Thursday, December 28, 2017

MAC Jade Jagger Mineralize Eye Shadow x 4 in Burning Nights and Mineralize Rich Lipstick in Sunset Pearl + Urban Decay extra 30% off sale

I tried to put a more colorful spin to my holiday makeup by playing around with various sparkly smoky eye concepts. I tend to gravitate towards a satin-matte neutral eye for everyday. Gold and brown are kind of my default "I didn't give it much thought" makeup colors. But when the opportunity arose, I attempted working around a color I wouldn't wear on the regular. I started with purple since that's closest to my comfort zone (I like a good violet for spring looks and it's been earmarked as the color that brings out brown eyes) and then I did green. Both looks turned out well and I surprised myself by liking the green one better. Perhaps it was simply better planned as I didn't actually plan the purple look. I just kind of sat there and picked out items on the fly. So when I set out to work with blue, I thought I needed to do some serious planning as well. In comes the Jade Jagger collaboration with MAC that really set the tone for the entire look and I have to say it's been my favorite yet.

MAC Mineralize Eye Shadow x4 in Burning Nights

The Mineralize Eye Shadow x 4 in Burning Nights has a lovely combination of neutrals with that pop of blue. It's versatile in the sense that I could use these colors to create a version of my everyday look or I could go out of the box a little and focus on making one of the jewel tones pop. It's my first experience with the Mineralize formula and I was surprised that I didn't have a terrible time working with it. I knew going in that I normally don't love these baked formulas and they tend to not go on quite so heavily pigmented. But with my expectations leveled, I actually quite enjoyed using this foursome.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fresh Sugar Nourishing Naturals Lip Duo (Cream Lip Treatment in Buff + mini Lip Treatment)

I went on a mini spree at the Fresh aisle at Sephora one day and the Cream Lip Treatment testers caught my eye. More out of curiosity than anything else, I decided to use a gift card to purchase one. I was originally going to get one of the pink ones but then I saw the duo. In this $25 package (I know the sticker says $28 but online it's $25 and that's what it rang up as) you get a mini Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, the clear one, and the Cream Lip Treatment in Buff, which is described as a warm nude shimmer.

Fresh Sugar Cream Lip Treatment in Buff

You know, in the land of redundancies (another nude gloss? really?), this would probably get the boot. It's tiny, it's overpriced, the applicator is messy and it doesn't last long. What else can I complain about? BUT... I actually like it. I mean, the fact that it's small means it doesn't occupy a lot of space in my makeup pouch so choosing to take it along isn't a problem. The applicator can easily be wiped down if it gets messy and because it's plenty sheer, it doesn't require perfection when you put it on. It smells good and feels great on the lips. And for almost the same price as just the cream lip treatment, I get the mini lip balm. Amazingly, I have no regrets on this purchase. I put it on by itself the first time and I have to admit, I kind of liked it better with a nude pencil underneath. MAC Boldly Bare is spot on. I did sparkly green smoky eye last week and couldn't decide on a lip color. This worked in a pinch and I kind of didn't really have to think about it much all day long. It was very comfortable.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Lancome Ombre Hypnôse Stylo Longwear Cream Eyeshadow Stick in Bronze + Chanel Jardin de Chanel Blush in Camelia Peche

Just a couple of things I thought to test out recently, the first is this eyeshadow stick by Lancôme that I bought at Ulta. I wasn't in the store to buy anything specific so it was a chance to roam around and look at things that I hadn't tried before. I found myself swatching a rather large number of lip liners so I kept going back to the Lancôme table to use the makeup remover tester. So in the end, I thought I might as well browse and decided to grab one of these eyeshadow sticks. What attracted me was the pointy tip and I thought that maybe that would make it easier for me to get the product closer to the lash line when applying or I could use it to sub for eyeliner on the lower lash line. Anyway, pretty much fail on all counts as the tip is still too chubby to use as eyeliner and makes me tear up a little when used on the lower lash line. I have the same problem with the MARC JACOBS Twinkle Pop Stick Eyeshadows when using on the lower lash line. Stings! However, Lancôme does have a very long-lasting product. Once it sets, it's set and once it sets, there's no blending out those lines anymore. So I'm not too impressed overall. I still think that Laura Mercier has the best eyeshadow sticks.

