Benefit

September ’14 Haul/First Impressions PART ONE: Sephora

*Forgive me for the webcam photos. I’m saving up for a DSLR, better pics to come!*

I was so, so excited to get these packages in the mail, because I had picked up some things that I had been wanting for a long time. I’ve ordered from Sephora’s site before, but have only previously shopped in-store at Bath and Body Works (and never purchased the kinds of items I did this time around). So, let’s start with Sephora!

The first thing I noticed is that this package was well-insulated, as usual. I appreciate Sephora taking care to make sure the items don’t arrived damaged. The first “products” I saw in the box were my bonus samples, plus an ad card for the store’s Beauty Studio Services.

 

The first sample was for Make Up For Ever’s new Artist Shadow. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I was a bit surprised when I opened up the sample and saw what looked like press-on shadow stickers. However, when I pulled back the protective plastic, I was able to fully swatch the pigment, and was pleasantly surprised by the color payoff (although, I don’t expect less from MUFE). The color samples I received were a shimmery yellow white (I can see this being a beautiful highlight), a standard matte camel (this had the least payoff and is easiest to dupe), and a shimmery warm burgundy (pretty, pigmented, but done before). All three had a soft, smooth feel, and based off the swatch, I’ll definitely be trying these out (I actually almost purchased one in this haul, but decided against it).

The next sample is Philosophy Miracle Worker. This is an “anti-aging moisturizer and salicyclic acid acne treatment.” I’ve been dying to try Philosophy for a long time, but the sample given is very small, so I don’t know how well I’ll be able to get a feel for this product (and I hardly ever use these kinds of samples anyway, although that may change!).

The last sample is Benefit The Porefessional Agent Zero Shine. This is a “mattifying, pore-perfecting” powder. The sample even included a little brush, which was nice, although the full-size or one of your own brushes would probably get more use.

I also picked up Phyto Moisturizing Styling Cream with a promo code, but since I don’t style my hair often, I don’t know how much use this’ll get. It is a hearty sized sample, though, and in functional packaging.

Next are the actual items I bought. The first things I saw in the box were my items from Urban Decay’s Pulp Fiction Collection. I was so looking forward to these! The first thing I noticed was that the palette felt nice and heavy; given the cardboard packaging, I assumed it would feel cheaper. I like that it came encased in a cardboard package of it’s own, detailed with information about the palette and it’s on-screen inspiration. Ingredients and such information are included on the sides of this outer packaging. When I opened it up, the inside of the box was red! I thought that was a chic, nice detail. It also contains a tutorial card for Mia Wallace’s look.

 It opens/closes magnetically, which is secure yet easy to use. The mirror and little brush came sealed in plastic.Once you peel off that plastic, the mirror is surprisingly large and clear, making the compact pretty functional. The brushes are soft and have a metal handle, which is better than I expected, and the bristles are the right size for the pans, so I think they could work on the go, although most (myself included) will likely favor a full-size brush for application. I don’t like how the brand split Furious and Anger, since it’s less shadow and no barrier preventing powder kickup from mixing. All five shades felt soft and smooth, with excellent pigment, although it’s obvious that this is not the most unique palette under the sun. Having said that, I think it’ll appeal to collectors and makeup enthusiasts alike, because the homage to the film and quality are both there.

I had been eyeing the brand’s Revolution lipsticks since their launch, and was so happy when they released one with the PF collection. Upon opening the package, I was pleasantly surprised to see the same red interior, as well as Samuel L. Jackson’s famous quote printed inside. The tube is a sleek, shiny black that’s surprisingly resistant to fingerprints. This has stellar, phenomenal out-of-this-world pigment, the kind that really needs a lip brush to get precisely perfect. Its bold, rich and shiny. Love! It felt less creamy than I expected, but it’s by no means dry, and you really only need a little to get intense payoff.

The next item I grabbed was the BareMinerals Ready quad in The A-List. Immediately I was shocked by how small it was–websites always made it seem much larger! Like the UD palette, this came cased in cardboard, with the shade names and ingredients printed on the back, and also came with a little pamphlet suggesting a look. Thank god for the rubberized packaging on the palette proper–it was cased snugly in the cardboard exterior, and flew out of my hands onto the floor as I tried to get it out. Luckily, nothing broke. The mirror on this compact is also very large and great for functional use. I like that the shadows came with a little plastic protector; I always appreciate touches like that. This palette ranged in smoothness and finish, but all of them had great pigment, even the soft pink shades, which seemed like they could’ve been fussier.

