Anastasia Beverly Hills - Master Palette by Mario

Saturday, October 15, 2016

I bought the Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario after waffling back and forth about it. I haven't purchased any palettes since the Nordstrom sale a few months ago, and to be honest, have been having a bit of palette fatigue (if that can be a thing). It just feels like every brand is making these huge palettes all the time now, and I am getting a bit tired of the constant barrage.

I was drawn to the Mario palette for a few reasons. It is a slightly more edited palette. There are twelve shades, but Lorac just released a palette that has 32 shades, so this does feel smaller in comparison to some of the others out there. I like that the collaboration is with a real professional, working makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic. It seems like so many collaborations recently have been with Youtube sensations that hold themselves out to be makeup artists, but many really only do makeup on themselves. I may not really like some of Mario's clients, who shall remain nameless, but I do like his overall aesthetic and appreciate that the brand reached out to someone actually working in the industry. The more neutral color scheme was probably the biggest draw for me. The colors are ones that are actually wearable in real life. As much as I might think a palette with all sorts of bright colors is pretty, I will not get use from something like that.  

I have heard good things about the products from Anastasia Beverly Hills. Prior to this, I only have purchased one item from the brand, Brow Wiz. The shadows themselves are nicely pigmented. I have noticed that there is a lot of kickup in the pans when you place brushes in them. You really have to try to not move the brush around a ton because the powders are really soft. The only one that is problematic is Kim. When I went to swatch it with my finger, I sort of smashed the powder, even though I did not really push very hard (at all). The overall softness of the shadows isn't awful and is somewhat forgivable given how well the shades blend, but they really shouldn't crumble like that. Fortunately, that shade seemed to be the only one that is overly soft.

The brush that is included is decent. I like the fluffier side better and find that it works well for blending the shades into the crease. The colors are very blendable and lasted all day on me when tested. I got 6 hours of wear time without using primer and 13 hours using primer. Please keep in mind I have oily lids, so nothing lasts that very on me without primer. 


Top Row:

Bottom Row:

Other than some small issues with the softness of the shades, I really am very happy with this purchase. I like the neutral colors and the blendability of the shades. This does have me interested in other Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadows. I know you can build your own quads and that may be something that I try in the future. I purchased the palette from Anastasia's website (for some reason it is not showing up on their site now - not sure if it is sold out), but it is also now available at Sephora. The cost of the palette is $45.  The shadows are made in the US according to the package and the brand is cruelty-free. How do you feel about the deluge of palettes being released?

Recent Fragrance Purchases - Commodity Gold and Elizabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon

Saturday, October 8, 2016

As the seasons change, I invariably start reaching for heavier scents. I picked up two fragrances recently that I think will be good as we transition into fall. Commodity Gold is something I have had on my wishlist for some time now and I finally decided to try it out. Elizabeth and James expanded their line a couple months ago and added two new fragrances, Bourbon and Rose. I chose the Bourbon version. 

Commodity Gold Notes (from Sephora): 
Bergamot, Juniper Berries, Camphor, Amber, Haitian Vetiver, Benzoin, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Tonka Bean, Nubian Musk. 

Commodity Gold is a fairly strong scent. I think it is interesting that this is in the White Collection, as that collection is supposed to be light and airy scents. This is not - it is definitely more heavy and it lasts a long time. I purchased the smaller version, which is actually a spray and not a rollerball. I can only do one spritz of this. Any more than that and it is too strong for me. On me, this goes directly from the amber notes down to the vanilla and musk. I do not get any of the juniper or bergamot. It is a nice scent that I like a lot, but given how strong it is, I'm not sure that I will repurchase.

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon Notes (from Sephora):
Vanilla Bourbon. Oakwood. Tuberose.

I love my Elizabeth and James Nirvana scents in White and Black, so I had high expectations for this one as well. Bourbon does not disappoint. It is a creamy vanilla bourbon, but the bourbon note is definitely there. If you dislike the smell of bourbon, you should really try in store first. This is kind of reminiscent of Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, in that the vanilla is very dark and intense (this is way less expensive and lacking the tobacco note, sadly). The rollerball is perfect, as I really like putting stronger scents on pulse points, rather than spraying my clothes. Staying power with the roller version was great. It has lasted a full day each time I have tried it. I saw some reviews on Sephora complaining about the scent fading quickly, so I wonder if the difference is the spray vs. roller. 

Switching to deeper scents is making me happy about the season change. I love fall, but not really looking forward to the snow that will shortly follow. Do you wear the same scents year round or switch based on seasons?

