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

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Urban Decay Naked 3 palette - swatches and comparisons!

The new Naked 3 palette is out! It was released two weeks ago, and since then it has sold out twice. I saw the release announcement when I was on the subway... and I actually hopped off the train to order it so I wouldn't lose wifi.

Click on each picture to enlarge it!

Urban Decay describes this palette as a collection of rose-tones, which seems to be pretty accurate. I feel like they're really just trying to bank on how popular rose gold is; however, instead of a lot of coppery rose golds, there are pinks, gold, and cool browns and grays, which I find a lot more wearable, and I think would go with a lot more lip and cheek colors.

Swatches from the Naked 3 palette

These eyeshadows are really soft and blendable, but really, I don't feel like I've ever been disappointed with the quality of Urban Decay eyeshadows. I don't own a lot of Urban Decay palettes, but I have swatched a lot, and they're consistently pigmented and just really nice overall.

Now, I'm going to compare the Naked 3 with the previous Naked palettes, as well as with some popular neutral palettes.

Naked 3 vs. Naked and Naked 2

Urban Decay describes all three Naked palettes very differently. The original Naked palette is gold- and bronze-based, and has a lot of dark colors to allow you to get a lot of smokey eye looks. Naked 2 has a lot of taupey gray colors, and are mostly light- to medium-tones. Like Naked 2, the Naked 3 has a lot of light and medium colors, but the rosy colors look very feminine and romantic, which I feel is very work-appropriate and less dramatic. If you like your smokey eye, though, I think you're still going to like the original Naked best, because Naked 3 doesn't have a great variety of dark colors--some of the colors on the right of the palette, like Factory, Darkside, and Blackheart, appear pretty dark in the pan and in a swatch, but when you blend it on your eye they turn out to be much lighter, even over a primer.

See the original Naked palette here and the Naked 2 palette here.

Naked 3 vs. Lorac Unzipped palette

Swatches from the Lorac Unzipped palette

I've heard a lot of people compare the Lorac Unzipped palette to Naked 3, because they're both marketed as "rose gold" palettes. However, I feel like the Lorac palette is more true to the rose gold theme; it has some warm, intensely coppery colors, and it has some very shiny, very metallic finishes (as well as some satin and matte). Naked 3, on the other hand, has pinks as opposed to metallic copper. Overall, I think the Lorac Unzipped palette is going to give you a more dramatic look, while Naked 3 is more daytime/wearable.

See the Lorac Unzipped palette here.

Naked 3 vs. Too Faced Natural Eye palette

I really feel like, in terms of the range and types of colors, the Too Faced Natural Eye palette comes closest to Naked 3. What's most notable about each of these palettes are the pink, gold, and dark gray/brown--but the colors from Naked 3 seem to be a little more cool-toned.

See the Too Faced Natural Eye palette here.

Bottom line: Overall, I really enjoy using the Naked 3 palette; the colors look so pretty and feminine, and I think I'm going to get more use out of it than either of the previous Naked palettes. However, opinions on palettes really vary with personal preference; I think you would like this one if you prefer lighter eyeshadow looks--you can definitely get a wider variety of office-appropriate looks from this than either of the previous Naked palettes. If you like smokey eyes, you'll still get the most use out of the original Naked palette.

The Naked 3 palette is currently sold on; it will be sold on, and starting December 6th, and will be in stores on December 12th! Let me know if you'll be getting this Naked palette, and which one you like best!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Coming soon: Urban Decay Naked 3 palette!

Last week, pictures of a rumored Naked 3 palette came out on Reddit and Urban Decay has confirmed that it's coming! (See the video here). So far it seems to have a lot of light colors, cool tones, and pinks. Apparently there have already been some sold in France--see some more images of the palette here. It's supposed to come out on December 16th--keep an eye on Urban Decay's website or Facebook page for updates!

Monday, October 14, 2013

What's in my makeup bag? - Fall edition


You can wear the same makeup year-round, but I think it's really fun to switch up my products occasionally. Here's what I'm going to be using this fall!

Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer has been a staple for me for a really long time, but I've been alternating between that and the Shiseido Perfect Refining Foundation, which has really nice coverage and feels very light on my skin. Smashbox Photoready Primer Light just makes base products wear more evenly and kind of controls oil, too.

