Recommendations on Foundation, Concealers, and Brushes

I wrote this for a friend via email. Here are some of my recommendations regarding foundation, under-eye concealer, and brushes:
Under-Eye concealer:
  • Lancome Effacernes (You can get this for a cheaper price at the Aurora Outlet, Lancome Designer Frangrances Outlet store):
  • Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit:  (this is in the new packaging. You can actually find the old version for a much lower price at Aurora Outlet, in the Cosmetic Company Store).
Foundations:
  • Full coverage: Laura Mercier Silk Creme (LM foundations): LM foundations are among the best. They are a pricey, but still a bit cheaper than the designer ones such as Armani, Chanel and Burberry. My favorite is the Silk Creme. I find this to work really well with my combination skin, and it seriously covers everything. Very flawfless finish.
  • Light to Medium Coverage: Chanel Vitalumiere AquaJemma Kidd Light as Air: Both foundations are incredibly light weight and feels like nothing on your face. However, they give very natural finish and gives the “your skin, but better” look. I would recommend these for everyday wear, or just for times when you don’t need serious full coverage. The JK is slightly cheaper than Chanel, but is currently only available online for US customers. Chanel can be found at any Chanel counter. They are both last 8+ hours on me.
  • Tinted moisturizers: Clinique Moisture Surge TintLaura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer: LM TM is a perennial favorite and gives one of the best coverages in the TM category. Clinique is more moisturizing, and is a new item that came out this year. Clinique does not cover as well, but is still very a solid TM. Clinique is more affordable. Both have SPF and are good for everyday wear or more casual occasions.

Brushes:

  • MAC $$$: good overall quality.  Don’t by their kits, the quality does not warrant the price. Get the individual brushes if you are willing to splurge.
  • Laura Mercier $$$: also expensive and amazing quality.
  • Sephora Pro Airbrush Collection: This collection of brushes really live up to their names; they truly give the airbrush finish. My favorites are the Foundation Airbbrush #55 and Pro Concealer #57. The latter is hands down the best concealer brush I’ve ever used. It does wonders for the under-eye area and works well around the nose area as well.
  • Sigma brushes: these are considered cheaper MAC dupes. They are all around good quality brushes. My favorites are their Sigmax brushes (these are NOT MAC dupes, they are unique to Sigma). My favorite is F80 flat top kabuki. It gives a flawless airbrushed finish to any foundation you use, and I especially love using this with thicker foundations like LM Silk Creme. Unlike most foundation brushes, this also does not eat up your foundation (which is good when you are paying $$$ for a bottle).

Skincare:

  • Micellar cleansers: if you haven’t tried these, you need to. They are a staple in french skincare, and will make washing your face a breeze. These are liquid cleansers that do not require water or rinsing. Use them like toners, and you will cleanse and tone in one step. Very gentle and works great even on sensitive skin types. I like ones from Vichy, Lancome, and Caudalie. Lancome and Caudalie are available in Sephora. Vichy is available online and in select CVS stores.
  • Sunscreen for the face: I started using the Shiseido Sun Protection Cream for Face this summer and have really liked it. It’s very creamy, not sticky at all, packed with good for your skin ingredients, and acts as a wonderful base for your make up as well. Highly recommended. Shiseido also makes a few other sunscreens. I recommend going to a Shiseido counter and trying them out (or ask for samples!).

Birchbox: June Box

Birchbox

Today I came home to a little hot pink package sitting at my door step. Being the impatient, tracking-obsessed person that I am, I was already expecting it. For those of you who are not familiar with Birchbox, it’s a monthly subscription service that sends a box of 5-6 beauty samples to your door for a total of $10. Each box typically contains 1-2 deluxe sized samples, plus a few more smaller sized samples and packets. Sometimes there will even be a full size product, like this month (I will go into more details shortly). To subscribe, simply go to the Birchbox website and sign up. You will be asked to fill out a beauty profile, which I highly encourage you to do so. There are a variety of boxes that are sent out each month, and the content of the box often depends on your responses to the beauty profile. For example, if you filled out the survey with dry skin and oily hair and anti-aging concerns, then you will most likely receive products that are targeted towards those specific characteristics.

I first heard about Birchbox through Ingrid’s Youtube Channel, and six months (boxes) later, I must say that I am absolutely in love with this service! I was a bit skeptical at first because I was worried that I would receive many products that I don’t care for or can’t use (I have sensitive and breakout prone skin), and that the $10 would be wasted. However, since you can cancel the subscription at any time without any hassle, I figured that I will take the risk and give it a shot. And boy am I glad that I did! I honestly have never regretted it and did not even once consider cancelling! There were definitely months when I received more products that I liked than others, but overall, I have been very happy with every box.

