5 Cruelty Free Products WORTH the Hype!



If you’re like me and read a lot of beauty blogs or watch a lot of YouTube beauty videos, you surely have noticed that certain products are mentioned over and over and over again. They get a lot of buzz! One always wonders if those products are really as good as they seem, or if there’s just some kind of mob mentality keeping everyone enamored with the same so-so products. Always curious about the next best thing, I often find myself trying those “it” products of the moment just to see if they’re really everything my mind has made them out to be. Well, today we’re going to go through five of those very products that do indeed live up to every glowing review, each overly enthusiastic video and even, of all things, most of the products’ own claims! 🙂 Without further ado, I bring you 5 Cruelty Free Products WORTH the Hype!

Building Blocks – Cruelty Free Basics to Making Up My Face!

I thought I’d share something kind of different today and go through the products I tend to use every day to start my makeup. These items don’t typically vary much. I may switch out concealers or try a new brow product, but the actual steps involved in getting to a basic better-than-I-just-woke-up kind of face are more or less the same. It’s from this point that I would start adding color to my eyes or just finishing up with some mascara and gloss to run out the door. Lip gloss? Who am I kidding? I rarely wear lip gloss…with July being an exception! 🙂 Anyway, I wouldn’t call this a quick holy-sh*t-I-missed-my-alarm kinda look, it’s more like the building blocks for anything else. Now that we’ve overstated the point, let’s get to some details! 🙂

June Favorites – Sunday Riley, ColourPop, Essence, BECCA, Face Atelier & More!

Where, oh where has June gone? I’m not really sure what happened to the month, let alone what I actually did with it! J I’m really happy that Summer is here though and I intend to soak up the sunshine before it disappears all too soon. All of that isn’t why we’re here though. It’s to discuss June Favorites!!! J I have quite a few favorites in all different categories, so let’s get into it….

I’m going to start with something I just talked about, which is the Living Proof Prime Style Extender. Check out my review here because I don’t want to repeat myself. The Clif Notes are basically that it keeps my hair feeling and looking cleaner for longer between washings (no dry shampoo required!) and it helps to hold my style. Who could ask for more?! Thanks Living Proof!

