Sunday, October 18, 2015

Happy 5th Anniversary! And 5 Holy Grails.

Five long short years ago, I got the urge to start a beauty blog. I didn't have high hopes for it (still don't), but I wanted to create a place to chronicle my experiences with makeup. Since then I've learned a lot about myself and my beauty choices. I'm sure there will be more introspective posts in the future, especially since I plan on embarking on a replacement-only low buy for next year. As I'm whittling down my collection to consist of only the stuff I absolutely love/is flattering/is easy to use, this shouldn't be too hard to stick to. We'll see. Having a baby will also certainly cut into my previously expendable income, so that's another reason for the change in mindset. With a screaming bundle of joy, I can't exactly have all the things!!! I'm not going to have the time, anyway. Or at least that's what people keep telling me. Again, we'll see. 

So, in honor of the things I absolutely love/are flattering/are easy to use, I bring you some of the tried and true beauty products that I keep coming back to, again and again, over the five years of having this blog.

5 Holy Grails

5 Holy Grails by viamediabeauty

Purpose Gentle Cleanser: Have I raved about this enough yet? It's a staple for me. It removes long-wearing makeup so easily and even does a good job at breaking down waterproof mascara on the first cleanse. A second cleanse (or using an actual eye-makeup remover) does the trick and gets rid of everything. It smells lovely, foams nicely, never dries out my skin, you can find it almost anywhere, and it's cheap. What more do you want?

Stila Smudge Stick Eyeliner: As I've discussed time and again, I'm lazy when it comes to eyeliners. Pencils are by far my favorite type - in fact, I don't own any other kind right now. And of the few eyeliners that survived my purge? A handful of Stila Smudge Sticks and Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pens. While Pixi is nice for pricing, sharpening them is still a PITA. That's where Stila is my favorite. They last a long time (on the eye and in the tube), the color selection is amazing, and you never have to sharpen them. I also greatly appreciate the fact that you can smudge them out for a softer look or leave them full-on for a bolder one. 

Cover Girl Lash Blast Mascara: Ever since that iconic orange tube launched ... eight years ago...? Give or take? I've been a huge fan! I always have a tube in my collection, be it the regular volumizing formula (orange tube) or the waterproof variety. I like the straight, rubber brush. I like the formula - not too dry and not too wet, stays on but washes off easily. I like that it's buildable but doesn't clump up. I like that I can get it in super, duper dark BLACK or a softer Black-Brown, should it strike my fancy. And I like that I can find it virtually anywhere I go, which means if I ever find myself without it, it's easily replaceable. 

It Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eye Brow Pencil: I was skeptical about how well a "universal" taupe brow pencil would actually look on my eyebrows, but it looks so natural (in my opinion...) that I've had people question if I'm even wearing anything. And considering that ONE travel-sized pencil has lasted me over TWO years, it's safe to say that I'm sold. I have a second sitting in my backup drawer (it, like the first, came with an It Cosmetics/QVC order as a freebie) and I foresee that one lasting me another two years. I honestly have no desire to look for another brow pencil. It's natural looking, like I said, has a spoolie on one end (super convenient), and a nice waxy texture that isn't too hard but makes the product last all day. It makes doing your brows so easy. Just draw a little on, run a spoolie through the hairs, slick on some gel if you want, and you're good to go.

And last but not least... Jack Black Lip Balm: My personal favorite flavor is the Shea and Vitamin E, but that's because there is no flavor, so I don't have to worry about it conflicting with anything I eat/drink or any flavors in any of my other lip products (though I've really tried to weed out the worst offenders from my collection). I currently have three tubes of this stuff strategically placed around the house and once I get rid of the two non-Jack Black lip balms I have, this will be the only type of lip balm I have. Ever. It works well under lipstick. It makes my dry, peely lips soft and smooth, even in the worst Po'Dunk winter conditions. If good ol' Jack ever made the jump into women's cosmetics (yes.. it's technically for men, but I don't care) and made a tinted version of this, I would be in hog heaven!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Follow Up: Burberry and Chanel Hauls

Remember that buzzing excitement over my Burberry and Chanel purchases? Yeah... I'm here with an update to tell you that I've returned all of it. All of it? Yep. All of it. I know there are people who will be aghast that I wasn't satisfied with luxury makeup, or shaking their heads at another American taking advantage of a store's return policies. But, considering how much all of this stuff cost, there's absolutely NO reason to keep stuff that doesn't meet your expectations or perform as well as the price tag indicates.