So let’s get to my most recent box, the June Box! Continue reading

Diorskin Shimmer Star: Amber Diamond

Dior Shimmer in Amber Diamond

The Diorskin Shimmer Star is a gorgeous highlighter palette that comes in two shades: Amber Diamond and Rose Diamond. Each palette contains five strips of color that can be used individually or swirled together.  As the name implies, Amber Diamond is a warm highlighter, while Rose Diamond is more cooler toned. Amber Diamond will probably suit those with warmer and darker skin tones, and Rose Diamond would suit those with cooler and lighter skin tones. However, if you are somewhere in the middle, you can probably pull of both shades beautifully. I personally went for the Amber Diamond because I already have the Benefit High Beam, which is a pale pink highlighter, and I thought Amber Diamond would work better especially with a summer tan.

Since I brought this beauty home, I have used it quite a few times. The Amber Diamond gives off an unmistakably golden glow. The powder is so finely milled I did not detect any powderiness, glitter, or shimmer.  So far I have been applying this on top of my cheek bones, nose bridge, cupid’s bow, and I absolutely love it. While I have not tried this, I have heard people using this powder on their eyelids as well.

Close Up of Amber Light

Overall I like this quite a lot. At $44 it’s not cheap, but you do get 0.35oz of product, which should last quite a while. If you like powder highlighters but want something that with finer textures, then give Diorskin Shimmer Star a try.

Rock & Republic Blushes

Before I begin with the review, I must give a big thanks to Jen from frmheadtotoe.com. If it wasn’t for her amazing post and video on this product I would have never thought about buying these amazing blushes.

Left to Right: Lust, X-Rated, Kinky, All-nighter

I ordered these during R&R’s cosmetic sale that they had a while back and received a 50% in addition to 99c shipping. Normally these cost $40 each at full price, which is not cheap. However, for the price you get 0.32oz of product, which is twice as much as the Nars blushes. So if you do the math, these R&R blushes actually give you more for your buck. Not to mention, you can often find these on sale at Hautelook, Editor’s Closet, and Beauty Story for 40-50% off, which is an amazing deal 🙂

So onto the full review:

Texture: finely milled and not chalky at all.

Application: these are super pigmented and the colors are very buildable. If you are going for a more natural flush/glow, then I would recommend starting with a very light hand. Usually one swipe with your brush is enough to cover both cheeks.

Packaging: The packaging of these blushes are arguably one of the best I’ve seen. Each compact comes in a round box that looks a bit like a mini hat box. The compact itself has a metallic finish and feels rather weighty on the hand. There’s a mirror inside and the compact has a magnetic closure. Refer to pictures below:

Overall, these are very high quality blushes and I would definitely recommend them to anyone who’s looking for good blushes. If price is an issue, I would recommend waiting for a sale on one of the websites aforementioned.

Lust for Nars

I finally caved in and ordered the Nars Love Set. It includes the legendary Nars Orgasm blush, a lip gloss and the Velvet Matte Lip Pencil. It’s pretty much the most perfect Nars set (or make up set for that matter) that I’ve ever seen. Just about every girl has heard about the infamous Orgasm and I’ve tried it multiple times at Sephora but could never bring myself to spend $26 on a blush (though I spend $24 on a lipstick – don’t ask me about the logic behind that). The Nars lip glosses won me over when I received a sample duo from Sephora – they are simply amazing. And I’ve been dying to try the lip pencils since they were launched earlier this year. All in all, this has to be one of the most anticipated purchases I’ve made. Can you tell, I’m beyond excited 🙂

The Love Set by Nars

The French know what they are talking about

Stumbled upon two articles discussing the secret to French women aging beautifully. Since I’m already in my early 20’s, it’s definitely not too early to start thinking about this…at least from the prevention perspective. Below I have copied the “10 Ways Age Like a French Woman” with links two these two articles, enjoy!

1 Look out for No. 1: “Frenchwomen are more elegant, more aware of their femininity,” says Dr. Michel Soussaline, a Paris plastic surgeon. “They simply take care of themselves better.”

2 Keep it natural: Heavy makeup emphasizes wrinkles and pores. A little blush, mascara and lip color are all most Frenchwomen use. They spend a lot on skin care and beauty products, but not always on the most expensive brands.

3 No soap: They use lotions and hydrating creams for the face (and body), often applied with a cosmetics sponge that provides enough abrasiveness to remove dead cells but not hurt delicate skin.

4 The wonder of water: Frenchwomen swear by cold-water rinses – after face-cleaning, shampoo or shower. They say it improves circulation, bringing all-important oxygen to the skin cells.

5 Diet: Women of a certain age maintain their weight by eating carefully: fresh, never-processed, foods, especially fruits and vegetables, in small portions. If they do put on the kilos, they take them off immediately — with the aid of pills or other treatments.

6 Exercise: Why? Go to a spa instead.

7 The doctor is in: Frenchwomen love their dermatologists. As one friend put it, why take a chance with over-the-counter skin remedies, when doctors can provide treatments that really work. Besides, the visits are largely covered by the French medical system.

8 The surgeon is in: If Frenchwomen opt for cosmetic surgery, the objective is to look like themselves – not someone 20 years younger.

9 The look: Paris, like New York, is becoming very informal, but Frenchwomen never try to dress like their daughters. Accessories count: good jewelry, fantastic shoes or boots, and a scarf casually wrapped to conceal those neck wattles. And since Frenchwomen tend to have great legs (with help from varicose vein treatments), they wear more skirts and dresses than their American counterparts.

10 Ways To Aging Like French Women

Aging Gracefully, the French way

New Yoooork!

Just got to NYC today for the second half of my internship today. Since I’m staying around the SoHo area, shopping is a given, and of course I had to check out the Sephora on Broadway. I tried out a few items and ended up buying the MUFE Aqua Cream for Lips and Eyes in #5 and Fresh Lip Treatment in Rose.

So here are my thoughts on some of these two:

Make Up Forever Aqua  Cream Lips & Cheecks #5

What drew me to these initially was their beautiful eye-catching colors, they were all so intensely pigmented and shimmery, simply irresistible. I tried on a few colors, but ended up loving #5. The first thing I thought when I swatched the color on my hand was “my God, this looks just like Orgasm!” The resemblance between this and the famed Nars Orgasm blush is absolutely striking. Both are a peachy pink color with golden shimmers. I haven’t tried the Orgasm multiple yet, but if you are looking for a cream (and waterproof) version of Orgasm, I would recommend checking this out. The color also look amazing on my cheeks, a natural flush of color (my favorite part about cream blushes) with just enough shimmers to give a nice glow but not so much that it looks glittery.

Fresh Lip Treatment in Rose

I’ve been lusting after these for a while, ever since I saw my roommate using it last year! The packaging just creams luxe, it has a nice SPF15, a gorgeous tint, and delivers a surge of moisture on the lips. What’s not to love? Well…the price. If it wasn’t for the $22.50 price tag, I would have snagged up this baby a long time ago. However, as you can tell, I finally gave in and bought it today. I thought about getting the new shade in Sugar Plum, but it looked too dark to me. But mostly I have just been dying to get my hands on the Rose. Who knows, if get addicted to this tube I just might give the Sugar Plum a go too.

At first glance, this is like the perfect lip balm. Like I’ve mentioned, the packaging is amazing. The tube is made of a matte metallic material, in a light shade of pink. The cap is twisted on, which is the signature feature of this product and it’s genius because you don’t have to worry about it coming off in your purse (which has not happened to any of my lipsticks yet, but you never know). The balm itself is a bright rosy red, but goes on the lips as a sheer rosy tint – just enough color to enhance your natural lip colors, but sheer enough to not look made up. The balm feels great on the lips and it’s definitely good to know that it also has SPF. This will definitely be one of those products that I put on when I don’t want to bother with make up but also not look completely bare. It will also be a good stable to keep the purse since it’s so easy to reapply throughout the day.

Tarte Natural Lip Stain with LipSurgence Technology

I tried the color Charm in store. It’s a bright pink, goes on creamy, and gives a glossy feel. The Lip Stain is highly pigmented and definitely not drying. However, I’m not sure about it staying power. When I wiped the product off from my lips, it left a nice stain. Overall, I thought it was a nice product, but I’m not sure if I like it enough to spend $24 :\

I will do a more extensive review on the first two products as I try them out in the next couple of weeks. However, please let me know if there is anything specific you would like to know about them, or if you have tried any of these I would love to hear your thoughts on them!

Tarte EmphasEYES Waterproof Clay Shadow/Liner

Tarte emphasEYES waterproof shadow/liner

Overview

Price: $22.00

What you get: a pot of liner and a double-ended liner. One end of the brush is flat for smudging and creating the smoky effect. The other end has a pointy, smaller brush that is recommended for creating thin lines.

Where to buy: Sephora (and your local Sephora stores, though they might not have all colors in stock), QVC (it is currently selling for $19.97 + $3.97 S&H), Tarte Website (it’s currently out of stock there).

Description from the Tarte website:

Infused with micronized clay and reinforced by our natural waterproofing agent, these plush shadow/liners are a must for creating intense and long-lasting high definition eyes. Our high-performance natural™ Amazonian white clay is nature’s most perfect ingredient, lending deep color pigments while nourishing skin, reducing surface oil and improving overall texture for smooth application.Our botanical waterproofing agent is earth engineered from a blend of natural plant waxes to form an impermeable layer that protects against rain, sweat, tears and creasing. The fusion of technologies results in an intense yet smooth cream that can be smudged onto lids as an all over shadow or used as a high definition liner using the double-ended brush included with each shade. emphasEYES™ shadow/liners are housed in an airtight jar to keep product cushion intact from start to finish, so no matter the look the result is a precise and waterproof finish. Continue reading

Summer Essentials

It’s that time of the year, when the day is long and warm, and our wardrobes are filled with breezy whites and lovely brights. While it’s not my favorite season of the year (the honor goes to spring), who can say no to summer dresses and big hats? Of course, my wardrobe isn’t the only thing that changes with the season. Summer tends to make my skin more oily, and with the melting heat, who wants to layer on thick make-up anyways? The following is a list of skincare and beauty products that I consider to be summer essentials, followed by brief descriptions and pictures: Continue reading