The One Trick Pony

I'm a fan of products that can pull double-duty and be used in more ways than one, which is why it may seem odd that this one trick pony is a must-have in my makeup routine. You see, ever since I changed contact lens types about a year ago, all of my usual go-to tightlining pencils (Urban Decay 24/7 Liner Pencil in Perversion and Milani Liquif'Eye Pencil in Black) ceased to impress, i.e. they left horrendous oil smear marks all over my lenses that impaired my vision and could not be removed. And since switching contact lenses was not an option, I embarked on a journey of sorts to find a replacement product that could draw on my waterline with ease, stay put all day and leave my contact lenses alone in the process. I finally found what I was looking for in the Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Eye Liner.
The Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Eye Liner is waterproof and available in one shade, Obsidian, a rich, inky black. It's available as a single pencil ($16) or in packs of three ($45). It has an incredibly thin nib that fits perfectly on the waterline without smearing onto your eye or elsewhere during application. It's important to only have a tiny amount dispensed during use, because in addition to not being retractable, the pencil is so thin that it's prone to breaking if too much is exposed.

The liner applies and looks like a gel - it's smooth and extremely pigmented. On my waterline, it also wears like a gel. It stays on much longer than either of my previous tightlining pencils did, and I was elated to discover that it doesn't transfer on my contact lenses at all, nor does it transfer onto my lower waterline when I've only applied it to the top. The jet black pencil enhances your lashline and finishes off a smokey eye like nobody's business. One pass is all you need, as there is never a struggle to get the product to show up on the waterline. It's been my go-to tightlining product for the past several months, and I don't ever plan to be without it in my makeup bag. 

As you might have guessed based on the title of this post, yes, this product does have a downfall. As fantastic as it is on my waterline, when used on the lashline (I tried drawing a cat eye with it), I felt it didn't apply as smoothly as a typical pot gel liner with a brush, as the liner has a somewhat thicker consistency and seemed to skip a bit when drawing a line across the skin, and it started to disappear and smear quite badly after a couple hours, which never happens with my other gel or liquid liners.

L to R: Bare tightline // Liner used to tightline upper waterline // Finished product with mascara
Each pencil contains enough product for only 17-20 uses, according to Hourglass, however, I believe this is based on using it for more substantial lining on the lashline, as my pencil is still going strong after more than 20 uses, likely because I only use it to tightline. It's become such a staple for me that I already have a back-up.

I normally wouldn't rave about a product that can only do one part of what it claims to be capable of, however, when no other product can do what it does, I think that warrants considerable praise. If you've been looking for a pencil that can draw on the waterline with blacker than black pigment and stay put, give the Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Eye Liner a try. For all other eyelining purposes, stick to your usual pot gel liner instead.


NARS Virtual Domination Cheek Palette

One of my favorite purchases in recent months is a limited edition piece from this year's NARS holiday collection, the Virtual Domination Cheek Palette. It is a carefully curated palette of one highlighter, three blushes and one bronzing powder that will make any blush fiend swoon. The packaging and design is chic and substantial, and it's a nice change from NARS' usual rubbery, matte black option.
Clockwise from top left: Miss Liberty, Deep Throat, Laguna, Final Cut, Sex Fantasy

:: Miss Liberty - a fleshy peach highlighter with silver micro-glitter
:: Deep Throat - a pinky coral with golden shimmer
:: Final Cut (LE) - a matte, warm peachy coral
:: Sex Fantasy (LE) - a matte, very cool-toned baby pink
:: Laguna - their cult-classic medium-toned bronzing powder with soft golden shimmer flecks

The highlighter and blushes are just under full-size each (0.15 oz versus 0.16 oz single blush), while the bronzing powder contains more product than its full-size counterpart (0.35 oz versus 0.28 oz single bronzing powders). Considering a single blush will set you back $30, paying just over the cost of two blushes for this palette is a fantastic deal.

In general, the blushes in this palette can tend to be a bit powdery, which is unlike any of the NARS single blushes I own. However, I still find them to be pigmented, blendable and long-wearing. In this palette, Laguna is a bit less pigmented than the one I own in the Orgasm/Laguna duo, but it's buildable and has more or less the same effect on the skin.

L to R: Miss Liberty, Deep Throat, Final Cut, Sex Fantasy and Laguna
While I already knew I liked Laguna bronzer and figured I would enjoy Deep Throat and Final Cut blushes as well, as the shades are right up my alley, I was pleasantly surprised by how wearable Sex Fantasy was on my warm complexion, and by how much I didn't mind the glitter from Miss Liberty (dare I say I actually liked it?). I've reached for Miss Liberty a lot lately, and I find that the glitter sets it apart from my other highlighters, which tend to be more shimmery or sheen-y, and it makes Miss Liberty a great option for when I want a more dramatic look. And let's be honest here - who doesn't love a bit of glitter every now and again?

Wearing Laguna bronzer, Final Cut blush and Miss Liberty highlighter
While the overall quality of the powders in this palette may be ever so slightly subpar to their single counterparts, I certainly would not classify any of them as duds. They still apply beautifully on the skin, and the limited edition packaging and compilation of shades cannot be beat. Any makeup lover would be thrilled to find this wrapped under the tree this holiday season. 


glo minerals Breathes New Life into Mineral Makeup

I've used mineral makeup in the past and was never very impressed by it. Sure, it looks incredible immediately post-application, but the lasting power was often sub-par, not to mention loose powder and I don't tend to get along well. After being given the opportunity to give a few glo minerals products a test run recently, I was surprised to discover that my opinion on mineral makeup has changed rather drastically.
Of the three products I was provided with, the Metallic Smoky Eye Kit ($37), by far, impressed me the most. Firstly, the neutral eye quad contains a color palette that is right up my street, but more importantly, the quality and usability of the shadows blew me away. Each shade is pigmented, smooth and incredibly buttery --- bordering on creamy, a trait that is rare among powder shadows. The shadows blend with only light strokes of a brush, and they last a solid eight hours without fading or creasing on me, even without primer. 

