Month: February 2014

Illamasqua Glamore Collection Launched Today!

Image via Chicprofile

Today the innovative and always unique brand Illamasqua launched their new, 8-piece collection in their native U.K. The collection hasn’t launched stateside yet, but is available from Illamasqua’s website, which does ship to the U.S. The collection features three new lipsticks ($26.77 USD each), three new and limited edition nail polishes ($24.34 USD each), 1 eyebrow cake ($25.15 USD), and 1 angled brush ($30.83 USD). As a bonus, the Ultimate Skin Trinity is promoted as a web exclusive and marked down from $113.58 to $81.13 USD.

This collection, like all of Illamasqua’s others, looks super intriguing! The colors are bound to be pretty lovely. What do you think? Will you be picking up anything from this launch? medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘250’; medianet_crid=’228266391′;


How-to: Do a Full Face Without Brushes

You might be wondering, “why on Earth would anyone want to do their makeup without brushes?” While it’s true that quality cosmetics brushes are worthwhile investments, some people just don’t have the interest, time, or means to do so. Or maybe you’re travelling, and–worst-case scenario, you’re travel makeup bag gets lost and you need to restock on a few functional products.

There’s an upside to this unconventional cosmetic practice: creams can be multipurpose (just make sure your products are safe for use on the eyes, lips, and cheeks before trying–not all products can go everywhere). Using a few key products can lend to a full face (and without those brushes and powders, it can save a ton of space in your travel makeup bag, and wallet, too).

So, here’s PV’s guide to getting a full face, without a brush in sight (feel free to skip steps that don’t apply to/interest you as necessary).

1) Foundation.

Images via Drugstore and Sephora

Fortunately, foundation is one of those products that is often applied with the fingers already. Pump or dab a small amount onto the back of your hand, then use your fingers to apply to the face, starting with where you want the most coverage and blending outwards. I love L’Oreal Visible Lift Absolute Serum Foundation ($14.99 USD), but I’m dying to try Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation ($45 USD) as well.

2) Concealer.

Images via Beautylish and Sephora

Concealer is another one of those products that is commonly blended out with the fingers, and most come with built-in applicators. In fact, I’d say it’s more difficult to find one without an applicator! So with this step, apply concealer to any problem areas (acne, undereye circles, etc) as needed and dab with a finger to gently blend. I rely on my Maybelline Mineral Power Natural Perfecting Concealer, (about $6.94 USD) but Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Eclait ($41 USD) is a popular choice.
3) Eyeshadow.
Images via Drugstore and Nordstrom

Many people worry about applying cream shadow to their lids due to fear that it will crease. However, there are many cream shadows on the market that are tried and true. They wear so well, in fact, that many use specific brands’ cream shadows as a primer for their powders, they’re that resilient against creasing! I love Maybelline Color Tattoos ($6.99 USD), but MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pots are an industry standard and fan favorite ($20 USD). Use your ring finger (or a cotton swab, if you’re concerned about contaiminating the pot) to grab product, then dab onto the center of the eyelid and blend outwards. 
(Psst, Maybelline’s Too Cool Color Tattoo is sheer enough to be lightly worn as a face/brow highlighter too!)
4) Blush.

Images via Maybelline and Sephora

Cream blushes add an especially lovely flush to the face because the warmth from your fingers melts the color a little bit, helping it flawlessly adhere to your skin. These products tend to run sheerer, too, so they translate to really lovely color on the face. Simply swirl your finger into the product, swirl onto the cheek, and blend outwards. I think Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush ($7.99 USD) isn’t bad, and Tarte Cheek Stain ($30 USD) looks great.
5) Then apply liner, mascara, and lipstick/gloss as usual!
Or, if you’re really strapped for time/cash/patience, use multipurpose products!
Images via Sephora

Cosmetics brands know they have consumers with busy lives who want no-fuss products that will still help create the looks they want. NARS The Multiple ($39 USD) is ideal for this kind of person. A cream to powder product that’s safe for use on the eyes, cheeks, and lips, the Multiple is multipurpose color packed in a functional stick that’s easy and convenient to travel with. The shade range is impressive, too, so one of these babies in a darker shade could function as your bronzer for extra sculpting. Benefit Benetit ($30 USD) is also up this alley, with a bottle of color with a brush-on applicator that enhances both cheeks and lips. 

