Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January 2016 Ipsy vs. Boxycharm

     Well hello fellow beauties!  If you are like me then you too have probably had enough of your own chaos this month (what is with January? it's a magnet for chaos).  So lets lighten things up and talk about what we got in this month's Ipsy bags and Boxycharm boxes.

     Again to quickly give the rundown on how these work.  Ipsy is a $10 a month subscription service.  Each month you are sent a small cosmetic bag filled with various beauty products based on a questionnaire you fill out.  Usually products are sample sizes and are from both drugstore and high end brands.

     Boxycharm is a more expensive subscription service at $21 a month.  It almost exclusively contains high end products and the majority of the time they are full sized. I pay for both of these subscriptions myself and the reviews of the products included are my own.  You know the drill.


January 2016 Ipsy Bag 'All Eyes on You'
     'All Eyes on You' is the theme for this month's Ipsy bag.  It comes in a very brightly colored bag that is kind of Andy Warhol-ish.  The description says "Keep your eyes on the Prize!  From must-have products to prettify your peepers - like the Balm's cult-fave eyeliner - to on-the-go beauty essentials. January is all about a seriously standout look."

Coastal Scents Pearl Shadow Angle Brush:

Large Pearl Shadow Angle Brush by Coastal Scents
     I have tried a few of the Coastal Scents eye shadow palettes, and have mixed feelings regarding them.  So when I saw that I got a brush in this Ipsy bag I was skeptical regarding it's quality.  But I am happy to report that this brush is of a very nice quality.  The ferrule and handle are both very sturdy and tight.  The bristles are very soft and I haven't experienced any shedding.  The shape of this brush is a little awkward as it is very large, best used to apply a shadow across my entire lid which I don't often do.  But that's more just personal preference, not anything particularly bad in how this brush was constructed. 

   Also as a bonus there is a 25% off code that can be used.  I think it's for any purchase at the code is Pearl25Off, and of course I like to share those codes with any readers in case they would like to try the products out for themselves.   The code does expire on March 7 of 2016 so it is good for another month or so. 

Skyn Iceland Glacial Cleansing Cloths

Skyn Iceland Glacial Cleansing Cloths
     Admittedly I have abandoned the use of cleansing cloths as they tend to dry my skin out, so these did not appeal to me the way they might to someone else.  I have used these to clean my hands/arms when swatching products. So my impression is based of that type of use. 

    These wipes are different in that there is a lot more product loaded on these cloths than the traditional makeup removing cloths.  Reading the instructions one is supposed to rub two ends together to create a foamy lather, then use the cloth on the skin.  It definitely lathers up and takes off makeup well.  However you are not supposed to rinse the lather off, just leave it on to dry.  I didn't mind doing that with my hands, but I don't think I would like doing that with my face. 

     Also the fragrance with this is very strong.  It's not unappealing. Just very strong.  So while it says it's been formulated for people with sensitive skin, the strong fragrance makes me wonder how it would actually affect my skin.   For now I'm sticking with using them on swatches. 

City Color Eyeshadow Trio - Falling Leaves

City Color Eyeshadow Trio in Falling Leaves
     This is a nice trio of eye shadows from City Color.  The formula was very nice, not quite creamy but smooth with very little powder being kicked up with I dipped my brush into the pan. The colors did apply a little sheer, but they can be built up quite nicely and a base or primer helps tremendously.
Close up of Falling Leaves  Eyeshadow Trio by City Color 
     I'm actually quite happy to get this in my Ipsy bag.  It is some shades I would never have picked out for myself.  While it may not be my most favorite shades on myself, I like that receiving this has forced me to try something a little out of my comfort zone. 

City Color Eyeshadow Trio in Falling Leaves Swatch

the Balm Mr. Write (Now) - Jac

the Balm Mr. Write (Now) in Jac
     Another color that I would probably have not picked out for myself.  This is a deep gold almost bronze eye liner.   The formula of this is fantastic.  It applies easily without tugging, and once it is set it does not budge.  I have yet to try it in my waterline, but I am impressed with what I have seen so far.  I may look into other colors that are more my style. 

the Balm Mr. Write (Now) in Jac swatch

Lasting Smiles Organic Lip Balm - Peppermint Creme 

Lasting Smiles Organic Lip Balm in Peppermint Creme
     I have nothing bad to say about this lip balm.  It made my lips feel soft and hydrated. When first applied it is a bit shiny but nothing too bad.  The hydrating feeling lasts for quite a while, I didn't feel like I needed to constantly re-apply, even through eating and drinking. The flavor is light and fades fairly quickly but is pleasant while it's around. 

