Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Favorites: February 2012

This is the first time I've done a favorites post, so the temptation to do a 'favorites from all time' post is might.  I'll try to refrain and really concentrate on just the things that I'm really loving this month.

Here goes:

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Foundation

I've been wearing this foundation for most of the winter and I am more impressed with it as time goes by.  It is really hydrating and it has incredible staying power.  The formula is very emollient, so a little bit goes a very long way.  It gives the skin a great dewey finish, especially in the dry winter months.  I find myself reaching for this foundation more than my department store brands.

Boscia MakeUp-BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil

I posted about this product in my cleansing oils post, but I really cannot rave about it enough.  I absolutely adore this product.  It is so fantastic at removing makeup and leaving the skin cleansed and soft.

L'Oreal Infallible Eyeshadows
I cannot get over the quality of this product at a drugstore price.  These things are fantastic.  The line comes in a rage of colors and finishes.  They can be a little tricky to apply at first, but the color payoff is out of this world.

Revlon Lip Butters
These are a perfect blend of lipstick and lip balm.  Pigmented, but not too heavy.  Very hydrating.  I love these.

Review: L'Oreal Magic Lumi Light Infusing Primer

The L’Oreal Magic Lumi Light Infusing Primer launched (I believe) in Fall/Winter 2011.  It has generated a good amount of buzz, IMO mostly because of the price point and availability.  L’Oreal is a drugstore brand and so while this product isn’t super cheap, it is within most people’s budgets.  In the U.S., it’s available just about anywhere drugstore makeup is sold for right about $10 - cheaper if you can find coupons.

Despite it being called a primer, the offical press release from L’Oreal doesn’t seem to indicate that you should use it at all like a primer.  Their suggested uses:

  • use it alone (no foundation)
  • mix it with foundation
  • use it as a highlighter

So, no priming going on there :(

The product definitely has a pearly sheen, but no glitter.  It’s very emolient and a little bit will go a long way.  

I tried using it as a primer and I found it to be pretty ineffective.  If you’re using it under anything but the absolute sheerest foundation, you’re not going to notice it at all.  It definitely doesn’t do anything to refine the skin surface before applying foundation.

Mixed with foundation, the consistency of the foundation is the determining factor in how much oomph you’re going to get out of it.  I mixed it with 2 foundation, my MAC Select SPF 15 and my Neutrogena Healthy Skin.

The MAC Select SPF 15 has a natural matte finish and I really didn’t notice much difference when I mixed it with the Magic Lumi.

The Neutrogena Healthy Skin is a very emolient foundation with a dewey finish and I got way more payoff when I mixed the Magic Lumi with it.  It wasn’t crazy frosty or anything, but definitely noticeable whereas I didn’t think it was with the MAC Select SPF 15.

As a highlighter itself on top of either foundation, it was okay.  I really don’t think I’d use it in leiu of my other highlighters. Mostly, this product just doesn't deliver for me. I'd be curious to see what it does on deeper skintones or on a more oily complexion. For me, it just doesn't really do a whole lot at all.


MAC Select SPF 15 Foundation - flash

MAC Select SPF 15 Foundation - sunlight

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Foundation - flash

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Foundation - sunlight

Overall:  5/10

*there is obviously an art to swatch photography.  I applied the product like I would actually use it (as opposed to packing it on for better payoff on camera) and as you can tell, the photos are pretty useless.  You really can't see much difference at all.  UGH.  I'm working on this.  I promise I'll get better.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Real Techniques Brushes by Samantha Chapman

If you're reading beauty blogs, you're probably already familiar with Samantha Chapman of Pixiwoo. You may also know that Sam has her own brush line, Real Techniques.  

The brushes are great quality. The bristles are super soft.  The whole line is synthetic, so they don't soak up product and are especially great at applying any creamy products. I wash mine 2-3 times per week and they don't shed at all and have kept their shapes beautifully, even without brush shapers like Brush Guards or the Sigma Dry ‘n Shape.  (Though I’m sure those products are fantastic for natural hair brushes.)