Next, a trio of Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipsticks! I’ve been lusting after every single one since their debut (sadly, I couldn’t pick up Poe, a stunning navy blue). The packaging on these is total Kat Von D–it perfectly fits her image. These have a nice burgundy interior on the packaging. and the studded shape of the tube feels so badass. These come with a delectable vanilla scent (think MAC). The shades I picked up are Wolvesmouth (metallic berry), Wonderchilde (iridescent neon lilac), and Backstage Bambi (matte vivid hot pink). They all went on the lips easily, although some more than others.

Next, two products I’ve been wanting for as long as I’ve been into makeup: a NARS blush and eyeshadow duo. First, the blush. I decided on Angelika. This shade has silver glitter in it, but I was still a little surpised to see glitter sprinkled on the outside of the compact (wiped off easily though). Upon opening, I noticed the powder is pleasantly scented. This felt a bit drier to the touch than I expected, though I reckon that’s because of the glitter element (which many say gets lost when applied to the cheek anyway). The pigment was lovely and subtle. Can’t wait to wear this on the face!

Now for the duo. I picked up Kauai, which came out with their Spring collection. The pigment in these shades is rich and intense, and each felt so soft. Plus, the purple and gold together will look absolutely beautiful together on the eye. Another product I can’t wait to try out!

Moving on, OCC Lip Tars is a product I’ve tried before and loved, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on another one. This time, it was the fantastically dark berry shade, Black Dahlia. I’ve never tried dark lipstick before and knew I had to start here. As usual, this one came with a handy brush and a very lovely mint scent. And the pigment, ease of use, and texture where all what I expected–that is, great.

Another brand I’ve loved before is Butter London. I’ve been on the hunt for a fab girly pink polish for a while now, and finally took the plunge with Teddy Girl. Because of work, I don’t get to wear polish as often as I used to, but I can’t wait to swipe this on this weekend. It’s too pretty to resist.

Make Up For Ever is a brand I’ve always loved from afar (having only tried one of their products, an Aqua Cream). As I mentioned, I considered trying one of their new shadows, but considering all the other shadows I bought, I decided against it. But as I was checking out, they suggested I pick up their mascara, Smoky Extravagant. After hearing Elle Fowler rave about the regular Smoky Lash, I knew I had to give it a try. Always fond of a new mascara, I can’t wait to put this baby to great use.

Obviously, I picked up a lot of products I’m eager to try out. But this payed off for me in a major way when I realized I had enough points to cash in for rewards with Sephora’s Beauty Insider program. I settled on three 100-point items.

First, Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer. I’ve been wanting to try both an item from Smashbox and a foundation base, so I knew this was one thing I couldn’t pass up.

Next, Lancome Definicils Mascara. I already l-l-love Hypnose, and expect Definicils to be just as lovely.

And lastly, Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer in Medium/Deep. Too Faced is another one of those brands I’ve heard loads about and have been fawning over, especially when it comes to this product. It has that great cocoa scent it’s famous for. At first, I thought Medium/Deep might be too dark for me, but upon actually seeing it, I’m not too worried.

I had a great time picking up these items and finally being able to explore new brands and products. Some of these have been on my wishlist for years, so I’m thrilled to finally be able to own them and continue writing reviews and my experiences with different items. See anything you like that I bought? Want to recommend me something? Let me know!

And stay tuned for part 2–Bath and Body Works! medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘250’; medianet_crid=’228266391′;

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FotD:Job Interview Makeup

*Photos coming soon!*

Yesterday, I had a job interview at a majorly cool restaurant in my city. I love the young, cool energy of the place, so I wanted to look fresh and natural. I relied on a lot of my favorite products to help give me a professional look (and most of them are from the drugstore).
While I love makeup, hair is something I’m less apt at. Since I applied for a position in the kitchen, I decided to pull my hair back into a simple, sleek top knot. I’m so nervous and excited for this job, so putting in effort to my appearance gave me an extra boost of confidence and one less thing to worry about during the interview.
What are your favorite safe for work products?

