Monday, February 23, 2015

Product Review: Tarte Tartelette Amazonian Clay Matte Eyeshadow Palette

The palette relative to the size of my hand. It's smaller than it looks online.
That title is a mouthful, I'm not even going to lie. When I first really started to get into makeup, I was (and still am) really into shimmer. Shimmer and glitter was the THANG. Urban Decay's Naked Palettes were like WHOA. But every now and again, a girl needs a matte eyeshadow. Whether it's a transition shade or you're just feeling not so sparkly that day, every girl should have a choice of matte shadows to choose from. If you wanted to, you could buy singles...or you could buy an all matte palette. I was very thrilled when I saw Tarte was releasing a palette just full of matte neutral colors. I think it is limited edition, but I can't be sure. 

Tarte was inspired by beauty bloggers/vloggers when it named the individual colors in the palette. If you are interested in who they are, you can read about it on Tarte's Website! It contains 12 beautiful matte neutral colors and is $44 available at Sephora and Tarte.com. I wasn't sure I really wanted to check out this palette until I touched the shadows in the store. They are unbelievably creamy, buttery and soft. As soon as I touched it, it was in my basket and I was checking out. Ridiculous.

Thank you Tarte, for printing the names of the colors on the palette. Look at that reflection of me taking this pic. Amateur.
So, I'm going to be completely honest with you here...I almost returned this. I really struggled with this palette. I had trouble making the colors show up on my skin and I had a really hard time blending them. It was a mess. I kept the box around for days...weeks. Then, one day...I just decided to start really trying to figure out what the issue was.

I've never really used matte eyeshadows. Not really.

There is a serious learning curve when it comes to all matte eyeshadow looks. It does not blend the same or apply the same as eyeshadows that are satin, shimmer or glittery finish. It just doesn't. Sure, maybe you use one here and there to work with your look, but if you've never tried to work with ONLY matte eyeshadows and make your look happen, you'll be in for a rude awakening. It's a different animal and it's a whole different set of skills. Once I got around the idea that I needed to work with these differently, I really enjoyed this palette.

Swatches over primer in order from left to right, top to bottom.
Swatches over primer...different light
So, I think this palette is worth the money. You get a little instruction book to use with it that tells you how to do two different looks. For the sake of this review, I did the "Daytime" look, which used Caregiver (light pink) on the lid to the brow bone, Natural Beauty (Mauve) on the inner crease, Best Friend (Mulberry) on the outer crease and Bombshell (Dark Plum) to line the lid with a wet liner brush. I actually don't have an angled liner brush (Which I think would have worked better, it's on my wishlist!) I have a Sonia Kashuk pencil brush, which worked okay. I'm not a makeup artist, but I figured Tarte thought any old Beauty Blogger could do this look. I think the effect was pretty and natural. Especially since I love pinks and mauves. I have a hooded, almond shaped eye, so there isn't much real estate to really work with here, but I think I did an okay job for an amateur. If I can do one thing, it's follow directions.
Tarte's "Daytime" look from the Instructions. Did I do it right?
Close up of the look. Kinda pretty, right?
All of the colors watched beautifully and I had no issues with pigmentation. The only one that was a bit weak was Power Player (Taupe), but it's not terrible. I was VERY impressed by the Black (Fashionista). It's quite black and intense. I am going to enjoy using it as a liner or to do a smokey eye. The rest of the colors are quite pretty and this is a great palette for using on its own or as a go-to when you need a matte color in a look with shimmery colors too.

I've never had serious issues with Tarte Eyeshadows not being long wearing and the lasting power on these is good. I didn't find that there was any fallout with these shadows at all and they are not terribly powdery which is great. This is a nearly perfect matte palette. What do you think? Are you used to working with matte eyeshadows? Is it different than shimmer/satin/glitter finish eyeshadows?
Saturday, February 21, 2015

Product Review: Tarteist Clay Paint Liner

Having discovered the wonder of cream eyeliner this year, this product intrigued me. It was in a tube and came with a really nice looking brush. For those of you who don't know...gel or cream eyeliner typically comes in a glass pot that you use with a brush and you can apply it to your top eyelash line or anywhere really. Even your waterline, just be careful. There are some pretty good gel eyeliners at the drugstore, L'Oreal makes a lovely one as well as Milani and Maybelline. Benefit makes one in a pen form which is...not good. But I digress...

