Yes, spring is very near! Time to bust out the pinks and corals and of course, the cream blushes!

Here are my picks/thoughts:

 

It’s come again. Yes, the end of another year. I wanted to share my most-reached for and most loved products of 2013. I always seem to run out of time as the holidays approach so I wanted to get this up early.

Skincare

2013 Favorites Skincare

There are only two items that really wowed me this year. The first being Aura Cacia’s Avocado Skin Care Oil. A miracle worker, really. I use this at night in place of moisturizer and it does amazing things for my skin. I’m on my second tube of it and a little goes a very long way. My first tube lasted over a year! The second thing is the Made From Earth Triple Berry Serum*. I’ve been using this for about 3 months now as my daily moisturizer and I am a total convert. I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve gotten on Instagram about my skin and complexion looking so good. It was adding this that made a true difference. I only have about 1/4th of the bottle left. I’m going to have to get another one ASAP. I have combination/oily skin in the summer months, and I’m a little drier come winter. This is lightweight and doesn’t make my skin look or feel greasy.

Base

2013 Favorites Base Makeup

It was Karen of Makeup and Beauty Blog who turned me on to the three MAC products featured above. The Natural Radiance primer is a total win- how did I not hear of this before?! You must try this. I notice a huge difference when I don’t use this in photographs. I had heard about MAC Face & Body for years but never tried it. After Karen’s nudging I gave it a go (I’m shade N2 for reference). There hasn’t been a single foundation I have ever tried that makes me love my face makeup more than this. The coverage is customizable, it never looks cakey and it’s super easy to apply. I layer the Blot powder (in medium) over it for a totally flawless (well, almost) face. I finally tried the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage concealer (Shade SC-3) and I understand why so many people like this. I don’t use it for undereye concealing, but it’s a warrior on spot concealing and redness.

Bronzer/Highlight/Blush

2013 Favorites Bronzer and Highlight

My favorites in this category were easy. For at least 6 months this year Laura Mercier Ritual was the only bronzer I used and the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors were the basically my go-to highlighters. I’m heart broken that Ritual was limited edition, but I hope I will find another bronzer to take it’s place when I do finally run out of it. There was a period of  about a month or two when I didn’t even use blush- I just used Ritual as both. Recently I added the Guerlain Crazy Terracotta bronzer/blush to my daily routine and I’ve enjoyed pairing it with the RMS Living Luminizer for subtle yet fresh look. My initial impression of RMS Living Luminizer was that it might be too subtle, but I’ve come to love the glow it adds.

2013 Favorites Bronzer and Highlight Swatches

Swatches L-R: Guerlain Crazy Terracotta, Laura Mercier Ritual, RMS Living Luminizer, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Moonstone

2013 Favorites Blush

Being a blush fiend you might expect to see more favorites here. Although I loved many blushes this year (and added many beautiful ones to my collection) the three you see above stood out as blushes I used a lot- for long periods of time or blushes that I turned to when I just didn’t know what to wear. All three were new to me this year. Fellow blogger and good friend J of Lil Lady’s Life picked up D&G blush in Caramel for me early on and I wore it incessantly. I picked up the Dior Rosy Glow blush just after getting engaged as I wanted something that would be perfect for bridal looks. It turns out it is and just seems to look good on everyone. Laura Mercier Mocha Spice was my find of the fall and has been my most reached for of late.

2013 Favorites Blush Swatches

Swatches L-R: Dior Rosy Glow, D&G Caramel, Laura Mercier Mocha Spice

Eyes

Bare Minerals Power Neutrals Palette

There were two palettes that won my heart this year for their quality, pigmentation, ease of use and color selection. The first is Bare Minerals the Power Neutrals. Talk about an easy palette. It’s perfect for day-to-day wear and a great travel companion. The shadows are creamy and smooth and very pigmented.

Bare Minerals Power Neutrals Palette Swatches

Swatches L-R: Get Ahead, Magnate, Payday, Exec, Boardroom, Schmooze, Moneymaker, Boss Lady

Laura Mercier Artist Palette 2

The other palette is the ubiquitous Laura Mercier Artist Palette released this fall. It may be difficult to find but the single versions of these shades are readily available. The palette was a great value and I’ve gotten so much use out of it. Actually, it’s totally replaced my daily use of MAC shadows!

