Monday, September 29, 2014

Game Day Makeup

For me, Sunday is football day. I'm probably in the vast minority of beauty bloggers who really love sports (though perhaps not?) but I am a big football and hockey fan, and love nothing more than sitting around with some chips and dip, a few drinks and watching the game with friends and family. Aside from being a huge New York Rangers fan in hockey, because of Jake, I've also become a big Chicago Bears fan in the past few years. I had always enjoyed football in the past, but now it's really fun watching the Bears play (even in unfortunate losses like they had today).

Aside from the Bears, I try and watch as many games as I can because (confession time) I'm a huge fantasy football fan. I know, I know, when you think fantasy football, I am probably not the average player you would imagine. That being said, I am the proud reigning champ (and only girl) in my league, and am currently tied for first so far this year (just to throw a little bragging in there...).

Anyways, the whole point of bringing up my love of football was to talk about game day makeup, and I've definitely gotten a bit off track with that. Often I'll spend the day at a sports bar or a friend's house watching the games, making a day of it, so I like to keep my look pretty natural and low maintenance. For this look I've been using my heavily favored base duo, which consists of the lovely Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder foundation and the By Terry Touche Veloutee for underneath my eyes. These two help even out my skin a bit while still looking very skin-like and natural, a look I much prefer, especially when I'm trying not to look all dolled up (I am usually hanging out with a bunch of guys who couldn't care less, after all).

After my base is done I use just a bit of the lovely, creamy Nudestix Lip & Cheek Pencil in Love on my cheeks and lips. I haven't spoken much about this recent purchase, but this stick is so wonderful for a way to do makeup on the go. Love is such a gorgeous, natural pink shade that adds just a hint of color to your cheeks and lips, perfect for a natural look.

To finish off my look, I add a tiny bit of Charlotte Tilbury's Colour Chameleon in Bronzed Garnet to my lower lash line for a hint of definition, and then swipe a few layers of Tarte Lights, Camera Splashes Waterproof Mascara to my upper lashes. And I'm done! It's a really simple, easy makeup look for a lazy day, and has become my heavily favored style for game days.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Some Glow n' Wonder

Two of my most anticipated products from the Charlotte Tilbury US launch were her much talked about Light Wonder foundation as well as her Wonderglow primer (which I've reviewed here). In my extensive research (re: my blog stalking) I had seen her foundation described as light coverage, hydrating, and "your skin, but better". I feel that phrase is sort of overused when describing foundations (and I count myself as one of the biggest culprits), but even still it always manages to illicit an "ooh, I need that!" response from me when I read it.

After seeing the foundation worn on some of my favorite bloggers (specifically Milk Teef and Lily Pebbles' reviews), my interest in the foundation tripled and I knew I had to have it! It ended up being the last item released from the line due to customs, so when it arrived on my doorstep I already had Charlotte's lovely Wonderglow in my possession (both items courtesy of the lovely Beautylish - a wonderful makeup site that I would highly recommend).

So after some high anticipation, what did I think? Well, lovelies, I can honestly say that after several days of use I think I've found my new holy grail base. No, really. As the queen of tinted moisturizers, I never thought that I'd find a foundation that blows away all of my favorite light bases, but this gem has proved me wrong. I can completely understand why bloggers have been saying that this stuff is "your skin but better", because there's simply no other way to describe it! It is such a light base, but manages to cover up any redness on my complexion, leaving behind hydrated skin.

The best way I could describe it would be as a "shake to wake" formula (very similar in texture to Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua) that serves as a makeup/skincare hybrid. It's incredibly hydrating (so probably would work best for normal to dry skin, one of the reasons we get on so well) and really melts into the skin, leaving behind a more even complexion. It can be built up in coverage with a few layers, but I would say at most it could make it's way to medium coverage. As for the shade, I had gambled a bit and blindly ordered the shade 4 Fair after doing a little bit of research on undertones for each of the shades. Luckily, it ended up being a perfect match! Just a warning that the formula does oxidize a bit after application, so keep that in mind if you're ordering.

So as amazing as the foundation is, it is even more incredible worn on top of Charlotte's Wonderglow primer. Now, I certainly don't think it's a requirement to wear both together, and if I had to choose just one I'd use the foundation hands down (and if you still want a Wonderglow-type primer, I'd recommend the much cheaper but very similiar option of Revlon's Skinlight in Bare Light). However, I did find that the Light Wonder applied like a dream on top of Wonderglow, and it added just a bit more of a dewy, soft-focused glow to my skin. Plus, I found that the results lasted longer throughout the day, making it a win-win.

