12.29.2010

Laura Mercier Bonne Mine Palette



Bonne Mine - Healthy Glow For Face & Cheeks Creme Colour Palette is a limited edition palette by Laura Mercier that was inspired by her celebrity clients (I heard it was Sarah Jessica Parker!).

It contains 2 Glow Veils (highlighters), 2 Cheek Veils (blushes), and 1 Bronzer Veil (bronzer).

It's actually suggested that the products be applied with fingertips rather than brushes which only adds to the quick and easy on-the-go appeal of the palette. Although all five products are cream products, the consistency is a bit more on the solid end of the cream spectrum and needs the warmth of your fingertips to help the products blend into your skin.

Inside the palette, behind the mirror, are 4 pull-out tabs that give step-by-step instructions on how to apply each product.




L to R: 2 Glow Veils, 2 Cheek Veils, Bronzer Veil

The darker of the two Glow Veils is a bit too dark to be classified as a highlighter shade on most skin tones, in my opinion. The base color is more on par with a bronzer, but the frostiness makes it inappropriate to use for that purpose (for me, anyway). It's a gorgeous color but I'm not really sure how I'm going to put it to use just yet. The lighter Glow Veil isn't as dark or frosty once it's blended into the skin and actually looks quite natural on the cheekbones.

The lighter Cheek Veil is my favorite color in the whole palette! It's so pretty and natural and is perfect if you're wanting a refreshing pop of color on your cheeks. The darker Cheek Veil isn't nearly as dark as it looks in the swatch once it's blended into the skin, but I think the color is a bit limiting as it's more of a fall/winter shade, in my opinion, that would also probably be more flattering on medium to darker skin tones. Both blushes are shimmer-free.

The Bronzer Veil was the product I was most excited for in the palette and while I do like it, I'm still a bit on the fence about it. I've been lusting over Chanel's Soleil Tan de Chanel bronzing base for ages now and was kind of hoping that the cream bronzer in this palette would fill that void, even if only temporarily. It has really, really soft shimmers that are virtually undetectable once applied to the skin, so I'd say it's really more of a matte bronzer. I know it looks a bit orange in the swatch but it's not really that way in real life at all. It's a really nice shade of bronzer that would be flattering on most skin tones, I think.

I guess the reason I'm still on the fence about the bronzer is that I haven't perfected my application technique yet (I'm hoping it's my technique and not the product because I really want to love it!). It's really pigmented when swatched but once blended in, it seems to lose a lot of its color. I then have to go back in and apply more layers of it, and I feel like I have to use more Bronzer Veil than I do the Glow Veils or Cheek Veils in order to get my desired effect. Once the color has been built up, though, I love the result - very natural!

Generally speaking, the shades may be a bit too dark for very pale girls but would probably be quite flattering on most everyone else. I think that most girls would be able to use at least one highlighter, at least one blush, and the bronzer but my question is: Is there a skin tone where all five shades would be flattering? I'm not so sure.

All five products are easily blendable (assuming you use your fingertips because with brushes, not so much), not the least bit greasy/oily, and I'd classify the palette as a whole as a nice-to-have product but definitely not a must-have. 



12.28.2010

Benefit Bella Bamba

Introducing Benefit's newest boxed powder...


Bella Bamba!



Bella Bamba is described as a watermelon pink with gold shimmers. It's packaging is new to Benefit's boxed powders with an attached lid and mirror, and it contains 0.28oz of product compared to 0.35-0.42oz of product in the existing boxed powders.

In the pan, Bella Bamba looks almost identical to NARS Orgasm but when swatched, the two are very different:
Benefit Bella Bamba (left) and NARS Orgasm

Orgasm is much more of a peachy-pink while Bella Bamba is completely pink. And although it may not be apparent in the above swatch, Orgasm has more of a frosty, golden sheen while Bella Bamba simply has golden shimmers.