Laura Mercier Artist Palette 2 Swatches

Swatches L-R: Espresso Bean, Truffle, Bamboo, Fresco, Primrose, Vanilla Nuts, Violet Ink, Kir Royale, Plum Smoke, African Violet, Guava, Sparkling Dew

2013 Favorites Eye Pencils

Products in pen form were a staple for me. They get me out the door fast and stay put all day. My poor little Bare Minerals Round the Clock liner is down to a nub (don’t worry, I’ve already purchased another) and it’s easily my most favorite pencil eyeliner to date. This stuff is serious and will.not.move once you put it on. The Marc Jacobs Magic Marc’er* works in a similar way. Although it’s liquid liner it has the lasting power of a gel. It’s very black and very easy to use. The Stila Stay All Day brow liquid liner has revolutionized my eyebrow experience. I will never be without this. The Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks dominated my world this year. There was scarcely a day I wasn’t using one (or several). Whether as a base or on their own they really work over time. Sugar Frost is my most used and it’s funny that I never seem to hear about it. It’s a perfect eye-brightening champagne shade; a staple for every collection. I think I need Sand Glow and Seashell. Ok, maybe I just need all of them. ;)

2013 Favorites Eye Products Swatches

Swatches L-R: Laura Mercier Twilight, Amethyst, Grey Pearl, Rose Gold, Sugar Frost, Pink Opal, Bare Minerals Midnight, Marc Jacobs Magic Marc’er, Stila Stay All Day brow in medium

Lips

2013 Favorites Lip Products

Ahh, the biggest category for me in 2013. My lip choices varied so much this year. I went through distinct phases of liking and wearing exclusively one type of shade. There was the nude lip phase, and corals, then neutral-roses and face-illuminating pinks. Oh, and my continual obsession with lavender/mauve tones. I didn’t really wear red a lot this year as it’s kind of fallen out of favor with me. The only red I really wore was recently and that was the Marc Jacobs Lust for Lacquer gloss in Lust for Life* and it was more pink and full of golden sparkle. My favorite gloss formulas are Dior Addict, Hourglass, MAC Lustreglass, Marc Jacobs Lust for Lacquer and Buxom Lip Creams. If you think MAC lipglass is way too sticky, give Lustreglass a try. It’s waaaayyy better. The Dior Lip Polish was easily my most reached for gloss of the year. That stuff is amazing and I hear a new shade is coming out soon. My favorite lipstick formulas were Dior Addict Extreme, Too Faced La Creme, Bite Luminous Creme Lipstick, Hourglass Femme Nude Lip Stylo*, Buxom Full-On Lipstick. I generally prefer lipsticks that aren’t so heavy. I find mattes dry my lips too much and so I gravitate towards glossier formulas.

2013 Favorites Lip Products Swatches

Swatches L-R: MAC Lustreglass in Love Nectar, Buxom White Russian, Hourglass Nude 2, Marc Jacobs Kissability, Too Faced Cinnamon Kiss, Dior Lip Polish, Bite Fig, Hourglass Nectar, Hourglass Muse, Marc Jacobs Heart Shaped, Dior Spring Ball, Buxom Lavender Cosmos, MAC Asian Flower, Buxom Acapulco, Marc Jacobs Lust for Life

Best New Brand

This has to be the Marc Jacobs line. I was hesitant at first but as I’ve tried more things I am continually impressed with the quality. I just purchased one of the larger eyeshadow palettes and two more Lust for Lacquers. The lipgloss formula is so fabulous I had to include it in my favorites because it easily rivals how I feel about my Dior Addict glosses. I have a blush or two on my list that I’m sure you’ll see here soon.

Best Brand Discovery

Hands-down Laura Mercier. I had a few Laura Mercier products as I entered 2013 and I now have a full arsenal! I purchased several caviar sticks, single eyeshadows and base products from the line and I have only been disappointed once. I guess in 2014 I will have to try lipstick and gloss from the line as I don’t think I have tried any yet!

Biggest Fails

I didn’t have too many fails this year but there are a few that stand out. The Marc Jacobs mascara was not my cup of tea and the new Laura Mercier powder foundation failed to perform to her normally very high standards. I once again tried to like YSL lipstick and purchased a rouge volupte shine which I promptly returned after discovering it (like all other YSL lipsticks) dried my lips worse than winter in Chicago. I was totally unimpressed with a Clinique blush I purchased (the shade was Aglow) after it looked beautiful on my arm and had to be packed on to show up on my face. It went back.

