Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 2010 Favorites

Here is a list of some of my favorite, stand-out products of the past month, along with a brief description of each. YouTube video relating to this post coming within the next day or two!

Coastal Scents 88 Palette
This month I finally jumped on the bandwagon and ordered this palette. I fell in love right away - it has every color I could imagine ever using and more. The colors are incredibly pigmented and the price is unbeatable. It also allows me to experiment with unique colors I wouldn't typically use without having to go out and buy those individual colors. Next on my wish list: the 88 Ultra Shimmer Palette - I am a HUGE fan of shimmery eye shadows!

Revlon Illuminance Cream Shadows - Skinlights

This has become one of my staple products that I will definitely repurchase time and time again. This palette has four beautiful, shimmery shades perfect for use as eyeshadow bases. I use the champagne shade everyday as a brow highlight beneath the next product I'm about to mention.

Sally Girl Eyeshadow - Champagne
I use this shadow daily in tandem with the cream champagne shade mentioned above. It provides a beautiful pearly highlight for either the brow bone or the inner corners of the eye near the tear duct. For only 99 cents, this is a great buy and has me eager to try a few more shades by Sally Girl.

Revlon Colorstay Lipstick - So Blushious
These lipsticks usually sell for around $10 at a drugstore, but I picked up 4 shades for $2.50 apiece at a CVS clearance. Having tried them out, I now would willingly pay the full price. The formulation of these lipsticks is beyond impressive: they have incomparable pigmentation, go on very creamily and then dry slightly to a long-lasting finish true to the Colorstay name. Of the four shades, So Blushious is my favorite; it's a vivid, lustrous pink shade that gives an instant pop of color to the neutral eyes I often wear.

ELF Eyeshadow Brush
I've heard so many rave reviews about this brush and finally ordered one myself. The quality of the brush is great - sturdy design, soft bristles, zero shedding when washing - and at $1 apiece, adding several to your collection is justifiable. The fluffy bristles pick up shadows and pack them onto the lid effectively, for full-intensity color.

ELF Blending Brush
I love that this brush has slightly shorter, denser bristles than your typical blending brush, and therefore defines the crease effectively. I generally use this to lay the color down into my crease and use a clean blending brush to blend out the edges.

ELF Studio Line Blush Brush & Healthy Glow Bronzing Powder - Luminance
I use this combo every single day to highlight from my cheek bones to my temples for a beautiful, subtle sun-kissed glow. I love the sleek design and super-soft bristles of the blush brush; it's perfect for a gentle yet noticeable application of the luminance powder.

ELF Studio Line Blush - Candid Coral
Coral shades are my absolute favorite to wear on the lips and on the cheeks, and I find they are generally universally flattering. This blush is a beautiful peachy-coral color with subtle gold reflects, providing a lovely, soft flush to the cheeks. I wear this as part of my everyday makeup routine, applied with a stippling brush. Not only is the product itself great, but I adore the sleek packaging, which mimics NARS.

Queen Helene Pomegranate & Raspberry Facial Scrub
After using the St. Ives Apricot Scrub as my sole exfoliant for quite some time, I received this as a Christmas gift and fell in love after first use. It is now an integral part of my skincare routine. I find I actually like it better than the St. Ives scrub, as the exfoliating beads are much finer and gentler, and never irritate my skin the way the apricot scrub sometimes does during dryer weather. The scent is fantastic, and at $3 it is affordable.
*I forgot to mention this in my favorites video - it will make an appearance next month!*

Aussie 3-Minute Miracle & Pantene Pro-V Restorative Mask
I began incorporating weekly deep conditioning treatments into my haircare routine this month and noticed an instant difference. I alternate using these treatments every other week, and I attribute my hair's new-found softness and manageability to both products. I find myself looking forward to Saturday nights when I can pamper myself and use these treatments.

AMI Clubwear Boots
Back in November I took advantage of's Black Friday Sale and ordered two pairs of boots at 50% off. One of the pairs is chocolate-brown faux leather with a cute satin ribbon detailing at the top. My town has been experiencing cold, rainy weather on/off for the past few weeks and these faux leather boots have kept my feet warm and dry - with jeans tucked into them, they are both cute and functional.

