Real Techniques


Best of Cruelty Free Beauty 2017 – Makeup for Complexion

Bring out the confetti because it’s time for the fun stuff – Cruelty Free Makeup! I’m gonna keep this to a minimum because there’s a lot that goes into making up one’s face…and it takes a while. 😄 We’re only going to start with complexion products to prevent this from taking days to read. This was perhaps the strangest part of makeup for me in 2017 because, as some of you will know, I started on Accutane mid-year. That means that I started the year with combo-to-oily skin and ended it with super dry, sensitive and dehydrated skin. Not surprisingly, a lot of what worked at one point was awful during the other half of the year. And if I’m being 100% honest here, I’m still hunting for a foundation that looks ok on my dry skin. Actually if I’m fair, I have never found the perfect foundation ever. It either doesn’t exist or I just hate the look of my skin! 😄 Alright. I’ve already gone on a tangent. Let’s just get into some of the Best Cruelty Free Makeup Products for Complexion from 2017!

Best of 2014 – Face Makeup & Tools

Continuing on with the avalanche of annual favorites, today we have the Best in Face Makeup & Tools. Kind of a strange grouping but trust me, it works. J Since the Tools are pretty much all used with Face Makeup, it actually makes sense. So, now that we know what we’re waffling on about, let’s actually do it! J

Probably the best product in the face makeup category that I have tried in 2014 comes from IT Cosmetics and it is the Bye Bye Redness. I guess you’d call it a color-correcting concealer because it really shines for covering up redness, but it can really cover up any kind of imperfection with ease. It’s meant to be used under foundation since it is only available in one shade, but because my skin tone is pretty similar, I often wear it over foundation as well. I have to a bit careful with it because it is quite thick and can emphasize pores, but I find if it’s used sparingly in targeted areas it doesn’t become much of a problem. Since this past year has been filled with red, angriness on my face, the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness has been a life saver (you can read more about it here)!

I’m going to switch things up a bit and move on to a tool! Not only that, it’s a new entrant into the brush realm. I’m talking about Flower Beauty’s new Lip Brush! I don’t actually use it for lipstick, but for concealer (usually the Bye Bye Redness). It’s a nice, dense small flat brush that works perfectly for covering up any pesky trouble spots. I’m torn about the handle because it is a rather cheap feeling plastic, but that also means it’s quite lightweight. Plus I really love the shape of the handle. It looks really gorgeous and it’s affordable as well! J Well done with the Lip Brush, Flower Beauty!

Another concealing tool that I have absolutely loved this year is simply called the Concealer Brush from ELF. This brush is ideal for blending concealer under the eyes. The size and shape is perfect for that area. The bristles are soft and splay out just enough to seamlessly blend without wiping away product. It’s genius – and it’s even more affordable than the Flower Brush. Run, don’t walk to grab the ELF Concealer Brush!

My last tool entry for the year is one that I use for pretty much anything and everything. I’ve used it for blending eye shadow, setting powder, applying both liquid and powder concealers, wiping away fall out. You name it, this brush can do it! It is the Setting Brush from Real Techniques. Again, an affordable brand too! JThis brush is a real powerhouse and is a must-have for anyone.

Getting back to face favorites, I have a few blushes to share. I tend to swap out blush rather frequently, but these formulas definitely deserve a mention. The first set of blushes I fell in love with over the Summer and they are the All-In-One Blushers from The Body Shop. My favorite shade is probably Guavabecause it’s just a nice, bright, pigmented matte pinky-coral. It’s a beautiful color and the formula meshes nicely with the skin. It also wears well and it definitely deserves more attention!

Next, there are the much-hyped Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes. These blushes have the most incredible silky smooth texture and on the skin, they just make the healthiest looking glow. There’s no glitter or shimmer, just luminous goodness. I really love Ethereal Glow for a blush topper that gives that “kissed by an angel” effect (you can read more of my thoughts here). I also love Mood Exposure, which is a surprisingly beautiful neutral plum that works with any look. I have it in the Blush Palette, which you can read more about here. The Ambient Lighting Blushes get a lot of hype, but it’s well deserved because they truly are beautiful.

A perennial blush favorite that needs inclusion this year are the NARS Blushes. Everyone raves about them and they definitely deserve it. The powders are soft and blendable, nicely pigmented and they wear well. In the Summer I could not put down the shade Torrid, which is a nice shimmering peach-leaning pink. Then in the Fall, Outlaw was never far from my reach. It’s a gorgeous almost duo-chrome shade of berry-plum laced with a golden sheen. It looks a bit scary swatched, but it is absolutely stunning on the cheeks! A common favorite among beauty lovers, the NARS Blushesdefinitely found a permanent place in my heart in 2014.

