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Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2017

Venus Et Fleur Eternity Roses | the beauty look book

Just wanted to wish my lovely readers a lovely Valentine’s Day! Hoping your day today (and everyday as well) is filled with love. This year my husband surprised me with one of the most amazing gifts I’ve ever received, a box of Venus Et Fleur Eternity roses. They’re supposed to last an entire year! I’m over the moon as my husband is usually one for giving practical gifts. For Christmas he bought us a new vaccuum the iRobot Roomba 980 as a gift for us, lol. For those wondering if it’s worth the extra price over the cheaper models, hands down yes it is.

There are a lot of rose box options you can pick from Venus Et Fleur. They have round and square box options and you can pick colors of roses for each arrangement – unfortunately the round ones are only available for delivery in NY (at least right now). These are real roses from Ecuador – they appear to have a light coating sprayed on them which is what I suspect helps keep them alive for an entire year, but according to their site they use a special method to keep color and freshness. No water is needed – all you need to do is keep them away from direct sunlight and at normal temperatures (card says 60 to 70 degrees).

I’m obsessed with the colors my husband picked out because when it comes to girly stuff he really has no idea about colors or things like that. A look at the roses – it’s a box of perfection!

Venus Et Fleur Roses Valentine's Day | The Beauty Look Book

New beauty post to follow very soon within the next hour or so. Hope your day is special whether you have a significant other or are single! xoxo

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Beauty Roundup

Best Beauty Discoveries 2016

December 29, 2016

Best makeup discoveries in 2016 Tom Ford Chanel Anastasia NARS MAC

I can hardly believe another year has flown by! Thank you to each and every one of you who followed me along on my beauty journey this past year. Today I have a round up of my 2016 favorites in makeup (skincare to follow in a separate post). As a long-time nail polish junkie I was surprised to find this past year was pretty light on the nail polish features and reviews – I remember in past years going through tons of nail wheels and bottles of polish remover. Perhaps by now I simply have collected all the possible colors? 2016’s focus seemed to be all about lips and highlighters for me. As always I’d love to hear what your favorite makeup discoveries were for the year! I picked out items that were new in 2016 (they’re listed in alphabetical order by brand):

Lips

Face and Cheeks

Eyes

Nails

  • Chanel Le Vernis in Organdi (review here) was my most-worn color this year
  • Louboutin had the best colors and formulas for me this year, I loved Miss Mars and the Hawaii Kawai Trio minis were so fun to shoot, there were three Red Nail Extensions that I was able to play with back in May to swatch for you, months later I ended up buying Jazzy Doll and Edgypopi

What were your makeup favorites this past year? They can be new launches, rediscoveries or new-to-you products! I love reading about your favorites so please feel free to share in the comments below. Several of you have asked that I bring back the monthly roundups on a regular basis, some have asked for a hits and misses roundup as well. I’ll be starting a monthly review series in the new year!

Beauty Skincare

At-Home Spa Essentials to De-stress During the Holidays

December 16, 2016

At Home Spa Essentials to Relax and Destress During the Busy Holiday Season

As much as I love the holiday season I find this time of year can sometimes be extra stressful with everything going on and finding ways to relax or de-stress can be challenging. Last week my husband and I took a much-needed vacation to try and escape reality for a few days. We were lucky to have one rare week where both of our schedules were clear to travel but for the times I can’t hop on a plane for a getaway, the next best thing is a mini at-home spa session. Doing little things here and there can make a huge difference. I think taking time for yourself to quiet the mind and soul are important. I’ve teamed up with Nordstrom to share some of my favorite at-home spa essentials to de-stress during the holiday season.

I’m a total bath person. If I could live in the tub I would totally do it. There’s nothing quite like a bubble bath to melt away any anxiety or stress so I do it frequently. I usually use shower gels and pour a capful under running water for a bubble bath, my favorites are the Diptyque Revitalizing Shower Gel and Fresh Life Bath and Shower Gel.

Fresh Sake Bath Sugar Cubes Le Labo Santal Shower Gel and Jo Malone Bath Oil

A few others to mention:

  • Fresh Sake Bath ($82 for 400 ml/13.5 fl oz) I used this many years ago but it has been such a long time since I last purchased I forgot what it was like. Many of you recommended I try this again, it’s a purifying bath soak that has ingredients to easy tension, detox, moisturize and smooth the skin. It’s pricey but a little goes a long way and I really love it. I think it was 100% worth the splurge.
  • Fresh Sugar Lychee Bath Cubes ($39 for 6.35 oz) are another way to create a nice bath soak. There are tons of products like this that dissolve in the tub but I have this thing where the ones with blue or pink colors make me feel uncomfortable. I’m all about the bath water looking clear or milky white so these are perfect. I use two cubes and it’s plenty to fill our tub.
  • Le Labo Santal Shower Gel ($50 for 8 fl oz) is one of the more spendy shower gels, if you like sandalwood and earthy scents this one is very unique but doesn’t have too much spice like some santal scents have.
  • Fresh Oval Soap ($15) come in assorted scents. I’m not much of a soap person because they usually dry out my skin or leave this film that makes the skin feel tight, but the ones from Fresh are among the few that I find hydrating and leave the skin clean.
  • Jo Malone Lime Basil and Mandarin Bath Oil ($25 for 1 fl oz) is the ultimate spa scent for me, the oils are super concentrated and strong so you only need the tiniest bit, if you’re unsure of splurging some scents come in smaller travel sizes which are a nice way to test before buying the larger ones.

