Monday, March 31, 2014

LDR makeup | Webcam makeup tips

I am in, or have been in, long distance relationships with almost everyone who's important to me: my parents, my besties (all of whom live a minimum of three states away), and, until recently, my boyfriend. I've spent a good portion of time on Skype during the last four years, and I think I've perfected a makeup routine that looks great on webcam. Although I think I generally look better on webcam (yay for low definition!), makeup can look significantly more dramatic and colors can look really different from real life.

Be generous with blush

Blush is so important--it instantly makes you look more alive, which I found especially helpful during finals week. Lesser-quality cameras can wash you out a bit, so wear a little more blush than you think you need. I love Milani Baked Blush in Coralina and NYX Blush in Pinched.

Wear warm colors

Colors like taupe or purple can look really harsh and dark on webcam. Try to go for warm colors, especially if you have yellow undertones. I like the top row of the Stila In the Light palette and the Urban Decay Naked 3 palette.

Be careful with shimmer

Depending on your lighting, shimmer can make your skin look greasy or your eyes puffy. Try to go for satin or matte finishes if you can help it. I like Lorac Pro Palette for a wide range of matte colors.

Pay attention to dark circles

When you're Skyping, chances are your light source is from above, so look out for dark circles--even if you use concealer, mascara and eyeliner smudges can give the look of undereye darkness, so blot away any smears with a Q-tip. If you have dark circles, try Benefit Erase Paste--a peach-colored concealer corrects darkness really well!

Other extras
Don't forget to change into a cute top and brush your hair! And, of course, smile--your loved ones deserve to see you at your best.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Em Cosmetics review - Face, eye, and lip products

Em Cosmetics came out a while ago, but it's quite expensive and I was a little hesitant to buy makeup that I couldn't see samples or testers of. But recently they lowered some of their prices, so I bit the bullet and placed an order.

Shade Play Artistic Cheek Color Palette in Wink Wink

A blush/bronzer palette is so convenient, as opposed to having a bunch of small compacts. I think this formula would be good for makeup beginners, because the powders aren't too soft, and you don't have to be careful about applying too much product . This blush is really pretty and is very true to color. Although the bronzer looks quite dark in the pan, it's a bit light for me for contouring (I'm an NC30)--it's a lot like NYC Smooth Skin Bronzer in Sunny.

I also wish they sold blushes and bronzers separately; if you wanted to try a bunch of blushes, you would have to get more bronzers as well, and I know I definitely don't need as many bronzers as I want blushes.

Shade Play Artistic Eye Color Palette in Madagascar Taupes

I really like this palette and the quality of these eyeshadows. There's a good mix of shimmer and matte colors, and they are all very smooth and pigmented. The only color that is less soft is the dark brown with copper glitter (top right), but it still has good color payoff--just make sure you tap off your brush before applying to avoid fallout. I also like that the taupe pan is a lot larger than the others, because it would definitely be the one I use the most, although I'm not sure how much sense this configuration would make in other palettes. Also, toss the brushes that come in the compact (as well as the one that comes in the blush palette). They do nothing.

*I've read other reviews on Em Cosmetics' eyeshadows, and they seem to be a little hit and miss, especially in the really large Life Palettes. The palette that I got was really good, but I would suggest looking up the swatches of the palette you want first to make sure you're not getting a dud.

Waterliner in Ro's Gold and Black Night

Left: Ro's Gold
Right: Black Night

This eyeliner is made specifically for lining your inner rim, and it does seem to last a lot longer than a lot of other pencil liners. These last about four hours on me before fading significantly (other eyeliners last less than two), but they don't transfer onto my cheeks, which I do like. They also glide on very smoothly--you get pretty full color in one swipe. Black Night is your standard black eyeliner, and Ro's Gold (get it?) is a really pretty metallic golden peach. Nude- and peach-colored eyeliners are supposed to take away the appearance of redness from your waterline and make the whites of your eyes look bigger, although I don't really like that look... I think the creators of that trend forgot the episode of Will and Grace where Will says that you can tell Jack is crazy because you can see white all the way around his pupils. Nevertheless, Ro's Gold is still a really pretty color, and it's different from lower-cost nude eyeliners that are kind of a flat, pale color.