Finally I have my last face favorite. I’m not a big highlighter person, but this year I may have been converted…at least a little bit. JThe Cover FX Illuminator in Moonlight is just absolutely stunning! Depending on how it’s applied, it can look incredibly natural, or it can be built up for a more intense glow. It’s not glittery or sparkly, just a beautiful natural looking highlight. If you’re a bit frightened by highlighters, or just want one with a buildable natural finish, definitely check out the Cover FX Illuminator in Moonlight.

So that does it for my Face Makeup & Tools Favorites of 2014. See, they actually do make sense together! As with the last installment, my prior annual picks will be linked below as well as the other posts for this year. I hope you are enjoying them and I hope you have the strength to return for the next installment in a few days! J

5 Brushes I Use Every Day! – Real Techniques, IT Cosmetics, ELF, Anastasia & Royal & Langnickel

You know those brushes that you never give a second thought to? You know, the ones that you use all the time to the point that you just grab them out of habit? They’re the brushes that get the most love, but the least praise. Well, I literally use these five brushes everyday (that I’m wearing makeup at least!). Since they get so much love from me, I thought I should give them a little attention and share them with you!

I suppose I should go in the order that I use them, which means this Concealer Brush from ELF would be first! I don’t always use a brush for foundation, but I’ve discovered that I really like using a brush with most of my under eye concealers. This one from ELF is relatively new to me…it may be rather new period…but I absolutely adore it! It’s a nice fluffy brush so if nicely diffuses the concealer for a soft-focus finish. It also easily spreads product without absorbing it or moving it around too much. Best of all, it is nice and soft, which is a must under your eyes. I had been using another brush that I really liked the performance of before I found the ELF version, but it was really scratchy. The ELF one is the best I’ve found to date. The only thing I might change about it would be the width. It is a small brush, but it can be a little difficult to get into the inner corner of your eye with it. Not a deal breaker, but a minor tweak I would make.

Once I’m done with the concealer, I like to set it with a powder using the Real Techniques Setting Brush. This brush is actually fantastic for a number of things, but I typically find myself using it for setting under my eyes. Again, it’s soft and fluffy. It doesn’t place too much powder anywhere and it fits under the eye brilliantly. Since it tapers in to a bit of a point, it’s not too tricky to get into smaller areas like the inner corner either. I wouldn’t go trying to line my eyes with it, but it’s just perfect for under the eyes. I also just like the feel of the handle in my hand. Kind of random, but it’s a satisfying feeling! J
Next I probably tend to go for my blush. I absolutely adore the IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe French Boutique Blush Brush. IT Cosmetics just makes fantasticbrushes in general, but this one is suburb! It really places blush right on your cheeks and nowhere else. It’s so, sosoft that it almost doesn’t feel like it’s touching your skin. The synthetic bristles are not too dense, nor are they too loosely packed, so there is enough give to diffuse the color, but without washing things out so heavily that you need to apply your blush twelve times. It’s just absolutely divine and I love it! J
Moving on up to the eyebrows, I have another relatively new brush. I must say that I’m not sure that this specific brush is so fantastic as much as this kind of brush is just a necessity for my brows. The brush I’m currently using is from Anastasia Beverly Hills and it is the #12 Brush. It is quite a thin angled brush that is also quite densely packed. I find it would be perfect for either creating perfectly shaped brows, or, if you’re like me, for filling in relatively thin brows. I’m really not a stickler on these brushes, partly because I often use pencils for my brows when I’m in a rush, but the absolutely necessary part of this brush is the spoolie on the other end! I love brow brushes that include a spoolie and find it ridiculous when they don’t. This spoolie is on the firm side, which I found a bit jarring at first, but it somehow manages to be firm enough to groom brows as necessary without removing too much product. I’m not gonna lie, there’s nothing particularly unusual about this spoolie, but I definitely find a spoolie to be necessary for my brows no matter what I’m doing with them.

