Sunday, April 22, 2007

Brush(es) with Greatness...continued.

A couple months ago my friend, Geoff, contributed to this site with reviews of some of his favorite LUSH products. Today, Geoff is back to talk brushes, offering an even more affordable/accessible option for those of you who are short on money and live far away from shopping civilization!

Everyone loves Target. From their cute, affordable designer clothing to their darling stationary sets, Target stores prove that you can be chic on the cheap. Geoff devels into Target's beauty aisles, discussing the exclusive Sonia Kashuk cosmetic brushes.
Geoff says:


I just wanted to piggyback on your previous post about drugstore beauty, which was super informative and enjoyable, and then also fill everyone in on great product I’ve recently discovered.

First off, I think when you’re a product whore (like we are), it’s easy to shirk off other beauty essentials, like accessories and brushes. Personally, I don’t have too many quality brushes, but as I’ve acquired some in the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize how important a good brush is to a flawless makeup application.

A great introduction to quality brushes and a nice compromise between really expensive brushes and really cheap ones is the Sonia Kashuk brush line at Target. All of Sonia’s brushes are relatively cheap and they are unquestionably the highest quality brush line on the drugstore market.

One of my favorites is the Contoured/Angled Eye Shadow Brush, which is awesome for defining brows. And it’s a steal at $9.99. The bristles are silky— sable hair I think— and they deposit tons of pigment.

The ergonomic handle is more helpful and comfortable than you would think, and the design is much more attractive than any of Kashuk’s other Target brush lines."

Thanks, Geoff! : )

I haven't tried any of the the Sonia Kashuk brushes, but my little sister bought a powder/bronzer brush from her line last winter before our trip the Bahamas and the bristles were extremely soft and the application seemed even and glowy. I'll definitely have to look in to trying some of these brushes!

Have you tried any of these brushes? What do you think? How do they compare to their more expensive and less expensive counterparts?

Brush(es) with Greatness

Like Meg over at Faking Good Breeding, I'm no makeup application master. I can blend my concealer, puff on some powder, brush on the bronzer and blush, and line my eyes - but I know I'll ever be able to perform the miracles that Kevyn Aucoin mastered during his lifetime. That being said, I do believe there is a big difference in quality between high end and low end brushes. Being a poor college student, I certainly cannot afford the brushes that range into the hundreds of dollars - but there are some good, affordable brushes that I recommend for the ladies who hate the cheap little things that come with many makeup kits.

First, I've been using a Sephora brush set for a few years now. I received it as a Christmas gift, and it's one of the only gifts that has given me tons of mileage! Sephora offers a wide range of brushes, and their sets are great. The prices range from $15 for a mini-set to $150 for an amazingly comprehensive 15 piece set. They even have a clever, unique set with brushes that are double ended - perfect for girls on the go...or girls (like me) who don't have anymore room in their makeup bags!

The set I use is pretty basic - powder, blush, two different eyeshadow brushes, and a lip brush - but they're soft and effective, and if treated with care, they're supposed to last for five years (some say that brushes can last a lifetime, but others say that it's best to fully replace them after an extended period of time). There are many companies that offer specialty brush cleansers but I usually use my face cleanser (Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Cleanser), baby shampoo, or Jonathan Product Add Moisture Moisturizing Shampoo (I hate it for my hair, but it's great on my brushes!)

Sephora also offers brushes a la carte if you want to add to your collection. My favorites are the Long Handle Sable Eyeliner Brush ($8) and the Retractable Powder Brush ($12-$19 and perfect for on-the-go touch-ups). I use the Long Handle Sable Eyeliner Brush with a bit of Smashbox Off-Set Shadow Converter to create the look of liquid liner without the hassle!

I also have a handful of favorite brushes from different companies. First is Stila's #9 All Over Blending Brush for the Eyes. This brush seamlessly blends eyeshadow, and it's great for applying a tiny bit of shimmery shadow to brighten the inner corner of the eyes. Another winner from Stila is the #11 Concealer Brush. I couldn't find it on the Sephora website, so maybe they've stopped making it. I got mine a few years ago so it's possible they could have discontinued it, but it's a good concealer brush, especially for smaller areas around the nose and mouth.

Speaking of concealer brushes, a genius concealer brush is the Nars #9 Precision Concealer Brush. The brush looks like a thin, pin-pointed paint brush, and it's perfect for applying concealer on individual breakouts which is great when you're short on time or don't need or want a full face of makeup.