Let's break it down, shall we?

Chanel Les 4 Ombres Multi-Effect Quadra Eyeshadow in Tisse Rivoli - I don't like baked shadows. There. I said it. I had that initial impression with the Wet 'n Wild Baked Not Fried palette from 2011. I blamed it on the "cheapness" of Wet 'n Wild. I don't like having to use shadows wet. I guess I thought Chanel would be different because, well, it's Chanel. And it swatched nicely while dry. I had such high hopes, but it didn't apply as pigmented on the eye and it creased on me within hours. Hours! It didn't matter what primer/base I used. For $61, I expected so much more and when it failed to deliver, back to the store it went. 

Burberry First Kiss Fresh Gloss Lip Balm in Rose Blush - The super sheer wash of color was nice enough, but for something labeled as a "Lip Balm," it didn't moisturize any better than your standard lip gloss. In fact, I've had lip glosses that moisturize better. 

Burberry Kisses Lipstick in Peach Delight - It looked like the perfect peach for me on my hand, but on my actual lips... not so much. It wasn't as bright/neon as Devon Sunset was, but Peach Delight was still just a touch too harsh. Apparently I need something with a bit of pink in it to soften the color and Peach Delight didn't have it. Tulip Pink, perhaps, but I'm not really too keen on getting any more Burberry Kisses lipsticks at the moment. I have enough other colors to work through (even though a good peachy-pink is woefully absent from my collection) and the big, square Kisses packaging won't fit in the acrylic lipstick holder that I have. So annoying!

Burberry Wet & Dry Silk Eyeshadow in Mulberry 204 - As I stated in the original post, I've been wanting this shadow forever. I've seen so many blue-eyed ladies talking about how beautiful it was and how interesting the plummy-brown was in a sea of bronzes and brown neutrals. It would have been perfect for fall. Except, it made me look like I'd been punched in the eye. The plummy hue actually didn't show up at all on my eye, it just morphed into a muddy brown, like a three-day old bruise. I knew the first time I wore it that it would never get used again. Bye, bye Mulberry.

Burberry Wet & Dry Glow Eyeshadow in Optic White 000 - This one was so disappointing on so many levels. Like the others, it swatched nicely, but on my eye it was just a white, glittery mess. It didn't look good as a wash of color, it didn't look good as a brow bone highlight, and it certainly didn't look good as a cheek highlight. Using it wet did help the pigmentation show up, but as previously mentioned, I don't like shadows that have to be used wet. If I want to ramp up the color or use it as liner, sure, I'll go through the hassle, but on a day-to-day basis? No thank you.

So, those are the things that I actually returned. Want to know two other things I would return if I had the chance? Burberry Nude Glow Pressed Powder in Porcelain 11 and Burberry Eye Colour Cream in Mink 102. The only reason I'm not returning them is because I ordered them directly from Burberry and their return policy is horrid - they won't take back anything that's been used. I thought I was safe with a powder and a cream eye shadow, but how wrong I was... Porcelain is actually darker than my skin, which is never ideal. And although it's touted as a "setting" powder, I'm shiny within an hour and I'm not even that oily. It might be better off in the winter or for super dry-skinned folks, but the color is still an issue. I've tried a multitude of brushes and sponges and puffs and I still can't get this to look good for more than five minutes and touch-ups are out of the question because of the horribly dark color. Mink is ok, color-wise, but certainly nothing to write home about. And since it says it's a "cream," I expected it to be along the lines of MAC Paint Pots or Maybelline Color Tattoos. Hell, even the weird spongy texture of L'Oreal Infallibles is more cream-like than the Burberry version. To me it feels like a regular shadow that's been put in a heavy, little pot versus in a traditional eyeshadow pan. I typically apply cream shadows with my finger, but for Mink, I actually prefer a flat shader brush to get any color to actually show up. I get that Burberry's schtick is sheer, buildable colors, for the effortless makeup look, but come on! It's kind of like the baked/wet shadow thing... who has time to layer and layer and layer stuff in the morning? I want truly effortless makeup that I can slap on, blend out, and GO! 

