Monday, March 30, 2015

Glow Your Own Way: March VIP Box by Le Métier de Beauté

The March VIP offering from Le Métier de Beauté was two glosses made especially for the subscription service:  a sheer light pink with shimmer and an opaque pinky nude. 
I loved the pretty packaging, so appropriate for spring.  I was a bit ambivalent about the gloss colors, however, as the pink shimmer looks essentially like a sheer gloss and nudes are not an easy look for me to successfully carry off.  After playing with these for the past few weeks, my final feelings are....
I like 'em.  The sheer pink shimmer is thinner in texture, which I'm guessing makes it from the Sheer Brilliance ($32) line of glosses, yet still manages to impart shine and moisture for 2-3 hours.  The cameo pink nude is thicker and quite opaque, so it's one of the Lip Cremes ($36), giving more intense color payoff with both shine and gloss.
I also get a good 3 hours of comfortable wear from it, even if my constant coffee sipping transfers the color. The formula features lanolin oil, petrolatum, and vitamin e.  While I'm not a huge fan of petrolatum in theory, I've got to admit that all my best moisturizing lip products contain it, and petrolatum does a great job of locking moisture in. 

I like wearing the sheer shimmer over Vincent Longo's cheek/lip stains, and the nude looks surprisingly good on it's own with my complexion.  The shimmer is minute at best, and I'm disappointed that the lovely color in the tube does not translate better. 
VIP sheer gloss over Vincent Longo lip stain

I like using the nude to top bright lip pencils, as it tones down their vibrancy yet gives a plushness and shine that is really pretty.  Win/win.
VIP nude cream

VIP nude over NYX Pinky lip pencil
The value of the March VIP box was $78, and Le Métier de Beauté continues to make me quite the happy camper, shiny lips and all :-)

Friday, March 27, 2015

NOTD: Cynthia by Julep

I was in the mood for a palette cleanser, which for me means beiges/tans.  After perusing my collection, I decided on Cynthia by Julep ($14), described as a desert sand microglitter.
So, I was expecting a rough finish, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the shimmer in Cynthia comes from micro flakies as opposed to microglitter.  Once dried, the finish is a soft satin which was really pretty and totally smooth.  The pictures here show Cynthia with Zoya's topcoat, but I think next time I'll forgo topcoat in favor of the softer, more suede-like finish.
Cynthia really is lovely and one I'll revisit in the future.  It's a palette cleanser with "oomph".  Linking up with "The Nail Files" hosted by Jennie Shaw:

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

March Birchbox: Another Solid Month!

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
My March Birchbox pleases me on several levels, from the pretty box to the mixture of new to tried and true brands, to the items themselves.  Let's take a closer look!
I haven't tried the Rita Hazan Root Concealer in Dark Blonde yet, but it's definitely an item I could use.  I color my hair about every 3 weeks, and that last week usually has visible roots that bug me.  Looking forward to trying this baby out and happy it's the right color.  Sample value is $12.50, as this is half of the size of the full sized. 
Jelly Pong Pong in Ibiza is a gel-based liquid highlighter that is 80% water.  I like to mix liquid highlighters with my foundation, which provides a subtle glow without looking overly shimmery.  Ibiza has worked well with the foundations I tried it with, and it will join my highlighter rotation now.  This item is full sized and is worth $12.75.
Next is a rosemary eucalyptus body creme from Elite Therapeutics, a new to me brand.  With a 70% organic ingredient base, I'm liking how this sounds, although I've yet to try it.  Sample value is $1.18. 

