New Sephora Cream Lip Stain Shades!

It was just a matter of time before I grabbed myself a Sephora Cream Lip Stain or two ($13), especially considering how much more affordable they are compared to other liquid lipsticks on the market. I'd taken a gander at the range before, but none of the shades ever appealed to me, besides Always Red (the most talked about shade in the line), but since I wasn't on the market at the time for another classic red, I skipped out on these time and time again. However, Sephora recently  gave the whole shade range a much needed makeover, and now it's chock-full of both wearable and bold shades. I'm not certain on this, but I believe Always Red and Strawberry Kissed are the only old shades that remain.
Top row, L to R: Watermelon Slice, Mandarin Muse, African Violet, Marvelous Mauve, Blackberry Sorbet, Polished Purple
Bottom row, L to R: Always Red, Peach Tart, Strawberry Kissed, Coral Crush, (missing Infinite Rose), Pink Souffle, Cherry Blossom, Whipped Blush

I picked up African Violet initially, before returning a few days later to grab Pink Souffle because I was so impressed by the formula. The Cream Lip Stain formula ($13) is a liquid lipstick that is quite watery straight from the tube, but it dries very quickly into a completely matte finish. I don't find that it actually stains your lips; it's just that the product doesn't budge at all. As long as I don't eat anything greasy or oily, these last on me for a solid 5-6 hours before starting to gently wear away from the inside of the lips. The doe-foot applicator is just like any other, but I find that it's so easy to achieve a quick and precise application, likely due to a combination of the applicator and the formula's opaque pigmentation. Unlike some other liquid lipstick formulas, these don't feather or bleed on me at all, and they feel only minimally drying, especially considering how matte the finish is.

African Violet is a blue-toned purple with just enough pink in it to make it wearable. I love how bright it is without being completely over the top. It applies perfectly in one coat. I LOVE this one.

Pink Souffle is a medium, warm-toned pink. It's a great everyday, work-appropriate shade. This one applies a tad bit streaky initially, but it can easily be smoothed over with the applicator or by pressing your lips together.
Unlike the Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Creams ($28) and the Armani Lip Maestros ($33), both of which I adore, the Sephora Cream Lip Stains ($13) don't feather at all, but they are slightly less comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Compared to the Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvets ($17), these are more matte, and they apply much better. I'd say these are most comparable to the Kat Von D Everlasting Love Liquid Lipsticks ($20), except cheaper (note: Sephora's contains 0.169 oz, while the others contain between 0.2-0.23 oz).

So, all in all, what everyone says about these babies is true. These are fantastic liquid lipsticks for a fraction of the cost of comparable high-end options, and with the new shade range, there's bound to be at least a few shades that will appeal to everyone. I highly recommend these - just remember to invest in a cleansing oil or oil-based makeup remover, because that's the only way these are coming off your lips!


One Thing to Absolutely Avoid When Overdrawing Your Lips

Overdrawn lips seem to be having a moment right now. To be honest, I rarely used to wear lip liner, but even I've managed to jump on the bandwagon. Personally, I'm into a more subtle lip enhancement with my liner, but even if you tend to prefer something more dramatic, here's one tip to avoid from the get-go if you want to keep your pout looking believable.
Photo 1 // Bare lips

Photo 2 // Subtly overdrawn
I used MAC Cremestick Liner in Pink Treat to first line my lips around its natural edge before using slow and controlled motions to gradually extend the line just a touch above my top lip and a touch below my bottom lip. I also slightly rounded out each side of my top lip, to further enhance the illusion of volume. Then, I filled in most my lip with the pencil and topped it off with MAC Lipstick in Angel.

Photo 3 // Avoid at all costs!
I've seen quite a few overdrawn lips on Instagram lately that didn't look much different from this, believe it or not. The issue with it, and the reason why it immediately looks clown-like rather than pouty, is simply due to the extension of the lip liner past the outer corners of the mouth. 

See how different photo 2 looks from photo 3? If you look at anyone with naturally full lips, you'll notice that their top and/or bottom lip is where all the volume is - not the corners. By overdrawing the corners, your lips go from Angelina Jolie to The Joker within seconds, and nobody wants that. So, remember to concentrate the liner on the top and bottom lips, keep the corners looking crisp by leaving them be, and you'll be faking an illusion of a fuller pout in no time.


MAC Rediscoveries

I think a lot of us remember a time when we were borderline obsessed with all things MAC, and stalking the website or driving first thing in the morning to your nearest MAC counter to secure certain limited edition pieces from the latest collection was all too familiar. I've more or less moved on from that phase of my makeup life, but I've recently been enjoying some old favorites I've rediscovered.
I don't own too many MAC eyeshadows anymore, but Era and Wedge have always hung around because they're just so easy. They're very similar in tone and as a result, I don't typically wear them together, but Era is slightly lighter and has a touch of subdued shimmer, while Wedge is matte. I like Era as a lid shade with a darker shade through the crease, while Wedge is a great crease shade for very natural looks, but it's also fantastic for blending out a smokey eye.

