4.26.2013

The April Edit.

The Edit will be a new series of posts on Will Work for Makeup. I hesitate to call them monthly favorites, because they might include seasonal edits too, and also because they might not always be limited to products I actually like. Think of The Edit more as products I'm currently using that deserve a mention for one reason or another. Kicking off this series is The April Edit.
At the time I was given the opportunity to try out Cristophe Professional's Hydrating line of hair products, the Pacific Northwest winter wasn't doing my hair any favors, and my hair was fairly dry and lacked luster and shine. In other words, although trying out new shampoos and conditioners rarely excites me or surprises me, I went with it because I knew I didn't have anything to lose.

The Hydrating Shampoo is by far the most hydrating shampoo I have ever used. There, I said it. I've used drugstore shampoos aimed at hydration and moisture in the past and could never tell a difference, but with this shampoo, one of the ways I am able to vouch for its hydration claims is based on the fact that even when I'm in a rush in the mornings and only have time to shampoo (no conditioning), my hair still feels soft and smooth...not brittle and knotty the way it can often feel when you fail to condition after washing. Also, I started noticing after my first or second use that my hair would start to get slightly oily (from the natural oils on my scalp, not from residue) about a day to a day and a half after shampooing, whereas normally I'm able to easily get to the two day mark without any signs of oil. Though this may seem like an undesirable effect, in the winter, this shampoo was exactly what my hair needed to bring back some shine and softness. It's actually so hydrating that I think I'll be reserving it for use mainly during the colder months when my hair needs it the most, as my hair might end up a bit too oily if I try to incorporate it into my summer hair care routine. What I appreciate and like most about this shampoo is that it does exactly what it claims to do: hydrate.

The Hydrating Conditioner is also really nice, although it didn't necessarily surprise me to the same degree as the shampoo. It is thicker in consistency and more moisturizing than your average drugstore conditioner, but since I was using the Aussie 3-Minute Miracle as my daily conditioner before that, I found that it kind of paled in comparison, although it is important to note that one is a conditioner while the other is a treatment. Unlike the shampoo that I'll likely be saving for the colder months, I see myself reaching for its conditioning counterpart more in the warmer months when my Aussie 3-Minute Miracle may be too much. Both the Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner can be purchased from the Cristophe Professional website and retail for $8.99 each, so still within my drugstore hair care budget :)

I also started using hair oil again after going off of one for a few months, although I can't remember for the life of me why I ever stopped (I'm placing my bets on laziness!). I use one pump of the L'Oreal Ever Sleek Precious Oil Treatment, an oil mixture containing Moroccan Argan oil, sunflower oil and olive oil, and I distribute it through the bottom half of my damp hair after washing, and it helps my hair dry noticeably faster (both when air dried and blow dried), locks in the moisture, and temporarily seals the hair to make split ends and frizz much less noticeable. My hair is extremely shiny and feels ridiculously soft when I use it, and coming from someone who is an avid fan of Moroccan Oil, I can honestly tell you this is pretty much the same thing for a fraction of the price. I've become addicted to its cotton candy-like scent, although I wouldn't surprise me if some find it too cloying.
In terms of skincare, I've just repurchased another tub of the Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm, so I think it's pretty safe to assume I love it. I was open to trying out a new cleansing balm after finishing up my first tub, but after I failed to find one I was interested in trying enough to stray, I decided to repurchase the Emma Hardie one before I could have a chance to be without it. For moisturizer, I'm still using and loving the Embryollise Lait-Crème Concentrè. I find it also preps the skin nicely for makeup, and I've been relying on it to mix with the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer (not pictured) to make the foundation more spreadable. If I want more of a glow, I might add a bit of my BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone into the mix. I also wanted to give a shout out to C.O. Bigelow My Favorite Night Balm, aka The. Best. Overnight. Lip. Treatment. EVER. NUXE Rêve de Miel who?

For makeup, my current primer love is the Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer because it makes my foundation last and keeps the oil at bay. In terms of cheek products, I rediscovered Dior Aurora this month, and I haven't touched another bronzer since. It's beautiful. No doubt one of my favorite items in my entire makeup collection. I'm still on a cream blush kick, and I already know the Stila Convertible Color in Petunia will be on high rotation throughout spring and summer for me. In exchange for concentrating more on base products this month, I've been painfully lazy with eyeshadow application, instead opting for a simple wash of color across the lid. Eyeshadow pencils like the Milani Shadow Eyez in Brown Deluxe and the Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Amethyst make it a breeze.

Kudos to you if you made it to the end of this post :)


Disclaimer: The Cristophe Professional Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner were sent to me free of charge for review purposes only. I am not affiliated with the company, nor am I getting paid for reviewing them on my blog. The opinions expressed in this post are honest and based solely on my own experience with the products.