Up next are face masks. Based on previous posts and reviews I’ve done on face masks many of you are mask addicts just like me. I love trying new brands and formulas but when I find something I tend to just stick with it. My favorite line of masks is Glamglow hands down. I’ve tried every one that they have. I use face masks on a weekly basis. There’s something about using face masks that make you feel like a brand new person.

Favorite Face Masks from La Mer Glamglow Sisley and Kate Somerville

Shown above:

  • La Mer The Hydrating Facial Mask ($250 for six sets) comes in an upper and lower sheet for each application, this is one of the most luxurious hydrating masks I’ve tried but due to the price point I have only bought one box and use them on days I feel like I need extra care and pampering. These leave the skin feeling well hydrated and soft. In terms of hydration these offer the best moisture and hydration out of all the masks I’ve tried.
  • Glamglow is my favorite line. The Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment ($69 for 1.7 oz) is a go-to for me for hydration and smells absolutely delicious (I almost want to eat it). For those who don’t want to spend that much without knowing how it will perform they have minis in the 0.5 oz tubes for $22 each. For those who want a strong detox clarifying mask the Youthmud Tinglexfoliate Treatment has volcanic rock to help with exfoliation, but if you have super sensitive skin, do not use this one. I have sensitive skin and can tolerate the tingle, but I would recommend you proceed with caution and do a patch test first. The Powermud Dualcleanse Treatment is one of the newer ones they launched. It’s a deep cleaning mask that absorbs oil and is more gentle than the Youthmud.
  • If you have sensitive skin but want a gentle clarifying and acne-prevention mask, the Kate Somerville Eradikate Mask ($54 for 2 oz) is hands down the way to go. It’s a foam activated mask so once you apply, it starts to foam after application. It has sulfur which reduces acne and prevents pimples. Once it foams it dissolved dirt and reduces oil. It doesn’t dry out the skin which I find rare for masks that clear up the skin. I don’t have severe acne or have frequent breakouts but using this keeps the skin clear and has worked wonders on my friends who are acne-prone. I think I must have bought at least a dozen bottles this year for my brother, friends and family (and myself).
  • For a glow the Sisley Radiant Glow Express Mask ($128 for 2.3 oz) is one of the biggest splurges I made earlier this year. It cleanses the skin nicely and leaves it feeling soft, smooth and radiant. Skin feels like brand new after using it. I don’t know that I will repurchase because it’s just so darn expensive. I am pleased with the results though so if you want to know if it’s worth the price, I would say 100% yes.
  • Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask ($62 for 3.3 oz) is one that took me a long time to try. For Fresh I usually pick body items or the lip balms but haven’t explored the skincare line much. For those who have sensitive skin and find that purifying masks sting or dry out the skin too much, this is one that clarifies but has no stinging sensation – even on my super sensitive skin days. It’s very soothing on the skin with the chamomile and lavender water. A little goes a long way and if you only have certain areas like the nose or T-zone that need help you can use this as a spot treatment mask instead of applying all over the face.

Clarisonic Mia Fit Kate Somerville Scrub La Mer Face Mist

Some more favorites for the face:

  • Clarisonic Mia Fit is better than the other Clarisonic tools for me because the compact size and shape makes it easier to use. My husband has the grey Alpha Fit and I love that we have a his and hers version. I was super disciplined in using this when I first got it but tend to get lazy and use this once a week. My husband on the other hand uses his every day and it helps smooth and prep his face for shaving. For daily exfoliation I think it’s great.
  • Kate Somerville is a line that has pretty much changed my life. I had my first real facial at their clinic earlier this year and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced and put other facials I had to shame. They diagnosed my skin and helped me pick items that would help reduce redness, smooth texture and prevent wrinkles. The Exfolikate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment ($24 to 85 depending on size) is one of their best-selling scrubs. It has lactic acid and fruit enzymes to smooth skin and make it brighter. It’s almost like a scrub and mask in one because you leave it on the skin for 30 seconds while it works it’s magic then you rinse. It’s gentle enough for my sensitive skin. If your skin cannot handle any tingle you may want to opt for the Exfolikate Gentle Option. I’ve tried both and like them both.
  • I love a good face mist and I’ve tried lots. The La Mer Face Mist ($75 for 3.4 oz) is one of my favorites. Again it can be hard to justify the high price points for skin care but I’ve never been let down.

Last but not least having a good smelling candle can work wonders to de-stress at home whether it’s in the bathroom, in the living room or bedroom. My favorites are of course from Diptyque and I love the beautiful glass jars because you can recycle them after use to store pens, brushes, flowers, q-tips or paperclips. My top 3 from Diptyque change often but for right now I like Baies, Noisetier and Figuier. The Mini Candle Holiday 10 Piece Set is the best way to sample a lot of fragrances at a reasonable price. Other favorites right this moment are the Antica Farmacista Champagne Black Label and also the Jo Malone Lime Basil and Mandarin.

