Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sensational Blushes for Spring @>--;--

Springtime always gets me in the mood for pretty cheeks. To me, blush adds a healthy, happy, and youthful glow. This is particularly true for the light and bright blushes I like to wear this time of year.

Powder Blushes


1. Tarte Amazonian Clay Blushes (Achiote, Tipsy, Exposed): the texture on these is finely milled and very soft with a matte finish ($25, 0.2oz). These blushes are quite easy to build up if you have a darker skin tone, and don’t look cakey. Achiote was the first Tarte blush I ever tried, and I love the brown toned medium pink color. Tipsy is PERFECT for the spring and summer. If you’re scared of the orange in this, try Blissful for a similar but tamer look. Exposed is really a year round essential blush. This is my go-to when I look at my face and am not sure what will work. Exposed always goes with everything!


2. Benefit Dandelion ($28, 0.25oz): This is a lovely light pink with just a hint of shimmer. If you like to avoid playing up your cheeks, this is a great one to own. This color in particular really adds youthfulness to the face.


3. Sleek Coral ($5.99, 0.27oz): Exactly what the name says, a perfect coral. This would be a slightly tamer version of Tipsy with a greater emphasis on the pink, rather than the orange. This blush requires some layering as the powder is a little bit stiff so you don’t pick up much with one swipe.


Liquid/Cream Blush


1. Mac Something Special Cremeblend Blush ($21, 0.19 oz): Oh what to say about this blush. If I could only pick one blush to have for all of spring and summer, this would most definitely be my pick. It starts out as a cream and sets with a powder finish and is super flattering on tan skintones. It just looks super fresh and light, partially due to the color, and also because its a cream. I highly recommend checking this out :) (Apologies for the brush hairs, as you can see this one is well loved)


2. Benefit Cha Cha Tint ($30, 0.42 oz): This is the perfect mango tangerine color, and it has the added bonus of working both as a blush and a lip stain. It has a very creamy consistency (think nail polish) and is very easy to blend out. I definitely recommend starting out with just a few dots and working that into the skin and then slowly building up. It’s pretty easy to go overboard with this, and then you’re stuck because it stains.


That wraps up my favorite spring blushes. I’m always on the lookout for other colors so let me know which shades you like to rock!

Swatches Pictured Below



Friday, March 22, 2013

First time trying an at home gel pedicure. I’m really pleased with how easy it was and the finish is just like a gel pedicure from a salon. Coral sunset is the perfect color for the fabulous sunny 75 degree weather outside :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nude Haul & First Impressions!

No, I didn’t make these purchases in the nude, but everything I picked up happens to fall in the nude/natural category. I stopped by WalMart to pick up a few household cleaning items and wandered over to the beauty section. If you don’t normally shop at WalMart for beauty items, you definitely should. The prices are usually lower than CVS or Target. I ended up getting two of the new Milani Color Statement lipsticks (from the nude/browns category, $4.47) and a Loreal 24 Hr Infallible eyeshadow ($6.97, 0.12oz).

The Milani lipsticks I got are in 29 Teddy Bare and 25 Naturally Chic. 29 is a darker brown toned nude with a cream finish. It glides on the lips beautifully and has a slightly hydrating feel. 25 is the same kind of finish, but is a medium pink toned nude. I own very few “nude” lipsticks because I tend to get excited by different colors, but bright and dark lips aren’t really appropriate for work related occasions. So far I’m really enjoying both of these, and I love that the square on the bottom of the lipstick is a really good match to what the true color is. Makes shopping that much easier!

The Loreal eyeshadow i purchased is in 890 Bronzed Taupe. I already own one shadow from this same line in Amber Rush, which I really love wearing. I had seen some swatches of Bronzed Taupe on the internet and decided to go for it. These eyeshadows are basically like a finely milled pressed pigment, so the metallic sheen on them is really beautiful. As a result, since the finish is so eye catching, I tend to prefer more natural colors to balance the look out. If you haven’t tried any of these I highly recommend them!

Photos of Products and Swatches!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

BirchBox March 2013

Just got my birchbox in the mail today, and I’d say it is one of my best boxes so far (second only to the box that contained a beauty blender, a Nars illuminator and a sample of The Balm Mary Lou-manizer).

I’m already familiar with the Macadamia hair products, and I love them so it was a great treat to get some deluxe sized samples of products I already use. I’m planning to save these for travel :)

According to birchbox, Make is a new makeup brand. I got a mini lipstick and a dual phase eye makeup remover. Both seem to be good, and who doesn’t need a tiny red lipstick? Perfect for stowing away in a clutch for an evening out.

The Sage + Fasten rollerball has a clean and fresh scent that’s perfect for spring. I often get perfume samples in my birchbox which I don’t really enjoy. However, this one is nice and it’s great to see a rollerball.

And the last thing is a floral nail file. It seems to be your standard little nail file and is adorable for spring! This little box has really gotten me in the mood for springtime, along with the cherry blossoms which have just bloomed.