Conair 3-Way Lighted Mirror
I don't know how I ever got along without this mirror - with four different setting, it provides balanced lighting for the perfect application of makeup. The side panels allow me to see my look from all sides and the magnifying mirror helps me zero in on areas for extra precision - a big help when it comes to liquid liner.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Coastal Scents Shipping Rumors/Myths

I just published a blog about the six Coastal Scents brushes I ordered and thought I would write another talking about shipping, pricing, etc. when it comes to the company. As someone fairly new to Coastal Scents, I know there were a lot of things I'd heard about their products/shipping that put me off from ordering for quite a while.

1) Shipping Time

One of the big complaints I'd heard was that their shipping would take forever - people said their orders took as long as 6 weeks to arrive. I was worried about this but finally bit the bullet and ordered my first product, the original 88 palette, through Fedex Ground. I had no such problem with shipping. I received notice that the order had been processed and shipped the very day after I placed the order. It made its way across the country (from Florida to California) in a week and a half. I've also made two brush orders via USPS First Class Mail and both arrived within the 4 business bays after I placed the order.

2) Shipping Costs

Another complaint was that shipping would be expensive. I paid about $8 for the default shipping method, Fedex Ground, which I think is reasonable considering how affordable the products themselves are. Fedex will also send you a tracking number after it ships so that you can track the status of your package and be notified when it arrives at its destination.

For any orders that aren't palettes and are under 13 ounces, I will always use USPS First Class Mail, which cost me UNDER $2 for the two brush orders I placed. Prices for expedited or overnight shipping are MUCH, MUCH steeper, but if you are willing to wait a week or so for your order, then I think the shipping prices are more than decent.

3) Shipping Quality

The final big complaint I'd heard on more than one occasion was that the packaging/presentation was poor. People said some of the shadows in their palettes were shattered or looked like they had "exploded" in transit. Others complained that the brushes smelled bad and shed copiously upon first wash. I suppose this varies from order to order, but I was not in the least disappointed about the state of my order when I received it.

The palette was wrapped generously in bubble wrap followed by paper, then placed in a cardboard box, so the palette was safe and none of the shadows were broken. Within the palette itself there is a clear plastic sheet protector over the shadows to keep any free powder from mixing into other colors.

As for my two brush orders, both came in envelopes with bubble wrap interiors. The brushes were wrapped in tissue paper (my second order even came in adorable Valentine's Day tissue paper, with hearts!). They were arranged in a small mesh drawstring bag (first order's was gold and second was pink) and each individual brush had a plastic, resealable wrapper. None of the brushes smelled bad and only the Pink Deluxe Oval Shadow Brush shed when I washed them (and only a tiny bit).

All 3 orders also came with a little mineral eyeshadow sample, which was a pleasant surprise. I received two samples of "Indigo" and one of "Pandora's Box," both of which are gorgeous bright colors with a pearly, high-shine finish.


I have had nothing but good experiences with Coastal Scents and I'm blown away by the quality and prices of their products. For me, the three main complaints about the company that I've heard on the internet and from reviewers on the CS site itself have all proven false. This isn't to say that those people were lying, but I definitely think that CS has really stepped up its game and tried to improve its customer service. And I definitely think that if you have been interested in their products for awhile but just haven't been able to bring yourself to try them out, you should definitely do so!

So that's my mini review of Coastal Scents' shipping!

Coastal Scents Brush Haul

I was curious about the Coastal Scents brushes, having heard mostly good reviews about them and noting the incredible prices, so I decided to try out a few. Below is a list of the brushes I purchased, their prices, first impressions, and a link to pictures and reviews of each brush on the Coastal Scents site if you're interested in purchasing or learning more about them.

1) Pink Oval Deluxe Shadow Brush - $2.39
This brush reminds me of the MAC 227 but with slightly shorter bristles. I got it to apply highlight to my brow bone, but it could also be used to pack on shadows to the lid. The brush also comes in black, but I love the candy pink handles - the perfect addition to any girly-girl's makeup collection. :)

2) Pink Oval Synthetic Concealer Brush - $2.89
This brush is stiff with very soft synthetic bristles. I think this would make an excellent concealer brush, but I purchased it to have a very flat, stiff eyeshadow brush to pack on shadow for maximum color intensity and control (similar to the concept of a MAC 249). Could also be used to apply cream shadows or bases, as the synthetic bristles will not absorb or "eat up" cream-based products.

