Buy or Bye: Putting the Fenty Beauty #CheeksOut Blushes and Bronzers to the Test

I’ve talked more than once about my love of cream products. In fact, I’ve basically become a disciple for cream products, spreading the good word about the skin-like, feather-light quality of creams. I’ve convinced my friends and family to dip their toes into the wonderfully blendable world of creams with products like Nude Stix blushes and bronzers, as well as the cult favorite Chanel Soliel Tan de Chanel bronzer and the cheaper but just-as-good alternative, Milk Makeup matte bronzer in Baked. 

Naturally, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Fenty’s new #CHEEKSOUT cream bronzers and blushes.

RIHANNA CAN DO NO WRONG

Not only do I love cream products, I love Fenty Beauty. I have never tried a Fenty product that I didn’t like. Primer, foundation, lip gloss, highlighter—there isn’t a single bad product in the entire line. Another thing that I love about Fenty is how inclusive the brand is. As a white woman, I have nearly endless options when it comes to foundation, but I know that not everyone has that luxury. Fenty offers 40 different shades of foundation and 50 different shades of concealer. Now, with the launch of the #CheeksOut collection, people with darker skin tones will have more options when it comes to blushes and bronzers, too.

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#CHEEKSOUT

The Cheeks Out Collection, which launched online and in-stores on April 17 has 10 different cream blush shades and seven different bronzer shades. I ordered them during the Sephora VIB sale but because of COVID-19, shipping was incredibly delayed and I just got them in the mail last week. I am so sad that Sephora is closed right now, because I would have loved to swatch these in store. I ended up taking a guess and getting the blush in the shade Summertime Wine and the bronzer in the shade Macchiato. 

BRONZER FORMULA

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I’ve done the leg work when it comes to cream bronzers—and this one is good. According to the brand, the bronzers are supposed to be non-greasy, sweat resistant, and easy to blend. While the brand claims that the bronzers are supposed to be sheer, I would say they are more sheer-to-medium coverage, depending on how they are applied. I’ve applied with my fingers, a dense brush and a duo-fibre brush and each application has come out slightly different. They are definitely buildable but can be applied lightly or blended out for a more sheer look. I’ve also applied both to naked skin and over makeup and it does not disturb any product underneath, which is a huge plus.

The branch launches two shades specifically for contouring, but I have more than enough cool-toned contour shades so I opted for Macchiato so I could use it to bronze my whole face.

BLUSH FORMULA

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There has been a lot of talk online about the size of this blush. Some people are not happy about how small it is and, to be fair, it is pretty small. It doesn’t bother me that the product is small for two reasons: 1) cream products tend to expire much faster than powder products and 2) I’ve literally never used up a blush of any size

According to the brand, the formula is supposed to give a “fresh wash of color” that is “effortless” to blend with a “natural-looking” finish. The coverage is designed to be “sheer, buildable” with a “sweat- and water-resistant formula.” Fenty also released a new densely-packed angle brush with his launch, but I use my It Cosmetics blush brush to apply because it’s essentially the same thing and I already have it on hand. 

I’ve seen people complaining that the blushes are too sheer. I have not had that problem. I got the shade Summertime Wine, which is a really pretty soft berry color (in all honesty, I got this because the other colors I wanted were sold out, lol). You can apply it lightly for a sheer wash of color, but you can also really build this up to be quite bold. In fact, when you apply it with a dense brush like the one I mentioned, you get a pretty solid color payoff and I actually had to go over it with my foundation brush to avoid looking like Mimi from the Drew Carrey show.

HOW IT COMPARES

It has a slight edge over the Chanel bronzer for me, because it comes in so many more shades. Chanel has ONE cream bronzer and claims that it is universal. It is not. It’s different than the Huda Beauty Tantour bronzer in that I chose a shade that is more warm-toned, and Tantour leans cooler (it is used to contour, after all). It is probably most comparable to the Milk Makeup matte bronzer in Baked, but isn’t quite as warm despite the fact that it is a true bronzer. 

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PRICING

The bronzer retails for $32 and contains 0.22 oz. (making it $145.45 per oz.). The cream blush retails for $20 for 0.1 oz. of product (making it $200 per oz). Both products are available at both Sephora and the Fenty website.

TL;DR

The new blushes and bronzers from Fenty Beauty are great and worth the money, in my opinion. They have a sheer, buildable finish that blends effortlessly into the skin and wears evenly throughout the day. 10/10 definitely recommend.

Sephora Spring 2020 Sale

Things are crazy. For some of you, the Sephora Sale might not be a priority right now and I can’t blame you that. For me, browsing the website and putting together this list was a welcome distraction from all the noise. Please know that this is not meant to come across as tone-deaf or minimize all the pain and suffering that so many are experiencing. It turns out that buying things isn’t making me any happier or less anxious, but that’s not going to keep from adding things to my cart and trying again.

If you’re like me and have been stress shopping in hopes of producing a little bit of serotonin to get you through your day AND you love makeup, look no further. I spent an embarrassing amount of time compiling all the things that I’ve lusting for during this spring’s Sephora VIB sale.

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SKINCARE

Since I started taking my skincare seriously, I don’t normally purchase many things from Sephora and instead opt for investing my money in medical-grade products, which are similarly priced but more effective because they contain higher concentrations of ingredients. However, I can’t go see my esthetician right now because of COVID-19 and I would like new things to slather on my face, so here are my skincare picks.

skincare

Youth to the People Yerba Mate Resurfacing Energy Facial

I follow someone on Instagram who is a chemist by day and beauty blogger/product reviewer by night and she was raving about this product. Add to cart.

Foreo Luna 2 

Years ago my ex-boyfriend bought me a Clarisonic. I never really used it, because at that time I didn’t even take my makeup off before I went to bed, but now that I’m older, wiser and more committed to my skincare routine (and to dating guys that don’t suck) maybe it’s time to try this one out.

Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Luxury Lift & Firm Eye Patches

I love these eye patches. My mom got them for Christmas one year and I have repurchased them ever since then. They plump up your undereye and make your skin feel so smooth and supple. If I haven’t slept well and my under eyes look like the Crypt Keeper, (or if I’m hungover) I’ll slap these on while I blowdry my hair—or I’ll put these on while I do another face mask. I used to even be able to convince my ex-boyfriend to use these. If that isn’t an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial 25% AHA % 2% BHA Mask

This is my favorite at-home treatment from Sephora. I think most department stores/OTC treatments are a waste of money, but this one actually shows some serious results. If you have pigmentation issues, dullness, dry spots, I highly recommend this.

Saint Jane Beauty Luxury CBD Beauty Serum

I love this stuff so, so much. If there was one skincare product that I recommended above others on this list, it would be this. I used this following my laser treatment back in February and I think it played a huge role in how quickly I healed. I use this every single night as part of my skincare routine and when I miss a night, I notice it in my skin the next day.

Slip Silk Pillowcase

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what is wrong with your current pillowcase. The short answer is nothing, really. Nothing enough to justify spending $80 on this one, TBH. The long answer is that cotton is very absorbent. It wicks moisture away from your skin and hair during the night, which causes creasing on your face and be hard on your thin, delicate skin over time. Silk doesn’t scratch, tug or twist your hair and skin and, over time, is supposed to be better. I have one of these and bought one for my mom, too. But if you don’t want to shuck out this much money this Amazon dupe does the same job (and at 2 for $12.99 you’ll have more money to spend on other things you really want).

