Wow! Has it really been two months since my last post?! I cannot believe how fast the fall went and that Christmas is already behind us! I’m sorry that I’ve been so absent, although if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you’ll see more updates from me on a (pretty much) daily basis. To say that I’ve been busy, and really haven’t we all, is an understatement. With work, holiday celebrations, family and just plain LIFE, my “free” time has been pretty well sucked dry. However, as we approach the New Year I wanted to set some new goals for myself. I want to be more active with my blog- the way I used to be when I first started FOUR YEARS ago. Yes, that’s right. We just passed my 4 year blogiversary. I’m feeling like I’ve let you all down because of how absent I’ve been- but rest assured that is going to change. I also started filming YouTube videos again this year. I hope to do even more of that into 2015 as well.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Let’s get to the good stuff. My favorite products of 2014. I tried to keep this as edited as possible and only include items I used A LOT. As in, for many weeks. Usually in a row. Let’s start with the more boring base products.

2014 Favorites Base

Primer/Powder/Concealer. I did actually finish my MAC Natural Radiance primer and it’s worth noting that I really enjoyed it. It was a recommendation from Karen over at Makeup and Beauty Blog and I can’t thank her enough for turning me on to it. However, as beauty lovers do, I am perpetually looking for the “next best thing.”

Too Faced Hangover Primer.  It’s soothing like skin care but smoothing like a primer, and it smells like coconut :). It feels like a drink for my skin.

Becca Ever Matte Poreless Primer. Since my skin is decidedly combination, I also have areas of my T-zone that need some mattifying. For that I use the Becca Ever Matte Primer. I lightly pat this onto my forehead and around my nose. It does a great job of keeping shine at bay, but it doesn’t keep me completely matte throughout the day.

Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse BB. By far the best BB Cream I have tried. I also tested another one from this line, but it broke me out. I’ll stick to this version. It’s lightweight, wears well and evens out my complexion without looking cakey.

MAC Face & Body Foundation. This was by far my most used foundation of the year. It’s easy to build up or wear as a light layer. They have a wide range of shades and it sits so nicely on the skin. My favorite way to apply it is with a beauty blender. :) I have several bottles to mix and match my shade throughout the year.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. I resisted trying this for a loooong time. Believe the hype about this product. My tube is almost gone (it lasted me around 3 months). The coverage and consistency is perfect for under the eyes. It doesn’t cake up and it does have a brightening effect. I’ll be repurchasing soon.

Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder. This is a simple, cost-effective setting powder that I dust over my T-zone pretty much on a daily basis. It doesn’t have a fragrance and it doesn’t look cakey. Did I mention it’s less than $5? ;)

2014 Favorites Face

Face Products.

Clarins Splendours Bronzer. I picked this up in 2013, but it’s remained one of my all-time favorite bronzers for its color, texture and design.

Edward Bess Daydream Bronzer. This is a late-comer but has been on my wishlist for ages. I only got it a few weeks ago, but I haven’t been able to use anything else since. I understand why this came on such a high recommendation. It is the perfect bronzer color and the formula is beyond. It has a nice fragrance to it.

RMS Living Luminizer. Easily my most used highlighter of the year. You can see just how much of a dip I have put into it. It’s natural, slightly subtle and just makes your skin glow. It’s not shimmery or glittery. It’s the most appropriate highlighter for anyone anywhere. Period.

Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight. If you read my initial analysis of Candlelight (and the RMS one) you are probably wondering why it’s being featured here. The answer is simple; it’s all in the application. I finally found the correct brush (Real Techniques small tapered) to apply it. It’s fool proof. Glowy enough to be noticed, but subtle enough to make people wonder just what makes your skin look so healthy. Believe in the magic of this powder, because it does exist.

Guerlain Meteorites Perles d’Etoile. These are easily my favorite Meteorites I own (I have 4 shades in total). I love the gentle luminosity they give my skin, and the gold tin with pinky-red pearls just gives it something a little extra.

Chanel Joues Contraste in Jersey. Otherwise known as the blush I couldn’t put down. I have such a serious love affair with this blush. It reminded me of how much I fell for Chanel’s Rose Ecrin. It’s so wearable, soft and gives the perfect amount of definition to your cheeks without being over the top. Just plain LOVE. I blame Rachel from Makeup Never Sleeps fame for enabling this purchase.