Tarte is one of my favorite high-end cosmetic brands. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know how I feel about the Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blushes. The Tarteist Clay Paint Liner is a cream liner in a tube. It comes with a very nice angled eyeliner brush, which is a very nice bonus. The brush is quite nice and I think Tarte is terrific for giving the brush with the product. This claims to be a waterproof cream liner, that wears for 12 hours. Tarte is really pushing that 12 hour time period, aren't they? It retails for $24 available at both Sephora and the Tarte Website.

The tube delivery system is really different and innovative. I found this to be a very sanitary way to use the product, provided that you don't squeeze out a ton of product on the easel.

Tarteist Clay Eyeliner and the included angled eyeliner brush

Product with the cap off

Squeeze the tube and a little bit comes out and you can work on your little eyeliner easel!

Hand swatches. It dries completely matte.
The angled brush that comes with the liner is really nice! There were a lot of reviews on the Sephora website that stated the brush didn't allow for a lot of accuracy, but I actually found the tip to be very precise. I was able to get a thin line at both ends of my liner and was able to build up the line in the middle. 

The product itself is quite liquidy for a cream liner. The liners that come in a pot are solid (but creamy, like peanut butter?) and this is most definitely a liquid. However, it is very creamy and is easy to pick up on the brush. It smoothed on to my lash line without tugging and very smoothly. Because it is so liquidy, it is not as opaque as a solid gel liner. If you let the liner dry a bit and go over it again, you will find it's very black and dries completely matte.

Once it sets (I left it alone for about 10 minutes), it is pretty much waterproof as it claims. I was able to smudge a bit of it off on my hand when I rubbed it. I am hardly ever doing this to my eye area so this didn't concern me. Did it wear 12 hours? Not sure...I wore it for about 9 hours and it was fine. At the end of the day, it was easy to remove with an oily eye makeup remover. But it doesn't come off easily with soap and water or facial cleanser. It's pretty waterproof...but you can smudge it.

The eyeliner applied on my top lid only
A view of both eyes done! I'm also wearing Tarte Amazonian Clay blush in Blushing Bride and LipSurgence Lip Tint in Moody!
The Verdict: If you are a fan of gel or cream eyeliners...give this a try! It's a decent size for what it is and it comes with a really great brush that I'm happy to have in my collection.

Pros: Cool product delivery method, Comes with a brush, sanitary, matte, easy to apply, decent black pigmentation, waterproof, long-lasting

Cons: Liquid-like texture affects the opacity of the liner, not totally smudge proof

As I'm writing this review, this eyeliner is sold out on both Sephora's website and Tarte's website! Why do you think it's so popular? Do you want to try this? What is your favorite gel liner? Tell me in the comments!
Friday, February 20, 2015

Boston Snow...how bad is it?


If you don't live in New England, you've probably been seeing some coverage in the news about how New England is having record-breaking amounts of snow this winter. Before the end of January, we were actually running a snow deficit. We looked winter in the eye and pointed our index fingers in its direction and laughed. Winter had been a cakewalk! Where was the snow? Sure it was kinda cold, but we were convinced we were going to get off scot-free.

And then blizzard Juno happened on January, 26. Okay, Winter, you showed us. We were asses to laugh at you. She dropped 2' of snow here in Boston and we were like...OKAY. That's cute, you can stop now.

On Groundhog Day, we got more. MUCH MORE. Every Sunday/Monday it seemed to blizzard with Mother Nature sprinkling annoying intermittent snow in between just to be a biotch. We went from Holiday Paradise from Frozen Hell in 23 Days. She dumped 58 or so MORE inches of snow on top of what was already there in three weeks. Plows drive by and just push snow to the side of the street and when you're pushing like 8' of snow to the side of the street, you basically replace a parking spot with snow so...

No Parking. No, seriously.

That snow needs like a thousand parking tickets.
Both sides of the streets now have snow, making the roads incredibly narrow and challenging for two lanes of traffic to exist on. You can only park on one side of the street in some places. My husband and I have taken to a game which is called: Snow Pile or Car? I believe some people have just given up. There's no place to park your chariot anyway once you get to where you're going. Boston is a challenging place to drive enough WITHOUT all the damn snow.
Is it a Car? Is it just a Snow Pile?
Can't drive? No problem! Just take the ever-so-reliable MBTA, the world's oldest public transport system! Well, guess what? There was so much snow...it crippled the poor MBTA. I've been living here for 20 years and for the first time in my memory, the MBTA (Otherwise known as the "T") just put up both its hands and shut it completely down. No buses. No Trains. No Ferries. No commuter rail. NOTHING. There is too much snow on the tracks, stuff is frozen and the T is completely crippled. The T usually can return to regular service if it's disrupted within a few hours, but officials from the MBTA are saying it could be 30 days or more (provided there isn't any more snow). Your commute which might have taken 30 minutes might take hours now. People are just walking instead to get to where they're going.