I've been using MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation everyday since I bought it--it's such a smooth, matte powder that doesn't look chalky or cakey. For contouring, I love NYX Matte Bronzer in Deep Tan; it's the perfect brown for me, and it blends very nicely.

Tarte Off the Cuff Amazonian Clay Blush Palette has pretty much every blush color I need, plus a bronzer that is a little lighter than the one from NYX. These blushes are so soft and pigmented, and the colors are really pretty.

For dark circles, I love Benefit Erase Paste; it has a peach/salmon tone that neutralizes undereye darkness, and it's very creamy and rich. MAC Studio Finish Concealer is a little dry and waxy, so it's perfect for blemishes.

Almay One Coat Get Up and Grow Mascara gives me really long, fluttery lashes that are still soft and flexible. Rimmel Scandaleyes eyeliner in Taupe is very smooth, and it's the perfect color to give me a little bit of definition on my lower lashline. Urban Decay 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Perversion is a very long-wearing and doesn't smudge, even on my oily, hooded monolids.

Friday, October 11, 2013

September favorites!

This is kind of late to be doing the previous month's favorites, but here's what I've been loving in September!

MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation

This is so nice; it gives you a really matte finish, but you can apply it with a very heavy hand and there's no appearance of powder at all. It's so smooth and wears really well!

MAC Studio Finish Concealer

This feels a little waxy; it's a little dry under the eyes, but it clings to oily spots very well, so it's perfect for the greasy patches around your nose and for pimples. It's a medium-buildable coverage, so it covers up redness very nicely, too.

Elf Eyebrow Kit

I recently colored my hair, so I had to change my eyebrow color too. This is an exact dupe of Benefit Brow Zings, with a wax and a powder (the only difference is the Benefit one has mini tweezers). I don't really use the wax, but the powder is super soft and pigmented. It's also $3--$27 cheaper than Benefit--and everyone has time for that.

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate

I have very dehydrated skin, but this makes my face feel really soft and bouncy. It also doesn't feel greasy or break me out, and makes my moisturizer work even better.

Bath and Body Works Pumpkin Pecan Waffles candle

I don't burn candles; I just leave them out uncovered, but the smell still fills the room. This candle makes my room smell like a bakery--it's really sweet and smells like cookies!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sleek Blush by 3 and Face Form reviews and swatches

I recently received an order of Sleek products, and I posted about the Au Naturel eyeshadow palette earlier this week (read that post here). I also got two cheek palettes, Blush by 3 and Face Form.

I got the Face Form palette in Light, which includes a contour powder, highlighter, and their blush in Rose Gold (Medium and Dark have shimmery bronzers instead of the blush). I love that this compact contains all the cheek products you need, which makes it so great for travel. Everything is very pigmented, and the highlighter is not too shimmery (in person, it comes off more golden than it appears in the swatch).

After I bought the palette, I did more research and found out that Rose Gold is supposed to be a dupe for NARS Orgasm (pink-peach with golden shimmer), which I do not like at all (read about it here). However, Sleek's cheek products are much softer than NARS products, so you don't need to scrub down into the pan to pick up product. The shimmer in Rose Gold is also much more finely milled and easier to blend--it doesn't stick and bunch up on oily patches--so I really like it.

Left to right: Crochet, Guipure, Chantilly

I got the Blush by 3 palette in Lace, which has the colors Crochet, Guipure, and Chantilly. In general, Sleek tends to have very trendy/modern-looking blush colors, but they're all very wearable (Crochet appears to be a bright orange in the pan, but it's peach on the face). I really can't tell a difference between Guipure and Rose Gold from the Face Form palette, but I really don't mind that I have duplicates because they're so beautiful. I love that these blushes wear a really long time and are very blendable.

I really love these Sleek cheek products! They do a great job with the pigmentation and texture, and the colors are so wearable. These palettes were definitely worth the money for me. I think it's important to note that the images on Sleek's website are not the most accurate (Blush by 3 in Lace's picture looks much paler and softer than it actually is), so Google swatches and pictures before you order!

