Saturday, February 20, 2010

February Collective Haul

Some things I purchased or received as gifts during the month of February.

Products mentioned:
1) Coastal Scents 88 Warm Palette
I cannot rave enough about this palette. It has an incomparable variety of neutral shades, from browns, blacks and grays to plums and many highlight shades. Shadows range in finish from matte to shimmer. I use this palette almost on an everyday basis and have especially been loving the shimmery copper and bronze shades for the lid with a deeper chocolate brown in the crease, followed by a shimmery highlight. If you are looking into getting your first CS palette, I would urge you to go for the 88 Warm over one of the color palettes. This palette is more functional for daily use and has colors that will flatter every skin tone!

2) CS Pink Oval Fluff Shadow Brush
What can I say? I'm addicted to the Coastal Scents brushes, especially the pink ones! Not only are they incomparably priced, but they are fantastic quality. This is just your basic eye shading brush, very similar to the $1 elf eye shadow brush in terms of quality and application. The bristles are very soft and fluffy, and really pick up and apply powder shadows perfectly. You can use it to either pack on color or sweep it gently over the lid for a subtle wash of color. At less than $2 each, I suggest getting a few. You can never have too many regular shading brushes in your collection.

3) CS Pink Round Crease Eye Brush
As shown in the photo on the CS site, this brush has very short domed bristles. It is slightly denser than your typical crease brush and therefore ideal for deepening the color in the outer V of the eye. For those with larger eyes, this brush may even be small enough to use as a pencil brush for application of shadow to the lower lash line. Again, very soft bristles and zero shedding after two washes. I don't recommend this for blending. I use it to apply the color and use a clean fluffy blending brush to diffuse the color.

4) CS Pink Angle Taklon Liner Brush
This brush has a tiny, tiny head, making it your best bet for precision lining with gel or cream formulas on the upper or lower lash line. The bristles are stiff enough to apply a precise line without scratching or irritating the lid. I also wet this brush slightly and dip into dark shadows to transform them into liners when I want a softer line. Could also be used to fill in brows, though the small size would necessitate many strokes.

5) Sally Hansen Diamond Shine nail polish - "Wedded Bliss"
I was attracted to this beautiful, pastel pink color to help build my springtime nail polish collection. The polish has a cream finish and required 3 coats for me to get an opaque finish. I adore the color but am not as impressed by the formula of these polishes. The brush is poorly designed so it applies color "goopily," and with streaks if you're not careful. It also takes quite a long time to dry, meaning you're more prone to ruin or dent the polish unless you avoid using your hands altogether for a good half hour. Perhaps OPI's drip-dry or the Seche Vite top coat could remedy this problem, but I used to nail polishes that don't require so much effort to make them look decent.

6) Milani Sunset Duos Blush & Bronzing Powder
After hearing about this product from EmilyNoel83 on YouTube, I gladly snatched it up when I noticed it on clearance at CVS. It includes two beautiful shades - a pink blush with peachy undertones and a bronzer. Both have a very, very slight pearl finish to them, but have no noticeable glitter or shimmer. This makes the bronzer a perfect candidate both for an all-over glow or for a cheek/nose contour.

7) L'Oreal Color Riche Lipstick - "Pink Lady"
I fell in love with the formula and packaging of this lipstick when I got the "Peach Fuzz" shade in December, and eagerly repurchased when I saw this shade on clearance. One coat of this lipstick applies fairly sheer for those looking for a subtle color. For those wanting more pigmentation, the color is easily buildable. "Pink Lady" is a dusty pink color with a high-shine finish, so no gloss is needed to top off the color. Additionally, I find the taste/scent of these lipsticks very pleasant, unlike others I've tried.

