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. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Shiseido Skincare: New Things & Repurchases

I've been fortunate to have received many of Shiseido's launches in years past so I've been able to find a lot of things I love from the brand. I recently stocked up on a few products I was running low on and thought I'd jot down some mini reviews.

I just cracked open my third tube of the Shiseido Full Lash and Brow Serum because my lashes have never looked better since using this. This lash serum has lengthened my lashes a considerable amount and I just love the way my lashes look when I'm diligent about using this. I'll probably be buying this as long as they keep making it because my lashes just don't look nearly as good if I stop using this for a few days.

Another repurchase is the Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask (what a mouthful!). I bought the 12 pack box which will last me a couple of months. I've used many eye masks but these take the cake for sure. These masks plump up the under eye area and it has a pearly essence that brightens the skin really beautifully. I love using these the night before a special day.

Because I like the Benefiance Eye Masks so much and I'm also a fan of the White Lucent range, I bought a few of the White Lucent Power Brightening Masks to try. I'm happy to report these full-face sheet masks are very nice as well. The cotton is very plush and the mask does seem to help fade acne scars in conjuction with the White Lucent Serum. I would repurchase these for a special occasion if I need my skin to look especially radiant.

I've used probably every sunscreen in Shiseido's line up and they are generally the ones I recommend when people ask me which I like. I picked up a new tube of the Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF 40. Most of their sunscreens now have Wetforce technology, which is great if you're going to be sweating or swimming but it can be hard to remove at night. The Urban Environment Cream is water resistant but I find it to be more gentle on the skin for daily use.

The last product I want to mention isn't a repurchase but one of Shiseido's newer eye creams, the Bio Performance LiftDynamic Eye Treatment*.  I use this eye cream in the mornings and I find it to be similar to the Shiseido Bio Performence Glow Revival Eye Treatment which I recently used up. The LiftDynamic Eye Treatment has a slight pearly sheen but it sinks into the skin nicely and preps the under eye area for concealer. I can't attest to the anti-aging benefits of eye creams since I don't have many fine lines or wrinkles yet but I can say these Shiseido eye care products help my concealer go on a lot nicer.

I've used up a bunch of skincare products lately and introduced some new ones so I'm planning on doing an updated skincare routine post soon. What skincare brands do you swear by? Have you tried any of these Shiseido products?

*The Bio Performance LiftDynamic Eye Treatment was provided by PR. All other products were purchased with my own money. This is not a sponsored post.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Classic Mac Eyeshadow Additions: Warm Neutrals

Mac was one of the first, and for a long time probably also the most popular, brands that introduced customizable eyeshadow palettes. Every blogger and Youtuber seemed to have their own Mac 15-pan palette and for years I longed to add one to my collection. I purchased one of their quad palettes awhile back and filled it with a couple of shadows but I kind of forgot my urge to add more shades to my collection.

In recent years, many more brands including Makeup Geek, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Make Up For Ever have come out with single eyeshadows and definitely stole a lot of the spotlight from Mac. That's probably why a couple of months ago Mac did a revamp of their custom palette system, dropping the price of eyeshadow refills to $6 and adding a slew of new palette sizes and inserts. On top of that, they've introduced a reward system and frequently do discounts off everything. A couple of weeks ago they had 25% off the entire site so I took the opportunity to purchase a few highly raved about eyeshadows.

I chose four popular, albeit not very unique, shades to add to my Mac eyeshadow collection: All That Glitter, Soft Brown, Woodwinked and Wedge. It should be no surprise that they're all neutral tones because that's simply what I wear all the time. All That Glitters is the perfect peachy all-over-lid shade that is everything I wanted it to be. Wedge is a great crease and outer lid color for my skin tone as well. I've been using both those shades quite a bit. Soft Brown and Woodwinked are definitely on the warmer end of the spectrum so I haven't been wearing them as much.

I find that with Mac eyeshadows, they're just pigmented enough to get a nice look with them but they're not intensely pigmented or creamy like Urban Decay or Anastasia Beverly Hills shadows. I have a special place in my heart for both types of formulas. Mac eyeshadows are great for everyday looks and the shadows are less likely to emphasize eyelid texture. But if you want a more rich color payoff, you usually have to use a tinted eyeshadow base.

While we're on the subject of Mac eyeshadows I thought I'd just pull out my other depotted singles and do a little family photo. The other shades I have are Patina, Carbonized, Tempting and Satin Taupe. Carbonized, a rich shimmery chocolate brown, was a limited edition shade but the others are permanent. Tempting has definitely been my most used because it's a gorgeous one-and-done bronze shadow. Patina is a big disappointment because the pigmentation is quite weak and the color doesn't show up very well on my skin. I keep telling myself I need to make it work somehow but so far that hasn't been successful.

After swatching all the shadows together, they actually look like quite a nice mix of neutral tones. I have some warm tones and cool tones and both light and dark shades to do a whole eye look. I find with my older Mac eyeshadows that they have developed a bit of "hard pan" so I have to dig my brush into the shadow more to get the pigment I want. Satin Taupe and Patina, in particular, do that quite a bit and I bought them both as single refill pans at the same time - perhaps it was not a great batch.

