Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ulta Beauty 12 Days of Beauty Advent Calendar


Hello, and welcome to the first of my reviews on the 2017 Advent Calendars. They may seem a bit pointless, but here's why you should care.

1. They often go on sale after Christmas and if you like the contents, it might be worth scooping them up.
2. Having done advent calendars for multiple years, they tend to be consistent in terms of quality. So if there's one that interests you, watch out for it in 2018.

This 12-day calendar retailed originally for $18, although I saw it on sale in the $13 range once December began. Each of the 12 items are in boxes rather than paper doors (bonus points for that, Ulta), and they come in this very compact container- with a plastic sleeve to keep the boxes in place.

This kit promises 12 items from the Ulta Beauty line- which if you didn't know, is cruelty free. It's also frequently on sale at Ulta, so never pay full price for an item. This brand has been a sleeper lately- lots of really fun and trendy products.

I'd originally planned to make this a second half of the month calendar (I've got five 24 day calendars and three 12-day calendars if I'm counting correctly without going and looking), but one of my favorite YouTubers decided to open it for her Vlogmas. So, I was going to get spoiled.

Here's a close-up of one of the boxes:

And here's the contents of the calendar:

Day One: Metallic Lip Gloss  (0.04oz) Don't see this formula but lip glosses $9/0.16oz $2.25 value
Day Two: Gel Bounce Eyeshadow (0.06oz) Don't see this formula but appears to be full size $8-8.50
Day Three: Glitter Tears Eyeliner (no size) Appears to be close to full size, don't see formula $10ish
Day Four: Face & Body Glitter (0.06oz) Full size $8/0.19oz $2.52 value
Day Five: Tinted Glossy Balm (0.27fl oz/8ml)
Day Six: Duo Chrome Illuminator (0.11oz/3g) This could be Unicorn, full size is $10
Day Seven: Matte Lip Cream (0.04 fl oz/1ml) Full size is 0.12oz/$9. Could be Courageous $3 value
Day Eight: Clear Brow Gel (0.17fl oz/5g)
Day Nine: Bouncy Blush (0.11oz/3g)
Day Ten: Brow Pencil (0.03oz/0.85g)
Day Eleven:Eyeliner & Shadow Crayon (0.05oz/1.5g)
Day Twelve: Face & Body Gems (what a letdown!)

All in all, would I pay $18 for this bundle? If I was looking for shiny things, yes. I do think I used the $3.50 off $15 coupon on it, making it $14.50 for 12 items. And that's really reasonable. I couldn't work out values on all of them because a lot of these aren't on the website.

This wasn't my favorite calendar, nor was it the best value. That said, I'm going to have fun playing with all of my new goodies.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Becca Apres Ski Eyeshadow Palette

Today I have a product I wasn't going to buy to share with you.

I think I went through at least five different stages with this palette. First, I was intrigued. Then, I saw more photos and was underwhelmed. Next, I reconsidered the palette. I waffled back to a hard pass. Finally, in the haze of a 20% off coupon and one remaining palette on the shelf it came home with me.

For the record, it's more reflective packaging, so photographing it is a joke. It's got that same icy pattern as the face palette, but it's golden instead of blue.

So, let's really dig into the Becca Eye Lights Palette from the Apres Ski Glow Collection.

This eye palette contains seven shades of eyeshadow inspired by the Shimmering Skin Perfectors. This retails for $45, and I picked mine up at Ulta. It's been on sale (probably because it hasn't sold well) for $29 almost the entire holiday season. If I hadn't gotten mine on sale, I'd be mad.

As I mentioned, it's reflective. Argh.

In terms of product, you receive a total of 9.8g of product.

Opening it up, there's a nice, large mirror- and round pans that could've either been bigger or in a smaller palette. Tons of wasted space here.

Funny story: this is the best shot I got of the palette without me in it, and I had essentially dropped it on the ground in frustration. See the shoe heel?
Let's look at this a little more zoomed in:

That's reflecting my background, but in terms of color saturation it's spot on. That's what you're going to get, minus the reflected pattern. I'm loathing these holiday shiny palettes this year.