The official marketing materials from Real Techniques says of the brushes:

  • Ultra-plush taklon bristles for high-definition results
  • Extended aluminum ferrules for light, easy use
  • Brush names for quick reference
  • Self-standing bases for countertop display
  • Panoramic brush cases included with sets for travel or display
As for their claims, these brushes are light.  I have to admit that I’ve never picked up a brush to use and thought “Oh my god, this brush is so heavy I’m going to die!”.  The easily displayed names are good when you’re doing tutorials.  They do have flat bases, so they are “self standing”, which I really do like for the blush brush and foundation brush, but I never stand up the smaller brushes.

I have three different “sets”.  Two are individual brushes, so I suppose those don’t exactly quality as  “sets”.  Maybe I should say three different purchases?  Whatever.  I’m sure you can figure out what I mean. I have the Starter Kit Brush Set, the Blush Brush and the Foundation Brush.

  • Starter Kit Brush Set
    • base shadow brush
    • deluxe crease brush
    • accent brush
    • pixel point brush
    • brow brush

I purchased the Starter Kit Brush Set at Ulta more than six months ago and in all honesty, I use at least one of these brushes every single time I put on makeup (5-6 times per week).

The base shadow brush is similar to the MAC 217, but slightly smaller, which I love. It is so useful!

The crease brush I almost never use in my crease, but I do use it all the time. Most often, I use it to blend out the edges of darker shades.  I also use it to apply/blend cream products like cream eyeshadows, cream eye bases, eye primers, concealers, etc.

I find the base shadow and the crease brushes to be absolutely essential to my cosmetics routine.

I use the accent brush less often, but it is great for any type of detailed application.

When I do need and angled brush, I prefer the Real Techniques brush to far more expensive brushes from MAC and Sephora.

The pixel point brush is one that I use very rarely only because I use eye liners with built in applicators, but again, if you needed a precision brush, it would do nicely.

  • Blush Brush

I love this brush so much.  I cannot get over how soft it is.  It’s like buttah.  Seriously.  

This is a quality brush. It is super soft and does not shed at all. It's got a great shape, slightly more rounded than a tulip head brush, but still very multi-purpose. It's got a slightly pointed tip so you can definitely use it for blush, but also for contour and/or highlighting. Just apply product to the very tip and then the rest of the brush will work to blend it out.

It is a sizeable brush though, so if you wanted to use it for all over powder, it is great for that as well.


  • Foundation Brush

I think the type of foundation you use more than anything is going to dictate whether or not you love this brush.  Lately I’ve been using a lot of really dewey foundation and it’s not the greatest for them.

The shape is great through.  The angle really allows for precise application.  When I do need a foundation brush, this is always the one I reach for.

Overall, in case it isn’t obvious, I love these brushes.  I cannot get over the price.  They are so affordable for this quality.  My only complaint is that they can be hard to get in the U.S., but you can now order them direct from the Real Techniques website.

Overall:  10/10

(Please note: the images were borrowed from My excuse for not taking pictures of my own real techniques brushes is that I use them so much they're always in need of a cleaning.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: Inglot shadows

I mentioned the Inglot shadows I picked up in my Vegas haul post.  

Last weekend, I finally managed to swatch everything, pry the pans out of the palettes to get the numbers and crop all my photos so I can do a proper blog post about them.

There is a trick with getting Inglot shadows out of the palettes. You can use the magnets on the corners of the palette cover to pop the pans out. This worked pretty well for me on my 4-pan palette, but not so much on the 5-pan. I suspect it would work better on the larger palettes. I ended up (very carefully!) prying the pans out of the palette using a tiny pair of scissors.

Inglot shadows come in a variety of finishes. Here's an overview I cobbled together from a whole bunch of sources. I actually couldn't find anything direct from Inglot on it, which is a little disappointing.