Finally I have a brush I picked up from IMATS a few years ago, but didn’t really start using until recently. It’s from Royal & Langnickel and I believe it’s probably just considered their Synthetic Flat Top Kabuki Brush. There’s no name on it, but that describes it perfectly. I use this with a setting powder when I’m completely done with all my makeup. It’s a little firmer than a lot of powder brushes that I have, so I feel like I can really press the powder into my skin nicely. It is still loose enough that it doesn’t make the powder cake or apply too heavily either. I also kind of like that it just has a stubby little bit of a handle because I feel like I have more control over the pressure I use and where I’m placing things. Definitely glad I picked this little guy up! J
And that gets us to five brushes that are definite must haves for me on days I wear makeup! As far as I know, all of these brushes are made with synthetic fibers and I think, with the exception of Royal & Lagnickel, that all of these companies only make synthetic brushes. I’m not 100% sure about Anastasia Beverly Hills or ELF, though they are both cruelty-free brands. I try to only buy synthetic brushes, but a lot of companies don’t state whether a brush is natural or synthetic so it can be difficult to tell. I’m getting on a tangent here. I hope you enjoyed this and found it useful. If you would like to see some more of my favorite brushes, check out this collab post of my 5 Favorite Brushes here. I would love to hear what kinds of application tools youuse everyday too! Leave a comment and let me know! J Thanks for stopping by!!! J

5 Favorite Brushes – Collab with Buying Cruelty Free & Makeup Matters by LNC!!!

I’m really excited about today’s post because it is a cruelty-free brush collaboration with Catherine from Buying Cruelty Free and Lizafrom Makeup Matters By LNC! They are both amazing cruelty-free beauty bloggers that you need to check out!!! Each one of us is sharing our Top Five Cruelty-Free Brushes and I am so excited to see their choices! Please do not miss their posts, which are linked above and near the end of this post (any colored text is a link to whatever is named).

I can’t say I’ve ever used very many natural hair brushes because I’ve always disliked the idea of using animal hair when a synthetic alternative is available. I also just love the way synthetic fibers feel. They are soooo soft! They’re very easy to clean, and I feel like they are more durable than natural hair brushes. Plus, synthetic brushes can be used with both powder and cream products, while natural hair brushes are typically designed for use only with powders. And of course, best of all, no animals are harmed in making a synthetic fiber brush! So without further ado, here are my Five Favorite Brushes – and don’t forget to check out Catherine and Liza’s blogs for their picks as well!

My favorite, and probably most used, brush has to be the Blush Brush from Real Techniques. These brushes were designed by Samantha Chapman, one of the sisters from Pixiwoo on YouTube. The entire line is made with 100% synthetic Taklon fibers, making them all cruelty-free.

Though not the most important, one element of this particular brush that I absolutely adore and wish more companies would do is the flat bottom of the handle! The handle on the Blush Brush is large enough that that flat end of the handle creates a perfect surface to put the brush down while it’s standing up and it won’t fall down! Well, if you bump it, it will, but you get the point. I hateputting the bristles of a brush onto a countertop or other potentially dirty surface, plus they always roll around and often fall onto the floor. The flat-bottomed handles makes this problem disappear!

The Blush Brush has a medium to large, domed brush head full of amazingly soft synthetic fibers. They are not too densely packed, so the brush is great for blending and lightly adding color. This brush feels so nice on the skin!

Though this is called a blush brush, I probably use it more for loose powder than anything else! I like the size of it and the way it feels in my hand. It’s just the perfect size and shape for getting powder to all areas of my face.

That’s not to say it doesn’t work for blush too! I often find myself reaching for this brush for my blush as well. You can concentrate the color on the tip of the brush and, as you swipe it across your cheeks, the outer “hairs” help to blend the color. It makes blush application quick, easy and pretty much goof-proof! J

Another brush I use pretty much any time I wear eyeshadow is the 785 Tapered Blending Brush from Bdellium Tools. This brush is from their Green Bambu line, which consists of eco-friendly, cruelty-free brushes. The handles of these brushes are made from sustainable bamboo, while the bristles are made from hypoallergenic, cruelty-free synthetic fibers. They are also, quite appropriately, green, which I just find kind of refreshing. It also helps them stand out among the sea of brushes around them, which makes them much easier to find!

The head of the 785 Tapered Blending brush is somewhat long and skinny with relatively loosely packed bristles, which makes it perfect for blending, softening and also applying shadows with a light hand. It’s a great size for applying color to the crease as well. I really like the size of this brush because it’s not so big that it over blends different shadows into one giant messy shade, but it’s big enough that it doesn’t take forever to blend out larger areas.