Let’s move on to a nail product. After all the horrible warnings about babies with 12 arms and third eyes growing on your forehead, I finally caved and tried the Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. I love this stuff. My polish is literally completely dry within minutes. It is nice and shiny too, though I’m not sure it’s that much different than a lot of others these days. It doesn’t smell great and I’m not convinced that my polish lasts any longer than with other top coats, but for dry time alone this is my all-time favorite. I’m not sure I care if I end up with a third eye (btw: the amount of dangerous chemicals that an average person will breathe in through a lifetime are not likely to harm anyone)! J Definitely give Seche Vite a try if you hate waiting for your nails to dry…and do some research before assuming that it’s going to kill you.
Ok. Moving on to skin care. Thanks to the magic wizardry of Sunday Riley for making skin care that actually works. With this kind of price tag, one would hope so! I’m talking about the genuine holy grail, fountain of youth, miracle worker that isLuna Sleeping Night Oil. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, or just seen my face, you’re probably aware that my skin has been a problem child the last few years. I kid you not, after using this once I saw an actual difference. Not only that, both of my parents noticed and mentioned seeing a difference almost immediately. My pores are getting smaller, my skin seems more balanced, it looks more clear – both in terms of breakouts and scarring, but also just generally brighter. The redness is fading faster and the seriously minor wrinkle starting on my forehead is gone! I am willing to sell a kidney to keep this in stock! Seriously, it’s expensive! Like $105 a bottle expensive. Honestly, it’s worth every single penny if you have problematic skin or are concerned about aging. Believe the hype about the Luna Oil from Sunday Riley!
I have a favorite re-discovered foundation as well this month. It is the Ultra Foundationfrom Face Atelier. I’ve been using this on and off for maybe a year and I always wonder why I stop using it. It has good solid medium coverage that is buildable with a natural satin finish. It comes in a ton of shades, plus has a light and a dark mixing shade available to really fine-tune things. I think since using the Luna Oil I’ve loved this foundation even more! It doesn’t emphasize my pores at all and I don’t tend to get shiny throughout the day – both of which are often issues with foundations. Please don’t let me stray from the Face Atelier Ultra Foundationagain! J
Ah, the BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Opal. Why did I wait so long to be convinced of your beauty? Seriously, this highlighter is insanely gorgeous! Sephora and Ulta are finally carrying BECCA products in stores, so I feel like I finally could appreciate the true beauty instead of hearing others go on and on about them like I’m doing right now. J I use this not only as a cheek highlight, but I’ve been using it an awful lot as an eye shadow this month too. In fact I think that may be my favorite use for it! It’s beautiful and shimmery while not detracting from other colors on your face. It’s also just so smooth. Definitely addicted to the BECCA Opal Shimmering Skin Perfector this months.
For some reason this has been the month of ColourPop for me. Something about Summer just screams ColourPop. I find the Super Shock Shadows are so quick and easy, especially when used with your fingers and something about the colors and finishes are just so Summery. My go-to shadow this month has definitely been On the Rocks. It’s such a gorgeous bronzy glimmer pot of gorgeous with a touch of super fine glitter. It barely looks like I’ve used it, but it’s so pigmented that I find the smallest amount is plenty. I love it all over my lid with something a smidge darker in the crease, or with a bit of the above mentioned Opal on the inner half of my lid. It’s so pretty, easy and Summery! If you’re looking for a fantastic, and often neglected shade of ColourPop Shadow, definitely give On the Rocks a look!
Sticking with eyes for a second before returning to ColourPop, I have a new favorite mascara! This shocked the hell outta me actually. It’s the Princess Mascarafrom Essence. It reminds me bit of the Too Faced Better than Sex mascara (reviewed here and still my absolute fav), but the formula is not as dry and consequently a bit more prone to clumping. It has a weird kind of ¾ “S” curve to the wand, but I find it’s pretty easy to use, though the formula can take some adjustments if you’re used to drier formulas as I am. It’s one that’s best applied one coat at a time to avoid the lashes sticking together. I’m not selling it am I? I just takes a bit of patience and it’s beautiful! It’s blacker than black and I don’t find it smudges or transfers, though I keep expecting it to flake. It hasn’t yet, but when removing, it almost feels like it flakes apart in big clumps. Regardless, it has given me no complaints and for about $5 I would definitely give Essence’s Princess Mascara a go for big bold lashes.
Finally, we have the marvelous ColourPop Lippie Stix. I love these super skinny tubes of ultra-pigmented creamy goodness. There are so many amazing shades to choose from, plus they’re surprisingly comfortable and not to mention incredibly affordable. Plus almost everything is VEGAN!!! These are just another super Summery kind of product to me. I especially love the brighter colors. I have mainly been reaching for some variation on red – Frenchie, Bossy, Julep and Toucan have been my most grabbed in June. You actually don’t get a ton of product in each Lippie Stix, but I’m one to switch my lipstick shade all the time so I’d rather have variety than volume and you actually don’t use them up very quickly. I probably haven’t used up an entire tube of anything since high school (Revlon’s Black Cherry if you’re wondering J). And I certainly haven’t polished off one of the Lippie Stix yet. Cannot recommend the Lippie Stix from ColourPop enough! J
Top to Bottom: Bossy, Frenchie, Julep & Toucan

L to R: Bossy, Frenchie, Julep & Toucan
And that rather long list will do it for June’s Favorites! It’s got a tiny dash of everything thrown in for you this month. I guess that means it’s been a good month. JAs always, I love hearing what other people’s favorites are, so let us know in the comments, or post a link to your post/video and I know at least I will check it out! J I hope everyone is having a wonderful Summer so far and I look forward to seeing you back here soon!!! (I know…so many exclamation points. Will I ever stop? J) Thanks for stopping by!!! (Nope!)

Best of 2013 – Makeup!!! – BECCA, Jouer, NARS, IT Cosmetics, Josie Maran, Urban Decay, NYX, Inglot, Flower & Too Faced

Ah, makeup. There have been a lot of wonderful finds in 2013, and a fair number of sad goodbyes. Stop selling in China formerly cruelty-free companies! Anyway, on to the point of this post – the best makeup of 2013. As I’ve said before, I haven’t chosen an item to fit into a certain category, just made a list of what I truly went back to over and over again. I don’t have a favorite foundation, for instance (thanks Laura Mercier for changing your status!). I didn’t want to pick something just to fill a spot, so I haven’t! So, on to the main event…my favorite Makeup Products of 2013!!! J

Let’s start with face primer, shall we? J I was skeptical about the BECCA Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector when I first tested it on my hand, but then I actually used it and the stars aligned! Ok, it’s not that great, but it’s a wonderful primer for anyone struggling with unwanted shine. I find it’s also a fantastic eye primer (and yes, the package says it is safe for such use)! It keeps me relatively shine-free almost all day and it keeps my shades in place! If you’d like to learn even more about this wonder primer, check out my post here.