Tata Harper Cleaners - Purifying Cleanser and Nourishing Cleansing Oil

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

I love skincare products, cleansers especially. I like the feeling of a clean, but not stripped, face. Two cleansers that I have been absolutely loving are from Tata Harper. Tata Harper is a green beauty line that emphasizes using natural products, many of which are grown on her farm in Vermont. The brand is cruelty free and utilizes tons of organic ingredients, with no synthetic dyes or fragrance. I picked up these two cleansers a couple months ago as a foray into the line and they are both so good.

The Purifying Cleanser is meant to remove buildup and impurities from the skin. The first thing I noticed was how amazing this product smells. It is very clean and fresh - it has a lemon scent that is noticeable, but not overpowering. It contains Kaolin clay, but the clay is balanced with nourishing ingredients like Aloe and various plant oils. The cleanser is purifying, but not drying. I find that so many products that are made to remove impurities from the skin just leave the skin very dry. This does not. My skin feels clean after, but not tight or dry.

Close up of the Purifying Cleanser:

The Tata website states that you can use the Nourishing Oil Cleanser to remove makeup, and I am sure that it can do that, but I prefer to use dedicated makeup removers for that purpose, for a few reasons. Makeup removers, such as Clinique Take the Day Off, Pixi Nourishing Cleansing Oil, Boscia Makeup Breakup Cleansing Oil, etc. are made for the specific purpose of removing makeup, so they do an amazing job of it. Also, makeup removers tend to be cheaper. The Tata cleanser is $68, and for that price, I do not want it to do the job of a less expensive product. I want this to actually be on my skin.

The Nourishing Oil is great at cleansing the skin, but keeping it moisturized. I have combination skin and this cleanser is like a dream for me. It cleanses the oily parts, but does not dry out the rest of my skin. If you have oily skin, oil cleansers are amazing. I know I spent a ton of years buying everything oil free, but all it did was strip my skin, which led to more oil production. This cleanser removes what it needs to, but does not take away the natural moisture that skin should have. My only complaint about this cleanser is the pump. For some reason, and this does not happen on my Purifying Cleanser, the pump locks up and/or shoots product out. I really hope Tata works on the pump for this, as the cleanser is amazing, but the pump drives me a bit nuts. I have had to become an expert in catching the cleanser when it comes shooting out.

Close up of the Nourishing Cleansing Oil:

I am really loving the Tata Harper range of cleansers. I feel that the ingredients are high quality and they perform very well. I have a couple of their masks and they work really well for me. I tried the Rejuvenating Serum, but it did not react well with my skin and I had a bad cystic acne breakout from it. I am looking forward to trying the Clarifying Moisturizer, as they made it with acne-prone skin in mind. I am hoping I will have a better experience with that. What have you tried from the Tata Harper line?

BYREDO Perfumed Oil - Bal D'Afrique

Saturday, October 1, 2016

I purchased Byredo's Bal D'Afrique earlier this year when I was at a conference in Las Vegas. The Barneys there had most of the Byredo line and I finally got to smell the scents in person. The entire line is beautiful, but I completely fell in love with Bal D'Afrique. To me, it is a really original scent and I have not smelled anything even remotely similar before.

Bal D'Afrique Roll-on Oil  Notes (from Luckyscent):
Bergamot, lemon, neroli, african marigold, bucchu, violet, jasmin petals, cyclamen, black amber, musk, vetiver, moroccan cedarwood

This is truly a scent that is hard to describe and it really changes over time. I get a lot of marigold initially and then later it definitely gives off more amber and cedarwood, but scents develop differently depending on body chemistry. You can buy samples from Luckyscent for a reasonable price, so that is something worth doing if you are not near a counter that has this for you to try.

The scent comes in a spray version, which is available in two larger sizes and a trio of travel sizes, and a rollerball oil version that is $78 for 7.5ml. I chose the oil as I had a carry on bag, but I very much like that it is an oil versus a liquid. The scent lasts a long time with the oil (I am talking upward of 14 hours without reapplying), but it is not overly strong. The packaging does make it sort of tricky to get the oil out. You have to rub the rollerball pretty hard to get product onto the skin. On the opposite side though, I traveled with it and had no leakage, which is impressive for an oil. I guess the difficulty getting product on is the trade off for no leakage.  I am fine with it as it keeps me from over applying, which has happened to me with some rollerballs where a lot of product comes out.

Overall, this is a scent that I really love and am so happy that I purchased. I did get some samples of a few other Byredo scents, but they are more floral so I will probably wait until Spring to see which one I want to purchase. Have you tried anything from Byredo?

Pixi Lip Lift Max - Petal Ice

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I bought the Pixi Lip Lift Max one day when I was replenishing my Glow Tonic toner (try it if you have not - it is one of the best acid toners). I love glosses and the formula seemed promising. The product is described as a volumizing lip treatment with a glossy finish.