Amazing Cosmetics Blush in Pink Chocolate. Natalie from Flowerbomb31 on YT inspired this blush purchase. I bought it earlier in the year and kind of tucked it away for awhile. I rediscovered it late in the summer and had such a hard time reaching for something else…especially during #30blush (which I meant to do summary post on, but haven’t….yet). It’s a great formula and the color is, as the name implies, a rosy-brown tone that is effortlessly flattering.

2014 Favorites Eyes

Eyes

Tom Ford Eyeshadow Quad in Cocoa Mirage. This was my very first Tom Ford Quad.  I absolutely love the silky formula and this quad in particular is so versatile and useful to me on a daily basis. I can use it on it’s own, or pair the matte shades with other palettes or singles. I’ve made dents in the pans!

Charlotte Tilbury Fallen Angel Palette. If you buy nothing else from my entire list of favorites, please, do yourself a favor and get this. No, I mean, stop reading, open a new tab and order this palette. It’s stunning. I can’t speak for the permanent range of Charlotte Tilbury shadows but this palette is hands down the best eyeshadow purchase I have made this year. All of the colors are pigmented and blend like a dream on the lid. The shades are dimensional and the formula is reminiscent of a gelee. Except, I experience ZERO fall out with these. I’m in LOVE.

Benefit Gimme Brow. The lazy girls guide to no-time-for-this brow enhancement step 1- Use Benefit Gimme Brow, step 2- See step 1.

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper. Game changer for winged liner. The best liquid eyeliner I have used to date. Beats out Marc Jacobs, Stila and Lancome. You need to try this.

Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks. Pictured above are two of my most used shades, Sugar Frost and Sand Glow. I have tried pretty much every eyeshadow in stick form on the market: Urban Decay, Sephora, Mally, MAC, Chanel, Marc Jacobs, By Terry….the list goes on. The ones I return to again and again for the wear time, color selection and  reflective quality are the Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks.

Dior Mono Fusion Shadow in Mirror. This shade is so sparkly and such a dainty gold. It’s really unique to my collection and I can use it layered over other shadows to transform them or wear it on it’s own. It’s not very pigmented, but it gives your lids such a stunning glowing sparkle that it’s beauty just cannot be denied.

Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Liner in Espresso Ink. This was my first Bobbi Brown liner and I quickly picked up another shade after falling for the formula. It’s the right mixture of dry and pliable. What I mean is it’s not at all goopy or messy. It’s easy to work with, sets quickly and the shade is perfect for everyday wear.

2014 Favorites Lips

Lips

Dior Addict Extreme Lipstick. This remains my favorite lipstick formula of all time. It’s comfortable, has a decent wear time and the colors are all gorgeous. I love the shine these leave and how luxurious they feel both in the tube and applied. The shade pictured is Cherie Bow (a long-time wish list item after seeing it on Tiffany from Will Work For Makeup) but I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite shade.

Dior Addict Lipgloss. It’s no surprise then, that Dior also makes my favorite lipgloss formula. Shine, comfort and luxury come together for the best gloss out there (at least for my tastes). If all of my other glosses went away and I only had Dior Addict glosses left, I wouldn’t be mad. ;)

Chanel Glossimer in Seashell. This has sentimental value to me. I bought it on my honeymoon (we got married on the beach earlier this year) and it always takes me back to the beach that day. I hope they never discontinue it! It’s soft and girly and smooth. No stickiness, just shine.

Becca Ultimate Colour Gloss in Pink Lotus. A bright pink coral that is a dream to wear and apply. It’s not too much, but just enough. it took my from spring to summer with ease and I never wanted to put it down.

Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfector. This is not the first time this has been featured in a yearly favorites. I actually think it’s the 3rd time! One of the easiest lipglosses to wear alone or over anything. Any shade will do (I own three and they all function the same) and you will always find one in my handbag.

Bite Beauty Luminous Creme Lipstick in Fig. This shade is so perfect. It really is my ideal everyday lipcolor. It’s slightly rose, slightly pink and absolutely face-brightening. The formula is nice and creamy, and not at all drying.