I suppose this next item is kind of like a foundation, but it’s technically a tinted moisturizer. It is the Jouer Matte Moisture Tint and it is another deservedly hyped product. If you have skin that tends to get a bit greasy, you probably aren’t a huge fan of most tinted moisturizers. They’re all a bit too shiny. The Matte Moisture Tint actually seems to keep oil at bay without drying out the skin and, something important to me, it provides pretty decent coverage! I would say it has the coverage of a light-medium coverage foundation, while still being very easy to apply and blend like a tinted moisturizer. It’s a seriously wonderful face product and you can read eve more about it here!

In the concealer realm, I was skeptical about the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. I held off on trying it for quite some time and finally caved after seeing nothing but great reviews. The reviews were correct…it’s fantastic! It’s very creamy and so easy to blend, but it has amazing coverage that stays put pretty much all day. I find it best for covering dark spots, acne scarring and blemishes, but it works great under the eyes as well. It doesn’t seem to crease on me, but then that’s not something I typically have a huge problem with anyway. If you’re willing to buy NARS products (their parent company is not cruelty-free, but NARS is), definitely check out the Radiant Creamy Concealer. Believe the hype!

Such an amazing blush line that I discovered in 2013 are the IT Cosmetics Vitality Cheek Stains. So amazing! They are incredibly pigmented so you only need a tiny bit, they blend like a dream and they always look natural. These blushes also last well all day…just like they claim! JThere are not a huge variety of shades available, but they cover the general bases and they are all gorgeous! Check QVC for a set that includes a blush in the shade of your choice plus the amazingFrench Boutique Blush Brush for only a few dollars more than the blush alone – definitely worth it! J

Another blush product that deserves a mention is the Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelée. If nothing more, this blush deserves a mention for it’s innovativeness. That aside, it is such a gorgeous blush and lip tint! It has the most unusual texture and creates the most natural, staining flush of healthy color. It’s such an unexpectedly wonderful product! I love it! You can read my full review here.

For eyeliners, I have three pencil formulas. I’m not going to go into much detail because they are somewhat similar, and it’s really difficult to talk too much about pencil eyeliners! JI always have, and probably always will, love the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils. They’re just wonderfully creamy, yet they don’t budge…and they come in a billion shades. A more budget-friendly option of essentially the same thing is the NYX Slide On Eye Pencils. Not quite as many shades, but every bit as amazing for a fraction of the price! And finally, there are the Flower Easy On The Eyes Long Lasting Eye Pencils that are similar, but have twist-up packaging. If you’d like to learn more about the Flower Eye Pencils, check out my in-depth review here.

I much prefer gel liner to liquid and I am totally impressed by Inglot’s AMC Eyeliner Gel! It is so creamy and insanely pigmented, plus it doesn’t budge…in fact, it can be difficult to remove! It comes in a ton of colors with a variety of finishes. My favorite is just the standard matte black, which is number 77. Perhaps most impressive, I’ve had the jar open for probably about 9 months, and it’s still almost the same as when I first opened it! It definitely has not dried out at all! This is by far the best gel liner I’ve ever used! J

The eye shadow that has stood out the most to me this year is the Color Play Crème Eyeshadowfrom Flower Beauty. I really like these shadows. They have kind of a whipped mousse texture that, though perhaps a bit drier than when I bought them a year ago, are still wonderfully creamy and easy to blend. They can be sheered out, or built into a more opaque shade, and they can easily be worn alone or as a base for powder shadows. I don’t find that they crease either! Quite a feat with my eyes, but they wear very well (I do use a primer underneath). There’s a weird removable stopper on top of the shadow, but I have a feeling it may be there to help keep the shadow from drying it out. Flower really did an excellent job with their Color Play Crème Eyeshadows!

My favorite mascara just barely made it into 2013. It is ridiculously expensive in my opinion (I still only have a sample size), but probably totally worth it! It is the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara! I’m not entirely sure what it is that makes it so wonderful, but it makes your lashes look incredible! It has an hourglass shaped bristle brush. The formula is neither too wet, nor too dry and it doesn’t clump. It adds volume and length with ease, without making your lashes feel crunchy. You can read my full review here. I am so in love with the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara!