   In addition to being a nice balm, it is organic and the proceeds help fund surgeries that fix cleft lips and palates in children around the world. 


January 2016 Boxycharm 'Eyes on 2016'

     January's Boxycharm was also focused on eyes with it's theme being 'Eyes on 2016'.  

Royal & Langnickel Revolution Brush Set - Full Size - $23.97

Royal & Langnickel Revolution Brush Set 
     The first product is an eye brush set from Royal & Langnickel.  Included in the set is the BX-90 which a pointed crease brush. The BX-80 which is a typical flat shade brush for packing shadow on the lid.  And finally the BX-95 which is a pointed detail brush for smudging and contouring.

    So these are supposed to be revolutionary in their design.  They have a special "textured fiber" bristle (all brushes are of synthetic materials) that is supposed to act more like a natural hair bristle but without the fragility of natural hair.

     As far as performance goes, I don't know if I see a huge difference in how they lay down product. I need to try these out with my ColourPop shadows as usually I prefer to use a synthetic bristle for those to avoid the brush absorbing too much product.  I can say that I am not super fond of the BX-90 the crease brush.  The bristles are long like my other crease brushes, but this brush is very stiff.  It feels like an odd hybrid between a traditional crease brush and a smudging brush.  It's just different, and I'm finding it difficult to get a blown out, well blended crease with this brush.  If you have any suggestions or ideas on how this brush should be used PLEASE tell me so in the comments!  I'd love to know if I am using this wrong.

Note that each brush is also available individually for $7.99

Blinc Mascara Amplified - Full Size - $26.00

Blinc Mascara Amplified in black
     I wont lie, this product kind of scares me.  It is what they call a 'tubing' mascara, where the product actually forms a tube around the individual lash to provide length and volume.  According to the manufacturer this type of mascara is run proof, smudge proof, wont clump or flake, it is rub proof, waterproof and you can run a marathon in it.  Umm... yeah.  You are also NOT to use makeup remover to remove this mascara.  Simply LOTS of warm water and gentle pressure from your fingers or wash cloth.

      The directions are equally as interesting, you are not to use any moisturizers on your face before using this product as the oils in the moisturizer may interfere with how this product works.  Again it stresses lots of water and pressure should be used to remove the tubes.  You will "feel" the mascara coming lose and there is a note that says you will see the tubes in your sink or hands and they will look like your lashes, but they are just the tubes.

      OK I am intrigued and scared.. but mostly intrigued.. OK maybe mostly scared?  I try to stay far away from any mascara that uses fibers to lengthen.  Mostly because I do have super sensitive eyes and the thought of little fibers accidentally getting into my eyes sounds about as nice as getting a foot rub from a porcupine.   But this doesn't appear to be fibers, they compare it to making a cast around the lash.

     We will see....I'll update you if I do end up trying this out.

Starlooks Pro Luxe Longwear Eyeliner - Full Size - $19.00

Starlooks Pro Luxe Longwear Eyeliner Pen in Black
     Yay a product that I know how to use!  LOL Really though this is just your typical felt tip eye liner pen.  The black color is very dark and intense.  It does have a bit of a shine to it dried down, so if you like a more matte look for your liner this probably won't be the formula for you.

Swatch of Starlooks Pro Luxe Longwear Eyeliner Pen
     Aside from the bit of shine that I am not crazy about. The formula is very nice.  It doesn't settle into my fine lines and it dries down fairly quickly and it stays put. It doesn't appear to be waterproof, but it's not claiming to be either.  It removed very easily with makeup remover.  I was able to create both fine lines and thicker lines with the pen.  It's not anything revolutionary, but it is a good basic liner. 

Coastal Scents Revealed Smoky Palette - Full Sized - $39.95

Coastal Scents Revealed Smoky Palette Packaging 
     OK first off I feel the need to mention that while Coastal Scents does list the original price of this palette as $39.95, never have I ever seen it actually sold for that price. The list price on the website says $29.95 and even then I have never seen it sold for more than $19.95.  I don't know where $39.95 is coming from, but that's not the cost of this palette. 

View of all 20 shadow pans in Coastal Scents Revealed Smokey Palette
     For those unfamiliar with Coastal Scents, it is a discount cosmetic company.  They are well known for having the giant 88 pan palettes that they sell for like $15.00.  The eye shadows in those remind me a lot of the cheap off brand makeup kits that you can buy around the holidays.  You know the ones that have like 80 eye shadows, 15 blushes and 10 lipsticks all in a glitter train case. 