Fresh Sugar Lip Balm in Tulip. This was a new shade for this year and I am SO glad I picked it up. This lip balm is top of the top. It’s so silky and I keep one with me at all times. I have several shades, but this one stands out as a favorite for it’s bright pink color that instantly perks up the complexion.

Lip Per-fekt.* The lovely people at Per-fekt sent this to me months ago and it’s remained a staple in my bag ever since. It has a minty-fresh scent and feels slightly cooling on contact. It’s a grab-n-go formula that applies slightly glossy and with plenty of natural-rosy pigment.

That wraps up my favorite products for this year. And what a year it was! I also have to mention some of my favorite beauty Youtuber’s. I watch videos while I get ready, while I paint my nails, etc. Thanks for making my laugh, enabling me and keeping me so entertained! <3

Andie from TechnoCupcake (We actually got to meet and had a shopping day together Love love love!)

Sam from LipstickLady518 (Her personality is just so infectious! Her taste in makeup is just beyond!)

Tara from Tarababyz (Epic hauls, in-depth reviews and so down-to-earth)

CarrotFlowers (Oddly enough, I don’t know her real name! I love her hauls, humor and taste!)

Sara from Hapagirl8 (This is a more recent discovery but I love her voice, her style and of course, her makeup picks!)

Leslie from LipglossLeslie (Her bubbly personality is charming and I could watch her videos all.the.time).

Michele from Michele1218 (I have watched Michele for 4 years. Her favorites are my favorites and she’s just very classy).

 

Happy New Year!!!!

To say that I love highlighters is an understatement. All forms and colors- if it shimmers and glows I am most likely going to want it. That’s just how I roll. When the holiday season comes around we usually see several brands release new sparkly products that are party-ready with plenty of glow. And so we find ourselves here.

Chanel Camelia de Plumes

It started with Chanel. The gorgeous Camelia de Plumes. I had seen pictures floating around Instagram for weeks leading up to it’s release. I knew I would have to grab it. As soon as it became available I did. The beautiful design lured me in, but it’s the color and the formula that leave me breathless. It’s a silvery shade mixed with a very pale gold sheen. You can see the pale/white gold reflect when the light hits or when you tilt your head. It’s a nice touch and makes this powder all the more unique. The formula is reminiscent of the gelee or extra dimension versions we have seen from Estee Lauder and MAC, respectively.

As of writing this post this highlighter is still available on Nordstrom, Macy’s and Bloomingdales. If it strikes your fancy even a little, I would grab it sooner than later. These special powders tend to disappear and once they are gone you’ll have to resort to ridiculous eBay prices to find it again. It retails for a staggering $72, and worth it, in my opinion. ;)

Bobbi Brown Pink Glow

And then Bobbi Brown had to go and do this. I was mostly unaware of Bobbi’s planned holiday release mainly because her products tend to be very repetitive and frankly, the quality is quite hit or miss. I have tried many Bobbi Brown products and I usually come away feeling underwhelmed and maybe even hoodwinked. You see, Bobbi’s products always seem to get rave reviews and the celebrities who promote the brand (Katie Homes, Kate Middleton) can’t seem to get enough. With all of that clout I’d expect the products to be nothing less than stellar. Unfortunately, most of the time I feel like I overpaid and Bobbi under-delivered.

Back to this highlighter though. I was unconvinced by online swatches. I had to see this in person to appreciate it’s texture and color. The powder itself has a marbled effect with pink on the outer edges blending in to a lighter pink/white pearl shade in the center. The overall color will vary as I think each pan is different. Mine comes away looking like a very light pink, with a warmness to it that keeps it from looking silvery. Again, this formula is very similar if not exact to the MAC and Estee Lauder versions (not surprising since they are all owned by the same company).

Bobbi Brown Pink Glow Comparisons

Comparisons (clockwise from bottom left): Bobbi Brown Pink Glow, Laura Mercier Rose Rendezvous, Estee Lauder Modern Mercury, Estee Lauder Crystal Baby, MAC Superb, Bobbi Brown Pink Quartz, Chanel Camelia de Plumes

Chanel Camelia de Plumes Swatches

Swatches L-R: Chanel Camelia de Plumes, Bobbi Brown Pink Glow, Estee Lauder Crystal Baby, Bobbi Brown Pink Quartz, Laura Mercier Rose Rendezvous, MAC Superb, Estee Lauder Modern Mercury

None of the other highlighters I have really come close to these two new ones. I do have some liquid/cream highlighters that are more pearl/white in color (MAC Pearl Cream Colour Base and Becca Pearl come to mind) but I don’t have any in powder form. Most of the lighter highlighting powders I own are more gold in color, making these two welcome additions to my collection.