3) Italian Badger Blender - $2.95
I was instantly attracted to the design of the Italian badger brush line - the burgundy handles are beautiful. The bristles are incredibly soft on this blender brush, but I wish the brush were a little stiffer; as it is, it does not pick up much product and applies it very sheerly. If you're going for a more intense crease color, this would not be ideal brush to use. I find this brush works best when used clean to simply blend out other shadows or soften out harsh lines.

4) Italian Badger Pencil Brush - $3.29
Initially I expected this pencil brush to be slightly stiffer, but after using it I'm completely satisfied with its design. It's perfect for applying shadow to the lower lash line and to the inner corners of the eye to brighten your look. It could also smudge out liner for a smokey effect.

5) Chisel Angle Fluff Shadow Brush - $2.00

This brush is a lot smaller than I expected it to be, and much less fluffy; Coastal Scents includes the dimensions of most of their brushes, but not for this one. I expected it to be like the MAC 275 and planned to use it to shape the outer V. The actual brush head is very thin, almost like your typical angled brush for liner, but just slightly fluffier. I actually like this, as it provides a very controlled application shadow. One could use the belly of the brush to pack shadows on to the lid, or could sweep the brush along the crease to blend out color.

6) Sable Blending Brush - $2.90
After reading and hearing reviews comparing this brush to the MAC 224, I absolutely had to get it. I love everything about the brush, from the softness of the bristles to their tapered shape. The shape, density and performance of this brush is everything I expected from the Italian Badger Blending Brush but didn't get, so I am glad I placed a second order for this brush. I can easily see it becoming my new go-to brush for basic crease color. It might not be great for applying very intense, concentrated color in the outer V (I would suggest a much smaller, denser brush for that), but everyone needs a basic, fairly long-haired crease brush like this! For about 10% of the price of the MAC "equivalent," I am really pleased with this brush.

These are just my first impressions of these brushes; I've only had the first 4 for about a week and the last 2 for two days, but this is what I think of them given my personal experience thus far. Detailed reviews in the future!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Skincare Routine

Below is a list of products I use to maintain my skin and a brief description of each.

Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar
This is a gentle yet thorough cleanser. It entirely removes liquid foundation, liquid liner, mascara, etc., leaving a clean face with no residue. It comes in an original and a fragrance-free formula, both of which I have tried. The fragrance-free formula is definitely NOT fragrance-free, and doesn't have the most pleasant scent, but the cleansing ability of this product is perfect. It costs $2.77 for a single bar at Target, and can also be bought in packs of 3 for a cheaper price per bar.

St. Ives Naturally Clear Apricot Cleanser &
St. Ives Fresh Skin Olive Cleanser
Both of these have comparable cleansing abilities. They are very, very gentle and will not remove makeup from your skin as easily as the Neutrogena bar would. However, this is ideal for a morning moisturizer as all it has to remove is oil/bacteria that accumulated over the course of the night. Does not leave skin feeling tight or excessively dry and would likely be ideal for sensitive skin types. The main differences are in the scents (the Olive Cleanser smells pretty bad) and in the fact that the Apricot Cleanser has a very small amount of exfoliating beads in it, but not too many to still be an effective daily cleanser.

St. Ives Apricot Scrub - Blemish & Blackhead Control &
Queen Helene Pomegranate & Raspberry Facial Scrub
These are both effective exfoliating scrubs that leave the skin feeling soft and pores looking clear. The St. Ives Scrub is slightly more abrasive, with larger exfoliating beads that might be too rough for some sensitive skin types. The St. Ives scrub also contains 2% salycyclic acid, which should help clear out acne. The pomegranate scrub has finer beads and is therefore more gentle. I exfoliate with the St. Ives scrub on Sundays to clear my face completely of dead skin cells and use the Queen Helene as a kind of gentler maintenance step in the middle of the week.

Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque
At around $4 a tube, this masque is a really inexpensive way to pamper yourself and improve your skin. Every Friday night I apply this green masque to my face, most generously in my problem areas, and allow it to dry for 15-20 minutes. It has an incredible cooling sensation, and when it dries, you can see where it has sunken into pores and removed any impurities. I also use this as a spot treatment when I have a breakout mid-week; I apply a small amount just to that area, allow to dry and rinse off. It works wonders!

Jergens Natural Glow Revitalizing Moisturizing Lotion
I purchased this at the end of the summer because I didn't want to bid adieu to my summertime glow. I used to apply this nightly to my face, neck and upper chest area but have since kind of fallen out of the habit of using it. It has a small amount of glitter in it and very faintly has that distinctive self-tanner smell, which is why I avoided using it for daytime. I purchased the Revitalizing formula for Medium Skin tones, and now think that for a more pronounced tan, I could have gone with the version for darker skin.

Up & Up Facial Cleansing Wipes
I picked these up for a few dollars after hearing a makeup guru on YouTube give them the thumbs up. This is the Target brand, but the package claims these wipes were designed to mimic the Ponds Clean Sweep makeup wipes. The scent is fantastic and they do a great job at removing foundation and eyeshadow. They definitely do not effectively remove mascara, so I just follow the wipes up with my usual nighttime facial cleanser to get that off. Generally I cut the wipes in half and only use one half - it's enough to remove my eye makeup and all my face makeup before I cleanse my face.

Planning on trying: Cetaphil Daily Moisturizing Lotion

ELF Brush Review

I own quite a few of the brushes from ELF (, and am overall very impressed with their quality, especially for the price. The white-handled brushes are $1 and the black-handled brushes from their Studio Line are $3 apiece. Here are my in-depth reviews for the ELF brushes I currently own.

Regular $1 Brushes Mentioned:

Eyeshadow brush - 5 stars
This brush is very soft and fluffy, as opposed to a flat shader brush. It does a great job at picking up eyeshadow (it would work very well with pigments) and packing it onto the lid. It is also great for an overall wash of color from the lid to the brow bone.

Blending eye brush - 5 stars
This blending brush is shorter and denser than most of the other eyeshadow blending brushes I own, which makes it great to build color intensity in the crease. I use this brush to apply the preliminary crease colors and then use another clean, less-dense blending brush to blend out shadows for a softer finish.

Total face brush - 3 stars
The bristles are neither optimally soft nor dense, so the quality is kind of underwhelming on this brush. It is definitely very fluffy and would be good only for applying a very sheer layer of powder or bronzer to one's face. Personally, I don't believe it picks up enough product to use for the application of setting powder, but it could be decent for touch-ups throughout the day. Definitely not an essential.

Blushing, bronzing & blending brush - 3 stars
The bristles are of the same density and texture as those of the total face brush. The angled design makes it ideal for contouring the cheekbones, nose, and sides of the forehead. It could be used as a blush brush, but there are better inexpensive alternatives for that out there. If you want to experiment with an angled brush but don't want to spend too much on a higher-end brand, give this one a try. I know there are probably better variants of this brush out there - I am going to give the Italian Badger angled brush from Coastal Scents a try next.

Concealer brush - 0 STARS!
The brush is too small to conceal anything of notice. It was incredibly poorly-made, with the ferrule detaching from the wooden handle within the first few uses. I used glue to re-attach it, but I may as well have thrown it away given how little I use it. If I ever do use it, it will be as a lip brush for a more controlled application of darker colors.

Studio Line $3 Brushes Mentioned:

Eyeshadow "C" brush - 4 stars
This brush's bristles are slightly softer, shorter and stiffer than those of the $1 ELF eyeshadow brush. Because of the stiffness, it does not pick up color as effectively as its $1 counterpart. I mention in my video review of these brushes that this brush is of decent quality, but it doesn't do anything distinct that any other typical eyeshadow brush can't do - so I just don't see this as a necessity.

Contour brush - 5 stars
Its synthetic bristles are very soft and very dense. It has the same dome shape and stiffness as a pencil brush but is slightly too big to use for that purpose. It applies very concentrated, controlled, intense color to the crease, so I would recommend using it to darken the outer V. Because of its small size and denseness, it is not ideal for blending crease colors (use a fluffier brush for that purpose).

