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Favorites & Feeling Festive ~ September 2015

Well September is over and Fall is officially here. Despite the shorter days and the dropping temperatures, I’m kind of enjoying this transition into Fall. It’s been a relatively good month and I have a decent collection of Favorites to share with you today! I may not be a huge fan of the Autumnal chill, but I have to admit that I loveFall makeup!!! JSo let’s take a stroll through the most fantastic of the beautiful things that Fall had to offer this month. JI present to you my September Favorites!

For the Love of ColourPop – My Pathetic Overview of the Brand

ColourPop is an amazing cruelty free and mostly vegan brand that I have mentioned many times on this blog, yet it’s a company that I’ve never actually reviewed products from. There is a simple reason for this – I can’t figure out how or what to say! I guess first and foremost is that I absolutely love their products…not to mention the attitude that seems laced throughout their names and the sense of humor laced throughout their website descriptions. Seriously, check out a description or two and look at the FAQ section and you’ll see what I mean. J They are, of course, cruelty free and they make so many vegan products that their list of vegan products is actually the few items that are notvegan. Perhaps because I love the brand and the products so much, I really feel like a review needs to do them justice and I just don’t think I can! The products are so hard to describe – from the actual shades to the really unusual formulations. How do you explain the texture of a shadow that feels like nothing you’ve ever touched? So, I’ve been stumped. And as I struggle with how to discuss them, they keep inventing more and more types of products…plus the new shades never stop. It’s truly impressive…and frustrating! J This long winded intro is my way of letting you know that, a) ColourPop is amazing, and b) I’m going to massively fail at trying to discuss ColourPop Cosmetics today! J

NYX Proof It! Waterproof Eye Shadow Primer – Better Than the Rest?

I do not know why, but I have the worst time with eye shadow primers. I never used to need one to prevent my shadows from creasing, but over the years I noticed mainly my right eye becoming more and more prone to shadow collecting in the crease. Strangely, my eye lids are not particularly oily nor do I use a heavy eye cream – if any – on my eyelids. Like any makeup addict, I quickly turned to shadow primers thinking surely one could help my seemingly small and common problem. Well, nearly every primer I have tried since the problem began has been of little help. Enter the NARS Smudge Proof Eye Shadow Base. It actually does prevent most creasing, but I desperately wanted to find something more affordable than the $25 price tag attached to the NARS primer. I tried virtually everything. Things that work wonders for everyone else barely made a difference on me. That is, until I came across the NYX Proof It! Waterproof Eye Shadow Primer!

The NYX Proof It! Primer seems pretty standard for an eye shadow primer. It uses a doe-foot applicator to apply the product. Like all doe-foot shadow primers, you really just want to apply a small dollop on the eyelid and then blend that over the entire lid with your finger. The primer looks kind of like a really pale flesh tone, but it blends out pretty much clear on my skin. You’re not going to notice anything being concealed, but I do feel like my lids look slightly better with only the primer applied. As you blend it in, the product dries down to a virtually undetectable finish. I tend to let it sit for a minute or two before applying shadows. Once it’s fully dry, I simply apply shadows as usual.

Shadows apply just like they do with any other primer. I often found that certain shadows had a tendency to stick or skip a bit with the NARS primer, but not so with the NYX. I would say that you do kind of sense a bit more grip when applying the shadow, but it’s not in a sticky or patchy manner. Though some lower quality shadows that are prone to creasing in the first place are still more apt to move as the day wears on, most eye shadows do not budge with the NYX Primer!!! I have tried it with cream, crayon, powder and even liquid shadows with minimal to no creasing by the end of the day. Needless to say, I am completely elated! J

