Jan 24, 2017

Lavanila Healthy Body Butter - Pure Vanilla


Lavanila Healthy Body Butter - Pure Vanilla - Review
Lavanila Healthy Body Butter - Pure Vanilla ($19) at lavanila.com | Sephora
Product provided for review

As someone with quite dry skin, I am always trying out body butters and lotions, and the only ones that really do work for me are the ones with natural oils (olive, coconut, etc.) and cocoa/shea butter.  My current favorite is the Lavanila Healthy Body Butter.  Made with natural, organic ingredients like pure shea and cocoa butter and blended with essential oils, this fast-absorbing body butter leaves skin moisturized and smelling great.  The Lavanila body butter formula is free from petrochemicals, propylene glycol, mineral oils, silicone, and synthetic dyes.  I have been trying out the Pure Vanilla version which, as the name suggests, has a vanilla fragrance.

Jan 22, 2017

Atelier Bloem Iris Eau de Parfum

Atelier Bloem Iris Eau de Parfum - Fragrance Review
Atelier Bloem - Iris available at atelier-bloem.com | Barneys
Product provided for review. 
Top notes:  Cardamom, Rain Forest Orchid, and Violet Flower
Middle Notes:  Iris Petals, Star Jasmine, Pimento Blossom, and Rose from Grasse
Drydown:  Iris wood, Vetiver, Tonka Bean, and Musk 

Founded by Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz, Atelier Bloem is a bespoke collection of fragrances inspired by Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdam's famed floating flower market, with each perfume creatively distilled and uniquely crafted for a remarkably alluring scent.  I got to try out one of these perfumes - Atelier-Bloem Iris.  Inspired by the vibrant colors, soft petals, and unique shape of the iris flower, this is a soft floral fragrance with a blend of spicy-woodsy notes to it.

Make Up For Ever Artist Acrylip

MUFE Make Up For Ever Artist Acrylip - Swatches
Make Up For Ever Artist Acrylip ($24 each) at Sephora

Make Up For Ever Artist Acrylips are a newish launch by the brand.  Designed to look like tubes of acrylic paint, these lip colors promise buildable lip color and shine in a nonsticky, nondrying formula. I was expecting these to be thick, concentrated color pigments - my brain couldn't thick beyond acrylics - but I was quite surprised to see how lightweight and easy-to-wear the formula appears.  The tubes have a sponge-tip that dispenses the color (just squeeze the tube to get the color out), and it can be used for a more precise application (use the edge of the sponge) or dab all over lips for even coverage.  The colors available in this range are a mix of bright pops of color and some dark shades, but there aren't any nude-neutral shades (browns).  Scroll on for swatches.

Jan 21, 2017

Lanc么me Le Metallique Metallic Lip Lacquer

Lancome Le Metallique Metallic Lip Lacquer - Swatches
Lanc么me Le Metallique Metallic Lip Lacquer ($22 each) at Sephora

Metallic lip colors and shimmery foiled finishes are a major trend this year, and from lipsticks to lipglosses, there seem to be quite a few options to pick from.  Lancome Le Metallique metallic lip lacquers are a good example.  Available in a range of colors from berries (and blue) to nude mauve tones, these thick lipglosses deliver glossy color with pearlized metallic finish.  They are apparently infused with plexigloss pigments and metallic pearls to give a high-shine, glossy finish with richly pigmented color.  Scroll on for swatches.

Chanel Le Rouge Crayon De Couleur - Jumbo Longwear Lip Crayons

Chanel Le Rouge Crayon De Couleur - Jumbo Longwear Lip Crayon - Swatches
Chanel Le Rouge Crayon De Couleur - Jumbo Longwear Lip Crayon ($37 each) at Nordstrom

Among the various lip color formats, lip crayons and pencils are high up on my list of favorites.  They are so much easier to use and feel lighter on the lips.  There are quite a few brands coming up with new variants of these crayons this year (Clinique Crayola and I think Bobbi Brown might be launching liquid lip crayons some time this year), but for those who are looking for a luxurious twist, Chanel just launched the Chanel Jumbo Lip Crayons - Le Rouge Crayon de Couleur.  These chubby twist-up crayons feel quite smooth, moisturizing, and the formula feels quite light.  While not completely opaque, these crayons are nothing like tinted lip balms and provide moderate coverage with a glossy finish.  Scroll on for swatches.

