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.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Guerlain Kiss Kiss Hydrating & Plumping Velvet Matte Lip Colour in M306 Caliente Beige and M307 Crazy Nude

Longest name for lipstick ever! But we can go with Guerlain Kiss Kiss Matte for short. If we take the whole name of the product though, you'll find a great bit of information. Here have a modestly hydrating matte lipstick that's very comfortable to wear. In one swipe, you get very rich color in a formula that applies so pleasantly smooth. I'm not really looking for anything plumping and it's hard to judge if the plumping claims are true. However, on the subject of matte, this is a modern matte formula that looks more like soft velvet on the lips. It's rather long-lasting too. On the whole, I like it more than I'd like to admit because I always say I don't like matte lipstick. Obviously, I care for this enough to buy three. LOL.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

NARS Love Triangle Sets (if you want to know the TRUE size of the items, read the post)

I've written a piece about buying makeup online before. Truly, I buy a lot of things online. I try to stick with retailers that I trust, ones who haven't let me down before. Retailers who can deliver in a timely manner and sort understandable errors properly or who go above and beyond to make sure a customer is happy. I try to stick to websites that have a store that I can return products to, just in case it doesn't work out. But I broke that rule recently, when the Man Ray for NARS collection came out. I saw something online, sought more information about the product from their customer service and then ordered the items because I was promised an incredible value. When I received the items, guess what? They were not what customer service told me they would be. Epic fail! Here's the story.

NARS released the Man Ray collection on their website first. It was an exclusive, not sure for how long, but I think some of the items are already out at other retail sites this weekend (all in all, it was exclusive for maybe a week?). I took a quick peek and saw the NARS Love Triangle sets: lipstick and blush sets that I thought looked very interesting. The only thing is, the website did not state how big the items in the set would be. From the pictures, you can't really tell. My gut was saying, well, they have to be minis since the set is only $24 but I thought I could verify the information by going directly to them with the question. An agent named Emily answered my chat request and offered to secure the information for me. After a brief wait, she came back and announced that the items in the NARS Love Triangle sets were full size. FULL SIZE? Are you sure??? Because that's a phenomenal value. She said that she was sure and you know, get 'em now, while we still have them. At this point, I'm thinking, why would you pay full price for one of these lipsticks when you can get a full size lipstick and a full size blush for less than the price of one lipstick? I was all in.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Guerlain Météorites Baby Glow Touch CC Luminizer in Rosy Glow

The Guerlain Météorites Baby Glow Touch is something that I wouldn't have ordinarily bought had it not been in the set I purchased at the Guerlain store. It's packaged in this really cute twist up tube, about the same size as the Sephora blush sticks although you get just a little bit more product. When you remove the lid, you get an immediate dose of that Météorites scent that they infuse on all the products in the line. So straightaway if you're not a fan of the smell, this may bother you.

According to the label, this is a product designed for easy strobing. I'm going to reinterpret that statement and say it can be used as a highlighter but don't expect to be able to use each color in the "wheel" individually. The most you could do without the color mixing together would be a quarter inch strip, if at all. For me, that's only useful on the bridge of the nose. The way the stick looks, you'd have to lay the flat side against the skin, which means that you will inevitably be mixing the colors together with every use.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

My Mix N Match MAC products for fall (MAC x Nicki Minaj, Gingerly/Melba)

This is my idea for mixing and matching a bunch of MAC products (plus a select few from other brands) to come up with a staple fall look. I try to do something like this every season. I pick a purse that I'd like to use all season and base my everyday clothing choices on that. I pick a lipstick color or color theme for each season and base my daily makeup routine on that. This fall, it was clear to me that I was going to go with a nude theme, the Lipglasses that just came out with MAC x Nicki Minaj setting the tone for the whole thing.

I'd been doing a lot of my shopping online so I hadn't actually seen any of the things I ordered until they arrived at my door. The MAC website has some exclusive items like this #MACFALLCOLOUR blush duo of Gingerly and Melba which I ordered on a whim and I'm so glad I did because it's a great value. For $29, I got the refill pans of the two colors with a Pro Palette Custom Compact for two. This blush duo will pair wonderfully with the lip colors (shown above) that I've picked for fall.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Focus: MARC JACOBS Beauty

Indulge me here. I'd like to do a couple of brand-focused posts in the coming weeks. I thought about this as I'd been cleaning up my collection and reorganizing items into boxes since the drawers were kind of full. I realized that there were a bunch of products that I never did get to talk about even as the "brand box" was filling up. One brand I have barely discussed is MARC JACOBS.

I'm trying to remember what the first MARC JACOBS makeup product that I bought was and drew a blank. I know that the first thing I tried was a lipstick sample that was included in the Sephora birthday gift one year. The Le Marc Lip Crème Lipstick in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was spot on for me. I opened it and couldn't wait to put it on. I remember clearly popping into the mall's restroom and just ripping that package open. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was just the kind of color that I would buy and I loved how the lipstick went on full-coverage. I later received two more samples in different shades of red, Slow Burn and the lip pencil in Nude(ist) which was in a Sephora lip sampler kit. In full size, I've bought only two lipsticks: Infamous and Boy Gorgeous, the latter I got in a set with the (P)outliner Longwear Lip Liner Pencil in Currant Mood. They're all lovely and I go back to them from time to time.

Le Marc Lip Crème Lipstick in Boy Gorgeous