And lastly...as you may have heard...Bostonians are going crazy and jumping out of windows into snow piles. It seems we are hoarding all the snow in the Nation. Someone better call A&E. 

Terrifyingly enough, we are getting rain and 46 degree temps on Sunday which scares the crap out of me because it's going to FREEZE EVERYTHING. WHY?!?! It's all become very depressing. You don't want to leave your house because temps are somewhere between 4 and 24˚ F with wind chills often below 0˚. Sidewalks are seriously treacherous. Because of the massive piles of snow and ice in intersections on sidewalks, my new paranoia is falling into the street as I attempt to cross. I wouldn't bat an eye at walking a mile under normal circumstances, but walking even around the block right now is a daunting proposition. I cannot begin to describe the misery and aggravation Bostonians feel on a daily basis. It feels like the snow will never melt and when it does, there will be a host of new problems with flooding, leaking, rust and road damage. Winter is not even close to being over and everyone in New England is counting the days until Spring in this currently 2nd Snowiest Winter in history. How is Winter where you live?

Keep Calm and bake more cookies...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Product Review: Benefit Roller Lash Mascara


Sephora always gets me with their little promotional emails, and when I saw there was a chance to try this new mascara before it was released, I jumped right on it. I am a mascara and blush junkie. I did like the They're Real mascara when it was first released (Read my review on that mascara here. I've found others that I've liked more since then, but it's still a nice mascara). I was excited to see how much I would enjoy Roller Lash.

Roller Lash will be officially for sale next Friday, the 27th of February (at 10:00AM Sharp!) and it will retail for $24. Frankly, this is quite expensive for a mascara, but considering the Better Than Sex mascara that Too Faced makes (which is my favorite right now) is $23, the price is consistent with the rest of Benefit's line. Right now, it is showing up on Sephora's website as VIB and VIB Rouge exclusive and I was able to add it to my shopping cart.

So...before I get into this review, you should know that this mascara claims to lift and curl lashes and they claim that the brush was inspired my old-school rollers. I haven't worn a roller in a long time, but I remember them...there's a bunch of rollers under this shower cap type hairdryer...

circa 1985?
So let me also preface this review by saying, I have very naturally curly eyelashes. It's just something you should know. I've never had to use an eyelash curler, except to un-curl my lashes in order to put on false lashes., which I hardly ever wear. So, I can't speak to whether this mascara keeps a curl or makes them curl. That is just something I cannot tell you about. Now that that's out of the way, I can get to the review. 

One thing Benefit does exceptionally well is packaging. Every single product is adorably packaged and this mascara sample is no exception. The full-sized product looks different than the sample. You can see what it looks like here on the Benefit Website. Here is what the sample I got from Sephora looks like: 

Benefit packaging and marketing is pretty top notch
The inner packaging gives you the down low on the price, availability and there's even a hashtag!
The sample size is a third of the full size, so a great little value
The plastic wand is has very fine spikes and is slightly crescent-shaped
My initial thoughts when I opened the product is that the mascara formula is very wet, which I find very appealing. I don't like drier formulas (like Dior mascaras) because I find that the product doesn't transfer to my lashes. That being said...it is slightly messy to apply if you have already curly lashes like I do. There will be a lot of mascara on the wand when you pull it out of the tube. To avoid making too much of a mess, apply your mascara looking down into a mirror instead of looking straight on. Here is what my lashes look like without any mascara at all. They are pretty pathetic. Excuse my undone brows! This was pre-brow dress!

My lashes with no mascara
I applied one coat of the roller lash mascara. I was very pleased and pleasantly surprised with this one coat of product on my lashes! It made them look SO MUCH longer and blacker. It did lift them up as the product claimed and I thought the effect was very pretty with just one coat. I could have stopped there and been very happy. But for the sake of this review, I applied two more coats.

The left eye has one coat of Roller Lash and the right eye has nothing
Applying a second coat of mascara is where some problems started. It dries fairly quickly and by the time I got around to applying a second coat, it started to become a little clumpy. My lashes started to stick together and I didn't want to apply any more coats. That being said, from a normal distance, it still looked really pretty. 

Two coats of Roller Lash on the left eye
Three coats of product was VERY clumpy and was hard to apply. I went through with an eyelash comb to get rid of some of the really terrible clumps. It still doesn't look too spidery in the photo, but it was starting to get that way. I still really like the effect of this mascara. I think it has a nice lifting effect, but I think it helped to actually look my obnoxiously curly lashes act not so curly, which is probably not what Benefit would like to hear, but that's just what happened to me.