Bella Bamba has really good pigmentation and I think the color would flatter most skin tones. It does a fantastic job at brightening your complexion and adding life to your face. I think it's definitely a must-have for pink blush fanatics. Those who are anti-shimmer should steer clear of this blush while those who are expecting a unique and revolutionary blush shade may be left a bit disappointed.

I personally really love this blush. I don't have tons of pink blushes in my collection that really, truly suit me (I keep thinking MAC Well Dressed does, but sometimes even I can't convince myself :-/) but I definitely think this one does the trick!

What are your thoughts on Bella Bamba? Are you loving it or leaving it?


12.26.2010

Sigma Premium Travel Brush Kit

Sigma has two travel brush kit variations, both of which contain a carefully selected collection of 7 short-handled brushes. The regular Travel Kit contains travel-sized versions of several brushes that are included in the Complete Kit (which I've also reviewed here), so I was rather excited to receive the Premium Travel Kit so that I could test and review 7 brand-new brushes. The Premium kit contains travel-sized versions of several brushes that are included in the Premium Professional Kit plus the E50 brush.

Sigma Premium Travel Brush Kit - Stylish in Black

The faux leather brush roll has a hidden, magnetized closure.

There is a zippered compartment on the inside that could hold one or two extra travel-sized brushes as needed.

Tapered Face - F25

I've been loving this brush for my setting powder, which at the moment is my MAC MSF Natural. The brush is very soft but not overly fluffy due to its egg shape, so it's perfect for dusting on powder in a manner where the powder will actually be applied to your skin rather than be fluffed around your face. The tapered end also fits comfortably under the eye and as a result, this brush is also very effective for lightly setting under-eye concealer with powder and there is no need for a separate brush.
Although the F25 is much too large for contouring since the shape of the brush expands a considerable amount once brushed across the face, it is great for applying bronzer. 

Duo Fibre Powder/Blush - F15


This duo fibre brush allows for a nice, sheer application of powder product as it does not pick up as much powder or deposit as much onto the face as other brushes do. In terms of powder blush, it's best used with more pigmented or really bright blushes that usually need to be applied with a light hand, as otherwise you'll find yourself having to apply several layers of blush to achieve the look you'd want with a normal blush. 
I personally prefer to use this brush with cream blush, as I find duo fibre brushes rarely shed (Who likes annoying brush hairs in their blush, right?) and the sheer application means you'll never accidentally apply a blob of cream blush to the apples of your cheeks then have to hurriedly try to blend it out before it sets. 
And although I have not yet tested it out, I'd imagine the F15 would also do a fine job at stippling in liquid foundation, as do most all other duo fibre brushes.

Large Concealer - F65

I think I was the most skeptical about this brush upon receiving the kit. I'm still somewhat unsure of when such a large concealer brush would be practical or necessary so any comments or suggestions are very welcomed :)
In an attempt to find a usage for this brush, I picked it up one day and used it to pat on Bare Minerals Well Rested eye brightener on the area under my eyes and so far, I've been pretty satisfied. I still have a tendency to reach for my Sigma E40 Tapered Blending brush to blend it in afterwards, but I've noticed that patting on Well Rested with this brush beforehand allows you to apply more product (but not too much) and achieve a more bright-eyed look than you'd be able to achieve by using the E40 alone to apply the product and to blend it. 

Large Fluff - E50

I love this brush! It's quite large and is perfect for applying a wash of color to the whole lid in no time at all. Prior to acquiring this brush, I'd usually reach for my Sigma E55 Eye Shading brush if I was looking to apply a single eyeshadow from lash line to eyebrow, but the E50 is much more efficient at doing so due to its size.

Small Tapered Blending - E45

I've been using this to apply color to my crease when I want a more defined shape. In addition to neatly fitting into the crease to deposit color, the tapered end will allow you to wing out the color too, if desired, to create more of a cat-eye effect. I prefer to use it for applying color rather than blending, so I still tend to go in afterwards with my MAC 217 or Sigma E35 Tapered Blending brush to blend out any harsh lines.