I really dislike the MAC Lipglass formula, in general, mainly due to its stickiness. I've also had bad experiences with certain shades in the past that liked to form a ring around the inside of my lips (not cute). However, when worn over a lip balm, the stickiness is taken down several notches, making it much more tolerable. I've been wearing Splashing lately (limited edition from an old collection), and it's a really pretty goes-with-everything pink that complements pink lipsticks, livens up nude ones, but is equally as pretty on its own.

In terms of throw-on lip shades that I often keep in my handbag for easy touch-ups, Angel has been a more than pleasant rediscovery. In my mind, I somehow remembered it being more cool-toned or frosty than it really is. I applied it one day out of the blue, ogled my perfectly wearable baby pink lips in the mirror, and the rest is history.

My last rediscovery is Well Dressed blush. Every time I look at it, I think, "No way this will suit me," but then it always does. It reminds me of NARS Sex Fantasy in the sense that it's quite cool-toned in the pan, but because it can easily be blended and sheered out, it allows just enough of your skin color and natural flush to peek through to make it work. It doesn't look icy or bubblegum-y on my cheeks at all.


Charlotte Tilbury Fallen Angel Luxury Palette

Do you see this gorgeousness? Swoooon. I got my first taste of Charlotte Tilbury via her stunning limited edition luxury palette, Fallen Angel ($65), and she's a beauty, for sure. It was also my first time ordering from Beautylish.com, and I was extremely impressed. Firstly, I received $10 off my order of $50+ because I was a first time buyer. Then, I received shipping confirmation less than half an hour after placing my order, and of course, I thought, "No way it's already shipped." But, when I was able to track my package online after a few hours, I could see that it really had been shipped out after about an hour or two. I received my package two days later, and not only was it well packaged, but there was a handwritten note welcoming me to Beautylish. It's the little things.

Anyway, back to Fallen Angel. The packaging is simple, yet chic, and this particular palette has gold stars all over the case as well as star detailing imprinted into the shadows themselves. On the back, there is a guide on how to utilize each shade (prime, enhance, pop and smoke), although I think you could really do whatever you want.

The Fallen Angel Luxury Palette includes a beige, taupe, bronze and soft black. Sure, the shades don't sound exciting, but sometimes you just need the staple shades in a kick-ass formula, you know? The first three are all slightly frosty and metallic, while the black has a much more muted sheen (it comes off closer to a matte to me than anything). I was actually expecting this palette to be more cool-toned than it really is. The bronze is very obviously reddened and warm, but the taupe ended up being more of a brown taupe than a silvery taupe like I'd initially thought, which is great, because silver looks gross on me. I'm also starting to realize the usefulness of having a black shade in a palette, whether it's to deepen your day look into night, or just to set your liner. It's safe to say this palette marked my revival of the smokey eye.

These shadows are unlike the existing Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadow formula in that they can be used wet or dry, where using it wet yields more intensity. I have yet to try them on a dampened brush, simply because I find they already perform so well dry that there is no need.

I've heard people compare the texture of these shadows to that of a gelee, such as the powder gelee blushes and eyeshadows by Estee Lauder. I have never tested out a gelee formulation myself, so I can't say whether or not I agree. Regardless, these shadows are ultra smooth and not at all lacking in the pigmentation department. They apply and blend beautifully. They also feel more tightly packed than most powder eyeshadows to me, and as a result, they're not powdery and don't produce much fallout, if any.

Swatched dry
Here, I'm wearing the lightest shade on the inner half of my lid, the taupe shade on the outer half, the bronze shade through the crease, and I used the black shade to darken up the crease and outer v. It had been far too long since I'd worn a smokey eye, and I was surprised by how much I loved this look.

As a lover of palettes and having all of the shades I adore in one place, I'm over the moon with the addition of Fallen Angel to my collection. Overall, I'd say if you already have nice quality dupes of every shade (which is entirely possible, as none of the shades are very unique), you could pass on this palette. However, I do think the quality and shade combination is worth the price tag, and I don't regret for a second snatching up this limited edition beauty before it's gone for good.