Top row swatch of Coastal Scents Revealed Smoky Palette
     Anyway the most recent products Coastal Scents has put out are their own takes on the Urban Decay Naked palettes.  I have received those in previous Boxycharm boxes and they are.. meh.. they are OK for cheap palettes. Owning the original Naked palettes, there is really no appeal for me in the Coastal Scents versions BUT I will say if money is an issue for you, the Coastal Scents Revealed palettes are a decent enough alternative to Urban Decay.  You can make them work. 

Bottom row swatch of Coastal Scents Revealed Smoky Palette
     So this Revealed Smoky palette is obviously a play on the Urban Decay Smoky palette. And I will say that of all the Revealed palettes, I like this one the most.  It also has some very close color dupes to the Urban Decay Smoky palette.  Does it behave the same as the Urban Decay? No. They take a little more work to blend out and to build up.  Some of the shadows are a bit chalky.  But again we are talking about a $20 palette compared to a $50 palette.

     The top row of shadows probably has the most misses for me. The first two mattes are pretty chalky and the bright gold color was really sheer.  The bottom row of this palette I was very surprised by.  Many of the colors are very nice, I really like the first 4 shades.  Again they aren't as easy to work with as the Urban Decay.  But for a $20 palette, these really are not that bad. 

     That is everything I received this month.  Thank you so much for stopping by!  If you have any experience with these products (especially the brushes and the mascara) , I'd love to hear about it!   Also if you would like to share what you got in your own Ipsy or Boxycharm boxes - feel free to share in the comment section.  I will see you next week! 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Personal Update: Our Son's Diagnosis

     Hello everyone!  I would like to take a moment and preface this post by first thanking each and every one of you that support me by taking the time to stop by and read my blog.   A Beauty in the Chaos has grown exponentially in readership this past month and I am unbelievably thankful.  Today's post is going to be a little different than my traditional fare.  It is a subject that is incredibly difficult to write or to even speak about, so please bear with me.

     This past Tuesday I had to face a neurologist who looked me in the eyes and told me my child has Spastic Monoplegia Cerebral Palsy.  For my husband and myself, the diagnosis was not a shock.  Our son has been in physical therapy since he came home from the NICU and all signs pointed to some form of Cerebral Palsy.  This was essentially a formality.  Formal documentation of what we had known (feared) all along.

     One would think having some foresight would help ease the news of the diagnosis.  In a way it does.  I can't imagine having this news dropped on me completely unexpectedly.  But, in a different way hearing the confirmation was harder.

     See despite my tendencies to always prepare for the worst outcomes possible, I am at heart an optimist.  These past two years, I have never lost hope that perhaps my son would grow out of the troubles he was experiencing.  That it was for (lack of better definition) just a delay in physical development due to being born 3 months early, a delay he would eventually catch up with. That eventually the physical therapy he gets twice a week, the extra doctors appointments, the shoe inserts, the braces, all of that would be outgrown and left behind.

     When the neurologist said the words Cerebral Palsy, she didn't cast some sort of bleak future for my son (he's in the highest functioning group and his prognosis is good).  And logically I know that ultimately very little has changed for my son, his life continues as it always has.  He will still have a fulfilling future, his path is just a little different now. Yet emotionally I am a wreck.  Because with those two words, that tiny piece of hope died in me.  My son won't outgrow this.  There is brain damage, it is permanent. It's hard to remain optimistic about the future when so often life hacks away at our slivers of hope.

     We as parents try so hard to shelter our children (especially young ones) from the harsh cruelties that life can hand out.   We dread the day when we might have to wipe tears from our son or daughter's face because they were teased at school.  I am terrified of what my son may face due to his apparent difference.  I'm no longer tasked only with raising a strong, compassionate, and confident child, but also finding a way to be strong and confident myself regarding his condition.  To keep my composure when someone makes an offhanded remark regarding his walking or appearance, when what I really want to do is lash out at them about their ignorance.  Because that's what I want my son to learn.  Not just how to deal physically with his condition, but how to deal emotionally with the bullshit he may encounter.

     Again I would like to thank each of you who takes the time to check in here.  Much of this blog is essentially a type of therapy for me as well as a hobby.  Yes, it gives me a forum to express my feelings and thoughts when stuff is bringing me down. But more importantly it provides a space where I can focus on the people and things that make me happy.  Even if it is something as trivial as a new eye shadow palette. Focusing on what makes us happy is sometimes the only way we can combat the chaos that life hands us.