What do you think? Would you ever forego your makeup brushes?

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Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Load Review

Image via Sephora

Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Load taught me a lesson in consumerism. I typically hate when brands use sex to sell their cosmetics, but I thought “load” was just cheeky enough, something that would make you blush without being as in-your-face as, say NARS Orgasm. But a clever name isn’t enough to mask a bad product, and sadly, that’s all I got with this polish. If anything, it’s a reminder to use your brain when shopping for cosmetics (or anything, really!) and not get sucked into cutesy names.

The brand describes this shade as “a creamy white” with a “glossy finish.” I feel like it’s an apt description. On the nails, it’s a warm, subtle, ladylike off-white with a slightly yellow tinge. It changes slightly depending on the lighting, looking more yellow or more white, depending. It’s never stark, so it’s appropriate for work and would suit a broad range of skin tones. This works as an all-over nail shade, but I can see it working as the white section of a French manicure as well. It’s not fully-opaque. It’s nice, but it’s just an off-white cream. I don’t have any dupes on hand, but I feel like this color is common enough. (3.5/5)


I was really disappointed by how Load performed, wear-wise. I did have one slight chip on my thumb after three days, nothing major. But by five days, I was appalled by how this looked. It didn’t chip any more, but it had this bizarre cracking! I’ve never seen a polish behave like that (when it wasn’t supposed to)! It was as if the polish dried out on the nail and just cracked, the way dry skin does (even with a top coat). (2/5)


Load is easily the most difficult polish to work with that I own. The consistency is quite thick, and applies streaky. The only way to correct this polish’s streakiness was with thicker coats, which upped the already longer dry time. It takes three coats to get close enough to opaque coverage as possible, but on some nails there was still visible nail line after three layers. I’m no amateur to painting my own nails, but this was so difficult to work with. The formula applies unevenly and it’s harder to hide it’s bad effects than with other polishes. Not to mention the cracking I experienced! It just didn’t flow nicely across the nail and had so many problems. (1.5/5)


Illamasqua is one of the few brands that packages their lacquers in a box. This is still a throwaway part of the packaging, but it does contain a full ingredients list and is something I can understand with this brand’s higher price tag. The varnish comes in a rectangular bottle with a blocky, glossy black cap. The cap is cumbersome and a bit finicky to hold (and I have smaller fingers). The brush is average, long and thin. (4/5)


Illamasqua varnishes contain 0.5 fl oz of product, which is the average across most brands. However, this has one of the steeper price tags of $17 USD. That’s double the price of Essie and more than double the cost of OPI. If a shade is really unique and/or performs excellently with superior quality, I can overlook a bulky price tag. But Load certainly isn’t worth it. It’s too common, to generic, and far, far too problematic to warrant $17. (2/5)

Wow Factor:
I was lured into buying this product for the name, and it does look like it’s namesake, which earns it some creativity and originality points. I don’t think this kind of literal interpretation was a popular idea with other brands, so in that regard, it’s in a league of it’s own. The slightly altered affect it takes on with different lighting is a perk as well. However, I still find it ultimately more of a plain Jane kind of color. There may not be an exact dupe, but I don’t think it’s so unique that someone couldn’t rifle through their own collection or salon shelves, grab something cheaper, and think “close enough.” (2/5)

Useful Information:
-These varnishes are 3-free (but contain formaldehyde resin and camphor).

-Illamasqua is a UK based brand available exclusively at Sephora stateside.

-Illamasqua is not directly sold in China (technically making their products “fully” cruelty-free), but they do ship to Chinese customers via their website (as always, it’s up to you to decide if this meets your personal cruelty free standards).

I wanted to love this polish, since it was so cheeky and was one of those trendy, “in” shades for a while. But this is just so, so flawed. It doesn’t perform the way an expensive polish should (or even an average polish–I have $1 polishes that outshine Load). I’m not totally put off from the brand; in fact, I long to buy more from them, including their polishes. But I would never repurchase this product or recommend it to anyone, especially those with low patience. That’s what I get for believing the hype! 2.5 (D)


Illamasqua products are available to US customers exclusively at Sephora.
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L’Oreal Visible Lift Serum Absolute Foundation Review

Image via Drugstore

When I was first getting into makeup, it was imperative that I picked up a decent foundation. “Decent,” to me, meant something that would add life to the face and make me look fresh, while still looking natural. Since I wanted to cover my freckles, I knew a sheer formula wasn’t right for me. Since skin makeup wasn’t that big of a deal to me then, I wanted something affordable. That’s how I walked away with L’Oreal Visible Lift Serum Absolute Foundation.