2013 was a year of changes. My first full year in Chicago, getting engaged, losing my dad… it had definite highs and devastating lows. I look forward to what 2014 will bring and all of the beauty adventures I will have along the way. Look for my next favorites installment where I talk about my random favorites, favorite bloggers/vloggers and more. :) What were some of your stand out products of 2013? Did you have any memorable beauty moments this year?

*items marked ‘*’ were provided by PR for review purposes only*

There is always that one awkward post wherein the beauty lover succumbs to the change of season and writes the first post geared towards the one coming up in lieu of enjoying the one at hand. And so we find ourselves talking about my top choices for lip color this fall. I won’t be adding nudes in this post because I’ll be featuring some of my favorites in a separate post.

*-denotes sample

Fall Lip Colors 2013

There is only one matte formula in the bunch as mattes are probably my least favorite formula. They tend to be drying and I’ve had trouble with mattes making every line in my lip magnified and pronounced. Not pleasant. However, the Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick is the exception to the rule (as almost every Hourglass product is). The rest are either glossy or semi-glossy in finish.

I recently picked up two items from the Dior counter- Ensorcelante and New York. I have this terrible habit (or OCD tendency) to buy Dior lip products in pairs only. Is that odd? I have to buy a lipstick and a gloss to match. I think it’s because I love Dior lip products that much that I know if I love a gloss or lipstick in a particular shade I know I will end up wanting a matching one to make the set. I didn’t care for the fall lipstick Dior released to go along with Ensorcelante- it was far more dark and vampy than I’d use to pair with the gloss. I even tried them on together and decided it was not for me. I set out to swatch other shades and New York was the perfect match. It’s plummy and nude and has a gorgeous shimmer. How have I not heard of this shade before?! It pays to play at the counter I guess!

I didn’t realize before setting down to swatch how close MAC Craving, Plumful and Too Faced Cinnamon Kiss are. There are nuances, of course, but they are very similar. I love the Too Faced La Creme formula and would easily get every shade they make.

Fall Lip Colors Swatches 2013

Swatches L-R: MAC Rebel, Maybelline Color Whisper A Plum Prospect, MAC Craving, MAC Plumful, Too Faced Cinnamon Kiss, Dior Addict New York, NARS Strawberry Fields, NARS Bougainville, Dior Ensorcelante, Hourglass Empress*

I really enjoy the Maybelline Color Whisper formula. I prefer it to Revlon’s Lip Butters (though I only own two of the former and many more of the latter). A Plum Prospect is coming up a little bit brighter in the photo than it is in real life. A very lovely color, though.

NARS glosses are among my most favorite formula. These two are particularly creamy and pigmented and in shades that were made for cool Autumn days.

MAC Rebel is in a class by itself. It’s reputation precedes it, no doubt. It’s bright, in your face and so so pretty.

And for good measure, I posted these FOTDs to my Instagram wearing the new Dior products I picked up:

FOTD Wearing Dior New York

Wearing Dior New York

FOTD Wearing Dior Ensorcelante

Wearing Dior New York and Dior Ensorcelante

FOTD Wearing Dior Ensorcelante 2

Wearing Dior Ensorcelante (different lighting)

Are you ready for the fall makeup collections? I know that this summer has been quite hot and I’m enjoying the cooler reprieve we have had lately. I don’t know that I’m quite ready to let go of summer completely, though!

*items marked with a ‘*’ were provided by PR for review purposes only*
29. 07. 2013

I called this post July Favorites but really, this is more like “Mid-Summer” Favorites. I’ve been steadily using all or most of these products throughout June and July.

July 2013 Face Favorites

Tarte BB Tinted Primer*- I’ve been using this on and off since getting it earlier this year. It’s a thicker consistency and incredibly pigmented. It wears all day on me and I don’t need to powder when I do. Amazing! A word of warning- the shade I have is called “Light” but it is more like a medium shade in most other lines. I’m about NC35 and it suits me just right.

Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation*- This foundation isn’t new to me but Hourglass recently released more shades (hooray!) and I have been using new shade Natural on days when my self-tan has slightly faded (Ivory is a nice match when I’m more tanned). It wears all day on me and it really does feel like a liquid to powder. This is by far my most favorite foundation. Oily-skinned gals- this one’s for you!