Some of my Favorite Budget Brushes

When it comes to brushes, a higher price tag does not always equate to better quality. Most of the brushes I reach for on a daily basis are on the more affordable end of the spectrum, and many of them outperform my high-end brushes from MAC, NARS, etc. These are some of my favorite budget brushes that I would recommend to anyone on the market for soft, non-shedding brushes, whether you're actually on a tight budget or not.
Left column, from top to bottom: Real Techniques Buffing Brush, Fine Liner Brush, Domed Shadow Brush, Contour Brush, Multi-Task Brush, Expert Face Brush // Right column, from top to bottom: EcoTools Retractable Kabuki Brush, Domed Bronzer Brush, Bamboo Powder Brush, elf Blush Brush
Real Techniques // I own quite a few Real Techniques brushes, and I love most of the ones I have (the Stippling Brush was great at first, but then it started shedding and losing brush hairs like crazy, so I tossed it). In terms of face brushes, the Buffing Brush is a favorite for applying liquid foundation, the Contour Brush is the perfect size for contouring, but it's also great for applying blush and highlighter (both from the Core Collection $18), I love the Multi-Task Brush for working powder foundation into the skin or dusting on bronzer, and the Expert Face Brush ($9) is my go-to for cream blush application. For eyes, the Domed Shadow Brush from the Travel Essentials set ($18) is like the love child of a flat shader brush and a crease brush. I use the sides to pack color onto the lid and the tip to gently blend shadow into the crease. Their Fine Liner Brush ($6) is super tiny and although perhaps not ideal for newbies, it's perfect for precise gel or cream liner application, especially when a flick is involved.

EcoTools // I only have a few EcoTools brushes, but they're staples in my routine. I often keep the Retractable Kabuki Brush ($8) in my handbag to apply powder touch-ups on the go. I love the Domed Bronzer Brush ($10) in conjunction with some of my less pigmented or lighter bronzers, as it really packs on the product but still blends it out well, and the Bamboo Powder Brush ($8) is what I use on a daily basis with my setting powder.

elf // I used to have a lot of elf brushes when I was first starting with makeup, because they're just so darn affordable. While they're not all fantastic from what I remember, the Blush Brush ($3) is great for patting on blush, and the tip can double for highlighter application too. It's quite small, but as a result, it gives me control over where my blush goes.


Duped: NARS Dragon Girl Velvet Matte Lip Pencil

In last week's The NARS Lip Additions post, I promised to reveal a drugstore dupe of NARS Dragon Girl Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, and today, I'm doing just that.
THE DUPE // NYX Matte Lipstick in Bloody Mary
Shade-wise, NYX Bloody Mary ($6) and NARS Dragon Girl ($25) are almost identical pink-based reds, with the former being ever so slightly deeper. Although it's also a matte formula, Bloody Mary has more of a sheen than Dragon Girl, which has a true, velvety matte finish. Bloody Mary also applies more smoothly, is more pigmented in a single swipe, boasts a creamier formula and feels more comfortable on my lips during extended periods of wear than Dragon Girl. Both have comparable, great longevity.

L to R: NYX Bloody Mary and NARS Dragon Girl

NYX Bloody Mary (your left top and bottom lips) and NARS Dragon Girl (your right top and bottom lips)
The biggest difference between the two, visually, is the finish, with NARS' being completely matte and NYX's coming off more as a soft matte. Of the two, I prefer NYX Bloody Mary, not only because it costs 1/4 of the price of NARS Dragon Girl, but because I prefer the NYX Matte Lipstick formula over NARS' Velvet Matte Lip Pencil formula as well. 


Worth the Hype? My Two Cents on The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil

I'd been meaning to try The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil for ages now, ever since every blogger and their mom gave it their stamp of approval. I love a good cleansing oil for its ease of makeup removal, but seeing as how they can tend to be a bit on the pricier end of the spectrum, I was excited to finally test out a more affordable option.
My verdict? I like it a lot, but I don't absolutely love it. The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil ($18) effectively removes makeup, including my always difficult to remove waterproof mascara. Most days, I rinse it off instead of using a warm washcloth, and when I do, it leaves behind a slight film on my skin that I end up washing off during my second cleanse. Because of this, I can only use it as a first cleanse to remove makeup, and I don't reach for it when I just need to wash my face, like in the mornings or as a second cleanse at night, unless I have a washcloth on hand. My other gripe with it is the scent. I'm generally not too bothered by fragrances in skincare, but this has such a strong, artificial floral scent that it tends to turn me off a bit, although it hasn't actually made my skin react negatively.

On the market for an affordable cleansing oil that effectively removes makeup? This one will do the trick. Hoping for a cleansing oil that can remove makeup and be used as a stand alone cleanser? This one falls short, due to not rinsing off completely clean.


The NARS Lip Additions

My lips went a bit crazy for NARS this past month. It took me a solid couple of months to finally whittle down my NARS Audacious Lipstick wishlist and settle on a single shade to test out in their latest, widely hyped up formula. I chose Anita, a gorgeous, infinitely wearable, dusky pink. It's a slightly deeper my-lips-but-better kind of a shade on me, and there's nothing not to love about the sleek packaging (complete with magnetic closure!), creamy formula, pigmentation that truly packs a punch or the perfect satin finish. I think this may be one of my new favorite lipstick formulas! 