The gloss does have a nice cooling/tingling sensation.  I know that turns some people off, but it does not bother me.  It performs really well on its own and layers nicely over lipstick. It is fairly sticky, but I find that stickier glosses tend to have better lasting power and that is true with this one as well. I can get a few hours out of it depending on how much I eat/drink. Swatch on the lips below.

The main issue I have with this one is the price. The first thing I noticed was that the packaging makes it seem like there is more product than there actually is. The package the gloss is encased in is a normal size, but when you look at the package, you will notice that the tube has a large amount of plastic and a smaller amount of product in the middle. The part where the product is housed is barely larger than the wand.

In the Pixi gloss, you get .09oz/2.7g for $14, which is fairly expensive comparatively speaking. Price per ounce for Pixi is $155.56. I pulled three different glosses for comparison from Buxom, NARS, and Chanel. You can get a full size Buxom Full On lip polish, which is .15oz of product, for $20. If you look at price per ounce, that is $133.33, significantly cheaper than Pixi. NARS lipgloss is .18oz for $26, which is a price per ounce of $144.44, which is also cheaper than Pixi! Chanel lipgloss retails for $30 for .19oz (and they make a plumping lipgloss for that price, if you are interested in that). That is a price per ounce of $157.89, which is only marginally more than Pixi. I feel that the Pixi is definitely over priced for what you are getting, especially since it is not really marketed as a luxury brand. They are keeping the price low by giving you a small amount of product, but once you really break it down to price per ounce, you are paying a luxury price for a product you are buying at Target.

I feel that this gloss is good quality, but for the money and what you are getting, I would rather spend a little more up front, actually save money in the long run, and get a different product. I don't regret this purchase, but now that I have done the price breakdown, I will not be repurchasing this in the future. Pixi will still be getting plenty of my money from their Skintreats line, as I love Glow Tonic, the Nourishing Cleansing Balm, and H2O Skindrink. If you have not checked out their skin products yet, I highly suggest you do. Those are very high quality and reasonably priced. Let me know if you would like a review of those products.

Marc Jacobs Beauty Air Blush Soft Glow Duo - Flesh & Fantasy

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Marc Jacobs launched the Air Blush line a couple months ago. It is marketed as a palette that lets you use either side individually or combining the shades, thus giving you three color options from the one blush. As an aside, I had to chuckle at the description stating that this gives a "dance-floor flush" because it has been some time since my clubbing days, which makes me feel old. I digress... I chose the color Flesh and Fantasy, as it seemed like a nice neutral to see if I like the formula and I am definitely not disappointed.

The blush itself is housed in a nice shiny black package. It is plastic, but does not feel cheap. I like the metal push button opener; it feels more special than just pulling the blush case apart. The pan is a really large size, which is nice considering the cost of the blush is $42. You can sweep the color on the left side for a lighter, more highlighted shade, or the right side for a deeper blush. The brand recommends sweeping a brush over the palette vertically to get the colors from the sides, which I did find worked pretty well. If you are truly looking to get only one of the colors without any hint of the other, you are going to need to squeeze your brush to do so.  The color is a light, nude blush that I can pair with more vibrant eye or lip looks. It lasted all day on me when tested.

Close up of the pan:

Swatches below. All swatches in order of first photo.


Indoors (no flash):

Indoors (with flash):

I am happy with this purchase, as I like the customization aspect of the blush. It has a really nice finish and blends so well. The shimmer is noticeable but not overly dramatic, and it can be worn during the day/at work. If you are looking for a neutral blush that adds a light flush to the skin, you should definitely look into this. I purchased mine at Sephora, but it is available at Marc Jacobs Beauty stockists. There are four other shades available if you like the idea of the palette, but not this particular shade.  Have you tried any new blushes lately? Any tried and true favorites?

CHANEL Fall 2016: Joues Contraste Evening Beige and Rouge Profond

Saturday, September 17, 2016

After loving the Candeur et Experience eyeshadow palette from the Chanel Fall Collection, I purchased two of the blushes. I chose Rouge Profond, which is from the Le Rouge Collection, and Evening Beige, which is from the Ultra Wear Flawless Collection. Rouge Profond is a pretty true red and Evening Beige is not, as the name implies, beige, but more of a warm coppery tone. I like that they are both warm colors that have a Fall feel to them. 

Both colors have a great level of pigment and show up on skin without having to build up the product. Evening Beige is a bit more sheer than Rouge Profond. They both blend easily on the skin and lasted a full work day without any fading. Evening Beige has a shimmer in it that is noticeable, but it is not glittery. Rouge Profond is more of a matte shade. 

Close ups of the pans:

Evening Beige:

Rouge Profond:



Direct sunlight:

Outdoors in shade:

Indoors (no flash):

Overall, I am happy with all of my picks from the Chanel Fall 2016 Collections. I really love the colors and feel that while they are different than what I would normally choose, they are very wearable. The quality is superb, as is typical from Chanel. Have you tried any new blushes recently?