Love and thanks to everyone reading this.  Thank you so much for supporting me an this blog.  I will return next week (if not sooner)!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Pintertest Files: DIY Glitter Slime

    Hello everyone and welcome to the Pintertest Files!  Where I take a popular Pinterest post, test it out, and report back if it worked as promised, how easy it was, and if it is worth trying out yourself.

     January is always a tough month to get through, at least here in Iowa.  The big holidays have passed, there isn't any more vacation time to look forward to, and it is frigid outside  (today's high was 0).  All this adds up to some seriously stir crazy kids that make you realize bears have the right idea when they just hibernate on until spring.

     It's with this desperation for child entertainment that I chose DIY Glitter Slime as our next Pintertest.  The easy 3 item recipe that is posted on every mom blog the Internet wide, promising a colorful sensory playtime favorite that is not only easy to clean up, but impossible to mess up.

     A very special thank you needs to be sent out to my talented helper Gabriel who enthusiastically helped me test out this project and even offered some insight (see below).  Also to my husband who helped take photos when things got a little sticky.

What You Will Need:

Items needed to create slime all available at Wal-Mart 
  • Liquid Starch (I could only find at Wal-Mart)
  • Clear washable glue (with or without sparkles, it doesn't matter)
  • Water
  • Glitter 
  • Measuring Cup
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Spoons or stick to stir with
     All materials are fairly easy to find, save for the liquid starch. I could only find that at Wal-Mart.  Not really an issue except that I had looked in two other stores first before heading there. 

Step 1:  Mix Water and Glue

For glue solution mix 1 container of Elmer's clear washable glue with 1/2 cup warm water

     Measure out 1/2 cup of water, place it in the mixing bowl.  To the water add a full container of the clear washable glue.  Mix until the solution is consistent and clear. 

Fully mixed solution will be clear and slightly thinner than the normal glue texture

Step 2: Slowly Add Liquid Starch to Glue Solution

You will need 1/2 cup of liquid starch, add it to the glue solution bit by bit for easier mixing

     Measure out 1/2 cup of liquid starch. Bit by bit, add the liquid starch to the glue solution and start mixing like you have never mixed before. 

As soon as the liquid starch is added, gel slime starts forming. 

Step 3:  Mix Until Your Arm Falls Off

Solution is fairly easy to mix at first

      Sore yet?  Keep mixing.  The mixture is going to be the delightful texture of baby snot. Pretty soon it will be impossible to stir with the spoon which is when you are ready for the next step...

As more slime develops it becomes increasingly more difficult to stir with a spoon

Step 4:  Ditch the Spoon and Start Mixing With Your Hands

At first the slime is VERY wet and difficult to hold

     I should mention that at the exact point you grab the full blob of mucous-y goodness and start kneading it, it is going to stick absolutely everywhere all over your hands.  You will doubt the ratio of ingredients, you will doubt that this will work.  Hell you will doubt your reasoning skills to involve your 5 year old in this hot mess of a project.  Keep kneading and mixing.  It gets better. 

With continued kneading it gels up but remains very sticky

Keep kneading, eventually it will solidify more and stick to hands less and less

Step 5: Mix in Glitter

I added glitter by piling it in the middle then folding over to create a pocket, no loose glitter touched hands or work surface

     If you followed step 4 unabashedly like I suggested, you now have a clear-ish slime that doesn't stick to your hands or hard surfaces.  Now is the time to add in glitter.  I found the cleanest way to do this was to flatten out the slime, add a heap of glitter in the center and fold the slime over on itself to entrap the glitter in a pocket.  Then simply knead and work the slime until the glitter is evenly distributed throughout.  

Create unique color combinations by mixing glitter 

    I should mention that I divided the slime mixture out into 4 individual colors.  Gabe decided to mix one giant batch.  The only difference is the amount of glitter required to get the full color effect.  If the intensity of the glitter isn't to your liking you can certainly add more.  You can mix colors to obtain a galaxy or rainbow like effect.  It's really up to you.  

Finished product - All 4 of these colors were made with one divided batch of slime

Step 6:  Storage and Play Precautions:

The peanut gallery didn't partake in the creation of the slime but did play with it afterwards (make sure littles don't eat slime)

     We found through playing with the slime, if it comes into contact with any paper products (in this case a paper towel) it will be impossible to remove.  Therefore slime shouldn't be used around books or important documents.  

     Cleanup of any slime residue was very easy with warm water and a little soap.  The twins got in on playing with the finished product and got some on their clothes (little scraps they pulled off that landed in their laps).  It cleaned up with some warm water. 