I also received a product I've purchased on my own in the past, Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant.  Honestly though, I don't use mine much, as it leaves a residue on my skin that I find off putting.  In theory it should be perfect for my oily and congested skin, so I'll revisit this just to make sure I haven't rushed to judgement.  *I did use it the last two nights, and my skin looked better in the morning.  Night time use solves the residue issue, as I can live with that overnight.  Sample value is $6.50. 
Last up is a clarifying shampoo ($3.76) and hair reconstructing masque ($2.84) from Number 4 Hair Care.  I've liked all of the N4 products I've received thus far from Birchbox, it seems like a solid brand.  I needed a clarifying shampoo (I've been know to use dish washing liquid to remove product buildup, not kidding), and after one use I'd say this one does the job.
The total value of my March Birchbox is $39.53, another solid month from Birchbox!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Australis AC on TOUR Contouring & Highlighting Kit

 Disclaimer:  I purchased this.  Links are for convenience only.
Yeah, yeah I know.  Contouring is probably the most over-hyped beauty trend that has probably crested and will be passe shortly.  And I'm not really much of a contour person anyhow.  But this kit was the right price ($14.95) and offered some colors I thought I'd actually use, so I got it.  If you are as unfamiliar with this Australian brand as I was, this vegan palette is animal cruelty free.
You get 3 light shades for highlighting, including one shimmer (3rd from left), and 3 darker shades for contouring.  I like the middle dark one, as it has more of a taupe tone which mimics shadows really well.  The darker shades are nicely pigmented, and while the lighter ones don't show up well in the arm swatches due to being close to my skin tone, they have color as well.
The first shade is closest in color to my skin, hence why it's hard to see.  The middle, yellow toned light shade can work well under your eyes, as the yellow tone helps minimize dark circles.  The shimmer oyster beige highlighter is quite nice, which an understated and finely milled shimmer that stacks up against any of my higher end powder highlighters.
I appreciate the detailed chart of the back of the palette on how to use the shades, being the novice I am at contouring.  These do kick up quite a bit of powder, but they are not chalky or powdery looking on my skin.
Outside lighting
Inside lighting
I got the Australis AC on TOUR kit from All Cosmetics Wholesale & Retail, and shipping was fast and it came securely packed.  This is the second time I've order from this site, and I've been quite happy with them so far (I have no affiliation and links are for convenience only).  I doubt I'm a convert to contouring on a daily bases now, but this kit was an inexpensive way to play with the trend without sacrificing quality, so I'm quite happy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream in Natural 05 by bareMinerals

I've been veering more towards BB and CC creams for my foundation choice the past few months, and bareMinerals newest entry into this crowded market caught my interest.  Described as "the best of a BB, a CC, and a tinted moisturizer", Complexion Rescue ($29) claims the ability to provide a 215% increase in skin hydration after just one week.  
I decided on shade Natural 05, designed for medium skin with neutral undertones.  It's a good match for me during winter, which is when I'd more likely be wearing Complexion Rescue due to my skin being slightly less oily then.  Yep, Complexion Rescue is described as providing a "dewy" finish, which I'd say is true.  No way can I wear this during the spring/summer, when my skin goes into oil producing hyper drive.
 Coverage is sheer, which was another concern I had, given my skin's less than perfect appearance.  You can build up coverage slightly, but Complexion Rescue main attribute is it's natural looking, smooth finish.  I relied on concealer to better cover dark spots or blemishes, and finishing off with a tinted setting powder (Le Metier de Beaute's Peau Vierge Anti-Aging Powder is my current favorite), helped both with longevity and shine.  
There were also days when I mixed Complexion Rescue with one of my more full cover foundations, with pretty good results.  I could also see using this as primer for it's sunscreen/skincare benefits, with a mineral powder foundation on top. 
Bottom line, I like Complexion Rescue, although my oily skin makes it not the best fit for me year round.  I'm still planning on purchasing the Goop CC Cream once my shade is back in stock, as it does a better job in the coverage and mattifying department. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