This is the cleanest shot, but #2 is the truest to color.

Clearly they could've adjusted the size of the pans or the size of the palettes.

Let's get into the shades. There are two holiday-themed shades to complement the shades we know and love.

  • Pearl (soft, luminescent white w/ satin finish)
  • Rose Quartz (soft pink w/ shimmer finish)
  • Topaz (radiant, golden bronze w/ shimmer finish)
  • Opal (neutral white gold w/ shimmer finish)
  • Moonstone (pale, incandescent gold w/ shimmer finish)
  • Toasted Marshmallow (taupe brown w/ satin finish)
  • Hot Cocoa (warm burgundy w/ satin finish)

The first day I tested this, I used three of the shades on my eyes: Pearl in the inner corner, Moonstone in the inner lid, and Opal all over. I paired it with some light makeup because I had to do a presentation at work. I was obsessed with the light and fresh look that this produces. I looked youthful and just... alive. (Lashes are Stila Huge Lash and mine. Side note: I should repurchase that mascara. Dang.).

After some additional reflection, I'm happy to have this and think it's perfect for my M-F life. Although I adore color, truthfully I need to keep things pretty tame in my office. I push it to the limit, but I'm a huge fan of easy neutral palettes. I can see this being a great companion to my Viseart Matte palettes, for example. I've continued to reach for this when I want a pretty, glowy, neutral look. To be 100% honest, you can get a nice look using the highlighters on your eyes. That said, there's something about this palette that just works for me. I think it'd be a nice gift.

Here's a swatch of almost all of them... for some reason I didn't swatch Pearl. Sorry about that, but not redoing the swatches at this point since I've been avoiding reviewing this for over a month.

In short, a basic, glow-filled neutral palette. It's nice, and performs well. It's already getting lost in my collection and I feel Becca could've done better. That said, I'm sure I'll get plenty of use out of it and at the sale price it might be a nice add-on to a Christmas gift.

A Few Updates, and Mystery Solved!

I know the blog has gone quiet, and that's been out of my hands. I've been working 12 hour days and simply ran out of content. I'll have all of today to finish the posts I've been working at here and there, though.

So, one of the most popular posts on the blog is when I posted about my allergic reaction. I now know without a doubt what caused it...



I'm sitting here with a puffed up eyelid right now. I went reaching for the NYX when I couldn't find my Too Faced.

Mystery solved.

I'll try to get as many posts done as I can today, but my eye is really hurting me.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

MAC Eye Brows in Spiked

Confession: Although I'm still angry and feel mistreated as a consumer by Boxycharm, I let my subscription (that magically restarted) go through September. One of the items in the September 2017 box was this brow pencil- MAC's Eye Brows in Spiked.

This is a currently-available product. Spiked is one of ten shades available from MAC for $18, and the brand calls it a "rich brunette."

For that $18, you get 0.09g/0.003oz of product in a twist-up mechanical pencil. I'm partial to my ABH Brow Whiz, but decided to try this because brow products are essentially the only MAC product I've yet to try.

This is a tiny tip. I really like the tip- it's smaller than anything else in my collection. Here are comparisons to both ABH Brow Whiz and the L'Oreal Brow Stylist Definer:

Left: ABH Brow Whiz v MAC
Right: L'Oreal Brow Definer v MAC

I LOVE this teeny tiny tip and that's what sets this product apart from everything else. My brows are naturally quite lacking, so these teeny-tipped brow products are my favorite to add a little something without full-on Instabrows.

Look, brows aren't my strong suit. I could ignore that they exist, or I could share good products with you....