Three coats of Roller Lash on the left eye only
Here is the result of three coats on both sets of eyelashes.


The Verdict: This is a really, really nice mascara! A great formula and a great brush. I am very impressed by the lengthening and separating and lifting effect of this mascara. I find the effect to be as if the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara and L'Oreal Telescopic had a baby. Not bad at all. Probably a great mascara for layering and making mascara cocktails.

Removing this was not easy. I had to take a little bit more time with my Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover, but it came off eventually. I believe soap and water alone will not remove this and you probably need an oily makeup remover to dissolve it.

Pros: Cute Packaging, Very black, lengthening, Separating, Lifting effect is amazing
Cons: Gets clumpy when layered, messy - a lot of product will be on the wand, price point is high

The Bottom Line: If you have $24 burning a hole in your pocket, it's a great thing to pick up. It's a beautiful mascara. That being said, there are about 20 mascaras at the drugstore you can buy for less than $14 that will have nearly the same effect. Drugstore mascara is so good that high end mascaras have to REALLY perform to be worth the extra cost. This mascara performs well and I will probably pick up a full size after my sample is gone as a treat for myself, but is it a new Holy Grail? Probably not. But I do really like it and I want to give Benefit a high five.

What do you think? Do you think you will be trying this out? Have you tried any other Benefit mascaras? Let me know in the comments below!
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Stylish Awards: Best in Beauty 2014 - FACE

Good morning, beauty product junkies! Boy, has it been a while since I've posted here. We have been having quite a bit of snow here in Boston. In case you have been under a rock for the past few weeks, we have had a record-breaking amount of snow here in Boston. It has been the snowiest February of all time and we are on pace to be the snowiest Winter in Boston's History! Thankfully, my car has been in a covered garage since the first storm, but I can't say the same about my poor husband's car which has been under a large amount of snow for a while. He's been doing a great job digging it out though! (And I have been cheering for him from inside our warm apartment)

It's time for the next installment of the Stylish Awards. This time, we are going to talk about face products today! Again, I will try to give an award to each a high end product and a more affordable product. Some categories don't have any at all, but I will be happy to give some recommendations. For example, I don't use liquid foundations. I just think they are gross, which I didn't because the bottles look really cool and it just seems like it would be so much fun to use a Beauty Blender or a beautiful foundation brush. But it's not right for my skin, so I won't be recommending any liquid foundations. However, I do have other face products that I absolutely LOVE.

Best Primer (High End): Benefit POREfessional ($10-$42, Benefit Website, Sephora)


A mini size of the POREfessional Primer

I have gone back and forth with whether or not I like this primer. I have only ever received samples of this, but luckily, I believe I have received .6 oz of product samples and I don't use this all over my face. I have been using this, along with a few other primers. I tried the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, which is not bad. I have also tried the Becca Primer, but I found it too intensely drying. It was great in summer when my skin acts a little more oily, but in the other seasons, it was too intense. I liked this primer at first, then I didn't like it so much. I recently decided to start trying it again and it's now my favorite high end primer. It's a beige colored, but it doesn't have enough color to make an impact on my deeper skin tone (Benefit claims it's "translucent"). If you pat it into the places where your pores are larger (I have large pores on my cheeks) it will fill them in nicely. I also like to use it on places I get shiny. It has a powdery finish on your skin. This is a great product, albeit a bit expensive as most Benefit products tend to be. If you can get your hands on the mini size, it will be last you a while and it's only $10 from Sephora.

**You should know** This product contains both silicones and fragrance. This doesn't irritate my skin, but it is an irritant for some people. It doesn't have much of a fragrance, so I can't figure out why they would add this. For the record, most primers contain silicones and these are perfectly okay for most people to apply to the skin.

Best Primer (Drugstore): Rimmel Stay Matte Primer $5-$7 Drugstores



Disclaimer, I only really like this product in the summer or any other time where the humidity is higher. I tend to get a little more oily at those times and this is a great primer for making sure your T-Zone stays matte. I stumbled on to this at a Walgreens and I usually find that it's sold out at the Rimmel display. This is the only Rimmel product I've ever purchased. Brands that seem to me not terribly friendly to deeper skin tones (Benefit is the other brand I have a love/hate relationship with), I tend to avoid, but the term "Stay Matte" jumped out at me and it was inexpensive, so I gave it a try. I loved this stuff! I loved it more as a mattefier and not as a "primer" per say. This is a white cream, so if you are deeper skin toned, you should be careful with this. Mixing it with your moisturizer is a good idea. Otherwise, it's VERY EASY to put it on and discover ashy white patches on your face when you look into a mirror. I wouldn't use this product if you have dry skin, but combination skins and oily skins especially will love this.