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

As someone who wears a lot of makeup, I have a lot of experience taking it off. I really like this makeup removing balm and find that it does a good job of breaking up even the toughest, most stubborn long-wearing foundations and lipsticks. I’ll be stocking up on this during the sale!

HAIR

I have long, fine hair. And I have a ton of it. All things considered, when it comes to my hair I’m pretty low maintenance. I get it touched up a few times a year and other than that I essentially call it good. I do wash it and blow dry it every day, which takes up more of my time than I care to admit. Here are the products that this quasi-low maintenance person uses.

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Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

Like I said, I wash, dry and style my hair every single day so having a blow dryer that doesn’t fry my hair is essential for me. This thing is lightweight, quiet and dries your hair in a fraction of the time that other dryers do. This is one of the only times during the entire year that it goes on sale, so take advantage of that!

Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3

I know that I’m high maintenance in many ways, but when it comes to hair I’m really not. I mean, I used to use Suave shampoo and conditioner up until about 2 years ago. Olaplex was one of the products that helped me transition over to the dark side, because it’s genuinely like liquid gold. I try to use this about once per month, but now that I’m isolated in my house entirely by myself I use it about once a week. And I leave it on for anywhere from 12-48 hours. There are no rules anymore.

For what it’s worth, I also recommend Olaplex shampoo, conditioner, bond smoother styling creme, and the No. 7 bonding oil.

BLUSH

I am super into blush right now and I won’t apologize. I’ve seen some people argue that this is a hipster/Tik Tok trend but it’s not. Anyone can wear blush to brighten up their face. Man, woman, young, old. I don’t care. I will die on this hill. 

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Fenty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush

These are just released today! I haven’t tried them (obviously) but they’re in my cart just waiting for me to check out. I can’t wait to try them.

Nudestix Nudie Matte Blush & Bronze

I love Nudestix. These are truly so easy to use, so easy to blend. Whether you’re a full coverage queen or you opt for an easier, low-maintenance look, I promise you’ll love these. You can’t go wrong with Nudestix.

Tower 28 Beach Please

I love this blush so much that I’m buying another one. I have the shade Magic Hour and I have been wanting to try the orange shade, Golden Hour. If you like cream products, I promise that you’ll love this blush.

BRONZER

I have been quarantined for what feels like months (and is actually quite literally the truth). I could easily say that the quarantine and the pandemic is the reason that I’m pale but it’s not. I wouldn’t be in the sun if I could be. I have spent too much money on my skincare to fuck that up with harmful UVA/UVB rays. Fake bronzers all day, everyday baby. 

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Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer

If you’ve been here before, you’ll know that I’ve talked about this one million times. It’s truly one of my favorites.

Fenty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Bronzer

Just like the cream blushes, the cream bronzers are just being released today. IMHO, cream bronzers are a little trickier than cream blushes, so I can’t wait to try these out and see what I think about the color payoff, the formula, etc.

Huda Beauty Tantour Contour & Cream Bronzer

This is the best cream contour product that I have ever used. I got the coolest shade, which is still incredibly intimidating both in the pan and on your face, but it blends out so perfectly and is so easy to work with. The shade that I got is cool toned and perfect for contouring but if you wanted to use it as a bronzer to warm up the face, there are quite a few shades to choose from!

Tom Ford Soliel Glow Bronzer

I don’t own this. I want to own this. Unfortunately, it’s $100. It’s sitting in my cart. Should I buy it or no?

POWDER

If you’ve been around for a while you already know that I have incredibly oily skin. Now that I’m getting older, my skin is changing a little bit. Part of it is so dry that it flakes off and the rest of it is so oily that the United States government is trying to start a war over it. The worst of both worlds, really. Because of that, I’m super picky about powders. Here are my favorites.

powder

Laura Mercier Translulcent Loose Setting Powder

What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? The OG of setting powders. No flashback, no weird cast. You can use it to finish, to set, to bake—you can’t go wrong with this. It’s a no brainer purchase.

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder

I got this last year in Chicago and have used it almost every day since. It is now my preferred powder to set my undereye concealer with. It truly gives you a flawless finish. I read some reviews that said it broke really easily but it’s been to Chicago and Detroit with me, as well as making two trips to Traverse City and hasn’t broken. It’s also been knocked off my vanity by my jerk cat more times than I can count, so I don’t think it’s that fragile.

HUDA BEAUTY Easy Bake Loose Baking & Setting Powder

I feel like I judge Huda products more harshly than I do other brands because I have this preconceived notion that they are all just an Instagram gimmicky hoax. Most of the time I am pleasantly surprised by the quality and slightly horrified at the fragrance because they are SO strong. Nonetheless, this is a really good powder. I don’t use it to bake, but I do it to set my undereye concealer on occasion or use it as a finishing powder when I’m done doing my base.

I have seen really good reviews about this product and am so tempted to try it. Do I really need a different powder for my undereyes than for the rest of my face? Is this really worth shucking out $30 for (well $30-20%)

BROWS

I have my eyebrows microbladed, which I talked about in-depth here. I love my microblading and recommend it to anyone who will listen, but I do still do a little bit with my brows on a daily basis. Read on for my recommendations.

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Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade

I have been using quarantine to try other brow hacks, like soap brows, which has become my everyday go-to styling method. I fill in any sparse areas in with Dipbrow and I’m good to go.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Pro Pencil

This item definitely isn’t a must-have, but I like using it to brighten up underneath my brow. I have had mine for easily 5+ years, so the $20 something investment will be a good one!

 

Dior Diorshow Brow Styler Ultra-Fine Precision Brow Pencil

I feel like the amount of money that I’m willing to spend on brow products just keeping creeping up and up. I bought this on a recommendation from Allana Davison, who is my favorite YouTuber of all time. She’s right, it’s a great product.

MILK MAKEUP KUSH Fiber Brow Gel

This is essentially a dupe for Boy Brow. It has eerily similar packing and does the same exact job. I’m not really partial to either product, TBH. This is 20% off, so I’ll probably get a backup while I can.

LIPS

I got a lip flip last summer and even though it only changed my appearance a little bit, it was enough for me to stop shying away from lip products and embrace my lips. Now I can’t stop buying lip products. Please help. 

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Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm

I am a sucker for anything new. I doubt that this is anything crazy or lifechanging but I’m gonna try it out and let you know.

Tower 28 ShineOn Lip Jelly

This is the best lip gloss on the planet. It’s moisturizing, it’s never sticky and it makes your lips look amazing. And it’s only $14. If there’s only one thing you buy based on my recommendation, let it be this!

Kosas Wet Oil Lip Gloss

I’ve been wanting to try this for a while and figure that when I can get it for 20% is the best time to try it. It won’t be better than Tower 28, I know that going in. But it’s worth trying I suppose.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick

The best matte lipstick you can buy. It’s a cult classic for a reason. Everyone loses their mind over Pillow Talk and, I’m not saying that it’s bad, but I am saying that Very Victoria is better. Trust me.

Charlotte Tilbury Superstar Lips Lipstick

I know that I literally just said don’t buy Pillow Talk but please know that is specifically in reference to the Matte Revolution Lipstick. In the Superstar Lips lipstick (I cannot say that without mentally picturing Molly Shannon), Pillow Talk is my favorite color. This is like a glossy, your-lips-but-better lipstick that you can throw on anywhere, at any time (without a mirror) and instantly look better and more put together.

