My Morning Skincare Routine.

After posting my nighttime skincare routine, I thought it was only appropriate that I followed up with my morning routine as well.

What do my mornings generally look like? Imagine me scrambling to get my eyebrows on and getting them to look like cousins and not strangers on the subway, remembering to brush through my bangs as to ensure they're not still plastered to my forehead from the night before, and making sure I at least have matching shoes on before leaving the house and you've got a pretty good idea.

Like most of us, I don't have tons-o-time in the morning to spend pampering my skin the same way I do in the evenings. It's important that every product and motion I go through for skincare is meaningful and serves a purpose. That random serum I've been dying to try out? That can wait; mornings are not the time for experimentation.

With my brain still in sleep mode and my eyes open just wide enough to see the sliver of light necessary to locate the bathroom, I wash my face with the Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser and remove it, along with all the oil and residue that accumulated during my slumber, with a washcloth. It's light enough where it feels cooling and refreshing on the skin (anything to help me wake up!), but it still gets the job done. Also, who wants to be splashing their faces with water at this time of day anyway?!

Once my skin is clean, I apply bit of Hydraluron only to my under-eye area. I don't use hydrating serums all over in the daytime as I find my combo skin doesn't require it, but seeing as how my under-eye area has a tendency to be extra dry, often leading to my concealer going patchy, I find the extra hydration beneath my normal eye cream is a godsend. 

Speaking of eye cream, I recently finished up my Pai Anti-Aging Echium Eye Cream, which I really enjoyed, but after trialing a sample of the Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm a few weeks ago, I was in love. As soon as I used my last drop of the Pai, I was off to buy a jar of the Algenist. It's a thick cream/balm that is unimaginably hydrating (even more so on when used in tandem with Hydraluron), and it plumps up my under-eye area like nothing I've tried before. It wears perfectly under concealer and makeup as well.

For moisturizer, I use a pea-sized amount of Embryollise Lait-Crème Concentrè, and I love that it hydrates and nourishes my skin while also prepping it and turning it into the perfect canvas for foundation and makeup.

After sleeping all night with a nighttime lip balm soaking into my lips and working its magic (I swear by the C.O. Bigelow My Favorite Night Balm), I either use a toothbrush to gently scrub away any dead skin cells in the morning or use the LUSH Bubblegum Lip Scrub. The lip scrub is more gentle than a toothbrush, not to mention it tastes 100x more amazing :) Then, as I'm doing my makeup, I let a thin layer of the NUXE Rêve de Miel sink in to my lips to prep them for whatever lip product I choose to use that day. I actually hate using the NUXE at night because I find that it makes my lips peel the next day, but for some reason, when I use it sparingly in the mornings, it seems to be okay and acts as a good base for lipstick.

Lastly, if I'm being a good girl, I'll remember to slather my face with sunscreen before finishing my makeup and leaving the house. Right now, I'm LOVING the La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid, which I reviewed in more detail here.

In an ideal world, I would use all of these products the way I just described every. single. morning, but in reality, there are certainly days I can only muster up the energy for (or only have the time for) a quick cleanse, a bit of eye cream (forget the serum!), and moisturizer. 

What is your morning skincare routine?


La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid.

I bought the La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid with the intention of using it under my foundation for sun protection and for added coverage, but since acquiring it a few weeks ago, I've actually enjoyed just using it on its own as a light base on ultra-natural makeup kind of days.

Because of its thin, liquid consistency, shaking the bottle before each use is a must in order to fully disperse the tint within the sunscreen. I prefer to use my fingers, rather than  a brush, to apply it because the consistency is quite watery. It is quick and easy to apply and blend out, even with fingers. Due to its ultra-light consistency, it feels like absolutely nothing on the skin, which is quite unlike many other sunscreens on the market.

It has a liquid to powder finish, and what has impressed me the most about it is its oil-control properties! I didn't expect or anticipate it would be able to keep my t-zone oils at bay all day as exceptionally as it does, and I often don't find the need for a foundation primer or powder. The tint is the traditional one-shade-suits-most kind of idea, and though it looks quite dark straight out of the bottle, it's so sheer that it really does suit most. For reference, I'm currently an NC20.

Straight from the bottle on the left; Somewhat blended on the right

I find that La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid is best used in place of foundation only on good skin days. You could, however, use it everyday under your foundation for its sunscreen properties alone of course. On its own, it won't cover up blemishes or redness completely, but I do find that it tones down redness a bit and helps to noticeably even out my skin tone. I touch up with some concealer only on areas where I need it and often skip the powder altogether, although you could use one for added coverage if you so please. Using a powder for oil-control isn't really necessary though, in my opinion.