Short Shader - E20

The E20 is the brush I never knew I needed or wanted but have unexpectedly fallen in love with. It has replaced my MAC 239 and pencil brush as my go-to brush for applying eyeshadow to my lower lash line. The bristles are so stiff, even more so than the MAC 239, and as a result, eyeshadow is deposited exactly where you want it and the brush never fluffs it around or accidentally flicks it into your eye.

Small Eye Liner - E10

This is the thinnest eye liner brush of the three that I own (MAC 209 and Sigma E05) and being someone who is eyeliner-challenged, I had my reservations about my ability to do this brush justice. However, I must say that I have an easier time applying my gel eyeliner with this brush than I do with either of those other brushes or even an angled brush.
It creates a clean, thin line that is easily thickened with each additional stroke as opposed to the thick line that can randomly turn messy if the bristles on my E05 or angled brush decide they want to spread out all of a sudden while I'm drawing my line. Does this happen to anyone else?! I'm eyeliner-challenged, I tell you.

***
If I was travelling with only this kit, here is how I would utilize each brush:

(I'd apply my foundation with my fingers.)
I'd use the F25 to set my foundation with powder and to apply bronzer.
I'd use the F15 to apply blush and cheek highlight.
I'd use the F65 to apply concealer and blend it in with my fingers.
I'd use the E50 to apply my lid color and brow bone highlight.
I'd use the E45 to apply my crease color.
I'd use the E20 to apply color to my lower lash line.
I'd use the E10 to apply my gel liner.

In my opinion, the F65 Large Concealer brush is not a necessity and is not a useful enough brush to warrant being included in a brush kit that only has 7 brushes. I would have much rather seen something like the F60 Foundation brush or F40 Large Angled Contour brush (for blush and/or contour) in its place, to be honest, because although the F15 Duo Fibre Powder/Blush brush would be great at applying foundation or blush, it would be less than ideal to have to use it for both because you'd then risk contaminating your blush with a brush that is dirty with foundation.

Since all of the brushes in this kit were new to me, I don't own any of the full-sized versions to compare any differences in the actual brush head. However, here is a travel-sized brush next to a regular Sigma brush so you can compare the lengths of the handles (fyi: the brushes are not the same):

Sigma brushes can be purchased from their website and the Premium Travel Brush Kit is available for $59.

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me free of charge for review purposes only. I am not affiliated with this company, nor am I getting paid for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are honest and based solely on my own experience with the products.


12.21.2010

Out With the Old, In With the New.

*To people who are sticklers with adhering to makeup expiration dates, look away now.

My first gel eyeliner I ever purchased was MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack, and I was still using the same little pot up until about a few days ago when I was forced to retire it because it had dried out. Then I got to thinking about how it used to perform when it was new and I almost gasped with disgust when I realized that I bought it nearly 5 years ago! FIVE YEARS!

Now I'm not sure what the acceptable time frame to use up a gel eyeliner is, but I'm pretty sure it's a heck of a lot less than 5 years :-/ Looking past the obvious sanitation issues associated with using the same cosmetic product for too long, I know a lot of people have issues with MAC Fluidlines drying out within a few months, so I'm actually really impressed that mine lasted almost 5 years. I guess that's kind of cool, right?

While I was more than happy with how Blacktrack had performed for me through the years, I was itching to try something new. After going back and forth between the Clinique and Bobbi Brown varieties, I finally settled on Clinique Brush-On Cream Liner in True Black.


It's worth noting that a MAC Fluidline retails for $15 and contains 0.1oz of product, while Clinique Brush-On Cream Liner retails for $14.50 but contains 0.17oz of product.

I actually swatched both on the back of my hand but there's no point in including the photo because they looked exactly the same. Clinique True Black had a much more fluid application than MAC Blacktrack, but that is to be expected when comparing a brand-new liner to one that is nearly 5 years old. 

Now is your chance to confess: Have you ever kept and used a beauty product that was way past its prime?


