Favorite Face of 2014

Yes, I do realize it’s 2015 now. But it’s also a great time to reflect on last year’s favorites before diving in and finding the favorites of the new year.

Instead of a straight forward list for this favorites post, I’m going to do a full makeup look and walk you through my favorite products and how I use them: just to do something a little different.

All my favorites on my face.

All my favorites on my face.

So here is the completed look. In 2014, I gravitated more towards warm tones on my eyes and nude or pink shades on my lips. Keep reading to see which products I used where.

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The first thing I do when applying makeup is slather on my Mongongo Lip Conditioner by Jersey Shore Suns. This lip balm claims to be anti-aging and while I can’t confirm or deny its anti-aging powers, I will say that it keeps my lips super hydrated. I like to put this lip balm on first so it has time to soak into my lips.

After that I apply primer. I started using primer regularly in 2014, and while there have been several good ones my favorite is L’Oreal’s Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Skin Smoother. It has a lush, thick texture that my skin just soaks up. The Miracle Blur minimizes and, well, blurs my pores. I also love that it has SPF 30–living in California sunscreen is a must all year round.

I also apply a small dot of Smashbox’s Photo Finish Hydrating Under Eye Primer under both of my eyes. Typically, I don’t put much makeup under my eyes except for some concealer, so I’m really using this to keep the delicate skin under my eyes hydrated.

Choosing a favorite foundation for 2014 was hard. But when I want my skin to look natural and fresh I turn to Dr. Jart + Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm. Again, it’s a product with SPF 25, so my skin is doubly protected. This BB cream hides skin imperfections and evens out skin tone in a way that makes you look naturally flawless. It’s a medium coverage product and I find that it lasts all day. It doesn’t crease or cake up on me either. You really don’t need much to cover your whole face so this tiny tube has lasted me a while.

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After foundation, I apply a bit of concealer and my favorite is the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser for Dark Circles. I believe I use the shade Fair. Essentially everyone who talks about beauty products loves this concealer, so I won’t claim to be reinventing the wheel here by listing it as a favorite. I dab it under my eyes and on any blemishes I may have at the moment. Sometimes I also dab it down the center of my nose to tone down my freckles. I would recommend removing the sponge tip that this concealer comes with–even though it’s super soft, I feel I get better application with my clean fingertips and waste less product.

I don’t set my face with powder everyday, but if I know I’ll be out long or have a special event, I reach for NYX’s HD Studio Photogenic Finishing Powder. It’s a white powder that does a great job at setting whatever foundation or concealer you choose. For this look, I gently patted this finishing powder under my eyes to set the Instant Age Rewind concealer.

Blush was another tough category to choose from, but in the end I went with L’Oreal’s Visible Lift Blush in the shade Rose Gold Lift. It’s a beautiful rosey pink creme blush with a subtle gold micro-shimmer. You can use a stippling brush for a light look like I did here, or you can apply with clean fingertips for a more pigmented cheek.

Bronzer isn’t typically part of my everyday beauty routine, but I promised you a full face. I typically reach for this Boots No 7 Perfectly Bronzed Bronzing Pearls when I want to warm up my face a bit. I try to use a light hand with bronzer since my skin is naturally very fair. Here I just dusted my brush over my forehead, cheeks, and jaw line using the E & 3 method.

I also added a very small amount of highlighter over my cheekbones, for which I used The Balm’s Mary-Lou Manizer. This is another product that gets a lot of love, so I won’t gush but it’s a high-impact champagne colored highlight. For a more diffused effect, I recommend using a small stippling brush.

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So my favorite eye primer is Smashbox’s Photo Finish Lid Primer. It keeps my oily lids in check and also acts a perfect base. If I’m in a hurry, I smack this on and then run a matte shade through my crease. But that is obviously not what happened today…

Before I head into describing the specifics of my eye-look I want to mention my favorite brow product–Clinique’s SuperFine Liner for Brows in the shade Soft Blonde. I usually put my eye primer on and then focus briefly on my brows to give the primer time to set. This soft blonde shade matches my natural brow color perfectly.