I love how dewy these two make my skin look (and while still passing the "sunglass test" - the oil-free formula makes it dry down a few minutes after application, while still leaving behind a dew-factor), and I could not be happier with these purchases. Definitely two of my favorites from the all-around amazing Charlotte Tilbury line.


Friday, September 26, 2014

My Return from a (Very) Extended Hiatus

Hey there guys, long time no see (again)! I am finally returning from my all-too-long hiatus, and I could not be happier. Not having a working camera was the pits, and I've missed blogging more than I can say. However, I now have a brand new camera (my first ever DSLR, the lovely Canon EOS Rebel t5i) that I am loving experimenting with. I'm sure my first few (dozens) of blog pictures with this guy will be kind of shaky, because I'm still getting used to it and playing around, but the difference in quality between this and my ol' point-and-shoot is night and day. I cannot wait to record some videos for you guys on this thing!

I'm leaving on Friday (or, by the team you guys read this, today) for a trip to Florida to see Jake for the first time in almost two months! It's been really hard being apart, and I really cannot wait to just give him a big hug and to be able to talk in person versus excessive text messaging. Plus, now that it's getting chilly here, I'm kind of excited to get a few more days of summer in sunny Florida! I will hopefully be taking lots and lots of pictures with the new camera there that I will be sharing with you guys.

I'm in the middle of preparing a few posts to be scheduled while I'm gone, and I'm really going to be trying my hardest to get some posts up daily (or, at least, every other day) for you guys! I love blogging, and I have so many new products I want to share with you all. This blog has really become a huge love in my life, and being away for so long was pretty difficult (albeit necessary, between the camera situation, work and a few stressful weeks of life). So I'm excited to get back into the swing of things, and hopefully get this blog back to where it had been.

Monday, September 15, 2014

(Wonder)glowing Skin

Well hello there. First off, I apologize for the ridiculously long hiatus between this and my last post, it has just been a crazy week (with another one just beginning) and I really just wasn't able to find the time in my days to write any real quality posts. That combined with the fact that I'm waiting for a new camera (with my current one on the fritz) meant that I wasn't able to post anything for a bit. I can only promise that I am going to try and get better from here on out, especially with planning posts out in advance.

Anyways, I'm really excited to talk with you guys today about one of my favorite Charlotte Tilbury products from the recent US launch, and that is her glowing primer Wonderglow. Described as a skincare/makeup hybrid (which is my absolute favorite), this gem can be used underneath, over, or even in lieu of foundation. It's supposed to add a "soft focus" effect to your skin, with "light-reflecting microspheres" that give your skin a little bit of glow. Now, while I really do love wearing this underneath foundation, as I feel it has some great skincare benefits that leave me with baby soft skin, I'm going to go ahead and tell you the truth about these so called "microspheres". Tilbury claims that there's patented technology called Fluorescent Core Light Diffuser that "steals UV light" and re-emits it from your skin.

Charlotte, I love you, but your so-called patented technology is glorified glitter. Like, seriously, tons of glitter. It imparts a gorgeous glow when worn underneath foundation, and makes my skin feel ridiculously soft, but let's tell it like it is and say that it's just a bunch of glitter in a lovely skincare formula. As much as I like how it looks for me, I just want to be completely clear about this fact because I found it hard to tell from pictures online.

Anyways, I've mostly been using this guy underneath foundation or as a highlighter on top, and it really gets the job done both ways. It imparts a gorgeous glow and makes applying foundation a dream. As it is quite sparkly, I don't love the look of it by itself. It's almost completely sheer, so it's much better used as a primer versus any sort of coverage. That being said, it's one of the best primers I've ever used, and if you're looking for a primer that will give you dewy, glowing skin than look no further.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Marathon Books

I don't know about you guys, but in recent years I've become the queen of marathoning TV shows. With sites like Netflix and Hulu (alright, 99% Netflix, Hulu is kind of the pits) it's become so easy to marathon a whole series over the course of a few weeks days. And let's be honest, a commercial free marathon is so much more addicting and fun than watching a show over the course of a year, right?

Well as much as I love a good ol' Netflix binge, lately I've found myself transferring that love over to reading. I get the same fun out of reading a book cover to cover within the course of a day or so, without the condescending message from Netflix asking if you're sure you want to keep watching after 12 continuous hours (and the answer is always yes, Netflix, gawd).