FOUNDATION

foundation

My foundation changes with the season. These are my favorite at the moment.

Makeup Forever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation

This might be my favorite foundation of all time, to be honest. It’s so easy to apply. It blends out really well, has great coverage and great staying power AND it has a great shade range. 10/10 definitely recommend.

It Cosmetics CC+ Cream

You really can’t go wrong with this product. You can use this when you want to do a full glam look and you can throw this on your face in the car in the parking lot of your office. It’s so versatile, has great coverage and works for everyone. I have turned so many people onto this product, including my mom who is the most difficult person to convert in the world. They should be paying me at this point.

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer 

Years and years ago I went to a Sephora with my friend who hated makeup and didn’t wear any. The salesperson recommended this product. There are a million tinted moisturizers out there, but for some reason, I tend to like this one most. It has a pretty finish and gives a very skin-like appearance.

Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint Foundation

I have seen a few YouTubers review this and have it waiting in my cart. I want to be someone who uses a low-coverage, dewy foundation but not sure I can pull it off.

Estee Lauder Double Wear

This is my holy-grail for full coverage. I always stray away from this foundation in pursuit of something better but, in reality, very few foundations can match up to this one.

Beauty Blender Bounce Liquid Whip Longwear Foundation

I never see anyone talk about this foundation and it makes me sad because it’s so great! If you like Double Wear, you’ll love this. It’s similar except, in my opinion, it’s more skin-like. It’s extremely long-wearing, controls oil, doesn’t transfer and has a satin-matte finish. I bought this in Chicago last year and have repurchased three times since then.

CONCEALER

I used to be loyal to only Shape Tape and now I just kind of hop all around and use whatever suits my fancy that particular day. Different strokes!

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Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Concealer

This is my favorite undereye concealer. It does an amazing job of reducing dark circles, doesn’t settle into any fine lines and doesn’t crease. It’s been my most used concealer since I picked it up during my Chicago trip last spring.

Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer

This is the best concealer in the world for hiding blemishes. It’s so easy to use and will hide all your deepest, darkest secrets. TBH, no other concealers even hold a candle to this one.

Milk Makeup Flex Concealer

After spending the past decade searching out the most full-coverage products I could find, I sometimes forget that products like this exist. I picked this up a while ago to wear on days when I opt for something like a CC cream or tinted moisturizer and really like it.

Makeup Forever Ultra HD Self-Setting Concealer

This is a somewhat new product (I think?) and I had to pick it up because I couldn’t imagine using a concealer that doesn’t need to be set with powder. I had low expectations and it exceeded them. It’s more on the low-coverage end of the spectrum. If you’re a no muss, no fuss kind of person I think you’d really enjoy this.

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer

When I first started getting into makeup and learned about Kevyn Aucoin I was so obsessed with him. I wanted to buy every product that he had, but I was poor and couldn’t afford it. I saved up and bought this concealer. It is heavy-duty, it is heavily fragranced—but it is beautiful. There are other concealers that would probably work better for most people, but if you’re someone who appreciates artistry and “collects” makeup,  you should try this at least once.

PRIMER

Some people say that primer is a waste of money or a hoax. It’s not. Depending on the product and what you’re going for, primers can help hydrate your skin, make your skin look smoother, make your makeup last longer, etc. These are a few of my faves.

primer

Tatcha the Liquid Silk Canvas: Featherweight Protective Primer

I recently included this primer in my March favorites blog. At the time, I was kind of on the fence about it. I actually have really started to love this primer. It is expensive and there are definitely other primers on the market that do a similar job at a more reasonable price point, but if you have some money to blow I recommend giving it a try.

Farsali Skintune Blur Perfecting Primer Serum

I 100% thought that this was going to be a gimmicky product when I bought it, especially because of the name. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the softened, smoothed (dare I say blurred?) look that this primer gave my face. I have this sitting in my cart right now, we’ll see what happens.

Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer

This is an oldie but a goodie. If you have dry skin, you’ll love this. It helps to hydrate your skin while also locking your makeup in place for the whole day. Bonus: it smells like coconuts.

Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base Priming Moisturizer

This is a favorite among makeup artists because it’s so universal. If you have dry, sensitive skin and are looking for something a little more on the luxe side, that walks the line between a skincare product and a makeup primer, this is it. Most products claim to be smoothing but this one lives up to its claim.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer

A cult classic for a reason. I’ve probably been through ten bottles of this in the past 5 or so years. If you’re not sure what kind of skin you have or what kind of primer would suit you, this is a good place to start. Pricy, but worth it.

Becca Ever-Matte Poreless Primer

If you have oily skin, you’ll love this. It is extremely sticky and you have to make sure that you press it into your skin as opposed to rubbing because it will ball and pill. But once you get the hang of it, this will keep your looking matte and flawless all day, no matter how oily your skin is!

Milk Hydro Grip Primer

This primer is the best of both worlds and somehow ends up working for just about every skin type and concern. I didn’t expect to like this as much as I do. It’s hydrating but also sticky (I mean, it’s in the name!) and really makes your makeup last all day. I have used it with a variety of different foundations and never had a problem with it.

HIGHLIGHTER

I love highlighter. Over the years as trends have changed I have fluctuated between an insanely blinding highlight to transitioning to a more subtle look, but I have never wavered on my love of glossy cheeks. From liquids, powders and creams to everything in between, I’ve tried them all. If you’re looking to buy a highlighter during the sale, here are some of my favorites and one that’s lingering in my cart. 

highlighter

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter

I bought this at a Charlotte Tilbury Nordstrom counter last summer because the saleswoman convinced me that I needed it. It was too much for me in the summer, but over the winter I started adding this under my foundation for a subtle glow. If you like a lit-from-within look, you could also add this to the high points of your face. Surprisingly versatile, I think is actually a good investment.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector

This was the first highlighter that I ever bought and for that reason is has a special place in my heart. It’s also just a really good highlighter. In fact, Opal might be my favorite highlighter of all time. Using this as a chance to stock up since mine is long gone.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

This is definitely my go-to highlighter for the days that I don’t want to look like a disco ball. If you’re more into a subtle, candle-lit type of glow, I can’t recommend this palette enough. I love that it comes with all three ambient lighting shades so you can try them out, mix them together, etc.

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer Glow Quad Mini

I really liked RMS beauty products. This is a great way to sample multiple products if you’re interested in the brand  (they’re clean & cruelty-free!) without committing to spending a ton of money on each product individually. A heads up: I have noticed that this dries out quicker than other cream products. Maybe because it’s clean? Not sure.

Tower 28 SuperDew Shimmer Free Highlight Balm

This is one of the most unique products I’ve ever used. There’s no color, no glitter. It’s just a balm. It gives you the most dewy, wet looking, gloriously effortless sheen. I am obsessed with this stuff.

Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Highlighter Wand

This is such a glossy, beautiful highlight. It’s a liquid but dries down to a powder feel so you don’t have sticky cheeks all day. I say this about everything but is one of my favorite products.

Gucci Éclat De Beauté Effet Lumière — All Over Face & Lip Gloss

I have not tried this, but I’m tempting the idea. It looks like a pretty, glossy, universal product. How do we feel about Gucci Beauty? Worth it or is it more of packaging/label thing? I’m interested in hearing anyones experience with their products!