Inglot Eyeshadow Finishes

  • Matte: Exactly what it sounds like. No shimmer or metallic finish (supposedly, more on that below).
  • Pearl: Pretty much what most other eyeshadow manufacturers say when they say "pearl". No big chunks of glitter, but a shimmery, frosty finish.
  • AMC: "Advanced Make-up Component". Perspiration resistant line - not just shadows. A variety of Inglot products are from the AMC line. Just looking at all the swatches online, they seem to be a mix of sparkly and matte.
  • AMC Shine: Part of the AMC perspiration resistant line. No idea what gives them more shine than the regular line.
  • DS: "Double Sparkle" Extra glitter, hence the double sparkle. It seems to be that the bases are a mix of matte and pearl, at least the ones I saw.

5-pan palette:

  • 453 - White - pearl
    • frost finish but no glitter.
  • 352 - Pink - matte
    • warm pink, not very blue, more peachy
  • 328 - light brown - matte
    • warm brown
  • 360 - medium brown - matte
    • warm, but not as warm on the skin as it looks in the pan
  • 329 - dark brown - matte
    • slightly blackened brown, not quite as creamy as the other mattes, but still awesome. It's a matte, so obviously it should be matte, but I swear, there is the tiniest touch of a red glitter in this shadow. Don't know if all of these are that way or if it's just my pan.

4-pan palette:

  • 480 - blue - double sparkle
    • true blue, not very dark, white glitter
  • 473 - seafoam blue/green - double sparkle
    • white glitter, fairly light
  • 495 - red - double sparkle
    • light, pinky red with gold glitter, worst payoff of the bunch (but still a good shadow)
  • 34 - gold - AMC shine
    • more brown than orange, gold glitter
I cannot go on enough about how much I adore these shadows. I wear them pretty much daily. They are fantastic! The pigmentation is out of this world.  And it lasts and lasts. Even the non-AMC shadows easily last 12 hours.

I have had zero issue with fallout from their sparkly shadows.

And the cost! OMG, compared to other brands they are incredibly budget friendly. For this quality of eyeshadow I would easily expect to pay twice what Inglot retails for. Not only the quality of the eyeshadows themselves - which is AWESOME - but the palettes. They are heavy duty. And the fact that you can move shadows around as necessary - brilliant!

My one (and really ONLY) complaint about Inglot is purchasing. I find their website frustratingly difficult to navigate - their U.S. online store at least. I can't really speak about their other online stores. When you go to their Freedom System eyeshadow squares, they have an amazing selection of colors and finishes. But as far as I can tell, there is no way to sort on them. You can't just say "I want to see all your matte shades" or "I just want your DS shades". So, yeah, the website and online store is frustrating. But the product, OMG, I have to say it is worth the headache of navigating through their online store.

Inglot eyeshadow quality overall 10/10

Inglot shopping experience 7/10

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sephora Haul pt. 2: Smashbox Brown Eyes Palette, Anastasia Mini Must Haves

So for the rest of my Sephora Haul, the things I actually bought :)

First up ...

Smash Box Photo Op Eye Enhancing Palette - Brown Eyes.

I apologize, I have got to figure out something with my lighting to make these swatches show up more true to color.  Try as I might, these photos just don't capture the intensity of these eyeshadows.  The navy in particular is a true, dark navy blue, not the way it's showing up here:

The palette has 2 rows, the top row which is the "Soft Trio" and the bottom row, which is the "Smoky Trio".

Soft Trio:
  • Marble - silvery pinkish taupe - frost finish, no glitter
  • Wine - burgundy with pink glitter.  When you sheer it out, it can turn more grayish/brown than burgundy.
  • Bark - greenish/gold/brown with gold glitter.  I swear it's a beautiful color.  Much more beautiful than my description can do justice.

I almost didn't include this swatch because it's so bad.  I swear, these colors are gorgeous.  My lighting just sucks.

Smoky Trio:
  • Vanilla - matte cream 
  • Brazilian Bronze - gold/brown with a metallic finish.  No glitter.
  • Navy -  matte navy blue


I cannot believe how creamy these shadows are.  They go on like butter and they are beautiful.  The navy color is so creamy that I really wondered if it wasn't a cream liner.  I'll have to wear them for a couple of weeks before I give a final review, but my initial impressions are really, really good.

