Spring Preview! Faves & Recommendations

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 7.37.45 AMChicago in February: 60º one day, blizzard the next, then back to 50º. Nothing says “spring is coming” like this bi-polar weather cycle! After last weekend’s sunshine, I wanted to share with you all some of my all time favorite items that make my springtime makeup routine special. Click on this link to check out this video to see my top spring picks. Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe to my YouTube channel so that you never miss a video!! xoxo

Products mentioned:
* It Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50, $38 (Ulta)
* Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow, $68 (Nordstrom)
* MAC Powder Blush, Pink Swoon, $22
* Too Faced Love Flush Blush, I Will Always Love You, $26 (Ulta/Sephora)
* Laura Mercier Caviar Stick, Copper, $29 (Nordstrom/Dept Stores)
* Colourpop Shadow, Weenie, $5 (colourpop.com)
* Makeup Geek Eye Shadow, Peach Smoothie, $6 (makeupgeek.com)
Makeup Geek Eye Shadow, Poppy, $6 (makeupgeek.com)
* Makeup Geek Eye Shadow, Stealth, $6 (makeupgeek.com)
* MAC Eyeshadow (pro line), Coral, $10
* MAC Cremesheen Lipstick, Creme Cup, $17
* MAC Cremesheen Lipstick, Coral Bliss, $17
* MAC Amplified Lipstick, Vegas Volt, $17
* Urban Decay Glide On Lip Pencil, Bang, $20 (Ulta/Sephora)
* MAC Lip Liner, Rosy Rim, $16.50
* NYX Butter Gloss, Apple Strudel, $5 (Ulta/Drugstore)
* Essie Nail Polish, Blossom Dandy, $8.50 (essie.com)

My Winter Skincare Routine

Like many people in cold climates, my skin suffers from dryness and dehydration in the winter months. I have really struggled to find products to help treat the dryness while also catering to my sensitive skin. Check out this video to find out about some standout products that have helped keep my skin looking healthy and youthful! Don’t forget to comment on my blog with any suggestions you have for future videos. Also, feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you never miss a video!

PRODUCTS MENTIONED (links to online-only products):

First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser (Sephora)
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Moisturizer (Sephora)
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream (Sephora)
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (drugstore)
Michael Todd Blue Green Algae Antibacterial Toner: http://www.michaeltoddusa.com/skin-type/sensitive/blue-green-algae-antibacterial-toner.html
SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel: http://www.skinceuticals.com/hydrating-b5-gel-635494117004.html#start=10&cgid=skin-condition-dehydrated
Kiehl’s Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Eye Cream (Sephora/dept. stores)
Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment (Sephora)
Lush Fresh Face Mask (Love Lettuce & Oatifix – in store only)
Boscia Makeup Breakup Cleansing Oil (Sephora)

Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation (color: 3.0)
Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer (color: Brightening)
Rimmel Stay Matte Powder (color: translucent)
Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette (eyes)
Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara
MAC Blush (color: Modern Mandarin)
Urban Decay 24/7 Lip Pencil (color: Turn On)

Summer Beauty Favorites

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 10.24.13 PM

Summer is my favorite time of year for makeup. Well, I also love autumn. And spring is pretty awesome, too. Basically, I like every makeup season except winter (we’ll get into that later). But summer might be my favorite of all, mostly because it’s a chance to experiment with color, brighten everything up, and break some rules! This summer was a game-changer for my makeup routine because I found a few new products that have become complete favorites. The best news is that most of these items can transition right into fall! Let’s jump right in to the descriptions of my new lovers.

