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Monday, January 27, 2014

Best of Beauty 2013: Top 5 Skin Care Picks

It's the time of the year to reflect back and pick my makeup favorites. I will be doing a series of best of beauty posts that will include makeup, skincare, bath and body and hair care items.  Here is the second installment. You can read about my face faves here and eye faves here

I decided to pick just 5 items for skin care as I can go on and on about products. For clarification, I have dryish/normal sensitive skin that can be reactive at times. In the winter, I tend to be more dry and sensitive, so I tend to find products I like and stick to a familiar routine. 

Here are my top 5: 

Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser: This is my holy grail cleanser year round. It's never greasy or tacky and leaves my skin soft and clean. Mad Hippie has great products that are organic and free from preservatives and skin irritants. One thing I like about the cleanser is that is has no scent and does no break me out or irritate my skin. It can be purchased online and at Whole Foods. I purchase mine from VitaCost. I'm almost done with my last back up, so a new order will be placed soon. 

DeVita Natural Skin Care Cool Cucumber Toner: I reviewed this toner here. To keep this short and to the point, it's a gentle, natural and vegan exfoliating toner perfect for sensitive skin. I've not found a toner that I love, but this one comes close. 

Elizabeth Arden Clear the Way Mask: I believe this has been discontinued, but I purchased mine at T.J. Maxx for $4. Now to be honest, this has parabens in the ingredients(OOPS). However, it really is a great mask. It does not irritate my sensitive skin and leaves my face feeling fresh and soft. I do not use physical exfoliators often, but in the cooler weather, I tend to need more exfoliate. I use this one maybe 1x every 2 weeks to help with my dry skin. This is my favorite mask for my winter dry skin. 

fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream with Super 7 Complex: I talked about this is my recent empties post, so I won't go on about this cream. 

Koh Gen Do Spa Cleansing Water:  I purchased this on recommendation from Joyce, and I’m so glad that I listened to her. This works well to remove makeup perfectly even waterproof mascara. 

What are your top 5 skin care products? 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Best of Beauty 2013: Makeup Edition Eye Products

It's the time of the year to reflect back and pick my makeup favorites. I will be doing a series of best of beauty posts that will include makeup, skincare, bath and body and hair care items.  Here is the second installment. You can read about my face faves here

Favorite Eyeshadow Primer:  This year my favorite eye primer/base is MAC Paint Pot in Painterly. I really like the coverage, and it holds eyeshadow very well. I've also liked Benefit Stay Don't Stray as well. I've tried just about every brand out there, but these two work the best for me. Of note, I do like NARS Smudge Proof Eye Shadow Base for it's performance but feel like the tube doesn't last enough for $24 price tag. 

Favorite Eyeshadow Singles:  I'm mostly a duo/quad/palette type of person, but I do have three singles that I loved this year. 

MAC Satin Taupe- One of those must-have shadows that I feel should be in any neutral lovers makeup bag. 
L'Oreal Infallible 24 HR. EyeShadow in Endless Pearl-- Love using this as my base shade, and it lasts forever. 
Burberry Sheer Eye Shadow Pale Barley -- It's very rare that I spend over $30 on an eyeshadow. But yeah, it's that good. Please go buy one. 

Favorite Cream Shadow: 

I love cream shadows not only for an eyeshadow,  but I like to apply them as bases to enhance the wear and performance of my shadow looks. For this year, Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Amethyst and Clinique Bit O'Honey smoothie have been my favorites

Favorite Duos/Quads/Palette:  Here are a few of my favorite eye shadows: This consistently work well and look great on my eyes. 

NARS Dogon and Tzarine Duos
MAC Temperature Rising, Smokeluxe, ShowStopper Quads
Chanel Misty Soft Duo
Bobbi Brown Navy and Nude Palette
Urban Decay Naked 3( a new one)

Favorite Eyeliner: 

I love eyeliners. But, I purged quite a few this year and kept only the ones I used consistently. I prefer the ease of use with eye liners in pencil form. Although I do have a few gel and liquid liners, I find myself reaching for these on a daily basis. 

Trish McEvoy Intense Gel Eyeliner Pencils- The best eyeliner ever!
Bare Minerals Around the Clock Waterproof Eyeliner in Black Coffee 
Pixi Silky Gel Eyeliner Pens in Black Cocoa, Black Tulip and Black Blue 
MAC Chromographic Pencil in NC15/NW20 

Favorite Mascara:  I am a mascara junkie. I'm always looking for the perfect mascara for these pitiful lashes. Here are the standouts: 

Drugstore: Maybelline The Rocket WP and One by One WP, Revlon Lash Potion WP

High-End: Dior Iconic Overcurl, Chanel Inimitable, Laura Mercier Faux Lash Mascara
Best All Around: Mary Kay Lash Love Waterproof-- for now, this is my holy grail. It holds the curl in my lashes like no other brand and volumizes and lengthens well too. I normally use this as a base mascara and add one of the others on top. At only $15 retail, it blows the competition(ever higher end) out of the water. The only downside is I have to order from eBay or through a consultant. And, I love Clinique Bottom Lash for my bottom lashes. It's a must have! 