8) L'Oreal Voluminous Original Mascara - Black
This is my all-time favorite mascara for the false lash effect. As the name indicates, this mascara gives you thick, dramatic, voluminous lashes with just one coat. My only complaint is that the mascara does occasionally clump lashes together because of the brush design, but it's nothing that can't be remedied by running a mascara spoolie through your lashes between coats. The next time you're at Sephora, pick up a few of these mascara spoolies (they're at the end of most aisles so you can sample mascaras in a sanitary manner) so you don't have to buy one yourself. :)

9) Up & Up Makeup Remover Wipes
This is the Target brand and is designed to compare to the Ponds Clean Sweep makeup wipes. I haven't tried the Ponds variant so I can't say whether the comparison is accurate, but I can say that I am satisfied with the Up & Up version. I cut mine in half and use one half at the end of the day to remove my eye makeup and whatever's left of my foundation. It will not remove mascara unless you really scrub your lashes, which I wouldn't recommend, but as for shadows and liner, it does a great job. I only use these at the end of the day just before using my nighttime facial cleanser. I find if I don't cleanse my face after using them, it leaves a somewhat sticky residue.

10) Monistat Chafing Relief Powder Gel
I'd heard about using this strange product as a face primer from a few videos on YouTube. Its top 3 ingredients (one of which is dimethicone crosspolymer) are the same as the top 3 ingredients of the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, which retails for $38 - $49 at Sephora for either 1 or 2 oz, respectively. The Monistat gel, though admittedly less glamorous, comes with 1.5 oz and costs only $5-6. More in-depth review will come very soon!

Help plan my next giveaway!

Hey everyone!

I started the month with just over 50 subscribers and now have about 120! I am super excited about my progress and hope it continues. Partnership is definitely my long-term goal. :)

To thank all my subscribers, I want to plan another giveaway when I reach either 250 or 300 subscribers. I wish I could host giveaways more often, but being the typical college student, that would not be ideal for my budget. :(

This time, I want to make the prize a little more special than a drugstore product - I'm thinking something from MAC, Sephora, etc. I'm not positive how many prizes I'll give out, but I am aiming to keep each below about $20.

Here are a few ideas I've been considering:

1) MAC eye shadow, lipstick/lip gloss of choice. I only have a department store MAC counter available, so it would need to be something I could purchase there.

2) OPI/Essie nail polish of choice. A salon near my residence has a full window of OPI and Essie polishes so I'm confident I would be able to find most any color the winner might choose. I could also offer one of the Sephora by OPI nail polishes.

3) Another idea I had was to personally assemble a brush set from Coastal Scents, which has been my favorite source for inexpensive yet quality cosmetic brushes as of late. I was considering giving away a set of 5 or 6 of the brushes from the pink collection, many of which I own and love already. The pre-assembled brush sets that are in my price range didn't get the best ratings, so I am steering away from those.

These are just a few things I thought up, but this list is by no means definite. Please leave me any suggestions you may have, preferably on my YouTube account so I can have all the ideas in one place.

Thanks so much!


Cotton-Candy Inspired Look

This is a fun look inspired by the pastel pinks and blues of cotton candy.

Products used:
  • e.l.f. Eyelid Primer
  • Revlon Illuminance Cream Shadow Palette - Skinlights
  • Coastal Scents 88 Color Palette (Colors used shown below)
  • e.l.f. Waterproof Eyeliner Pen
  • Almay One-Coat Nourishing Mascara - Lengthening