NARS Cactus Flower- Get your hands on this while you can! NARS is discontinuing their cream blush line. No word as to whether or not they are reformulating (my guess would be that they are). Cactus Flower is the perfect pinky-coral (Watermelon??) with a slight sheen. The sheen looks more intense in the pan and swatch then on the face. It’s drier and not tacky, more cream-to-powder which I think adds to the longevity. Gorgeous!

Jemma Kidd Dewy Glow in Rose Gold- I’ve post about this magical product before and have been reaching for it everyday. It’s not packed with shimmer but somehow adds the most ethereal glow and isn’t at all greasy.

Laura Mercier Ritual- I have been using this almost every single day since buying it months ago. I can’t get enough. It might just be my most favorite bronzer ever! I apply it with a MAC 138 for the perfect mix between contour and sunkissed cheeks. If you can still find it I highly, highly recommend this! Don’t let the shimmer in the pan or swatch fool you- there is no shimmer visible on the face.

July 2013 Face Favorites Swatches

L-R: Tarte BB Tinted Primer Light, Hourglass Immaculate in Nude and Ivory, Laura Mercier Ritual, NARS Cactus Flower, Jemma Kidd Rose Gold

July 2013 Eye Favorites

For eyes I have been going for golds and browns in matching creams and powders- perfect pairing for the hot summer weather. I find that pairing a cream under the powder shadows helps the look wear longer and intensifies the colors. I have done this every day in July- the hottest month for us this year so far!

Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer- My favorite eye primer at the moment. Much better than Urban Decay and cancels out discoloration. It’s drier and less greasy feeling than Urban Decay’s offering. If you had poor luck with that I would definitely give this a try.

Lancome Hypnose Drama- A staple. My favorite mascara of all time. I even convinced mymom’s best friend to buy it on a recent trip to Sephora. :)

Tarte SmoulderEyes in Brown*- I have had this for a long time but have been getting a lot more use out of it after discovering it was the perfect base for a bronzey smokey eye. It pairs wonderfully with my next shadow…

NARS Galapagos- Another product I’ve neglected too much. I’ve been wearing Galapagos every day for a few weeks in various forms. It’s great as a liner or buffed in as a shadow and is great layered over the brown from Tarte.

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Sugar Frost- These sticks have received a lot of praise, and for good reason. They are easy to use and wear until you take them off. Perfect on their own or layered.

Smashbox Limitless 15 Hour Cream Shadow Quartz- I met with a Smashbox makeup artist at ULTA one day. I went in for a new sunless tanner and came out with a huge new stock of Smashbox thanks to the beautiful Vanessa. For some reason I have always overlooked this line, but not any more! This shadow is fabulous (and their best selling shade). It wears all day and is perfect for bridal looks.

Urban Decay Easy Baked- This shade was released earlier this year. It’s gorgeous and might be my favorite shadow they have ever released! I use it all the time. It’s the perfect gold-almost tan. Maybe I’d describe it has honey? Either way it’s delicious and has a place in everyone’s collection.

July 2013 Eye Favorites Swatches

L-R: Urban Decay Easy Baked (over Smashbox Primer), Galapagos (over Smashbox Primer), Smashbox Primer, NARS Galapagos, Urban Decay Easy Baked, Smashbox 15 Hour Limitless Quartz, Laura Mercier Sugar Frost, Tarte SmoulderEyes Brown

July 2013 Lip Favorites

For lips I have been favoring glossy lip products that have a creamy or lightweight feel. In the summer I always gravitate towards corals and peaches but lately I’ve been adding pinks and rose tones to the mix.

MAC Pink Pearl Pop- This shiny pink lipstick caught my attention in May. It was sold out at two different stores I went to and after falling in love with how it looked in store I knew I had to order it. This is definitely a hidden gem in MAC’s line! I think it came out last year but it does add a beautiful pop of glossy pink to the lips- swoon!

Too Faced La Creme in I Want Candy- I am pretty sure I saw Michele1218 wearing this in a video somewhat recently. I was already a fan of the line and was happy to add this beautiful rosy pink to my collection.

Dior Addict Extreme in Spring Ball- This is probably my favorite line of lipstick ever! I have 4 shades and definitely need more. Spring Ball was released earlier this year. I think I got the matching gloss first and was convinced I need the lipstick. I was right….I definitely needed it. Creamy, pigmented and glossy these lipsticks are worth every penny!

