Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Birchbox: Decked Out x2

Disclaimer:  I purchased these.
My yearly Birchbox subscription was up for renewal in December, and I took advantage of a code that allowed me to get a new subscription at a significant discount.  Consequently, I've got two boxes to show you this month.  Fortunately, there was only 1 product overlap, and it's one that I'm quite happy to have two of.
One of the downsides of cancelling my original account was that I was a Birchbox Ace, which allowed me to chose one item from among selected products each month.  My choice this month was the Vasanti eye pencil in Rose Gold ($13.50).  Lovely color and formula, I like.
The Rusk Texture Dry Finishing Spray ($7) was the item I received in each box, which is perfect for me.  I've got three sprays in rotation at the moment, and I'm not quite happy with any of them (too stiff, too smelly, not enough hold respectively), so maybe this one will be just right :-)
The SeaRx Anti-Wrinkle Serum ($4?) is a new to me product, and I'm always open to a good serum.  Containing aloe, hyaluronic acid, and Dead Sea minerals, this one is supposed to be good for thinning, crepe-y skin.  Sigh.  I could, possibly, fit into that demographic.
I was prepared to not be impressed with the Acure Lip Lush in Date Worthy, but I am.  It's light and non-sticky but moisturizing, no doubt due to an impressive list of natural/organic ingredients.  The generously sized tube is only $7.99.  Impressive.

Last up is the Black Label Detox BB Cream by Dr. Jart+ ($3.60).  Containing Arbutin to brighten and even out skin tone, green tea and aloe vera to soothe irritation, caviar extract to promote collagen production, and titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to provide broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, it should cover all the bases. 
After I signed up for the new Birchbox account, I realized that it was like resetting the clock, in that I would receive products I may have already gotten in the past.  C'est la vie, in general I've been happy with the products I've received, so potential repeats should not be a  hardship.   The Amika Nourishing Mask ($4) falls into that category, as I've enjoyed all of the Amika products I've received thus far.
The Tocca Cleopatra Hand Cream ($6.40) was one of the items I could have chosen for my Birchbox Ace account, and I like the cucumber and grapefruit scent, although it's not my favorite of the Tocca scents I've tried.
The Lord & Berry Paillettes eye pencil in Starry Night ($4.50) is pretty, but I don't have high high hopes for the formula.  Based on my arm swatch it wipes off fairly easily, and I'm guessing it will smear on my oily lids.  It also took a few passes to build up color.
The item I was most excited to receive in this box was the full sized Mirenesse Mattfinity Lip Rouge in New York ($29).  I'm all about matte lips these days, and this vibrant coral red is a gorgeous color.
The value of box 1 was $36.09, and box 2 was $50.90.  I'm quite pleased with both boxes and look forward to trying everything out!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best of: My Favorite Nail Polishes from 2014

Today I'll be showing you my favorite nail polishes that I wore this year.  Surprisingly, I only found 6 looks that made the list, and they may or may not have been released in 2014.  I've provided links to the original reviews.

1.  My Favorite Ornament by OPI:  Shimmery champagne silver goodness from the OPI Mariah Carey Holiday 2013 collection.  I need to revisit this one, so pretty.

2.  Where Did Suzi's Man-go? by OPI:  I love a good orange, and this one is gorgeous without being garish.  I believe this was my only purchase from the Brazil collection. 

3.  Miss Conduct by Orly:  Love this raspberry scattered holo and it's really great formula.

4.  Lady Muck by Butter London:  Is it blue?  Is it gray?  I liked that I could see both colors depending on the light. 

5.  Virtual Insanity by Deborah Lippmann:  A purple with crimson shimmer?  I'll take it.  This one is a Barney's exclusive.

6. Naked without Polish by Rescue Beauty Lounge:  I'm not normally a pink polish lover, but this one works as a neutral for me, with a little special something extra. 
What were you favorite polishes from 2014?  Did you have a favorite collection?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Best of: My Favorite Cosmetics from 2014

It's almost the end of 2014, and time to talk about my favorite cosmetic finds from 2014.  These would be items that I discovered this year, although they may not necessarily be "new" releases, just new to me.  Links will take you to the full review, and starting in no particular order, we have:

1.  NARS Eye Paint in Transvaal
Great formula, smooth, long wearing, and can be worn as a liner as well as a shadow are some of the reasons why NARS Eye Paint makes my list.  I also acquired the olive green Mozambique, which performs equally well.  Of the two, I wear Transvaal the most.

2.  Nude Compliment 24 HR Color Tattoo Cream Shadow by Maybelline
Nude Compliment was part of the limited edition Dare to go Nude spring collection, and my favorite of the 4 colors that I picked up.  I'm a fan of Maybelline's Color Tattoo cream shadows in general, but some have better formulas than others, and Nude Compliment is top of the line.  Factor in the soft taupe color, and it becomes a workhorse shadow that's a go to.  Surprisingly, I didn't even have any dupes for it in my cream shadow collection!

3.  Lucky Brilliant Gloss by Chantecaille
I'm a gloss girl at heart, and this soft peach shimmer was one that I reached for over and over again in 2014.  It makes for a nice lip look on it's own or adds some plushness on top of lipstick. 
Chantecaille is a luxury brand with prices to match, but I liked Lucky ($33) enough to pick up a another color during a Birchbox sale.  I still prefer Lucky's soft peach shimmer, however.