4.22.2013

The Brow Routine.

I only started filling in my brows regularly about 2 years ago, and it has literally taken me about that long to find a method that worked for me. I've tried so many different products and techniques, many with astonishingly horrific results, that it has made me appreciate my current routine that much more.

The problem with my brows is that they are very sparse, the individual hairs are quite thin, and the shape leaves much to be desired. I am not one of those lucky people who can simply brush through my brows with some brow gel and call it a day, mainly because a brow gel would likely brush right past my brow hairs and deposit the product directly onto my skin.

Pencils, felt-tip pens and liquid brow products all tend to give my brows a harsh, drawn-on kind of look. When I first started experimenting with filling them in, I got quite a few "What the hell?!" looks from my brother. I've found through trial and error that I get the most natural looking brow (even if it may look drawn-on to some) with a brow powder. My brow powder of choice is the Anastasia Brow Powder Duo in Brunette.

I've tried several different angled liner brushes for my brows and while they were all decent, the Japonesque Angled Brow Definer Brush #240 trumps them all by a long shot. It's quite thin and stiff and makes it easy to control application, especially at the tail end of the brows. Definitely the best brow brush I've ever tried.
I used to use a mixture of MAC Wedge and Mystery eyeshadows for my brows, but it was too warm-toned for my liking. The Anastasia Brow Powder Duo in Brunette contains two cool-toned shades, and I tend to mix them about 50/50 for my brows.

Below are my brows without any product:

Here are my brows after filling them in with the Anastasia Brow Powder Duo in Brunette using the Japonesque #240 brush:
What a difference it makes, right? 

Filling in my brows is by far my least favorite part of my makeup routine (which is probably why I never talk about them on my blog), simply because it can really be hit or miss for me. Some days, filling them in and getting them to look similar and decent is quite easy, while other days, it can be a struggle because I'm more or less drawing them on with powder since my natural brows are so lacking. However, the brows' ability to complete a look is undeniable, which is why it is a necessity for me.

Now when I don't fill them in, my brother asks me where my brows went. -_-


4.19.2013

Getting the Glow.

Personally, I'm a big fan of a glowing, luminous complexion. I think everyone should be. Who doesn't want smooth, dewy, youthful looking skin, right? These are my easy tips for achieving the glow.
1. Exfoliate. Either physical (Clarisonic, scrubs, etc.) or chemical (such as the REN mask shown above) exfoliation will work. It's important to remove dead skin cells that sit on the surface on the skin and can often clog pores and lead to an overall dull complexion. I like using the REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask once a week because my skin literally looks and feels like it's glowing afterwards. 

2. Mix in a subtle, liquid illuminator into your daily foundation. I'm using the BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone today, a peachy champagne shade, and I mixed it with the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer. This adds an overall radiance to my skin but leaves the sparkle at the door.

3. Swap out powder products for cream ones...and I'm talking real cream products with a dewy, cream finish, not cream-to-powder. One of my all-time favorite cream blush formulas is MAC's discontinued blushcreme line, and I decided to go with Pleasureful, a rosey tan shade. For an additional highlight because let's be honest, I can be a bit of a highlight-aholic sometimes, I opted for Benefit Watt's Up just on the tops of my cheekbones. And if I don't have to (like today), I'll skip out on a finishing powder altogether. The less powder, the better.


That's it really! Three easy steps to achieving the glow. On my eyes, I'm wearing the Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Rose Gold on the lid with Burberry Almond eyeshadow in the crease, and I have the YSL Rouge Volupté Shine in #15 on my lips.

How do you achieve the glow?


4.16.2013

Primers for Combination Skin.

I typically view foundation primers more as a nice-to-have kind of product, but for oily and many combination skin types, they can often be a necessity. These are the two I rely on to combat my oily t-zone and help my foundation last throughout the day.
Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer and Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer


Laura Mercier claims: "Perfect for all skin types. Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer creates a smooth and invisible layer to prepare and protect the skin. Your foundation will stay fresh all day." 
...
The Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer has the consistency of a lotion and smells like sunscreen (in a bad way, not the tropical coconut kind of way). It absorbs quickly into the skin and does not leave behind any residue. I don't notice that my foundation applies any more smoothly on top of it, but I do find that it lasts about 3 or so hours longer on my skin than it would without primer before starting to show signs of breaking down due to the oils on my face. It also extends the time to my first blot, as well as prolongs the time between blots.


