Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Product Review: Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer

I am not someone who can be bothered with primers on most days.  Part of it is laziness, but mainly it's because I feel like so many primers are gimmicky and ineffective.  For my combination/oily skin, I tried many products out there before concluding that there's not a miracle product out there that would make a big difference to the longevity of my makeup.

Then I received a sample size of Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer with a Sephora purchase and used it without really thinking anything of it.  My first impression was wow, that IS really smoothing.  Applying makeup was a dream, my brush just glided along effortlessly.  The real test came around midday at work.  While I wasn't completely matte, the shine showing through was minimal but I was really impressed at how fresh my foundation looked!  Since using that small sample size, I purchased the smallest bottle of the primer available.  

This is some serious heavy duty stuff--I've not found a primer that comes close to keeping my makeup on for so long or making a  noticeable difference to where I would go out and buy the full size.  Again, I don't use this everyday because I don't feel like I need my makeup to be picture perfect all the time.  But for special occasions or photo shoots, I know I can trust this product to keep me looking my best.

This has that silicone feel that a lot of primers tend to have--it feels slippery when applied.  It does leave a white cast if you apply too much but it does disappear in a few mins.  Just a thin layer is all you need, though.  I like how it hides my pores and fills in lines so that my foundation has a nice smooth surface to adhere to.  I thought maybe it would clog my pores but I've had no skin issues with it so far.  It also has the added benefit of sunscreen.  It could be a negative--sunscreen sometimes caused flashback in photos but I haven't had a problem with this one--so definitely check before using this on a big day with flash photography.  

Product Review: Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation Review

Sephora, $55

 A new favorite foundation has taken over my make-up routine.  I've been testing this out since November and have been impressed by this formula.  Anything that claims to be mattifying immediately grabs my attention and makes the price tag ($55) a little easier to defend.

The packaging is lovely and high end, as with all Hourglass products.  It's substantial in weight but the real star is this pump.  Am I the only one that gets pumped for pumps?  It's super convenient and just fool-proof all around.  And since dispensing it is such a dream, I find myself reaching for it over some other favorites.

Usually I apply this with my Real Technique Buffing Brush or Expert Face Brush for every day wear.  Sometimes I use my Beauty Blender for an airbrushed effect--using the Beauty Blender creates a beautiful finish with this foundation.  You can also blend it easily with  your fingers.

This "liquid to powder" foundation is obviously liquid in the bottle but once applied to the skin, it sets to a velvety, matte finish--much like a powder.  It's a good option for oily skin in that it truly keeps your face shine-free for a large amount of time.  I still found that I had to powder around midday but it was minimal shine than usual.  I like that it seems to blur my pores but its super lightweight and disappears on the skin.  Since this a "powder" foundation, I noticed that using liquids on top, such as concealer or highlights, seemed to break up the formula if you do a lot of blending so it's best to use only powder products.  I don't set it right away with a powder and only use a setting powder when I feel a bit oily around the t-zone.  My cheeks and other areas stay relatively matte with any powder.

This shade is also fantastic and I think they have a good selection to choose from (18 shades last time I checked).  This is easy to find at Sephora and other department store retailers.

Finish:  Matte
Coverage:  Medium to full
Packaging:  Heavyweight bottle with pump--my favorite for foundation
Staying Power:  A solid 4-5 hours before I start to show some shine.  I did notice it started to seperate near the bridge of my nose when I wear glasses (other foundations generally don't do that)
Application:  I use a buffing brush or a beauty blender
Price: $55 at Sephora
My Shade: Honey--perfect match to my medium skin with great yellow undertones

Click here for reviews on the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders and the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer.

Product Review: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

At the end of last year, Hourglass introduced this little trio of their Ambient Lighting Powder.  I delayed writing this review a bit too long--since it's release this particular palette has been sold out everywhere and I don't believe Hourglass will release it again.  However, I still think this is a worthwhile review.  While you can't get them in a set, the ambient lighting powders are sold individually at Sephora and many other retailers.  The uniqueness of this product and what it does is certainly worth a mention as it's easily a staple in my make-up routine on the daily.

It is hard to articulate exactly what this does so bear with me here.  For all intents and purposes, this is a finishing powder.  I would not call this a setting powder since I found that it doesn't do anything for the longevity of my make up or shine control.  I apply this after foundation with a dense powder brush so in that aspect yes, I set my liquid foundation with it.  The real magic of this product is the effect it gives you.  While each powder works differently, they each give the skin a lit-from-within look.  It's not matte but it's not shimmery either.  The result is a radiant, youthful complexion.  When I wear the ambient lighting powders, I always get compliments on how good my skin looks that day.  It's something you can't quite put your finger on but gives you the softest glow without looking like a second grader's glitter project.  If you are really oily, you may find that you need an additional setting powder.  The ambient lighting powders will breathe life back into your skin, especially if you are using another powder.