     For storage we placed the slime in some zip lock baggies to keep the air out.  As of yet there hasn't been any issues with drying out, although I'm sure with time and continued play the slime will eventually dry out. 

Final Grade and Thoughts:

     This was a complete and total success!   Not only did the slime turn out exactly as expected, but we had a blast as a family making it.  There was a period where the mixture was really sticky and I was concerned that perhaps the ratio of ingredients were off, but true to the tutorials word, the more you mixed and played with the slime, the better the texture got. 

    I asked Gabriel what he thought of the project once we were done, and if he had any suggestions for those of you who are wanting to try this yourself.  Here are some of his thoughts:

 "Making slime was AWESOME!"

"It's kind of messy, you should use a plastic place mat"

"It's gross but feels kind of good" (when we were mixing is while it was very sticky)

    Thank you so very much for stopping by!  If you have a Pinterest  idea that you would like me to test, leave the idea (and preferably a link)  in the comments section below!  Don't forget you can also follow me on Instagram (VPNilausen), Twitter (HawkimamaV), or join me on the A Beauty In The Chaos's Facebook page (here) for additional conversations and fun.  I will see you next week! 


Saturday, January 9, 2016

2015 Favorites! Super Ultra Mega Edition!

     Hello everyone and welcome to my super ultra mega 2015 favorites post, where I look back on the past year and pick out my favorite beauty products, music, and movies for the whole year!  This is going to be lengthy so grab yourself a nice beverage because I am going to jump right in.

Movies/TV:  Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters now

     Yes, yes I am sure you have all heard about it already.  I don't care, this is my blog and it was my favorite movie so you're going to hear about it some more.  I grew up watching episodes 4-6, and I still don't care what you say or feel about episodes 1-3 but in my not so humble opinion they were absolute shit.  I still haven't fully watched the clone wars because I fall asleep every time its on.  Every. Damn. Time. 

     So needless to say, I was very skeptical when we decided to go see 'The Force Awakens' over Christmas break, and not just because we were taking my 5 year old on his first trip to the movies. Other's had reassured me that it was better, and I would like it.  I simply was not prepared for how good it would be.  

     Yes, there was a lot of lip service to fans of the original 3 movies.  A lot of nods, winks and nudges referring to chapters 4-6 that some may have found excessive.  But they were fun.  And I think they were J.J. Abrams way of assuring fans that he knew where the first 3 chapters went wrong and he was going to return Star Wars to the franchise we all remember and love. 

     It was a great movie, it was fun.  My 5 year old sat through the whole thing without so much as a whine or a question regarding when it would be over.  I am not going to go into the plot for fear I may spoil something because I get really excited talking about it.  Just go see it, I don't think you will be disappointed. 


Nothing More available on Itunes, Amazon music and local music stores
     You all know how hard this category is for me!  But I think I have narrowed it down to one album over all that has impressed me the most this year and it is the self titled album by Nothing More. 

     Nothing More does have some previously released work, however this album was my introduction to the group.  I love that the music encompasses a wide variety of topics.  One of my favorite songs from the album, 'Jenny', is particularly meaningful to me as it discusses the topics of mental illness and addiction.  The group  does a solid job of mixing in more melodic songs with the harder rock songs, making it an appealing album to a wide audience.  It's a group that my husband also really enjoys, which is a huge bonus because then we don't argue over what to listen to in the car. 

Runners Up: 'Black Widow' by In This Moment, '.5: The Gray Chapter' by Slipknot

YouTube Channels: Grav3yardGirl and Young Wild and Polished

YouTube available on your computer or mobile device
     2015 was the year that I suddenly got really into YouTube.  I don't know why it took me so long, I mean I guess I kind of always assumed it was place for random vine compilations and fail videos. OK not completely true, I have watched a lot of raid boss tutorials out there but not exactly something I would watch for solid entertainment. 

     Anyway that has all changed.  Now there are several channels I subscribe to, and these 2 girls in general I watch almost religiously.  

     If you have not seen a video by Grav3yard Girl, you might be a little taken aback by watching her the first time.  She is loud and silly and sassy and pretty much just everything I tend to be when I am at home with my family.  On her channel she makes a wide range of videos from makeup looks and first impressions, to testing out ridiculous as seen on TV products.  She has a great positive attitude that just really shines through on her videos. She never gets negative about other people or bloggers, and also makes a point to be honest and real.  She will record with or without makeup, in all manner of dress and just seems very down to earth about what she does, which appeals to me.  I probably cite her as my biggest online inspiration for jumping in and trying out blogging. 