Complexion brush - 4 stars
I swirl this brush in powder to set my foundation on a daily basis. Its bristles are very soft and the design is sleek and sturdy. It could also be used to sweep bronzer from the temples to the cheekbones or to provide a slight contour. My only complaint is that I had expected the brush to be a little stiffer, for a more controlled application of powders (something like the MAC 134). Because the brush doesn't offer the stiffness I had expected, it applies powder in a very sheer layer.

Blush brush - 5 stars
The same soft synthetic bristles and sturdy design are featured in this flat blush brush. I personally think the brush is too small to use for the application of blush, though it is a matter of personal preference. This brush is ideal for sweeping a highlight color from the top of the cheekbones to the temple, and down the center of the nose. It picks up the perfect amount of product and its soft bristles make blending effortless. It has become an integral part of my daily face routine.

Powder brush - 5 stars
I use this brush to stipple on liquid foundations and then blend it out for a glowing, airbrushed finish. It is a very dense, soft, flat-topped brush (probably comparable to most flat-topped buffer brushes out there). Unlike your typical stippling brush (e.g. the MAC 187), which has white bristles that are not dense, this brush is full all the way through, which I believe prevents the streaking effect I sometimes get with a stippling brush. It would also be excellent for buffing powder foundations or setting powders into the skin.

Foundation, Countour & Highlight Routine

These are the products I use and steps I take on a daily basis to apply my foundation, contour and highlight my face. All these products are incredibly inexpensive and accessible, but I would recommend any of them!

Products featured:
Rimmel London Renew & Lift Foundation - 103 True Ivory
ELF Tone-Correcting Concealer - Honey (Light)
CoverGirl Clean Pressed Powder - Translucent Light
OR NYC Smooth Skin Pressed Powder - Translucent
ELF All-Over Cover Stick - Ivory
Revlon Colorstay Pressed Powder - Medium
ELF Healthy Glow Bronzing Powder - Matte Bronze, Luminance
Milani Mosaic Powder Blush - Sweet Cheeks

Brushes Used:
ELF Studio Line Powder Brush
Studio Tools Crease Brush
ELF Studio Line Complexion Brush
ELF Blushing, Bronzing & Blending Brush
ELF Studio Line Blush Brush
MAC 182 Kabuki Brush

1) Begin with a clean, moisturized face.

2) Apply about 1.5 pumps foundation to the back of your palm and cover the tip of the ELF Studio Line Powder Brush (any flat-tipped buffer brush will likely work) by dipping it lightly into the foundation.

2) "Stipple" the foundation onto your face, blending into the neckline, until desired coverage is achieved. Once basic color has been laid down, gently swirl the brush across your entire face to remove any streaks and to blend for a flawless, airbrushed finish.

3) Apply concealer of choice to under-eye circles (I used ELF Tone-Correcting Concealer in Honey). A shade with coral or subtle orange undertones will help to cancel out any blueness from veins/under-eye circles. Dot concealer on and blend gently with fingers. Set concealer using a fluffy blending brush and translucent powder.

4) Use a creamy concealer (I used ELF All-Over Cover Stick in Ivory) to mask blemishes or any other imperfections.

5) Set foundation using a pressed or loose powder. Use a translucent powder if you are satisfied with your coverage, or use a colored powder for a little bit of extra coverage. I applied Revlon Colorstay pressed powder in Medium with my ELF Studio Line Complexion Brush.

6) Take a matte bronzer (shimmery bronzer will only amplify the areas your are trying to contour) and an angled blush brush of your choice. I used ELF Healthy Glow Bronzing Powder in Matte Bronze and their $1 Blushing, Bronzing & Blending Brush. Sweep color gently beneath cheekbone, starting with more pressure than you begin with to have the color fade gradually into your skin. Once desired color intensity is achieved, swirl brush gently over area to blend out any harsh lines.

7) Optional: Contour sides of nose and forehead, and beneath the chin, with a small amount of bronzer, making sure to blend out harsh lines for a natural look.

8) Using ELF Studio Line Blush Brush, gently sweep their Healthy Glow Bronzing Powder in Luminance from the top of the cheekbones to the temples and blend for a natural, sunkissed highlight.