So now that my luxury-makeup goggles have been removed, I'm going to stick with stuff that I can get locally and not have to order online without swatching in person first. I successfully killed a slew of lemmings this past weekend at Sephora, just because I got to swatch stuff and see what it was like in person instead of having to rely on other people's swatches online. Lesson learned.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

First Impression & Swatches: Chanel Tisse Rivoli Quad

For my birthday last year, I splurged and got myself my first Burberry eyeshadows. While the big day isn't until November, I'm going to be a little busy this year, what with having a baby in the week(s) preceding it. So, I splurged early with the hopes that this will also be what I take with me to the hospital. Yes, I'm taking makeup to the hospital. I'm going to obviously want pictures and I'm not going to look like a haggard mess if I can help it. I want to look back and actually like my first pictures with our baby, not cringe and burn (or delete) every single one of them. So, makeup is a necessity to me.

The hunt for the perfect neutral quad/small palette was actually quite extensive. Burberry's Complete Palette in Mocha was my first choice, but it was not flattering on my skin. Then I turned to Bare Minerals' Truth quad. The "highlight" shade wasn't very light and the two darkest colors looked identical to me. Pass. Too Faced Natural Eyes was a potential, but some of the colors swatched chalky and reviews are mixed. I wanted something that was a guaranteed home run. After hours of Googling swatches and watching YouTube reviews on a multitude of other potentials (hey, I'm on bed rest. Don't judge. What else am I supposed to do when I need a break from the Law & Order: SVU and Game of Thrones marathons?) I finally turned my attention toward Chanel. 

Since this is my first Chanel purchase (aside from perfume), I really had no idea what to expect. I knew I wanted neutrals that covered all the bases - highlight color, shimmery mid-tones, and a darker color that could be used for smokey eyes and/or liner. I think Tisse Rivoli fits the bill, but I'll reserve complete judgment until I've actually worn these on my eyes.

Chanel Les 4 Ombres Multi-Effect Quadra Eyeshadow in Tisse Rivoli, direct sunlight
Swatches in indirect light
Swatches in direct sunlight

Included in the box is the standard luxury black velvet case/pouch, but also a handy little booklet with four different looks/examples of how to wear the shadows. Despite the fact that I've been doing my makeup for ... a while now ... I found the booklet was actually helpful and I'll more than likely try them out. Obviously Chanel knows their product better than I do, so we'll see how their "vision" for the eyeshadow placement actually works in the real world. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ways to Maintain a Healthy Summer Glow + Bonus Recipe!

Have you heard of ALOHA yet? I hadn't until last week, but it's been described as "a place to say hello to good health and happiness." They've been featured in some top magazines and you can even sign up for some freebies when you go to their webpage. I got a chance to speak to one of their employees and she asked about my thoughts on how to achieve a healthy "Summer" glow year-round. At first I laughed, especially since I'm lovingly referred to as both a ghost and a vampire by my nearest and dearest, so the idea of ME, the Queen of the Pale, talking about a Summer glow was amusing. BUT! I got to thinking about it and it is all thanks to my recent trip to the Burberry counter that I actually feel like I have something to contribute to ALOHA's quest to "inspire health and beauty throughout every season." 

Keeping up your Summer glow

So, without further ado, my top three steps to keeping up your Summer glow.

1. Exfoliate - I think this is the basis of any and all attempts to look glowy, no matter what the season is. People have their personal preferences as to whether or not this should be done chemically (with an AHA or BHA) or physically (with a washcloth or gritty scrub). I'm more keen on chemical exfoliants for my face, but I'm all about scrubs for my body and my lips. Featured above are two of my favorites for daily use: Paula's Choice RESIST Daily Pore-Refining Treatment with 2% BHA and the E.L.F. Lip Exfoliator. While there's nothing particularly snazzy about the Paula's Choice BHA, it's become a staple in my nighttime cleansing routine and I like to think it's working behind the scenes, so to speak. The lip exfoliator, however, is awesome! For $3, you get a stick of brown sugar that you schmear all over your lips and take away all of the nasty flakes while leaving a pleasant taste behind.