Then, I received the Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl from my Secret Santa (I might have given them a little hint ;), and the pinky-red hue is perfect for times when I want a bold lip but am looking for something a bit more youthful and fun than a classic red. The finish looks like velvet indeed, and considering it's about as matte as matte can be, it's hardly drying and doesn't suck the moisture out of my lips as the day goes on. #SayNoToRaisinLips Though I do like Dragon Girl a lot, I have to say there's a drugstore dupe that I love 5x more! It's more pigmented and feels and looks nicer on the lips. I promise to tell you all about it soon.

Lastly is Montego Bay, a neutral pink from NARS' Pure Matte Lipstick range. I'd heard the formula's praises sung by a few of my fellow bloggers, namely Larie and Sandra, so I decided to dip my toes in, starting with a foolproof everyday shade to start with. In terms of matte-ness (I'm certain this isn't a word, but work with me here), it's slightly less matte than the Velvet Matte Lip Pencil formula but more matte than the satin finish of the Audacious Lipsticks. It wears pretty comfortably on my lips, feeling neither hydrating nor drying. I like this one so far, but in terms of an easy, throw-on pink shade, Montego Bay is definitely living in Anita's shadows right now.

L to R: Montego Bay, Anita and Dragon Girl

NARS Pure Matte Lipstick in Montego Bay

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Anita

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl


An Easy Way to Amp Up the Hydration for Winter

The winters are so mild here that it's generally not necessary to invest in a heavy facial moisturizer that you might only end up truly needing a couple weeks out of the year. However, that's not to say your usual lightweight, summertime go-to moisturizer can pull its weight year-around, either...at least not on its own. An easy way to continue utilizing the moisturizer you already have on hand, yet still ensure that your skin receives and can maintain the hydration it needs to remain healthy and supple, is with the addition of a few drops of a good facial oil; two to three drops seem to do the trick for me.

For mornings, I'm partial to One Love Organics Morning Glory Brightening Complexion Booster, because it's more of a serum than an oil, so it still sits well under makeup, and it has additional brightening properties that can perk up even the most sleep-deprived of complexions in a snap. At bedtime, I love my NUDE Skincare ProGenius Treatment Oil. It's the more hydrating of the two, and it really beefs up my moisturizer and locks in the hydration throughout the night, thanks to a carefully curated blend of plant oils rich in omega fatty acids.

The moisturizer pictured is the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lotion, which I reach for often, as it's light, simple and no-frills, but I've been relying on the aforementioned oils to kick it up a couple notches to make it winter-appropriate. I've added both of these oils to several different moisturizers and night creams currently on rotation in my skincare routine, and they work like a charm every time. 

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Top 6 Posts of 2014 + Beauty and Blogging Resolutions for 2015

Happy New Year 2015!! I meant for this post to go up yesterday, but I hope you all had a fun and safe New Year's Eve, whether you chose to party a little too hard or spend the night wrapped up in a blanket on your couch at home.

As my last homage to 2014, I wanted to mention my top 6 blog posts of the year, based on pageviews:
1// The New Gloss/Color/Stain on the Block: Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stains - New drugstore releases always seem to be a crowd favorite, and although I didn't love these, they were very exciting to test out, nonetheless.
2// Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Dim Infusion - It's one of those blushes that doesn't seem revolutionary, and you can't put into words exactly why it's so great, you just know that it is. I still love this one.
3// A New Love: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation - My favorite foundation of 2014. Enough said.
4// Spring Blushing with Clinique Cheek Pop Blush in Plum Pop - I was pleasantly surprised by how seamlessly this blended into my skin, and the perky pink shade is so refreshing to the complexion.
5// The Best Under-Eye Concealer: Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer - This is still my HG concealer for under-eyes.
6// Cream Eyeshadow Loves - Cream shadows and my contacts don't often get along anymore, but when they do, these are the gorgeous ones I reach for.

And, because it wouldn't be a new year without at least an attempt at some new year's resolutions, I'm sharing with you three of my beauty and blogging related ones:
1. Put up a new post at least twice a week. While I can't promise to blog as frequently as I once did years ago, I'm going to try my hardest to be more consistent!
2. Wash my makeup brushes every other week. I should probably do it even more often than this, but I'm taking baby steps. I'm also pretty sure some form of 'more frequent brush washing' is on everyone's list of beauty resolutions.
3. Pare down my makeup collection. This doesn't necessarily mean I won't be buying new makeup, but it means that I will make it a point to sell, give away or trash (last resort!) products I either don't like or don't use often enough to make it worthwhile to keep around. My goal is to have a smaller collection of fantastic products I genuinely love and use often.

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