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit - Surreal Light

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit in Surreal Light was one of those instant purchases for me. I love Hourglass powders and think that the quality is amazing. The palette is housed in a marble printed case and contains 5 pans of product. Although the marble is pretty (and, let's face it, Instagram worthy), I think I would have preferred to keep the metal packaging. To me, the metal seems more luxe than a marble printed plastic case and is also in keeping with the overall aesthetic of the brand, but that is more personal preference than anything else and does not affect the quality of the product inside.

I have to say, I think this palette is better suited to the lighter side of the skin tone spectrum. I am light-medium and the only items that show up really well on my skin are the Surreal Effect Blush and the Surreal Strobe Light. The Finishing Powder that takes up the left side of the palette is meant to blend into skin, but if you have a darker complexion, this may make you look ashy (I would definitely recommend trying in store). The middle column sort of blends into my skin and is hard to see. All of the powders blend well and are buttery soft. They each lasted all day on me when tested.

I definitely take exception to them labeling/marketing this palette as universally flattering - the bronzer is too light for my skin, and I am on the lighter side. What would someone with medium to dark skintones use it for? One thing I have noticed is that Hourglass has not seemed to put out a palette for medium-dark complexions, and I really think that they need to. Their powder products are, to me, the highest quality on the market and it is a shame that they are under-serving such a large part of the market.

As with the palette from last year, the pan sizes are really small. I wish they would go back to the trios or use this size palette and make it a quad. It is really difficult to dip a brush into this and not pickup the adjacent powders. The size would not be as much of an issue for a different product, but bronzer, blush, and highlighter fan brushes all tend to be larger. You basically have to squeeze your brush to dip it in the pans, which I am not a fan of doing.

One thing that is a bit odd to me is how they labeled/numbered the palette. I would think that normally you would start at the left, which they did, and do the top row first, then bottom. They did not do that. The far left pan is 1, which makes sense, but then 2 is actually the bottom middle shade, then it goes up to the top middle shade, over to the top right shade, and down again to the bottom right shade. See diagram below. Most people that I have seen swatch it did not do it in that order. I did not either, which is why I labeled the swatches below with the numbers. That is something they should probably think about for next time, as it can make it confusing for people who are trying to look at swatches.

Palette Swatches. All swatches in order of first photo.

Outdoors in full sunlight:

Outdoors in shade:

Indoors (no flash):

I pulled some of my other Hourglass Palettes and individual items so you can see how the new palette compares to some existing products. First, the blushes. I swatched two blushes from the new palette, an individual blush in Radiant Magenta, and two of the blushes from the Ambient Lighting Blush Palette, Luminous Flush and Incandescent Electra. In case you are looking for dupes, if Radiant Magenta and Incandescent Electra had a baby, it would be the Surreal Effect blush. 

Blush swatches. All swatches are in the order of the first photo.


Indoors (no flash):

For the bronzer, I pulled the Hourglass Luminous Bronze Light (reviewed here). Surreal Bronze Light is noticeably lighter than the Luminous Bronze Light bronzer, which was already made for lighter skin tones. It really does not show up on my skin tone very well as a bronzer. For me, it acts more as a nude blush, but even then it is very hard to see. See swatches outdoors in full sunlight:

I used the Ambient Lighting Palette highlighters as comparison shades for the highlighters/finishing powder in the Ambient Lighting Edit. See swatches below:

Overall, this palette is very pretty, and the quality, as always, is incredible. I do wish the pan sizes were larger and would love to see Hourglass put out a new trio or a quad, instead of trying to cram 5-6 powders into one palette. I probably should have waited to see this in store because I most likely would not have purchased it, as a lot of the colors are really hard to see on my skin tone. If you have a lighter skin tone, run out and buy this - you will not regret it. I would absolutely love this if the colors showed up on my skin better. Medium to darker skin tones really should test in store to see how the colors work on your skin.

The palette retails for $80 and is sold at Sephora and Hourglass. What are your thoughts on this palette?

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit - Surreal Light - Sneak Peak

Saturday, September 10, 2016

I thought I would give everyone a quick peak at the new Hourglass Palette. I just received it, so I will be testing each of the items separately to see how they wear and will provide a full review next week. I will make sure to include some comparison swatches with other Hourglass powders in the full review so you can see if you already have Hourglass items that are similar. For now, I am previewing some swatches of the palette. Initial swatches seem to be of the usual Hourglass quality, as their highlighters are on the more subtle side of the spectrum. 

Reverse of the palette:

See swatches below.

Outdoors in sunlight:

After just the initial swatching, I think that if you have more of a fair complexion, you will most likely find this very flattering. I think it may wash out or look ashy on darker skin tones. Stay tuned for the full review.