I feel I should point out the actual supposed purpose of this primer according to NYX. The company makes three different types of primers, and the Proof It! Waterproof Eye Shadow Primer is actually intended to make any eye shadow waterproof. I really cannot say that I have tested that out. I can say that my shadow stays put even after a sweaty workout, but I haven’t gone swimming with shadows on…who really does? Then again, who exercises with shadow on? J I should also add that I don’t have any trouble removing my eye makeup at the end of the day when using this primer either. I use a cleansing oil (The Body Shop’s Chamomile Cleaning Oil) for my entire face as well as on my eyes and the shadows remove with ease.
I absolutely love the NYX Proof It! Waterproof Eye Shadow Primer! It genuinely is the best eye primer I have found…and I have tried one hell of a lot! JThe NYX Primer retails for $7.00 for a 0.23 fl oz / 7mL tube (the NARS contains 0.26 fl oz, the Urban Decay contains 0.33 fl oz, and Too Faced’s primer has 0.35 fl oz). By far the best value, not to mention the best performing. J I would definitely recommend giving the NYX Proof It! Waterproof Eye Shadow Primer a try, especially if you have trouble finding a primer that really hold your shadow well.

Summer Worthy Makeup Staples – Quick & Easy Color

Since Summer has officially arrived (yea!), I thought this would be the perfect time to share some of the types of products I seem to turn to year after year when the weather heats up. I don’t tend to have a specific “Summer routine,” but there are definitely certain types of products that I gravitate toward when I’d rather be enjoying the sunshine than messing around with makeup. The general rule seems to be that it must be quick, easy and relatively sweat-proof.

One change that I do tend to make in the Summer is to change up my lip colors. This happens both via formula as well as the types of shades I reach for. I’m going to start with formula. As you may have guessed from my Urban Decay Sheer Revolution Lipstick review (found here), I love more of a semi-sheer formulation when the sun comes out. Lip stains, tinted balms and lip crayons are often my go-tos. Obviously the Sheer Revolution Lipsticks are among my absolute favorites, but some others to check out are the Endless Summer Lipsticks from Lipstick Queen, the Butter Lipsticks from NYX, the Colour Crush Shine Lipsticks from The Body Shop, the Soap & Glory Sexy Motherpucker Gloss Stick in “Fuchsia-Ristic” is perfect, and the NARS Christopher Kane Lip Glosses are absolutely ideal for a transparent wash of staining beauty (see that review here)! Basically if it’s a “no muss, no fuss” kind of product, I’m up for it! J

Moving to the opposite spectrum of lip colors, I also love a bright, bold lip in the Summer. Oranges, bright reds, loud pinks and corals reign supreme. They give the impression that you’ve tried without actuallyhaving to put in a lot of effort. J Lately I have been absolutely hooked on the ColourPop Lippie Stix. They are insanely opaque, the mattes and satins are surprisingly comfortable and solong wearing, plus they come in so manyintense shades ranging from green and black to totally nude and everything in between. Since they are only $5 each, they are an affordable way to try out shades you may ordinarily be terrified to wear. I can’t tell you how many new favorite shades I’ve found by just thinking a color looked pretty, purchasing it and being pleasantly surprised by the result! J When going bright, they do require a bit of care when applying, but these wear beautifully with minimal touch ups required. Obviously ColourPop isn’t the only super-opaque lipstick around, but they are definitely stand-outs in my book.
Top to Bottom: Fighter, Frenchie, Toucan, Julep, Juicy, Chi-Chi & Topanga
Moving on to cheeks, a good long-wearing blush is essential for me when the weather heats up. I always prefer something that lasts, but with the sweating, the potential for heavy rain and water-time fun, something that stays put becomes even more important. Again, I often favor bolder colors, but I also love sheer stain-like products as well. Often these are lip-cheek hybrids, but I rarely find them as nice on the lips as on the cheeks. Some of my favorite flush-inducing products include the Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelees (reviewed here), Daniel Sandler’s Watercolour Blushes, the BECCA Beach Tints, and again from ColourPop, the Super Shock Cheeks (blushes). The ColourPop Blushes don’t really create a sheer, stained flush, but they are super easy, long-wearing options in gorgeoussummery shades.
For the eyes, I favor shadow crayons and cream shadows. They are just so quick and easy to apply, blend out nicely and generally wear quite well. I usually just use my fingers for quick, easy, or even a messy application. Bronzes and coppers reign supreme, but again, it’s more about the formulation than the color. Some of my favorites are the Milani Shadow Eyez Pencils, more recently the Mally Beauty Evercolor Shadow Sticks, the Flower Beauty Color Play Crème Eye Shadows (though they discontinued some of my fav shades), and again the ColourPop Super Shock Shadows rock my world. I have been addicted to the insane beauty of ColourPop’s “Dare” and “On the Rocks” lately. So quick, so easy, yet still so pretty! Basically if I can apply a single shade with my finger and rush out the door, I’m sold! J
Summer is a time for carefree fun in the sun, and I guess I seek the same things in my makeup products. J I hope this helps if you’ve been looking for some super Summer-worthy makeup formulas this year. I’d love to hear what you reach for when the sun comes out and the temperature rises too!!!