I have mentioned this next product in several posts so this shouldn’t surprise anyone, but I blended NYX’s Hot Singles Eye Shadow in Velvet into my crease. Velvet is my go-to crease shade and has been for months. It’s a warm matte brown that works on its own or is an ideal transition shade. I couldn’t do a favorite eye look without it!

Another product that HAD to be mentioned in this post is a ColourPop eye shadow. I had a hard time just picking one, but I went with the shimmery copper shade called Sequin. I patted Sequin all over my lid for this look. ColourPop has been one of my favorite brands for 2014 and I expect that to keep going in 2015.

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My favorite palette of 2014 couldn’t be ignored for this post: The Balm’s Nude ‘tude palette is a go-to for me. Using a very fluffy brush I lightly blended the blackened-red shimmery shade, Silly into my outer v. I also put Sultry into the crease to deepen the look. These shadows are all stunningly pigmented and buttery. It just feels good to put these things on my eyelids.

I also took Stila’s Eye Crayon in Kitten and placed it in my inner corner for a hint of shimmer.

Up close with my eyelid.

Up close with my eyelid.

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For eyeliner I used Jesse’s Girl Cosmetics Liquid Eyeliner in Black on my top lash line and Rimmel’s ScandalEyes Kohl Eyeliner in Nude for my lower waterline. I love the Jesse’s Girl Liquid Eyeliner for smooth application and a matte black finish, while the Nude Rimmel liner is perfect for a subtle widening effect when used on the lower waterline.

Then for a favorite mascara, the easy choice was Benefit’s They’re Real! Mascara. I love that Benefit makes these travel sized tubes available for purchase. This mascara gives me great length and volume with minimal clumping. I will say it’s a tough one to get off, but the formula doesn’t end up on your under eyes either, so it’s a bit of a trade-off.

Swatches from Top to Bottom: NYX's Velvet, ColourPop's Sequin, Silly from the Nude 'tude palette, Seductive from the Nude 'tude palette, Stila's Kitten, Rimmel's ScandalEyes liner in Nude, and Jesse's Girl eye liner

Swatches from Top to Bottom: NYX’s Velvet, ColourPop’s Sequin, Silly from the Nude ‘tude palette, Sultry from the Nude ‘tude palette, Stila’s Kitten, Rimmel’s ScandalEyes liner in Nude, and Jesse’s Girl eye liner.

Here are some better swatches of the products I used on my eyes. Almost to the end here, so stick with me!

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Like I said before, primers were a big part of my 2014, and Too Faced’s Lip Insurance made a noticable difference with my lip products. It helps keep lipsticks in place and it’s become a must have in my daily routine.

Another Rimmel product that is a fabulous basic to have in your arsenal is the Exaggerate Full Colour Lip Liner in Eastend Snob. I can and have worn this shade by itself as a perfect rosy matte lip color. I love how precise this lip liner is and how good it feels on my lips. Big fan.

And finally, the last product is my Revlon Colorburst Balm Stain in Honey. The mint smell is great, as is the staining power of this formula. But I also can count on this product to not dry out my lips. This kind of rose-toned pink has dominated my lip product selection in the past year, and it will be interesting to see if I stick with it for 2015.

A shot in natural lighting of the full look.

A shot in natural lighting of the full look.

Phew! I know that was a long post but thanks for sticking it out with me. I usually don’t wear this much makeup on a day-to-day basis, but it’s always fun to play with your favorite products. Hope you enjoyed my roundup of my favorite beauty products for 2014!

Thanks for popping in!

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November Favorites

Sorry this post is a bit late! But as I said in my Pile of Applications post, things are a bit hectic around here. Still, there were some products that managed to stand out from the PhD application craze and make it to my monthly favorites!

 

Quite by accident, my November favorites are color coordinated.

Quite by accident, my November favorites are color coordinated.