TANNING

Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops

I’ve never used these but I have a friend who raves about them. I’ve been meaning to get into self-tanning since I no longer see the sun or leave my apartment. Fake (bake) it til you make it.

TL;DR

I have a million products that I want to stock up on and try out, but I’m not sure what all I’ll actually be picking up. If nothing else, browsing the website is a good distraction from all the chaos that’s happening in the world right now. What’s on your list or in your cart? Let me know! I hope you’re all staying safe and staying inside!

March Favorites

I think that we can all collectively agree that March was the longest month ever. I have been self-quarantined for almost a month now and that has obviously meant that I’m not going to stores or doing much shopping. I did place a few online orders, but given the situation at hand and the uncertainty, I have been trying to spend more responsibly and stop any non-essential purchases.

Read on for the things I have been enjoying from the comfort of my home for the past month, but please don’t feel pressured to buy any of this stuff. The world is a crazy place right now. Save your money—there will always be things to buy.

TATCHA THE LIQUID SILK CANVAS

I got this back in February when it first came out and have been testing it ever since. I tried the original Silk Canvas primer back in the day and did not like it. I have oily skin and it just didn’t work for me, especially not well enough to justify the hefty price tag.

In my opinion, this one is better than the original. My makeup applies smoothly when I use this and I do think it has a slight blurring effect on the skin. It might also extend the longevity of my makeup just a little, but nothing crazy, and it doesn’t do anything for me in terms of staying matte. I don’t hate it, but I don’t think it’s the best primer I’ve ever used. If you’re in the market for a new primer and have $50 to spend, I think it’s worth trying but I don’t think you have to run out and get it by any means.

NUDESTIX NUDIES ALL OVER FACE COLOR IN BUBBLY BEBE

I bought this on a whim at Ulta one day and had very low expectations for it. I honestly didn’t realize that Ulta carried Nudestix, and when I saw this on an end cap I figured it was worth testing out.

I am so pleasantly surprised by this product. It is the only highlighter that I have been reaching for for the past month. My preferred highlighter style is less disco ball and more natural, sweaty glow. That is exactly the look this product gives—the most beautiful, natural dew. I apply it directly to my face and then blend it out with either my fingers or a brush. It stays put all day and doesn’t disrupt any of my other products. This is easily my favorite product of the month.

PAULA’S CHOICE 2%  BHA LIQUID EXFOLIANT

I’ve been testing this out for a few weeks now and I love it. I have heard people rave about this for a long time but never felt compelled to try it myself. However, I’ve become quite the skincare maven thanks to my esthetician Jennifer Edwards and so when I saw this on sale (with free shipping!) I figured, why not?

I use this every single night in conjuncture with the rest of my skincare products and have seen such a difference in my skin. My skin is clearer, more event and, dare I say, radiant? I’m a big fan of this stuff and at only $23, it’s one of the least expensive, good quality skincare items you can invest in.

DIPTYQUE VANILLE CANDLE

I succumbed to the pressure of influencer marketing and bought one of these ridiculously overpriced candles. I will admit that I only bought it because it was 20% off at Nordstrom, making it slightly more affordable but still crazy.

It is a splurge and totally unnecessary, but it is a lovely smelling candle. It is extremely, extremely fragranced. I haven’t even burnt it yet, but it literally smells up an entire room just by being in it. I also got one in Amber but that one is a teeny tiny baby candle (I’m holding out on burning that one, too).

If you’re looking for a nice smelling candle that won’t force you to declare bankruptcy, my favorite candle in the entire world is the Tobacco and Vanilla Artisan Soy Wax candle from World Market. It is the most beautiful scent on the planet and will burn for hours and hours.

PLUS WHITE FIVE MINUTE PREMIER TEETH WHITENING

I have whitening trays from my dentist that were given to me years ago as a Christmas gift. If you read my non-sexy essentials blog, you’ll know I was also given an electric toothbrush as a gift once. I like taking care of my teeth, okay?

Anyway, I buy refills of the peroxide gel from my dentist. I went to whiten my teeth for the first time in an eternity earlier this week and realized that the gel had gone bad. I had some of this Plus White Five Minute whitening stuff on hand as a backup. This may not be the same quality as the stuff from my dentist, but it does the job. My teeth looked noticeably whiter after one use. For $8, you can’t go wrong!

Pro tip: if you don’t have custom whitening trays, you can buy a football mouth guard on Amazon for under $5. Follow the directions on the package to form it to your own teeth and voila! Custom whitening trays at home for a fraction of the cost.

OPI CAJUN SHRIMP

This is my favorite nail polish for spring and summer. My milky pink dip polish is still going strong on my nails (over a month old at this point) and since I’m out of acetone, it’s going to stay there. I decided to give myself a pedicure to lift my spirits. There’s something about looking down and seeing this spicy red-orange color that just puts me in a better mood and makes me feel like less of a potato.

ANA LUISA JEWELRY

I had been looking for a reasonably-priced dome ring when I came across an Instagram ad for Ana Luisa jewelry . I was immediately drawn to the cool-girl appeal of the brand. Everything is so chic and elegant. I bought a ring and then followed up by buying two pairs of earrings, one pair of really cool snake earrings and a pair of mismatched celestial huggies. Shipping is fast (especially given the current situation) and their communication is great. They’re currently having a sale- buy one, get one 35% off AND free shipping. I’m not getting paid to talk about this, I swear.

TL;DR

Turns out I lied. I bought way more shit than I realized this month! What are you loving right now?

Not-Sexy Everyday Essentials

It’s no secret that I’m high-maintenance. From hair appointments, lash extensions, bi-weekly nail appointments and regular visits to my esthetician, there’s a lot of time and effort that goes into looking this mediocre.

Copy of Green and White Business Advisory Coronavirus Awareness Instagram Post

It’s also not a secret that I love the finer things in life and am not afraid to splurge on a luxe product in the name of treating myself. If that’s the list you’re looking for, this ain’t it. These are the basic products that I use that are not sexy or luxe, they just keep me functioning like a normal, hygienic human on a daily basis. Read on for more.

AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

My biggest pet peeve with lotion is when it doesn’t absorb quickly enough and you have to walk around pantless for an hour with sticky skin. There is nothing sexy about this lotion, but it absorbs really quickly and leaves your skin silky smooth. It contains AHA, so in addition to hydrating your skin, it also exfoliates. I got mine at Costco, but you can also buy at Target and on Amazon.

Diamond White Replacement Toothbrush Heads

My electric toothbrush remains one of my top five gifts that I was ever given. My teeth feel so much cleaner when I use an electric toothbrush versus a traditional, manual toothbrush, but the only caveat is the cost of replacement heads. I found these on Amazon that fit on my Sonicare toothbrush but cost a fraction of the price of normal name brand replacements. I’ve been using these for years now and love them. I can’t say enough good things.

Meijer Men’s Precision Fit 5 Razors

This is the best razor that I have ever used. Forget all the aesthetically pleasing razors that have unlimited budgets for Instagram ads—they aren’t worth your money. As one of the hairiest humans to ever walk the planet, I have tried every razor known to man. This is the only one that I will buy. It’s the smoothest shave I’ve ever gotten and contours to every curve on your body.  I’m fairly certain that I could shave Kramer with this razor if I really wanted to. I’ve had the same handle for over 2 years and just buy the replacement blades, which is much better for the environment than the disposable razors I was using before.