I could keep going, but these were the products that made a huge impression on me this year. Most are new, but there are at least one or two old favorites in there. I don’t really have a lip favorite, although there have been tons of wonderful lip products released over the past year. I’m not a huge lip gloss person, or I would have included the Flower Shine On Lip Gloss. It is definitely my favorite gloss of the year. It has a wonderful formula and comes in pretty shades that range from sheer to quite pigmented! But since I don’t wear anygloss much, I didn’t think it was right to include it. So, there you have the true stars of 2013 in my eyes! Stay tuned for my last installment – the Worst Products of 2013! J

Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector from BECCA – Wonder From Down Under?

Not too long ago, BECCAintroduced their Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector. I am always on the hunt for something that will disguise my pores, as well as something to keep oil at bay. This sounded perfect, so of course I had to try it!

I had never tried anything from BECCA before, but have heard wonderful things about the company. It is an Australian brand, but has recently been gaining popularity in the US as well. According to BECCA’s website, “neither BECCA, nor any company contracted to BECCA, conducts tests on animals.” This silicone-free primer claims to control oil and mattify the skin, while minimizing pores for at least 8 hours. Quite the claim! Can BECCA’s Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector live up to its’ promises? Let’s find out!

The first thing I noticed about this primer is the texture. It is quite different from other pore-filling primers I have tried. It does not have that typical silicone-slippery feel to it, probably because the BECCA Primer does not contain silicones (good news for many prone to breakouts!). It is almost more of a thick, dense, clear gel. It’s a difficult texture to describe. It is definitely thick – so thick in fact, that it takes a bit of effort to squeeze the tube and get a dollop of product onto your hand. Somehow it still spreads over the skin without feeling spackled-on or heavy. It is actually easiest to pat the Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector into the skin, which also helps to fill the pores (without clogging them) and to sop up oil. It takes maybe a pea-sized amount to cover my whole face – a bit more than silicone primers, but still a very small amount. Immediately, my skin looks less shiny and there is a slight cooling sensation on application. Score one for the BECCA Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector!

BECCA’s Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector –
about enough to prime each quadrant of my face

Given the unusual texture of the Ever-Matte Primer, I had no idea what to expect when applying foundation over it. Well, my expectations were surpassed! I tend to have slight dry spots here and there to which foundation almost always clings. Not so much with the BECCA Primer underneath the foundation! I have used both powder and liquid foundations over this Primer, and neither gives me much trouble in terms of sticking to, or emphasizing dryness.

As for shine, say goodbye! This primer really does keep me from getting shiny throughout the day. I may have a tiny bit more oil by the end of the day, but nothing major and not as much as with other primers I have used. That’s not to say that my complexion looks devoid of any natural glow either. The Ever-Matte Perfector under my foundations creates a nice, healthy looking complexion, regardless of which foundation I choose. It keeps my skin looking natural all day – not too shiny, not too matte.

As far as pores go, I have no complaints! I have pores that are on the larger side (they used to be non-existant!), and I struggle with primers and foundations that emphasize the giant holes on my face instead of disguising them. The BECCA Primer actually doesseem to make a noticeable difference in the appearance of my pores. They are still there, but they look softer and more diffused. Foundation does not settle into the pores as with so many other primers – or none at all – and I’m left with the appearance of an improved texture to my skin. The oil-controlling abilities of the Primer help keep my pores from cropping up mid-day as well! This is by far the best primer I have found for helping to camouflage and “fill” pores, while not clogging them and causing breakouts! J

BECCA has made a wonderful Primer for anyone with combination to oily skin types, and perhaps even those with drier skins as well! Not only can this Perfector be used alone or under your foundation, it can be used over it for touch-ups and it can be used as an eye primer as well! Though the thick formula takes some getting used to, and it can be a little difficult to get out of the tube, the formula does what it claims…and more! It keeps my skin matte, it reduces the look of my pores and it lasts all day! My foundation glides over the Primer easily without emphasizing imperfections and really does create a “perfected” canvas for applying makeup. I love the BECCA Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector and would definitely recommend it to anyone hoping to control oil, minimize pores and imperfections, prolong the wear of their foundation, or is just looking for something to create a great canvas for other products!
Ingredients: Water, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Propylene Glycol,
Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylene Glycol, Enantia
Chlorantha Bark Extract, & Oleanolic Acid

The BECCA Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector retails for $36 for a 1.35 fl oz / 40mL squeeze bottle/tube. It can be found at Sephora and on BeccaCosmetics.com.

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