Best Powder Foundation (High End, no drugstore entry): Too Faced Cocoa Powder Foundation


Smells like chocolate!

This is Tan
For a while, I was just into wearing a sheer application of tinted finishing powder instead of foundation because I wanted to see my skin, but I just wanted to even out my skin tone a little. Although my skin looks pretty good, I just wanted the sheerest amount of coverage. I was already a fan of the Too Faced Chocolate Bar and all their related products. This powder foundation is beautiful. I chose the color Tan and there is one darker color. Medium Tan and Tan are very similar, but Tan seemed a better match. This is a very, very soft powder and it comes with a foundation sponge. As with all products that come with a sponge, I have never used this sponge. I'm actually not sure what to do with it.

Being a soft powder, it will kick up a very large amount of powder when you touch your brush to it. I have been using the Sephora Multitasker Mineral Powder Brush to apply it and it works wonderfully. As long as you are very careful with your brush, you will enjoy this foundation. This is a light to medium coverage powder, so you will be able to see your skin through the powder. If you are looking for complete coverage, this is not the product for you. But if you have oily or combination skin and you would like light to medium coverage, this is a great product. It really does have a "rose petal" finish. 

Best Blush (High End): Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush $26, Tarte Website, Sephora 


Some of my Tarte Blush collection. Some Amazonian Clay Blushes with some Cheek Stains also!

Ho boy...I love this stuff. I love blushes in general and just cannot get enough of them and this was a tough choice. There is something about rubbing pink powder on my face that makes me insanely happy and I've been guilty of leaving the house looking like a clown on a few occasions (GET A GOOD LIGHTED MIRROR). Both Nars blushes and Becca Blushes are really nice, but there is something about these blushes that is SPECTACULAR. I own 13 shades of this formula and they are all beautiful, long-lasting and very pigmented. If you have a nice powder brush you do NOT need to pick up a ton of product. Better to start with a little and build these babies up to your desired intensity. I don't know what makes "Amazonian Clay" so magical, but the formula on these is great.

If you are in the store checking these out, they do NOT swatch well. I don't know what the deal is, the formula is a little stiff in the pan and you cannot pick up a lot of color with your finger to try it out. If you need to try it in the store, grab some sort of applicator. I have been very surprised about how lame colors have swatched on my hand from this line and how intensely the color showed up on my cheeks with my blush brush. These are expensive at $26 a pop, but worth the splurge in my opinion. At holiday time, they have had a blush palette for around $40-$45 with five colors in it. This past year, the pans were ALMOST a full size each, so if you can't stomach paying for individual compacts, if you are patient enough to wait for holiday releases (October), you can get many for the price of 2 or something. These blushes are very friendly to brown or deeper skin tones (the peaches and oranges are especially flattering) and the fairest of skin tones will find that Exposed and Dollface are perfect. There's something for everyone in this line.

Best Blush (Drugstore): Milani Baked Blush & Rose Blush $7-$9 Drugstores, Milani Website


Milani Baked Blush in Red Vino and Rose Blush in Romantic Rose

When it comes to most drugstore makeup, I feel like the quality in general of products has been much improved as of late. Most products from the drugstore can compete with the quality of products from high end brands and with some products (such as mascara) can exceed it in performance and quality. For some reason, I have not found a drugstore blush that is as lovely to use as most of the high end products I own. There are certainly some decent blushes out there, but none have impressed me as much as the blushes from the Milani line. Milani is a great drugstore line that makes products that flatter a variety of skin tones, which I find very appealing. Products from this line perform VERY well consistently (not to say that there haven't been some misses) but the blushes are a standout. The baked blushes are lovely and most of them contain a shimmery powder mixed in, but a few are matte. The formula is very smooth and can rival any high end blush. As with all baked products, a light hand should be used upon initial application.

Last Spring they introduced a limited-edition matte blush in which the product was a rose embossed powder. This was such a popular product that they recently re-released it and it is now part of the permanent line in 3 colors. The formula is different as this is not a baked product, but it is GORGEOUS. A review is forthcoming! Who wouldn't want this on their vanity?

Best Under Eye Concealer (Drugstore): Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Concealer $10 drugstores

Notice the gross applicator
Creamy texture, applied to my hand which is darker than my face.