For more Sleek products, check out my review on the Au Naturel eyeshadow palette here and at

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sleek Au Naturel eyeshadow palette review and swatches

I've heard so many good things about the Sleek makeup line, which is based in the UK. I placed an order for an eyeshadow palette and cheek products, so those are the products I'll be posting about this week.

I got the I-Divine palette in Au Naturel, which is their neutral palette. The packaging is so hard to open--it's a nail-breaking, manicure-ruining compact. But it is very sturdy and compact, and it has a huge mirror, which makes it travel really well.

Top row: Nougat, Nubuck, Cappuccino, Honeycomb, Toast, Taupe
Bottom row: Conker, Moss, Bark, Mineral Earth, Regal, Noir

I've heard a lot of great things about Sleek eyeshadows, but judging from this palette, their light matte eyeshadows are pretty weak. Nubuck, Cappuccino, Honeycomb, and Toast have very, very poor pigmentation. I'm not even sure how many layers you would need to build up the color, but the only way I could see someone using them is applying it with a fluffy brush to blend out other eyeshadow colors--they have very poor color payoff on their own. The dark matte colors are so much better, but they can feel a bit chalky. The shimmery eyeshadows, on the other hand, are very pigmented and easy to blend; however, there are cheaper eyeshadows from American drugstores that are even better. The shipping is definitely not cheap (about $13 flat rate), so really think about whether it's worth it for you!

I promise, all the swatches are there!

It seems like you can't get a wide variety of looks with this palette, since you only have one "usable" light color, and the dark colors are various cool tones. I don't mind having an eye palette in which all the colors are one tone, but I feel like using this one palette by itself can become very monotonous, just because you have so few options.

Overall, I really didn't like this palette at all; even though has some nice colors, almost half the palette was pretty awful, and the compact is so hard to open that it has really slowed me down when I get ready in the morning. If you are interested in Sleek eyeshadows, go for a palette with mostly darker shimmer/metallic colors (the Storm palette is supposed to be great); if you already have a holy grail neutral palette, this isn't a must-have palette.

Come back on Friday for a review on their cheek products, and check out more Sleek products at

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Next week: Sleek Week!

Next week I will be reviewing various products from the UK brand Sleek! Come back on Monday for an eyeshadow palette and Friday for cheek products :)

To see more of Sleek's products, check out

Monday, September 16, 2013

Emergency bag essentials!

When we're outside, we're always missing that one thing we need immediately. Here are some things that will prepare you for anything:

Oil blotting sheets

We all get a little greasy sometimes... blotting the oil off is easier and more natural-looking than applying powder. If you don't have blotting sheets on hand, use a brown napkin or paper towel, or a toilet seat cover.

Cuticle clippers

When I have a hangnail or a dry cuticle that sticks out, I literally can't think about anything until it's gone. You can also use it to cut broken nails and tags that you forgot to cut off your new clothes.

Hand cream

I hate when my hands feel tight and dry after washing my hands. You can also use this on dry spots, like elbows.
Try: L'Occitane hand cream

Hand sanitizer

Before you eat, after you eat, on the subway... have you watched Contagion?
Try: Bath and Body Works Hand Sanitizer

Eye depuffing stick

If your concealer is looking a little dry, apply a little of this with your finger to refresh it. You can also use it as brow gel if your eyebrows are looking bushy.

Lip balm in a twist up tube

Please, not in a pot! I always hear people complaining about how they're sick again, and then they proceed to dip their dirty fingers into a jar of lip balm and apply it to their mouth. Do they not see it? Save your jarred lip products at home. Or, if you don't wash your hands, don't use them at all.
Try: Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm


I get extremely uncomfortable, disgruntled, and unfunctional when my eyes are dry.
Try: Visine Tears


To blow your nose, wipe off Visine on your cheeks, or just in case there's no toilet paper.

A natural/nude lipstick

99% of the times that I wear red or fuchsia lipstick, within two hours of leaving the house I will realize it looks awful. Always keep a fail-proof lip color in your purse!
Try: Almay Liquid Lip Balm in Nudetrients



They're very important. Have one even when you don't think you need it, please.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Worth the Hype?: NARS Orgasm blush and Laguna bronzer

There are a lot of well-loved products in the beauty community, and there must be a reason why they have been selling very well for so long, so I'm going to see if they're really worth the hype.