Finally, two of the all-time best tools available on the market are the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler and the Tweezerman Stainless Steel Slant Tweezers. Both products are staples in almost every make-up artists' kit, and thousands of beauty editors can't be wrong as each of these tools has been featured in multiple magazines and won dozens of awards. IF you don't have either of these, they're definitely worth the investment! They provide unparalled lash and brow perfection!

How do you feel about brushes and tools? Are they worth the money? Do you have any particular favorites? Leave your comments!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Shear Genius - Better Than Your Average Hair

This post has very little to do with beauty products, but it does sooort of have to do with beauty, so bear with me!

Did anyone watch Shear Genius last night? I did, and I loooooved it! I love pretty much all of the Bravo Channel reality shows (Project Runway, Top Chef, and Top Design)...and actually, I love most competition based reality shows (especially America's Next Top Model and even the ridiculousness that is The Search for the Next (Pussycat) Doll) as embarassing as that may be to admit. However, I think Shear Genius will soothe my Project Runway withdraw because, like ProjRun, it's highly creative and all of the contests have unique, bold personalities (which makes for great television drama)! So, based on first impressions, who is your favorite/least favorite stylist? Would you let them touch your hair? What did you think of last night's creative challenge? Comment, comment, comment!

And if you haven't tuned it, Shear Genius is on the Bravo Channel on Wednesday nights at 10pm Eastern time!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Show Me Your Smile

To me, having a shiny, white smile is one of the best ways to enhance one's natural beauty. A bright smile lights up the face and heightens self-confidence, and strong self-confidence is the biggest non-cosmetic beauty secret! But until about six years ago, affordable and effective teeth whitening was not available to "the public." Not many people (aside from celebrities and the independently wealthy) have an extra $500 - $2000 to spend on professional teeth bleaching at the dentist's office, but when Crest Whitestrips (and all the other brands that followed) hit the market, effective teeth whitening became widely available for less than $30! I've had great success with both the Crest Whitestrips Premium and the Oral B Rembrandt Whitening Strips Premium; however, I find that the effects never last too long. Though the companies claim whiter teeth from three months to one full year, I find that, for me, results only last about a month to six weeks maximum. This is probably due to the ridiculous amount of sweet tea and Pepsi that I consume, but despite my caffeine addiction, I still want white teeth!

So, my favorite new whitening product is the Listerine Whitening Pre-Brush Rinse. The "secret ingredient" is just plain ol' hydrogen peroxide (you know, the stuff that comes in the big brown bottles for .88 cents?) but if you've ever tried to rinse your mouth out with hydrogen peroxide straight from the bottle, you know it's NOT a pleasant experience, and I don't think it's exactly safe, either. I admit that the taste of the pre-brush rinse isn't the greatest, and the foam that's generated from the rinse kinda makes you look like you have rabies, but the results are impressive; however, they're slow but steady. I recommend using the Listerine Pre-Brush Rinse to maintain either professional or at-home whitening, and used in conjunction with a whitening toothpaste, you'll see quicker results. And of course Listerine is known for their breath-freshening mouthwash forumlas and the Pre-Brush Rinse is no exception, and one of the biggest pros is that it doesn't burn/tingle like the original Listerine. At about $6 a bottle for only thirty seconds twice a day, it's both cheap and easy - so polish those pearly whites and smile! :-D

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Lashing Out

I wish I could find a mascara that made my eyelashes look like this, but since that's impossible, I wish it were practical to wear false eyelashes every single day. I looove big, thick, dark lashes. There would really be no need for any other makeup if these lashes were genetically possible, and I would probably be $5,000 richer! : )

(This is a picture from Halloween, by the way. I was Rainbow Brite! But please ignore the grown-out roots!)