I recently finished the amazing novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (more on that in a second) and it really got me thinking on some of the books I've read in recent years that I haven't been able to put down. I seem to really be drawn to the mystery genre for this reason, but all of these books have also had such well written, fully formed characters that I would find myself getting enveloped within their world during my time reading. So I thought I'd share with you guys a few of my favorites, some truly addictive books that I had the best time reading.

I'll start off with Gone Girl, a novel that I was fairly late to the game on. I remember two summers ago this was the book to read, and it seemed like just about every reader on the beach had it in their hands. I regret not reading the book back then because I ended up being spoiled on the big, game changing twist of the book before I ever read it. If I can recommend anything going into reading this book it would be to know nothing going in. I mean, yes, the basic summary of a wife going missing is something that happens within the first several pages, but other than that you really should just go in with an open mind and enjoy the ride. It's truly one of the darkest, most twisted books I've read in years, and that's coming from someone who loves dark and twisted novels. It's incredibly written, and the characters and themes are so thought provoking that I can see why it's become such a book club favorite - I immediately wanted to talk to someone about it after reading the last page! I know I'm being kind of cryptic about this book but, really, just go read it. Especially before the movie comes out and it's being spoiled all over social media.

My next recommendation is actually pretty general, and it's just about any book written by the author Denis Lehane. He is the master of dark mysteries with some fantastic psychological twists. His characters are always written as fully formed human beings with complexities and flaws, a task that is a lot easier said than done in writing. Lehane wrote perhaps my favorite book ever, Gone Baby Gone, the story of two detectives who investigate the case of a missing child. I found out after reading it that the book was part of a series written around the two detectives, but honestly I found it so amazing as a standalone book that I have yet to read more of it. It's a fantastic mystery novel with one of the biggest twist endings I've ever read. The story of this book stayed with me for days after finishing, and I still recommend it as one of the best I've ever read.

Two other fantastic reads from Lehane are his books Mystic River and Shutter Island. While Shutter Island is a bit more of a thriller with a supernatural element, Mystic River is all about the complexities of human behavior and psychological trauma. As someone who is fascinated by psychology, I found this novel to be absolutely thrilling. The basic plot is about three childhood best friends who experience a tragedy in their youths that forces them to grow apart. Twenty-five years later they are all brought back in each others' lives when of the guys' daughter turns up murdered. All three of these books by Lehane were turned into movies, and while they were all decent, Mystic River is the one I'd recommend most for it's adaptation. That being said, as always, the books are still superior and I'd recommend reading them before seeing their movie counterparts.

Have you guys read any "marathon books" lately? Now that I'm finished with Gone Girl I'm in need of a new one and would love any recommendations!


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser

I'm here today to tell you the tale of a truly amazing cleanser. Now, I've used a fair amount of cleansers in my day (by which, I mean, since I first started using cleansers circa 2012), but never have I found a cleanser that is free of Parabens, Phthalate, Sulfate and Artificial Fragrances. Ah yes, my friends, I've discovered an incredible all-natural cleanser (and cruelty-free to boot!) that cleanses and brightens your skin. The name of this gorgeous piece of skincare? It's the Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser.

Alright, so I promise I'm going to start writing like a normal human being now, and tell you a little more about this newly discovered skincare favorite. While I was on a bit of a shopping kick over at Beautylish, I came across this brand that claimed to have all-natural products, and every single one had fabulous reviews to back up the claims. The Brightening Cleanser stood out to me with it's formulation of strawberry oil, anti-oxidants and exfoliators, with promises of cleansing and brightening your skin at the same time (hence the title, obviously). I'll admit that my interest was piqued, and so into my shopping bag it went.

Upon first use, I followed the directions of applying a dime-sized amount to a cotton ball (although it apparently works fantastically with any facial brush as well) and was immediately struck with a strong strawberry scent (caused by the strawberry oil, a main ingredient). Now, I have a ridiculous sweet tooth and so the candy scent certainly appealed to me, but I should say upfront that if you do not like the scent of strawberries stay away because it's quite potent.

Anyways, I applied the small amount to my face and neck (it immediately lathered up and easily glided onto my skin), taking in the lovely fragrance. After washing it off with warm water, not only was my makeup completely taken off but my skin was left feeling baby soft and looking visibly brighter. Every claim had been checked off after only one use!