Lip Gallery Creamy Color Sheer Lipstick in One True Kiss

This lipstick is really pigmented (although it's called "sheer lipstick") and feels really nice and creamy. However, it really enhances the look of dry flakes. I really had to make an effort to exfoliate my lips in order for it to not look crusty. Although the packaging is nice and sturdy, I'm not sure if it's worth the price, because there are so many drugstore lipsticks that I like more--Revlon Lip Butter and CoverGirl Jumbo Gloss Balm are just as creamy and full-color, but seem to glide over dead skin much smoother.

Overall, I like the products that I have from Em Cosmetics, but they aren't super unique. I don't think you should buy these products just because it's co-created by Michelle Phan, because these cheek products, eyeshadows, and lipstick don't seem to be a vast improvement compared to existing products, plus they're pretty expensive. That being said, although I can spot a few holes in the collection here and there, there are some interesting products that might be worth trying if you haven't found a holy grail yet.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tarte be MATTEnificent palette - Review and swatches

Tarte has a new palette for spring, the be MATTEnificent palette.

The packaging of the palette is really gorgeous. I'm not usually swayed by packaging--I would rather have simple plastic packaging and a lower price--but the compact is such a beautiful color, and it feels quite sturdy and snaps shut, so I would feel confident taking this when I'm traveling.

Like the name suggests, it's an entirely matte palette. You get a blush, six eyeshadows, and two powder eyeliners.

The entire palette seems pretty minimal and neutral. The blush is a muted, dusty pink, and the eyeshadows are pretty basic neutral colors, like taupe, mauve, and plum. And then, the eyeliners are dark brown and black.

The blush and eyeshadows all have a wonderful creamy texture. They're so soft and blendable, and they show up very true to color. I don't think the plum eyeshadow shows up too dark, so some purpley color actually shows. The eyeliners, though, are really dry and chalky--when I was swatching them, I actually shuddered because I got the feeling that I was running my nails down a chalkboard. However, the colors do show up quite nicely. Although I never use powder eyeliners, they're there for you and they're usable.

The only big issue I really see is that there isn't a wide range of eyeshadows in this palette. You really only have one darker color that you can use for definition (on your outer corner or for a darker crease color), so you probably can't get a ton of looks out of this one collection--I wouldn't use the eyeliners as eyeshadows, because they're quite dry and not nearly as nicely textured. However, I still really like this palette, and I would definitely get a ton of use out of it because it's so simple. I think working girls, or just people who like a really simple, natural look, will really enjoy using this palette because it's such high quality, and the colors really are very pretty!

Monday, February 3, 2014

NARS The NARSissist Eyeshadow Palette - Review, swatches and comparisons

NARS has come out with a limited eyeshadow for the spring, the NARSissist palette.

All the colors are from the permanent collection, whether they're usually singles or parts of duos. None of the pans are labeled, but the colors are listed on the back of the box.

The palette seems to be relatively neutral, although there are some muted colors, like purple and navy. They all seem to be rather cool-toned and dusty-looking as well.


What seems pretty notable about the selection of colors is that there are a lot of light colors, a lot of dark colors, but only two mid-tone shades. Several of the dark colors also seem to look really similar in swatches--the dark browns, black, and navy look almost identical.

My experience with NARS' color cosmetics has been that they're usually better in singles--when the same color is in a palette, it tends to be much less pigmented and more difficult to work with (like the cheek products). I don't have these NARS eyeshadows in single form, so I can't make that comparison here, but many of these eyeshadows feel a little dry and gritty, and not nearly as nice if you're used to Urban Decay eyeshadows. They do swatch pretty nicely, but you have to make more of an effort to build the color.