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow


I used to have loooong hair. In high school, it was past my boobs...but I gradually got it cut to a little past collarbone length. Back in September I decided to cut it fairly short...well, shorter than it's ever been since I was a little girl. I really liked it for a while even though I had to straighten it every day because it didn't look good curly/wavy while it was short. Now...well, it's in that awkward "growing out" phase...and my bangs are really in an odd state. They're getting pretty long because I haven't even had them trimmed since the beginning of January (baaaad girl, I know...and that's the reason you can't really tell that I have bang in my blog pic!) - I just never really know what to do with them. I do the Gwen Stefani pouf/faux-hawk, the headband, the bobbypin, the barette, the deep side-part swoop - but I'm getting bored of all of these "styles." Readers, do you have any suggestions on how to tolerate growing out your bangs? I wish I could keep them a tiny bit below eye level, but because of my hair's texture, they never look good 100% of the time. Sometimes they look incredible and I love having my long, smooth, peek-a-boo bangs, but most of the time they look like I accidentally chopped off a huge chunk of my hair and I have this weird short piece just sort of lying on the top of my head. Ughh, so frustrating. So ladies, please leave your suggestions/styles in the comments! I'd appreciate it!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Drugstore Beauty - More Bang For Your Buck! Post 1

Lately I've been delving in to "drugstore beauty" - makeup and beauty products that are sold at Target, Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid, etc. Though I adore most high end brands (who doesn't?), I live in West Virginia and I'm sure that when you think of West Virginia, you don't think of a cosmopolitan shopping destination (in fact, you probably conjure many negative images, including toothless gums and low literacy rates...but I live in the Eastern Panhandle, which is only about 80 miles away from both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore) Needless to say, there are no nearby Sephora stores and the most upscale department store in the area is Macy's (which sells plenty of upscale products, but I'm more interested in the brands that are sold at Sephora). So what's a girl to do when she needs a quick beauty fix? Well, she looks for beauty bargains, of course! In my next few posts I'll be discussing some of my favorite drugstore beauty finds, from lotions to eyeliners to bronzers and more.

Up first - Maybelline's Dream Matte Mousse Foundation and Dream Mousse Blush.

While I've been avoiding full-face foundation lately, Maybelline's Dream Matte Mousse Foundation provides a very sheer, natural looking coverage that's matte but not chalky-looking. The texture is gorgeous and a breeze to blend. The downside it that it can highlight dry patches, and if you have oily skin, the matte-ness doesn't last very long, but hey, it's only around $9!

The Dream Mousse Blush provides a sheer, luminous wash of color that also looks very natural and pretty. I've been using the shade called "Whipped Strawberries" and I love it! At only $6.99 it's a inexpensive alternative to the Lancome Magique Soft Radiant Mousse Blush or the Smashbox O-Glow!

N.Y.C. New York Color Waterproof Eyeliner and Physician's Formula Eye Definer Felt-Tip Eye Marker

This N.Y.C. Waterproof Eyeliner is a great little eyeliner. It glides on smooth and though it's not completely budgeproof, it does a good job at staying put. I especially love this stuff because my eyelids tend to get oily and eyeliner usually disappears on me, but the N.Y.C. liner definitely lasts longer than any other liner I've used. I have it in both Black and Brown, but the brown shade is interesting - it's sort of an eggplant brown with a hint of shimmer - really pretty and anything but basic! If I were to compare this liner to a high-end brand, I would say it's similar to MAC's Powerpoint Pencil. However, the N.Y.C. Waterproof Liner is only about $4.00!

The Physician's Formula Eye Definer Felt-Tip Eye Marker looks identical to a Sharpie marker and provides the slick look of liquid eyeliner without the hassle of tricky application. I absolutely looooove the look of liquid liner, but I don't have the steadiest hand, so this product is perfect for me. Again, I have this product in Black and Brown, and they're about $7 a pop (and it's also recommended by The Beauty Addict)

Jane Shimmering Bronzer in Sedona

Due to my fair skin, I have a hard time picking out a flattering shade of bronzer. Most bronzers, no matter how sheer, turn my skin into a nice shade of radioactive pumpkin, but this Jane Shimmering Bronzer has absolutely no hint of orange. With five different bricks of sheer, shimmering, skin-enhancing color, this bronzer looks "glowy" but understated. The shimmer also provides dimension and helps to disguise minute flaws. I believe it's available in 4 shades, Sedona (the shade I use) being the lightest. There's also a mirror and a tiny brush stored in the bottom of the compact for quick mid-day touch-ups! (I also recently discovered that Jane makes a blush/highlighter/all-over-color that's similar in concept/design to the Shimmering Bronzer - guess I'll have to try that one, too!)