Lancôme Ombre Hypnôse Stylo Longwear Cream
Eyeshadow Stick in Bronze

For a very neutral everyday look, I paired the bronze smoky eye I created with the Lancôme Ombre Hypnôse Stylo Cream Eyeshadow Stick with the limited edition blush that I got from Chanel after Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Few Regrets and Some New Lip (Liner, Lipstick and Gloss) Staples

I've discovered after a little bit of use that I don't really like the Baby's All Right lipstick that I got. That and the Lipglass in Spite have really moved to the back of the line here. They just pop up so brown on my pale self and I can't get used to it. If I had any regrets this year, it's buying those two.

I said I was going to stop buying MAC Lip Pencils because my Dervish pencil is quite stiff and dry but I've come to realize that it's not the whole line that's like that. It seems to be true of some shades and not so of others. I set my sights on Boldly Bare to go with the Velvet Teddy lipstick which I've gotten quite fond of using with the N-U-D-E Lipglass. That's one of my go-to combinations for fall. When I was buying the new pencil, I couldn't decide between Boldly Bare and Subculture, which is why I ended up with both although I think either one would work with Velvet Teddy anyway. It just depends on how deep you want the base color to be.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Dior Diorific Khôl Lipstick in 671 Vibrant Tourmaline

In trying to take advantage of the Sephora Rouge VIB discount, I went in search of my "statement lip" for the holidays. I was originally going to go with one of the holiday Rouge G's but after much deliberation, I realized that I wasn't in the mood for red and I'm feeling really bummed about this Guerlain holiday collection. Instead, I set my eye on what online appeared to be a bright pink Dior Lipstick in an intriguing kohl powder formula. The shade is called Vibrant Tourmaline.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sephora Collection Bronzing Face Powder in Los Cabos and Anguilla

One of my impulse purchases at Sephora when the store near me moved to their new location (it's bigger, brighter, better! Really, it looks great... ) was a Sephora brand bronzer. When I browsed the display, I thought, wow, people are really buying this up and I think they only had one or two shades left in stock. I was seriously considering buying a Too Faced Chocolate Soleil bronzer at the time but was worried that Chocolate (the one used on my makeover) was too dark. In that "I want something lighter" mode, I picked up Anguilla.

Upon opening the product at home, I started to wonder if I had made the wrong choice. While I appreciate that Anguilla was matte, it was also a bit reddish (read: slightly orangey) and doesn't really work out too well for the purpose that I got it for. Upon reading review after review, it seemed that what I needed to get was Los Cabos. So I waited for it come back in stock and bought one.

At the store, I took the tester over to the Too Faced display and realized that Los Cabos was actually closer to Milk Chocolate than Chocolate so it was definitely a step in the right direction. After the first use, I was in love. This is the bronzer I use everyday now. It just works. It looks right no matter what look I'm going for. My goal with everyday bronzer is really just to add dimension back to the face after applying foundation. You could call it "contouring lite" if you will. When applying, I start at the very edge of the cheekbone moving in, then I go up and put a little bit on the temples, back down the cheeks again and finally down to the jawline. I still follow that kind of 3 formation that I learned with Guerlain Terracotta but I use the MARC JACOBS bronzer brush. Los Cabos applied with a super soft, fluffy brush gives that diffused bronzing that I really need.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows - Weekly Wow! (Plus Sephora Colorful Eyeshadows on sale)

Sephora's Beauty Insider discount is on right now until the 15th. Rouge (code: 20forRouge) and VIB (code: 20forVIB) get 20% off and regular Beauty Insiders now get 15% off (code: Insider15). Sephora is also still running their Weekly Wow promotion and I just noticed that they added the Make Up For Ever Artist Palettes to it. This started last Thursday, I assume, so some of them may no longer be available. They were normally $44 apiece and they've been on sale for $25 but with the Weekly Wow, they are $22 each! I admit, I went into Pokemon mode with these (gotta catch 'em all!) but I collected them over a period of time as opposed to buying them all at once. Imagine, at $22, with an additional discount, it's not even $20 for each palette.

The box says these four are all made in Italy. Confession: I haven't used any of them. There's just a bunch of other things I wanted to use first and eyeshadow is one of those things that I use up quite slowly. As I said, I was collecting them. But I am looking forward to using them soon. For swatches and reviews, I find Temptalia is the best option and she has reviews for all of them. I have the link to Temptalia on the right side bar. Just put in a search for MUFE artist shadows and all four should come up. By the way, if it looks like some colors are duplicated, that is true. There are common colors among some of the palettes.