Anastasia Mini Must Haves:

This is just a mini set of Anastasia's Lash Lifting Mascara and clear Brow Gel.

I haven't tried these at all, but when I do, I'll review in full.

So here endeth the haul :D


Friday, February 24, 2012

Sephora Haul pt. 1: Nars VIB

Last week, Sephora was running a promotion where if you spent more than $35, you could use a code to get a special Nars bonus pack.  The promotion went out to Sephora VIBs (I think you only need to spend $100 annually at Sephora to be a VIB), but I'm not sure that they actually checked to make sure provided you had the Nars code at checkout.

Anyway, I used this as an excuse to pick up the Smashbox brown eyes palette I'd been coveting.  And while I was at it, I picked up a set of Anastasia Mini Must Haves so I could try out their products.

Here's a pic of everything:

In addition to the Smashbox palette, the Nars VIB bag and the Anastasia minis, I also got 3 samples (2 perfumes and an eye cream.)

For this first post, I'm just going to cover the Nars VIB bag.  I'll post the rest of the haul later this weekend.

So, here's the bag and all the packaged up products:

The VIB bag included:
  1. 1/4 size mini Nars Illuminator in choice of "Copacabana" or "Orgasm"
  2. 1/4 size mini Nars Bronzing Powder in "Laguna"
  3. Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
I'm not sure about the whole choice of illuminator.  I don't remember picking a color at all.  It's fine, I'm not complaining.  Even if I had picked, I would have picked Copacabana, which is what I got.  But still.


As I said above, it supposedly came in either Orgasm (shimmering peach) or Copacabana (glistening pearl).  I got the Copacabana.

The sample is .32oz (8mL).  A full size Illuminator is 1.1oz (32.5mL), so this sample is 1/4 size.

This product is absolutely gorgeous.  I cannot wait to try it out.  I'll put it up against the Tarte illuminator as well as the L'Oreal MagicLumi and let you know what I think.


Nars bronzer in Laguna is an absolute staple for lots of people, your truly included.  I already have the Nars Blush/Bronzer Trio (which has hideous packaging, FYI) and I wear bronzer rarely enough that it's going to take me a long time to get through it.  So, this mini bronzer is going to go in the bag for the giveaway I'm planning.

This bronzer sample is in the same packaging as the regular Nars eyeshadow singles, so it's 2.5g of product. A full size bronzer is 8.75g, so this is just over 1/4 size.

As a reference, here it is next to a regular size Nars eyeshadow single:
This is a complete tangent, but see how the new mini bronzer is all matte and beautiful and my old eyeshadow single is all shiny and scuffed?  Well, as it turns out that matte, textured plastic coating that is on the outside of all the Nars compacts (except the trio, but that's another story) eventually breaks down over time and turns into this disgusting tacky mess that everything sticks to.  I finally had to take alcohol and scrub down the outside of the eyeshadow compact to get rid of it so it wouldn't be so grossly sticky.  And of course, now it's super shiny.  This does take a loooonnnngggg time.  I've probably had that eyeshadow for *mumble* 15 years or so *mumble*.  But yeah, if you keep them long enough, they get gross.

And just because I took a picture of it here's a picture of the eyeshadow and bronzer open.  The eyeshadow is in Night Flight and it has terrible fall out, fyi.

And as another point of reference, here is the mini bronzer next to my full sized blush/bronzer trio:

Eyeshadow Base:

I have to admit, I know absolutely nothing about the Nars eyeshadow base.  Also, I have more eyeshadow bases right now than I know what to do with.  So, like the mini bronzer, this will be going in the giveaway.  

This mini sample contains 2.8g of product.  A full size eyeshadow base contains .26oz, so this is what, about 1/10 size.

