The Best of 2014: Everything Else + Honorable Mentions

The third and final installment of 'The Best of 2014' is dedicated to hair, nails, fragrance and brushes.

In terms of hair products, although I'm rarely ever loyal to a shampoo or conditioner, I'm fiercely loyal to two particular styling products: Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray and Chi 44 Iron Guard. I like to spray the Oribe into my dry hair and fluff it around with my fingers, and I find it adds the most sexy, effortless texture through the lengths and volume at the crown that actually last. And it smells incredible. The Chi is a heat protectant that I use before straightening or curling, but my favorite part about it is the extra bit of hold it provides my hair (especially the curls!). It kind of doubles as a subtle hairspray, although it's used before styling.

For nails, the Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover is the easiest and fastest product for dissolving overgrown cuticles, without actually having to snip them off. I just apply the gel to my cuticles, leave it on for 15-30 seconds before using a finger nail to gently push them back and washing it all off under warm water. My most worn polish this year was Nails Inc. Gel Effect in Porchester Square. It's the most chic grey with a hint of lavender that works in every season and for any occasion. After painting my nails, I always spray them with a coat of OPI RapiDry Spray, and it makes my polish dry noticeably quicker so that I can go with on with the rest of my day.

My fragrance picks of the year are Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black and White. I really like them separately as well, but my favorite way to wear them is layered (I personally wear Black over White, although it probably doesn't matter). The combined scent is sexy and slightly unusual, but so feminine and beautiful as well. I'm obsessed.

My favorite brushes this year, in general, are the Real Techniques brushes (shown is the Travel Essentials kit). I love the buffing brush, multi-task brush and expert face brush, just to name a few. I also love their Miracle Complexion Sponge. The quality of the Real Techniques brushes surpasses several brushes I own from pricier brands, and the affordability really can't be beat.

Lastly, I wanted to end this post with some honorable mentions that didn't quite make the cut in this year's 'Best of 2014' posts, but they're still far too good not to give credit to. So, my 2014 Honorable Mentions include:
  • Make Up For Ever HD Blushes // the best cream blush formula ever
  • LancĂ´me Lip Lovers // a favorite lip gloss-lacquer hybrid of mine this year
  • NUDE Skincare ProGenius Treatment Oil // love it on its own or mixed with my moisturizer for extra cushiony hydration
  • Sephora Formula X in the shade X  Rouge // a VIB Rouge-exclusive shade, this has the most flawless application I've ever experienced with any polish - completely opaque and non-streaky in one coat
  • CHANEL Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour SPF15 Powder // love No30 for some added glow and subtle color 
  • Hourglass Immaculate Foundation // my go-to foundation when I need my makeup to last all day on my combination skin


The Best of 2014: Skincare

Part 2 of my 'Best of 2014' round-up posts is dedicated to the products I've loved and depended on this past year to keep my skin clean, radiant and as spot-free as possible. Again, you may recognize several of these favorites from last year's post as well. They really are that good.

After a long day, the last thing I want to do is struggle with removing ever last bit of makeup off my face. Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm dissolves every type of face, eye and lip makeup imaginable, and it does so gently and effortlessly. I use it either with a warm washcloth or simply rinse it off, although the second method can often leave a slight film on the skin, which I then remove during a second cleanse anyway. One Love Organics Vitamin B Active Moisture Cleansing Oil & Makeup Remover is another fantastic option I often reached for, and unlike the Clinique cleansing balm, which I only used for makeup removal or as a first cleanse, the OLO cleansing oil is a heavenly cleanser on its own as well. The fresh pineapple scent never gets old. The Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel paired with a warm washcloth is my favorite duo for a refreshing morning cleanse or for a second cleanse at night. 

For exfoliation, I love NUDE Skincare Detox Brightening Fizzy Powder Wash for how incredibly soft and alive it makes my skin look. Apart from using it every other day or so, I still rely on Osmia Organics Detox Exfoliating Mask once a week for a more intensive skin detox experience. Although it can be mixed with water as well, my favorite way to use it is combined with a penny-sized amount of the luscious May Lindstrom The Honey Mud Cleansing Silk. Although it can also be used as a cleanser on its own, I far prefer using it as a mask, as I find it offers so much hydration and soothing properties, and it smells of a delicious cocoa and honey blend.