Smashbox claims: "Increases the longevity of foundation while reducing the appearance of fine lines and pores."
...
The original Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer is an oil-free, clear gel that has a powder/velvet-like finish due to the silicone content. It also smells a bit funny, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Silicone does not tend to irritate my skin (I know it can for others), and I love that it fills in my pores and makes my skin look and feel ridiculously smooth. My foundation applies noticeably more smoothly over it. I find that my foundation lasts much longer on the skin, often not showing any signs of breakdown at all, even by the end of the night when I take my makeup off. It also does a fantastic job at keeping the oil on my t-zone at bay for several hours, and I tend to need to blot even less when I use this primer than I do when I use the Laura Mercier one.


Overall, I much prefer the Smashbox primer to the Laura Mercier one for my particular needs, although those who are sensitive to silicones may want to steer clear. I love how smooth my foundation looks and feels on top of it, and I was impressed by how much longer my foundation stays shine-free and fresh when I use it. Both Laura Mercier and Smashbox make several different primers for various purposes and skin types, although I think I've found my match in the original Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer.

The Laura Mercier primer retails for $32 for 1.7 oz., while the Smashbox primer retails for $36 for 1 oz.

Do you find primer to be a necessity? Which one do you use?


4.14.2013

Christmas in April ft. Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro in 401.

One of my favorite combinations is gold on the lids with a striking red lip. Admittedly, it can look a bit holiday-ish, but honestly, I don't care. Besides, I love Christmastime ;)
Clockwise from top left:
Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme in 002
Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro in 401
Bare Minerals Well-Rested
MAC Pigment in Melon (in sample pot)
MAC Paint Pot in Rubenesque
Burberry Eyeshadow in Almond
Dior Diorskin Healthy Glow Summer Powder in Aurora

The Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro in 401 definitely looks most true to color in the photo below. It's a super bright, cherry red that can pull a bit orange. I like to think of it as the liquid, more hydrating version of MAC Lady Danger. The formula is unlike anything I've ever tried on my lips before. It applies ridiculously smoothly and feels almost velvety. It's incredibly pigmented and lasts longer on the lips than most lipglosses tend to, but I do end up having to reapply after a few hours, especially if I am eating or drinking. I also find that after a few hours, it starts to show some signs of bleeding around the edges, but it's not incredibly noticeable.

In other news, I started using Well-Rested again recently and haven fallen back in love with it. For a while when I was a bit tanner, I thought the Kim Kardashian bright under-eye look was a bit much on me, but it doesn't contrast with my skin tone so much anymore now that I'm paler. Embrace the pale, people!

I also uncovered Dior Aurora from the depths of my makeup drawer and dusted it off (only figuratively speaking of course) just in time for spring and summer. I'd seriously forgotten how utterly amazing this bronzer/blush is. I was actually itching for a new bronzer to spice up my collection, but after using Aurora again, I really no longer feel the need. It's perfection.

I'd been thinking about using MAC Melon and Rubenesque again recently after seeing an old FOTD post. Do you ever come across an old post of yours and think, "Damn, I looked good. Why don't I look like that anymore?" I kid, but seriously, it's one of my favorite eye combos. Rubenesque on its own is quite sheer and muted on my lids, but it's the perfect base for Melon and the two go together like peanut butter and nutella....or jelly. You pick. I also have a tiny bit of Almond in the crease for definition.

I also wanted to add that my liner looked much better than that, but then I curled my lashes and half of my liner came off on the eyelash curler, and my attempt to fix it clearly didn't turn out as well as I thought. Thanks a lot.


Oh yeah, I cut my bangs! Yay!


4.13.2013

Products I'd Recommend to Just About Anyone.

Let me just preface this by saying that there is not a single product out there that will work on absolutely everyone, but there are certainly those that work on most, as opposed to others that are generally just crap. 

These are a few products that I love dearly and recommend constantly to just about everyone I talk to because 1) the formula rocks, and 2) the shade is universally flattering. Obviously, if your skin tone is vastly different from mine, your results with these products will likely vary.

::1:: Dior Amber Diamond 
This peachy champagne highlighter has been my HG for years now. I used to mostly mix all the shades together and dust them on the high points of my face (tops of the cheekbones, browbones, down the bridge of the nose, cupid's bow), but now that I'm quite pale, I've been utilizing the lighter side more. That's the beauty of this powder. Since there are five strips of color, you can customize it a bit to your current skin tone. In addition, I find that it's really finely milled and depending on what brush you use and how much you use, you can create a highlight that ranges from a natural glow to something slightly more dramatic.
(swatched here)

::2:: MAC Nylon Eyeshadow
I think I added Nylon to my collection close to a year ago, and I've been obsessed with it ever since. I only really use it for one purpose, as an inner corner highlight, but that's because it seriously puts all other inner corner highlight shades to shame. It's a frosty white gold that is more dramatic than your average champagne highlight, but I find that that is also what makes it 10x more eye catching.