     Young Wild and Polished is the other channel I watch every time a video is posted.  Nicole focuses mainly on cosmetics and nail products, and is absolutely hilarious.  She gets so excited about certain products (like highlighters) and the things that come out of her mouth when she describes a product, sigh, they are just to die for.  If nothing else, you have to watch a video of hers just for the outtakes where she just goes ham and says anything that comes to mind. 

     And just for the official record, neither of these girls even know I am writing this, I'm not tagging them on their social media.  I subscribe and occasionally comment on their respective channels because I am a subscriber and I enjoy the material.  In no way am I mentioning them to grab the attention of someone with a larger audience.  People are always interested in finding out what others watch on YouTube, just like movies or TV and these are simply two of my favorites. 

Book: Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files available on Kindle, Nook and in local bookstores
     OK so admittedly I am kind of cheating here as I read this book last year. But I read it for the second time this year, and it's still my favorite, so I think it counts.  Also to be completely fair, this is actually book 15 in the Dresden series... and I wouldn't quite recommend someone picking up this book without reading at least a few of the previous books.  Earlier on in the series the books could be read on their own, but the last few books in the series have turned kind of meta.

    So to generally describe the overall series, Dresden is a wizard that lives in current day Chicago, and as one would imagine he has to battle various forms of magical and paranormal scum that try to take over the world.  Dresden is incredibly sarcastic and witty, the books are fast paced and despite them fitting well into the urban paranormal genre, they don't have a lot of gratuitous sex.  

     Overall I would recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a fun, entertaining read that doesn't require a tremendous amount of analyzing.  I want to discuss more regarding why 'Skin Game' is my personal favorite of the series (it all comes down to one scene in the end) but, I fear by doing so it will be a bit of a spoiler.  I'll just say it left me with ALL of the feels, which can be difficult to do in a book with such an entertaining plot.


     Holy crap I have a ton to go over here, so I am going to go in order of how I apply the beauty products. Just to keep it all straight.

Moisturizer: Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light - $48.00

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light available at Sephora and
     Part of me feels kind of bad including a product that I just started using a month ago.  But the reality is this oil has totally changed my skin this winter. I'm not even kidding.  Usually I forgo wearing any kind of foundation in the winter because my skin will be so dry and flaky, that no matter how "dewy" the formula is, it just cakes up and looks like junk on my skin.  

     But since using this, I have seen a dramatic change.  My skin looks better, it feels better.  Not nearly as tight or itchy as it has been in the past.  I feel comfortable enough to wear foundation (which is a big step for me).  Despite having skin that is prone to breaking out if I layer on too much moisturizer, I haven't had any significant trouble with using this oil.  I will say I do put it on at night, and make sure to wash my face the next morning, just to make sure there isn't a build up on my skin.  But morning washes is something you should be doing anyway...

Primer:  Kat Von D Lock-It Featherweight Primer - $32.00

Kat Von D Lock-it Featherweight Primer available at Sephora 

     My go-to primer for mixing with the CoverFX Custom Cover Drops. The formula is extremely light and more like a lotion than a traditional face primer.  As such it doesn't do much to minimize pores or blur texture of the skin.  Also I know people with oily skin have reported that they do not like this formula, as it doesn't prolong foundation wear for them. 

     My reasons for selecting this as my favorite primer are two fold. First off as a hydrating formula, this helps prevent my foundation from settling into the dry patches on my face. Even using the Argan oil, I will still occasionally get a dry patch on my nose in the winter.  Second, unlike the thicker pore-filling primers, the Kat Von D primer does not break me out.  I will still very occasionally use a pore-filling primer on some of my trouble spots, but I can not use those formulas all over my face.  I just can't do it, my skin hates it.

Foundation: CoverFX Custom Cover Drops - $44.00

CoverFX Custom Cover Drops available at Sephora

     If you read my September Favorites post (here), you already know how I feel about these pigment drops.  In a word, they are AMAZING.   

     What I love most about these drops is how completely versatile they are.  First off they come in 24 different shades which can also be mixed together to blend custom shades specific for your skin tone.  Second they can be mixed with anything.  Have a favorite primer you like to wear?  I usually mix my drops with the Kat Von D primer for a single-layer application.  Want more of a BB cream?  Mix a single drop in with your favorite moisturizer for a hydrating sheer coverage.  I have even mixed a bit in with my Argan oil.  

     The only thing I really do not like is over time my bottle has become quite messy.  If there is any product up in the "cap" part of the lid it will eventually smear down on the threads when you replace the cap.  It's not the end of the world but when you see how little product you need for a full coverage face, you can deduct that several applications are being wasted.  