Brushes/tools used:
  • Coastal Scents pink synthetic concealer brush
  • elf eye shadow brush
  • CS pink eye shadow brush
  • CS pink deluxe fluff shadow brush
  • elf blending brush
  • Studio Tools blending brush
  • CS Italian badger blending brush
  • CS Italian badger pencil brush
  1. Prime the eyelids and lower lash line. Use a synthetic concealer brush or a finger to apply a sheer white or champagne cream shadow to the eyelids and up to the brow bone.
  2. Use any eye shadow shading brush to apply a matte, baby-blue shade to the outer half of the lid.
  3. With a clean shading brush, apply a matte, pastel pink to the inner half of the lid. Gently pat an eye shadow brush along the seam of the blue and pink colors to create a gradient.
  4. Use a fluffy shading brush to apply a matte white to the brown bone, sweeping the color slightly downward toward the crease. This will highlight the brow bone and make the crease colors more easily blendable.
  5. Take a crease brush and gently apply a mixture of cerulean and indigo to the outer half of the crease. Make sure to tap off excess shadow beforehand - we want the look to be very soft.
  6. With a clean crease brush, apply a mixture of purple and raspberry shades to the inner portion of the crease. Begin where the dark blue ends, blending slightly where the two colors meet.
  7. Tap a clean blending brush into the matte white from before and use this to blend out the harsh lines created by the crease colors.
  8. Add extra definition to the crease by applying a small amount of indigo to the outer V, and a small amount of the raspberry shade from before to the inner half of the crease. Make sure to blend the colors.
  9. Use a small precision brush to apply the white or champagne cream shadow to the tear duct area and lower lash line, patting in with a finger if necessary.
  10. Apply a matte white shade over the cream shadow to brighten the eyes.
  11. Use a pencil brush to apply the soft pink lid shade to inner half of the lower lash line. Similarly, apply the baby blue shade to the outer half of the lash line and connect with the blue crease color.
  12. Line the upper lash line thinly with a black liquid liner.
  13. Curl the lashes and apply a mascara of your choice. Pick a mascara that will offer soft, wispy lashes to reinforce the innocent, soft cotton candy theme.
  14. Apply a true pink blush to the apples of the cheeks and blend outward.
  15. Optionally, highlight the cheek bones and temples for a youthful glow.
  16. Finally, apply a vibrant pink lipstick and top off with a sheer pink gloss.
Enjoy your fun, sweet, candy-inspired look!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Makeup Essentials for Beginners: EYES

When I first started out wearing makeup, I'll admit that I was completely overwhelmed by the variety of products, all with different uses and manufactured by countless companies. The sprawling makeup aisles at my local Target or Wal-Mart were a little intimidating and I didn't know where to start! There is a lot I wish I'd known when I was first starting out.

I decided to begin a series of blogs about products and tools I believe are essential for everyone starting out with makeup. I'll be covering all the bases - eyes, lips, face, and possibly skin/haircare. I'll talk about general products I think everyone needs and then offer my specific brand picks.

Category 1: EYES

1) Eyeliner: Eyeliner is one of the easiest ways to make a noticeable difference in your appearance, and it comes in many forms: pencils, liquids, creams, gels, etc. For beginners, I would recommend a pencil liner, as it is much more forgiving. It can be easily smudged and is easier to control, whereas liquid/gel liners dry quickly are much less forgiving. Every girl needs at least a black and a dark brown liner - when your collection gets bigger, you can explore with plums, navy blues and other liner colors.

Brand picks: For the classic pencil liner (the kind you have to sharpen), Wet n' Wild kohl kajal liners are excellent and affordable. The formula is bold and creamy, and at 99 cents apiece, you can experiment with different colors. One warning: if you have oily lids, you may choose to set this liner with a similarly-colored eyeshadow, as the creamy formula might smear on oily lids.

If you're looking for a retractable pencil liner, I would recommend the Revlon Colorstay liners. They come in waterproof and original formulas and are highly-pigmented, long-wearing and available at most any drugstore or Target/Wal-Mart for a reasonable price.

2) Mascara: If I were running late one morning and only had time to put one makeup product on, I would pick mascara. The right formula can add instant intensity and polish to your look. Beginners who are younger (age 15 or younger) might consider going for mascara that will add natural length and thickness to your lashes. For a less-dramatic effect, try a mascara that is "brown black" or "soft black." Beginners looking for a more dramatic effect should pick colors like "carbon black" or "blackest black" and seek out a formula that boasts the enhancements they desire - length, volume, fullness, etc.

