NARS

Best of Beauty 2014

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Another great year of beauty blogging has gone by! These 12 products were the best of the best this year, all scoring an A- or higher. Here they are, categorized by type.

Face Products:

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Eye Products:

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Lip Products:

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I’m glad it was such a great year for lip products, as these are my favorite kind of cosmetics! I also got to try a ton of great brands throughout the year and was very pleased to see some new brands rise to the top of my favorites. I have many products left over from my autumn hauls and the holidays, so there will be plenty more reviews and cosmetic goodness to come on PV in 2015, so stay tuned!

Definicils was the best product I tried last year, having been the only product of all the ones I reviewed to receive a perfect score. Lancome is another brand I haven’t had much experience with, but since I’ve adored every mascara I’ve tried from them, they’re definitely more on my radar.

What products did you love this year, beauties?

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Tutorial Tuesday: Festive Plum with OCC

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OCC Lip Tars are excellent products, and I was excited to feature one in this week’s tutorial. Since it’s the holiday season, I decided to play up the vampy lip color with festive gold and garnet shadows. I also tried a lot of these products for the first time, and ended up loving how they turned out! So, lets begin!

What You’ll Need:
-Your face essentials (I just used Smashbox BB Cream, Maybelline Mineral Power Concealer, and NYC Smooth Skin Pressed Powder).
-Eyeshadow primer (I used UDPP)
-A pale gold satin shadow (I used the lefthand brow shadow in Wet ‘n’ Wild’s Comfort Zone Palette)
-A shimmery burgundy shadow (I used Glistening Garnet by L’Oreal)
-Matte black eyeliner (I used NARS Larger Than Life in Via Veneto)
-Black mascara (I used Smashbox Full Exposure)
-Soft peach blush (I used NARS Orgasm)
-A dark, glossy berry lip color (I used OCC Lip Tar in Black Dahlia)
-A flat, stiff shader brush like MAC 242 (I used one by Sonia Kashuk)
-A fluffy blending brush (I used MAC’s 217)
-An eyelash curler
-A lip brush (I used the one that came with my Lip Tar)
-A pencil brush or eyeliner brush.

As always, apply your face essentials, brow products, and eye primer.

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1) Apply gold shadow all over the lid using your stiff shader brush.

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2) Apply burgundy shadow in the crease and outer corner using your fluffy blending brush.

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3) Apply the same gold shadow around the tear duct using your pencil brush.

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4) Line your upper lash line with a matte black pencil.

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5) Curl lashes and apply black mascara.

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6) Apply peach blush to the apples of the cheeks and blend outwards towards the temples.

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7) Apply vampy lip color using a lip brush for extra precision.

And you’re done! I think this look would be fantastic for all the upcoming holiday parties. Here’s a close up of the finished eye look.

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What kind of look and colors are you planning to wear this holiday season beauties? Did you find this review helpful? Let me know!

NARS Duo in Kauai Review + Swatches + Dupes

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Color:
NARS describes the colors as “gold lame” and “iridescent smoky orchid.” That description is spot on: the left shade is a rich, warm metallic gold, and the right shade is a cool, shimmery grey-based plum. Neither of these shades is the most unique. Urban Decay Maui Wowie is slightly yellower, but similar to the gold. As for the purple, Urban Decay Gravity is similar. However, the gold is lushly pigmented, with the metallic effect coming through. The purple is semi opaque, but even with primer, it needs to be built up a bit. (3.5/5)

Wear:
When it comes to wear, the gold was excellent, lasting a full 8 hours looking flawless. The purple didn’t do as well: it only made it 5 hours before it looked faded (even with primer). (4/5)

Formula:
The gold applies soft, smooth and opaque, even without primer, and has great textural intensity (the foiled effect, naturally, looks enhanced over a base). However, it was a pain with fallout, the kind of shadow where you’d want to apply your face makeup afterwards to avoid looking glittery on the cheeks. The purple also went on smoothly and blended easily, and didn’t suffer from fallout. But, the pigment wasn’t as intense as I’d have liked, and needed to be built up. (3.5/5)

Packaging:
The duo comes in traditional NARS rubberized packaging with a great full-size mirror included. The rubber texture is great for absorbing impact from a fall or during travel. Also, the compact is sleek and thin, and stays secure when shut, making it easy to store. It also has that nice feel you expect from more expensive products. The two pans of shadow have a nice distance between them, and they don’t kick up much product to begin with, so there isn’t much worry of powder crossover. However, this kind of rubber packaging is prone to showing fingerprints. (4.5/5)

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Price:
A NARS duo is $35 USD, and contains 0.14 oz of product. That’s $250 an ounce. (Comparatively, one MAC shadow is $15 for 0.05 oz, which is $300 per ounce.) This is another great example of spending a little more to get more (in this case, 2 shades instead of one, with 0.9 oz more product), and having it add up to less money in the long run.