Brows:  For my brows, I'm loving Anastasia Brow Wiz in Brunette. I also like Essence Eyebrow Stylist Kit and Chanel Brow Pencil. If you are looking for a low cost high performance brow powder set, Essence cannot be beat. It's only $3 at Ulta.  

Do you see any of your favorites? Let me know some of yours in the comments! Thanks for reading. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

My Favorite Makeup Brushes: Top 5

Makeup brushes are important in the beauty bag. I admit that I am obsessed with brushes and could buy several every time I go beauty shopping.  I do not own extremely expensive brushes at this point. because I rarely can afford them with being on medical leave and the stay at home parent. Maybe... in the future. But, I do like to have brushes that work well for me, are affordable and meet my needs.  In fact, some of my favorites are Real Techniques brushes. Oh and did I tell you that I won the entire 2013 RT brush line from a Facebook contest recently?? I owned quite a few already, but I'm excited to have backups! Excuse that brag. I rarely win contests. 
I decided to hold this list to just 5 (or 6) brushes because I'm sure I could go on and on forever about brushes. As you can tell 3/5 brushes are eye brushes because eye shadow is my favorite beauty product. 

1. MAC 217 Blending Brush-- I'm sure you've heard about this one. It really does live up to all of the hype. The brush blends shadow seamlessly, washes well and holds up to use very well. I've had this one for ages, and it still looks new. 

2. It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Powder Brush-- I love how this buffs powder/powder foundation onto skin. As well, it's very soft and looks new when washed. This is quite expensive for one brush ($48), but I received this one in a beauty test tube subscription. But, I would pay full price because it's such a good brush. 

3. Sephora Collection Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush #57-- Let me tell you that this has revolutionized the way I apply concealer. This is one perfect brush! It applies and buffs concealer like no other brush I've used. It's $24, but it's a great value. The brush is quite soft and dense at the same time. It looks like new when washed. If you buy one new brush, I recommend this one. 

4. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Shadow Blending Brush-- I love cream shadows but don't like how they can be hard or patchy when applied on the lids. This $16 smooths rough edges and blends perfectly. I love Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks and Clinique Chubby Sticks for Eyes, and this brush makes is so easy. Plus, it looks new even after several washes. 

5. MAC 239 Eye Shading Brush-- Can you be in love with a makeup brush? This brush is my all-time favorite brush ever. I love how it packs on shadow so effortlessly. I mean-- I need about 5 more to be completely happy. And to be repetitive, it still looks new after being used quite a bit. But, for now this one is clean and ready to use with my eye shadows. 

Honorable mention (not pictured): Real Techniques Stippling Brush-- I use this for blush. I adore cream blushes for my drier skin and never has a brush made applying cream products so easy and neat. And, it washes like new with every wash. 

What are your favorite brushes? 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Empties: Edition #1

I've been saving my empties for a post for the past few months. I will be dividing the products into parts because I have quite a few to share. Here is the first installment of what I've been using up from my collection. I very rarely finish a makeup product, so those may be few and far between. 

1.Arcona Gentle  Solution-- This is an overnight treatment with glycolic acids, algae, amino acids and other healthy ingredients that help regenerate skin overnight. I will definitely repurchase this one as it's my favorite night serum. It's perfect for those with dry and sensitive skin and has great ingredients. It's $50/35mL, but it's worth it. I need to use up my current Mad Hippie Exfoliation Serum and will then buy this again. I highly recommend this one as a gentle chemical exfoliate for dry, normal and sensitive skin.  

2.Juice Beauty Hydrating Mist-- I used this as a toner and really liked it's hydrating effects. This formula contained alcohol but they do have a newer version that does not. I may repurchase the new version since it's without alcohol once I use up my other toners. 

3.Honey Goo Bajmy Cleansing Balm-- An all natural cleansing balm I purchased from an Etsy seller. At first, I had problems with this leaving residue. However, once I treated this like an oil cleanser and used a warm cloth and double cleanse method, it removed quite easily and left my skin very clean and moisturized. This is probably the best makeup remover I've used especially for waterproof mascara. I have a bottle of Josie Maran Cleansing Oil to use up first but would love to repurchase at a later date. If you are looking for an all natural cleansing balm at a great price with great performance and ingredients, I recommend this one. It's only $12 for 2 oz. 