In addition to using this brush for blending, I often find myself using this brush to apply just a light wash of color all over my lids, to lightly darken the crease, to apply a transition color to the crease, and even to add a subtle highlight on my brow bone. Like the Real Techniques Blush Brush, the Bdellium 785 is a bit of an all purpose brush for me.

On to my next favorite eye brush, the Bamboo Eyeshadow Shading Brush from EcoTools. Not only are all EcoTools brushes made with cruelty-free fibers, this brush also has a sustainable bamboo handle and recycled aluminum ferrule, making it environmentally friendly.

I haven’t had this brush very long, but I absolutely love it! It is a pretty densely packed brush that is not too big, nor too small. It is a fairly standard basic eyeshadow shader brush – with one exception. The head is flat and, best of all, the fibers taper to a rounded point in the center of the brush. When held right, the shape mimicks the angle of the outer corner of the eye, as well as the inner corner of the eye, which makes it perfect for easy placement of shadow in these areas. The firmness of the brush does an excellent job of picking up product and applies it evenly as well! It’s the perfect medium-sized eye brush!

Another brush I use all the time is from Urban Decay. It is a really old Blending Brush. They still sell a Blending Brush, and it looks like the same brush, but mine has an old handle design. Like all the rest of these brushes, the Urban Decay brushes are made with cruelty-free synthetic vegan Taklon fibers. This brush is a bit larger than the EcoTools Eyeshadow Brush and much fluffier. I find it is great for setting translucent powder in small areas like under my eyes, or on my eyelids. It’s also great for putting a light wash of color all over the eyelid, or for adding a highlight to the brow bone. It’s even good for placing highlighter on cheekbones! Urban Decay’s Blending Brush is another great multi-purpose brush!

Finally on my list of 5 Favorite Brushes is the Expert Face Brush from Real Techniques. I recently started using this brush for blush and it’s now my go-to blush brush! The head of the brush is kind of an unusual squished oval shape. The handle has the same flat bottom as the Blush Brush so I can stand the two up in a row if I’m feeling silly. J The synthetic fiber hairs are packed somewhat densely, while still feeling really soft. The brush picks up blush nicely, and the shape is just perfect for stippling or gently sweeping color across my cheek bones. I feel like I have good control of the blush with this brush due to its size and shape. It deposits a good amount of product without overdoing it, though I do tend to have a very light hand when it comes to blush! It also works well for cream blushes, thanks to the densely packed synthetic fibers.

This brush also works beautifully for highlighters and for applying and blending out foundation. Another great multi-tasker! 🙂

So there you have my five favorite cruelty-free brushes! I hope this was informative and that you all enjoyed it. Let me know what some of your favorite brushes are!!! And please don’t forget to check out Liza and Catherine’s blogs for their favorite brushes as well! Thank you so much for including me in this collaboration! It was a lot of fun and something I might not have thought to do if left to my own devices. 🙂

Catherine’s post on Buying Cruelty Free can be found


Liza’s post on Makeup Matters by LNC can be found here.

Size comparison and scale of the brushes

All Real Techniquesbrushes are cruelty-free and can be found at Ulta and on RealTechniques.com.

Bdellium Toolshas two lines of cruelty-free brushes. They are the Green Bambu (which is also eco-friendly) and the Yellow Bambu series’. They can be purchased through BdelliumStore.com.
EcoTools brushes are all cruelty-free and also eco-friendly. They are widely available at places like Ulta, Target, Walmart, many drugstores and online at EcoTools.com.
Urban Decaybrushes are all cruelty-free and can be found at Ulta, Sephora and on UrbanDecay.com. I should add that Urban Decay has apparently been purchased by L’Oreal, which is a company that tests on animals. For now, Urban Decay is still a separate company (much like The Body Shop, also owned by L’Oreal) and has retained its original no animal testing policy. Their products ARE NOT being sold in the Chinese market. I have kept Urban Decay on my cruelty-free list for now, but you may feel differently because of their new parent company.
Another company that has some great cruelty-free lines is Royal & Langnickel. Of particular note is their Revolution Series made from high quality synthetic fibers. These can be a bit pricey, but they are amazing brushes. I feel like I haven’t tested mine enough to justify putting them on this list, but they are definitely great brushes. Royal & Langnickel also has an eco-friendly line of synthetic filament brushes called SILK Green Line. All of these brushes can be found online at RoyalBrush.com.

Disclaimer: All brushes mentioned in this post were purchased by me. I have not been compensated in any way for this post, nor do I benefit from any of the links included.

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