The experience has certainly left me wanting to try more from the brand, and has gone to show that all natural products can truly do wonders. As long as someone doesn't have an aversion to the smell of strawberries, this is a real gem of a product that I'd recommend to anyone wanting to try out a new cleanser. A great skincare piece that will absolutely be making the rounds in my daily routine.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Makeup ≠ Beauty

There's something I need to write about today that's a little different from my normal postings. In fact, as a bit of an opinion piece, it's a lot different from the regularly scheduled tutorials and reviews. I promise those will continue within the coming days, but this post was just too important for me not to share today. So pardon me while I go on a bit of a tangent.

It all started after reading a makeup bag post over at the lovely Charly Cox's blog, Style the Natives (a truly wonderful blog that I would recommend to any and all). Titled "A Conscious 'What's In My Makeup Bag'", I knew it was going to be a little something different (a big reason I love reading Charly's blog, she always tells it like it is). It's a piece I'd recommend everyone to give a read, but just to sum it up quickly she wrote of her hesitation in showing what was in her makeup bag because she doesn't want impressionable young girls to read it and believe that they need to shell out all of their money to buy the contents themselves in order to feel pretty. There's far more to the piece than that, but just that jist alone was very thought provoking for me and made me want to compile my own (far less eloquently written) thoughts on the subject.

This got me thinking about what the beauty industry, and we as beauty bloggers, can do and how we can influence impressionable girls (or boys). While I have a smaller blog that probably hasn't been read by enough people to really make an impact, even if I just happened to influence one person it's something that I should take responsibility for. I write about beauty products all the time, one's that I "can't live without" or that I'm "dying to get my hands on" (phrases I admittedly use too much). For me, beauty products are very much a creative outlet - a way for me to enhance features and play around with colors. I personally find using beauty products fun, and buying and using them really gives me pleasure.

That being said, I would be lying if I wrote that that was the only reason I use beauty products. For example, I am incredibly self-conscious of my dark undereye circles, and I've spent an embarrassing amount of money on products to cover them up. And, yes, I'll admit that there are plenty of times that I bring out the makeup not to use as an artist, but to use as an insecure person trying to cover up any perceived "flaws".

Honestly, raise of hands, how many people flip through magazines or the Internet and have the thought to themselves, "I wish I could look like her"? Even subconsciously, I sometimes find myself going through my favorite blogs and thinking to myself how gorgeous these girls look and how I wish I could be half as pretty.

And you know what, I think there is a large part of this that can be attributed to the influence of the beauty industry. For example, I was recently checking out the collection from the brand Bliss, and I came across such names as "Fat Girl Slim", "Fat Girl Slim Arm Candy" and "The Love Handler". I mean, in what world are those names okay? They bring you in with their cute-sy, impressionable font and subconsciously get you thinking, "hmm do I need that?". Even Charlotte Tilbury, whose line I adore, was famously quoted as saying that "through the power of makeup, any woman can look and feel beautiful". Honestly, that kind of skeeves me out to hear someone in such a high position within the beauty industry to say.

But that leads me to my point (I had to get there eventually after rambling on this long). EVERY woman is beautiful. Every. Single. One. Because the thing is, makeup isn't what makes us beautiful, beauty is something every person is born with. We might not all look like Miranda Kerr, but that is a good thing. It's being different, and not looking like everyone else that allows us to be our own unique kind of beautiful. There should be no set standard for beauty, and no look that people feel the need to achieve through the "power of makeup".

As I said before, makeup is a fun, creative outlet to play around with. I obviously adore it and, yeah, sometimes I think playing dress up with it is incredibly exhilarating and awesome. But I think it's vitally important to state the fact that it is not what MAKES you beautiful. You are already beautiful. Seriously. Every little supposed "flaw" you have is what makes you you, and you are gorgeous (and, yes, this is advice I need to remind myself more often than not). So embrace your beauty, and let makeup be that joyful thing that you love to experiment and play around with. And with that, I'm going to step down from my podium and wrap up this overtly long post.

P.S. Just in case the picture is a little confusing, it's me and Jake at the beach. I'm makeup free, sunburnt and feeling ridiculously happy. It's one of my favorite pictures of us.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Charlotte Tilbury Launch: What I'm Buying

Today (or, as I'm writing this, I guess it's technically tomorrow) is the day that Charlotte Tilbury's makeup line launches in the good ol' US of A. If you're anything like me, you've been eagerly awaiting this launch since the line debuted in the UK last September, obsessively checking out UK bloggers' reviews of products in order to build your own wishlist (what's that you say? Oh, that's not normal? Yeah probably not).