What did you get in your birchbox this month?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: NARS Makeup Your Mind Express Yourself

Something I rarely see are reviews of beauty books. I, personally, can’t get enough of books. I’ve always been an avid reader and when I stumbled across makeup books I was instantly hooked. There’s a fantastic selection of books for those who are just starting out and need information on the basics. However, I prefer to peruse the ones that inspire my creativity and spark new ideas. Hence, I’ll be talking about Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself by Francois Nars ($46).

I knew Nars had released a book and had been curious about it, but when I searched amazon (currently $29.70, not bad!) the price made me hesitate. After that initial search, I completely forgot about it. Then, a few years ago I stumbled across a lone copy at Urban Outfitters with a 70% off sticker. I was already in a long line with my items, and left the line because the book was calling to me. I would gladly say it is worth every penny.

The book is split into three parts: play, perfect and polish. Essentially these are references to ages, 20s/30s, 40s, and 50s/60s. The book features women (and 3 men) from ages 16-64, from every ethnicity wearing a variety of makeup looks. There are numerous tips throughout the book, but the best part is the way the before and after pictures work. There is a before picture on the left, followed by an after picture on the right. Instead of having to wonder about exact placements of products, you are guided by a see-through overlay which tells you which products were put where. It’s an intuitive way to guide readers through the looks and a great plug for Nars products.

At the end of each section, there are details on the makeup application in case a picture with the overlay guide wasn’t clear enough.

I can’t get enough of this book. If you love beautiful makeup pictures and are looking for something that will get your creative juices flowing, this is a fabulous purchase to make.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nailpolish Collection. I think it’s pretty clear I have a sick obsession.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

How To: Contour and Highlight

One of the trickier aspects of face makeup, at least for me when I was first learning, was how to contour and highlight. I struggled with correct placement as well as under-blending and over-blending. So, I’m going to share my tips, tricks and tools to demonstrate how I like to contour and highlight. I don’t do this everyday, but it’s great to know how to do for pictures or special events. I’ll be using my BFF Ajay as a model example. No worries women, contouring and highlighting placement are exactly the same on both men and women, it’s all about enhancing your natural face shape! :)

Let’s begin with the items you will need/I like to use:
  • Foundation in your shade, foundation or concealer a shade or two lighter than your skin, foundation a shade or two darker than your skin or a bronzer of your choice (Here I’ve used Graftobian foundations from my neutral undertone palette)
  • Iridescent highlight that suits your skin tone (On Ajay I’ve used Benefit Sunbeam, but if you are cool toned try Benefit Highbeam instead)
  • Makeup setting spray (I’ve used Mac Fix +)
  • Dense synthetic foundation brush (I really like the Sigma Round Kabuki F82, Urban Decay Optical Blurring brush is another good option)
Start out bare naked faced, like so:


Next, apply your foundation shade all over your face, blending down into your neck and up into your hairline. Then, locate your cheekbones. Use your fingers to feel from your under eye moving down, until you reach a bone that is sticking out, that will be it. Now, locate the hollows of your cheeks by creating a fishy face and lining up your brush from your pouty lips up to your ear.

Now the important part, where to place the lighter and darker shades. Start by taking your highlight shade and place unblended lines (start with less product then repeat if necessary) across the center of your forehead, down the bridge of the nose, across the cheekbones, the center of your chin, and in the space between the hollow of your cheeks and your jawline. Blend each portion starting in the center and fade out slowly. Use a light hand and move the brush in small circles, it will do all the work for you. Focus on blending the highlight seamlessly into your original foundation shade at the edges. The reason I like to put down a shade matching my skin is that it’s easier to blend 2 shades down, rather than 4 shades down (which is the difference between your highlight and contour).

Next, create a stripe with your contour color in the hollow of your cheek, focusing the product in the center of the hollow. Follow the side of your face up along the hairline. You’ll basically make a C-shape with your contour stripes. Make another set of stripes, with less product than in the hollows along the jawline. Just like before, focus on blending out the edges using light circular motions. Bring the top of the cheek hollow contour up at a diagonal to connect with the hairline, making a slight triangle. Blend the base of the cheek hollow contour until you get a nice gradation to your skin tone  For your nose, just take some bronzer on your finger and lightly pat it on the edges of the bridge. Alternatively, a fluffy brush is also good for a subtle application.

For those of you who are more visual, I’ve created a diagram on Ajay here:


If you have trouble blending, try different kinds of products. I personally find that creams are easier to blend than liquids because they don’t set as quickly. If you use a liquid foundation, consider spritzing your brush with some water to prolong the time you have to blend the colors together. A dense brush will help you buff the products into your skin and allow for seamless blending. If you apply too much product at any point, just go back with your original foundation color and pat in a little bit over top to lessen the effect. Alternatively, if your big brush makes your bronzer fade away, go back with a small fluffy brush and add more product in the center of your contour.