I'm tired. Let's face it. I'm not getting enough sleep and I'm fricking tired. I always seem to have dark circles under my eyes and I've recently taken to putting a small amount of effort in to look less tired. I picked this up from the drugstore in the shade Medium and this stuff is GREAT. I do have to say that the applicator is GROSS. I reluctantly use the applicator because I'm lazy, but you can't really clean it and it's just kind of gross. I also have heard rumblings that the mechanism is a little flawed, but the product inside is great. Sponge it on (gross), blend it out a little, set it with some powder...Boom, you don't look tired. Nothin' more to say.

Best Under Eye Concealer (High End): Tarina Taratino Eye Dream Hyperlight $22 


Dumb, but it should be noted that this brand has exquisite, luxurious packaging

The product on my hand. It's a brightening, salmony pink color

Okay, so this isn't a concealer...it's a brightener. It's a pinky-colored cream in a pen. I received this in a beauty box, which is why I know about it. Otherwise, I would never have tried this product. You know what? It's pretty good! Even on my deeper skin tone, this kind of balances out the dark circles under my eyes and makes me look more awake. You can use this product all over your face as a highlighter as well, but I love this for canceling out dark under eye circles. This brand is not sold at Sephora anymore but I've seen it on Hautelook a few times, so if you are patient...wait until it's on flash sale again and snag one for half price.

Best Highlighter/Luminizer (High End Only...Sorry!): Tie Josie Maran Argan Illuminizer ($28) & Benefit Watt's Up ($30)

Here's the deal with Luminizers or Highlighters. I love them, they are fun and they can add a super lovely glow to your face as a finishing touch. Like a JLo effect. However, I find that when I use these products, I use the smallest, tiniest, most minuscule amount of product. I use much less of this per application than I do ANYTHING. I don't want to look like a disco ball. Just a little on the tops of my cheeks, below my brow and on the cupid's bow above my lips is enough for me. I take serious issue with how much product is included with the full-sizes of these products. Cream products have some of the shortest shelf lives of the cosmetic world (only second to mascara and liquid/gel eyeliners) , so there's no way...unless you were insane with it, that you could use up the entirety of this product before it goes bad. The product waste is insane. That being said...my favorite highlighters are both cream products. Both versions of this product that I own are sample sizes, which I could realistically use up (maybe not the Josie Maran one).

A miniature size of the Argan Illuminizer which is a very generous 0.5oz

The lovely glow

I couldn't make a choice between both of these products because they are both quite lovely. The Josie Maran Argan Illuminizer I received in a giftset with some other Josie Maran color collection items. It comes in a bottle with a pump, which is very sanitary. One entire pump of this product is TOO MUCH. I usually pump a small amount on to the back of my hand and blend it into the tops of my cheeks with my finger or a small stippling brush. The product has a bronze/champagne color. It is not glittery, it simply has a beautiful glow to it. It's subtle and gorgeous. I don't know why more beauty bloggers/vloggers don't talk about this product more. The full size is huge. It's not going to make you look greasy or shiny, it just gives an ethereal effect to your face and it rocks.


100pt Perk Sample size from Sephora

A bit lighter than the Josie Maran product, but just as subtle.

For a company that I have mixed feelings about, Benefit has hit it out of the park with a few products here. Watt's Up is a beautiful, cream stick highlighter. It's a champagne color and is flattering to almost every skin tone. It blends very beautifully and is not over the top shimmery and glittery. Just that JLo Glow that I was going for. It looks beautiful on the skin and is a lovely consistency. You can apply the product directly to your face or use a stippling brush. I got a sample size as a 100pt perk from Sephora as a Beauty Insider but I doubt I would purchase the full size ever. It's just too much product to make a commitment to in my opinion as I like variety, but it is too nice not to mention.

So there are my top picks from 2014 for the face! What do you think? Have you tried or loved any of these products? It's almost the end of February, so these reviews are a little late, but better late than never, right!?
Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Stylish Awards: Best in Beauty 2014 - EYES

Happy New Year, dear readers! Okay...so obviously, I failed at Blogmas.  Maybe next year? *shrug*

Now that that's out of the way, I can get to the point! I present to you the first of a series of posts dedicated to the best beauty products I've used last year. I'll be dedicating posts to makeup, hair products, skin care and beauty "helpers". I'm excited to be starting with eye makeup and I'll be giving two awards per product. One award for a drugstore product and one for a higher end product. These are products that I have actually tried in 2014, so these may not be the best out there, but they are the best I've discovered. There are also no limited-edition products here because...hey, that's not fair. So, here we go!