For any pesky spots, the Osmia Organics Spot Treatment is one of my go-to products to dab on before bed, as it truly works but never dries out my skin in the slightest. (Bonus points for not bleaching my clothes or pillowcases like my traditional benzoyl peroxide acne treatments!) Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil remained a favorite this year. I massage several drops into my skin before bed, with or without an additional night cream on top, and it plumps up and hydrates my skin, while also working to gently fade acne scars.

My holy grail overnight lip balm continues to be C.O. Bigelow My Favorite Night Balm. It's by far the best lip treatment I've tried, and it definitely lasts until the morning, if not longer. I can't imagine myself ever being without it! My favorite body moisturizer this year was Osmia Organics Body Oil. I've tried several different scents, but Light is my favorite. When applied on damp skin immediately post-shower, it absorbs quickly yet offers up incredible moisturization that truly lasts all day. Lastly, my favorite hand cream: L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream. It feels thick and luxurious but never leaves hands feeling greasy, it smells lovely, and I adore the packaging.


The Best of 2014: Beauty

Most of these will be of no surprise to those who frequent my blog, and several of these 2014 favorites are actually repeats from past years. Beauty bloggers are fickle creatures, often straying from supposed 'favorites' just to find new ones a short time later, so if a yearly favorite is also able to find its way onto next year's post, you know it's a good one.

My favorite foundation of 2014 was definitely Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, with its healthy, perfectly luminous finish. There were several months during the summer when my bottle of shade 3.5 was a bit too ghostly on my tanned complexion, but I'm happy to report that we are matching once again. For concealer, Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer continues to win my heart. I love the hydration and coverage it provides my under-eye area, and the fact that it works well on blemishes, too, is just an added bonus. Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Powder Foundation is my powder of choice, whether it's to set my foundation or to be used as a foundation itself. Its silky smooth texture just melts into the skin and never looks cakey.

Bronzer and blush were two of the most difficult categories for me to choose favorites in, and in the end, I was only able to narrow it down to a favorite bronzer (I just have too many blush loves!). Guerlain Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powder in Sun Blondes provides gorgeous bronze color with just a hint of red to mimic a real suntan, and the texture makes it impossible to over-apply. The coral-red undertone means it can double as blush, too! For highlight, although Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder in By Candlelight was probably my true favorite for daily use, theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer made the cut because it provides a more dramatic sheen for going-out looks, yet it can still be applied more sheerly for daytime as well. Its versatility made it a favorite this year, especially when it came time to do makeup for a couple weddings.

For the sake of keeping my list of favorites succint, the lone eyeshadow included this year is Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Intense Eyeshadow in 15 Copper/Black Grey. It's one of the best formulas I've ever tried, and the shade itself is stunning, to say the least. Physicians Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner is making a repeat appearance this year, as it continues to be my favorite tool for creating a winged line. Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Eye Liner is new to this list, but it's quickly become a staple for me for tightlining. It has incredible jet black pigmentation that lasts all day on my waterline without transferring. In terms of mascara, Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Volumizing Mascara is still my product of choice after all these years. It gives me a voluminous and dramatic lash and holds a curl better than any mascara I've tried before. For eyebrows, Shu Uemura Hard Formula Brow Pencil in Stone Gray performs the best on me, both in terms of color and staying power.

Lastly, my two lip favorites are the Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Colors and the Givenchy Le Rouge line. I love the former for its creamy formula that is never drying, soft matte finish and exceptional staying power. The latter boasts the most gorgeous shade selection, and the ultra-creamy, moisturizing and pigmented formula is quite frankly, faultless


Merry Christmas!

Just popping in to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas! Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, I hope you enjoy today with your loved ones. 

In true beauty blogger fashion, I also wanted to give a little mention to my Christmas mani this year - OPI Red Fingers & Mistletoes, borrowed from my sister, and apparently, also a part of the Gwen Stefani Holiday 2014 Collection. It's a gorgeous ruby red with red micro-glitter. Certainly nothing revolutionary this year, but it's such a festive shade, I couldn't resist :)
OPI Red Fingers & Mistletoes
See you all back here soon for my 'Best of 2014' posts!
-Tiffany xo


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?