::3:: Burberry Tangerine Blush 
Tangerine is the perfect matte, peachy pink and easily one of my absolute favorite blushes in my collection. The formula never looks powdery on and instead just seems to melt into the skin, which is why I'm so smitten with it.
(swatched here)

::4:: Burberry Midnight Brown Eyeshadow 
Again, Burberry is on point with their eyeshadow formula too, and although I love all of the shades I own (clearly depicted in this post), I think Midnight Brown is a must-have for everyone. Smokey eye lovers will enjoy it for more obvious reasons, while those who tend to prefer a more natural eye can still find endless utility in it by using it on an angled liner brush to add soft definition to the lash line or on a standard MAC 217-like brush to add a bit of drama to the outer lid. It's the perfect shade to spice up a barely there daytime eye look and transform it into a more nighttime appropriate look.
(swatched here)

::5:: Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour in Amethyst
The Caviar Sticks are some of the best cream eyeshadows I've come across to date. Amethyst in particular has amazing staying power (I've used it without primer many times), and I think the purpley taupe shade will flatter many different skin tones and eye colors.

::6:: NARS Dolce Vita Lipstick 
Although Dolce Vita is a MLBB shade on me, I think those who are considerably fairer than I am would pull it off beautifully as a refined, muted rose with a natural sheen. I also find Dolce Vita easy to swipe on on-the-go without a mirror, very moisturizing, and comfortable to wear.
(swatched here; worn here)

::7:: Tarte Exposed Blush 
Exposed is one of my few go-to blushes when I have trouble settling on a shade. It's a matte, mauvey nude that I think would suit most everyone. It can seem like quite a boring shade in the pan, but believe me, everyone needs a shade like this in their stash. I've gotten so much use out of it!
(swatched here)

::8:: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Brightener
Though I've heard mixed reviews on the Instant Age Rewind Concealers, I've only used and can only vouch for the brightener. For me, and I suspect for many of you out there as well, the brightener isn't enough on its own to cancel out or cover up dark circles, but when used over a concealer or corrector that does, the overall effect is a fresh and bright under eye area that fools people into thinking you've gotten much more sleep than anyone has time for these days.

What are a few products you'd recommend to just about anyone?


4.08.2013

Hydrating Serums.

Although my skin used to be extremely oily and is more in the combination category now, I've realized that just because my skin isn't dry necessarily, it doesn't mean it can't be dehydrated. And my skin was definitely dehydrated.
Even when my skin was feeling rather oily, it didn't feel plump or supple. The oil just sat on the surface and my skin still lacked any real moisture. When I had moisturizer on, my skin felt okay, but the second I washed it off, my skin felt parched again. It was almost as if moisturizer simply masked the dryness. So, I decided to try something I had never tried before: a hydrating serum.

I originally had Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Booster in mind, but since it's impossible to get a hold of in the US (unless you were one of the lucky ones who picked it up from Walgreens during the short time it was available there), I picked up the Vichy Aqualia Thermal Fortifying & Soothing 24Hr Hydrating Concentrate instead. Meanwhile, Jane from Modesty Brown, heard my plea on Twitter for Hydraluron and offered to send one over for me from the UK (Thanks, Jane!).

I use either the Hydraluron or the Vichy Hydrating Concentrate in my nighttime routine, after I apply my La Roche-Posay Effaclar Serum, but before moisturizer (a hydrating serum does not take the place of moisturizer!). I used one exclusively every night for one week before alternating with the other over the span of about two and a half months because I wanted to have used them both fairly equally by the time I reviewed them on the ol' blog.

The Vichy Hydrating Concentrate has a viscous liquid consistency and a light, fresh cotton type of scent. In contrast, the Hydraluron has a gel-like consistency and is unscented. For me, they both work very, very similarly. Both serums are hyaluronic acid based products that are meant to be used in conjunction with a moisturizer to maximize the hydration provided to the skin.

Both sink in to the skin quickly and when I wake up in the morning, my face feels plump and hydrated. I don't find that I need to use a hydrating serum during the day too, as the effects of both serums last well throughout the next day for me.The only difference I can really detect between the way the two serums perform is that Hydraluron may be the slightest bit more hydrating, but only by a little. For all intents and purposes, I view the two as being pretty much the same and interchangeable for me, now that my skin type is more combination, but also in the dead of winter when it was incredibly dry and patchy. I don't really prefer one over the other.