Wearing the La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid with concealer only

In addition to the SPF 50 UVA/UVB protection, the La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid also provides a patented anti-oxidant complex to further protect the skin from free radicals and the like that exist in our daily environment. Though I don't have sensitive skin, it claims to be suitable for sensitive skin types, and it is also fragrance free.

If you're on the market for a fantastic facial sunscreen to complement your makeup routine that doesn't feel like sunscreen on your skin, I would highly recommend checking out this offering from La Roche-Posay!

I purchased the La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid from Ulta for $33.50.


My Favorite Look This Week #1

Happy Saturday, everyone! Just thought I'd share with you my favorite look I wore this week, which includes two combinations I tried and quickly fell in love with.
For face and cheeks, I wore my Dior Diorskin BB Creme in 002 over Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer for oil-control and longevity before dusting a bit of Maybelline Dream Matte Powder down my t-zone for good measure. I warmed up my cheeks with a bit of Guerlain Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powder in Sun Blondes and added a touch of Laura Mercier Lush Nectarine blush to the apples of my cheeks.

The first combination I tried this week (and then continued to wear for the rest of the week) was a lip combo that consisted of a base of MAC lipstick in Razzledazzler with  BUXOM lipgloss in White Russian on top. I actually wore it more muted than it looks in the arm swatch below because I only applied a very thin layer of Razzledazzler for a touch of color before toning it down even more with White Russian
MAC Razzledazzler (left), BUXOM White Russian (middle), and White Russian over Razzledazzler

COMBO #1White Russian over Razzledazzler

The second combo of the week was an eye combo with the Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Grey Pearl as a base and Burberry Rosewood eyeshadow blended over top of it. It was taupe perfection, to say the least!
Laura Mercier Grey Pearl (left) and Burberry Rosewood

COMBO #2 - Burberry Rosewood over Laura Mercier Grey Pearl

Hope you're all having a great weekend! 


Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer.

Before reading reviews on the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer, I really didn't know what the hell it was. It's not really evident in the name, is it? It sounds like it would be a luminizing primer of sorts, but it's definitely not. 

The Sensual Skin Enhancer is an richly concentrated foundation-like product that can be used in many different ways. It comes in 16 different shades ranging from SX01 to SX16, and I have the shade SX05, a great match for my NC20 skin.

The SSE is an ultra-thick cream so densely pigmented that I only need roughly half a pea-sized amount per foundation application. I scoop a bit out of the tub using a cotton swab, plop it down onto the back of my hand, mix it with one of several products discussed later in this post before finally applying it with my Real Techniques Stippling Brush.

In terms of foundation application, here are the products I've mixed the SSE with:
:: Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone :: Perfect for adding dewiness and extra glow and luminosity. I once mixed the SSE only with Moonstone (so I had to use just as much product as I would if I had used a moisturizer), and the finish was a bit too glowy for my taste. Possibly a good option for dry or dull skin types though.
:: Embryollise Lait-Crème Concentrè :: Mixing it with a moisturizer creates a tinted moisturizer, essentially. The overall finish will vary. The Embryollise Lait-Crème Concentrè and SSE combination makes the skin look healthy, but not quite dewy.
:: Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer :: A silicone-based primer makes the SSE immensely more spreadable. A little bit is all you need since silicone adds quite a bit of slip.The finish is quite satin-like.

I never mix the SSE with the Becca Moonstone exclusively anymore, I sometimes mix it with either the Embryollise or Smashbox primer on its own, but my go-to combination is: SSE + Becca Moonstone + Smashbox primerMoonstone perks up my complexion instantly, but the addition of the Smashbox primer aids in the spreadability so that I don't have to use so much Moonstone that my face looks greasy.

Below is the winning combo pre-mix on the back of my hand (My apologies for the crappy lighting - I had to take the picture early this morning before I applied my makeup for work):

At the end of a 9-hour work day:
Not too shabby, eh?

I have yet to try the SSE applied on its own as foundation because I don't believe I currently own a tool appropriate to apply it. It's extremely thick and I would imagine it would be difficult to spread such a little amount of product across your whole face. Karima from Shameless Fripperies has an excellent video discussing the SSE and how to apply it, and I'm planning on ordering the Beauty Blender soon to use it with the SSE. I'll keep you guys updated if it turns out well.

The SSE also makes an excellent concealer. I haven't tried it under my eyes because that area on me is quite dry and sensitive and I'm afraid it might be a bit cakey, but it's amazing on blemishes. Again, I use a cotton swab to scoop up a tiny amount of the SSE, plop it onto the back of my hand, and use my Sephora Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush #57 to dab into the product and apply it to my face. I apply it using a patting motion to work the pigment into my skin with the brush, and I find that it works great. It covers blemishes flawlessly due to its concentrated pigment, but it also blends with minimal effort. 