Wet Brush Epic Professional Deluxe Detangler

I have really long, fine hair—and I have a ton of it. That’s basically a recipe for disaster because my hair gets so tangly, so fast. I have started sleeping with my hair in either a bun or a braid every night to help mitigate some of the snarls, but even so, I need a good brush to help brush it out in the morning. This is the best hairbrush that I’ve ever used. I have two of them, one that I keep in my office or backpack and one that I keep at home. It’s no Mason Pearson brush, but it gets the job done.

Megababe Bust Dust

The weather is warming up and, assuming that we’re ever able to leave our houses again, we’ll be dealing with boob sweat before you know it. Is there anything less sexy than boob sweat? Probably not. But if ya have tiddies, you probably deal with it.

While this is marketed specifically for women & boobs, you could really use it anywhere that you want to keep dry. If you’ve ever found yourself putting baby or talcum powder on any skin that might rub together, please stop because some studies indicate it may make you at greater risk for cancer. If you want to stay dry and prevent chafing, this is a good investment to make—for men and women alike.

Tounge Scraper

I don’t know that this is medically necessary, but I like having a clean mouth and I also love a good gadget, so I bought this from Amazon on a whim. I feel like it does a good job of scraping your tongue and at the very least, it has the placebo effect of me believing that I’m doing something good for my oral hygiene.

Just for Men Mustache & Beard Dye

If you think I’m joking about this, I’m not. I use this to tint my eyebrows at home and have been doing so for at least 3-4 years now. I have my eyebrows microbladed now, so I don’t do this as often as I used to, but I have definitely done it since being quarantined simply because I have nothing better to do. I have used demi-permanent color from Sally’s and a level 10 developer before, but this is much easier. It comes with the color, the developer. You mix the two together, and apply with a slanted eyebrow brush. Leave on for 15-20 minutes, wipe off with warm soapy water and voila! Perfect, tinted at home eyebrows.

*This is an off label use. Tint your eyebrows at your own risk, knowing that if you get this in your eye you can cause permanent damage to your vision. Please don’t sue me.

At-Home Waxing Kit

I’m very open about the fact that I’m extremely hairy. Not like, in a medical way, just thanks to my Hispanic heritage. I’ve had this waxing kit for probably 8+ years? But you don’t need the entire kit, because it comes with a lot of stuff that isn’t necessary. If you’re interested in waxing yourself at home, you’ll need a warmer and some wax, as well as the applicators.

I’ve been doing my eyebrows at home for a long, long time. I have used this to wax my legs and other things, but I prefer to primarily use this for my eyebrows. I use these wax beads, which harden and don’t require any fabric to pull off. This wax is also great for sensitive skin, so if you’re someone that tends to break out after being waxed this is a great option. I also use these petite wax applicators for precise application to the eyebrow area.

TL;DR

Boob sweat, body hair, mustache dye, tongue scraping—I told you there was nothing sexy about this list, but these are products that I use on a regular basis and always repurchase. What are some of the non-sexy products that you use on a regular basis?

Zoom Meeting Makeup Essentials

A lot of us have been working from home for the past few weeks— well, working at home trying to be productive and retain some sense of normalcy in the midst of the largest crisis of our lifetimes.

THERE’S PEOPLE DYING, KIM

I get it. Many of us, myself included, are having a very difficult time giving one single fuck about what we look like. Thousands of people dying tends to really put into perspective what is important and what is not.

More than anything, I think finding what works for you is incredibly important right now. If sticking to a routine helps you, then you should absolutely do that. If you want to wear the same sweatpants and ratty t-shirt for 10 days in a row (yes, I’m talking about myself) then rock on with your bad self. We’re all just trying to get through. No judgment here.

Copy of Copy of Green and White Business Advisory Coronavirus Awareness Instagram Post (1)

That being said, if you find yourself with an important video conference on your calendar and want to look a little put together without going overboard, here are my favorite products for a 10-minute fresh-faced makeup look.

IT COSMETICS CC CREAM

I love this product. If I could only use one base product for the rest of my life, I think it would be this. It’s full coverage without looky cakey or makeup-y, contains SPF 50 (even though you should definitely still be wearing another sunscreen!), and stays in place all day. You don’t need to use a primer with this and it’s so full coverage, you rarely need to spot conceal. You can use your fingers, a brush or a sponge to apply—whatever you prefer. Truly impossible to mess this up.

DIORSHOW MASCARA

This is one of my favorite mascaras to use, but you can obviously just use whichever mascara you prefer. I’ve had eyelash extensions for almost three years now, but still use mascara on my bottom lashes from time to time. I’ve also been really enjoying the Glossier Lash Slick mascara

BECCA UNDERYE BRIGHTENING CORRECTOR

I think it’s probably safe to assume that all of us are having trouble sleeping lately. I go to sleep around 4 in the morning and then spend all day being exhausted and sluggish—and you can definitely see it on my face. Thankfully this undereye corrector will hide all your dirty little secrets and make people think that you’re not entirely sleep deprived and filled with existential dread. You can apply a concealer on top of it if you want to, but I don’t always feel the need to because this does such a good job. Pro tip:  It’s a very thick, creamy formula so I always set with a powder to prevent creasing.

GLOSSIER BOY BROW

I can no longer be bothered to fill my eyebrows in with pencil. Partly because I have my brows microbladed and don’t really need to, but also I just no longer care TBH. I swipe Boy Brow through my brows, brushing them in an upward motion for a little more fullness, and call it a day.

TOWER 28 BEACH PLEASE 

I love this product. I recently talked about this in a post about my favorite cream blushes and for good reason. It’s so easy to use and so pigmented that a little bit goes a long day. Blend out using your fingers and bring it across the bridge of your nose for a healthy glow. No one will ever know that you haven’t stepped foot outside your apartment or felt the warmth of the sun on your face in over 10 days.

BUXOM POWER-FULL PLUMP LIP BALM

This is a great lip balm for when you want a little something on your lips but putting on actual lipstick or lip gloss doesn’t feel necessary. It creates a custom color for you by adjusting to the pH level of your lips. Normally, things that adjust to the pH of your lips look absolutely terrible on me (looking at you Lipstick Queen) but this is a flattering, slightly flushed shade like maybe I was just making out with someone (LOL, definitely not). I regret to inform you that I use the shade Big-O, which makes me want to vom, but I didn’t name it. Don’t shoot the messenger.

TL;DR

If you want to throw on a little makeup to feel slightly more polished & human, please do. If you want to stay in your pajamas and have disheveled hair, please do. For me, it depends on the day. It depends on my mood, how I slept, what the weather is doing, how much I’m paying attention to the news, etc. I think we’re really all just taking things day by day.

What are you doing during this crazy time? Getting ready or embracing a more natural look?

 

 

Buy or Bye: Em Cosmetics

As a beauty blogger and seasoned makeup veteran, I think it’s my due diligence to try out all makeup brands and products. Also, a beauty lover and OG YouTuber makeup content consumer, I had to try Michelle Phan’s brand, em cosmetics.