Best Eyeshadow Palette (High End): Too Faced Chocolate Bar $49



Swatches on my arm from the top left to bottom right - no primer!
This palette is my favorite palette that I have purchased all year and I purchased a lot of palettes last year. I have a thing about eyeshadow palettes and I just can't resist them. I like to rotate which ones I use throughout the year so that I give love to my entire collection, but this one has been my hands down favorite. Not only does it smell like chocolate (it is made with cocoa powder), the color payoff is amazing, the shadows are buttery soft and the neutral color selection is a knockout. It comes in an adorable metal tin with a magnetic closure (they actually redesigned this packaging to be less bulky, but I have the bulkier original packaging). It looks like a chocolate bar (A+ for cuteness) and as soon as you open it, you get a whiff of beautiful chocolate scent. It's not overpowering, it's just enough to make you go; "Yum!". The scent does not stay on your skin once you apply the product (unlike the cocoa powder foundation, but we'll get to that in a little while), but the palette does smell like one of those packets of hot chocolate. Every color you need in the world is here, but I have my favorites of course. However, there is not a single color here I haven't tried and they are all beautiful. The only downside is that there is no black color here, which is important if you want to create a smokey eye look, but I hardly ever do that, so it's not a deal breaker for me. If you buy ANY high end eyeshadow palette, I would recommend this one over the Urban Decay Nakeds (although I like them, they are just GLITTER CITY). It smells good, you get a huge mirror, color payoff is bomb...seriously, get off your butt and order this palette right now! There is a newer version of this palette that exists, but I have not gotten a chance to try it yet and word on the street is that it's not as good.

Best Eyeshadow Palette (Drugstore): Wet n' Wild Color Icon 8-Pan Palette in Comfort Zone $3-$5

Arm swatches, no primer...can we talk about that duo-chrome blue/brown for one second? I mean...come on...
I remember the days when cosmetics from Wet n' Wild were just cheap...and also terrible. Well, this company (as well as every other drugstore brand) has stepped up its game. This little 8-Pan palette is in-credible. They are long-lasting, the color payoff is super and the colors are beautiful and comparable to the Urban Decay neutral colors that are offered in the Naked Palettes (The dark color in this pan and Blackheart in the Naked 3 Palette are exactly the same color). This is a BEAUTIFUL palette and for around $5, you really can't go wrong here. There are a couple of other color selections offered in this 8-Pan Palette format, but I have not tried them. This palette comes with a couple of applicators, but I would go ahead and use your own brushes as I do with every product. Companies do not spend a lot of money giving you a nice brush to go with your product (with the exception of Urban Decay, who gave a decent brush in all their Naked Palettes. I still don't like the brush very much, but it's better than some others I've seen). I do want to say that products in EVERY line of cosmetics are hit or miss. I find generally that Wet n' Wild eyeshades are nice in general, but sometimes, the formulas in their "limited edition" palettes is not as good as the formulas from the permanent line. However, I reiterate that this is true with most cosmetic brands, both drugstore and higher end.

Best Single Eyeshadows (High End): Urban Decay $18 ea



Urban Decay Single Eyeshadow in Sin
In my opinion, if you want a single color and you're new to high end makeup, buy one of these or maybe even two. I know that some people love the Makeup Forever Shadows, but I can't speak to those. These are expensive, but they are fantastic. The texture is buttery and the color payoff is spectacular. The only thing I have to mention is that there are a lot of glittery shades offered (oooh, sparkly!) and there is a tremendous amount of fallout that you may experience. Use a good primer (Urban Decay happens to make a fantastic one, but we'll get to that later!) and have a clean fluffy face brush on hand to brush away the particles.

Best Single Eyeshadows (Drugstore): **A TIE!!!!** L'Oreal Infallible 24 HR Eyeshadow $5-$9 ea. & Milani Bella Eyes Gel Powder Eyeshadow $3-$5 ea.

Bella Gold, Bella Bronze and Bella Emerald...
I just could not decide between the two of these products because BOTH of them are amazing. So, I will give a little love to the both of them. First, I'll talk about the Milani eyeshadows, which are beautiful and very affordable. I find that they are between $3 and $5 at CVS. I'm not sure what the name "gel powder" implies since these are a fun shape in the pan (looks like they are baked?). Milani says the product starts as a gel but is transformed into a powder by a "special process". Sounds magical, doesn't it? Anyway, don't let that fool you, this product is, in fact, a powder. It's stiff when you put your finger or brush in it which is slightly disappointing because it looks as though it would be bouncy or something. However, this little eyeshadow is AMAZING. I find that it works best to use your finger to apply it (or a damp brush). Every color I've tried is beautiful and they are long-lasting. I wish I had every color.