I've been reaching for this palette almost daily since receiving it, and I've grown fond of using the golden taupe (top right) all over the lid, the warm bronze (lower left) in the crease, and the rich chocolate (lower right) on the outer half of the lid to smoke it out a bit. A touch of the champagne (top left) in the inner corner finishes off my everyday eye look. Since all four shades are indeed shimmery, those who prefer mattes may not appreciate this palette as much as lovers of sheen (*raises hand*), but I personally find the shimmer appropriate and unoffensive.

L to R: top left, top right, lower left, lower right

glo minerals Cream Blushes in Guava (left) and Fig
The Cream Blushes ($25.50) are talc-free, non-comedogenic, fortified with an antioxidant blend containing vitamins A, C, E and green tea extract, and are available in two shades: Guava, a bright, rosy pink, and Fig, a neutral, peachy tan. They have a cream to powder formula that allows for ease of blending without fear of blending into non-existence. I find they are equally as easy to apply with a brush like the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush and fingers. My personal favorite of the two is Fig, as it goes with virtually any look, although Guava provides a healthy pink flush that I quite like as well.

Guava (left) and Fig
Wearing the glo minerals Metallic Smoky Eye Kit and Cream Blush in Fig
The best part of this post is that glo minerals is offering my readers 10% off your entire purchase and free shipping (MSRP purchases only) with code WORK4MAKEUP. My advice? Pick up the Metallic Smoky Eye Kit if you love gorgeous, shimmering neutrals as much as I do. You won't regret it.

Disclosure: These products were sent to me for consideration for a review. I am not affiliated with the company, nor am I getting paid for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are based solely on my own experience with the products.


Brightening Skincare

Aside from acne, my other main skincare concern is a dull and sallow complexion, so, it should come as no surprise that I've developed a rather robust fondness for products that promise to brighten my skin. These are three products that truly deliver.
This is a self-proclaimed "illuminating vitamin facial cleanser" that leaves my skin feeling fresh and supple. I massage the gel/oil into dry skin and remove it with a washcloth in circular motions. Not only does the mini facial massage increase blood flow to my face and awaken my skin, but the cleanser itself has pumpkin enzymes to ever so gently exfoliate off dead skin cells to reveal your brightest and most illuminated skin.

I was lucky enough to win this in a giveaway on NUDE Skincare's Instagram account recently, and oh my, this stuff is good. I envisioned a fizzy powder wash to be drying and likely even stripping, but this is far from it. Every other morning, after dampening my face, I pour out a penny-sized amount of powder into one hand and use the other to massage it into my skin, working in sections, avoiding the eye area. There is a subtle fizzy reaction upon initial contact with wet skin (I like to think it's getting deep in my pores), and as you continue working it in, the fine powder granules work as a physical exfoliant. The best part? My skin feels ridiculously smooth and hydrated(!!!) post-rinse. The overall exfoliating experience is on the more intensive end of the spectrum, which helps my skin to look extra awake and brightened, but admittedly, this may be a tad harsh on sensitive skin types.

With a combination of lactic and glycolic acids, these FAB pads work to exfoliate, tone and brighten in the gentlest way possible. I swipe one pad over freshly cleansed skin nightly, and I experienced a noticeably brighter complexion after just one week. Sensitive-skinned ladies will love these, as they are non-irritating and gentle.

* product won in giveaway


The Holiday Reds

With the holidays fast approaching, I decided it was time to take an editing eye to my red lip collection in order to deliver a pared down compilation of my favorite picks for the holiday season. My idea of the perfect holiday red is something cheery and classic (nothing too vampy) that can achieve and maintain a statement lip for holiday parties and gatherings. I found four options spanning a few different finishes and price ranges that will easily suit any and all holiday red lip needs.
Swatched L to R: Guerlain Garconne, NYX Perfect Red, NARS Cruella, Revlon Fire Opal
First up is Guerlain Rouge G in Garconne $51, a vibrant, true red. It's an ultra creamy and pigmented formula with a finish that manages to pack shine without appearing too wet or glossy. Aside from Garconne being the epitome of a "holiday red," the substantial, luxe Guerlain packaging makes it a treat to use any time of year, but especially on special occasions.
NYX Matte Lipstick in Perfect Red $6 is like the matte, slightly more subdued version of Garconne. The soft matte formula feels comfortable on my lips, unlike MAC matte lipsticks, for example, and although it's not very hydrating, it isn't drying either. It applies well, wears well, and the color is truly the perfect classic red. The best part? It comes in at just under $6. Why wouldn't you add this to your shopping list?
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella $25 is a rich, deeper red with a completely matte finish. The pencil makes it easy to line and fill in lips at the same time (a plus for darker shades that can often be more difficult to achieve clean edges with when applied straight from a lipstick bullet), and it wears seamlessly for hours on end. Just make sure lips are freshly exfoliated before application.
Revlon Ultra HD Lip Lacquer in Fire Opal $8 is a fiery, orange-red with a slick, glossy finish. It's an incredibly pigmented gloss with a brush applicator that, admittedly, can make clean application a bit more troublesome, but the end result is certainly worth the effort. Just look at it.
So, there you have it - my red lip picks for this holiday season. And in case I haven't mentioned it before, because I sometimes get questions about this, I don't often use lip liner (unless it's a nude one to enhance my lip shape), even with darker or brighter lip shades. If achieving clean edges is an issue, I typically prefer to just use a lip brush for the most precise application. 

What are some of your favorite reds for the holidays?

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