Michelle Phan was the first YouTuber that I ever watched. Back when my parents had dial-up internet and it took hours and hours to load a short video, I would sacrifice my parents ability to make phone calls so I could watch her transform her face, like her iconic video in which she emulates Lady Gaga’s gigantic eyes from the Bad Romance video or when she turned herself into a Barbie.

Naturally, I had to rewatch a lot of these videos in order to write this blog, you know, for science.

Since finding fame on YouTube, Phan has become a successful career woman, including publishing a book with Random House and launching her own cosmetics line, em cosmetics.

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HEAVENS GLOW RADIANT BLUSH

I’ve always been a big fan of baked products, and this blush is not an exception. It’s such a beautiful pinky, peach shade that gives a beautiful flush of color to cheeks. This works well as a blush on lighter skin tones, but I think that it could work as a highlighter on deeper skin tones. 

I recently talked about my affinity for cream products, and while I stand by what I said, I often find myself setting my cream blush with this product. While it’s a powder, it’s not powdery, if that makes sense. It also doesn’t sit on top of the skin like some powders, instead, it blends in in a very beautiful way without emphasizing any imperfections. If you’re not ready to take the plunge with cream or liquid cheek products—or you have oily skin and want to lightly set your creams/liquids with a powder—I highly recommend trying this blush.

If you’re interested in trying this blush but don’t want to spend $34 (plus shipping) on blush, Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso is almost an exact dupe, in both shade and formula—and retails under $10.

LIP CUSHION

I’ve really been branching out when it comes to lip products. I used to exclusively wear matte lipstick (and liquid lipstick at that!), but I’ve been super into glossy lips lately. I’ve talked about my love of Tower 28’s ShineOn lip jelly, and while I do think that has a slight edge, this is still a really great product.

The shade Magic Hour is a universally flattering, peachy-nude shade that luminizes your lips with a sheer touch of color. It’s formulated with a nourishing blend of Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin E, so it leaves your lips smooth even after you take it off.

THE VERDICT

Michelle Phan’s products are just as good as I expected they would be. I love both the products that I tried and I can’t wait to add her blush serum to my collection.

TL;DR

Em Cosmetics are great. If you’re in the market for a blush or a moisturizing lip balm, I recommend both!

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day

As our Lord and Savior Beyonce said: “who run the world? Girls.” Today on International Women’s Day, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite women-owned businesses in and around #LoveLansing and celebrate the badass women who own & operate them! 

Jennifer Edwards Skin | Aesthetics Med Spa

I’ve written blog after blog about my skin and how much Jennifer has changed it. I often joke that the most intimate relationship that I have is with Jennifer, because few people have seen me in a more vulnerable state and I am constantly sending her less-than-flattering photos of myself.

If you feel like treating yourself and your skin to something special, I highly suggest booking with her (which you can do online!). If you’re on a strict budget (which we probably all are), she offers cost-effective  treatments like chemical peels, microdermabrasion and dermaplaning. If you’re looking to invest a little more, there are always options like microneedling and laser treatments. Jennifer offers free consultations and will create a treatment plan specific for you, based on your budget and needs. 

Celeste Saltzman | Retail Therapy

Celeste is the owner of Retail Therapy, a women’s clothing boutique in Old Town. Celeste has the coolest style and always looks so chic and incredible. I truly admire how passionate she is about slow fashion (check out her op-ed in the LSJ here) and her commitment to only carrying clothing in her store that has been ethically and sustainably.

If you’re in need of new clothing, shoes or accessories, stop by the store! In addition to brands like Magnolia Pearl, Gershon Bram and Alembika, Retail Therapy is one of the only stores in Lansing that carries Lack of Color hats and Quay Australia sunglasses!

Andrea Kerbuski | AK Stories

There are a million reasons I love Kerbuski—but I’m super proud of her photography business.

Just like in every other situation in my life, I tend to look really awkward in photos. Andrea is the only photographer I have ever worked with that is able to make me feel comfortable in front of the camera and capture me in an authentic way. From professional headshots to family photos, Andrea’s work is so, so, gorgeous. The posing, the lighting, the editing, it’s just *chefs kiss*. 

If you’re looking for a professional photographer, there’s no one I would recommend more. DM her or send her an email to learn more about her pricing and availability.

Megan Emmons | Hair & Body Elements

Megan is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. If you’re in the Lansing/East Lansing area and looking for a lash artist, she’s your girl. Whether you’re looking for dramatic volume lashes (like me) or you’re into a more natural, classic vibe, Megan will get you hooked up and looking and feeling your best. 

DM her on Instagram to book an appointment or to ask her any questions you may have about lash extensions! 

Riley Vanness  | The Hive

Riley has been doing my brows for years and years. We first met at the Ulta in Okemos and then she moved and I moved and we lost touch BUT we were serendipitously reunited last year and I couldn’t be happier. Riley offers a lot of services, ranging from brow waxing, tinting and laminating, to lash lift and tints. 

If your brows need some TLC, call Riley (or DM her on IG). She is the only person on this planet other than myself that I trust with my eyebrows and that is really saying something.

Michelle Gimbutis | The Barre Code East Lansing

I first met Michelle at the grand opening of The Barre Code-East Lansing. Michelle is a MSU alumna (Go Green!) and moved from Metro Detroit back to East Lansing to start her own business. She is also one of the sweetest, most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met.

Despite the fact that the Barre Code-East Lansing opened a solid two years ago and I still haven’t been to a class, I’ve continued to follow Michelle and TBCEL and know that it’s a staple in the East Lansing community. I love the community that TBCEL fosters and how empowering it is.

If you’re looking to try something new in your workout routine, I highly recommend checking out the Barre Code. Bonus: your first class is free!

Emma | ALD Events

Emma and I are online friends who have never met in real life, but she’s hilarious and I feel like we’re kindred spirits. She’s co-owner and co-founder of  A Lovely Day events, a mid-Michigan wedding planning company. Even though I am painfully single, I love looking at their Instagram and admiring all of their work. The flowers, the couples, the cakes—it’s all so beautiful. 

Listen, I’ll probably never find someone to trick into marrying me, but if I do, I’ll definitely be hiring ALD to plan my wedding. If you’re newly engaged or planning a wedding, you can check out their work and the services they offer here

Ellie Wong | Holiday Lansing

I was so distraught when my longtime hairstylist (and actual Earth angel) Allison Malloy moved to Chicago (but also so happy she’s chasing her dreams!).  I don’t trust very many people with my hair but I rolled the dice and scheduled an appointment with Rachel Vrooman after drooling over her Instagram photos and I am so in love with my hair.

If you haven’t been to the Holiday, you need to. I really hate pretentious salons that make you feel like you aren’t good enough to be there—and this one is not like that at all. Quite the opposite, actually! Everyone is super friendly and welcoming and it is so cute inside.

Ellie is the owner of the salon. She’s never personally done my hair but I briefly met her when I was in there last and she is so sweet. If you’re looking for a new hair salon, check out the Holiday in Lansing’s West Side neighborhood! I’m sure you can’t go wrong when choosing a stylist there, but I highly recommend Rachel!

Tina Medawar | Medawar Jewelers

If you live in Lansing, you know Medawar Jewelers—but you might not know Tina Medawar as her own person (and brand!). Tina is truly the sweetest, most kind person I know and somehow she’s even more beautiful in person than she is on TV.