  • Benefit gimmeBROW

    Benefit gimmeBROW

    Benefit gimmeBROW

I have a love/hate relationships with eyebrows.  For one thing, my eyebrows are really, really skinny to begin with. That means that the full brow trend just doesn’t work for me. Also, I tend to dislike massively drawn on brows. Most of the time I think they look fake and draw too much attention to the brows instead of the rest of the face. However, I am of the belief that strong brows can really make or break a makeup look. Brows do lots of important things to help frame the face, so it’s important to consider them when doing the rest of your makeup. So since I don’t like drawn on brows and since my brows are nothing spectacular, I needed a product that would allow me to emphasize my brows without going overboard. Enter the miracle product that is gimmeBROW. This delightful invention is perfect for gals like me because the fibers in the product actually make your brows appear thicker. It’s kinda like putting mascara on your brows (sounds gross, but it is super effective). I find that it helps to provide more bulk to my brows, emphasize them slightly, and allow them to blend in with the rest of my eye look without looking ridiculous. Best of all, it only takes seconds to apply and it is basically fool-proof! The teeny-tiny brush makes the application process simple and less intimidating than trying to draw on eyebrows with a pencil. Benefit gimmeBROW retails at $22 and comes in 2 shades, light/medium and medium/deep. I use medium/deep and find it works perfect for my hair color. You can find Benefit products at Ulta, Sephora, stand alone Benefit stores, and most department stores.

  • Becca Mineral Blush in Damselfly
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Becca mineral blush & SigmaF40 brush

Summertime is my favoritetime for blushes, and I found a bunch of new ones this summer that I have fallen in love with. Topping the charts, though, is this Becca mineral blush in the color Damselfly. Why is it the best of all? Well, to start with, the color is a perfect mix of coral and peach (super warm toned and bright for summer). Secondly, it has a tiny bit of shimmer in it, so it gives the skin a beautiful glow. It isn’t too much glitter, though, so you won’t feel like you’re 14 years old. Most of all, the staying power can’t stop won’t stop. This blush lasts forever on my cheeks! There’s nothing like applying a blush in the morning and still seeing it before you wash your face at night! It’s a bit on the pricey side ($32) but the quality is such that you get a big bang for your buck. You can find Becca blushes at Sephora (insider hint: they are ALWAYS sold out at the stores, so you might have to go online to get these beauties).

  • Sigma F40 Large Angle Contour Brush

Why do I love this brush? Let me count the ways…ONE: the bristles are super soft and pack a punch! One dip in the product and you have enough blush to cover your whole cheek beautifully. TWO: the white bristles are so easy to see the color of the blush you used last. That’s important for me because I try not to mix different blush colors on one blush. Since I can see the color of blush easily, I never accidentally use the wrong brush for the blush of choice for the day. THREE: The shape is perfect! The angle on the brush makes blush (or bronzer) application a breeze because it contours perfectly to your face. FOUR: The quality bristles are soooo easy to clean! Enough said. You can only buy Sigma brushes online (unless you live near the Mall of America). You can visit sigmabeauty.com to purchase the F40, along with dozens of other brushes that most people consider to be superior to MAC brushes, and way less expensive!

  • Lorac Pro 2 Palette

The Lorac Pro 2 Palette launched at the end of July, and I have been wearing it incessantly since Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 4.24.40 PMthen. Lorac’s new palette features cool toned shadows that are so highly pigmented – just one dip in the pan and your brush will be full of awesome product! The palette has 16 colors, 8 matte (top row) and 8 shimmery (bottom row). I can’t even explain how awesome these colors are – they are so easy to blend together and the shades are unique and perfect for all eye colors. My personal favorite shadows within this palette are light brown, cool gray, nectar (!!!), and mocha. I know that I will continue to use this palette as we get further into fall and winter…I can’t wait to rock the navy and jade shades. If you’re in need of a set of neutral eye shadows, you can’t go wrong with this palette. The colors work effortlessly together and they are long lasting on the eyelid, too. You can buy Lorac products at Ulta.

  • Jouer Matte Moisture Tint

Can I just say, thank God for Jouer? This tinted moisturizer has changed my life forever. In the

Jouer Matte Moisture Tint in Linen

Jouer Matte Moisture Tint in Linen

summer, I really don’t want to spend very much time on my makeup in the morning. (Let’s face it, there is to much adventuring to do and spending time on foundation is not high on the adventure list.) Tinted moisturizers make the morning routine a breeze because you can apply it in seconds with your fingertips. Why is Jouer matte moisture tint the best in the land of tinted moisturizers? Well, it’s matte, so you won’t get shiny during the day. Really. You won’t get shiny. I have tried multiple tinted moisturizers (also known as BB creams and CC creams) and have yet to find one that can compete with the richness of Jouer. I also really heart that there is SPF in the product, so it helps protect my skin during the summer months. (Disclaimer: if you’re going to be in the legitimate sun for an extended period of time, this will not be enough protection.) I find that I get very good coverage with this product. It covers all of my freckles and sun spots but it doesn’t look like cakey or make me look like I’m a porcelain doll (we’ve all seen people fall victim to that issue). Also, the tube lasts FOREVER! I have used it every single day this summer and have barely even made a dent in it! So while it is a bit more expensive ($38), you won’t find yourself repurchasing it very often. You can find Jouer products at Nordstrom.