I don’t think either of these powders disappoint and I am happy to have them.

It’s no secret that all of us beauty lovers tend to obsess over a particular shade or type of product until we move on to another, seemingly more interesting obsession. Sometimes I go into phases where I want every bright pink blush or every coral lipstick. Over the past few months that focus was easily on bronzers. Perhaps it was the long and almost tortuous winter we had here in Chicago, but I couldn’t get enough of the bronze glow on my face all spring. Now that summer is nearly here my obsession appears to have paid off.

Favorite Bronzers 2014

Bronzers come in many forms but on a day-to-day basis I definitely reach for powder products over cream or liquid versions. They just seem to be easier to use and less difficult to overdo. I usually choose a satin or matte finish, but I do have some with a slight sheen or shimmer. I almost always use the same brush to apply my bronzer- the MAC 138 tapered face brush. It applies the right amount of product and the tapered shape allows me to dust my temples, jawline and cheekbones with ease. I would recommend getting the MAC version of this brush over the Sigma version. I had the Sigma one first and it shed everywhere! I had to discard it it was that bad.

Favorite Bronzers 2014 2

Aphrodite’s Shell from the MAC Alluring Aquatic collection is my newest edition. The packaging is absolutely stunning, isn’t it? It’s my current go-to shade. My most used is definitely Laura Mercier’s Ritual- a product I’m nearly devastated to say was limited edition. The only cream bronzer I’ve been using lately is Daniel Sandler’s Fiji. It has an amazing texture and has the perfect red undertone to it. It really does create a stunning, believable tan on the face. Bobbi Brown Natural 1 is like Fiji in powder form. The powder is smooth and pigmented and the color is perfect. The Bare Minerals compact is relatively new and I’m quite impressed with both the presentation and actual product. It adds a nice glow without looking heavy or overdone.

Favorite Bronzers 2014 Swatches

Swatches L-R: Daniel Sandler Fiji, Chanel Les Beiges in 30, Laura Mercier Matte Baked in 02, Bobbi Brown Natural 1, Laura Mercier Ritual, MAC Aphrodite’s Shell, Becca Duende, Bare Minerals The Beach is Waiting, Dolce & Gabbana Glow Powder Shimmer 6

The Dolce & Gabbana powder is actually touted as a highlighter- but I bought it to use as a contouring product and it works well for that. The powder is incredibly soft and velvety. I’m still warming up to the Chanel powder. I find it a bit light so I have to layer it to get the correct color. Becca Duende is a great color, but the formula isn’t as smooth as I would prefer. It’s not noticeable in application but it is when I touch the powder with my fingers. Having said that, I don’t apply it with anything other than a brush so, maybe it doesn’t matter. Laura Mercier Matte Baked Bronzer in 02 has a nice texture and color, and for some reason I had totally forgotten about it! I’m glad to have it back in rotation.

There you have it! My picks for getting your glow on this summer, and throughout the year!

Tell me, what bronzer or bronzers have you been using lately? Why are they your favorite?

 

 

I mentioned in my recent video that I had finally picked up Bobbi Brown’s rather famous blush in Pale Pink. A reader asked if I would do some swatches comparing it to a few other colors in the same family. As I love doing a good swatch-fest I happily obliged (thanks Shayna)!

Hot pink blush is something I have a hard time resisting, as you will see below. It’s just a fun, face-brightening shade that no one should be scared of- no matter how eye-searingly bright the color in the pan may seem!

Hot Pink Blush Comparison

The contenders, clockwise from bottom: MAC Pink Swoon, Illamasqua Nymph, Tarte Amused, NARS Desire, Smashbox Radiance, Stila Custom Color Pink, Bobbi Brown Pale Pink, Milani Delizioso Pink

All of my hot pink blushes are matte. I’m not sure if this was intentional or if hot pinks are really catered to that particular formula. In any case, all of these are beautiful in their own way and some are more similar than others. I believe Smashbox Radiance I have owned the longest and Milani Delizioso Pink is brand new.