4.  Pale Nude Liquid Eye Sheen Liquid Eyeshadow by Julep
Julep released four shadows of this liquid eyeshadow, and Pale Nude was the shade I chose for my February Maven box.  I love the formula (it's gotten slightly more cream vs. liquid over the year), which applies smoothly and wears well on my oily lids.  I keep hoping to pick up another one during a sale, but while I've seen two of the other shades available, Pale Nude seems to have gone bye bye.  Too bad, because it's lovely and I reach for it a lot.

5.  Coral Tulip Joli Rouge Brilliant Perfect Shine Sheer Lipstick by Clarins
Part of the Clarin's Spring 2014 Opalescence collection, Coral Tulip ($27) hit my sweet spot with it's glossy coral color.  I mean come on, look at the shine!  I was so impressed with Coral Tulip that I ventured into more Clarin's products this year, and I've yet to be disappointed.  Quel magnifique rouge à lèvre (I hope I didn't butcher that)!

6.  Radiance Plus Golden Glow Booster by Clarins
What to say, but that I love this stuff.  The natural ingredient based formula provides realistic color to my fair complexion.  It's easy to use and I'm just now reaching the last of it, which means I got about 9 months of use from one bottle ($30).  I'll be repurchasing.
I think the before and after speaks for itself:

7.  Peau Vierge Correcteur in medium by Le Métier de Beauté
The Peau Vierge Correcteur in medium was one of those sleeper surprises for me.  I received it in my March VIP subscription box, and I'm almost about to run out.  I used it primarily to cover skin discolorations on the sides of my face/forehead, as opposed to an under eye concealer.  It applies smoothly and has enough pigment to cover nicely without looking cakey or obvious.  I like that it contains retinol and has SPF 16.   I do find the price ($95) cost prohibitive for repurchase, but it would definitely qualify as a worthy splurge.

8.  Save the Bees Palette by Chantecaille
This was the perfect spring palette for me, with it's mix of soft colors with a unique (the blue) highlighter.  I love gold and taupe for eyecolors, and these performed quite nicely.  Yes, it was pricey ($83), and yes, I've probably got dupes in my collection, but I still love it.  It will be interesting to see what Chantecaille comes out with this spring.

9.  Nectar Ceramide Cream Blush by Elizabeth Arden
Elizabeth Arden is hit or miss for me, but when they hit, they hit big.  Nectar Ceramide cream blush ($24) was the perfect blend of wearable color with great formula.  My litmus test for when a blush goes into the "great" category is when they make my skin look better than it really is, and Nectar does that for me.  Truly lovely.

10.  Starina Original Skin Blush by Rouge Bunny Rouge
Starina ($28) is a somewhat unique to my collection color, and the golden tan with a hit of coral works equally well for me as a blush or a bronzer.    Lovely packaging, good pigmentation, smooth color, and one I've been reaching for throughout the year earns it a place on my 2014 list.

11.  Ambient Lighting Palette by Hourglass
I use this tri-pan set of face powders almost daily, and it may be my favorite product of the year.  I especially love Dim Light as an all over face powder and Incandescent Light as a highlighter.  Seriously, one of my best purchases of the year and I'm so glad Hourglass made it part of their regular catalog.

12.  Creamy Beige 24 HR Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadow by Maybelline
Creamy Beige is another of Maybelline's best formulated Color Tattoo shadows, and this one works equally well as an eyeshadow or a contour shade.  I think this would be one of those desert island picks for me, I like it so well!

13.  MAKE Super Matte Lip Pencil
This colorless mattifying lip pencil ($23) has been getting lots of use from me, with it's ability to mattify regular lipstick.   I've been pleased with most of the MAKE products I've tried thus far (an exception would be their Silk lipsticks, which just do not work for me). 
Urban Decay's Catfight mattifed

14.  Eye & Brow Maestro in Medium Brown 04 ($34) by Giorgio Armani
This has become my go to brow product, and the more I use it, the more I like it.  I'm not crazy about it as an eye shadow, but as a brow filler in?  Stellar.  Plus, it will probably last me forever.

15.  Mood Exposure Ambient Lighting Blush by Hourglass
I've enjoyed all of the Ambient Lighting blushes I've tried this far, but Mood Exposure is the one I've ended up using the most.  A surprisingly warm shade despite how it looks in the pan, it meets my criteria of enhancing my skin plus it wears extremely well on my oily skin. 

16.  Soul Mattes Eyeshadow Palette by Pür Minerals
I'm always on the lookout for good matte shadows, and this rosy toned palette from Pür Minerals has been getting lots of use from me in the short time I've had it.  I love that it's talc free, and the shadows are never chalky while providing good color.  
Honorable mention goes to Vincent Longo's Cheek & Lip Tints, which somehow manage to work equally well as both a lip and cheek tint.  Usually it's one or the either, but this gel formula excels at both.  They've been reformulated and mine are the older version, but hopefully the new formula doesn't disappoint.
I look forward to seeing what products join my collection in 2015, but these will continue to see use from me!