  • Laura Mercier Eye Basics in Peach

    Laura Mercier eye basics in peach

    Laura Mercier eye basics in peach

Ladies. If you have blue eyes, stop everything you’re doing and race to the department store to try out the Laura Mercier eye basics in peach. I’m telling you, it’s a game changer. This product is the perfect eye base for any eye look that features warm toned peaches, browns, and grays. Remember how I said I love the color Nectar in the Lorac palette? Well, this is that same color but in a tube! I love that the applicator is a wand because it makes applying the product super simple. All I do is dab a few dots onto my lids and then blend it out with my finger tips. Sometimes I wear this color all by itself, or I often blend a warm toned brown in the crease (such as light brown in the Lorac 2 palette or MAC soft brown). Talk about an easy routine! The orange undertones of this color make blue eyes pop like crazy! While peach tends to be a spring and summer color, I fully intend on using this product all through the winter, too. It is subtle, fresh, and completely unique. My favorite place to buy Laura Mercier is Nordstrom (because Nordstrom is my favorite place to buy anything), but you can also find it at most other department stores as well as Sephora.

  • Elizabeth & James Nirvana

    Elizabeth & James Nirvana in black

    Elizabeth & James Nirvana in black

The land of fragrances is very confusing to me. It seems a little bit like the world of wine tasting to me. Musk? Floral? Oaky? Nutty? Nuget? Vanilla? Sandlewood? (What is sandlewood, anyway?) All of these terms seem impossible to understand. So I can’t really explain to you why it is I love Elizabeth & James Nirvana in black, but I will just say that it’s awesome. It smells kinda masculine but mostly cottony (that’s probably not a thing) and super sultry (also not a thing). It has been my go-to fragrance for this summer because it is unique and delicious but not overpowering. I tend to wear it mostly at night because, like I said before, it’s pretty sultry. Apparently Elizabeth & James created this perfume, along with their other fragrance, called white, to create a new style of fragrancing (again, not a thing). They intend you to mix the black and white fragrances together to make a custom scent. Well, I personally HATE the white one, so that won’t be happening in my life, but maybe I will be the unique one who doesn’t combine the flavors (flavors? that seems wrong). Also, if you’ve never tried roller ball scents, I highly recommend them! Why? They are cheaper! They are easy for travel! They allow you to try out a scent without committing to a huge bottle! Check out Elizabeth & James at Sephora (and try out the white fragrance, too…maybe you’ll love it!).

So…those are my favorites from the summer! I hope this inspires you to branch out and try some of these items, because they are likely to be life changing for you just as they were for me. As we move into the fall, I am excited to break out my darker lipsticks, my smokey eye looks, and my riding boots. Stay tuned for more product reviews in the weeks to come! I promise they won’t all be high-end products. (I’m not sure why these favorites were all prestige cosmetics. I promise I also love the drug store!) Happy Labor Day to you all, and I hope you find a way to drop the curtain on summer in style!



Brush Essentials: Eyes

Over the years of learning about obsessing over makeup, I have come to the belief that spending money on expensive makeup is just throwing money down the drain if you don’t have high quality brushes to use as your tools. Think about it this way: a shiny new car won’t run if the tires are flat, just like a sexy new eyeshadow won’t blend if you’re using a sponge or a q-tip. So I’m here today to share with you what I believe are the best and most important brushes every girl should have in her collection. I will try to incorporate some budget buys and dupes when possible so you don’t have to break the bank to get the brushes that will transform your life. (Too dramatic? I think not.) So without any further adieu, let’s get started with the first focus in this series: eye brushes!