All of the swatches below were done with the same brush on unprimed skin.

Hot Pink Blush Comparison Swatches Sun

Swatches L-R (in direct sunlight): Milani Delizioso Pink, Stila Custom Color Pink, Bobbi Brown Pale Pink, Smashbox Radiance, NARS Desire, Tarte Amused, Illamasqua Nymph, MAC Pink Swoon

The least pigmented is Pink Swoon and the most pigmented is NARS Desire, followed closely by Stila Custom Color Pink. NARS Desire is the most warm-toned of the group, along with Smashbox Radiance and Tarte Amused. Stila and Milani are definitely cool toned.

Hot Pink Blush Comparison Swatches Shade

Swatches L-R (in shade): Milani Delizioso Pink, Stila Custom Color Pink, Bobbi Brown Pale Pink, Smashbox Radiance, NARS Desire, Tarte Amused, Illamasqua Nymph, MAC Pink Swoon

The best texture goes to Illamasqua, Milani, NARS and Stila- all of which were smooth and soft. The biggest disappointment is MAC Pink Swoon. Although it looks nice when applied when swatched it loses a lot of it’s luster, especially when compared to some of the other standouts in my collection. Lasting power goes to Bobbi Brown, NARS and Tarte. I haven’t properly tested Milani so I cannot compare that one yet. I don’t have a problem with wear time on any of these blushes, but the ones noted above stood out to me as being particularly long-lasting .

My overall picks? NARS Desire, Stila Custom Color Pink, Bobbi Brown Pale Pink and Tarte Amused. If you’re on a budget the Milani blush is a great option. Skip MAC Pink Swoon. It isn’t as pigmented and the color in the pan isn’t exactly the color you get applied. Illamasqua Nymph is lovely all the way around, but it really isn’t hot pink as much as it is a bubblegum pink so I don’t feel right comparing it to the shades above.

I hope you found this helpful! What’s your favorite hot pink blush? Is there anything I am missing out on?!

It’s hard to accurately describe how much I have loved my Laura Mercier Ritual bronzer (limited edition last summer featured here). It’s one of the few bronzers I have ever used that I reach for time and time again and don’t ever tire of. It wasn’t until recently that I started branching out into other shades, knowing full well Ritual wouldn’t last forever and that eventually I’d need to find something to take it’s place.

It was upon watching a video by Sam of Pixiwoo (you can see that here) that I knew what my next target would be. It was a bronzer by Bobbi Brown. Though Sam featured a different shade, I did my research and ended up with the shade Natural 1. Which, as it turns out, was an excellent decision indeed.

I am now in possession of a dupe to Laura Mercier’s Ritual. And I actually have a reader to thank for helping me come to this conclusion. I received the most thoughtful and heartfelt email from another beauty lover and in it she had mentioned her quest for Laura Mercier Ritual and if I knew of any potential dupes. I sat down to swatch my bronzers to see what (if anything) I might have that came close. Up until a few weeks ago I did not.

Laura Mercier Ritual Dupe Bobbi Brown Natural

Enter Bobbi Brown’s bronzer in the shade Natural 1. If you love the color of Laura Mercier Ritual I think you will absolutely adore Bobbi’s take. It is smoother, more finely milled and free of shimmer. It’s amazing. I featured this bronzer in my latest favorites video as well (here).

Laura Mercier Ritual Dupe Bobbi Brown Natural Swatch 2

Laura Mercier Ritual on left and Bobbi Brown Natural 1 on right (swatched heavily)

On my skin the shade and tone is identical. The only difference is that Bobbi’s version is matte (and a better formula).

Laura Mercier Ritual Dupe Bobbi Brown Natural Swatch

Laura Mercier Ritual on left and Bobbi Brown Natural 1 on right (lightly blended)

Ritual has long been sold out and was limited edition probably never to return. No worries for those who misses out or fell in love with the now impossible to find shade. Bobbi Brown has you covered.

You can find this bronzer at Sephora (here) or on Bobbi Brown’s website (here). No affiliate links, just trying to make it easy, lemon-squeezy!

A huge thank you to Sarah for helping us all find this dupe!