My Lupercalia Selections from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's (BPAL) perfume oils continue to be one of my favorite ways to wear fragrance, and I chose two scents from this year's Lupercalia offerings.  For those not familiar with the term Lupercalia, it's an ancient ritual (possibly pre-Roman) where people took part in activities to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility.  It was celebrated around the time we now have Valentine's Day, although experts disagree on if our modern customs originated from Lupercalia.
BPAL, with it's love for the arcane, gothic, pagan, and otherworldly, releases a collection of limited edition scents "for the lovelorn and lustful, the depraved and the intemerate" in preparation for  Lupercalia/Vaentine's Day.  My choices this year were Aristocratic Couple and Haunted Bonbon.
Aristocratic Couple has a simple note list of "Bourbon vanilla, preserved apricot, and cardamom".  This is a potent little blend on me, starting off with a creamy sweetness that reminds me more than a bit of a 2012 Lupercalia scent I have called "The Vine", with notes of "Bradford pear, honey, and vanilla cream".  Aristocratic Couple replaces the pear with apricot and makes the base a bit darker in tone, more like a sexy older sister to The Vine's precocious teen.  Now, if you can't make out the label on Aristocratic Couple, it's a Japanese couple in the act of copulation.  BPAL actually has a warning posted on the Lupercalia section alerting people to the adult nature of the collection, just so you know :-)  I have to be careful to not over apply Aristocratic Couple or it becomes cloying, more because of it's strength/sillage rather than not liking the scent.  I can't say that I'm picking up the cardamom note, although I'm not sure I'd know it anyhow.  One source describes cardamom as "lemony and camphorous", but I mainly smell apricot preserves and sweet cream with a tinge of smokiness in Aristocratic Couple.  I like it.
Most of the holiday oriented limited edition collections feature a set of core catalog scents married to a specific note, and Lupercalia usually focuses on chocolate (Halloween was pumpkin, Christmas was ginger).  So, from the Box of BonBons collection (noted on the site:  This year’s Box of Bonbons is particularly peculiar) I selected Haunted BonBon, a "dark chocolate with thick golden amber and murky black musk". I really had no idea if I would love or hate this, given the original Haunted's description as "A mournful, poignant scent, thick with foreboding", but fortunately I love it.  It's actually quite soft with a rather dry and dusty cacao that is warmed by the golden amber.  This is not a gourmand or foody scent to my nose, and the black musk makes it more of a skin scent with soft sillage.  I can still faintly smell Haunted BonBon at the end of the day, so it wears well, but it's an intimate as opposed to "in your face" kind of scent, and my favorite of the two based on initial impressions.
I've got BPAL postcards stuck to my refridgerator with magnets, but I'm not sure I'm going to post this one - it scares me.  I don't want to get up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water and see a demon feeding people to monsters on my fridge.  The four free imps I received as all scents I didn't already have, which given the hundreds of scents in BPAL's catalog, is not that surprising:

Baobhan SithThe ghostly White Women of the Scottish highlands. They seduce unwary travelers by night with their unearthly beauty and mesmerizing dancing. They engage their victims in a wild, hypnotic dance, and once they reach exhaustion, exsanguinate their partners with their vampiric kiss. Grapefruit, white tea, apple blossom and ginger.  

AliceCuriouser and curiouser. Milk and honey with rose, carnation and bergamot.

IntrigueA sultry, exotic scent that inspires devious plotting and clandestine affairs. It is a scent painted in artifice, veiled in deceit, and slithering with whispered secrets.  Black palm, with cocoa, fig and shadowy wooded notes.

Miskatonic UniversityA venerable New England university, whose vast library holds many rare, diabolical and obscure arcane works, including one of the few surviving legitimate copies of the Necronomicon.  Home to innumerable scholars of the esoteric and the occult, and the notorious Dr. Herbert West.  The scent of Irish coffee, dusty tomes and polished oakwood halls.