The Verdict – Hourglass Modernist Eye Shadow Palette in Monochrome

If you remember my post near the end of January called Trial & Error, I mentioned I have been testing out the new Hourglass Modernist Eye Shadow Palette in Monochrome. Well, I think I’ve come to a conclusion about the palette, though I am still a bit torn. There seem to be a number of mixed reviews on these palettes and I can totally see why. For one thing, I think everyone wants to love these. They are gorgeous to look at and they’re from Hourglass. They make fantastic products, so why wouldn’t these palettes be as well? J Well, let’s look beyond the pretty shiny packaging and spectacular 3D rippled powders and talk about the reality of the palette!

As I just mentioned, these palettes are visually stunning. They have the standard Hourglass kind of brownish-bronze metallic outer case that feels luxurious and special and includes a generous mirror. The size of this palette is not quite as large as the Ambient Lighting or the Blush Palettes, but there still appears to be a decent amount of product for the eyes. The eye shadows inside are pressed into a stunning ripple pattern that runs across the 5 different shades in the palette (though there is no separation between colors which kind of bothers me) and it just looks so pretty! The palettes have the look suited to the hefty $58 price tag that’s attached.

I had a very difficult time picking out a color palette when I ordered this. Partly because I was just looking at product photos on Sephora’s website, but even having looked at them in person it would be difficult. The colors are mostly neutral, with a few subtle colors thrown into a few palettes. Each palette seems to have a mix of finishes as well, with the exception of one quintet of all matte shadows – I believe that is the Atmosphere palette. I chose the Monochromepalette, which consists of 3 mattes – a warm ivory, a rosy shade and a rosy medium brown – an satin fawn brown, and what I think is another satin in a deep brown tone, though it looks mate swatched. The colors are all quite pretty, subtle and definitely pretty much monochromatic. I actually kind of like the shades, which is part of the reason I’ve had trouble coming to a conclusion about this palette.
The first thing that stood out to me when using this palette was the incredible soft, powdery consistency of the matte shadows. I was actually quite shocked by just how much powder is kicked up by just gently touching a brush to the shadow. Conversely, the frosty-satin fawn shade is actually quite stiff and very difficult to get the shadow to transfer from a brush to the skin. Though the texture threw me a bit, I feel like the mattes actually apply pretty well and blend so effortlessly…though it may be too effortlessly for some. It can be easy to blend to shades away or just muddy everything you’ve applied. The stiffer pearlized shade takes a lot of building up for it to be very noticeable, and once applied I feel like it almost makes my eyelids look a bit crepy and older than they ordinarily appear. Somehow I still really liked the overall looks created by this palette though.
Can you see the powder kicked up in the shadows? No bueno!
The pigmentation is kind of average, though the palette is so light in tone and monochromatic that it was actually kind of difficult to tell how pigmented each shadow was. They swatch alright, but on the eyes they seem to give more of a subtle wash of color. Because of both these things and that the shades really aren’t all that dissimilar to my skin tone, the Monochrome palette creates a verynatural look. Nothing wrong with that, but I found it practically impossible to make looks that looked much different, or had much drama to them without adding other shadows as well. I’m not sure the ultimate looks created justify spending the hefty price tag. There is just not enough variation and the quality is at best sub-par to just average. However, something about these shades is still just really pretty on the eyes and I personally love how well the matte shades blend (I tend to be insanely light handed when applying everything). I also really, really love the matte rosy-brown shade and almost want to keep the palette just for that shadow. But alas, I probably won’t.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I really don’t think this palette is worth it. It’s beautiful to look at and the shadows are ok, but nothing really special. Five average shadows in rather unremarkable colors are just not worth $58. Don’t get me wrong, I likethe colors and they may not actually be dupable, but the looks you can create are minimal and look minimal on the eyes. Not a great effect for $58. If this were say a $30 palette, I might say that it’s worth a try, but the price you’re paying for what you get just doesn’t seem worth it to me. Maybe a different shade would be better, but after finally seeing them in person, I can’t say that I really like the other shades either, nor am I impressed by the color combinations. Not to mention, the testers looked like had been through battle due to the ultra-soft textures!  As much as I want to love the new Hourglass Modernist Eye Shadow Palettes, I think they’re best to admire for the pretty packaging and leave them on the shelves.