Contour, Bronzer, & Matte Highlight: Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour Palette - $46.00

Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour Palette available at Sephora 

     I will admit, it took me a really long time to get comfortable with contouring. Despite watching countless videos on YouTube and understanding the basic premise of what to do, anytime I tried it out myself it just looked... off.   

    So I finally hauled my butt to Sephora and admitted to a lady that worked there that when it came to contouring I just had no clue.  She sat me down and picked out a few different products to try out. This is the one I fell in love with.  It's the one I felt was the easiest to use and the most foolproof. 

     If you are like me and new to contouring, you want something that will easily blend and can apply lightly and then build up.  This formula works great for that.  The powders are very finely milled and like I said just blend out very nicely so there are no harsh lines. They are nicely pigmented and if you are looking for something more dramatic, they certainly can be built up for a more chiseled look.

      I use the cool toned lightest shades on the far left side as my contour and highlight.  Then I use the middle shade as a light bronzer.  The rest of the palette is too warm for me, perhaps in the summer when I have more color I might be able to use them, but for now I re-purpose them as eye shadows. 

Shimmer Highlight: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette - $58.00

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette available at Sephora and
      Admittedly this is a huge splurge.  It's certainly more than I ever care to spend on any kind of cosmetic, let alone a highlight.  But the formula of Hourglass's ambient lighting powders are truly phenomenal.  ESPECIALLY for aging skin like mine. 

     The powder is so finely milled, and the "shimmer" is more like an all over glow than most traditional highlighting formulas which can contain a lot of glitter. I will choose this formula over the Becca highlights any day (although I do enjoy those too).  The Hourglass formulas don't exaggerate my pores or skin texture the way other highlights can. This in my opinion is just a far superior product.  Unfortunately the price reflects that.   

Blush: Sephora Collection Colorful Face Powders - $15.00

Sephora Collection Colorful Face Powders available at Sephora
     If you go into Sephora and neglect to stop by the Sephora brand collection, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. They have expanded the collection considerably and have reformulated some products including their blushes.  

     The result is a blush formula that holds it's own against many of the more expensive brands including Too Faced and Tarte.  I currently own three shades, Love Sick, Flirt it Up, and I'm Quite Tipsy and I will probably expand my own collection more in the future.  The powder is finely milled and blends very easily.  The blushes are a nice level of pigmentation.  They aren't so intense that you have to worry about clown face, but you still feel you get your money's worth.  

     The wear time is nice as well.  I don't feel they break down or disappear any faster than my Tarte Amazonian Clay blushes or the Too Faced Love Flushes, despite them being a considerable bit cheaper.  

     Also as an added bonus they are starting to include contour, bronzer and highlighting shades.  Selections within these groups are still limited.  I couldn't find a shade that looked quite right for my skin tone, but the feel of the powder is the same as the blushes.  If you can find a flattering shade, it's definitely worth a try.

Eyeshadow:  ColourPop Super Shock Eye Shadows - $5.00

ColourPop Super Shock Eye Shadows available at
     There is a reason why the Internet won't stop talking about these shadows.  Are they a cream?  Or are they a powder?  I don't really know, but I love them anyway!  

     There is an insane selection of colors. I think 96 last time I checked, not including the exclusive colors that come in the limited edition and collaborative sets.  The formula is long wearing, doesn't crease (I do suggest a primer), is easy to work with (use your fingers), and again  ONLY $5.00!

     This is easily my favorite brand for more funky colors that I may not wear often.  I do not feel nearly so guilty experimenting with a new color if I only paid $5.00 versus $18.00 for an Urban Decay single.  Yet the color intensity, pigmentation, and variety of finishes all compare to that of high end brands that charge three times as much for their products. 

Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil - $20.00

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil available at Ulta, Sephora, and
     OK another insanely expensive product.  I do love these pencils though.  As a contacts wearer, I do have sensitive eyes that occasionally water, especially when I have to adjust a contact or something similar.  As such I have the worst time with eyeliners staying still on my eyes. 

     I have tried countless brands and formulas.  Some work better than others.  Some work just as well as the Urban Decay (see my runner up).  But what they lack is the variety in colors that Urban Decay offers.  

     There are 37 different colors of eyeliner in the 24/7 Glide-on line. 37.  Granted I only have like 2, but if there were ever a color that you were looking for,  Urban Decay probably has it.  In addition the formula goes on really easily.  It's creamy and doesn't pull or tug at my lids while I'm applying it.  I wish I didn't like this as much as I do, because yeah.  That's expensive.  