2. Luminous Primer - Being that I don't wear foundation everyday, I feel like primers are mostly pointless to me. Sure, when I actually wear foundation, they serve a purpose and are great, but usually I can't be bothered with them. However, the super duper helpful manager at the Burberry counter nearest me changed my mind. I went in to make a return (and play around) when she asked if she could color-match me to a foundation I was eyeing. So, I said sure. Minutes later, she was coming at me with Burberry's Fresh Glow Luminous Fluid Base in Golden Radiance. The color in the picture is essentially what it looks like in real life - liquid bronzer. I immediately recoiled, since I assumed she'd be using Nude Radiance, which is a pinky/pearly primer, instead. She noted my reaction and reassured me I wouldn't look like an Oompa Loompa. I trusted her and went with it and was amazed how lively I looked when it was all said and done. I'm not a bronzer fan, if that's any surprise, but Golden Radiance sat so well on my pasty skin that I literally said "Wow" when she turned the mirror toward me. She sent me on my way with a sample of both primers and even using it home, either by itself or mixing it with my existing foundations, I'm amazed at the subtle sheen it gives WITHOUT making me look orange! I actually haven't even tried out Nude Radiance yet, since I've been loving the Golden Radiance.

3. Highlight - When all else fails to give you the healthy glow you're looking for, fake it. My go-to lately has been the new Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminator in Starlight. Those looking for more of a summery vibe should check out any of their other colors, which are all a variation of warm golds and peaches. If this post had come three weeks ago, I would have wholeheartedly encouraged people to turn to any of the Becca highlighters, but ABH has dethroned them in my book, especially when Starlight lasted 12 hours on me (through talking on a phone and a nap) whereas Becca's pressed Moonstone faded after 8. The phone wasn't even on the Becca side, so you can't use that as an excuse. Apparently my skin just eats it. :o/

Speaking of eating... since ALOHA is a health-food company, I've included a fall recipe that you don't have to feel guilty about eating. This one is all about pumpkin! Being that I live in one of the top pumpkin-producing states in the U.S., it's only fitting that I showcase my love for the giant orange fruit. Well, actually a berry. But let's not get technical. All you need to know is that pumpkins are a great source of potassium and Vitamin A and they taste delicious.

Sadly, not my picture. It's courtesy of Google Images. But don't they look awesome?
3 Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

1 box of cake mix (I've used yellow, vanilla, and spice. Any brand. Whatever is handy.)
1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree (Libby is an Illinois company - another fun pumpkin fact.)
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice OR 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp allspice, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg
Optional: Toss in some chocolate chips (not so healthy, I know...), cinnamon chips, walnuts, pecans, cranberries... whatever strikes your fancy.

Mix it all together. Do NOT add any eggs or liquids. The pumpkin puree is all of the moisture that you need. Line a muffin pan, pour in your batter, and bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees. I always double-check with a toothpick to make sure they're set in the middle. And you're good to go! Delicious, easy pumpkin muffins that only set you back 2-3 Weight Watcher points (or so I'm told. I'm not in WW and I have no idea how points translate into calories, but when I made these for work and told the people there, the WW ladies were very happy). If you frost them, you now have pumpkin cupcakes! I personally recommend a cream cheese frosting if you do go that route.

Fun twist for those of you who might ::GASP!:: hate pumpkin - if you use chocolate cake mix, you can't taste the pumpkin at all. I personally love pumpkin any time, any where. But convincing my husband to eat pumpkin muffins in March is a bit of a challenge, so I tried the chocolate version and he was none the wiser. O:o)

If you're curious, you can check out other recipes on ALOHA's site by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Burberry Haul and Swatches

Oops, I did it again...

Bad songs aside, I may have splurged on a little Burberry haul. I have been wanting Mulberry eyeshadow for forever and a day, so I got that, plus I'm hoping that the Optic White eyeshadow can multitask as both its intended purpose and a cheek highlight. It seems pearlescent enough to accomplish the task. I was also in the market for a new peach lipstick, hence why I ordered the Kisses lipstick in Peach Delight. And I needed to bump myself over the $100 mark (shameful, I know...) to get the Gift With Purchase, so that's why I ordered the First Kiss gloss in Rose Blush. And my freebies were a really nice leather/pleather (can't really tell...) zip up makeup bag that says Burberry on the front (but it's hidden behind the eyeshadows) and a mini Kisses lipstick in Sepia. 

First Kiss Fresh Gloss Lip Balm in Rose Blush, (mini) Kisses Lipstick in Sepia,
Kisses Lipstick in Peach Delight, Wet & Dry Silk Eyeshadow in Mulberry 204,
and Wet & Dry Glow Eyeshadow in Optic White 000

Rose Blush, Sepia, Peach Delight, Mulberry, and Optic White

All in all I'm quite happy with how everything swatched. The initial application of Peach Delight (followed by Rose Blush) leads me to believe that more colors in both formulas are in my future. And really, need I say anything else about Burberry eyeshadows? I'm kind of obsessed.