Tina owns and operates a number of Medawar stores throughout the mid-Michigan region, as well as being a mom and wife. She has an insane workload and somehow manages to be the calmest person I know.

Tina has great insight on fashion, work/life balance and overall is one of the most genuinely positive people I’ve ever met. If you’re looking for someone inspirational (but in a non-preachy, very down-to-earth way), you need to follow her!

TL;DR

There are so many amazing women in my life. Who are your favorite business women in Lansing? Is there a female-owned business in Lansing that I missed but I should know about?

 

 

Buy or Bye: Urban Decay All Nighter Collection

I have oily skin. When using the right combination of primers, powders and setting sprays, I can keep the oil at bay and look glowy and dewy as opposed to shiny. Unfortunately, when I use the wrong products, I end up looking like an oil slick by mid-morning. 

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SPARTY ON

I started using the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Sprayback in 2012 when I was a freshman in college when I realized that going to parties presented a new. challenge to my makeup routine. By then I had perfected my routine for both summer and winter, but if I was going to be #Sparty-ing, I needed my makeup to be even more durable and long-wearing. 

From that point on, Urban Decay’s All Nighter Setting spray has been a staple in my collection. When I saw that Urban Decay had recently expanded their All Nighter collection with a primer, setting powder and Ultra Matte setting spray. I decided to give it a college try. 😉

ALL NIGHTER FACE PRIMER

I really wanted to like this. It’s not scented (something I look for in both skincare and cosmetics), it comes in a pump, feels both smoothing and moisturizing and has a slightly tacky feel—which is expected of something that claims to be long-wearing.

Unfortunately, the buck stops there. I noticed that this product made my foundation application look not-so-hot at best, but I still wanted to give it a chance. I’ve been using an Artis brush to apply my foundation recently, and some primers require stippling motion vs. rubbing with a brush. I’ve tried both ways—and even tried a sponge—and this does nothing for me.

To be fair, the product doesn’t claim to be smoothing or pore minimizing. It’s selling point is that it controls oil but my biggest issue is that this does nothing to control oil or extend the longevity of my makeup. If anything, I got oily earlier in the day using this product than I did when I didn’t use any primer at all. If you keep reading, you’ll see that this is a common complaint among all these products.

ALL NIGHTER POWDER

I had really, really high hopes for this powder. It claims to, “smooth skin, block shine and extend the life of foundation.” It also claims that it will keep makeup locked into place for 11 hours. I can unequivocally assure you that none of those are true. In fact, my face looked greasier using all three All Nighter products than it normally does using the Laura Mercier setting powder.

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On a quest for the truth, and to figure out if maybe one of these products lived up to its claims while the others bastardized my entire makeup routine, I tried using this in a variety of situations: with the primer, without the primer, with the setting spray, without the setting spray. It doesn’t matter. This does nothing to keep my oil at bay. It also does nothing for the longevity of my makeup.

The worst part, is that this is NOT a translucent powder. After you apply it, you will absolutely notice that your makeup gets darker. Like a few shades. For me, it almost seemed to continue to oxidize throughout the day leaving me with a orange-cast on my face and a very pale neck. Not cute.

ULTRA MATTE SETTING SPRAY

The real OG. Even if the other two suck, this one will totally live up to if not exceed my expectations, right? WRONG. Seriously, WTF, Urban Decay. 

Again, I thought for sure that if I did my makeup like I normally do, without the primer or powder, that this product would remind me of how wonderful it was, and keep my face looking matte and put together even if I was sweating or crying or doing God knows what. It didn’t. It was a disaster, with oil breaking through my makeup by mid-morning. 

The All Nighter Setting Spray has been a staple in my makeup routine for the better part of a decade and I swear by it. I’m not sure what this bottle of trash water was, but I will absolutely not be repurchasing it. 

TRY THIS INSTEAD

If you’re looking for products to actually control oil there are a couple that I would suggest. Becca’s Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector is hands down the best mattifying primer that I have tried. Unless something has changed, I still highly recommend Urban Decay’s All Nighter Spray and their De-Slick spray. If you’re not into sprays or primers, my absolute favorite powder of all time is Laura Mercier’s Translucent Loose Setting Powder. I always apply a light dusting of powder over my makeup when I finish to keep my shine at bay throughout the day, but if you’re really oily there’s another trick you can try.

I know it seems counterintuitive, but if you really want to make sure your makeup stays matte, apply a light dusting of powder before you put your foundation on. I like to use a damp beauty sponge to apply powder all over my face, and then go in and do the rest of my make up like I usually would. I know that it seems like your make up would probably look really cakey and crazy but somehow it doesn’t. In fact, strangely enough, it ends up looking even more flawless—almost FaceTuned— and you will stay matte throughout the entire day. 

TL; DR

I’m not sure if this entire collection is just overwhelmingly disappointing or if there was something wrong with the products that I got specifically, but I absolutely do not recommend purchasing any of these products. 

 

Luxe for Less: Chanel vs. Milk Makeup

I have La Mer taste and a Colourpop budget. A splurge here or there won’t break the bank (and you know I’m a huge proponent of a healthy #TreatYoSelf day) but spending money on expensive products regularly adds up. Luckily for all of us, there are many affordable alternatives for luxury products that won’t cost you half your monthly rent payment. In my new series, Luxe for Less, I’m sharing affordable dupes for high-end products so you can look like a million bucks without spending a million bucks.

THE SPLURGE

Chanel’s Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base has a cult following—and for good reason. It looks a little intimidating in the pan—it’s pretty dark—but weightless gel cream formula diffuses easily, leaving behind a sheer wash of color that blends seamlessly into your skin.

I had heard about the product for years, and finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase it from Nordstrom last summer. I was a little skeptical at first. I am pretty fair—about an NC25—and my first reaction when swatching it was that it was orange. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it doesn’t look orange on your face and I quickly came to understand the products cult following.

The first thing that I noticed about this product was that it’s pretty sheer. You can really play with the intensity depending on the look that you’re going for. Thankfully, despite looking orange in the pan, it never looks orange on your face. It gives you the perfect bronzed glow without making you look like you were an extra on the Jersey Shore— and it’s never muddy or streaky. It also dries down to a satin matte, so there’s no transfer throughout the day but it is an emollient product so if you’re oily— like me— you may want to said it was a powder bronzer just to make sure it stays in place. My favorite way to apply it is with the Morphe M406 brush, but I’ve also dipped a beauty sponge directly into the pan and applied to my cheeks and temples that way.

THE SAVE

I can’t overstate how much I love the Chanel bronzer. However, I also know that not everyone can fork over $50 for 1 ounce of bronzer and you shouldn’t have to give up a gorgeous, healthy glow—or *gasp* step foot in the actual sun—because you can’t afford it. Luckily, I found a dupe that’s almost half the price, just as good and even travel-friendly.

Enter Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer in the shade Baked. Don’t get me wrong, there are differences. My goal was not to find a product that was the exact same color as the Chanel bronzer or had the same exact style of packaging, but rather to find a cream bronzer that had similar qualities at a better price point. To me, the Milk Makeup bronzer checks all those boxes. It’s creamy, it’s pigmented and it blends seamlessly into the face giving a beautiful glow.