There is a whole science behind this photoluminescent technology that filters out harsh light and refines the appearance of the complexion.  There are a range of different shades to create your desired effect from very pearl to not pearl so you can easily match your skin tone and preferences.  As a amateur photographer, lighting is everything and Hourglass managed to capture universally flattering "lighting" with these powders.

Each powder is soft and creamy.  They're very easy to blend.  Some are finer than others and can be a little "dusty."  The trick is to use a dense powder brush, one that is soft but has a lot of actual bristles to keep the product from merely dispersing in the air--excess powder can be kicked up (and wasted).  The shimmer in these are so subtle, I can barely see the glitter particles and only know they are there when the light catches them as you move. 

The palette also came with a sample of their Veil Mineral Primer.

My favorite of the three, Dim Light is probably the most universal shade.  It's a neutral toned beige that will work with warm and cool tones.  I use this one under the eyes and all over the face.  It's just pretty and I love how it looks.  It gives slight coverage to further blur imperfections, especially any visible pores. 
This is more of a "highlighter" pearlescent shade.  Of the three, I use this one the least.  It's also the only one not available individually as it was a limited edition for this palette.  If you were looking for one similar, this one is closest to Ethereal Light in their permanent collection.  I use this one on the tops of my cheekbone and as a light wash on my eyes as an eyeshadow.  It's more shimmery than the others but still not chunky.  My only complaint is that it is extra powder-y and a bit chalky.

This sun-kissed beauty fits it's name perfectly--it's radiant and perfect for adding bit of warmth.  You can use this all over for a golden glow or more frequently, I use this in place of a bronze or blush.  It's a subtle warmth that I find especially flattering on my tan skin.

A hard product to swatch, I strongly recommend trying it on in-store to find the most flattering shade for your skin tone.

This is easily one of my most used palettes and sits out on my vanity every day.  It's the kind of product that you didn't know you needed it until after you have used it.  The most noticable effect the completely natural glow it gives on the skin.  I've noticed a huge difference in photos for this blog--my face is much smoother than previous photos.  All in all, I'm glad I splurged on this and definitely plan on buying more Ambient Lighting powders separately in the future.

Available at Sephora, $45 each.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lookbook: Knit Wit (how to layer like a pro--the formula and quick tips)

Shirt:  Madewell // Drape Cardigan: Express // Camel Cardigan:  J. Crew Men // Denim:  Madewell // Bag: Fossil // Shoes: Dolce Vita

The Formula:
  1. Start with a thin basic top, solids are great but sometimes a stripe or print will work, usually in a neutral.
  2. Add a cardigan or sweater.  This is a good layer to introduce a bold color, if you'd like to.
  3. Top it off with a jacket or coat--my favorites are a denim jacket or a peacoat--usually in a neutral.
  4. Scarves!  They are a MUST for me and usually my favorite part of any outfit.  I like to pull the colors all together with a scarf.
  5. Don't forget to add accessories to really complete the look and at least appear to have it all together--watch, ring, necklaces.
Quick Layering Tips:
  • Start with lightweight tops, keeping them relatively form-fitting especially as your first layer.
  •  Always be conscious of proportions and length.  Don't hide your waist line!  When in doubt, use a belt to cinch you in--either over all the layers or somewhere in between.
  • Play with texture.  It's the element that keeps it interesting and polished.  A mix of materials is more flattering as one material will make you look heavy and dowdy.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Primp: Warby Parker Home Try-On Review

I'm as blind as they come without my glasses, or more frequently, my contacts.  So when I ran out of contacts and had to resort to glasses, I realized I'd forgotten how comfortable glasses are.  I've worn these Chanel frames for a few years and decided I was due for an upgrade for some frames that fit my style and made more of an impact.

Enter Warby Parker.  I've admired their brand for awhile. Their styles are fun and modern, with prices starting at just $95.

They offer an amazing program where you can choose five frames online and they ship it to you--for free!  And I mean free shipping both ways, no charge whatsoever.  Well, as long as you remember to send it back (you're allowed five days to choose). 

The frames themselves are good quality and durable.  I've been through my share of glasses and these acetate ones are by far the most durable since it takes a lot to bend it out of shape.  The screws are coated with teflon (the stuff on your non-stick cooking pans) for added durability.  

Take a look at each frame on my face and let me know which one you liked best.

DUCKWORTH in Revolver Black Matte

BAXTER in Striped Sassafras

PRESTON in Whiskey Tortoise

SIMS in Striped Sassafras
ARTHUR in Sugar Maple

I *think* I'm going with Preston but feel free to change my mind.