When I was swatching this palette, I didn't find the colors to be really unique or exciting. I actually thought a lot of the colors looked really similar to those in Sonia Kashuk's Eye on Matte and Eye on Shimmer palettes (available at Target). I have the limited edition Matte/Shimmer palette, which is just the two palettes combined, but they're available separately in the permanent collection. Here they are side-by-side:

Below, I've swatched some comparable colors from each palette below. Top row is NARS, bottom row is Sonia Kashuk.

I was by no means impressed by the NARSissist palette. I can definitely come up with more dupes from the drugstore, and the texture of the eyeshadows could be better. Plus, even though I compared some of the eyeshadows to Sonia Kashuk--a drugstore brand that isn't considered super cheap--the NARS palette is $79, which I think is incredibly overpriced.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Smashbox Full Exposure Palette - Review, swatches and comparisons

Smashbox came out with a neutral palette--the Full Exposure palette!

It has seven shimmer and seven matte eyeshadows, which is really good for people who want a variety of finishes.

The colors are all really, really neutral--as in, a variety of browns and grays. It also consists of half warm (left) and half cool (right) tones.

Top row is shimmer, bottom row is matte.

Something that is really important to note about the shimmer eyeshadows is that they all, excluding the center one, have the same chunky, glittery finish. It tends to have quite a bit of fallout, so you have to be very careful with them. The center shimmer shade and the matte colors, though, are really nicely textured and are super soft, pigmented, and blendable.

Matte eyeshadow brush

Shimmer eyeshadow brush

The palette also comes with a double-ended brush, with each side designated to be used with matte or shimmer eyeshadows. The matte end is a nice fluffy blending-type brush--a lot like the Sigma E25 brush that everyone loves (maybe just the tiniest bit fuller). The shimmer end is really interesting--it's half synthetic and half goat hair (the texture of the matte end). I've tried both sides to apply the shimmer shade separately, and I've found that I get a lot of fallout either way. If you use each side together straight down the middle, though, it applies and blends the glitter a lot more nicely. The goat hair side is also nice for packing on the matte eyeshadows.

Another popular palette that has the same half-matte-half-shimmer concept is the Lorac Pro palette, so I've compared them side-by-side below:

They do have some overlaps in colors, although there aren't that many. Top row is Smashbox, bottom row is Lorac.

Top row: Smashbox Full Exposure palette
Bottom row: Gold, Lt. Bronze, Slate, Espresso, Taupe, Cream, Black

Although the Lorac Pro palette is really different from the Smashbox Full Exposure palette, I would go for the Lorac one just because it gives you some more interesting colors, like Garnet, Mauve, and Pewter, and the texture of the shimmer eyeshadows are so much nicer.

Overall, I don't see the Smashbox Full Exposure palette to be a total musthave. The matte eyeshadows are really fantastic, but you do get quite a bit of fallout from the glitter, and there aren't any colors that are particularly thrilling. If you love browns, you might like this a lot, but if almost half the palette is a miss for me, it's not worth it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Too Faced The Chocolate Bar Eye Palette - Review, swatches, and comparisons

It's officially spring 2014! Too Faced recently launched their new neutral eyeshadow palette, the Chocolate Bar palette, which looks and smells like chocolate.

All of the color names are inspired by chocolate/desserts/candies, and the eyeshadows themselves are formulated with cocoa powder (just like their Chocolate Soleil bronzer), so they smell like chocolate.

All of the eyeshadows have a really nice, soft texture (except Cherry Cordial, which feels a little more dry and powdery). There's a good mix of matte, shimmer, and satin finishes--there are six matte colors, which is quite a lot compared to other neutral palettes. There aren't any glittery eyeshadows, which may be a good thing, because Too Faced's glitter eyeshadows tend to have a lot of chunky fallout.