BATTLE OF THE BRONZERS

The Chanel bronzer is definitely much warmer, while the Milk bronzer, although still warm, has a cooler, more neutral undertone. The biggest difference is the packaging. The Milk bronzer is in stick form, which, to me, is a plus. It’s easy to throw in a makeup bag and travel with. You could also cut out the middle man (i.e., the brush) and apply the bronzer directly to your face and blend out with your fingers, if you’re in a rush or if you’re just more of a no-nonsense makeup person.

In addition to the undertone and the packaging, the biggest difference between the bronzers is the pigmentation. If you’re a cream bronzer rookie and are concerned about being too heavy-handed or overzealous, you might prefer the Chanel bronzer which can be built up to have as much or little pigmentation as you want. The Milk bronzer tends to feel more pigmented right off the bat, especially if you swipe the stick directly on your face, but can be sheered out depending on how you apply it. I like to apply both the bronzers with the same Morphy brush which ends up giving in almost identical appearance. In fact, I’ve won both bronzers on the same day to see if there was a noticeable difference in color, wear time, and transfer.

Another plus for Milk? The Milk bronzer comes in two shades, Baked and Blaze, meaning it will work for a wider range of skin tones. The Chanel bronzer only comes in one shade. On this blog, we have to give inclusivity the edge.

THE VERDICT

I love both bronzers and don’t think that you can go wrong with either. Both products are extremely creamy, blendable and pigmented. If you feel like splurging, you can’t go wrong with Chanel. If you can’t afford the Chanel product, the Milk bronzer is almost an exact dupe in terms of formula. We all know that I love a bougie product— and I do enjoy leaving the Chanel bronzer on my vanity as a decoration—but when it comes down to it, think I have to give Milk the edge.

TL;DR

I tried two different bronzers, one luxury and one middle-of-the-road (let’s be honest $28 is still a lot of money for a bronzer) and put them to the test to see which one was better. At the end of the day, I have to give the slight edge to the less expensive product for being equally as good (if not better) and almost half the price. Have you tried either product? Let me know what you think and if you agree with my decision.

February Beauty Favorites

Maybe it was the extra day, but February felt impossibly long to me. I’m so glad that we’ve turned the page and it’s a new month.

Here’s a round up of my favorite beauty products from February.

Tower 28 ShineOn Lip Jelly

 

I wrote an entire blog dedicated to my love of this lip gloss. I can’t get over how great it is. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I wore this lip gloss every single day of February—all 29 days! It’s always shiny but never sticky. This is the lip gloss Lil Mama was talking about, even if she didn’t know it yet.

KAJA Cheeky Stamp Blendable Blush

My Sephora started carrying KAJA products probably a year ago. At the time, I was a ride-or-die powder girl and while this blush, and the K-beauty brand as a whole, intrigued me, I wasn’t ready to take the plunge. At some point within the last year I wanted to revisit the blush, but my Sephora had stopped carrying it and I didn’t want to buy it online without seeing it/feeling it in person.

That’s a really wordy way to say that I saw it in my Sephora a few weeks ago and bought it in the shade Saucy on a whim. I was skeptical about how it would work—especially the heart applicator—how it would blend out and how it would mesh with other products. Turns out, I love it. It gives the most natural, long-lasting flush of color to the cheeks. It doesn’t disrupt any of the other products on my face or move my foundation around. It dries down but stays wet long enough to blend out. I’ve been reaching for this on an almost daily basis and I love it.

Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer in Baked

This bronzer is a really good dupe for a cult-favorite high-end bronzer—and I have a blog coming about that later this week. 😉

I’m not sure when I became such a big fan of cream products, but I have almost entirely stopped using powders. This bronzer is definitely on the warmer side. It’s great for warming up the face, but I wouldn’t recommend using it to contour. It gives the most beautiful sunkissed bronze glow to the face and blends in quickly and seamlessly.

If you’re a no muss, no fuss kind of person, or if you’re in a hurry, you could apply the stick directly to your face and blend out with your fingers, but I prefer to apply with the Morphe M406 brush.

One of my favorite things about this product is that it comes in two different shades.  I use the shade Baked, which is meant for fairer skin tones, but the shade Blaze is a darker bronze that would be suitable for deeper skin tones.

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer in Magic Luminizer

I’ve never really been into “clean” beauty but after trying Tower 28 and loving it, I felt inspired to branch out. I saw this highlighter on the “clean beauty” end cap at Sephora and was really impressed when I swatched it. It’s not a blinding highlight but, to be honest, I think I’m kind of moving on from those? I know, I know. Shocking.

This highlight is glowy without being sticky, glittery or greasy. I’ve applied it a number of different ways, including over finished makeup and under blush and powder products. I’ve found that it doesn’t pill or disturb my makeup, no matter what order I apply it in. I apply it to the high points of my face, including my cheekbones, cupid’s bow, the inner corners of my eyes, and the bridge of my nose. I’ll also apply it to the center of my eyelids if I feel like I need to look more awake.

An important tip: I exclusively apply Magic Luminizer with my fingers. Anything else just doesn’t work, thanks to the emollient formula. You’ll end up with brush strokes all over.

Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer

I’ve mentioned previously that, thanks to my aesthetician completing changing my skin, I’ve been wearing less makeup and embracing a more natural look. That has meant saying goodbye to my full coverage foundations and exploring the world of BB creams, CC creams and tinted moisturizers. Sometimes, light or sheer coverage products are just a little too sheer for me and I find myself wanting just a tad more coverage.

I’ve tried a million concealers over the years, but I’ve never come across one as good at spot concealing as the Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer. Nars foundations don’t typically work for me because they skew really yellow and my skin has more pink undertones. However, I use the shade Creme Brulee in the concealer and it’s almost an exact match to my skin. In fact, a few days this past week I only wear concealer—no other makeup.

This is really a goof-proof product. I like to apply it by dipping my Morphe M173 brush directly into the pot and then blend it out with my ring finger. If you’re in the market for a good spot concealer, this is the one.

Non-Beauty Favorites

McMillions 

Do you remember the McDonald’s Monopoly? My family always collected pieces! It turns out that the entire thing was rigged by an organized crime family and none of the winners were legitimate. This show explores the con that allowed one man to rig the game for an entire decade. A new episode comes out on HBO every Monday at 10 p.m. and it is so good.

Oat Milk

I don’t have any aversion to dairy —health-wise, morally or otherwise—so I’ve never been into dairy alternatives.  I tried almond milk once and was horrified by how gross it was. I also found out that, despite what you may have heard, almond and cashew milks are not better for the environment because of the amount of water it takes to grow the nuts. However, I recently had a latte made with oat milk and it was so damn good that I went to Target and bought some of my own to make lattes at home. I picked up vanilla-flavored Silk Oat Yeah oat milk and it was delicious. It’s perfect for lattes because it’s so frothy and it’s better for the environment. Win/win!

Miranda Frye Jewelry

I bought two charms from Miranda Frye this month. One was a snake pendant that I had been eyeing for a while and another was a gold horn charm that was similar to something I wanted from a different brand but was sold out.

Bling for Your Buck

I bought the charms from Miranda Frye but was looking for a more cost-effective chain. I found these on Amazon and I am obsessed with them. They are really good quality and look expensive, but cost about $12 each. I’ve even gotten a ton of compliments on them. If you’re in the market for a chain, I highly recommend these.

TL;DR

These are the products/things that I was loving in February. Do you use any of these products? If you do, let me know! If you think there’s something missing here that I should try, let me know!