Runner Up: L'Oreal Voluminous Smoldering Eyeliner - $8.95 (comes in 3 colors, but has a nice formula)

Mascara: Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof - $8.99

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara available in most drug and discount stores

     When it comes to mascara, nothing beats the drugstore.  I find it incredibly hard to pay high end prices for mascara for a few reasons.  1. Your mascara should be changed out quite often to avoid bacterial contamination and 2. I have yet to find a high end mascara that I feel works good enough to deserve the extra cost.  

     What I have been using for months, and will probably continue to use is the Maybelline Lash Sensational mascara in the waterproof formula.  It is a thinner formula, a bit more wet than other mascaras.  For those looking for something more volumizing this might not be the best choice.  I personally don't like many volumizing formulas, so this works great for me.  It does darken and lengthen nicely, and usually I only require one coat.  

    The wear time is very nice.  I don't experience any flaking with this formula.  I haven't had any running or smearing issues with it either.  Because it is a wetter formula, you do need to give it some extra time to dry your you might get some dots on your lid from the tips of your eyelashes, but those are easy to deal with once they dry. 

Lipstick - Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick - Melted Fig - $21.00

Too Faced Melted Liquid Lipstick available at Ulta, Sephora and
     I know I just went on about this in the Too Faced brand review (here), but I'm going to do it again.  And for good reason.  This is probably my favorite lipstick of all time.   

    Yes, you will hear me rave about some other formulas.  And rightfully so, this isn't my most favorite formula.  But this IS my favorite color.  It's this perfect cool tone mix of both pink and orchid.  It just looks awesome.  I wear it all the time, even when I say I am going to try something else or a new color I end up reaching for this instead.  For that alone it gets my pick for favorite lipstick of the year. 

Makeup Brushes: Morphe Brushes - price varies by brush

Morphe Cosmetic Brushes available at

     I wish I had found out about Morphe brushes sooner.  I really do.  Makeup brushes are expensive! Yes, there are some good ones to be found in the drug store.  I really like Sonia Kashuk, and brushes made by Real Techniques.  But they do have a limited selection of styles and shapes. 

     If you are looking for some more specialized brushes, especially for face and eyes I highly recommend checking out Morphe.  I have a few brushes and I love each of them and use them often.  I wash them regularly and have had no issues with any of them losing shape, or hairs shedding/falling out.  The ones I have received have all been very soft and comfortable to use, and they are a fraction of the price that you see brushes go for in Sephora or Ulta. 

     The only thing I am not in love with, is they are only available online (unless you live in Burbank, California and go to the one retail store they have).  Buying online isn't inherently a problem, but if you are like me, you want to look and feel the brushes you are going to purchase.  It's hard to gauge size with a single picture.  To help with that usually I visit a Sephora or Ulta and find a brush that I like, and write down the description then visit Morphe and find a brush that best matches the description.  So far this process  hasn't let me down, and it has saved me some money. 

Makeup Remover: Bioderma Sensibio H20 - $6.95 - $19.95

Bioderma Sensibio H20 is available at
     I discovered this makeup remover in Paris, and I stocked up.  It (with some other purchases) cost me a lot in extra luggage fees. My husband wasn't so happy that day.  But I do love this micellar water cleanser.  It is super gentle, doesn't dry out my face at all, it doesn't burn my eyes like  makeup wipes and other removers do.  And yet, somehow it still removes all my makeup including my waterproof mascara. I use it both as a makeup remover and as a morning cleanser. 

     Right now the only place to get it is through  They offer a flat shipping rate of $5.00, unless your order is over $35.00 in which shipping is then free.  So shipping isn't horrible considering a 500ml bottle of this isn't light.  Of course as with anything else it's more cost effective to purchase in the larger bottles, however it should be noted that the lids don't come off like normal lids, so it is rather difficult to decant this into smaller bottles for travel and such. 

     As a side note Garnier has come out with it's own micellar water, that looks very similar to this.  I have not yet used it.  I'm going to wait until I am finished with my current open bottle then I am going to test it out.  If it works the same, it will be awesome at is is half the cost ($8.00 for roughly 400ml).

     Oh my goodness, that is it.  So many words!  LOL Thank you all so very much for stopping by and reading through this monster of a post.  As always if you think there is something I should try out, or if you have favorite picks of your own, feel free to share them in the comment section below!  Next week I will return with a Pintertest post.  Hint: this one worked!  So I hope to see you next week!

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