October Favorites – Acure, Hourglass, Milani, Butter London, Sibu Beauty, Josie Maran, Urban Decay & EcoTools

Seriously can’t believe it’s already November. I can’t say that October flew past, but seriously, November? That’s nearly Christmas!!! How?! Anyway, since another month has passed, it’s time for yet another Favorites post. I’ve had an interesting month skin-wise, which I may go into more in a separate post depending on how it progresses. Basically, I decided to ditch all of the prescription products I’ve been using for years because I thought they might actually be making things worse. Still kind of on the fence about whether that smart or not. Anyway, because of that I have a good amount of skin care favorites, but fear not! There’s still some makeup as well! Let’s dive right in, shall we? J

Since I mentioned skin care, I’ll start there. For washing my face, I have gotten back into using a Konjac Sponge. It’s basically just a reusable vegetable fiber sponge that softens with water. Using your cleanser, you massage it over your face for gentle exfoliation. It leaves my skin softer and less flaky without irritating it. Fantastic stuff! JRight now I’m using the EcoTools Pure Complexion Facial Sponge – Deep Cleansing. I had tried a Dew Puff version before and liked it, but I hung it on my sink faucet, as you’re supposed to, but it crept toward the nasty sink bowl where water would splash onto it every time I washed my hands. I like the string idea, but I need to get a hook or something to keep it away from the actual sink bowl. Anyway, the EcoTools version doesn’t have a string so you have to rest in on something. I’m not a huge fan of that either, but the sponge is so thick and shaped in a way that I really only find myself using one side. I just rest the unused side in a little dish near the sink and, though it doessit in a small bit of standing water – gross! – I don’t feel like bacteria collects too quickly on the side I use. I have yet to find my ideal setup for storing the wet sponge, but I have definitely enjoyed using a Konjac Sponge this month.

The past few months I have been trying out using toners. I never used to use toners because it just seemed like an extra and ineffective step. Then I discovered that some come in spray bottles and I was sold! JI’m still not sure they do much, but I really do like the Acure Balancing Rose + Red Tea Facial Toner. It has a really nice, even, fine mist and the bottle not only looks pretty, but is rather satisfying to hold. The ingredients are wonderful, organic and simple too – Organic Rooibos, Organic Calendula, Organic Chamomile, Organic Witch Hazel, Organic Bulgarian Rose Water & Organic Glycerin. It’s soothing and the Witch Hazel makes it good for acne-prone skin. I can’t say I’ve really noticed any difference – good or bad – that I can directly attribute to the Acure Facial Toner, but I just love the bottle and the mist so much that it’s a real pleasure to use!
Sticking with toners (sort of), I have something that’s more of a technique than something specific. I believe I first heard this mentioned in a video from makeupTIA on YouTube – check out her videos here because she’s just so soothing and relaxing. I feel like I’m watching Opera while in a spa. J She also has been switching to a lot of “green” products lately and many of them are cruelty free! Anyway, she recommended adding a toner to facial oil and then applying the combination to your face for better absorption. I’ve been trying that with the Sibu Beauty Clarifying Toner and the Josie Maran Agran Oiland it really does work! Usually the regular Argan Oil from Josie Maran leaves me a little bit greasy, but when mixed with the toner, it absorbs like a charm – no grease whatsoever! Not even by the time I wake up in the morning! It’s also a nice way to add a toner to your routine without really adding any time. I chose the Sibu Toner because the mister bottle was horrible, but I like the supposed benefits and the Argan Oil because I have a bottle that I just never reach for, but don’t want to waste it. Together they instantly soak into my skin and leave my face hydrated without the grease! J If you like using a facial oil – or are scared to – but feel like it either leaves you greasy or takes too long to absorb, definitely trying mixing it with a toner. Life changing I tell you. J