12.20.2010

Unsung Heroes.

Here are a few fantastic products that I think deserve more hype and recognition than they've received...


+e.l.f Shimmer Palette+
This palette retails for a mere $3 and contains four cream highlighters in pearl, peach, pale gold, and pink. On medium skintones and darker, when applied, the difference in colors is not really detectable and you are left with a very similar looking highlight regardless of which color you use. On fairer skintones, the difference between the four shades will be a bit more apparent.
The consistency is very creamy, a tad bit greasy (just a tad!), and very easy to blend. When used as a highlight on top of the cheekbones or under the brow bone, this shimmer palette gives the most healthy, dewy glow to the skin that never feels oily once blended in.

+Illamasqua Illuminator in Fondle+
Illamasqua is most definitely not an underrated brand but for some reason, I never seem to hear very much about their illuminators. Fondle is a peachy pink with gold shimmer that is super pigmented and a bit darker than NARS Orgasm. It's a liquid highlighter that dries down after applied to the skin, so the staying power is actually really great. The particular shade I have works better as a blush than a highlighter, but I can imagine Odyssey (white pearl) and Halcyon (ivory pearl) would make excellent cheek bone highlighters.

+MAC eyeshadow in Era+
In a land full of Satin Taupe, Cork, and Patina-lovers, I rarely ever hear about Era. Era has a Satin finish and is a light-medium brown with very subtle gold shimmers throughout. When applied, the shimmer is not very visible and rather than making the eyeshadow look shimmery, it adds dimension and life to what could otherwise be a flat and boring eyeshadow shade. Era is particularly close to my heart because it was the second MAC product I ever owned (my first was MAC lipglass in Prrr), and so far, it's the only MAC product I've ever repurchased.
It makes a pretty all-over lid shade for lazy days when you can't be bothered with crease and outer-v gibberish, it makes a great crease shade when used over something simple like MAC Brule on the lid, and it is also an excellent shade to use to blend out a smoky eye. 

+Bonne Bell Lip Lites in Strawberry Parfait+
This is an excellent, affordable lipgloss that smells exactly like you would expect. It's very pigmented and non-sticky. I used to associate Bonne Bell with kid/teenager makeup since they are also the makers of my beloved Lip Smackers that I collected when I was 10, but I've since changed my mind because I'm seriously impressed with this gloss. This is the only shade I've tried from this range but as far as drugstore lipglosses go, I'd say this one is right up there with Revlon Super Lustrous lipglosses.

L to R:
MAC Era
e.l.f Shimmer Palette (4 shades)
Illamasqua Fondle (top: heavily swatched; bottom: blended in)
Bonne Bell Strawberry Parfait

What are some of your favorite underrated products?


12.17.2010

My Favorite Products of 2010

Makeup
Foundation: Undecided :-/ Still on the hunt for my HG foundation. I do really like NARS Sheer Glow, though.

Concealer: Diorskin Sculpt Lifting Smoothing Concealer (under-eyes) + MAC Studio Finish Concealer (blemishes/redness)

Powder: MAC MSF Natural in Medium Plus


Bronzer: Benefit Hoola


Highlight: Dior Amber Diamond


Eyeliner: MAC Blacktrack Fluidline + Milani Liquif'Eye Metallic Eyeliner Pencils

Eyeshadow primer/base: UDPP + MAC Bare Study Paint Pot

Eyelash curler: Shu Uemura

Mascara: Cover Girl Lash Blast Volume

Lipstick: MAC Viva Glam VI SE

Lipgloss: MAC Love Nectar Lustreglass + Barry M Toffee lipgloss


Nail polish: OPI Panda-monium Pink



Body
Shower gel/soap: LUSH Honey I Washed the Kids + Philosophy Pink Frosted Layer Cake 3-in-1

Body lotion/cream: Burt's Bees Milk & Honey lotion (spring/summer) + The Body Shop Coconut body butter (fall/winter)

Body exfoliator: Tree Hut Shea Sugar Body Scrub in Coconut Lime

Hand cream: None. I just use whichever body lotion/cream I'm using at the moment.