Brand picks: For a more natural look, I recommend Almay One-Coat Nourishing Mascara's lengthening formula. This mascara gives lashes instant length and separation, for a soft and wispy effect that isn't too harsh for everyday.

For a dramatic look, my absolute favorite mascara is L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara in Black; this mascara claims to make lashes 4x fuller. The applicator is expertly crafted and makes lashes look incredibly full - the closest I've gotten to the false-lash effect without actually wearing false lashes!

Two other picks are the Covergirl Professional Mascara (it's the blue tube), which has a waterproof and original formula, and the Maybelline BIG Mascara in Blackest Black. The Covergirl mascara has the perfect wand to ensure zero clumping and expert definition, while the Maybelline mascara coats every lash in a single swipe for effortless application. Both also have an excellent price tag, retailing at under $5 apiece at Target or Wal-Mart.

3) Shadows: For beginners looking to get into the world of eyeshadows, my #1 piece of advice is to buy prearranged palettes rather than single shadows. Palettes generally include colors that coordinate with one another and can be applied together in many different ways for a complete look. It will be more difficult and much more costly to buy individual shadows. Your best bet as a beginner is to start out with neutrals - browns, grays, taupes and black are universally flattering and are easy to pull off regardless of hair/eye color, skin tone or the outfit you're wearing that day!

Brand picks: Maybelline and Covergirl make great quality eyeshadow palettes at affordable prices. I have heard a lot of hype about the Maybelline Chai Latte Quad, and though I haven't tried it myself I would recommend it just based on all the rave reviews I've heard about it.

If you (or your parents, if you are younger) are willing to order your makeup online, I would recommend purchasing a few of the Brightening Eyeshadow Quads off of The colors are perfectly coordinated for a complete look, including all-over lid colors, darker crease colors, and highlight shades for the brow bone. My favorite palettes from ELF are "Brownstone" and "Drama."

Even better - order the Coastal Scents 88 Color Palette. It may seem to have way too many shades for a beginner to use, but believe me: when you really start getting into makeup and experimenting with different, bolder colors, you will be glad you bought this from the very start. It's a great tool for any makeup beginner OR fanatic to have in his/her arsenal.

4) Eyelash curler: Whether or not you're planning to wear mascara, curling your lashes instantly makes your eyes look wider and more doll-like. I don't have any particular brand picks for this - I find all the curlers I own do about the same job. I carry a curler around in my purse to touch up my lashes throughout the day and give my look a little pick-me-up!

5) Brushes: Most eye shadows, especially drugstore picks, come with little sponge-tipped applicators. These will do the job, but they are difficult to clean and therefore aren't sanitary for continued use. The are also not ideal for blending out shadows or applying them quickly and evenly to the lid. If you are planning to eventually wear makeup everyday, I wholly suggest investing in some brushes to make your look easier to achieve and more professional. Here are the two basic brushes I believe every makeup user should have:

-Eye shading brush: This brush is an absolute necessity for applying a full eyeshadow look. There are any variations - some are very flat while others are fluffier, but they all serve the same purpose of packing color onto the lid.

-Blending/crease brush: This will be a fluffy, dome-topped brush that is necessary for applying color into the crease and blending it out so there are no harsh lines. Applying a darker color to the crease adds dimension and depth to the eyes, making them appear larger.

Brand picks: For those who are comfortable with ordering online, I highly recommend the $1 eyeshadow brush and the blending brush from The bristles are soft and pick up color perfectly, applying it with full intensity. For those who would rather buy brushes in-stores, check out the Studio Tools brushes from Target. They are inexpensive and good quality and were the very first brushes I owned.

Probably the most popular brand of brushes are from MAC, but these are fairly expensive, most of them costing between $20 and $50 apiece. If you are willing to make that investment as a beginner, these brushes will last you a very long time and make your application of makeup all the more easy and professional.

Those are my suggestions for eye makeup products I believe every beginner should pick up right away! Hope I helped.