The Lupercalia scents are live until April 6th, when they disappear - some forever, some until next year.  I'm happy to add these to my growing collection!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Softness with Pure Color Lover's Blush by Estee Lauder

Lover's Blush is one of those soft tans that could possibly work as a bronzer for the very fair, yet it has enough peach in it to also work as a blush, which is how I'm wearing it here.  I'm a huge fan of Estee Lauder Pure Color Blushes, as they have that je ne sais quoi quality that makes my skin look better than it actually is. 
Lover's Blush has a very fine gold shimmer that is evident when I peer closely at my skin, yet from afar it imparts a luminosity that brings life to the skin.  That's especially important when I start wearing my more matte finish foundations, such as BECCA's Ever-Matte Shine Proof in Buff.  My skin has officially gone into oil producing hyperdrive, something it does every spring once the weather starts to warm up, and we've been hitting the low-80's this week.
Lover's Blush reminds me of Rouge Bunny Rouge's Starina, another beige/tan blush that can also double as a soft bronzer for the fair complected.  On my lips I'm wearing Estee Lauder's Pure Color Lipstick in Coral Sun, and while it can pack quite the nice color punch, I've blotted it down to a softer matte finish. 
Coral Sun, blotted matte
Mobile does this weird thing in the spring, going from cold to hot before it reigns it back in to warm days with cool nights, my favorite part of spring weather.  Next week we'll be seeing milder temps again, and the azaleas will be coming out in full force, making it oh so beautiful here.  Happy Spring equinox, everyone :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Coral Family Lip Shades for Spring: Swatches and Comparisons

I'm sure everyone has certain colors that they gravitate towards, and when it comes to lip shades, for me it's coral.  I've been wanting to do a comparison post on the coral lip colors that I own for a while, and finally managed to get it done this past weekend!  Hopefully this will (a) help me cut down on buying the same color over and over again and (b) help with color comparisons/potential dupes.  If available, I'll link to my original reviews.
Coral spectrum
I hate to start with a discontinued item, but fortunately a close dupe is Revlon's Unapologetic ($7-$8), so there is that.  Buxom Miami (no longer available) is a matte flamingo coral pink and was part of the 2011 Mix & Mingle holiday set.  I prefer Miami's formula over Unapologetic's, but whaddya gonna do?  (I'm watching Donnie Brasco as I'm typing this).
A slightly darker version of this color is another no longer available item, the LE L'Oreal Colour Riche Le Matte in She's So Matte.  Good formula, although a bit drying on my lips.  These 3 colors are pushing the boundaries on the darker end of the coral spectrum, and I like 'em.
L'Oreal She's So Matte
Next up is Giorgio Armani's Rouge Ecstasy in 501 Peony ($34).  This one has a great formula that is lightweight, comfortable to wear, and just quite lovely all around.  Expensive, but it delivered for me.
Peony 501
The next 3 options are warmer in tone, with more of an orange than pink undertone.  NYX's Etra Creamy Round Lipstick in Margarita ($4) has a pearl finish which gives it a bit of shimmer.  I found the formula a bit waxy, but considering the price, not a bad option overall. 
NYX Margarita
Next is probably my favorite coral to date, Clarins' Joli Rouge Coral Tulip ($27).  I love it's glossiness and that it provides a translucent but vibrant pop of color, like colored cellophane paper.
Clarin's Coral Tulip
And then there's MAKE's Miami Beach Silk Lipstick ($25), a satin finish that I found a bit problematic formula wise, with it's unforgiving tendency to magnify lip imperfections.   
MAKE Miami Beach
The last four shades are more in the flamingo pink coral camp, with two being limited editions that are no longer available. 
For both a great formula and good price, you can't go wrong with Maybelline's Color Sensational Vivids Lip Color in Shocking Coral ($7-$8).  Nothing to complain about here, as it's all good.
Shocking Coral
Elizabeth Arden's Sunrise Glossy Stick  ($19.50) was a limited edition color released for last year's spring/summer collection, and it's a really nice glossy coral pink.  I'm not sure why I never got around to reviewing it, but it's certainly not because I didn't like it.  They are still available at beauty.com if anyone is interested.
BITE Beauty's matte lip crayon in Sweety ($24) is another LE item which I'm pretty sure is unavailable anywhere. 
However, Cailyn's Coral lip balm is close in color and also has a matte finish, so it's a possible option if this color appeals to you.
Cailyn Coral
So there you go, 11 coral lip shades of different intensities and finishes, and definitely my go to color family for spring!
Maybelline Shocking Coral