Spiked isn't my ideal shade, but it's close enough that I'll be using this guy up- and probably nabbing another brow pencil from MAC in the future.  I went through my brow collection and couldn't find an exact dupe currently in my collection. Here's a comparison of all of the similar products:

I see three drawbacks with this product. First, the teeny tip means that it will take some time to do your brows. I don't mind, but I know that's a deal for some people. Second, I think this product will be used up relatively quickly because of the formula and the tip. That said, it has slightly more product than the ABH Brow Whiz (0.09g vs 0.085g for $3 less). Third, there's no spoolie on the packaging. Grumble.

Bottom Line: This is a totally unexpected love for a more natural brow. I'll be more likely to take a look at MAC's offerings in the future.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Dose of Colors Lip Gloss in Undressed

Today is another of those quick posts that I bring to the table every now and then- a quick feature on a permanent collection item.

Today, let's talk about Dose of Colors Lip Gloss in Undressed. This isn't my first review of the line (see my review of Bellini here), but the color and experience is quite a bit different than the last.

As a reminder, for $15, you receive 0.16oz of highly pigmented lip gloss. These are high shine, and Undressed is the pure nude of the range.

Yes. these are in the same tube as the liquid lipsticks.

Undressed is a terror on my lips alone, so we're going to stick to swatches here:

On my pigmented lips, it looks like scary concealer lips- but shiny. So, that's a no-go. That's what all shades like this look like on me- so it's ok.  These types of shades work best when mixed with a lipstick or a liner underneath. That's why I didn't want to show it on my lips because it's not accurate.

I like this gloss formula, but it is heavy. This isn't a weightless formula by any means, but I like the effect. I think I'm good in terms of the current available collection with the two shades that I own.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Urban Decay Naked Skin Highlighting Fluid in Sin

I don't normally review samples, but that's what we're doing today. I recently picked up a deluxe sample of Urban Decay's Naked Skin Highlighting Fluid in Sin from Sephora when it was offered as a 100-point perk.

Given my multiple, repeated complaints about not liking liquid highlighters, this is perfect-sized for me. This sample is 3.4g/0.12oz; the full size consists of 6g/0.21oz for $28.

Sin is the classic nude highlighter with a slight gold sheen- it's very appropriate for most situations.

I found it a little odd that this has a wand, like the concealer and the color corrector.

It does make it easy to swatch, though.

Here's what Sin looks like, blended out.

I'm going to set aside my aversion to liquid highlighter to talk about this objectively. I still continue to struggle with it in my regular routine, but this is slightly blingy for a no makeup look. That said, I'll get some usage out of this. I think it's really pretty.

It does last most of the day on me, and I continue to find unique ways to work liquid highlighters into my routine.

MAC Lipstick in Dare You

Time again for another one of my quick hit posts where I talk about a single permanent collection item.

Today I'd like to share with you MAC Lipstick in Dare You.

Let's be honest. Due to the sheer size of MAC's permanent collection, quite a few shades tend to get lost. There's visual overload by visiting a MAC counter, so I'm still learning about different shades.

Dare You was an impulse purchase after reading a Racked article entitled 13 Easy Ways to Look Like You Have Your Shit Together. Sold.

Dare You, a Cremesheen lipstick, weighs in at 3g for $17.50 after the latest MAC price hike (wow). According to MAC, Dare You is a "deep brown red."

I think it's glorious for fall/winter.

I'll readily admit to being hesitant to embrace the brown lipstick trend again, but shades like this have me all-in. I'm also one of the few cremesheen fans because of their balmy texture. I'll happily reapply time after time if my sensitive lips don't get dried out.

Let's go to the swatch.

Dare You also hits the metallic/pearlized trend just a bit. It just screams fall/winter to me, to be honest. This has been in hot and heavy rotation ever since I purchased it in late September.

Yeah, that's the type of shade that makes the wearer look like they have their shit together. Nicely called, Racked.

Do you have any lipsticks that are a go-to like that? Or have you discovered a new permanent MAC lipstick lately?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Dior Diorific Vernis 809 Emerald for Holiday 2017

So, there's a story with this nail polish.