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Beauty Babe: Troian Bellisario


I love, love, love Troian Bellisario. I admit, I’m addicted to Pretty Little Liars, where Troian (pronounced troy-in) plays smart, perfectionist Spencer Hastings. But it’s not just her likable character on the show that draws people to her. She’s just as endearing out of character. In the February issue of Seventeen this year, she bravely opened up about her struggles with an eating disorder and self-harm that she experienced in high school. She’s incredibly humble and grateful to her fans about their support of her on PLL, but she also asks them to take their support a bit further, by reaching out to the Bright Students, Big Ideas campaign on the site donorschoose. Donations to the site help fund education topics that students really want, such as providing copies of To Kill A Mockingbird to an 8th grade class in the Bronx, and microscopes for a 7th grade science class in Detroit.

When it comes to her personal look, Troain has stated that she prefers a more natural look, although she did mention in Seventeen that she loves “piling on my black eyeliner.” She’s been spotted wearing MAC Liquid Eyeliner in Boot Black on the red carpet. Like all the PLL girls, who’s fashionable looks on the show are clothes the audience can actually wear, Troian’s cosmetics are reasonably priced (and often beauty fan favorites) as well: Urban Decay Complexion Primer Potion, Benefit Dandelion Blush, MAKE UP FOR EVER HD  Mirco Finish Powder, and MAC Lipstick. medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘250’; medianet_crid=’228266391′;

A Beginner’s Guide to Eye Products

Following up with my Beginner’s Guide to Lip Products post, is a novice’s introduction to the basic products used on the eyes. This includes primer, shadow, liner, and mascara. Any combination of eye makeup can enhance the face and create an interesting look. That’s the beauty of (eye) makeup–it can range from stunning to simple to fierce to playful. Whatever mood you’re in or person you want to be, you can create and project that image through your cosmetics, and eye makeup has a lot to do with that.

1) Primer: Eye primer is one of those products those outside of the beauty habit don’t really know of, but it’s such an important, useful step. Any shadow can be enhanced with a primer, also called a base, under it. This works by making the shadows more vibrant, decreases problems like creasing and fallout, and helps them last longer. Some provide coverage on the eyelid, others are more invisible. Some are smooth, some are tackier (which helps keep powdery shadow and loose shadows in place).

Urban Decay Primer Potion is a staple in many beauty fans’ collections for it’s ease of use and effectiveness. Another popular choice is Too Faced Shadow Insurance. While the previous two come in tubes, MAC Paint Pots come in small jars and have more color options (both in skin-tone and colorful shades). ELF also makes an affordable drugstore primer.

Image via Beautylish

2) Eyeshadow: A common, popular product among beauty junkies and girls who prefer to stick to the basics alike is eyeshadow. Eyeshadow is a pigment that can subtly or dramatically enhance the eyes. There’s a lot of versatility in the way these products are used, as well as in the formula of the products themselves. There are single shadows, duos, quads, and palettes, as well as pressed, cream, loose, and pigment formulas.
Pressed eyeshadows are powders that are pressed into a pan, making them generally light and easy to travel with. They often can be used wet or dry, and get the best application when used with a brush. There’s a shadow in this form to meet everyone’s needs: matte/frost/shimmer/glitter/satin finishes, ranging from natural to smoky to colorful, sheer to pigment-packed, in every shade of the rainbow at every price point. Be on the lookout for fading, short wear time, or fallout with this formula, though. Wet ‘n’ Wild Trios are some of the best (and affordable) pressed shadows I’ve found at the drugstore, and MAC eyeshadows can’t be beat.
Image via Drugstore

Cream shadows come in an emollient, smooth formula that feels richer (and obviously less dry and more creamy) than powder shadows. There’s still loads of color options with this formula, as well as versatility. This formula can make a great base for sheer powder shadows, and works better than wet powder shadow as an impromptu eyeliner. These shadows are typically housed in glass jars and can be applied with your fingers or a brush. While I love this formula for it’s staying power, beware lesser quality formulas, which can crease or dry out quickly. Maybelline Color Tatoos come in a bold mix of shades, with some softer, skin tones added recently. These wear really well and are quite affordable. For high end shadows, I’m dying to try more of Make Up For Ever’s Aqua Creams.