 

Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer

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This is a sample size, but I cannot for the life of my remember how I received this sample since I don’t own many Too Faced products. I really enjoy this primer though. Only recently have I been concerned about lip primers in particular. Mostly because fall and winter are the seasons of darker, more matte shades and you want those lippies to stay put! Maybe it’s just me but I also think that this primer has helped seal some moisture into my lips. I notice less drying and chapped lips when I use this lip primer. A full size Lip Insurance primer retails for $19 and when this sample is up I may have to bite the bullet here.

The Balm’s Meet Matt(e) Palette

I got this palette awhile back from a Hautelook sale for $17, but it took me until November to really explore this palette properly. Honestly, having a Hautelook account is worth it for The Balm alone since this palette runs for $34.50 at Nordstroms.

All your matte needs in one.

All your matte needs in one.

All the shades are named after a Matt, which is cute. But the colors themselves are amazing. Buttery soft shadows that blend like a dream. The little brushes that come with the palette will do in a pinch but they’re nothing special.

Left to right: Matt Patel, Matt Schilling, Matt Smith, and Matt Gallagher.

Left to right: Matt Patel, Matt Schilling, Matt Smith, and Matt Gallagher.

The above photo shows some of my favorite shades from the palette. I love the smokey-taupe of Matt Patel, and the dusty emerald of Matt Schilling will be perfect for the upcoming holidays. You can barely see Matt Smith on my hand because it’s such a close match for my skin tone, which is great for those days you want to pretend you’re not wearing makeup. For similar reasons, Matt Gallagher is great crease shade.

Dr. Jart + Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm

This tiny tube holds one amazing product!

This tiny tube holds one amazing product!

This wee sample came in my first Birchbox, which I did not do a review on because it came so late in the month. This BB cream has blown me away. Such a small amount covers my face and makes my skin look so much healthier. It helps conceal and combat blemishes and evens out skin tone. There is also a 25 SPF in this product, which is ideal for my lifestyle (I never walk out of the house without some level of sunblock on my face). Your skin will look velvety smooth. This balm comes in one universal shade–for my fair skin this blends out beautifully but darker skin tones would have a hard time matching up with this formula I think. A full-size .6 oz tube of this costs $36. Since I’ve gotten at least a half-dozen uses out of this tiny tube and it’s not empty yet, the price point for this BB cream is probably worth it.

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser

Almost empty.

Almost empty.

As you can see, I am almost out of this sample sized cleanser, which came in an ipsy bag. Luckily, I already have a full-sized bottle of this from a previous PopSugar Must Have box since the product retails for $32. There’s a light strawberry scent to this cleanser that is invigorating. This cleanser is multi-purpose too: you can use it as a make-up remover (and it’s gentle on the eyes too), as a cleanser, or as an exfoliator. I have used this product all three ways and I will say each way is effective, but my favorite way to use it is as a cleanser. I just feel refreshed after using this cleanser.

Real Techniques Stippling Brush

The perfect brush.

The perfect brush.

Up until a year ago I was not that invested in makeup brushes. Boy, has that changed! My brush collection has grown, but my favorite brush is easily this Real Techniques stippling brush. It has a pleasant heft to it and the bristles are soft and densely packed. I use this most often for blush; this brush has cut down on heavy-handed application a.k.a. clown face. When I use this stippling brush it puts on just the right amount of color and gives a stunning airbrushed effect over the cheeks. For $9.99, you need this brush in your life.

And now for my other monthly favorites…

Favorite Film

It should come as no surprise that my favorite film for November is Interstellar. It’s been weeks, but I still return to the idea of that film and turn it around in my mind. A close runner-up though, would be Fury, another film I saw this month that blew me away.

Favorite Book

I think my favorite read from November would have to be The Book Thief.

That wraps up my November favorites. Hope you found something to enjoy!

Thanks for popping in!

October Favorites

Ack! Sorry I’m so behind this month! The last few weeks have been a tad crazy (in the best way possible) but things have finally slowed down enough for me to do an October favorites post.

So without further delay, here are my favorites for the month of October!

Just a few of my favorite things.

Just a few of my favorite things.

Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Under Eye Primer (full size $29.00)

I got this tiny tube in one of Smashbox’s try-it kits at some point within the last year. But for the last few months this under-eye primer has become a staple of my makeup routine. Not so much for the priming aspects, but for the hydration. Recently, the skin under my eyes has been more prone to drying out because of a clinical strength face wash I’ve been using, so this little primer keeps that very tender skin hydrated and smooth throughout the day. I don’t need much, which is why after months of daily use this thing still looks full.

Jet by Julep ($14.00/$11.20 as a Maven)

This is my favorite black nail polish. As a brand, Julep is a tad expensive but they’re also vegan-friendly and 5-free, which I find comforting. I’ve used this creamy black shade in several of my October manicures and it has made its way into being a staple of my collection. Jet is currently out of stock on the Julep website, but hopefully they’ll bring her back soon!

From left to right: Velvet, I Have a Headache, Sequin, and Black Honey

From left to right: Velvet, I Have a Headache, Sequin, and Black Honey

NYX Hot Singles Eyeshadow in Velvet ($4.49)

This milk-chocolate matte shade came in one of my ipsy bags and has been used almost daily since. I would say 90% of my eyeshadow looks have Velvet blended into the crease as either a transition shade or as the prominent color in the crease. The texture of this shadow is a little on the powdery side but it blends beautifully. I can’t seem to stop using this eyeshadow.

NYX Nude Matte Eyeshadow in I Have a Headache ($4.99)

I bought this shade last year because I thought the name was hilarious. It wasn’t until the last few months that I started using this shadow nearly everyday. For my skin tone, I Have a Headache is the perfect brow bone highlight. It’s a very subtle look, and that suits me just fine.

ColourPop Eye Shadow in Sequin ($5.00)

I adore each of my ColourPop shadows, but lately I’ve been drawn to the shiny copper color of Sequin. I think the metallic copper makes my blue eyes really stand out. And this shadow is so easy to swipe over the lids. I’ve used this and Velvet in the crease for a stunning eye look that takes less than five minutes. And for the price tag, this stuff can’t be beat.

Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in Black Honey ($16.00)

When I saw how dark this lipstick appeared in the tube I was a little bit intimidated. But on the lips the color is so sheer that it only slightly darkens your natural lip tone for a flushed look. I think this lipstick would be flattering on a wide variety of skin tones, and the formula is rather moisturizing which should be a crowd pleaser. This has been my go-to lipstick to throw on before leaving the house. It doesn’t last all day but it fades nicely and gives a great natural look.

Just for fun, I decided to add my favorite movie and book from this month too.

Favorite Movie:

Gone Girl. I didn’t write a review on this one because I was gobsmacked by this film in the best possible way.

Favorite Book:

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. For my full review, check here.

That wraps up my favorites for the month of October!

Thanks for popping in!

August Beauty Favorites

Tis that time again! Well, technically, it is past time to talk about what beauty tidbits I loved in August. Most of these were things I have had in my collection for several months but never quite made it into a favorites post. So today these products get their due. Let’s dig in!

August Faves in all their glory.

August Faves in all their glory.

Though it’s not technically a beauty product, this soft, snuggly, lavender blanket has been my favorite random item this month. My grandma bought it for me at Costco as a housewarming present when I couldn’t stop petting the darn thing in the store.

 

So good I don't want to stop!

So good I don’t want to stop!

The Body Shop’s Vitamin E Hydrating Toner ($13.00)

This is one of the only new items in my favorites this month. I bought this in a Body Shop Vitamin E kit for $20.00 at a TJ Maxx and when I couldn’t find my regular toner in the midst of unpacking I turned to this one. I’m actually upset about the prospect of switching back to my former toner now.  This Hydrating Toner has a light, clean scent that I can’t get enough of. My skin feels refreshed after I use it, and this product truly does hydrate my skin. I also appreciate that there is no bite to this toner but it removes oil and makeup with ease. Would highly recommend this product.