Most ladies understand that eye shadow is a way to add variety to your makeup and spice up an otherwise routine look. You can wow people by keeping your face makeup the same but switching up the colors of your shadows or liners. Without question, the absolute most important brush to have in your collection is a blending brush. The blending brush will be the ultimate utility brush for your collection because it can do so much! In case you need further verification that the blending brush is a must-have, consider the fact that I have 10 of these bad boys in my brush rotation. (Side note, do not set up a brush intervention for me, I will just ignore you.) You might think that’s crazy, but I use at least one, and more likely two or three, every day.

Best uses for a blending brush:

  • apply powder shadow all over the lid
  • deepen any look by blending a darker color into the crease or corner of the lid
  • use with no product on it to blend shadows together that have been applied with other brushes
  • add a matte bronzer to the sides of your nose to contour and add definition (Woah, that’s not even an eye use!)

My all time favorite blending brushes:

MAC #217 Blending Brush $24

MAC #217 Blending Brush $24

Sigma E25 Blending Brush $14

Sigma E25 Blending Brush $14

Coastal Scents Pro Blending Brush $4.95

Coastal Scents Pro Blending Brush $4.95

And now I’m sure you’re thinking, “Laura, all of those brushes look exactly the same!” Why yes, they certainly do! In fact, when you look at the bristles and the ferrules (the metal section that holds the bristles together with glue) close up, you can’t tell the difference at all:

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Why can MAC charge $24 for a product that costs $4.95 through a competitor’s website?  Because they have name recognition, easy accessibility in department stores, and thousands of people don’t know that there are cheaper brushes out there. But now you know and you won’t ever be fooled!

You’re welcome.

(Disclaimer: some MAC/Sigma brushes truly are superior to the cheaper brands, but the blending brush is not one of those situations.)

The next eye brush that every lady needs in her collection is called a concealer brush. Wait a minute…concealer brushes definitely aren’t for eyes. Oh, but they are! Concealer brushes are the.best brushes for applying cream shadows or blending out eye primers. Concealer brushes tend to be flat in shape with very dense bristles that will easily pick up the cream products and then blend them onto your lid. While it may seem easier to apply cream shadows such as the Maybelline Color Tattoos or the MAC Paint Pots with your fingers, it’s best to avoid this method. Using your fingers can tend to transfer dirt and germs onto your eyelids and back into the jar of product (#gross). Additionally, your finger tips are less precise than the narrow concealer brush, which can lead to improper placement of the product. Here’s an example of a great shape and size concealer brush:

MAC #195 Concealer Brush $24

MAC #195 Concealer Brush $24

If you don’t own any cream shadows, then stay tuned! I’ll write a post soon about how they can change your life. You may as well buy a concealer brush to prepare yourself in advance.

The last two brushes are optional, but if I have my way with you, you’ll soon be singing their praises. Do you ever notice how makeup artists can make their fancy eyeliner look exactly the same on both eyes with no mistakes? Do you think they learn that in beauty school? Nope. They don’t. They have a killer brush that makes the task easy (we’re all a bunch of cheaters).  If you like winged eye liner or even just eye liner that doesn’t come from a pencil, you need to have an excellent angled liner brush. My all-time favorite is the E65 from Sigma (here’s an example where the name brand really is superior to the bargain brands).

Sigma E65 Angled Liner Brush $14

Sigma E65 Angled Liner Brush $14

Finally, another optional, yet totally useful brush is what’s called a pencil brush. Pencil brushes are shaped just like their name implies – they have very dense bristles that are short and come to a point at the end. Pencil brushes are best used to smudge out powder shadows (especially under the lid) or even to smudge eye liners to make them look more smokey. While a pencil brush is too tiny to work on larger areas, it makes a huge difference near the lash line! Pencil brushes are easy to find, you just need to look for ones that have super densely packed bristles. My favorite is the Sigma E30.

Sigma E30 Pencil Brush $14

Sigma E30 Pencil Brush $14

So that’s it! In order to achieve perfect eye looks every time, you just need 4 types of brushes. With these in your arsenal, you’re sure to get the most bang for your buck on the powder, cream, and liner products you have in your collection.  I hope this helps inspire you to add some of these beauties to your toolkit – I promise you will not be disappointed!

Links to products listed above: