Review: Tarte “Be MATTEnificent” Palette!

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When I first glimpsed the new limited-edition Tarte “Be MATTEnificent” Palette on the shelves of Sephora, I knew it had to be mine! Let’s have a look, shall we?

Exterior of the palette:

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Interior of the palette:

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As you can see, the palette contains 8 matte eyeshadows (two of which are intended as “liner” shades) and one blush, which makes it a multifunctional product. The first thing one notices about all Tarte palettes is the large amount of product housed in each eyeshadow pot, which is always a plus!

I’m now going to swatch and describe each eyeshadow for you:

1) “Sand Out From The Crowd”

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This shade is a light vanilla cream hue — perfect as a base color all over the eye from brow to eyelid.

2) “Pink Outside the Box”

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Light baby pink — ideal as a lid color, base, or brow bone highlight.

3) “Peach for the Stars”

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A cool peach — suitable as a lid, crease, or base color.

4) “Rose to the Occasion”

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Dusty rose mauve. Beautiful as a lid or crease color!

5) “View from the Taupe”

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Cool-toned taupe. Can be utilized as a crease or lid color.

6) “Two Plums Up”

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Dark eggplant/plum shade — can be used as a lid, crease, outer corner, or even liner shade.

To top it off, the palette offers two matte “liner” shades — black and brown, in “Don’t Stand Black” and “Dream in Chocolate” respectively:

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The blush, “Elevated”, a new shade for Tarte, is a neutral dusty pink which, at least in the pan, appears to be universally flattering:

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It provides a natural flush to the cheeks, which can be built up as desired. Modeling the blush:

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This palette has so much to offer — eight eyeshadows, populated with both neutrals and pigmented “pop” shades, and a universally flattering blush! The palette, with its strong lavender and mauve undertones, certainly leans toward the cool end of the spectrum — and thus may best suited for cool-toned ladies. The shades, however, are quite pigmented on the lids and very blendable as well. Blend-ability is the key to any seamless eye look! I was also impressed by the brush which comes with the kit and used that brush to create two sample eye looks below.

Eye Look #1:

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To create this eyeshadow look, I applied “Sand Out From The Crowd” all over the eye from eyelid to eyebrow, on top of Urban Decay’s primer potion. Then, I applied “Pink Outside the Box” to the lid. Next, I applied “View from the Taupe” to the crease and “Two Plums Up” to the outer corner. I finished by lining the lash line with “Don’t Stand Black.”

Eye Look #2:

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To achieve this look, I applied “Pink Outside the Box” as my base color. Next, I applied “Two Plums Up” to the lid, blending it out with “Peach for the Stars” on the crease and “Rose to the Occasion” in the outer corner. I lined the lash line with “Dream in Chocolate.”

I highly recommend this palette! It’s sophisticated and sultry — yet neutral enough to wear to work. If Urban Decay ever decided to make a lavender/plum-themed “Naked” palette, it would look something like this! In addition, a Tarte “Amazonian Clay” blush usually costs $26 alone, so, at $36, this palette is a gorgeous steal. The eyeshadows and blush look just as vibrant at 6pm as they do at 6am when first applied.

This palette is limited edition, so grab it while supplies last!

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Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars

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Available at ULTA, Sephora, and tartecosmetics.com for $36

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The Order of Makeup Application

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The order of applying makeup products is surprisingly critical to any makeup look. I hope to show you why by outlining the order which has been most successful for me.

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1) Moisturizer/Sunscreen: I can’t overemphasize this step! Sunscreen is essential for long-term beauty preservation and, most importantly, for the prevention of the various skin cancers. For very oily-skinned types, it is acceptable to skip this step — as long as sunscreen is incorporated in some other step (i.e. foundation, powder, etc.). A great facial moisturizer for oily individuals is the Cetaphil version, which contains SPF 30 and is readily available at Wal-Mart and most drugstores.

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2) Eye Primer: I never apply eyeshadow without eyeshadow primer because, without it, eyeshadow WILL crease as the day goes on. And that’s just ugly. My favorite is Urban Decay’s eye primer potion!

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3) Eyeshadow: If you’re wondering why I place eyeshadow application before foundation application, here’s why! It’s very common for eyeshadow to flake/fall onto the cheeks during application. If you’ve already applied your foundation, then all your hard work to contour, highlight, etc. is ruined. It’s far easier to apply eyeshadow first then later cover up the fallout with foundation and/or powder.

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4) Eyeliner: Always line the eyes prior to mascara since it is difficult not to smudge mascara if it’s done afterward.

5) Mascara: I prefer to add an eyelash primer to this step since it helps separate the lashes and gives something for the mascara to cling to on the lashes, making for more volume. But it’s not essential.

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6) Foundation: At this point, you can apply foundation, which, as I stated above, will help blot out the eyeshadow fallout inevitably incurred in Step #3.

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7) Concealer:. This is a great time to apply concealer, both underneath the eye and on any blemishes. Applying this product after foundation ensures that the concealer pigment remains bright as foundation is usually darker than concealer.

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8) Powder: I’d advise to only apply powder on areas which become oily during the day (i.e. t-zone) since powder can quickly cake if too much is applied. The exception to this rule occurs if you are applying your sunscreen in this step with an SPF-containing powder; in that case, be sure to dust powder all over the face.

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9) Brow Powder: This step needs to be taken after powder, since the latter will dust over the brows and lighten any product applied there. Strong, but trimmed, brows frame the face.

10) Contouring Powder / Bronzer: Apply to the hollows of the cheeks, the hairline around the forehead, the temples, and the sides of the nose for a chiseled (and slimmer) look.

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11) Blush: Smile, and apply to the apples of the cheeks thus created!

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12) Highlighter: Apply to the top of the cheekbones on either side, on the brow bone underneath the eyebrow, or perhaps along the bridge of the nose. I would not advise applying highlighter on the forehead as it can make you look even more oily/shiny there throughout the day.

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13) Lipliner:. This step is completely optional, and I skip it most of the time since matching lipliner to lipstick is usually a pain. The only exception is when you can apply a lipliner close to your natural lip color and apply a gloss on top — gorgeous!

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14) Lipstick: The most fun step, in my opinion! I had to include this photograph of Elizabeth Taylor applying her perfect red pout! 🙂

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15) Gloss: This step is also optional, but gloss does provide an extra dash of polished femininity to any look!

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See you next time!

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Review: Sephora “Perfection Mist Airbrush” Foundation

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When I first heard about the new Sephora “Perfection Mist Airbrush” foundation from my dear friend Jamie, I was hoping it would be a dupe for the famous Diorskin Airflash spray foundation (which I also own).

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This foundation, likes the Dior version, comes in an aerosol spray can, which you must shake before use:

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There are two ways to apply this foundation.

The most fun way is to spray it directly to your face! The only problem with this method is that you must wrap your head in a towel before you spray to avoid getting the product in your hair.

The second way is to spray it onto your hand or foundation application tool (i.e. the beauty blender, shown here) and then apply it to the face:

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Even applying the product using the latter method results in a truly airbrushed finish, which looks flawless. Perfection mist indeed! The even greater miracle is that powder isn’t even necessary — it looks just as polished and matte late into the evening as it did upon first application. The only flaw I could find in this foundation is the lack of sunscreen.

Bare face –> Foundation applied –> Full makeup

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I will never purchase the Dior version again. Why pay $62 when I can purchase a similar (and even better) product for $26?

This is my new Holy Grail foundation! Thanks, Jamie, for an excellent recommendation! 🙂

Final Verdict: 4.5/5 stars

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Available at Sephora for $26

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Top Makeup Brushes!

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The key to any successful makeup look is the proper set of tools! One can use excellent products and still not achieve professional makeup without good brushes.

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In this post, I’d like to name my top brushes, after MUCH trial and error!

1) Best Foundation Brush: Sigma F80

Sigma has a reputation for producing fantastic makeup brushes. This is the only one I’ve tried — and it’s a winner! The bristles are flat-topped and incredibly soft. This brush allows even a novice to achieve a flawless foundation application. Plus, it’s quick and easy — perfect for those mornings when you don’t have much time for makeup!

2) Best Powder Brush: Mac Kabuki 182 OR Laura Mercier Velour Puff

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This category is a tie! In general, the Mac Kabuki is best for buildable, easy, and natural powder coverage. However, for those who prefer the “porcelain doll” look, pressing powder into the face with the Laura Mercier velour puff is the way to go.

3) Best Eyeshadow (Lid) Brush: Mac 239

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What I love about this brush is the density of its bristles. They are very closely packed, allowing the brush to pick up tons of product! More product = more pigment.

4) Best Eyeshadow (Crease) Brush: Sephora Classic Crease Shadow Brush #73

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This brush is essential to a polished eye look since it’s shaped to work eyeshadow into the crease. The bristles are also very soft, which makes them perfect for blending shadow in this area.

5) Best (Shadow) Eyeliner Brush:  Revlon Double-Ended Smokey Eye Brush

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In general, I’m not too keen on drugstore/Wal-Mart makeup brushes, but this little jewel is an exception. This brush has two ends — a “liner” end for lining above or below the eye with shadow and a “smudge” end for smoking it out. As a bonus, you can use the liner end to darken the eyebrows. Great application — and you can’t beat the price!

6) Best (Gel) Eyeliner Brush:  Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eyeliner

This brush is essential for applying gel eyeliner on the lash line.  True to its name, its ultra fine compact bristles enable you to create everything from a ladylike thin line to a fierce cat eye!

7) Blush Brush: Lancôme Cheek Brush #6

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Excellent for applying a pop of blush to the apples of the cheeks and highlighter to the cheekbones — a true multi-tasker!

8) Best Contour/Bronzer Brush: Sephora Pro Contour Brush #74

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This brush is so easy to use — simply suck in your cheeks and apply bronzer along the hollows with this brush. The application looks extremely professional!

Honorable Mention: The Beauty Blender

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I’m giving this beauty tool “Honorable Mention” status because, although I’ve only been using it a few days, I’m impressed! It truly produces an airbrushed finish. To use, you simply wet the sponge, squeeze the water out of the sponge, apply foundation to the sponge, then buff the product onto the face. The results are gorgeous! The only drawback is that the entire process is time-consuming — and therefore isn’t best for mornings when you are rushing to get out the door.

Until next time!

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Review: Rimmel’s New “Stay Matte” Foundation

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As one of the many girls plagued by oily skin, I’m always on the hunt for the next new “matte” face product. Having read flattering reviews about the new Rimmel “Stay Matte” foundation, I grabbed it after spotting it at my local Walgreen’s!

The product design, which includes a squeeze tube, is hygienic. Here’s a photo for scale:

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The texture of this product is thick and mousse-like, as you see:

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My initial concerns that its dense texture might not lend itself to a smooth application were unfounded. The unique feel of this product reminds me of Revlon’s “Colorstay Whipped” formula. The coverage is what I’d call “high medium” — more extensive than “medium” but not quite “full.” The finish is lovely and matte. Nevertheless, despite what the ad suggests, it will cake if too much is applied; a little goes a long way.

Below, L to R (Bare face –> Foundation applied –> Full face of makeup):

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True to its major claim, this foundation kept oil completely at bay late into the evening.

Overall, if you are an oily-skinned woman on the hunt for a bargain foundation, I would recommend this product for you — although I do think that the Revlon “Colorstay Whipped” and CoverGirl “Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1” foundations are slightly better. Points deducted for lack of sunscreen and tendency to cake.

Final Verdict: 3.5/5

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Available at Walgreen’s & ULTA for $5

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The 7 Deadly Sins of Makeup

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Deadly Sin #1 — Dramatic Eyes AND Dramatic Lips!

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Christina Aguilera’s makeup in the above photo is a disaster. Choose one feature — eyes OR lips — to emphasize each time you apply makeup. If you choose to emphasize eyes, it’s tasteful to rim the eyes with dark eyeliner — as long as you keep lips neutral (Kate Middleton does this all the time!). In contrast, if you choose to emphasize lips, pair bright red/pink/wine-colored lips with more subdued eyes.

Deadly Sin #2 — Lipstick lighter than your lip liner!

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There are several problems, ahem, with the makeup in this picture, but we’ll just focus on the lips! Notice that her lip liner is several shades darker than her lipstick/gloss. This look is not flattering — for anyone! It screams artificiality. Instead, it is far more flattering to match lip liner to lipstick. In addition, you can choose a lip liner which is the same shade, or even a shade darker, than your natural lip color, fill in your lips with the liner, and layer a shiny gloss on top. Very pretty look!

Deadly Sin #3 — Face darker/lighter than your neck!

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This mistake results from matching foundation to your face instead of your neck — and conjures a “mask” effect. Our faces are naturally darker than our necks due to increased sun exposure; this is why foundation must be matched to the neck, despite what well-meaning cosmetics saleswomen will tell you!

Deadly Sin #4 — Wearing blue eyeshadow by itself!

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Ladies, we may think we look good like this, but we end up resembling drag queens instead. It also scares men away — I’ve had this on good authority! If you wish to wear any bold eyeshadow — from blues to greens to purples — you must pair it with a neutral eyeshadow, such as taupes, browns, or grays. (For example, apply the bold shadow to the lid and the neutral shade to the crease.). That’s the only way you can tastefully get away with blue eyeshadow.

Deadly Sin #5 — Too much bronzer!

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Catherine Zeta-Jones is one of the most beautiful actresses today, but sadly she looks like an oompa-loompa — and frankly, a dirty one — in this picture. Bronzer should be applied lightly. The best bronzer application mirrors the natural shadows created by light when it strikes the face. Less is more — always.

Deadly Sin #6 — Concealer lips!

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Emily Blunt looks ill in this photograph. Part of the reason lies in her “nude lips,” which completely wash her out. Fair-skinned women particularly do not look good with nude lipsticks; they are already so pale that the lighter lipstick drains all color from the face. A flattering neutral lipstick, which is versatile enough to match a variety of outfits, is a shade or two darker than your natural lip color.

Deadly Sin #7 — Skipping sunscreen!

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The very best thing you can do for your skin is to wear adequate sunscreen, ideally SPF 30 or greater. Lack of sun protection is at the heart of aging. The New England Journal published the photo above. In this photo, a truck driver’s face is markedly wrinkled on the left, the side exposed to the sun while driving all those years, when compared to the right. It illustrates quite graphically how important sun protection is to beauty and youth. Many drugstore moisturizers (such as Cetaphil) offer ample sunscreen protection — the higher the SPF, the better! Quite a few foundations and powders are now incorporating sunscreen.

‘Til next time!

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Review: Giorgio Armani “Luminous Silk” Foundation

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Having heard so many wonderful things about Giorgio Armani’s award-winning “Luminous Silk” foundation, I knew I had to shell out $60 when I spotted it in Harrod’s during my 2013 London trip.

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The bottle certainly feels luxurious, with a glassy exterior and sleek black pump, complete with the Armani logo.

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Once dispensed, the product has a medium consistency — neither runny nor mousse-like.

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It feels soft once applied to the face with my wonderful Sigma F80 brush. Although the website describes the coverage as “sheer-to-moderate,” I would have to say that the coverage is definitely moderate. The finish is satin — neither dewy nor matte — and quite natural.

Below — Left to Right (Bare Face –> Foundation applied –> Full face of makeup):

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Throughout the day, the coverage endured, maintaining the satin finish. My T-zone remained remarkably free of oil.

Despite lacking sunscreen, this product definitely lives up to its reputation. Nevertheless, I can think of several foundations with a fraction of the price tag which conjure the same effect, namely CoverGirl “Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1” foundation, Revlon “Colorstay Whipped” foundation — not to mention the numerous high-end foundations (such as Lancome “Teint Idole” foundation) which can be purchased for way less than $60.

For this reason, I probably would not re-purchase this foundation. It is worth $20-30, in my opinion.

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars

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Available at the Giorgio Armani website, Nordstrom.com, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

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The 2013 “Diva Awards”

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It’s time for the first-ever “Diva Awards” on this blog!

This will be an annual occurrence in which I will award the best beauty product in each category (in my estimation) for the preceding year.

Let’s get started! 😀

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BEST HIGH-END FOUNDATION goes to…

Lancome “Teint Visionnaire Skin Correcting Makeup Duo”!

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This foundation is truly all-in-one — and universally flattering. Not only does it contain sunscreen (SPF 20) but also a concealer underneath the cap. The color-correcting qualities of this foundation are extraordinary, with the power to cancel redness and scarring like a dream. It’s deliciously creamy on the face and provides moisture to dry/mature skin. While some might fear it would appear greasy on oily skin, this is simply not the case. Instead, it offers a healthy glow instead of a greasy sheen. An incredible product! Worth every penny. See my full review here.

BEST DRUGSTORE FOUNDATION goes to…

CoverGirl’s “Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation”!

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The name of this foundation is apt. It outlasts my energy each day and looks flawless late into the evening. This should be a staple in a working woman’s makeup kit, or anyone who dislikes having to touch up throughout the day. It also contains SPF 20 — always a plus! Full review can be found here.

BEST HIGH-END POWDER FOUNDATION goes to…

Bare Minerals!

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Not only is this foundation very gentle on the face (particularly for acne sufferers), but also furnishes a perfect finish which always looks natural. Coverage is buildable — entirely dependent upon how much foundation you apply. It contains SPF 15 as well. You can’t go wrong with this one!

BEST DRUGSTORE POWDER goes to…

Physician’s Formula “Mineral Wear Talc-Free Face Powder”!

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Although I have not formally reviewed this product, it has been a staple of mine for years. The finish is beautiful (never cakey), and it furnishes SPF 15. It’s ideal to set foundation which doesn’t contain sunscreen. The “mineral” component also ensures that this product is not irritating on the face.