Image via Drugstore

Loose eyeshadows and pigments are fine powders that boast richer, more vibrant color payoff. They’re not pressed, so they can be more prone to fallout. When worn on the eye, these function much better wet (but a too-wet brush can cause streaky, patchy application!) This formula tends to really sing, with bold color payoff and rich texture. Because of the loose form, these can be reused for other things, such as becoming a lip product when mixed with clear gloss, or nail polish when mixed with clear varnish. This formula has a lot of versatility! I fell in love with indie brand Shiro’s loose shadows, and MAC makes to die for pigments. 
Image via Shiro

3) Eyeliner: Eyeliner is another useful tool in a makeup user’s arsenal. The swipe of liner across the lash line can enhance or alter the eye shape, add definition to the lashes, and add some personality to your look (depending on the color/finish you choose). A flesh tone or white liner on the water line (bottom inner rim of the eye) can make your eyes look bigger and the whites look brighter, helping you look more awake. There are three kinds of eyeliner: pencil, liquid, and gel/cream.
Pencil liner should be soft and creamy enough to draw the line on the delicate skin of the eye without skipping or tugging, but not so smooth that it smudges or has no staying power. Because pencil liners need to be sharpened, there can be some product waste, but this can be avoided by freezing the pencil first. Pencil liners are great for everyday use as they’re easy to use and don’t require any special tools. You can get close to the lash line or make a thicker line and do detailed work. I’ve tried Wet ‘n’ Wild’s liners, but so far, I find that Urban Decay’s range of pencils can’t be beat.
Image via Sephora

Liquid eyeliner is a thin formula that’s brushed on, and housed in a small bottle. This liner has a shiny, very classic look and is great for making a winged, cat-eye shape. However, this formula is also the easiest to mess up and requires patience and a steady hand to nail down. The fine point of a liquid liner’s applicator also make them great for playing with shapes and doing detailed work to your makeup. Because I’m quite bad with liquid liner, I’ve stuck to Wet ‘n’ Wild’s range, but haven’t been disappointed with it’s affordability, ease of use, and color options.
Image via Walgreens

Cream/gel eyeliners are smooth, rich, and my favorite to use. They’re not as convenient as a pencil, since they require a brush to apply, but they’re not nearly as tricky to make shapes with as a liquid. This formula mostly comes housed in jars with screw on lids. They’re creamy and go on like a dream, but can dry out quickly (put the lid back on while you’re applying your liner to prevent this). Ulta’s gel liners are surprisingly good, and I’m eager to try Bobbi Brown’s as well.
Image via Ulta

4) Mascara: Mascara is a special product, because it does different things depending on different women’s needs. That’s probably why it’s one of those well-loved items. Mascara comes in a tube and coats the lashes by applying product with the included wand. Depending on the formula, mascara can make your lashes look more voluminous or longer, as well as tinting and curling them. It’s important to know your bare lashes well, as what works for sparse lashes could cause thick natural lashes to clump, and so on. Whatever your needs, be careful of mascaras that clump, run, or dry out. I love Maybelline mascaras, and Benefit They’re Real! is also very good.
Image via makeup-wholesale

What are your favorite products to use on your eyes?

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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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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

Flowers:

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)
Sweets:
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) 
Hearts:
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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Best of Beauty 2013

2013 was the genesis of Peak Volume, and so there were many products in need of review this year! I’m happy to report that through all the testing, there were some truly great products. So, here’s a list of the best products PV experienced this year (all of ’em earning a score of A- or higher):

Eyeshadows:

This is my own photo.
*UD shadows not pictured, because they’re in a palette!*


Urban Decay Maui Wowie (A+)
Urban Decay Haight (A+)
MAC Humid (A)
Urban Decay Smog (A)
Urban Decay Rockstar (A)
MAC Steamy (A-)
Shiro Perfect World (A-)
Shiro Divine Justice (A-)
Urban Decay Last Call (A-)

Eyeliners:

This is my own photo


Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Junkie (A+, Perfect Score)
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Radium (A+, Perfect Score)
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Perversion (A)
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Woodstock (A)
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero (A)
Wet ‘n’ Wild Mega Liner Liquid Eyeliner in Black (A)

Mascara:

This is my own photo.


Benefit They’re Real! (A+)
Maybelline Colossal Volum’Express Mascara in Classic Black (A-)
Lancome Hypnose Mascara in Black (A-)

Lipsticks:

This is my own photo.


Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in Sweet Tart (A-)
MAC Ruby Woo (A-)
MAC Girl About Town (A-)

Nail Polishes:

This is my own photo.