The Cream Blushes You Have to Try: Make Up For Ever HD Blush

I'm a big fan of cream blush, in general. I used to be a strong proponent of the "cream blush must be dewy" mentality, complete with a distaste for the varieties with cream to powder finishes (I'll just use a powder, thanks), that is, until I swooshed my finger into my first Make Up For Ever HD Blush. Since falling in love with 335 Fawn, I've added two more to my arsenal, and my adoration for the flattering shades and faultless formula only continues to grow.
335 // Fawn, 315 // Peach Beige, 220 // Pink Sand

I actually reviewed the formula back when I got Fawn (you can read that here), but basically, it's my favorite cream blush formula ever. It's pigmented and creamy but never tacky, it's so easy to blend, and it has an incredibly natural, satin, skin-like finish. Like I said in my original review, you'll never see the product sitting atop your skin; once blended, you're left with only the gorgeous flush created by the pigment. The best part is that it applies equally as seamlessly over liquid and powder base products. I love pairing it with my Real Techniques Expert Face Brush for application.

L to R: 335 Fawn, 315 Peach Beige, 220 Pink Sand
Although the three shades I own look embarrassingly similar in their pans, they're quite different once swatched and worn. 335 Fawn is a tawny pink-brown that manages to handle the jobs of both blush and bronzer/contour. 315 Peach Beige is a rich, warm peach that is complexion brightening, yet still muted enough for everyday wear. 220 Pink Sand is a dusky baby pink with a slightly mauve undertone. I hate to toot my own horn, but I think the three shades I currently own are pretty damn perfect....for me, anyway. I always manage to throw at least one of these into my travel makeup bag because they're practically foolproof, in terms of both application and colors. All 16 shades in the range are free of shimmer and incredibly wearable and flattering. There's definitely something for everyone.

Wearing 220 Pink Sand
If you take away one thing from this post, I hope it's what is already stated in the title: you have to try these. And there's your beauty PSA to kick off the weekend :)

Make Up For Ever HD Blushes are available from Sephora and retail for $26.


Faking the Bronzed Glow

Mary Kay recently sent me a few of their products to replicate a faux tan look their Global Makeup Artist, Luis Casco, created on Project Runway a few weeks ago, and since I was a complete virgin when it came to Mary Kay products, I thought it would also be a great opportunity to try out a few bits and document my foray into the brand.

I had the opportunity to try out Mary Kay's Translucent Powder, Bronzing Powders in Light-Medium and Medium-Dark, as well as their Mineral Cheek Color in Shy Blush.
L to R: Bronzing Powders in Light-Medium, Medium-Dark, Mineral Cheek Color in Shy Blush
After applying my usual base, I lightly dusted the Translucent Powder ($16) onto my t-zone to negate any shine that may tend to peek through throughout the day. It's light and finely-milled, and it blended in and looked completely invisible on the skin. It set my foundation well and provided a fair amount of oil-control, but definitely not enough for those with true oily skin, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I have yet to wear it while taking flash photography, so I cannot speak to whether or not it causes flashback, similarly to Make Up For Ever HD Powder.

I then took a large stippling brush and applied the Bronzing Powder in Medium-Dark ($18) in the classic 3 shape on both sides of my face (forehead, cheekbones, jawline) and used the Light-Medium shade to blur out the edges of the darker bronzer, as well as act as a golden highlight. Now, let me warn you, these bronzers are shimmery! Not a glitter-type of shimmer, but borderline frosty/metallic. Applying with a dense brush would likely bring out this finish even more, but I thought the stippling brush method diffused the product enough where it didn't seem too over the top. In terms of shades, Medium-Dark is best for skintones NC30 and darker, while Light-Medium would probably best suite NC20 and lighter; it's the awkward NC20-30 range that may find it more difficult choosing a shade. Light-Medium actually looks more like a dark highlighter to me than it does a bronzer.