I found the coverage to be light-medium to medium with a slight dewy finish. My freckles are not very dark, and this did blur them without masking them completely. I was blown away by the pore coverage when I first tried this on (as I didn’t even think to hide them in my amateur days!). This gives a smooth, flawless base to work with, and looks like a china doll’s skin without looking too fake. Despite having more than sheer coverage, this foundation doesn’t feel heavy or like a mask. (5/5)

This foundation wore really well. After a full day, my skin looked smooth, even and bright. My skin also had nice texture throughout wear time. Although, this can appear a wee bit cakey in areas such as the corner of the nose when applied, but it’s so faint that you’d only notice if you were looking very closely for it in particular. (4.5/5)


The selling point of this foundation is that it has anti-aging benefits. (I’m only 21, but I figured prevention is the best treatment!). It also has SPF 17. It claims to have 24-hour hydration, but I didn’t notice a difference, negative or positive. This foundation has a thick enough texture to keep it from being runny but it’s not too heavy. It blends in easily (as promised), with only 2-3 pumps needed to cover the whole face. It adds brightness, smoothness, and evenness to the face without breaking me out. This does have a powdery scent that lingers, and can get faintly cakey in certain places, though. (4.5/5)


I thought this foundation’s packaging was nice, especially considering the affordable price. It comes in a hefty glass bottle with a soft curved design that feels more expensive than it is. I like that unlike most other foundations on the market, this one comes with a pump. It’s not only convenient, but I notice it doesn’t spurt out too much product, so it’s not wasteful. However, product can get stuck in there and come out clumpy the next use, so take care to wipe off the mouth of the pump once you’re done. Directions and ingredients are also printed on the bottle in a pull-down sticker tab. (4/5)


I picked mine up at Target for $14.99 USD. The bottle contains 1 fluid ounce, which is an average weight. Like most L’Oreal products, it’s not the cheapest at the drugstore, but as far as foundations go (which tend to run pricey overall), I think it’s considerably affordable. Plus, for the quality and accessibility, I think it’s worth the price. (4.5/5)

Wow Factor:

What impressed me the most about this formula was definitely the smooth, airbrushed finish it gave. It made a dramatic difference in the texture of my skin without a primer or anything to boost it’s leverage. It also has SPF, great brightening effects and semi-buildable coverage, all pluses. I like that it looks slightly expensive and comes pre-equipped with a pump. It’s breathable and feels natural. The only drawback-the thing that stops me from repurchasing!-is that the strong anti-aging ingredients are too harsh for my sensitive skin. 😦 (4.5/5)

Useful Information:
-If you have sensitive skin like I do, the potent anti-aging formula can cause a burning sensation during application.
-There are 12 shades in this range, severely limiting the number of people who could find a match for their complexion.
-L’Oreal tests on animals.

I really, really liked this foundation! I feel like it does it all: evens, brightens, protects, prevents wrinkles, smooths, you name it. I’m saddened it was too harsh for my skin, because I really like the finish it gives to my face. Apart from my sensitivity, I have normal skin, so I don’t know how well this may fare on dry or oily skin (although if I had to take a shot in the dark, I’d say the caking might get pronounced on dry patches, but oilier skin may fare better, since this foundation isn’t too glowy). I’d definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a great base to enhance their skin texture by blurring pores and adding life and smoothness. 4.5 (A-)

L’Oreal products are available at drugstores and cosmetic shops like Ulta.