Pur Lip Gloss Stick in Coraline- An impulse buy at the cash register of ULTA. I needed my purchase to be a higher dollar amount to use my coupon and I saw these and quickly added it to my bag. I’m glad I did. It’s a beautiful coral-orange shade that has great wear time and feels like a balm.

Lancome Gloss in Love Peach Show- I had to get this after LisaLisaD1 raved about it on Youtube. I LOVE the color. I think my boyfriend would choose this as his favorite color in my collection. It’s a peachy-nude color that is face-brightening, but in a subtle way. The only problem is the formula is not my favorite. It’s one of those glosses that starts out creamy and turns kind of tacky as it wears on. I don’t think I will get any more shades in the line based on my experience with this one. The color is just too lovely to pass it up and if anyone knows of a dupe in another line I’d love to hear about it!

Dior Lip Polish (02)- This is by far the best lipgloss I have ever used. It even topped my Clarins Lip Perfectors, which I didn’t think could be done. It adds just a touch of pink glow and the formula is not tacky, sticky or scented. It glides on smoothly, wears well and goes with everything and nothing. Go, buy this RIGHT NOW.

Dior Addict Glosses in Venus and Diablotine- Again, Dior nailed this formula. It’s the best! Venus is perfect shimmering nude to wear layered over anything and looks equally good on it’s own. Diablotine is a nice shimmering coral-red. Perfect for summer and I do really need to get the matching lipstick.

July 2013 Lip Favorites Swatches

L-R: Dior Diablotine, Dior Venus, Dior Lip Polish, Lancome Peach Show, Pur Coraline, Dior Spring Ball, Too Faced I Want Candy, MAC Pink Pearl Pop

Whew. That was longer than I anticipated! That’s what I get for not doing favorites every month! Do you have any recommendations? What have you been loving lately?

I think that most women know exactly what types of lighting suit them best and what types of lighting may require a bit more time at the makeup mirror than usual. For me (and many others), candlelight is lovely while florescents leave something to be desired. Enter the new Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders. From the moment I learned of their release I knew something exciting was on the horizon.

This new formula offers 6 silky smooth powders that help mimic different types of lighting, anywhere from moonlight to candlelight.  The shade I chose is called Dim Light, and I don’t think I could have picked a better match for my skin.

Hourglass Dim Light Package

Hourglass Dim Light Back

When I described the powders as “silky smooth” I really meant it. It just melts into the skin. It doesn’t turn creamy, but it doesn’t need to. It blends in flawlessly, never sitting on top of the skin or looking obviously powdery.

Hourglass Dim Light

Dim Light is described by Hourglass as a neutral beige, and I’d agree with that assessment. It does lean a little warmer on me, but I have a warmer undertone to my skin. Initially the powder looks like it has the tiniest bit of sheen (at least in sunlight) and an almost translucent color. However, when applied to the face or when swatched a noticeable change occurs…

Hourglass Dim Light Swatch

This is a heavier swatch done to show how the color may look when built up. I don’t wear it this heavily, of course, but there’s no stopping you from testing application methods to see how it wears best on you. I find that when I take a large powder brush and swirl it in the pan and dust lightly all over my face, starting with the T-Zone, I get the best results. I usually dip my brush back in the pan 2-3 times during application. I also don’t find that I have to reapply. The effect lasts all day. I also noticed that it seems to help keep the oil I normally experience at bay, but doesn’t prevent it entirely.

In the photographs below I am wearing Hourglass Dim Light dusted all over:

Hourglass Dim Light FOTD 2

Hourglass Dim Light FOTD

I do feel like it has a blurring effect, making my face look glowy, but not shimmery or shiny. The reason I like this particular shade is because you can use it all over. I was initially attracted to Luminous light (which incidentally is gorgeous and still on my radar) but decided it wouldn’t really be something that I would want to wear all over my face. This powder is flexible enough to be used on certain areas or as a nice all-over dusting. I’ve used it for meetings in office settings, weekend shopping trips and fancier evenings out and Dim Light performed each time.

These powders retail for $45 at Hourglass and Sephora. My opinion? Well, I’ve been using it every day since receiving it a month ago….. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

*item(s) in this post was provided by PR for review purposes only*