Lastly, I applied the Mineral Cheek Color in Shy Blush ($12). It's a NARS Orgasm-type of shade (peachy-pink with golden shimmer), except Shy Blush is less red compared to Orgasm, the latter often leaving me looking like I might suffer from rosacea. Like the bronzers, Shy Blush's shimmer is borderline frosty, which may or may not be your cup of tea. The finish is almost wet looking, initially, which I actually didn't mind as I found it quite pretty, but as the day went on, I found the finish started emphasizing my pores a bit more than I'd like.

All of the powders feel silky smooth to the touch, blend easily with minimal effort, and have medium, buildable pigmentation.

Have you tried Mary Kay? Any must-have products I should try?

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.


Budget Blushes

Blush is one of those products that I feel the drugstore hasn't quite nailed yet. In general, I find most high-end blushes to be superior to drugstore blushes, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few budget-friendly gems out there too - you just have to search more carefully for them. Luckily for you, I've done the dirty work for you. Here are four of the best blushes the drugstore has to offer.
L to R: Palladio Matte Blush in Toasted Apricot, Rimmel Lasting Finish Blush in Santa Rose, Physician Formula Happy Booster Blush in Warm, Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso

Palladio is a brand I don't believe I've tried before, but considering how small the selection of matte blush formulas is at the drugstore, I decided to give this one a go, hoping it would actually be worth my while, against all odds. It definitely was. Their Matte Blush in the shade Toasted Apricot is exactly that - a warm, rusty apricot shade. It's bold enough for summer, but also has a richness that's gorgeous in the fall, as well. It's surprisingly non-chalky, and although it does take a bit of effort to blend, the result is worth it. I love how it warms up my complexion. 

Rimmel Lasting Finish Blush in Santa Rose looks like a boring, paler than pale pink in the pan, but on the cheeks, it transforms into a gorgeous dusty pink that's neither too bright, nor too muted. It has a similar effect as Tarte Exposed one me, except lighter. It's a surprisingly flattering blush and one of those suits-any-look kind of shades.

Clockwise from top left: Toasted Apricot, Santa Rose, Luminoso, Warm

Physician Formula Happy Booster Blush in Warm is a light-medium coral-peach with a bit of shimmer. I like that you have the option of controlling how much color you want, simply by choosing whether or not to swirl your brush in the bright orange heart (I typically swirl through all of the colors). It's not scarily pigmented, yet, it can easily be built up as well.

Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso has been a long-time favorite of mine. It's a shimmery peach that would flatter just about anyone. I've used it on friends and family, and they've all looked radiant and glowing in it. It's ridiculously flattering. It has shimmer, but the perfect amount that would never settle into pores or look glittery or over the top. The quality of Luminoso is actually on par with (if not superior to) many of its high-end counterparts.

Swatches, L to R: Toasted Apricot, Santa Rose, Warm, Luminoso

Wearing Palladio Matte Blush in Toasted Apricot
If I could only recommend one? Without a doubt, Milani Luminoso.


My Fall Lip Wardrobe

It was tough narrowing down my favorite lip colors for fall, but I finally think I have the perfect selection of five shades that will comprise my fall lip wardrobe.
1 // Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Color in Nude
I love, love, LOVE the Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Color formula - it's smooth, non-drying and incredibly long-lasting with one swipe, opaque pigmentation. Nude is a medium, rosy-brown nude with a warmth and richness that makes it the ideal fall/winter nude for me.

2 // CHANEL Rouge Coco in Satin 
Satin is a rose with a hint of coral undertone. It's definitely one of the more "grown-up" and sophisticated shades in my collection; in other words, it has the potential to make me look a bit too mature, if I don't wear it correctly. When done right (i.e. worn with fresh skin and not too much else), it can be incredibly chic.

3 // Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lip Color in Touch of Spice
I didn't even realize these lipsticks had the same name as the Bobbi Brown ones, but anyway, these have a silicone-y feeling on the lips (light, glides on effortlessly, almost powder-like finish), and while the formula doesn't last nearly as long as the Bobbi Brown one, it's still a great drugstore option. Touch of Spice is the quintessential autumn shade - a rich rose with a hint of brown, and oddly enough, I find it looks very much like BB Nude and CHANEL Satin mixed together.