 

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Rimmel Exaggerate Full Lip Colour Lip Liner in Eastend Snob 063 ($5.99)

Normally, I have no use for lip liners, but I stumbled upon this shade and decided to give it a go. The universe steered me right that day because this shade is perfection. For me, Eastend Snob is a my lips but better shade. I can wear it alone for a matte look or under a nude color for longer wear. The formula is smooth and doesn’t tug at my lips. The design of the product is simple but gives you more precision: when you twist the product up it comes up at an angle for an always slanted tip. No other lip liner has ever charmed me the way this Rimmel liner has!

 

The unsung hero of any beauty lover.

The unsung hero of any beauty lover.

Sally Hansen Double Duty Base & Top Coat (4.99)

These kinds of products don’t normally get a lot of love in favorites post but I am here to change that today! I used to have a terrible problem with my nails breaking whenever they got to a certain length. My friend, Elyse, suggested using some kind of strengthener and recommended a few from Sally Hansen to me. I have been using this as a base and top coat for months now and my nails seem so much happier. I won’t pretend this product cures all nail ills, but for my needs it has been fabulous. I’ve noticed my nails are less brittle and grow to longer lengths (when I let them) without breaking. And the shine this top coat gives is so glossy. I recently tried returning to my old O.P.I top coat and was terribly disappointed. This base & top coat might just be a holy grail item for me!

 

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O.S.T. Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum ($24.99)

This is the first serum I’ve ever regularly integrated into my skin care routine. Months ago, back in November I believe, a blogger Suomica (she hasn’t been on in a while for personal reasons but I hope she comes back to the blogging community one day), did a post on this product and I was tempted enough to buy it. I got my bottle from a Korean beauty website called wishtrend.com, and though it took about seven weeks to get to the States, this serum is worth the wait. I put it on every night before bed and my skin soaks it up. It’s supposedly 20% vitamin c and the website claims that it helps firm up skin, evens skin tone, and combats breakouts. As to the firming part, it’s hard to say, since I’m twenty-four and can’t tell if it’s tightening loose skin or not. I will say that my skin has looked brighter and it helps sooth breakouts. It doesn’t remove blackheads entirely, but I can tell when I haven’t been using this serum at night. Love the little apothecary style bottle and glass stopper too.

 

Probably my favorite palette of all time. No joke.

Probably my favorite palette of all time. No joke.

My three favorite shades from the palette. Top to bottom: Selfish, Stand-offish, and Seductive

My three favorite shades from the palette. Top to bottom: Selfish, Stand-offish, and Seductive

The Balm’s Nude ‘Tude Palette ($18.00)

If you’re a makeup fan, you’re probably curious about the price I’m citing here. I got my Nude ‘Tude palette on Hautelook for $18 when it’s regularly $36. This one purchase has justified my Hautelook account. These shadows are so velvety and soft I have to stop myself from randomly touching them and wasting product. My favorite shades are Selfish (silvery taupe), Stand-offish (golden pink), and Seductive (light copper). All of these shadows are blendable and have great pigmentation. This has been my go-to travel palette when I went home in July and then went to my friend’s wedding at the beginning of August. And I love the sassy pin-up girl pans! If you’re looking for a neutral palette, I would highly recommend the Nude ‘Tude palette, even at full price it’s still cheaper than Urban Decay’s Naked Palette (don’t get me wrong, I love that one too but sometimes you have to think of your budget first).

Hope you all enjoyed my beauty favorites for August!

 

May Favorites

I had to think long and hard about my favorites for May.  There were so many amazing products I’ve tried this month but these six really stand out. Some are old favorites and some are new finds. Let’s get to it!

Everyone on the internet loves this thing.

Everyone on the internet loves this thing.

 

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer ($8.99):

First of all, why do these products need to have lengthier names than the size of the darn packaging? Labels aside this concealer earns every bit of hype the internet has given.  I’ve had this product for several months and hadn’t really used it that often because of the sponge. The sponge was cute, it was soft, but it had to go. The application with the sponge was more difficult for me and clogged up easily. So I ripped the darn thing off this month and it changed the way I use this concealer. I just turn the dial and use my pinky to apply product under my eyes. This Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealer is better than any high-end product I’ve tried thus far and it’s phenomenal for contouring. I use the shade fair and have hardly gone a day without using this lil’ guy. Somewhere along the line I lost the proper cap, so I snapped on a cap from a travel size hairspray bottle in order to preserve the illusion of cleanliness. Classy, I know, but it’s the best I can do at the moment.