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Sweet Makeup for Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day tends to bring several things to mind: flowers, sweets, and hearts. Whether you’re coupled up this holiday or celebrating your own fierceness, makeup brands have plenty of goodies to treat yourself to that match the romantic theme. To get you lovelies in the holiday spirit, I thought I’d share the sugariest, rosiest cosmetic delights to make your holiday a little sweeter. Consider it my gift to you, Valentines! xoxo


Image via Walgreens

1) Milani Illuminating Face Powder ($9.79 USD) 
These blushes/highlighters are embossed with a girly rose pattern, making the pan as pretty as the color on your cheeks. There’s also talk of Milani repromoting their limited-edition Coming Up Roses blushers, which feature one large rose print, versus the small several blooms seen in the Illuminating Face Powders.
Image via Beautylish

2) Flower Beauty
This line of cosmetics was founded by Drew Barrymore and is available exclusively at Wal-Mart. I love both Drew and cosmetics (obviously!) so I’m dying to try things from this line. The Kiss Stick High-Shine Lipstick (pictured above) range looks sleek for drugstore, and all the shades are named after flowers (the one shown is Morning Glory). The line is fully-developed, with products for face, eyes, lips, and nails. Let me know if you’ve tried anything from this range and what you thought of it!
Also check out: Benefit Dandelion ($28), Benefit Posietint ($30), Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow in Cool Lilac ($24), Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Rose ($42), Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Carnation/Rose, ($25 each), Clinique Cheek Pop ($21), Dior Rosy Glow Healthy Glow Awakening Blush in Petal ($44), Dior Dior Addict Gloss in Bed of Roses ($29.50), Guerlain Rouge Automatique in Cherry Blossom ($36), Lancome Rouge in Love Lipcolor in Roses in Love ($28.50), L’Oreal Colour Riche Extraordinary Lip Color in Rose Melody ($9.99), MAC Eyeshadow in Beautiful Iris ($15), MAC Lipstick in Fleur D’Coral, Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte in Rose Culte ($35)
Image via Fragrantica

1) Vera Wang Princess ($45-75 USD)
Who doesn’t want to smell delicious on date night? This fragrance is my favorite scent, very feminine and sweet, without being overpowering. The tasty notes in this scent make it perfect for a romantic occasion like V-Day. Ulta’s site claims the tasty top notes in this scent are water lily, lady apple, mandarin meringue, and golden apricot skin, followed by pink guava, Tahitian flower, wild tuberose, and dark chocolate, then finally pink frosting accord, precious amber, forbidden woods, royal musk captive, and chiffon vanilla. Say it with me: “Yum!” I’d still recommend this to those that don’t like food scents, as the floral in this notes water down any food flavors, so the fragrance smells quite balanced.
Image via Drugstore
2) Revlon Lip Butters ($7.49 USD each)
Like most beauty bloggers, I’ve sung the praises of these cute little lippies. And now I recommend them one more time. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to sport a girly lip color, and this line has you covered, no matter what your confident-lip-look is (for me, it’s pink, so I adore Cupcake, pictured above). Not only is every shade in the line named after a sweet dessert or fresh fruit, but the hydrating formula will keep your lips kissable ’til the end of the night.
Also check out: Benefit Lollitint ($30), Benefit Sugarbomb ($28), Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Nectar ($42), Bobbie Brown Lip Color in Brownie/Blackberry ($25 each), Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey ($15), Cover Girl Eye Enhancers 4-Kit Shadows in Sugar Coated ($5.99), Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment ($22.50), Lancome L’Absolu Rouge in Champagne ($30), Lancome Rouge in Love Lipcolor in Pink Bonbon ($28.50) Lavanilla Fragrances ($19-58), Make Up For Ever Eyeshadow in Espresso ($21), MAC Eyeshadow in Blackberry ($15), MAC Lipstick in Candy Yum Yum ($16), Philosophy Cinnamon Buns Shampoo/Shower Gel/Bubble Bath ($17), Too Faced The Chocolate Eyeshadow Palette ($49), Too Faced La Creme Lipsticks ($22 each), Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Vanilla ($18), Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte in Peach Passion ($35) 
Image via Sephora

1) Too Faced Sweethearts Perfect Flush Blush ($30 USD)
These blushes have made a splash since they appeared in the beauty blogosphere. I haven’t had a chance to try them, but the tri-hued powders look large enough to use separately or swirled together. Either way, the powder looks adorable, not just for the candy colors, but in the sweet heart-shaped tin, too.
Image via Sephora

2) Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Throb ($17 USD)
For me, Illamasqua’s bread and butter product is their nail varnish line. Why not coat your nails in fierce, classic red this holiday? This lacquer line is on the pricey side, but this heart-hued red is the perfect accent to your romantic date look. 
Also check out: Cover Girl Lip Perfection Lipstick in Sweetheart ($6.99), Cover Girl Eye Enhancers 4-Kit Shadows in Pure Romance ($5.99), Edward Bess Ultra Slick Lipstick in Tender Love ($32), Illamasqua Powder Blusher in Lover ($26), Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Crush ($26), Kat Von D Everlasting Blush in Heartagram ($25), Kat Von D Shade Shifter Eyeshadow in Love Letter ($16), Kat Von D Everlasting Love Liquid Lipstick in L.U.V. ($19), Kat Von D Foiled Love Lipstick in Valentine ($19), Lancome Rouge in Love Lipcolor in Sequence of Love ($28.50), MAC Eyeshadow in Parfait Amour ($15), MAC Lipstick in Amorous ($16), NARS Blush in Amour ($30), Philosophy My Heart to Yours Shampoo/Shower Gel/Bubble Bath ($17)

What are you planning to rock this Valentine’s Day? Let me know!

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China Glaze Nail Polish in Flip Flop Fantasy Review

Image via Nailsave

Flip Flop Fantasy, which was part of the 2010 Summer Poolside Collection, was the very first polish I tried from China Glaze. After hearing so much about the brand on Youtube, I had high hopes and wasn’t too disappointed initially.

FFF is a special color. It doesn’t appear that way in the bottle (or just from glancing at it in the photo above), but it really is quite nuanced. It’s a neon, warm, yellow-based pink that teeters on coral (depending on your lighting) with a matte finish. Those who love their brights won’t be disappointed with this–it’s definitely neon! This is matte, but I used a shiny topcoat, and I feel that really made the polish sing–the shine enhanced it’s inherent luminosity and gave it a patent leather, barbie feel. (5/5)


This area is where FFF really misses the mark. Mattes have a reputation for being fussy, and this was no exception. This polish chipped after merely two days, and had continued wear and tear throughout the week (nothing major beyond the initial chipping). Those who prefer to change their polish shade less often will want to keep the bottle on hand for considerably frequent touch-ups. (2/5)


The bad news is, this polish has major streaking issues. I used two coats, and attempted to carefully smooth out the polish, but visible brush strokes were simply unavoidable. Perhaps a third coat would’ve smoothed  things out, but I’m doubtful. The streaks can be reduced by being very patient and slow in your application of this polish. The good news is, the color remains bright throughout wear time, the polish wasn’t too thick, and all of China Glaze’s polishes are 3-Free. (2/5)


CG is my favorite brand for polishes, and part of that is because of the bottle design. The caps are long and rubberized, making them easy for all types of fingers to use easily. The brush is average, not too wide/short, and applies nicely. I’ve never had a CG brush with splayed bristles. The glass portion of the bottle is one of the wider shapes of the brands I own, but the polish is still easy to store. (5/5)


CG polishes are $7.50 USD for 0.5 oz of product. This fill weight is average, but the cost is a bit cheaper than other similarly priced brands. So you get the same salon quality while saving a buck or two. When it comes to FFF in particular, I think $7.50 is a steal for the nuanced color, but it’s a bit much for a polish with this severe of a streaking issue. (3.5/5)

Wow Factor:

Despite everything, I still really love this polish. The brightness of the neon formula borders on fluorescent (it can be tough to look at under very bright lighting!), and that’s what gets me with this shade. Even with it’s wear issues, it just screams fun and really stands out in the summer time. Plus, the hue alters depending on the lighting, erring more pink or coral depending, which is uncommon for inexpensive polishes. It’s got it’s issues, but FFF definitely has wow factor! (4.5/5)

I feel comfortable recommending this polish, despite the rating. It’s fun, girly, and bright, which is what a summer polish is all about. And I think for a matte formula, it didn’t do anything too unexpected (it’s a tricky formula to work with!). The color itself is really the star here, and is the reason why I love this polish, even though it has it’s problems (everyone loves an underdog!). 3.6 (C+)

China Glaze polishes are available at beauty supply shops and cosmetic retailers, like Ulta.

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