Overall, if you've felt that your skin has been crying out for extra hydration that you haven't been able to provide with a moisturizer alone, I'd highly recommend considering adding a hydrating serum to your skincare routine. Both the Vichy Hydrating Concentrate and Hydraluron are fantastic options, and I would recommend both in a heartbeat. 

Those in the US who have moaned and groaned with me over the exclusivity of Hydraluron to the UK and Canada need not feel left out any longer - Vichy's offering is very similar, with the main differences being the consistency and the added fragrance.

I purchased the Vichy Aqualia Thermal Fortifying & Soothing 24Hr Hydrating Concentrate from Ulta for $35, and I paid for the Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Booster that Jane sent me from the UK, but it is available from Boots in the UK for £24.99.


4.06.2013

Burberry Rosewood.

It was only a matter of time before Burberry Sheer Eyeshadow in Rosewood found its way into my collection. After all, I consider my other Burberry eyeshadows (Pale Barley, Almond and Midnight Brown) absolute staples and must-haves for everyone, based both on the versatility of the shades and the unmatched Burberry formula.

Burberry Sheer Eyeshadow in Rosewood
Burberry Sheer Eyeshadow in Rosewood

Rosewood is a soft, shimmering taupe with an undertone that pulls slightly pink and purple. As with all Burberry shadows, the shimmer is delicate and refined, never over the top or flashy. Despite the name, Burberry shadows are anything but sheer, and in addition to the excellent pigmentation, they apply like butter, blend with no effort at all, and have fantastic lasting power on the lids, even without primer.

Below, I'm wearing Rosewood on the lid and Almond in the crease. My apologies for the terrible lighting and the wonky liner.

I couldn't be happier that Rosewood is finally mine. I cannot for the life of me understand what took me so long. I knew I wouldn't regret it, and I certainly don't. If you are a taupe lover like I am, you need Rosewood too. 


4.01.2013

A Foundation Base for Every Occasion.

I don't have enough restraint to be one of those people who only uses one foundation at a time. Depending on my needs that particular day (Do I need a base that photographs well? Lasts a long time?) and how I'm feeling, my choice of base changes accordingly. Here a are few of my favorite bases and the occasions on which I most prefer to use them. (Note: not all shades match me at my current NC20 state.)


The natural day-to-day foundation.
The Revlon Nearly Naked Foundation (shade 130 Shell) is a great light coverage foundation that feels weightless on the skin. It has a natural finish that is neither truly matte nor dewy - it's just somewhere perfectly in between. It's perfect for everyday wear when you just want a bit of coverage that will never look like you have foundation on. I always wear this over primer and with powder on top to make it last a decent while on me, although I will say that the lasting power is nowhere near as tragic as people make it out to be, at least not on me. This has SPF 20.

The higher coverage daytime base.
When I'm needing a little more coverage during the daytime, I turn to either the Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme (shade 002 Fair) or the Chantecaille Just Skin Tinted Moisturizer (shade Bliss). Both are light to light/medium coverage and have dewy, luminous finishes. The Dior has SPF 10 and the Chantecaille has SPF 15.

The non-liquid daytime foundation.
If I'm in a rush or feeling particularly lazy and can't be bothered to slather on a liquid foundation, I'll use the Laura Mercier Mineral Powder Foundation (shade Real Sand). It has light coverage and despite being a powder, it doesn't look powdery or cakey on the skin at all. It has a natural matte finish that still lets skin look like skin. The only downside to this product for me is that I get quite shiny after about an hour and a half and need to blot more often throughout the day than I do with other foundations. This has SPF 15.

The lightweight nighttime foundation.
My pick for this category also happens to be my HG foundation, Make Up For Ever Face & Body Foundation (shade 20). It has light coverage that is easily buildable without looking cakey, and the finish could not be any more like skin. It is incredibly natural looking and lasts the longest on me out of all of my foundations. It does not contain SPF, which makes it suitable for night outings with the potential for flash photography.

The higher coverage nighttime foundation.
When I want more coverage at night, I look to the Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation (shade 53). I love this foundation. It has medium coverage with an incredibly natural yet glowy finish that doesn't make me particularly oily. This also does not contain any SPF, so it doesn't flashback with flash photography.


As you can see, in general, I like to have a little bit of SPF in my daytime foundation and none in my nighttime options. I also prefer lighter coverage foundations, and medium coverage is typically the heaviest I'll go. I have combination skin with an oily t-zone, so I typically wear my base makeup over a primer like the Laura Mercier Oil-Free Foundation Primer or the Smashbox Oil-Free Photo Finish Foundation Primer and powder lightly on top through my t-zone, if not all over.

All of the products that I've reviewed more in-depth before are linked above :)


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