4.Phyto Botanical Straightening Balm-- This is older packaging of which I paid $26 at Sephora. I was not impressed with the straightening properties, as it did not do well with my naturally curly hair. It does help with frizz but there are tons more products available at less expensive prices that work much better. Will not repurchase and do not recommend. 

5.Matrix Equisite Replenishing Oil (small gold bottle)-- I received this is a Glossybox and love this hair oil so much. It never weighs my hair down and makes my hair look and feel healthy. And, it smells divine. This sample lasted me months as only a few drops is needed for medium length hair. I have the full size on my list to purchase later this month. 

6. Redken Curvaceous Conditioner for Wavy Hair-- I won a 3 pc mini set of Curvaceous products on Facebook. I do like the conditioner. It does work well for curly hair and eliminates frizz. I'm on the fence about repurchasing--- I may buy the full size in Summer when I tend to wear my hair curly. 

7.Number 4 Super Comb, Prep and Protect Leave in Conditioner (deluxe sample)-- I received this in a Birchbox a while back and decided to use it up during October Sampler. It's ok but certainly not worth $32 for the full size to justify a purchase when there are others available. 

8. fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream with Super 7 Complex( deluxe sample from GlossyBox)-- I adore this face cream. It's my current day and night moisturizer. It's never greasy and soaks right into skin. I always have trouble finding face creams, as they can be too rich for my sensitive skin or too light to moisturize the dryer parts. This does it all without any issues. It looks and feels great under makeup, too. I used up the 15 mL sample from GlossyBox and promptly went and bought the full size at full price from Sephora. Yes, it's that good! Another plus, it contains anti-aging ingredients that do not break me out. Typical anti-aging serums tend to cause irritation and breakouts for me so this all in one product is perfect. I recommend this one for all skin types because it is not overly greasy, contains healthy skin ingredients, and does not cause irritation to sensitive skins like mine. 

9.Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Red Dahlia-- For a drugstore lip balm, this little beauty works very well. It's texture reminds me of fresh sugar treatment. The color is beautiful, and it treats and conditions lips as well as higher end products. I recommend this one and will pick up a few once I work through a few more lip balms. 

10.L'OCCITANE Shea Butter Hand Cream--  This little deluxe sample came in a Sephora VIB bag from a few months ago. Can I just say I love these hand creams? I know it's not exactly an economical choice, but this really makes hands softer and lasts on the skin. As an RN(on medical leave right now), I constantly washed my hands and work, and this gets my seal of approval in that it lasts and nurtures the skin. I've already repurchased shea butter and one of the LE scents. 

11.Kiehl's Midnight Concentrate Eye-- I never knew one could love an eye cream until I met this beauty. I have very sensitive eyes, so it's hard for me to find something that dimishes dark circles and wrinkles, does not cause milia nor irritates my sensitive peepers. This fits the bill perfectly! I was so sad to see this go because at $36/0.5 oz. it is kind of expensive for me at this point in my life. However, I will repurchase this as nothing works like this for me. Please go try this if you need a new eye cream for dark circles and wrinkles! Hmmm... maybe I can check out some blog sales for samples LOL I need this in my life! It's a miracle in a tube(albeit small) I tell ya!

12. Tarte Maracuja C-brighter Eye Treatment-- Tarte always has the best value sets at Ulta in my opinion. I picked up a set a while back and this little jar was an added bonus. I really wanted this to work, but unfortunately this product gave me milia and not much improvement in the way of dark circles. So, it's a non repurchase for me. 

13. fresh Sugar Lip Treatment-- This is my holy grail lip balm! It works so well to relieve dryness and conditions lips significantly. I had about 4 boxes of the mini birthday gift set from Sephora/blog sales and have finally used them all. I have repurchased the advanced treatment version and received the Petal version from a Sephora VIB bag. I do use other less expensive lip balms that work as well, but this one is my favorite. 

14.Skin Medica TNS Eye Repair (deluxe sample)--  I received this in a Dermstore order. Unfortunately, this stuff burned my eyes and caused them to swell. So, no repurchase. Which is just as well.... it's $98 for 0.5 oz. LOL  

15.Sesha Skin Therapy Rejuvenating Anti-Aging Mask--- I've never been so impressed with masks as I am with these. The skin shows instant improvement so much so that my husband comments when I use this mask. I received this in a GlossyBox and it's one of those items that I will purchase over and over again. The skin is moisturized and nurtured, and there is no irritation with use. Go buy one or a thousand-- you won't be disappointed! 

Did you make it through all of that? I have more empties posts coming! Have you finished anything recently?