Moving on to makeup favorites, I’ve rediscovered my Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation. I reviewed it shortly after it was released hereif you’re looking for a more detailed review. Not sure why I stopped using it for a while, but I did. This month as my skin has looked a bit better, I found myself reaching for it frequently. The coverage is good – buildable light to medium – and it doesn’t turn me into a grease-ball by the end of the day. It also stays put! I don’t really have a whole lot more to say about it. It’s just a nice foundation!

For blush, I’ve been absolutely addicted to the new Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette! It is so gorgeous! I recently reviewed it here if you’d like more information and swatches. Every color is incredibly wearable – at least for my skin tone – and I really love the formula. Initially I gravitated towards “Mood Exposure,” which is a gorgeous neutral plum – not a shade I’d typically seek out, but definitely try it because it’s stunning! Soon I started using “Luminous Flush,” which is a nice kind of neutral rose. Also stunning and so wearable! And though I’ve worn “Incandescent Electra” the least, it also a beautiful, very wearable everyday kind of blush. The palette is pricey, but for three great and really wearable blushes, it’s actually a great value.

My eye shadow staple has definitely been “Cappuccino” from Milani’s new Bella Eyes Collection. There’s nothing terribly exciting about it, but it’s a fantastic transition/blending shade. I’m no master blender, but I just love this shade for deepening up the crease a tiny bit with minimal shadows, blending out darker shades and for the lower lash line. It’s really nice and affordable as well!

Now for the most exciting makeup – to me anyway! J My favorite lipsticks this month have been hands down the new Butter London Moisture Matte Lipsticks – again! I absolutely love them! I have two shades and I really don’t know which would be my favorite. There’s “Ruby Murray” which is a deep berry shade and then “Loved Up” which is more of a deep raspberry shade. They sound similar and they actually are pretty close, but Loved Up looks more pink, where Ruby Murray is more of a classic deep berry. The finish of these ismatte, but it doesn’t look sickly, patchy or pasty as some mattes do. There’s still some life to them somehow. The formula of these is also fantastic! I typically hate matte lipstick, but these are socomfortable. They’re not as creamy as most cream formulas, but they aren’t at all drying. They last for ages and stay where you put them! Butter London has nailed the formula with their Moisture Matte Lipsticks!

Finally, I feel like I need to add just one non-beauty related favorite. For the past few weeks, I have finally become addicted to Instagram! I know. Late on the bandwagon. I’ve had an account for ages, but rarely post anything. For some reason I’ve just been obsessed with it this month! I’ve been challenging myself to post at least one picture a day, which has been fun and often harder than I expected! Don’t know how long my obsession will last, but for now I’ve been glued to it. J If you’re on Instagram and would like to follow me, I’m @makeupguineapig.
I think that’s going to do it for my October Favorites! I could add a few more items, but this is already quite long – thanks if you’re still reading! I guess it’s been a good month for favorites. And now I think we’re officially entering the Holiday Season!!! Agh! Thanksgiving and Christmas are so close!!! Let me know what you’ve been loving this month, or if you have any Holiday themed requests. No promises, but I will see what I can do if there’s something specific you’d like to see. As always, thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll come back for more! J

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