It's really nice to see makeup companies respond to consumer feedback. We're used to brands giving us less product but charging us more so it's cool that Mac is taking steps to win back some fans. Though they don't have the kind of eyeshadows that are as satisfying to swatch, the level of pigment and the classic shade selection they have match my makeup needs well.

Have you built a custom Mac eyeshadow palette? What are your favorite shades from the brand?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid in Peach: Before and After

My sleep schedule has been out of whack for a couple of weeks so I thought it'd be a good time to try out the Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid in Peach. I made a few Sephora orders during the friends and family sale and they had this little duo among the free sample options. Don't you love when brands make well-packaged samples that you can use more than once? 

When the Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid launched early this year, everyone seemed to be a fan so you can say my expectations were high. The correctors come in five shades: green, yellow, peach, lavender and pink. Each tube is $28 which I think is pretty expensive for a mid-range brand like Urban Decay. 

Can we take a second to appreciate the packaging of this sample tube? I've been using this sample a couple of days over the last two weeks and I haven't needed to scrape around the tube for product yet. I love the doe foot applicator because it makes applying the concealer exactly where I need it a breeze. I usually only conceal under my eyes and around my nose and let my foundation, BB cream or tinted moisturizer take care of the rest. 

If you really wanted to, I believe you can use the peach corrector under or over your usual concealer to add more of a brightening effect. I don't have time for a two-step concealer routine so I'm glad this isn't too peachy to the point of looking weird under my eyes. You can see from the before and after that just a sheer layer of the corrector brightens my skin just the right amount. 

The corrector has light to medium coverage and the fluid is smooth and ever so slightly creamy. The coverage is less than my HG Laneige BB Cushion Concealer and is less creamy as well. I usually apply a few stripes of this under my eyes using the applicator, blend it all out with a domed concealer buffing brush and then tap everything in place with my ring fingers. The heat from my fingers really helps everything meld together and my fingers can lift off any extra product. 

Wear time is where this concealer falls a little short for me. On days that I do wear makeup during the work week, I have makeup on for over 12 hours so I need my base makeup to last. This product sinks in ever so slightly into the fine lines under my eyes, even after a dusting of powder. By the end of a long day, my under eyes don't look very corrected anymore, though they still look better than before I had put on any product. 

Overall, I like the peach toned Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid but it still doesn't top the Laneige BB Cushion Concealer. If you don't need your makeup to last more than eight hours or you intend to use this to supplement a more long lasting concealer, this is a nice corrector to have on hand. 

Do you swear by color correcting products? I think my makeup routine is long enough as it is so I don't think I have the luxury of adding another step. But I'm curious to hear how you guys incorporate them into your routine!

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Gift of Glow: Bobbi Brown Strobing Eye & Cheek Set

This holiday season I wasn't really wowed by any of the flashy, limited edition palettes or special edition releases. My past experience of succumbing to cute cardboard packaging during the Christmas shopping season has resulted in disappointment or neglected products so this year I mostly went after value sets of tried-and-true beauty favorites. One such set is the Bobbi Brown Strobing Eye and Cheek Set.

In this $75 kit you get a full size Highlighting Powder in Pink Glow (.28oz./8g), a mini Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick in Golden Pink (0.9g), a mini Bronzing Powder in Medium (.09oz./2.55g) and a mini Face Blender Brush. The highlighter retails for $46 and the mini eyeshadow stick and bronzer are a value of $16 and $13 respectively. So you're getting pretty much exactly $75 worth of products plus a free mini brush. The regular Face Blender brush retails for $52 but I've never used it so I can't compare the quality to the mini brush. The brush that comes in this set is made in China and I believe it's made of goat bristles. It's a usable brush (I keep mine in the office for touch-ups) but the bristles can be a little scratchy and you can get superior synthetic brushes from more affordable brands.

I love cream eyeshadow sticks because they're so easy to swipe on in the mornings and the Bobbi Brown ones are indeed long-wearing. The shade Golden Pink is a warm champagne with a lot of shimmer. It's similar to Laura Mercier's Rose Gold Eyeshadow Stick but a hint more peach and more glittery.

The Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder in Pink Glow is a lovely warm pink highlight that sparkles in all the right ways. The way the powder is pressed into the pan gives it a 3D effect and makes it all the more appealing. I like that the white and rose gold portions are not fully mixed together so that you can, in theory, dab your brush into the sections separately if you want a lighter or darker highlight. The powder is very smooth and pigmented but not too creamy that it will look too harsh on the skin.

Above is the highlighter, eyeshadow and bronzer swatched from left to right. The bronzer has a noticeable red tinge to it so I probably will save it for the summer when I'm at my tannest color. The formula was suprisingly creamy and very smooth. I think it would make a lovely eyeshadow color and the small size makes it perfect for that purpose.

As someone who hasn't tried many Bobbi Brown products, this was a great set to help me get acquainted with the brand. I went highlighter crazy these past two months and added way too many to my collection. But I can say this Bobbi Brown one fills a void in my highlighter stash because it's got the slightest hint of pink without being too cool. If you know someone who loves a glowy makeup look, this set sure won't disappoint.