As you can see in the swatches, this palette has a wide range of browns, with the exception of Candied Violet, which seems to be a bit of a wild card in this context. Although there are some pretty colors, I can definitely come up with most of them in different palettes--especially the really basic colors, like matte cream, medium brown, gold, and dark brown. Also, within this palette, some of the colors look pretty similar to each other on the eye, such as Milk Chocolate and Salted Caramel, and Hazelnut and Haute Chocolate.

As I swatched the eyeshadows, I started to recognize some familiar colors. Here are some comparisons to other palettes you might already own--top row is the Chocolate Bar palette, bottom row is the comparison palette:

Lorac Unzipped palette

Top row: White Chocolate, Marzipan, Hazelnut, Creme Brulee, Milk Chocolate, Cherry Cordial
Bottom row: Undercover, Unbelievable, Uncensored, Undiscovered, Unspoken, Unbridled

Too Faced Natural Eye palette

Top row: White Chocolate, Champagne Truffle, Gilded Ganache, Creme Brulee, Triple Fudge, Haute Chocolate
Bottom Row: Heaven, Silk Teddy, Erotica, Honey Pot, Sexpresso, Cocoa Puff

Urban Decay Naked palette

Top row: Champagne Truffle, Milk Chocolate, Creme Brulee, Hazelnut, Gilded Ganache,  Amaretto, Cherry Cordial
Bottom Row: Virgin, Sin, Buck, Half Baked, Smog, Darkhorse, Toasted, Hustle

Lorac Pro palette

Top row: White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Strawberry Bon Bon, Semi-Sweet, Triple Fudge, Champagne Truffle, Creme Brulee, Amaretto
Bottom row: Cream, Taupe, Lt. Pink, Sable, Espresso, Nude, Gold, Garnet

As you can see, there are actually a lot of palettes that already have the colors in the Chocolate Bar palette.

Overall, I think this palette was a cute idea and it has some really high-quality eyeshadows, but I don't see it as a must-have, because there are so many overlaps with other palettes. I think this is Too Faced's best eyeshadow palette in terms of texture and pigmentation, but once you really take a look at some of the colors, there's already a lot like it out there that you probably already own.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Picture day makeup

I just got my driver's license picture taken, so I thought I'd share some tips for makeup that looks good in pictures!

In general, try not to do anything too crazy or trendy with your makeup; you might think you look fabulous now, but you'll have things like driver's licenses and passport pictures for up to ten years, and your opinion will definitely change.

Base makeup
Use a primer to make sure your foundation goes on evenly, then use a foundation without sunscreen--products with SPF can give you a white cast if there's flash! Try not to use color-corrective products, like green concealer; it's very obvious if you don't blend it well enough--use full coverage concealers instead. Finish with a mattifying powder--the camera will pick up any oil and makeup it even more obvious.

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Light, Revlon Colorstay Whipped Foundation,
MAC Studio Fix Powder, MAC Pro Longwear Concealer

Face color
Use a matte bronzer under your cheekbones, along your forehead, and under your jaw to make your face more chiseled. A pink blush will prevent you from looking washed out and is subtle enough to not look like redness or skin sensitivity.

Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer,
Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Exposed 

Eye makeup
Never forget your eyebrows! Even if you have thick eyebrow, they can look different depending on the lighting. Stick with matte eyeshadows; any glitter, frost, or shimmer can reflect flash and look really unflattering (I learned this the hard way--don't let this happen to you). Then use eyeliner and mascara to give your eyes definition.

Urban Decay Naked Basics palette, Almay Get Up and Grow Mascara,
Essence Gel Eyeliner, Anastasia Brow Powder

Use a sheer lipstick--anything that is very pigmented can look even more intense on camera (more pink, more nude, etc.). Also, stick with mauve or rose colors; in a few years, you will regret anything that is too pink, red, orange, or nude.

Nars Lipstick in Dolce Vita