Here are pics:

Well, that's it for now.  I will post the rest of the haul later this weekend.  I hope you all have a lovely evening and take care.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

DIY: E.L.F. mega palette

A couple of weeks ago at Target, I picked up 3 of the E.L.F. holiday palettes on clearance for $2.50 each, making the entire haul a total of $7.50.  SCORE.  (I know, E.L.F. is the platonic ideal of budget friendly cosmetics, but even considering that, seven and a half dollars for 33 full size eye shadows and 3 gel liners is a sweet deal.)

So the only problem here is that stuck in these sparkly book palettes, I knew I was never going to use them. And sure enough, they just sat on the shelf in my cabinet because I kept forgetting I had them.  I'm very visual.  If it isn't in plain sight, it might as well not be there.

So ... I picked up a Z Palette from  Yes, it's $20 and I understand the absurdity of spending $20 on a palette for $7.50 worth of product.  And to that I say:

1.)  In the Z Palette, I will actually use the product
2.) This makes the cost of the entire palette $27.50, which is not bad.
3.) I bought it through EBATES, so I got 6% back and they were having a 20% off Neutrogena, so I picked up some of my regular moisturizer too.

The palette arrived this afternoon, so this evening I pried all the shadows out of the packaging. (Lessons learned:  DO NOT DE-POT EYESHADOWS ON THE BED.  EVER.)  So now the sheets and my clothes are in the washer and I'm really hoping that that really vibrant purple color comes out :(

In the de-potting process 2 of the shadows crumbled to pieces, the aforementioned purple and then a really bright shimmery coral.  Oh well, it could have been worse.

I was able to fit 28 eyeshadows into the palette.  I had a hard time trying to get the stick on magnets that came with the Z Palette to adhere to the back of the pans, so I just used double stick tape to put them in the palette.

Minus the 2 pans I killed, that still left me with 3 shadows and the 3 gel liners which wouldn't fit in the Z Palette.  I decided to just stick them in an old CD jewel case.  It isn't pretty, but at least it gets them out of the way and into something where they won't be crushed.

Like everything E.L.F. does, the shadows are hit and miss - though I have to say, more hits than misses.  Most of the shadows are really creamy with good color payoff.  There are a few duds.  The gel eyeliners are as disappointing as I expected.  I'm not really sure if you could even use them as a cream color base, but I'll test them out.

and the left overs:

Nails: Sephora by OPI in Natural Environ-mint

On me, all nailpolish lasts 2 days maximum.  So sayeth the universe.

All polish that is, except for:

Sephora by OPI in Natural Environ-mint

This polish lasts and lasts and lasts.  The pictures above are taken on day 3 of this polish.

As background, I always use 1) a basecoat 2) at least two, but usually 3 coats of polish and 3) a top coat.  And it never seems to matter.  I've tried Butter LONDON, Essie, OPI, China Glaze - they all are so chipped after 2 days that I have to redo them all.  But for whatever reason, this particular color of this polish lasts like a champ.

The "mint" in the name would seem to indicate that it's green, but this polish is not.  It's blue.  Robin's egg blue, sky blue, call it what you want.  It's that color.

And it lasts.

Did I mention that it lasts?

Like 4evah.

LOVE this stuff.  Overall 11/10.  Yes, it goes to 11.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Haute Look: Urban Decay24/7 Shadow Pencil Stash

I was in Sephora at the beginning of February looking at the Urban Decay 24/7 shadow pencil in "sin", thanks to Leesha's foundation routine video.  Towards the end of the video, she applies some of the Urban Decay shadow pencils and they look beautiful.

So I was looking at them in Sephora and they're $20 each.  They still are, both on Sephora and Urban Decay. I managed to refrain from making a purchase, thank goodness because ...

On 2/6, Urban Decay was on Haute Look and they had a set of the 24/7 shadow pencils for $12, marked down from $34.  (Turns out you can buy them direct from the UD site right now for the same price.)

As far as I can tell, these aren't minis.  I think it's a set of full size pencils.