Another Look at the MUFE Artist Shadows
Top L-R: Artistic 2, Florals 3
Bottom L-R: Nudes 1, Mattes 4

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Pat McGrath Labs LuxeTrance Lipsticks + Permagel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil (Blitz Brown)

Last night I was writing a quick post for my other blog, a very personal recipe/food blog that I recently started in lieu of the family recipe book that I was originally planning to write/compile for future generations. It's just me rambling about why I thought to prepare something that day, with a few pictures and then ending with a recipe. Because it's linked to the same account as this blog, I accidentally wrote the post and published it here in Pondering Beauty! It took a couple of minutes to revert it to draft and get it off the site and then moved to the correct place. But in case you got "Easy Bread Pudding" in your inbox, well now you know why :) As I said, it wasn't designed to be a public blog really, but I'm happy to share with anyone who wants a recipe. Just go to Pondering Food.

They just unveiled the Pat McGrath Labs display at my local Sephora so I tried on a few lipsticks and lip liners. My husband gave me some Sephora gift cards so I decided to buy the plum-colored Sorry Not Sorry. I was initially trying to find something pink and eyed Profumo but it seemed a waste to get a light color when the formula was so decadently rich. I chose between Sorry Not Sorry and Beautiful Creature, putting one on the top lip and the other on the bottom. In store lighting, they were quite similar but the plum tones in Sorry Not Sorry were ultimately more flattering. I went back for a neutral color a few days later and got Realness, which goes into my nude favorites rotation for fall.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Lip Primers

Do you ever use a lip primer? As a kid, I remember putting Vaseline on my lips every night and I even used Vaseline as waterproof eye makeup remover (mostly to get off mascara) in my teens. The Vaseline phase eventually morphed into a lip balm obsession (at which point I could afford some proper eye makeup remover LOL). I crossed another threshold altogether when I turned 40. This was when I finally tried By Terry Baume de Rose and also the year that I noticed lipstick sliding down the sides of my lips and building up at the corners. It just made me think that perhaps $60 lip balm isn't the answer to all of my lip woes.

In search of the solution to my problem, I decided to tackle other things lip-related as well. What do I do when a lipstick I like is too drying to wear constantly? How do I make a moisturizing lipstick that I love last longer? How do I keep my lips from cracking and peeling and what do I do when they are and I still want to wear lip color? With lip care foremost in my mind, I went in search of specialized lip products and went nutty trying them all! Lip scrubs, lip oils and lip primers made it into my shopping cart. I was lucky to score samples in some categories and find multi-use products along the way. I'll start by telling you about the more notable lip primers that I tried.

I started with the first thing I could find at the department store. I went all out and bought myself a tube of Guerlain Liplift. The Guerlain associate at Nordstrom assured me that it was the best lip primer in the business. With the price tag to match, I thought. My lips weren't in bad shape that night. The only problem I had was that the new bite Beauty lipstick that I had been using kept slipping down to the corners of my mouth after a couple of hours. So I put on one coat of the Guerlain Liplift Lip Primer and waited a minute before I applied my lipstick. The first thing I noticed was a definite change in the color of my lipstick. Because Liplift adds a concealer-colored coat over my lips, my lovely rose-colored lipstick looked more pink and less brown when I put it on. This annoyed me a little but if it was going to solve my problem, I would live with it. Unfortunately, the problem continued. The situation was slightly better as the lipstick slipped less and the slipping started a little later. Still, at $37 a pop, I was hoping to say my search was over. To be fair, it seemed to live up to what most people would grab a lip primer for. It smoothed out the lips and made lipstick application very smooth. I think it was also mildly moisturizing. But I'll be the first to say, I don't think it's a substitute for lip balm. It's just not something I would wear on its own.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


I once walked into Sephora and met a rep from HOURGLASS, so I asked her to recommend a foundation for me. I can't remember what liquid formula she slapped on my face (this was before the Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick came out) but she finished with the Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal Light. I remember clearly that I walked around with a too white face all day. For this reason, I never bought Ethereal Light or any of their liquid foundation products. I really liked her eye makeup though and after complimenting her on it, asked what she used. Then I bought it: the Modernist Eyeshadow Palette in Obscura.