Check out Warby Parker and get your frames to try-on now!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Primp: What's in My Cross-body?

Purse: J. Crew // Wallet: Fossil // Pouch: F21 // Lipstick: Benefit (similar) // Lipgloss: NYX "beige" // Lip Balm: EOS // Hand Moisturizer: Avocado Oil // Face Powder: Rimmel Stay Matte "translucent" // Perfume: Tory Burch

For a few years, I always carried a large handbag and filled it with things I "might" need.  I'd fill it up with everything from band-aids to bobby pins to hand lotion and five different lip products.  Eventually, it was like a black hole for lost things I didn't truly need.  Then I started having back problems (thanks, herniated  disc!) and that's when I started using smaller purses.  Luckily, different designers really embraced the cross-body style and it suited my needs well.  This convenient style has found legions of fans and is perfect for a girl-on-the-go lifestyle.    

Here's a peek at how I keep everything organized in a small purse!

  1. Wallet: A small card-sized wallet houses my cash and credit cards, as well as my business cards.  This wallet also has a zippered pouch for coins.  I hate finding change at the bottom of my purse!
  2. Make-up pouch: It's best to store any make-up needs in a separate pouch, just in case there's a spill or leak--it'll keep the lining of your purse nice and clean.  In here I always have a mini dropper bottle filled with avocado oil (my favorite dry hand and cuticle remedy) and a roller ball perfume.  I absolutely must have a mattifying compact and/or blotting paper for the inevitable shiny face by mid-day and always carry an EOS lip balm. Everything else is interchangeable--if I know I'm meeting someone after work, I'll pack something extra, like eyeliner or mascara for touch-up's.
  3. Lips:  As a lip junkie, I really have to be strict with myself and only allow two products inside.  This changes daily and I usually keep it in a separate compartment so I can switch them out easily.  If I'm wearing a red lip, I'll be sure to carry that tube with me.  For day-to-day wear, I've been doing this pinky-nude lip combo with a nude lipstick and a subtle pink gloss.
  4. In the front compartment, I like to keep a pack of gum, my keys, and a pair of headphones (I walk daily to and from work). 
This system works for me, especially since I never use the same bag for too long.  I can easily transfer my items and switch out products for particular situations.  If I need to pack something larger, like a notebook or my lunch, I simply find a bag to accommodate larger items.  But this way, everything stays relatively organized.  And don't forget to periodically clean out your purse for those pesky receipts and loose change!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lookbook: Sooner or Layer

Sweater Dress: J. Crew // Denim shirt:  Madewell // Purse:  South Moon Under // Boots:  Steve Madden // Necklace:  Bauble Bar

This striped sweater dress is something I get much use out of.  For extra versatility, I threw a chambray shirt as an extra layer and belted the ensemble for shape.

The face full of wind I'm getting is very apparent, isn't it?  Sorry, friends...someday soon it'll be spring again and I can take all the pictures in the world.  #springfever

Friday, January 17, 2014

Inspire: Friday Favorites No. 3

I've been obsessed with interior design as of late, specifically DIY projects, budget friendly designs, and IKEA hacks.  Our home is due for an update--we've pretty much kept everything the same for the past two years and I'm itching to make a few upgrades.
Friday Favorites
All images via Pinterest.  Follow along there for more Pin-spiration!

Inspire: Radiant Orchid--Pantone 2014 Color of the Year

When Pantone revealed the Color of the Year as "Radiant Orchid" I was honestly underwhelmed.  I think it's just a tad out of my comfort zone and not something I have alot of in my closet.  Then I started to take notice of this rosy-pink-purple hue in my daily life--my bedroom walls are similar, the new polish I picked up, a pair of flats from last year--and realized that Pantone might be on to something here.  Often overlooked, it is a really beautiful shade of purple that is flattering and feminine.  Pantone describes it as an "enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.”

Here's a few ways to incorporate this color in different ways!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Lookbook: Staying Neutral

Jacket:  Express // Sweater:  Madewell // Top: J. Crew // Purse:  J. Crew // Jeans: Madewell // Boots:  DV by Dolce Vita // Necklace:  Bauble Bar

Sunday Brunch is clearly the meaning of life.  I like to wear stretchy jeans and layers to conceal the amount of food I'm going to pig out on.
  See what I ordered (plus other fun details of my life) on Instagram :]

Monday, January 6, 2014

Lookbook: Goldenrod

Sweater:  J. Crew // Jacket:  Francesca's Collections // Scarf:  Madewell // Hat:  Forever21 // Boots: c/o Aeropostale // Pants:  Express

Baby, it's cold outside and I'm not cut out for such conditions.  Hope you enjoy the "hurry up, and take the picture faces" I make.