Mary-Kate and Ashley Glossy Sheers Liquid Shine Lip Tint
and CoverGirl Incredifull LipStick

Ok, so I'll probably catch hell for admitting that I like products from both of these brands because I think it's an unwritten rule that you must never, ever like anything so "tween-ish" past the age of thirteen. But...I can't hide my appreciation for these great (and inexpensive) products! I purchased the Mary-Kate and Ashley gloss in "Pink Glaze," a pale, faintly shimmery pink. (I couldn't find a good picture of the gloss, but I think it's the gloss pictured on the right) Though it looks like a pale shade of Pepto Bismal in the tube, it's almost clear on the lips. The gloss itself is shiny, sweet, and NOT sticky! I believe it's water-based, which explains the non-sticky factor. Unlike some of the other Mary-Kate and Ashley glosses, the Glossy Sheers/Glazes don't contain the nasty chunks of huge glitter. No, the Glossy Sheers formula is quite sophistocated, though at 22 years old, I am a tad bit embarassed to apply this gloss in public! It comes in a multitude of shades and flavors (and they're actually nice, not gross like the LORAC Mocktail!)and it's only $2.94 a tube!

The CoverGirl Incredifull Lipstick is also gorgeous. It's smooth, non-drying, and has a generous dose of pigment and shimmer. I use the shade called "Baby Girl" - a sheer metallic pink (yes, I know, I have a ridiculous obsession for pale/shimmery pinks). It does add a bit of fullness to your lips and it gives a cooling sensation after application. I don't normally wear lipstick, so I'm not sure what to compare this to, but it's only around $7, so it's definitely worth a try!

And finally...

Max Factor Volume Couture Mascara

Normally I'm a DiorShow/BadGal Lash loyalist, but this February my aunt swiped my BadGal before she went to Brazil, leaving me with no good mascara! I didn't have the $19-23 to fork over at the time, so I searched for a cheaper alternative and Volume Couture definitely fits the bill. It's got one of those plastic/rubber brushes so there really isn't any clumping, and I haven't experienced any raccoon-eyes smudging with this mascara, either. Because I love big, thick, almost fake-looking eyelashes, I apply multiple coats of this stuff, but if you like a more subtle look, one coat would probably be sufficient, and at $6.94, it's about one third of the cost of the others.

Whew! Hopefully this epic post has made up for my recent lack of posting! I'll be doing more of these drugstore beauty posts over the next couple weeks, and I'll also be covering hair, skin, and body care products. Hope you enjoyed! What are some of your favorite beauty bargains? Do you think pricey makeup makes much difference, or are we just paying for the name? Leave your comments!

WooHoo and Ewww - Brief Reviews of Make Up For Ever's Full Cover Concealer and LORAC's Mocktail

I know I always say this, but I've been meaning to update for days now. Time just passes by so quickly these days and before I know it, weeks have passed since my last post! I really, really need to start making this a daily habit (along with an exercise routine because I tried on a swinsuit today, and boy are those dressing room lights horribly unforgiving!)

So, first things first.

I'm enjoying the products that I ordered from Sephora (see the last post).
The Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer is a nice product. I love it because it works wonders for my vicious undereye circles (I never, ever get enough sleep and sadly, I drink lots and lots of caffeine), and it's also nice if you have a bit of discoloration on your eyelids. I've been using it with my MAC Foundation Brush and it blends beautifully even though the color is a bit more yellow than most of the concealers I've used in the past (I use Shade 2). It doesn't dry out my skin, and most importantly, it doesn't fold into the little creases under my eyes! Yay! Unfortunately, I have to say that it doesn't do the greatest job at covering up the few little hyperpigmented spots that remain from blemishes of long ago. As for now, I am satisfied...but my search for the Holy Grail continues!

I DO NOT like the Lorac Mocktail Lip Gloss. The shade that I received for my deluxe sample is called "Lava Flow" and while the color is pretty, I really disliked the scent and the "flavor." I'm not sure how to describe it, but it's almost like a funky, fake version of chocolate covered cherries or chocolate dipped strawberries. While the real thing is delicious, the artificial thing is gross. Plus, the shimmer is too chunky - seriously, the flakes are gritty! I haven't tested any of the other colors/flavors, but hopefully they're hotter than "Lava Flow."

I still haven't tested the Tarte Sunburst Beaded Bronzer or the Escada Sunset Heat, but when I do I'll certainly let you guys know...but what do you guys think about LORAC Mocktail Lip Gloss? Have you tried any other shades/flavors? Leave your comments!