The SSE is housed in a tiny tub that would make for the perfect travel companion. It contains 0.63 oz of product (quite a bit less than most foundations that typically contain 1 oz.), but keep in mind you need so little product per application that I truly believe this tub will last me far longer than most/all other foundations. It has a less than appealing floral/powder scent that I tend to associate with makeup more from my grandmother's era, but it dissipates rather quickly after application.

If you're having trouble finding the perfect shade for your skin tone, I'd suggest taking a peek at Beauty Professor's post, where she has nearly every shade swatched.

The Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer is available from Nordstrom for $45.


Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder in Candlelight.

Confession: Kevyn Aucoin's The Celestial Powder in Candlelight is the first highlighter to successfully steal my heart since Dior Amber Diamond

The Celestial Powder in Candlelight is a pale, champagne-tinged beige highlighter. It has the most gorgeous, unimaginably soft and finely-milled texture that somehow resists being powdery and isn't chalky in the slightest. Its buttery smooth texture melts into the skin, making discernible lines separating highlighted and non-highlighted skin an impossibility.

Swatched heavily on the left and blended on the right.

Compared to MAC Soft and Gentle MSF and Dior Amber Diamond, Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder has by far the smoothest and softest texture. It is also the least overtly shimmery and is the palest of the three. 

L to R: MAC Soft and Gentle MSF, Dior Amber Diamond, Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder

Since The Celestial Powder has more of a skin tone-like base (ie beige as opposed to peach, gold, etc.), I find that it looks gloriously perfect on lighter skin tones and creates an angelic glow minus any added color. The shimmer is so ridiculously soft and delicate that at some angles and lighting, it isn't visible at all. In direct sunlight, however, the effect is a subtle glow that is beautifully refined.

Below, I've dusted The Celestial Powder on the tops of my cheekbones and down the bridge of my nose.

The Celestial Powder is my new favorite highlighter and possibly even my new HG, but shhhhh...don't tell Amber Diamond. It's the highlighter that will have people wondering, "Is she or isn't she actually glowing from within?"  But in all seriousness, if you are a highlighter fiend like me (I know you're out there!) and you're wanting a more subtle highlighter, possibly one more suitable for daytime, I'd highly recommend considering The Celestial Powder. She's a beaut.

Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder in Candlelight is available from Nordstrom for $42.


AERIN Garden Path.

I'm not typically a pale nude lips kinda girl, but for some reason, I was recently bitten by the nude lip bug just in time for me to realize I didn't own any that were quite to my liking.

After doing some research and consulting with Jessica, I finally settled on AERIN Lipstick in Garden Path, a beautiful, pale pink-toned nude from the line created by Aerin Lauder, the granddaughter of Estée Lauder.

The lipstick is surprisingly short and small, and the square gold, fingerprint-magnet packaging reminds me a bit of the YSL Rouge Pur Couture lipsticks. 'AERIN' is embossed on the inside of the tube, which I thought was a nice touch. The lipstick has a light rose scent.

Garden Path is the palest nude lipstick I currently own, but I still think it works with my skin tone. Any paler and it would definitely verge on corpse lips. To be honest, this was exactly the shade I was looking for. I didn't want another my lips but better type of nude (although I love those too!); I wanted a true, pale nude that I could layer under other lipsticks and glosses but that was still wearable on its own, and I found exactly that.

The formula is smooth, creamy and moisturizing, and it glides on like butta. It has the perfect amount of slip without excessively settling into lip lines or wearing off after only 30 minutes like some other formulas that are creamy to a fault (cough cough YSL Rouge Voluptés).
Overall, LOVE. I don't know how long my newly ignited pale lip obsession will last, but I'm going to make sure to milk it for all it's worth.

AERIN Garden Path is available from Neiman Marcus for $30.


The Spring to Summer Transition: Face Products.

Now that we're just about halfway through spring and the weather is finally starting to warm up in my neck of the woods, I figured now would be as good a time as any to show you some of the products I'll be relying on to transition my spring face makeup routine into summer. Not to worry: I'll do a follow-up post with eye and lip products soon :)

A foundation with a light, natural finish that still allows my skin to show through will be my go-to during this transition period. A great option that fits the bill is the Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation (I have shade 3.0). However, since I'm currently using chemical exfoliants that can cause photosensivity and considering the sun has (thankfully) started peeking its head out on a much more regular basis, it'll be more important than ever for me to use SPF on my face, and I'll meet that requirement either by layering the La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid (I have the tinted version) under my non-SPF containing foundations or by wearing a base that already offers some sun protection, such as the Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme in 002. The Dior BB Creme only contains SPF 10 though, so I'll most likely still opt for the La Roche-Posay underneath for extra protection.