Perfume: LaVanila Vanilla Blossom


Face
Cleanser: Shu Uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil Fresh

Toner/lotion: None.

Moisturizer: Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer

Facial mask: None.

Exfoliator: LUSH Ocean Salt

Makeup remover: Up & Up Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes



p.s. I've linked all products that have been featured or reviewed in previous posts :)




I'd love to know what some of your favorites were in 2010 as well!




12.16.2010

Romantic Date Look ♥

I'm actually just seeing some friends later but I thought the look I came up with was very date-appropriate as well :)

I used my Sleek Sparkle Palette for the first time today and my goodness, the colors are just as gorgeous on my eyes as they were swatched on my hand! My only qualm was that there was a fair amount of fall-out, but nothing that can't be dealt with when paying 6 pounds for 12 amazingly pigmented eyeshadows.

Another FOTD, another awkward closed mouth smile :)



Face:
NARS Sheer Glow in Punjab
Eve Pearl Salmon concealer in Medium (under-eyes)
MAC Studio Finish concealer in NC30 
MAC MSFN in Medium Plus
Benefit bronzer in Hoola
MAC blush in On a Mission
e.l.f. Shimmer Palette (cheek highlight)

Eyes:
UDPP
MAC e/s in Yogurt
Sleek Sparkle Palette (Festive, Illusion, and Tinsel)
MAC e/s in Beautiful Iris
UD 24/7 Glide-On eye pencil in Zero
Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara

Lips:
MAC l/s in Viva Glam VI SE
MAC p/g in Ample Pink

As for my hair, I just curled it with a 1-inch curling iron (my hair is far too short for anything bigger than that) and put it up in a messy side bun.

What do you guys think? Would this be a good date-night look?



12.15.2010

Eve Pearl Salmon Concealer - Dark Circles Be Gone?


Anyone who knows me in real life or who is not new to my blog knows that dealing with my dark under-eye circles is a constant struggle for me. While I really do love my Diorskin Sculpt Lifting Smoothing Concealer, like a true makeup junkie, I'll always be on the hunt for something better.

I've learned through watching YouTube videos that pink-based concealers work best for covering up dark under-eye circles as the pink works to neutralize purple or blue toned discoloration. Although my Dior concealer has great consistency and provides fantastic coverage, it's beige (i.e. not pink-based) and so I set off to find myself a new under-eye concealer.

I use MAC Studio Finish Concealer on my blemishes and redness, but I find the consistency is terrible for use around my eye area and makes it look dry and cakey. I had heard mostly rave reviews on the Eve Pearl Salmon Concealer so when I saw that it was 40% off around Black Friday, I jumped on the chance to try it.


It's called the "Salmon Concealer" because they're all pink/peach based to help neutralize the dark blue in under-eye circles. It's also half concealer and half treatment, with the anti-oxidant AstraReal/Astaxanthin that is supposed to improve and protect your delicate eye area. I'm only 23 and besides the dark circles, I don't really have any wrinkles or issues with my eye area so I can't say with confidence that I've seen any improvements or difference at all. This post will be reviewing how this product works as a concealer only.

The concealer is available in four shades: light, medium, tan, and dark. They can be purchased in singles, duos, or trios. The singles are available in a 3.25g size for $35 or in a 6.2g size for $42. I purchased the larger size (the obvious better deal) in the shade Medium.

What I noticed right off the bat after using it was that Medium is a bit darker than I expected and I wonder if Light would've been a better match. Especially if you are into the "light under-eye look" a la Kim Kardashian, I'd recommend choosing a shade lighter than what you think you'd need. I'm around NC30 and when there are only four shades available, I really didn't think I'd have to choose the lightest shade. I fear really pale girls may not be able to find a match in Eve Pearl's restricted color range.