A new find from my old stash

A new find from my old stash

 

Clinique Color Surge Eyeshadow Duo in Starstruck/ Golden Lynx ($20):

Now this duo no longer exists in it’s current form since I got it a few years ago. That being said, I highly recommend Clinique shadows. They’re finely milled shadows that have a great color payoff. I recently picked up the Starstruck/Golden Lynx combo from my newly organized makeup stash and fell in love all over again. I’ve used this duo for the last week and a half solid. It’s perfect for a natural look with the light shade on the lid and the warm brown shade blended into the crease. You definitely need a primer with these shadows though. They’ll stay all day if you use a primer but tend to fade by themselves. Right now, Clinique has comparable shades on their site and the closest seems to be Like Mink. These duos are so easy to throw on, so they’re worth investing in.

Sample sizes are so much fun.

Sample sizes are so much fun.

 

Hey Honey Take it Off Exfoliating Honey Peel Off Mask ($35):

I have been on a major mask kick lately, and this is hands down my favorite. I got this sample of Hey Honey in my May ipsy bag and have been using it weekly ever since. You lightly moisturize your face before application and then lightly moisturize after you peel the mask off. My skin feels so happy and clean after I use this product. A full size retails for $35 and since I’m still working through the sample three weeks later, the price is probably worth the amount you would get. It doesn’t take much of this clear gel to cover your face. I use this maybe once a week and use a different mask as well, but Hey Honey has been a valuable addition to my routine.

Newest Obsession

Newest Obsession

Ulta Extreme Wear Mousse Blush in Peach Glow ($8.00):

Until this product, I had never tried a cream or mousse blush and I am now a convert. This formula is so silky with a hint of a shimmer, but dries to matte. Applying it with your finger is easy and the finished look has the appearance of a natural flush. The range has four colors which would work for a variety of skin tones. I also have the Nude Glow and love that as well. I tend to use the Peach more often with my fair skin, but the Nude is great for sunny days. The staying power with this is also great–your blush will still be there at the end of the day. Such a fan!

Don't judge. Just love.

Don’t judge. Just love.

 

Completely Bare Bikini Bump Blaster ($9.00):

Ladies, you know summer can be cruel to your bikini line.  No matter what your hair removal strategy is, the skin on your inner thighs is sensitive and prone to irritation. I cannot recommend this product enough. Now, it doesn’t eliminate all your problems, but as someone who has struggled with bumps and redness for years this is a lovely solution. Suggested use is for everyday, and I’d say I use it every other day. I’m still seeing positive results though. You might have a bit of a sting at application if you just shaved/waxed/whatevered but other than that no pain or lingering discomfort. I’m already feeling more confident as bikini season approaches. You get fifty pads for just under $10.00, which is so worth while for the result.  I got my Bump Blasters at ulta.com and will definitely keep up with using this for months.

Finally found my brush cleaner.

Finally found my brush cleaner.

 

BH Studio Pro Makeup Brush Cleaner ($14.95)

I clean my brushes thoroughly about once or twice a month with a DIY method, but have been looking for a good in between uses brush cleaner. FOUND IT! I grabbed it at the BH Cosmetics website, and right now they’re having a bit of a sale, so you can get this big ole’ bottle for $9.95 here. I keep a towel near my makeup and spray the fabric 3-4 times then gently swirl the dirty brushes on the towel. The excess product comes right out and leaves my brushes with a faint, fresh citrus scent. Then let the brushes air dry and you’re ready to use again. This cleaner even works wonders on my foundation brushes where I use my liquid foundations. Even though the suggested use is the 3-4 sprays, a little bit goes a long way here. So happy with this brush cleaner!

 

There are my beauty favorites for May. Hope you enjoyed and be on the lookout for my May empties post.