I've noticed that some people have trouble with the Modernist eyeshadow palette line so I'd like to offer my two cents here. The HOURGLASS rep gave me some advice when using HOURGLASS eyeshadow: All you need to do is touch the brush to the powder. She was right. I've found that if you sweep the brush on or keep tapping into the product, it gets messy. It has to do with their products not having talc, I think she said. It seems like it adheres differently, to the brush and the skin. I typically use Laura Mercier or MAC eye brushes to do my eye makeup but for this palette, I've had much success using the Urban Decay brushes included in the Naked Palettes. I have two double-ended ones, effectively three kinds of brushes. I start with an eye primer, currently the Guerlain one that I recently reviewed, and I do a smoky eye with the Obscura palette. Since I took it out of the drawer, I've been doing the smoky eye with it so frequently that I consider it one of my current favorite looks. I just touch the brush to the eyeshadow, like the HOURGLASS rep suggested, and then I apply the darkest shade to the lid in a patting motion. I apply the rest of the colors like I would any other eyeshadow and blend like normal. The three shades on the right, which in the picture show some wear, are the ones I tend to use the most. I don't have any trouble with it. If there's too much shimmer, I just mute everything down with a light layer of the Sephora Lid & Liner Primer and it really stays put all day. (FYI: I've discovered that the Sephora Lid & Liner Primer is no longer being sold. I am so sad that I didn't buy five of them before it went away. But I think a light dusting of translucent powder will perform the same function, if you need to set your eye makeup. UPDATE 11/10/17: It's back in stock!)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The BECCA Primer Primer

Over the course of this entire year, I wanted to give several different new face primers a try. I am loyal to Laura Mercier's Primer Protect. It is the one I would purchase and repurchase. But I feel like the technology in makeup is always changing and products are always improving so I need to keep track of what's coming out. I have written about the three Guerlain primers that I used before this and now I will tell you about three BECCA primers that I have tried more recently.

The BECCA Velvet Blurring Primer Perfecting Base Apricot Haze, BECCA's newest primer, is a lotion to powder formula. BECCA's promise is that it will blur the appearance of pores, fine lines and imperfections and will prep the skin for long-lasting makeup. It is meant to be hydrating and the apricot shade is supposed to brighten. The instruction say: apply to clean, dry skin and wait for moisturizer to fully absorb before applying primer. The promise sounds so enticing. I was immediately sold.

Friday, October 27, 2017

MAC Snow Ball Mini Lipstick Kit

I was saving up for the Guerlain holiday collection, which I consider to be my Christmas gift to myself, when MAC turned my world upside down. It's not just with the release of the MAC x Nicki Minaj collection of nude lip products but with this Snow Ball Mini Lipstick Kit. For me, it was like rediscovering the brand. Basic. Beautiful. Affordable. I took the plunge on the day they put this set out on the MAC website and I used the 15% off coupon that I'd been holding on to for ages. Soooooooooo happy!

Of all the things that I've purchased and reviewed this entire year, none has brought me as much joy as this one. I could just stare at it all day long and sigh with contentedness. Like a crazy person. Ha! The set of 12 mini lipsticks come in a beautiful, sparkly rose gold box (with a plastic outer box) and each lipstick is packaged in a tube that's similar to the actual color inside. That fantasy I had of owning Velvet Teddy in the shadescents tube is but a distant longing now. This little Velvet Teddy is all that I need.

While I don't love each and every one of these colors, I find the set to be mostly in tune with colors that I would buy and use. Yes, there's at least one very brown shade and one mildly orangey Mangrove, but everything else is spot on. And it has a couple of shades that I have considered buying before, so I don't need to do that now. I actually saved money LOL. All but one shade, the satin Rebel, are matte lipsticks. And unlike the NARS Love Triangle sets that I was told would be full-size (if you hadn't heard about that debacle, read the post here), these are advertised correctly as minis.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Guerlain Kiss Kiss Lip Contouring Palette in 002 Romantic Kiss

Guerlain makes really, really good lipstick. That was the main draw for me with this product. I also happen to like lipstick palettes a lot. They call this the Guerlain Kiss Kiss Lip Contouring Palette in Romantic Kiss. I guess lip contouring really is a thing now, hence the name of the product. Maybe I just don't get it. But I'm not seeing what contouring I'm supposed to be doing with it.