Before (completely bare skin)

After (concealer only; no foundation)
Note: It looks kind of cakey in the photo but it doesn't really look that way in real life, especially not when used over foundation :)

I apply this concealer by dabbing my MAC 224 into the pot and since the consistency is very creamy, the brush picks up the product very easily and there is no need to swirl it around in the pot. I then sweep my brush back and forth under my eye area and all around until the product is completely blended into my skin. In addition, although I don't really think it's worth mentioning, the concealer comes with a spatula to scoop out the product. Maybe this would come in handy if you have really long nails and like to use your fingers to apply concealer but I, for one, will not be making use of the concealer spatula.

At this point, instead of writing more massive paragraphs, I think it would be easier to list out the pros and cons...

+Pros+
-very creamy and easy to blend
-is moisturizing and feels smooth and comfortable around eye area
-covers dark circles very well

+Cons+
-shade range is limited and color is a bit darker than expected
-creases!

The major con here is the creasing, unfortunately. I mentioned in my Diorskin concealer review that I have a natural crease under my eyes where any and all concealers tend to settle into, and this one is no different. However, in addition to that crease, the concealer itself starts to crease in no time at all, even when I've used powder (MAC MSFN) to set it. And although I have oily skin, in the Winter I'd say it's more normal/combination and I don't think that my eye area is particularly oily at all, especially not enough to cause such extensive creasing.

So, while I like the Eve Pearl Salmon Concealer, I have to be honest and say that considering the price and the hype, I'm a little bit let down. I have no doubt that I'll use it all up, but I don't think I'd repurchase it. I'm thinking the Bobbi Brown Corrector and/or Creamy Concealer may be next...




12.14.2010

When Winter Puts a Damper on Blogging.

After realizing how much I've slacked off lately on posting FOTDs, I vowed to make an honest attempt to do more of them...until I was faced with one huge obstacle: It starts getting dark at 4pm now! Really?!

I always prefer to take photos with natural lighting as I find it captures color in its truest form whereas flash can wash-out color and artificial lighting can alter colors altogether, depending on the color of the bulb. But, after spending all of this time doing my makeup, I refused to let it go to waste and forced some decent pictures out of it :)

(I realize these photos are pretty dark. They were taken with the room light on, but still taking advantage of whatever natural daylight was still peeking through the window.)




Face:
Revlon Photo Ready foundation in 005 Natural Beige
Eve Pearl Salmon concealer in Medium (under-eyes)
MAC Studio Finish SPF35 concealer in NC30
MAC MSFN in Medium Plus
NARS blush in Douceur
MAC pigment in Vanilla (cheek highlight)

Eyes:
UDPP
Inglot eyeshadows (the first, fourth, and fifth shades in palette)
MAC pigment in Vanilla (highlight)
UD 24/7 Glide-On Liner Pencil in Zero
Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara

Lips:
MAC l/g in Love Nectar

Lesson learned. Note to self: Must take photos earlier on in the day :)

Has anyone else's blogging suffered as a result of these Winter months?


12.13.2010

Holiday Party FOTD

I didn't technically wear this look to a holiday party but if I had one to go to, I totally would have :) Red is probably the most festive color you could possibly wear so it just felt natural to put it on my lips!




Face:
NARS Sheer Glow in Punjab
Eve Pearl Salmon concealer in Medium (under-eyes)
MAC Studio Finish SPF35 concealer in NC30
MAC MSFN in Medium Plus
Benefit Hoola (contour)
NARS Douceur
MAC pigment in Vanilla (cheek highlight)

Eyes:
UDPP
MAC e/s in Brule
MAC e/s in Wedge (crease)
MAC e/s in Era (crease)
MAC pigment in Vanilla 
UD e/s in Darkhorse (lower lashline)
MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack
Milani Liquif'eye eyeliner pencil in Black
Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara

Lips:
NARS l/l in Jungle Red
Revlon l/s in Certainly Red

What kind of look will you be wearing to your holiday party?


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