Once you’ve got that done, just apply the iridescent highlight along your cheekbones and down the center of your nose and spritz your face with the setting spray as a final touch.

Wha-la! Transformed facial structure and glowing radiant skin.


Isn’t he handsome?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My ever growing product wish lists! What are your top products to try? 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Puppy Proof Makeup and Skincare

I recently adopted a 10 month old miniature pinscher from an animal shelter. I didn’t have a pet growing up, but I was always so envious of other kids who had them and really connected with dogs in particular. Now that I live on my own, I am so glad that I can provide a home for an animal in need. Not to mention she’s basically the most precious thing ever! Who can punish a dog with such a cute face for chewing up her own leash?


All that aside, puppies have lots of energy and love to show their love through doggy kisses, aka lots of licking. After experiencing this, I started to think about the products I use on my body, especially the exposed parts. My puppy LOVES the smell of scented body lotions and runs over to lick me whenever she sees I am putting lotion on. As a result, she’s ingesting some of it. This got me thinking about the harmful things that are in both skincare and makeup, so I decided to do some research and come up with some products that I could use on days when I’d be doing a lot of puppy playing.


Searching through my stash of body lotions, I found that I only had one that was paraben free. The Bliss Naked Body Butter, though for reference all of their scented ones are also paraben free. Whenever I know I’m going to be wearing shorts and have my legs exposed, I try to use this in place of my other body lotions. I also use it on my hands and try to let it fully sink in before I go anywhere near my puppy.



This one was a bit difficult, but the Bare Minerals mineral foundations are paraben free and are great! I always make sure to put this on if I know there will be some face loving going on.



Initially I thought that I was going to have to give up any colored lip products, and switch to chapstick entirely. Burt’s Bees chap stick is a great natural and paraben free option that I use on a regular basis. Upon researching, i discovered that Tarte lipglosses and lipsurgences, OCC lip tars, and Bare Minerals Pretty Amazing liquid lipsticks are also paraben free. I can rock some great color and still be cognizant of what my puppy might be licking up.



I think it’s fairly well known that of cosmetics products, nail polishes tend to contain the most harmful chemicals. Luckily, there are a lot of reasonably priced brands that are 3 free, 4 free and 5 free. If you don’t know, the 3 free refers to formaldehyde, dibutyl pthalate, and toluene. I have had personal experience using toluene in lab work as an undergrad for cleaning oil stains from rock cores. For those who think that the danger claims associated with these chemicals are not so significant, I can personally attest to the fact that my skin had significant reactions every single time I used toluene in the lab even though my hands were protected by gloves. These chemicals are no joke. The fourth and fifth chemicals are formaldehyde resin and camphor. 

Some of the 3 free brands which I love include Butter London, Sephora by OPI and Color Club. The nail polishes are opaque and long lasting, so you don’t have to sacrifice quality to be conscious of chemicals.

I own two 4 free brands, Orly and Spa Ritual. I personally own quite a few Spa Ritual nail polishes and absolutely love them. They are definitely some of my most worn.

The only 5 free brand I own is Zoya. I was able to actually get 3 bottles of Zoya polish for free (you just pay for shipping) and that’s how I came across it. I’m definitely planning to pick up more colors as I work through some of my other polishes!


I hope that this information was helpful for any other fellow pet owners. We all want to keep our furry friends healthy and happy :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Signature Scent: DKNY Pure Verbena

I don’t consider myself an expert in perfumes. To be honest, they are expensive and I only have a few which I have carefully selected. I get a lot of mini perfume samples (I hate getting perfume samples because I am picky about my scents) and that’s how I came across this scent. Normally I’ll spray the sample once, smell it that day, and never think about it again. However when I got the DKNY Pure Verbena scent sample and sprayed it, I immediately connected with it and loved it. In the event that it might have been a fluke, I continued my day and smelled random wonderful whiffs of it as I moved about during my day. Each time I smelled it, my mood instantly brightened. That’s when i knew I needed to have the full size (1.7oz, $65).

As far as scents generally go, I usually like clean or musky/seductive scents. This fragrance falls in the first category. The notes include: verbena, honeysuckle, peony, jasmine petals, white amber, sea moss and vetiver. On initial spray I can definitely smell the verbena and jasmine, and with prolonged wear I can usually smell the white amber and honeysuckle. I typically spray twice on my neck/behind the ears and once on my wrist and rub my two hands together. The perfume lasts about 6 or 7 hours. It is the perfect clean and bright smell, not overwhelming and perfect for everyday. I can never get tired of this scent!

The bottle is simple, and DKNY says the shape was inspired by a water drop. One thing I really like is that the bottle and cap are 100% recyclable and the box is compostable. Little touches like that show how much thought was gone into developing the product, and I really appreciate that. I love supporting environmentally conscious and free trade products.

For purse carry, I decant this into an atomizer which is very straightforward since the aluminum cap pops off easily to reveal the spray tube.

If you love smelling fresh and bright, I highly recommend you give this scent a spritz at a department store or Sephora!