I was reading the product description on one of the websites that sold this palette and what I'm gathering is that the contouring they're referring to is more about creating a gradient. For this so-called contouring, the darkest shade is used to outline the lips, the medium shade is applied all over and the lightest color goes in the center of the lips. So the way I interpret the usage of the tools, the double-sided brush is for outlining (slant tip) and filling in (rounded tip). The sponge is supposed to be for creating a matte look. I just picked up from some late-night reading that on lips, the sponge-tip can also be used for smudging or blurring = tamping down on color to achieve an undone effect. Although same can be achieved with the use of a piece of tissue, so... I'm just not convinced.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Guerlain Eye-Stay Primer

An eye primer isn't ever really at the top of my must-have list and I've used a number of different kinds without ever really liking one much more than the others. When I was starting to experiment with using an eye base, I recall having purchased a Clinique one that wasn't really great. It was a cream product in a small compact and I rarely used it, eventually tossing the thing and not looking back. Laura Mercier's Eye Basics in Wheat was the one I ended up using more frequently after I was introduced to it and it seems like it's frequently given away in GWP sets or included in for purchase sets. For this reason, I've never really had to repurchase. Urban Decay does the same with their line of eye primers and I've never actually finished an entire tube. The world of YouTube tutorials got me to try Too Faced and NARS, the latter which I would never return to because a tacky base really makes it harder for me to blend out eyeshadow. Granted, I have the Sephora lid primer which is like translucent powder that works to mute the tackiness of such products and allows me to use them, really, it's too much work. And when I fell into the cream eyeshadow and eyeshadow stick bandwagon, well, buying a separate eye primer started to feel really unnecessary.

So here we are today and if it wasn't in the set I bought from Guerlain, I'm not sure I would have given their Smoothing & Long-Wear Eye Primer a second glance. It's a small tube, all 12 mL of product in it, but given that one ever only uses about a dot each time, you don't really need an extra large one. Mostly it reminds me of Too Faced Shadow Insurance. It's light beige with a hint of pink when it comes out of the tube but once you've spread it out on your lid, it kind of disappears. I don't feel like it leaves the lid tacky like NARS but quite the opposite. The skin is left ultra-smooth and it seems to fill in fine lines and any areas of dryness. I can attest to this because after I put it on my hand, the skin on the part where I had it on became quite obviously "fixed" in the same way that your face primer works to smooth out your complexion.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Guerlain Maxi Lash Gift Set

There is currently a gift set out from Guerlain that includes the Guerlain Maxi Lash mascara and The Eye Pencil. Essentially, you will be buying the mascara and getting a full-size eyeliner for free. The set is a wonderful value, given that you're getting two full-size products but only paying for one. I've heard that the eye pencil is not what it used to be but I've never used it before so I can't tell if there's any difference. It's a gel formula and admittedly, that's not one of my favorite things. The way this applies reminds me of the MARC JACOBS pencils. It goes on a bit heavily and the line is usually a bit thick because you can't really get the pencil to a sharp point. It's always going to be this sort of chubby, blunt tip. It's useful if you like to smudge and it's got a smudger on the opposite end. I've heard someone explain before that these things aren't actually smudgers but erasers, for when you make mistakes but I use it for smudging and it works out ok if you rub very gently.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Laura Mercier Lip Parfait Creamy Colourbalm (Raspberry Ripple, Cherries Jubilee, Iced Pomegranate)

Laura Mercier Lip Parfait Creamy Colourbalm
Raspberry Ripple

I met with my favorite Laura Mercier associate recently and asked her what product she had on her lips and she introduced me to the Laura Mercier Lip Parfait Creamy Colourbalms. She had mixed two colors, as she often does, so I looked at them and decided to try one. I bought Iced Pomegranate.

Let me tell you, these things are so comfortable on! They have a lot of slip, just like regular lip balm but they also provide some moisturizing relief, especially if you've been wearing a drying lipstick all day long. Best of all, Iced Pomegranate offered plenty of color. After awhile, I decided to pay her another visit and this time we had a closer look at all the shades. I automatically picked out Raspberry Ripple and decided on Cherries Jubilee after trying on 3 other colors. I was originally going to go for the more beige/brown shades but decided that the strength of this formulation was actually in the amount of color you're getting, so it made more sense to grab something brighter.

Monday, October 16, 2017

BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Gradient Glow

I was perusing the aisles at ULTA yesterday after my brow waxing and spied this new highlighter from BECCA. This is the BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Gradient Glow. Right now, all signs are saying this is an ULTA exclusive but they do have them in the stores and online.

Gradient Glow features bronzed amber, moonstone, opal, rose gold and topaz. In theory, it's a nice five in one but I own at least three of these shades individually and I don't conceive of using them individually here. It's probably easier to swirl your brush around the entire pan. However, if you're using a sponge to apply, you may be able to concentrate on one or two of the middle shades at a time.