I picked up the NARS blush and bronzer duo in Orgasm/Laguna ($41), which are two classic products of the line. The Orgasm blush is a pink-peach with golden shimmer, which is supposed to be flattering on everyone, and Laguna appears to be a dark bronzer.

Left: NARS blush in Orgasm
Right: NARS bronzer in Laguna

When you swatch the products, Orgasm is pretty intensely shimmery. On the cheeks, the pink-peach pigment blends very easily, but the golden shimmer is incredibly hard to blend (especially over oily spots) and tends to stay in patches, which is so unflattering and unnatural. Laguna, on the other hand, looks nothing like the color in the pan--it's actually a really light, shimmery golden bronzer. And because it's so light and shimmery, it can't be used for contouring on medium/dark girls, so it can only really be used all over your face for a slightly more tan look. But if you try to build it up, the shimmer builds up more quickly than the pigment, and you end up looking really greasy.

Left: NARS Orgasm blush
Right: Wet n Wild blush in Pearlescent Pink

NARS Orgasm blush is hailed as a universally flattering color, but if you Google "NARS Orgasm dupes," you'll find that there are a ton of cheaper options out there--all color cosmetics are going to have low-cost dupes, because the high-end cosmetic companies don't own the pigments. My big issue with this product is that it's so shimmery! The color is absolutely gorgeous, but the golden shimmer just looks too frosty on the skin. If you have this problem too, I recommend Wet n Wild's blush in Pearlescent Pink; it's the same pink-peach color, but much less golden and sparkly.

Worth the Hype?: NO
This blush/bronzer duo is decent quality, but the shimmer in them can be difficult to blend. Orgasm blush and Laguna bronzer used to be pretty unique colors and textures, but as the quality and variety of lower-cost products improve, these are pretty outdated products (for a more flattering satin-finish bronzer, try NYX's Mosaic blush in Cafe). If you're interested in these colors, just Google their dupes; you can buy a bunch of them for the cost of this palette.

Monday, September 9, 2013

August disappointments :(

I've tried a lot of products in August, and a lot of them were duds :( I don't have most of these products anymore, so I don't have swatches, but hopefully I can explain myself well enough that you'll know if they can work for you.

Too Faced Natural Face palette

Image courtesy of Too Faced

This is supposed to be an "all in one" face palette, and it's really handy in that it eliminates the need for a lot of compacts when you're traveling. I love the color of the cream blush, but the powder blush is so intensely shimmery. Although the concealer is a good match for my skin (I'm an NC30) it's very poor coverage on dark circles and redness, so I've felt the need to bring in a separate concealer. I haven't used a lot of the bronzer or brightener, but because of the way it's supposed to be used, even if only a couple of elements aren't good, this isn't really a worthwhile product for me.

Sephora Lasting and Perfecting Corrector

Sephora concealer (left) vs. Benefit Erase Paste (right)

I'm a little confused by this product. It's a double-ended concealer, with one for undereyes and one for spots. I think the undereye side is supposed to be worn alone and counteract dark circles, but it's not good enough coverage to be worn alone. And if it's meant to be layered under another concealer (it has a slight peachy tone) it's not peachy/salmony enough to fully correct undereye darkness. It's also extremely dry under the eyes. The other end is meant to cover spots, but it can't cling to greasy pimples--it slides right off, so it doesn't work.

Buxom Full-On Lip Polish

I talked about this product in my review of a bunch of high end lip products (read it here). Even though it's really nice and shiny, and they have pretty colors, it becomes so tacky, and it's so intensely minty for such a long time that it makes my lips uncomfortably numb.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Pressed Powder

Image courtesy of Neutrogena

This powder feels so dry and chalky! I'm not sure who this would be good for; if you have dry or combination skin, it really clings to dry patches and looks really powdery. But if you have oily skin, this isn't mattifying, unless you really pack in on with a sponge or puff--in which case the appearance of powder would be really obvious. Maybe this would be good for someone who has normal skin and just needs a powder to set their makeup--but there are other cheaper products that can do the same thing for you.