The first day of Autumn is just around the corner and I couldn’t be more excited. While I enjoy the summer, it’s been quite hot and humid here for about as long as I can tolerate. I prefer the fall with the cool breeze, changing colors and warm soups! I love the weather when you need to throw a sweatshirt on to go for a walk at night.

In celebration of fall I went through my makeup and picked out the shades for eyes, lips, cheeks and nails that I always wear this time of year. I am going to start with my favorite- blushes!

DSC_0139

Shown: NARS Madly, Hourglass Mood Exposure and Laura Mercier Mocha Spice

In the fall I tend to go for similar colors for lips and cheeks. Nudes, berries and rosy tones make up the majority of my choices for both categories. I think I reach for nudes more because I tend to amp up my eyes more in the fall. These three shades are all very nude, in my opinion. None of them are completely matte, which I like. Nude shades can be harder to blend into the skin without a satin finish or a bit of sheen. It makes it more skin-like.

DSC_0142

Shown: Tarte Blushing Bride, MAC Stark Naked, NARS Mata Hari, NYX Raisin

Not all berry shades have to be intimidating. They can be a berry pink, have a mauve tone, etc. that make them easier to wear. MAC Stark Naked was limited edition (NARS Sin is somewhat close) but the rest are readily available. Mata Hari was a surprise for me when I bought it years ago because I expected it to be a summer color. While it does look great with a tan, Mata Hari is a chameleon. It has just enough mauve/murkiness to it mixed with the right amount of berry pink. It’s a must have for me.

DSC_0145

Shown: Illamasqua Sin, NARS Mounia, Becca Raspberry/Opal

While you can certainly use more sheer tones, it’s also fun to throw in some of those really pigmented colors that can imitate the effect of the cold. Illamasqua Sin and NARS Mounia are perfect for the fall. NARS Mounia was discontinued awhile back, but try a shade like NARS Taos or MAC Ambering Rose for a similar effect. Becca’s Beach Tint Shimmer in Raspberry/Opal is also worthy of fall must-have status. It’s the only cream product that made my list- but for good reason. The color gives a nice, refreshing berry tint while the highlighting aspect leaves behind a warm and wearable gold sheen. The two paired together are perfection and the formula is wonderful with excellent staying power.

DSC_0150

Swatches from L-R: Illamasqua Sin, NARS Mounia, NARS Mata Hari, Tarte Blushing Bride, MAC Stark Naked, NYX Raisin, Hourglass Mood Exposure, NARS Madly, Laura Mercier Mocha Spice, Becca Raspberry/Opal

Also worth noting are the two highlighters I reach for in the fall season.

DSC_0146

Shown: Laura Mercier Rose Rendezvous and Guerlain Parure de Nuit

Both of these majestic (yes, it’s that serious) highlighters were sadly limited edition. Try another highlighter from Guerlain, like their meteorites perles. MAC has released a highlighter called Superb that is pretty spot-on for Rose Rendezvous. I have some comparison swatches of similar highlighters done here. If you ever spot one of these in a blog sale definitely snatch it up!

That wraps up my favorite cheek products for the fall. I’ll be doing eyes next!

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?

 

 

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!

Like any other beauty lover I get a little nosy and wonder what products people like to travel with…you know, those essential pieces that make time away from home easy. Well, at least in terms of makeup application ;)

As I prepare to travel for a few days I thought I’d give you a look inside my travel makeup bag and the items that made the cut for the trip.

Travel Makeup Base

My makeup bag itself is slightly pictured above. It was given to me as part of an entire travel set for toiletries, etc and has my initials monogrammed on the front.  It’s roomy and has pockets for smaller items. I’ve used this exclusively for any travel I’ve done in the last 2 years.

Base

Primers are essential for me, especially when I’m traveling for business and meetings. I need to know my makeup won’t be budging. Right now I’m favoring MAC’s Prep+Prime Natural Radiance for face and for eyes I’ve been loving the Smashbox Photofinish. It’s got a beige tone to it so it cancels out any discoloration and it really helps lock my shadows into place. MAC Face & Body has been my go-to foundation for a few months and is a welcome travel companion. It’s buildable, natural coverage and doesn’t break down on my combination/oily skin. All of my concealing needs will be met with Maybelline’s Eraser for dark circles (the illuminating shade) and MAC’s Pro longwear concealer. To set it all into place I’ll be using MAC’s Studio Careblend Pressed. Notice a theme? Mostly MAC, right? MAC makes amazing base makeup. Although their color line and collections grab most of the attention you shouldn’t overlook some of the amazing face products they offer.

Travel Makeup Blush Bronzer

Bronze/Highlight/Blush

My favorite bronzer of all time has to tag along for my journey, Laura Mercier Ritual. This needs to be permanent. Yesterday. I’ve also got two highlighting options, the RMS Living Luminizer for a more subtle look and Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Opal for a bit more oomph. I always like to have a few blush options. This time I’m taking some newbies. Lorac Baked Blush in Exposed (a bright coral/peach) and Dior Mimi Bronze (a natural nude– thanks to gorgeous Andie over at Techno Cupcake for the push to get this beauty). I’m excited about giving these two some testing!

Travel Makeup Eyes

Eyes

This was the hardest category. For brows I’ve got my trusty Anastasia brow gel and Stila Stay All Day brow in medium. I opted for the original Naked Palette because it’s treated me so well on many travels in the past and I know I can count on it for daytime and nighttime looks that can be as business appropriate or dramatic as the occasion calls. I’ve also brought 3 of my go-to shades of Laura Mercier caviar sticks: Sugar Frost, Sandglow and Cocoa. These provide excellent glow and added drama when used as base shadows. For liner I’m bringing MAC Blacktrack Fluidline, Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner in black and tucked inside the Naked Palette I’ve got my number one black liner of all time- Bare Minerals Round the Clock Liner in Midnight (I have three backups I love it *that* much). I will be attending a dressy cocktail party one of the evenings so I’ve brought false lashes and all the gear I need to apply them. I’ve gotten better at this over time, but I definitely could use more practice.

(not pictured is the regular mascara I’m taking- L’oreal Butterfly)

Travel Makeup Lips

Lips

I’ve not yet decided what my makeup looks are going to be so I wanted plenty of color options in the lip department. I’ve got a nice balm, Fresh Sugar Rose to keep things smooth. I’ve also brought along two of MAC’s new Huggable lip colors in Touche and Out For Passion (this formula is really nice!) for nude and rosy pink options with Marc Jacobs gloss in Kissability and NARS Gold Digger to top should I feel like taking it up a notch. And of course I couldn’t forget my favorite lip color- coral. I’ve brought two Becca items (thanks to beautiful Jenny from My Funny Valentine for the inspiration on these); their Lip and Cheek tint in Guava and their amazing Ultimate Colour Gloss in Pink Lotus (seriously, this gloss is awesome!). I’ve also added in Givenchy’s newest lipstick Le Rouge in Rose Dressing which is a dainty but slightly intense coral.

That’s it! It all fits in the bag! I’ve also got my favorite brushes tucked away and ready to go. One of the tips I picked up over the years is to pack my travel makeup bag a few days in advance and use only the makeup out of that bag. It will help me decide if there is something I’m missing or need to add.

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*