To add a fresh luminosity to my complexion since I tend to find that my complexion looks extra dull and sallow at its palest (ie right now), I'll either mix in a pea-sized amount of the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone into my foundation, or use it on its own to highlight the high points of my face. For a bit of an added tan and glow, I might choose to prime my face with the Becca Bronzing Skin Perfector prior to applying my foundation.

The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light will be a godsend since it perks up my complexion by adding an ultra-subtle glow with just a few sweeps of my brush, yet it also manages to set and perfect my foundation while extending the wear time, too. 

In terms of bronzer, I'm really liking the Sonia Kashuk Undetectable Cream Bronzer in Warm Tan, a matte tan bronzer with a cream-to-powder finish. It looks much darker in the pan than it does swatched or blended into the skin and despite how dark it appears in these photos, it's definitely suitable for light to medium skin tones. Lastly, to add a punch of color to the apples of my cheeks, I've been loving the Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Color in Lush Nectarine, a beautiful peachy coral that is a welcomed change to the nude and berry shades I gravitated towards in the colder months.

What are some of the face products that will help you transition your routine from spring to summer?


Guerlain Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powder in 04 Sun Blondes.

Guerlain recently released their drool-worthy Terracotta 4 Seasons Bronzers (00 Nude and 02 Natural Blondes are currently on my wishlist), but after delving deeper into the brand known for their bronzers, another one from their existing collection unsuspectingly caught my eye: the Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powder in 04 Sun Blondes

Sun Blondes is a mosaic of brown, bronze, tan, pink and mauve shades that, when swirled together, create a beautiful coral-tinged bronze. It has soft, delicate shimmer that  manifests itself into a natural, believable glow on the skin as opposed to an actual shimmery or glittery effect. 

Much to my dismay, the texture did not feel particularly soft or smooth upon swatching it with my finger (perhaps because it is a "sheer" bronzing powder?). However, I haven't actually noticed this issue translating into application, and I don't have any issues getting it to show up or blending it into the skin. All is right with the world.

Below, Sun Blondes is swatched on the left and Dior Aurora bronzer is swatched on the right for comparison purposes. Notice how much redder Sun Blondes is compared to Aurora. Also note the difference in textures that is visible in the swatches: Aurora is a much softer powder than Sun Blondes and therefore, looks a bit powdery before blending.

I'm wearing Sun Blondes below, shown in several different lighting situations.

All in all, I'm glad to have Sun Blondes in my bronzer arsenal because the coral base sets it apart from the others in my collection, and it definitely holds its own. It's a product that ticks the boxes for both bronzer and blush, and you know I love multitasking products ;)

I purchased Guerlain Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powder in 04 Sun Blondes from Sephora for $51.


Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelée.

The Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelées are new to the Josie Maran line up, and it's also my first foray into this brand of beauty and skin care products that boasts all natural and organic ingredients. The name in itself makes the product sound like the perfect, refreshing addition to a tropical vacation travel makeup bag, no?

I have the shade Poppy Paradise, a sheer, bright, juicy cherry red. It gives the most believable just pinched cheeks you can imagine, minus the pinching pain! I've applied it using fingers and a brush, and I've found that I achieve the easiest, quickest, and most flawless application with the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. One dab into the pot is all you need for each cheek, and this particular brush blends it out easily (it can tend to be a bit patchy using fingers if you're not careful).

The watercolor effect on the skin is fresh, youthful, and perfects the flushed-from-within look. The gel melts seamlessly into the skin, leaving only the tint visible to the naked eye.  It doesn't sit on top of the skin the way traditional cream blushes do. Although the gel formula may indicate a seemingly sticky texture, once it dries down on the skin, the stickiness dissipates completely. The coconut water and argan oil are meant to provide hydration and nourishment, while the staining effect also means that the lasting power is phenomenal - 12 hours easily for me. 

Similarly to the other shades offered, Poppy Paradise looks nothing short of frightening in the pot, but rest assured, it is very sheer yet easily buildable due to its unique gelée formulation. Although the pot is tiny and more reminiscent of the size of a lip gloss, it contains 0.18 oz, which is average compared to other cream blushes. And considering how very little product you need per use, I can't imagine running out any time in the near future.

I'm deeming it the blush of summer 2013.

I purchased the Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelée in Poppy Paradise from Sephora for $22.

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