Dior has been releasing these bauble-like nail polishes as a part of their Diorific Vernis line every holiday. I think I bought the full collection a couple of years, but my attention has been dwindling due to shade repetition.

Then I saw 809 Emerald.

Whoa, that's a green.

Somehow, in my sleep deprivation, I thought "there's no way it doesn't dry down darker than the bottle looks.

Three coats later at 1AM Monday morning, I was proven to be an idiot.

This is truly the most authentic representation of an actual emerald gemstone. It's breathtaking. It layers well and doesn't show many streaks.

There are three coats, no topcoat on my nails here:

But work friendly it is not. So off it went, to be replaced by a more work-friendly green. Dior Emerald is more of a weekend, right before Christmas, or St. Patrick's Day shade for me.

This retails for $28 and is one of four limited edition shades in Dior's holiday 2017 collection. I may have to go back for one or two more.

I think this is the most excited I've been about Dior in some time.

And this post, today, is dedicated to the most ardent lover of green that I will ever know. I miss you and love you. You'll never be forgotten.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Dose of Colors Lip It Up in Brulee

I have a quick post today to share with you- an offering from one of my favorite indie brands.

I was lucky enough to literally run into this at a local Ulta; I wasn't sure what color to purchase when perusing online.

Say hello to Dose of Colors Lip It Up Satin Lipstick in Brulee.

According to the brand, the Lip It Up formula is a satin lipstick. For $17, you receive 0.11 oz. Brulee is classified as a pinkish beige.

These are in lovely rose gold, thin and elongated tubes. The most interesting part is the design of the lipstick itself.

Yes, it's square and angular. It allows for a more precise line, especially given the formula. Overall, I find this formula to be on the stiffer side in terms of traditional lipsticks. I'm eager to try Dose of Colors' regular lipsticks so I can compare formulas.

Brulee is the most wearable, everyday shade in the range (IMO).

It pulls a lot lighter on my lips due to pigmentation.

I like it, but it's not something I find myself reaching for out of habit. I prefer a more emollient lipstick formula. Still, I'm so happy to have ran into it so I could try it for myself.

Wear time is what you'd assume for a standard lipstick.

If you get a chance to see these in person or fall in love with a color, I recommend checking out the line. It's not my favorite, but I need to make myself use it more.

Becca Sunlit Bronzer in Capri Coast and Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Opal

I'm a couple of months late with these, but not everyone's paper white. I wanted to share two favorites that I discovered while self-tanned to about a NW18-20 this past summer- both from Becca. I'm quite late to this train, but that's ok.

Both of these products come in the classic Becca packaging. I think you can tell which one's the bronzer.

First, let's talk about that bronzer that I fell in love with this sumer.  Becca released a collection of Sunlit Bronzers ($38, 7.1g/0.25oz) earlier this year. I fell in love with Capri Coast.

Capri Coast is the second-lightest bronzer, making it way too dark for me at the moment but perfect for summer. Like all other Becca products, the compact is stunning and the pattern on the powder is so pretty.

Most importantly, here's how it looks, swatched,

Capri Coast is a warm golden bronze that imparts some golden sheen to your face. I could possibly dust a thin layer on this- especially if I've just redone my hair. I love the sunkissed effect that it gives. I need to stop thinking about using it- it's October!

The other super-basic favorite that I stumbled onto is the cult classic Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal ($38, 8g).

Normally, I'm a Moonstone girl. But being self-tanned, I finally got why Opal's so universally loved. It just does wonderful things to your skin if you've got the correct tone. I normally don't have that correct complexion.

Aren't pristine pans lovely?

Here's Opal, swatched against my current NW13-15 skin. You can see why I've always stayed as far away as possible.

I'm happy to have both of these in my collection, and I think they'll make summer a bit more tolerable next year. I'm sorry that I stumbled on them rather late (late July), so they'll get lots of use in Summer 2018.

Just looking at these two makes me a little sad. I loathe summer, but I loved feeling like a bronzy, glowy goddess with this pair from Becca. They're a bit pricey, but worth it.