Now, I'm not great at math.  And from the sheer amount of hauls and reviews on this blog, it should be apparent I'm not particularly thrifty either, but ...  why on earth would anyone pay $20 each for pencils when you can get a set of 5 for $12?  Anyway, not my problem, I guess.

So I gleefully picked up the set of pencils from Haute Look.  And waited.  And waited.  I love Haute Look, but seriously, waiting for the stuff to arrive is torture.  I ordered on 2/6 and they showed up today, 2/22, which isn't terrible I guess.  (Double yay because guess who has two thumbs and bought a bunch of Stila stuff from Haute Look today?  Yeah.  This guy.  Metaphorically.  As the blog title says, I am a girl.)

Anyway, they're beautiful.  I'm in love with them.

Here's pics:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

First Impressions: Tarte One Fine Clay Collection

I've had the Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Exposed for months and I love it.  I probably wear it 3 times a week.  But it's been the only Tarte product I've had.

So, when I saw that Ulta had the Tarte One Fine Clay collection, I decided to pick it up.  It arrived today and I decided to post pics and my initial reactions.

Here's the entire collection

It includes:

  • Purple quilted makeup bag
  • Half-size Blusher in "Peaceful"
  • Third-size Bronzer in "Park Avenue Princess"
  • 1/5 size "Smooth Operator" illuminating serum
  • Full size smolderEYEs waterproof eyeliner in brown
  • Full size "gifted" smart mascara in black
  • eye pencil sharpener
I don't think it's exclusive to Ulta but it's not available directly on the Tarte site.  It retails for $39.00.

It's cute.  Purple on the outside, pink on the inside with a gold pull.  I'm not a huge connoisseur of makeup bags, but it is nice.  And it's big enough to be useful.

As I said earlier, I've had one of the Tarte blushes (I'm going to quit prefacing every item with "Amazonian Clay" since they're all Amazonian Clay) in "Exposed".  I really like it and was very excited to pick up another Tarte blush.

The blush with this set is "Peaceful".  As far as I can tell, this isn't one of the shades that's readily available.  But it does look like it is often included in sets that Tarte does.  This is a 3.4 g of product whereas a full size blush is 5.6, so it's slightly larger than half-size.  (I'm including a picture of it next to a full size for comparison and is it just me, or is the tiny blush the cutest thing you've ever seen?  Maybe it's just me.)  Also, unlike a full size blush, the half size "Peaceful" does not include a mirror in the compact.

The color is beautiful.  It's a pretty true peach, not too orange, not too pink.  It does have a tiny bit of shimmer, but nothing close to the actual shimmery blushes from this line.

This is the Tarte Mineral Bronzing Powder in "Park Avenue Princess".  "Park Avenue Princess" is shimmery gold whereas the "Hotel Heiress" in the same line is described as a deep bronze.  I compared "Park Avenue Princess" side by side with my Nars "Laguna" bronzer and it looks really similar to me.  

A full size bronzer is 9g and this sample is 3.2g, so it's just over 1/3 regular size.  The packaging is super cute.

It looks like it has a good bit of shimmer, but I'm wondering if it's going to be like the Nars Laguna where the shimmer is just in the top layer and the rest is matte.

This is the item I was most curious about.  I have been on the hunt for a good illuminator and I'm hoping that Smooth Operator will pan out.  

A full size Smooth Operator is 1.7oz.  This sample is .3oz, so this is less than 1/5 regular size.

I've only played with it a tiny bit so far, but it looks gorgeous.

I am really not a fan at all of kohl type eyeliners, but this stuff is gorgeous.  It is this rich bronze color.  I love it.  I suspect I won't actually use it as a liner, but I'm sure I can find a use for it.  

This is a full size product as far as I can tell.  It's got the liner on one end and a smudger sponge on the other.  There is also a sharpener included in the set.

Like the liner, this is full size as far as I can tell.  I like the applicator brush and I am really curious to test this product out.

So that's it for now.  I will update after I've given these products a good try.  My initial reaction is very good.  I think this set was reasonably priced and I am genuinely interested in everything in the kit.