4 // MAC Lipstick in Rebel
Rebel is the lipstick that has shown up in almost every blogger's fall lip post I've seen so far, and rightfully so. It's a striking and gorgeous plum-berry shade that is the perfect mix of purple and pink. It has a satin finish that is long-lasting, yet not drying on my lips. It's been a consistent favorite of mine for years now!

5 // Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Color in Crushed Plum
Last is my second Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte (I told you I loved the formula!), and Crushed Plum is a beautiful, rich maroon. I expected it to be a bit more purple, based on the name alone, but the second it touched my lips, I couldn't help but fall head over heels in love with it. It's sexy and vampy, but not overly so, and I still feel myself wearing it out of the house.

[Side note: Blogger seems to want to change the colors of these swatches for some reason. This swatch photo looks quite different from the actual photo I uploaded...not sure why.]

Wearing Bobbi Brown Crushed Plum
Although I know I'll wear other lip products as well this season (let's be real here), if push came to shove, these five are all I'd really need. Nude is ideal for daytime, Rebel and Crushed Plum would be my night out picks, and Satin and Touch of Spice would fill the void of everything in between.

What lipsticks are in your fall lip wardrobe?


Olay Fresh Effects {Soak Up The Sun Protection!} Lightweight Moisturizing Sunscreen

Looking back, one of my biggest beauty regrets from my teenage years was not taking better care of my skin. I used products that stripped, rather than nourished, my skin, and spending hours lying on the beach, basking in the harmful rays of the sun, was far from being a rarity. Fast forward ten years or so, I've definitely learned from careless ways, and I now make it a point to encourage my teenage sister to learn from my mistakes.

Although we are incredibly different in many ways, when it comes to views on the importance of skincare, my sister reminds me so much of myself at her age. And since she just recently started a new school year, it was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of a clean slate and start implementing new and improved skincare practices, especially since she was already looking for ways to transition her relaxed, summer routine into a more structured and efficient morning routine for school. In my opinion, step one should always be making sure you cleanse your skin twice a day, using the right cleanser for your skin type, but step two is definitely focused on sun protection. That's where Olay Fresh Effects {Soak Up The Sun Protection!} Lightweight Moisturizing Sunscreen comes in to play.

Olay Fresh Effects {Soak Up The Sun Protection!} Lightweight Moisturizing Sunscreen has broad spectrum SPF 15, which I think is ideal for everyday use. Remember, sun damage still occurs in the fall and winter months, even if it isn't warm or sunny out, but especially in places like southern California, where I'm from, where it's sunny nearly year-around. Since both UVA and UVB rays are harmful to the skin (UVA causes aging and wrinkles, while UVB causes skin to burn), it's important that a sunscreen protects against both types; in other words, broad spectrum protection. This one has four different ingredients to protect against the sun, and together, they help block both UVA and UVB rays.

{Soak Up The Sun Protection!} boasts a barely there feel, which I can attest to. Its consistency is neither too thick, nor too thin, and it spreads easily across my skin, absorbs instantly and leaves no residue. Whereas some sunscreens can often be so thick that it feels as though it sits on top of the skin, leaving a white cast, this one truly looks and feels weightless. It doesn't get greasy or oily throughout the day either, and it wears beautifully under makeup. 

Though lightweight, I love that it's still moisturizing enough on its own to be used in place of my daytime moisturizer. Those with oily/combination to normal skin types will likely feel the same. This also makes it ideal for teens, like my sister, who 1) may have oily or acne-prone complexions, and 2) are unlikely to reach for a moisturizer and a sunscreen, especially on early mornings, getting ready for school. It also has honeysuckle and white tea essences, which, if you haven't already deduced by now, means that it smells absolutely incredible --- light, crisp and floral

Overall, I think the Olay Fresh Effects {Soak Up The Sun Protection!} Lightweight Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF15 is a great facial sunscreen for everyday wear, and it can also do double-duty for some as a lightweight moisturizer. The fact that it's affordable and smells nice is just the cherry on top!

Olay Fresh Effects {Soak Up The Sun Protection!} Lightweight Moisturizing Sunscreen is available from drugstores and retails for around $13 for 75 mL/2.5 fl.oz.

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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Olay through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Olay, all opinions are my own.
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