9) Optional: Highlight center of nose using the same products mentioned above.

10) Tap a duo-fiber stippling brush into blush of choice to pick up a small amount of color and pat onto apples of cheeks. Then swirl brush over area and blend slightly back towards ears. If desired, add more color to apples of cheeks.

I do this on a daily basis - when I am in a hurry, I apply the foundation using my fingers. This is faster, but does not give me optimal coverage. For touch-ups throughout the day, I use a blotting sheet in oily areas and follow with a sheer application of translucent powder. Translucent powder will mattify the face without making the skin look too powdery or cakey.

Soft Everyday Eye Look

This is a soft, subtle everyday eye look with champagne and bronze colors. This is an easy look that will match essentially anything! I have listed the specific products I use, but of course you can use comparable items from your own collection.

Products used:
1) ELF Eyelid Primer
2) Revlon Illuminance Cream Shadows - Skinlights
3) Coastal Scents 88 Palette
4) Sally Girl 99 Cent Eyeshadow - Champagne
5) NYC Eyeliner Pencils - White, Taupe
6) L'Oreal Telescopic Liquid Eyeliner - Carbon Black
7) Maybelline Great Lash BIG Mascara - Blackest Black
8) Rimmel Extra Super Lash - Black
9) ELF Curly Eyelash Tool
9) Revlon Lipstick - Rosedew

1) Apply primer to eye area and use fingers spread from lid to brow bone. Spread a small amount of primer beneath your lower lash line.

2) Taking the lightest shade of the Revlon Illuminance Cream Shadow palette in Skinlights, apply to the lid up to the browbone. Make sure not too apply too much, as it will crease if applied too heavily.

3) Using the Coastal Scents 88 Palette, apply a matte color 1-2 shades lighter than your natural skin tone. This will not provide much color, but the powdery base will provide an easier canvas upon which to blend other colors.

4) Take the Sally Girl eyeshadow in Champagne and a shader brush and pat the color onto your lid. Then apply it just under the brow bone and blend for a subtle, shimmery highlight.

5) Using a crease/blending brush, apply a lighter golden-bronze color to your crease, building the color most in your outer corner and blending it lightly along your entire crease.

6) Take a darker bronze color and the same blending brush and apply again to the crease, this time focusing only on the outer V to build intensity and definition.

7) Take a clean, fluffy blending brush and blend the crease colors gently together, alternating between "windshield-wiper" and circular motions to erase any harsh lines.

8) Line your waterline with a white eyeliner (I used NYC eyeliner) and set by patting a matte white eyeshadow onto your waterline.

9) Apply a taupe or bronzey eyeliner to the outer third of your bottom lash line (optional).

10) Using L'Oreal Telescopic liquid liner in Carbon Black, apply liner to your upper lash line, lining about the upper 2/3.

11) Curl your lashes and apply mascara of choice (I used Maybelline Great Lash: BIG in Blackest Black) to upper lashes. Apply mascara to bottom lashes (I used Rimmel Extra Super Lash).

12) Apply a pale rosey pink color to the lips to match the soft, natural look. I used Revlon lipstick in Rosedew (rosey pink with subtle gold shimmer).

Enjoy your soft, natural look!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Holiday Gifts and a Mini-Haul

Some products I acquired around the holiday season. Some were gifts from friends and family, and some I purchased as a little treat to myself. :)

Rimmel London Lasting Finish Foundation - 100 Ivory
L'Oreal Color Riche Lipstick - Peach Fuzz
Rimmel London Lipstick - Crush
Aussie Hair Insurance Leave-In Conditioner
Aussie 3-Minute Miracle Moist Deeeeep Conditioner
Herbal Essences Long-Term Relationship Leave-in Split End Protector
Bath & Body Works Body Lotion - Coconut Verbena, Sea Island Cotton, and Pearberry
Bath & Body Works Fragrance Mist - Sea Island Cotton
St. Ives Olive Cleanser
Queen Helene Pomegranate & Raspberry Scrub
OPI Nail Lacquer - Chapel of Love, Merry Midnight
Conair 3-Way Lighted Mirror

I received these all awhile ago, so updates and reviews will follow within the next few weeks/months.