L'Oreal makes beautiful products and this eyeshadow is no exception. It is actually a pressed pigment in a pot (meaning it's not a packed powder, but highly pigmented color particles that are pressed together but not adhered together, if you dropped it, it would fall apart...I've found this out the hard way). It comes in a cute little pot with a little press stopper that you are supposed to keep inside the product. I've also find that this product is best applied with a finger and the color payoff is PHENOMENAL. It is also extremely long wearing and great for single eyeshadow looks or for slapping on if you are in a hurry. My favorite shade has been Amber Rush. I just slap this on my eyelids and BOOM, I'm out the door. These are gorgeous, go get you some! Don't drop yours on the floor like I did. You'll be sad. They are a little expensive for a single drugstore eyeshadow (I think they are about $9 at CVS), but worth it.

Best Liquid Eyeliner (High End): Stila Stay All Day Liquid Waterproof Eyeliner $20



It's no secret that I love liquid eyeliner, but I was always hesitant to try a pen form. I was pretty attached to a bottle and brush type applicator until I got one of these in a Sephora Giftset. It. is. amazing. The tip is precise, the liner is very black and it stays in place all day. I have this in three other colors and the product seems to last a long time. It's very easy to use.

Best Liquid Eyeliner (Drugstore): E.L.F. Liquid Eyeliner $1

This shiz is ONE DOLLAR. Brush and a bottle, so you need some practice if you're not good at it. I'm not saying it's amazing, but it's pretty good and it's ONE DOLLAR. It does smudge a bit if you touch it though.

Best Pencil Eyeliner: JURY STILL OUT

I struggled a bit here throughout the year and I'm open to suggestions. I have used a few pencil eyeliners to tightline with (I don't normally wear liner in my waterline), but by the end of the day. it's halfway down my face. It infuriates me and I need a waterproof eyeliner to tightline that is going to stay in place. I might try to tightline with a gel liner and give up on pencils altogether.

Best Gel Eyeliner (Drugstore):  L'Oreal Infalliable Lacquer Liner 24 HR about $10

So, I have never used a higher end gel liner (aside from the Benefit They're Real Pushup Liner which...*sigh*, will appear in a later blog post) but I don't think I need to. This liner is awesome. It's super black, stays in place and glides on super smooth. I don't use the brush that came with it because I need to use an angled eyeliner brush otherwise, it's a hot mess. That being said, it does come with a nice brush that you can use if you are skilled or if you don't have curly lashes that get in the way, which is my issue. I'm new to gel eyeliner and I find that it is really nice if you need your eyeliner to be intensely black (or whatever color you prefer). The Maybelline Eyeliner is nice too but I found this dried out quickly, even if stored upside down. That being said, I don't have a favorite high end gel liner because I didn't like the one that I tried this year.

Best Mascara (Drugstore): L'Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara $7-$8



The truth is, I happen to think a LOT of drugstore mascaras are EXCELLENT. I like them more than most high end mascaras and I find that both L'Oreal and Maybelline make excellent formulas. I happen to love a LOT of L'Oreal Mascaras, especially lately, the Miss Manga, which I hated at first. It's got a funny brush on it and it's bendy and weird...however, once you get past that, the mascara is actually very good. However, I have been using L'Oreal Voluminous since I was a teenager and it was one of my favorites (along with Lash Out which is sadly discontinued). I hadn't used it for a while and the Carbon Black version of the formula is amazing. Not only is it volumizing, I also find that it lengthens my lashes as well and doesn't make them hard or crispy. It allows my lashes to be soft, full and super, super black. This stuff is amazing and costs under ten dollars. Holy Grail. Again, though, I like a lot of L'Oreal formulas, but this one seems to be my most favorite.

Best Mascara (High End): Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara $23



This is the only high end mascara that has impressed me enough to re-puchase it. It is very similar to the L'Oreal Voluminous, but it is even more dramatic. I am not a natural lash girl. I want my lashes to be like BAM!!!!! This mascara is very dramatic. It's very, very black, volumizing and lengthening. I don't have issues with mascaras flaking or anything like that, but I also have to say that this mascara also doesn't leave your lashes crunchy either. It's the bomb and I'm on my second tube. This formula is a little wet upon opening, but dries to a nice consistency the longer you use it. I think talking about packaging is kind of stupid, but the packaging is cute (pink!) and feels very heavy and substantial. The name, though...it's doubtful any mascara is better than sex. If it is, you may need to work on some things in your life, just sayin'...

That does it for my favorite eye products of 2014! Are any of these your favorites too? Any recommendations I should consider trying? I'd love to hear from you!

My next installment will be Best in Beauty for the face! Blushes, powders, primers...get excited!