NEXT UP: Face essentials

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pink, Bronze & Champagne - Wearable Valentine's Day Look

This is a wearable Valentine's Day look with pink, bronze and champagne shades. Below is a complete list of the exact products and brushes I used; they are not specified in the step-by-step written tutorial.

Products Used:
ELF Eyelid Primer
NYX Jumbo Eyeshadow Pencil - Strawberry Milk
Revlon Colorstay Lipstick - So Blushious
Revlon Illuminance Cream Shadow - Skinlights
Coastal Scents 88 Palette
Sally Girl Eyeshadow - Champagne
ELF Mineral Eyeliner - Coffee
Revlon Matte Shadow - Rich Sable
NYC Liquid Liner
Maybelline Great Lash BIG Mascara - Blackest Black
ELF Studio Line Blush - Candid Coral
ELF Healthy Glow Bronzing Powder - Luminance

Brushes Used:
Coastal Scents Synthetic Concealer Brush
Studio Tools Angled Brush
Coastal Scents Deluxe Eyeshadow Brush
ELF $1 Eyeshadow Brush
ELF $1 Blending Brush
ELF Studio Line Contour Brush
Coastal Scents Italian Badger Blending Brush
Coastal Scents Italian Badger Pencil Brush
Studio Tools Dual-Finish Brush
ELF Studio Line Blush Brush

1) Begin with primed lids. Apply a pale, shimmery pink cream shadow to in the inner half of the lid and lower lash line, tracing around the tear duct. Do not apply too much, as cream shadows will crease when applied too heavily.

2) Apply a brighter pink cream shadow/lipstick to the outer half of the lid. Take a synthetic concealer brush (synthetic bristles will not "eat up" the product) and blend the cream shadows together.

3) Use a champagne-colored cream shadow to the brow bone as a highlight. Using an angled eyeliner brush, apply a light brown cream shadow to the outer half of the lower lash line.

4) Apply a light, matte peachy color from the crease to the brow bone with a fluffy brush. This will not add much color but will soften the crease colors we add later and make them more blendable.

5) Using a fluffy shader brush, pack a pale, matte pink onto the inner half of the lid over the light pink cream shadow.

6) Apply a slightly shimmery raspberry color to the outer half of the lid over the darker pink cream shadow with the same brush. Sweep the brush back and forth where the two pink shades join to make them to fade together.

7) Apply a bronze shade to the crease using a blending brush, focusing first on the outer half of the crease and then dragging the shadow gently to the rest of the crease.

8) Taking a smaller and denser crease brush, apply a slightly darker brown shade to the outer V. Trace the outer V till desired intensity is built; don't worry about harsh lines at this point.

9) Now take a clean fluffy blending brush and blend the colors together. Try to reserve blending to the crease, as we don't want to make the pink shades appear "muddy."

10) Once desired blending is achieved, apply a shimmery champagne shade with a fluffy brush to the brow bone as a highlight. With a pencil brush, apply the same color to the very inner corners of the eyes, around the tear duct, to bring focus and light to the eyes.

11) Apply the raspberry color from before to the middle of the lower lash line using a pencil brush. Then apply the darker brown shade from before to the outer part of the lower lash line, connecting it with the crease color.

12) Line the waterline and tightline with the chocolate brown shade. If desired, set with a matte brown powder to prolong the wear and intensify the color.

13) Apply a liquid liner with a very fine applicator to the upper lash line. A thin, precise line will keep the focus on the beautiful pink shades rather than on heavy liner.

14) Curl lashes and apply mascara of choice in the blackest color available for long, dramatic lashes.

15) Apply a coral-colored blush with gold reflects to the apples of the cheeks using a stippling brush (or brush of choice). Coral shades tend to flatter any skin tone and will keep the look from being overwhelmingly pink.

16) Optional: Highlight the face by sweeping a pearly highlight powder from the top of the cheekbones to the temples for a subtle, sun-kissed glow.

17) Apply a true pink shade to the lips to pull the look together and reiterate the Valentine's Day theme.