In terms of quality, it’s not the best, but it doesn’t do so poorly that I’d say it isn’t worth the money. The gold is fabulous and the fallout can be contained. The purple could’ve been improved a bit more. But the shades work so well together and look fabulous enough that I’d say $35 isn’t an outrageous cost, especially if you don’t already have something similar. (4/5)

Wow Factor:
If it isn’t clear by now, the gold definitely grabbed my attention in a positive way. The metallic, high shine finish is lovely and sets it apart from the other golds I own. The purple has been done before, but I like the rich smokiness and how it pairs well with the brighter gold. Yellow and purple are complimentary colors, so it’s not the most unique combination, but I like the way Kauai turned out. (3.5/5)

Overall:
Kauai is a rich, plush looking duo that draws the eye. It looks lovely in the pan and on the lid. However, there were some technical issues (fallout and lack of vibrancy) that disappointed me. My makeup collection is not super large, but still I was able to find dupes for both shades. If you like the shades and don’t mind working with their respective difficulties, go for it. However, there are cheaper options available if you like the effect and not the price tag. (3.8) C+

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Useful Information:
-This product was purchased by me.
-NARS is cruelty free, but their parent company, Shiseido, is not.

Availability:
-narscosmetics.com
-Sephora
-Nordstrom
-ASOS
-Barney’s
-Macy

NARS Blush in Angelika Review + Swatches

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I’ve wanted to try NARS blushes for a long time. So when I went on my September Sephora haul, I knew I had to grab one of these.  I originally wanted to try the shade Gaiety, but after trying ELF Studio Blush in Pink Passion, I realized I prefer less bright pinks on my cheeks. So I settled on Angelika instead.

Color:
The brand describes this shade as simply “cotton candy.” I saw it as more of a cool, mid-tone strawberry pink with silver sparkles. It looks so soft, natural, and girly. However, it can be built up. When built up, the color is more intense and true to pan, and the sparkles become apparent. However, the sparkles aren’t gaudy, they catch the light in a really soft, pretty way. (5/5)

Wear:
Once I applied this blush, it stayed put. It wore effortlessly for 8 full hours, until I removed it that night. It didn’t fade or show any signs of letting up. Impressive! (5/5)

Formula:
I see the hype around NARS blushes now, all of it is true. They really are so finally milled and full of pigment. You can wear them soft and natural, or they can be built up for more intensity. Angelika gives a subtle, lifelike flush to the cheeks that looks like its coming from within. It doesn’t even look like a powder at all. (5/5)

Packaging:
One of the things NARS is famous for is it’s sleek, rubberized packaging. I like that the rubber packaging makes the product resistant to breakage in case of a drop. However, it also shows fingerprints like a mess! (They’re easy to wipe off with a cloth, though.) The compact is thin, minimal, and chic, yet has the feel a more expensive brand should give. It also doesn’t waste plastic, which I love: the inside of the compact is all mirror, and the pan of product is huge. The compact is concise enough to store easily and I reckon these can hold up well to travel. (5/5)

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Price:
One NARS blush retails for $30 USD. That’s certainly not a price everyone can palate.The compact contains 0.16 oz of product, which is $187.50 per ounce. Not exactly cheap. But comparatively, it’s not that bad: you could spend the same amount on 2 MAC eyeshadows and get less product (.10 oz) for more money per ounce ($300). Food for thought! When it comes to product quality per price, which is what I base the score on, I say NARS is worthy of the hefty cost, for the amount you get, the fine texture, and seamless look on the skin. (4.5/5)

Wow Factor:
I had high expectations for this blush, and was not disappointed. All of my expectations were met. It has amazing pigment that can be worn soft or heavy. It looks so smooth and radiant on the skin. Its soft to the touch and there’s a lot of product to last you. (5/5)

Overall:
I loved this blush. It gave me a gorgeous doll-like appearance. The quality couldn’t be beat. I think the versatile pigment would make it workable on a large range of skin tones, from light to deep. It looks so lovely on the skin that it’s now my go-to blush. (4.9) A+

Availability:
-narscosmetics.com
-Sephora
-Nordstrom
-Bloomingdale’s
-Barney’s
-Saks Fifth Avenue
-Neiman Marcus
-Macy’s

Useful Information:
-This product was purchased by me.
-NARS is cruelty free, although some of their products contain animal derivatives, like lanolin.
-NARS’ parent company, Shiseido, is NOT cruelty free.

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Face of the Day 06

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I wanted to do a look with some of the products I’ll be posting reviews up in the coming days. I like the feminine, pink girly sparkle look of the whole thing. So here’s what I used:

  • L’Oreal Visible Lift Foundation
  • Maybelline Mineral Power Concealer
  • NYC Smooth Skin Pressed Powder
  • Urban Decay Primer Potion
  • Avon Brow Pencil
  • BareMinerals Ready Eyshadow 4.0 Quad in The A-List
  • Covergirl Lashblast Mascara in Brown
  • NARS Blush in Angelika
  • Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Backstage Bambi

I liked the way it all turned out so much that I’m planning on doing a tutorial once all the reviews are up! Would you guys want to see that? Have any of these products? What are your thoughts on them? Let me know!