For those of you who don't know Charlotte Tilbury, she's one of the most famous makeup artists in the business. She's done makeup for just about every A-list star there is, and her iconic looks have found themselves on the covers of every big magazine. Last year she launched her own makeup and beauty line in the UK, with twelve different looks (ranging from the Ingénue to the Vintage Vamp) that list all of her different products you would need to achieve it. Her makeup line is meant to be accessible to everyone from makeup newbies to experts, and offer some of the best ingredients and formulas that she's discovered from her many years in the business.

Just about everything looks amazing from her line, and I'm trying to limit myself from buying absolutely everything by just picking a few favorites to buy on launch day (with many more purchases to come, I'm sure). Specifically, I adore her look the Ingénue and I've found myself drawn to many of the products from that look. So while I've changed up a few, I used that look as a guide and picked four favorites that I plan to pick up on day one:

1) Beach Stick in Las Salinas  - Speaking of the bright and colorful products, this gorgeous pink color stick (for both cheeks and lips) is definitely a flashy piece I can't want to try out. Charlotte's Beach Sticks were getting rave reviews throughout the blogosphere this past summer, and I jealously looked on as I saw many gorgeous pictures of UK bloggers rocking this color on their cheeks. I'm a huge blush fan and this color seems to be just the perfect shade for a natural flush of pink. Plus I think the packaging is just to die for, I don't know what it is about products in stick form that make me go nutty but there's something about them..

2) Light Wonder Foundation in Fair 4  -I've frequently heard this compared to my HG of foundations, the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua. It's described as having an almost water-y consistency that provides a natural looking light-to-medium coverage, my favorite. I'm a little worried about ordering this online, because I'm not terribly sure what shade I would be, but from my research it looks like Fair 4 is a pretty safe shade to go with, and since it's described as having a fairly forgiving formula I feel it's worth giving a try! This is possibly the product I'm most excited for, because I'm such a base fanatic. While everyone else is going for the bright, colorful guys, this is one I'm absolutely psyched to get my hands on.

3) The Retoucher in Fair 2 - One would think I have enough concealers at this point, but I really think I'm going to have to add this to my collection after reading some stellar reviews. It's been described as having the coverage of the Clé de Peau concealer with the lightness and hydration of By Terry Touche Veloutee. I can I not give that a try?

4) Color Chameleon in Bronzed Garnet - Another stick product (they're just so gorgeous and handy!), and this one is a bronze-y eyeshadow that is targeted for green eyes. Now, I'm a weird case when it comes to eye shadows' targeted for a specific eye color, because my eyes constantly change from green to blue depending on what I'm wearing. I've always thought of them as leaning more towards a sea green, but then someone will compliment my "blue eyes" and I just have no idea. Any-who, this gorgeous bronze color looks perfect for adding just a hint of shadow around my eyes, or even for going all out at night (by which I mean spending the night in watching Netflix with fancy makeup on). There are so many colors in this range that I cannot wait to try for myself, but for now this color stood out as my favorite for a first go around.

So what products are you guys planning to pick up from the line (or, if you're in the UK, what've you picked up already)?


Monday, September 1, 2014

Buffy the Dry Skin Slayer

I seem to suffer from dry skin year round. Even in complete humidity, my skin just can't seem to soak in any moisture whatsoever without outside help (slathering on lotion). On my last trip to Lush (seriously, when am I not in this store?) I was introduced to an amazing body conditioner/exfoliating combo in their Buffy Body Butter (hence the "witty" title).

The sales associate who helped me at Lush said that this was one of their top sellers, and I can see why. This little gem is packed with body conditioning ingredients such as Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter, but then it helps to work double time by also exfoliating through the use of ground Almonds and Rice. All you have to do is rub it over your body in the shower, wash off any excess, and suddenly you're walking out of the shower with baby soft skin. Genius!

Now, the one downside I've found with this is that it can go quickly. I bought a smaller bar, and after probably six uses it's down to a nub. For $12, that seems a bit quick for it to go, but I'm so impressed by how well it works on my skin that I might just have to overlook it and buy another one. With how great this one was, I'm also looking into some of Lush's other body contioners (Ro's Argan Body Conditioner especially is calling my name...).

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