China Glaze Be Merry, Be Bright (A)
Essie Brazilliant (A)
China Glaze This Is Tree-Mendous (A-)

Of the 79 products reviewed this year, these 24 were the best! What do you think of the line-up? Have you tried any of these products?

Holiday FOTDs!

So, as many people know, it was recently Christmas! And what that often means is a series of social get-togethers, where even the tamer cosmetics fans are in the spirit to break out some glitz and glitter. Always a fan of color, here’s what I rocked on Christmas Eve and the main event, respectively.
Christmas Eve FOTD:

This is my own photo.


-Avon Brow Pencil
Wet ‘n’ Wild 8-Pan Palette in “Blue Had Me At Hello”
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Radium
-Maybelline the Falsies Mascara
Benefit They’re Real! Mascara
Christmas Day FOTD:

This is my own photo.


-Wet ‘n’ Wild 8-Pan Palette in “I Heart Matte”
-Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Perversion

What products did you wear over the Holidays? Did you keep it natural, or did you add some glitz to your look this year?

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Missing Out: Benefit Hoola

Image via Beautylish

Having a limited budget can really cause a beauty junkie some pain, especially when there are so many fantastic products to lust over on the market! Adding salt to the wound is that, sometimes, a product is so raved about, you end up feeling like you’re the only one on Earth that hasn’t experienced it’s magnificence-and that you’re really Missing Out. 

One such product is the often praised Benefit Hoola bronzer. Hoola’s not like most of the other bronzers on the market-this one is matte. The sparkle-and-shimmer free formula catches my eye, because my aim with bronzer is to sculpt the face. A subtle pop of color would create a more natural looking shadow beneath the cheekbones and around the jawline and temples, in my opinion. 
Another great thing about Hoola is that it’s light. This again screams “natural” to me. I’m extremely fair-skinned, and I fear a bronzer making me look orange or ruddy. But Hoola gives the impression of leaning more biege-y skin toned, rather than orange, or too dark for me to pull off. User reviews online have said that Hoola has worked for a spectrum of complexions, too-this isn’t one just for the light ladies. 
And ok, I admit that I’ve been seduced by Benefit’s Box o’ Powders since discovering the brand years ago. Sadly, I’ve never gotten my hands on one. But I love the way the packaging looks (it was mindful of the brand to also include a mirror and brush with the product). Hoola contains 0.28 oz of product, which is on par with other brands, but costs $28 USD. That’s by no means cheap, but it’s less expensive than another popular brand’s matte bronzer. With how well it seems to get the job done, and how cute it’ll look in my collection, I definitely cannot wait to get a hold of this baby!
Have you tried Hoola? Do you love it? Let me know!
Benefit products are sold at cosmetic shops, like Ulta and Sephora.

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Met Gala Roundup: Kelly Osbourne

Image via Thegloss

Kelly Osbourne looked absolutely amazing at the 2013 Met Gala. I shouldn’t be surprised, considering the TV personality has had a long love affair with the punk theme (a quick Google search will show her rocking the look in a variety of ways like none other). It makes sense that she sported one of the bolder, yet still flattering, looks of the evening. Black liner was an obvious choice for many stars, but Kelly did it differently with a sharp, precise wing and steely black color (versus a stark obsidian). Her liner also playfully comes to a point in the inner corner as well, giving her look a fun shape. Her eyes have a gradient look with shimmery grey shadow and a gorgeous green-tinged gold highlight in the tear duct. She finished off her attention-getting eyes with thick, inky lashes. She kept the rest of her face subtle with a peachy blush and matching lip.
Unfortunately, I don’t know Kelly’s makeup artist or what products were used on her (I would love to know that awesome gold shadow!), but I can provide some similar dupes. A felt-tipped liquid liner, like Urban Decay’s 24-7 Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Perversion, provides lots of control, so it’s easy to recreate a geometric line (and has a nice, shiny finish). For shimmering grey lids, try LORAC Eye Shadow in Dreamy. For an inner-corner highlight, try Make Up For Ever Eyeshadow in Yellow Gold 10. A set of fake lashes would imitate Kelly’s crazy lash thickness and pigment, but Benefit’s They’re Real! Mascara is the most lengthening and darkest black product I’ve tried (excellent for the lower lashes in this look!). MAC Myth lipstick is a popular soft nude shade.

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