BEST TRANSLUCENT POWDER goes to…

“Coty Airspun” Powder in the shade, “Translucent”!

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This product definitely doesn’t receive all the hype it deserves. Sadly, most people don’t even know it exists! It bestowed a doll-like complexion upon the 1950’s film stars, and it can do the same for you. It’s also a miracle for controlling oil, keeping the face shine-free late into the day. See my full review here.

BEST LARGE EYESHADOW PALETTE goes to…

Urban Decay “Naked 3” palette!

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Packed with rose-gold goodness, this palette is heavenly. The shadows are buttery smooth and uber-pigmented! These neutrals are stunning — and oh-so-romantic! — for work, church, or an evening out. See my review here.

BEST SMALL EYESHADOW PALETTE goes to…

LORAC “Pro-to-Go” palette!

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Complete with 6 pigmented and versatile shadows, two blushes, and a bronzer, this little palette is a win-win. Don’t leave on a trip without this gem tucked into your travel bag! Review here.

BEST UNDER EYE CONCEALER goes to…

Maybelline “Age Rewind” concealer!

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This non-creasing concealer comes with a soft sponge tip which is ideal for applying concealer beneath the eye for brightening. I usually employ the shade, “Brightener,” on regular days and the yellow-based shade, “Neutralizer,” on days when my dark circles make me resemble a raccoon. 😂😂😂

BEST EYELINER PENCIL goes to…

Bobbi Brown “Long Wear Eye Pencil”!

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This pencil provides all beauty of Bobbi’s gel eyeliner formula without its tendency to dry out. The pigment dispenses smoothly along the lash line. The formula is easy to work with, so much so that I’ve even winged the liner to create a lovely “cat eye.”

BEST GEL EYELINER goes to…

L’Oreal “Infallible 24 Hour Gel Lacquer Liner”!

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Before discovering this product, Bobbi Brown’s award-winning gel liner was my favorite. The L’Oreal version, however, stole my heart. This formula is smoother than the Bobbi Brown liner, more pigmented, doesn’t dry out nearly as quickly — with a lower price tag! Perfect for creating those sultry “cat eyes” 😉

BEST HIGH-END MASCARA goes to…

Too Faced’s “Better than Sex” Mascara!

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This mascara bestows bombshell lashes in a single coat, reminiscent of false lashes. It also provides extraordinary length and definition as well. See my review here.

BEST DRUGSTORE MASCARA goes to…

L’Oreal “Voluminous Million Lashes Excess”!

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This mascara is the cheaper version of “Better than Sex.” I’ve tried several drugstore mascaras, including the fabled orange tube from Covergirl. None have rivaled their high-end counterparts…until I found this one. Read my full review here.

BEST BLUSH goes to…

Bobbi Brown!

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These blushes are totally matte and provide a dainty dash of color to the cheeks. It’s the perfect everyday blush, perfect for any occasion. There’s a reason that all the Bobbi Brown models appear so ladylike; the blushes make them looks like dolls. My favorite shades include “Pale Pink,” “Apricot”, and “Sand Pink.” Here’s my review for “Pale Pink,” which Kate Middleton wore on her wedding day.

BEST BRONZER goes to…

It Cosmetics’ “My Sculpted Faced” palette!

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This palette has everything you need for contouring. It contains 4 different shades of bronzer, none of which pull orange and all of which mimic the natural shadows of our face angles. I use this palette every day for contouring. Plus, it also contains a highlighter as well as a matte white shade, which could be used as an eyeshadow base color.

BEST HIGHLIGHTER goes to…

Bobbi Brown “Shimmer Brick”!

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It provides a very natural luminosity when applied to the cheekbones — no chunky disco glitter here! It’s also a versatile product, since the individual rows could be used as eyeshadow as well.

BEST LIPSTICK goes to…

MAC Cosmetics!

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As far as the color range, finish options, and sheer beauty, no brand can beat MAC lipsticks. Whether you’re looking for a seductive red lipstick, a neutral pink for work, or a vampy purple, MAC has you covered. Most are comfortable to wear, with incredible lasting power and pigment. I reviewed my MAC pink/nude lipstick collection here and my MAC red/fuschia/berry lipstick collection here.

BEST LIP GLOSS goes to…

Buxom “Full-On Lip Polish”!

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This lip gloss comes in 28 unique, high-shine shades. It also provides a tingle to the lips reminiscent of a winter mint. In fact, it is so moisturizing that I always tucked one in my scrubs pocket during 28-hour ICU calls!

That’s all! More reviews coming soon 😀

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