Jan 16, 2017

My Burberry Black Eau de Parfum

My Burberry Black Eau de Parfum - Perfume Review
My Burberry Black Eau de Parfum
Fragrance Notes:  Sun-drenched Jasmine, Peach Nectar, Candied Rose, Amber Patchouli
Style:  Floral. Sexy. Intimate

My Burberry Black is a recently launched flanker to the original My Burberry (that was launched a while back).  While the original is designed as a light summer fragrance with floral and green notes that sound good on paper, it leaves a sour/bitter note as it dries down on my skin, so not really one of my favorites.  My Burberry Black, thankfully, doesn't behave the same way.  

The bottle that houses My Burberry Black perfume is classic Burberry in its design, an elegant square glass bottle with the fabric around the neck and the cap of the bottle celebrating the trench coats that the design house is so famous for.  Moving on to the perfume itself, this opens with a fruity blast that mingles in with soft floral notes of jasmine and rose as the perfume settles into the skin.  A warm sweetness rounds out the perfume, but there is also a bright green note mingling in with the fruity florals that keeps it from getting into the cloying sweet category.  I love fruity florals, so it's no surprise that I quite like My Burberry Black.  I do find it a bit too strong, though, and even the tiniest spritz lasts a long time on my skin.  I could even smell it on my laptop one time!  Overall, a good pick for cooler winter nights, but best used in small doses and probably not around someone with a sensitive nose.

Urban Decay Afterdark Eyeshadow Palette - Photos, Swatches

Urban Decay Afterdark Eyeshadow Palette Photos Swatches
Urban Decay Afterdark Eyeshadow Palette ($49) at urbandecay.com

While Urban Decay Naked palettes continue to be quite popular among the makeup community, I think some of their darker, more vibrant palettes are equally amazing if not better.  The latest in the non-nekkid palette category is the Urban Decay Afterdark Eyeshadow Palette.  This is currently showing up as out-of-stock on the Sephora website, but it might be available in stores, and of course, it is still available on the Urban Decay website.  Designed for creating darker, richer makeup looks, this palette contains 10 jewel-toned eyeshadows in shimmering, metallic and duo-tone finishes.  Scroll on for swatches.

Jan 15, 2017

NARSissist Unfiltered I and II Cheek Palettes - Photos, Swatches

NARSissist Unfiltered I and II Cheek Palettes Photos Swatches
NARSissist Unfiltered I Cheek Palette ($59) at Sephora
Blush Shades:  Watch Me - | Me First | Take Over
Out There | Chic | Exhibit A

NARS comes out with some awesome palettes every year, and they are usually a good value - both in terms of convenient packaging as well as the product included in the palette.  The NARSissist Unfiltered Cheek Palettes are a good example.  These 6-pan blush palettes are available in two versions - Unfiltered I which is the more pigmented of the two with darker/warmer colors and Unfiltered II which has softer cooler colors.  The individual blush pans are big enough to comfortably pick up product with a brush without mixing up the colors, and the palettes themselves are convenient  for travel.  Scroll on for more.

NARS Wildfire Spring 2017 Makeup Collection - Photos, Swatches

NARS Wildfire Spring 2017 Makeup Collection Photos Swatches
NARS Wildfire Spring 2017 Makeup Collection - Photos, Swatches

NARS Wildfire Spring 2017 makeup collection is inspired by the colors of nature, flowers and trees, and features delicate shades of taupe, shimmering copper and bronze, and bright purple, a color palette reportedly inspired by the movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon.  The makeup collection includes blushes, NARS velvet shadow sticks, lip colors, and two eyeshadow duos.  I found most of the products in stores - both Nordstrom and Sephora - and will try to update the missing ones in a bit.  Scroll on for more photos and swatches.

Jan 13, 2017

Lush H'Suan Wen Hua Hair Treatment

Lush H'Suan Wen Hua Hair Treatment - Review
Lush H'Suan Wen Hua Hair Treatment

Lush H'Suan Wen Hua - I haven't the faintest idea how to pronounce that name!  Thankfully, the Lush store I go to isn't very huge, and I can usually spot a tub of this hair treatment quite easily.  I amn't sure what I would do if I have to ask an SA to grab this for me.  Naming issues aside, Lush H'Suan Wen Hua is one of my favorite haircare products.  If you are unfamiliar with Lush hair treatments, these are usually applied to hair prewash, left in for a bit, and then washed out.  For my wavy, frizz-prone, dry hair, I rotate between two of Lush's hair treatments - this one and the Lush Jasmine and Henna Fluff-Eaze (which I would recommend as a moisture boost for dry, damaged hair).  Filled with protein-rich eggs, moisturizing ingredients like banana and avocado, and shine-enhancing balsamic vinegar, Lush H'Suan Wen Hua restores dry, dull hair and leaves it feeling (and looking) healthy and shiny.  This hair treatment also has rosemary oil and bay leaf infusion that helps revitalize tired scalp. Scroll on for more.

Jan 12, 2017

Smudged Shimmer: Blue-Brown Eye Makeup Look

Smudged Shimmer Blue Brown Eyeliner Makeup Tutorial
Smudged Shimmer:  Blue-Brown Eye Makeup Look 

I tend to stay away from glittery shimmery makeup and with good reason.  Glitter has a way of finding the tiniest wrinkles and pores and settling in there until it's magnified for the whole world to see.  Plus, it's a pain to get rid of without some sort of double cleansing.  Despite all that, when I noticed glitter popping up as one of the makeup trends this year, I was intrigued, and with the cold, grey weather we have been having, this seemed like the perfect time to try a shimmery, glittery liner.  Rather than use a glitter/shimmer eyeshadow, I opted for a subtly smudged navy eyeliner.  Scroll on for products used and an easy how-to.

Jan 10, 2017

Bite Beauty Edgy Neutrals Amuse Bouche Lipsticks

Bite Beauty Edgy Neutrals Amuse Bouche Lipsticks - Swatches - Enoki Porcini Portobello Cremini
Bite Beauty Edgy Neutrals Amuse Bouche Lipsticks ($26 each) at Sephora

Bite Beauty Edgy Neutrals is a collection of eight Amuse Bouche lipsticks, including four new limited-edition shades, all inspired by the emerging trend of lipsticks with edgy undertones.  Bite Beauty lipsticks are formulated without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates and are crafted by hand in small batches using a low-heat process, creating a formula that feels comfortable on the lips and finds just the right balance between rich pigmentation and a light-weight, moisturizing formula.  The new Edgy Neutrals Amuse Bouche lipsticks feature neutral-nude shades in browns and mauves.  Scroll on for swatches.

Jan 8, 2017

Too Faced Sweet Peach Creamy Oil Lip Gloss - Swatches

Too Faced Sweet Peach Creamy Oil Lip Gloss - Swatches
Too Faced Sweet Peach Creamy Oil Lip Gloss ($19 each) at Sephora

Too Faced Sweet Peach collection launched recently, and part of this collection are the Too Faced Sweet Peach Creamy Oil Lip Glosses.  Like the rest of the products, these lip glosses are also infused with peach essence and have a fruity peachy (not exactly like real peaches) smell to them.  It's a creamy, moisture-rich formula that is vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, and free of gluten.  The Sweet Peach lip glosses are available in shades that include nudes, peachy pinks, and corals.  Scroll on for swatches.

Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Eyeshadow Palette (Volume II)

Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Eyeshadow Palette Volume II - Swatches
Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Volume II Eyeshadow Palette ($36) at Sephora

Tarte's new Rainforest of the Sea Eyeshadow palette (vol. II) is a cool-toned neutral palette with 8 eyeshadows arranged in a beautiful circular palette with a pretty coral (reef, not the color) design on the outside. The eyeshadows in this palette have a hybrid formula that's part cream and part powder.  They feel soft and creamy to touch but go on similar to powder shadows.  Tarte claims the eyeshadows can be used wet or dry, no primer or brush needed.  The colors included in the palette are a mix of neutrals, bronze-browns, and darker greyish blue and brown.  Scroll on for more photos and swatches.

Jan 7, 2017

Tarte Tarteist Quick Dry Matte Lip Paints - Swatches

Tarte Tarteist Quick Dry Matte Lip Paint Liquid Lipsticks - Swatches
Tarte Tarteist Quick Dry Matte Lip Paint ($20 each) at Sephora

Tarte's Tarteist Quick Dry Matte Lip Paints are full-coverage, liquid lipstick with a matte, transfer-proof finish.  It's a light-weight formula that goes on completely opaque in one thin coat, and the liquid dries down to a matte finish in no time.  Once set, it's quite difficult to remove.  For the swatches on my hand, I used a biphase makeup remover, and it took quite a bit of work to get the lip color off my hand (and I still couldn't get everything off).  I am completely sold on the long-lasting claim of this one!  The range includes some gorgeous neutrals as well as deep berries and reds, and I think the matte finish of these lip paints makes every color look modern and easy to wear.  Scroll on for swatches.

Jan 6, 2017

DDF Micro-Derma Crystals Polishing Gel

DDF Micro-Derma Crystals Polishing Gel - Review
DDF Micro-Derma Crystals Polishing Gel 
Product provided for review

I have better skin today than what I had back in college or even a year or two back, but I also have a lot of stubborn blemishes/acne marks that won't be going away any time soon.  What works best for me at reducing the appearance of these hyperpigmented spots is exfolation, and my new favorite product for getting supersmooth radiant skin is the DDF Micro-Derma Crystals Polishing Gel.  I haven't seen this brand much in stores, so I wasn't very familiar with it until I got this product to try out, but that's nothing a little online research cannot solve.   DDF - short for Doctor's Dermatologic Formula - is the brainchild of New York dermatologist Dr. Howard Sobel and takes a science-backed approach to targeting skincare concerns.  For instance, targeting hyperpigmentation involves using sun protection, exfoliating the skin, and keeping skin hydrated.  The exfoliation bit is what I have been trying out with the DDF Micro-Derma Crystals Polishing Gel.

Purple Smokey Eyes Makeup Look for Brown Eyes

Easy Purple Smokey Eyes Makeup Look Tutorial for Brown Eyes
Purple Smokey Eyes Makeup Look

Purple eyeshadows/liners are my favorite.  I feel they bring out the brown tones in the eyes, not by much but I tell myself they look lighter 馃槢.  As much as I love purple though, the color tends to look a bit ashy on my lids, but I finally found a way to make this color work for me by pairing it with coppery-brown tones.  And much as I would like to claim it all came to me out of the blue, truth is my eureka moment came when I spotted similar colors in the NARS Spring 2017 makeup collection (Velvet Shadow sticks - Usbek and Belle-Ile).  Since I didn't (don't) have any of the NARS products with me, I dug up some old MAC eyeshadows and came up with this purple eye makeup look.  Scroll on for more photos and an easy how-to.

Jan 5, 2017

Miu Miu Eau de Parfum Spray

Miu Miu Eau de Parfum Spray - Perfume Review
Miu Miu Eau de Parfum ($68-$118) at Sephora
Fragrance Notes:  Lily of the Valley, Akigalawood, Sandalwood

For a while, I was obsessed with warm, woody fragrances - I still am, I guess - but I have tried quite a few florals over the past month or two, and I think I am getting around to finally liking these.  Could also be that the colder weather has dulled my nose 馃槢.   I got some samples of the Miu Miu Eau de Parfum a while back with some Sephora orders, and it's only recently that I started using this perfume.  The actual perfume (not the sample vials) is housed in an opaque soft-blue bottle with a quilted design similar to the matelass茅 design seen in some Miu Miu bags.  The top with a translucent red disk is inspired by vintage perfume caps.  The design is meant to reflect a blend of traditional and pop, though to me this has more of an old-fashioned, vintage vibe.  I do wish the bottle wasn't opaque - I love being able to see the perfume inside (which is what the newer Miu Miu L'eau Bleue comes in).

Much like the bottle that houses it, the perfume is supposed to be a contemporary, modern take on florals.  Miu Miu is a fresh floral with notes of lily of the valley (composed of a mix of jasmine and rose) along with akigalawood, a patchouli extract that adds a peppery spicy note to the fragrance.  The perfume opens with soft floral notes, with the rose notes getting more prominent over time.  It's a simple clean scent with no cloying sweet notes.  It's like fresh air and spring in a bottle, and I love the bright green note to the fragrance that keeps it crisp and light.  It's a soft, pleasant fragrance that stays close to my skin and lasts all day long. 

Miu Miu Eau de Parfum is a good pick when you want something simple and easy to wear for cooler days and also a great fragrance for spring.

Jan 2, 2017

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk - Review
Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk ($20) 
Product provided for review

I have been coloring my hair regularly for a while now - have to cover greys - and a good tip to extend the time between colorings is to avoid washing hair too often.  Using a dry shampoo is a great way to avoid greasy/flat-looking hair between washes, and one I have been trying out lately is the Klorane Dry Shampoo with oat milk.  This gentle formula contains oat milk to soothe and protect the scalp as well as corn and rice starch to absorb excess oil and give hair a fresh, clean look.   To use, shake the can well, hold about 10 inches away from hair, and spray evenly, focussing on the roots.  Leave on for a minute or two and brush thoroughly to get rid of the powder residue.  The dry shampoo sprays on like a white powder - a bit scary if you have dark hair like I do - but it disappears quite easily with brushing.  You can also use a blow dryer or just brush through with fingers to get rid of the residue.  The Klorane Dry Shampoo does a fantastic job of absorbing any excess oils and adding some lift at the roots.  My hair is a bit dry, though, and I find that I can easily go a bit overboard with this shampoo, and it can leave my hair looking a bit dull.  The shampoo also has a heavy powdery scent, though I don't notice it so much after a while.

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk - Ingredients
Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk - Ingredients 
Butane, Propane, Isobutane, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, SD Alcohol 39-C (Alcohol Denat.), Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Oil, Benzyl Salicylate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Cyclodextrin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Fragrance, Hexyl Cinnamal Isopropyl Myristate, Limonene, Silica.


Tarte Tarteist Pro Amazonian Clay Eyeshadow Palette

Tarte Tarteist Pro Amazonian Clay Eyeshadow Palette - Swatches
Tarte Tarteist Pro Amazonian Clay Eyeshadow Palette ($53) at Sephora

Tarteist Pro Amazonian Clay eyeshadow palette is a newish launch - part of the Tarte Holiday 2016 makeup collection, I think - and is a 20-shadow palette with predominantly matte shades.  There are 16 long-wearing matte eyeshadows which are loaded with Amazonian clay for smooth wear as well as 4 new iridescent luster shades (Ethereal, Glam, Minx, Trendy) with microshimmer and a duo chrome finish.  The matte shades are a mix of the usual neutrals - beige and browns - and there are some interesting colors - mauve, magenta, cherry.  Scroll on for swatches.

Lancome Color Design Matte Lip Crayons - Swatches

Lancome Color Design Matte Lip Crayons - Swatches
Lancome Color Design Matte Lip Crayons ($24 each) available at Ulta

Lancome Color Design Matte Lip Crayons launched some time last year, but it's only recently that I spotted these in store.  The design is not unique, and a lot of drugstore (L'Oreal color crayons) and higher end brands (Bite Beauty) have similar products.  These crayons are twist-up pencils, a little chubbier than regular lipliners, and they bring with them the convenience and lasting power of a lipliner along with the lip-friendly texture of a lipstick.  The shades that I tried are all mostly bright pops of color, though there are a few nude/pale shades in the range.  Scroll on for swatches.

Jan 1, 2017

Too Faced x Kat Von D Better Together Ultimate Eye Collection Palette

Too Faced x Kat Von D Better Together Ultimate Eye Collection Palette - Swatches
Too Faced x Kat Von D Better Together Ultimate Eye Collection Palette ($65) at Sephora

Too Faced x Kat Von D Better Together Ultimate Eye Collection is a collaboration between Kat Von D and Jerrod Blandino (Too Faced Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer) and features a heart-shaped eye shadow palette, Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, and a full size of Too Faced’s iconic Better Than Sex Mascara.  The heart-shaped palette consists of two halves that snap together magnetically.  The Kat Von D half of the palette is the darker black one while the Too Faced half is of course the peachy pink one, with each half containing 6 shadows each (brand new eye shadows created for their respective sides of the palette).  Scroll on for more photos and swatches.