the next time I go to Chicago is The Purple Pig, another restaurant that serves small plates and an incredibly decadent bone marrow dish. The Purple Pig is right on Michigan Avenue and at first I was hesitant to eat here since I thought it must be a tourist trap given the location. Well, that just goes to show how you shouldn't judge a restaurant by its address. The bone marrow smear is rich, fatty and oh-so-delicious. 

We ordered two squid dishes which were packed with flavor but a little on the salty side. Overall, still a great place for lunch or dinner and one I would recommend wholeheartedly. The prices were also reasonable.

On our final full day we took a bus out to the Museum of Science and Industry which was huge. This museum is so much larger than I had anticipated and I wish we had allotted a bit more time for it. The first two floors are more for young children so I would recommend not spending a lot of time there if you don't have youngsters and proceeding to the third and fourth floors. The Science Storms exhibit was very eye catching and interactive and one of the highlights for me.

We also opted to pay a bit more to see the special Robot Revolution exhibit sponsored by Google and Boeing. The ads for this exhibit were all over downtown Chicago and it was worth the extra admission price. The exhibit focuses on getting the attention of a younger crowd but it was definitely intriguing to me and suitable for all ages. We spent about an hour and a half just at this section of the museum and could have spent more time if there wasn't more we wanted to explore.

Finally, it would have been unfortunate if we went all the way to Chicago and not have gotten a taste of some classic deep dish pizza. This was my first time having deep dish and we chose to go to Lou Malnati's partially because there was one a few blocks from our hotel. The pizza was less deep than I was expecting actually and it was very indulgent. I enjoyed the pizza thoroughly but I'm firmly a New York slice fan. 

Chicago is a beautiful city with amazing eats and lots to do. We didn't have enough time to explore the outer areas but I'm sure I'll visit the area again. Maybe next time I'll opt for an Airbnb north of the city and I have to make it a point to try a Chicago hot dog.... Notes for next time! Also, a quick shout out to Joyce (Bronzer Bunny) and Monika (Rocaille Writes) for their recommendations and tips! Have you been to Chicago? What are your favorite things about the city?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Birchbox CEW Prestige Headliners Box 2015

Each year, Birchbox teams up with CEW to curate a prestige and mass appeal box to showcase the best in beauty in both the highend and affordable categories. I recently placed an order for a Swell water bottle and needed a few more dollars to reach free shipping so I thought the CEW prestige box was a pretty good deal. For $18 you get a full sized Nudestix Lip + Cheek Pencil (which retails for $24!) and six samples. 

I like that they included something from a range of beauty categories: makeup, skincare, hair and body. For hair, they included the Fekkai Hair Fragrance Mist in Crème Vanillée which is a nice to have but I would have preferred a hair mask or treatment. The Coola Classic Sunscreen SPF 45 Sport in Fresh Mango is the body item and it smells fabulous. The sample size is probably a little too tiny for a full body application but it's a nice handbag size. 

I mainly got this because of the full sized Nudestix pencil because I've been hearing a lot about the brand. I believe the shades vary from box to box and I received the shade Blush, a wearable nude pink that would look lovely on lips and cheeks. I was also interested in testing out the Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Push-Up Eye Liner because it's such a different approach to eyeliner. I'm a bit dismayed to see how small the sample is. I will probably get one or two uses out of it. 

I'm excited to test out the Glamglow Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment which is supposed to provide "soft, dewy and intensely hydrated skin". They also included a small packet sample of the Glamgow Powermud Dualcleanse Treatment which I've used before. I like having packet samples because I can use them on overnight trips. The other skincare product is the Marula Pure Marula Facial Oil which I will test out in the cooler months. 

For $18, the Birchbox CEW Prestige box is an affordable way to try out a range of high end beauty items. If you have been wanting to try the Nudestix Lip + Cheek and aren't particular about which shade, this is a great way to try it for a discount plus getting a bunch of nice sample sizes. Compared to Birchbox CEW boxes from past years, this has definitely been the best one in my opinion. I'm looking forward to seeing what box will be released next year!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

July and August 2015 Empties

Let's make this empties post as succinct as I possibly can. I bid farewell to few great skincare staples including a huge bottle of Bioderma. I bought a two pack from Paris two years ago and only just finished up the second bottle. I really like Bioderma and consider it my favorite cleansing water so I'm bound to repurchase it in the future. The Up & Up Eye Makeup Remover from Target is my choice eye makeup remover because it does the job and is inexpensive. I've gone through probably more than five bottles. The Kiehl's Ultra Facial Toner and Cleanser are great for normal skin and do the job without frills. Vasanti's BrightenUp is a very grainy exfoliant that polishes off dead skin cells without being too harsh. Shiseido Cotton Pads are my ultimate favorite cotton pads because they're oh-so-soft. They're expensive but worth the money to me.

The Clinique Face Scrub for Men was a pleasant surprise because it buffs the skin while imparting a refreshing tingly sensation. Notable mentions from this pile are the Alterna Caviar Shampoo and Conditioner which I used during travel and really enjoyed. The conditioner in particular was great at restoring my hair. Despite loving Bioderma's signature cleansing water, their Sebium AKN acne treatment wasn't anything outstanding to me and I had about half the tube left but it's now expired. Into the bin that goes!

This is a mish mash of stuff in the bottom of my empties bag. I love love love the Sunday Riley Start Over Eye Cream. It's has a lovely moisturizing texture without ever being oily or difficult to absorb. I already plan on repurchasing this after using up several eye creams I've been sent. I've raved about the Shiseido Ultimate Concentrate before so I'll just say these minis are the cutest for travel. I really enjoyed the Benefit PosieBalm due to the rose scent but it's overpriced for what is essentially a clear balm. I lost the cap to the balm during Fourth of July festivities so I didn't bother digging into the bullet for the rest of the product. I had a habit of dropping caps on dirty floors these past two months because I did the same with the almost finished Nivea Mint and Minerals lip balm. I pretty much used up most of it so I didn't feel too bad. It's nothing special and I've already repurchased my favorite drugstore lipbalm, Softlips. I totally give up with the Korres Lip Butter in Jasmine which was part of my Make a Dent challenge. It doesn't smell rank but I've had this lip butter for so many years that it shouldn't be usable anymore. The Marcelle Double Precision Liquid Liner is pretty good but it dries out so quickly. The EOS Lipbalm and Maybelline Colossal Cat Eyes Waterproof Mascara both get a resounding "meh".

This empties turned into more of a word vomit and mini review dump rather than a concise write up. I have about a gajillion deluxe sample skincare products floating around my vanity and several travel makeup bags because I've been on the road (or in the air) for the past week. I expect to have finished up a lot of those by the end of October so I can share my thoughts with you all then!