The Best Luxury Candles from Diptyque, Jo Malone, Antica Farmacista

For those who find it challenging to step back and de-stress I hope find this post helpful for ideas or inspiration to take care of yourself. There are times you have to try and force yourself to take a moment or two out of your day to calm the mind and relax. Little things here and there can help you keep your sanity during busy times. I hope you will find the time to treat yourself in the next few weeks! I know it’s a lot easier said than done, I’ve definitely had a few stress meltdowns over the past couple of months and even though I’m usually pretty good at managing stress I need a little extra help now and then.

For those who are doing last minute beauty gift shopping don’t forget to check out the Gift With Purchase page. There are some promotions that need a promo code at checkout so don’t forget to check the details. Also be mindful of shipping cutoff times.

Do you have any favorite at-home spa essentials to de-stress and relax?

Many thanks to Nordstrom for partnering to sponsor this post.

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Beauty

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2015
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! I hope you are enjoying some time with loved ones and are able to take some time to yourself to relax and unwind from the business of the holiday season. I was gifted my first Nest Birchwood Pine 3-Wick Candle earlier this month and loved it so much I bought a few more as gifts. Those who adore this scent – it’s now marked down on 25% off sale here and here. The Holiday Scent candles are also on sale as well, here and here. If you’re a Nest fan please let me know what other scents you love. Would appreciate recommendations!

A few other sales and markdowns to note because they are too good to not share:

  • Kate Somerville Melrose Place Holiday Kit is on markdown online at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus to $68 (originally $85)
  • Nordstrom Beauty has a ton of beauty sets marked down, Kiehl’s sets are 20% off, Philosophy holiday scents and sets are 25% off, select Molton Brown items are 30% off
  • Molton Brown has a sale with select items and holiday sets marked at up to 30% off (the Festive Bauble 9 Piece Set is now $80.50)
  • Joie has a take 25% off sale items with code TAKE25
  • Splendid has a huge sale with markdowns up to 40%
  • Sephora has a sale on sale event, take 20% off sale items with code EXTRA20 (online only, ends 1/1/2016)
  • L’Occitane has a Winter Sale on select items marked down 20% off, 30% off and 50% off online
If you know of any other good sales going on, please feel free to share in the comments. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas today – thank you to everyone who reads and follows The Beauty Look Book. I’ll have one last reveal of my Diptyque Advent Calendar today (plus a giveaway) so stay tuned.

Merry Christmas!
Beauty Lips Roundup

My Favorite Neutral Pink and Nude Lip Liner Pencils

October 7, 2015

I’m a neutral nude lipstick lover but I since I have pigmented lips I can’t always pull off nudes. Many tend to either look super pale and chalky like concealer or are too dark on me – I know everyone has a different definition of nude when it comes to makeup, but to me a true nude is a your lips but better kind of color that is light and close to your natural skintone. I adore shades like MAC Cherish, Blankety, Creme Cup etc but they are almost impossible for me to wear alone without looking like I’ve swiped concealer all over my lips. Lip pencils often make it possible for me to wear lighter nude colors with blending or by creating a good softly lined base. If you’ve tried ordering lip pencils online like me then you know how hard it is to tell what the color looks like based on online swatches. I thought I’d roundup 20+ of my favorite neutral lip pencils alongside cult classics (some of which do not work for me even though they are wildly popular). As you’ll see below many times you can’t tell what the color will really look like until you swatch it. Also like nude neutral lipsticks, lip pencils have a wide variety of different undertones: warm, cool, pink, beige, peach, plum and brown.

Above photo: Diptyque Room Spray in Baies, Chêne candle recycled (boutique exclusive), stacked Blushes from Chanel and Hourglass 

A bit of background on what I look for in lip liners. I like ones that are soft and glide over the lips. I’m usually not a line and fill kind of girl when it comes to lip liners. I prefer to wear them around the outer edge and blend it slightly inwards to the center of lips to create an outlined base and then fill with a gloss or lipstick. Since many pencils are super pigmented and super saturated in color to help extend the wear of lipstick, I find lining and filling the entire lip leaves the lips looking really dry and emphasizes lines. This of course can be fixed with a good lip balm, lip primer or gloss.
I have 28 lip pencils to share swatches of, I’ll link previous lip swatches if I have them. I was debating whether or not to swatch all on my lips – but nudes tend to look so different on me compared to everyone else. I think the swatches on the arms will help show the differences.

  1. Le Metier de Beaute Dualistic Lip Pencil in Nudite is a medium pinky brown creamy lip pencil, this one glides on the lips easily and is very pigmented, it has a smooth texture
  2. H&M Lip Liner in Au Naturel is included in the roundup because it’s a new one and the perfect neutral nude color and at $5.99 I couldn’t resist ordering it, on bare lips it’s a disaster for me, you definitely need to prep the lips with a bit of lip balm or primer, this is borderline too pale, but it works
  3. MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Cultured is new to me, it’s a long-wear mauvey nude pink
  4. MAC Lip Pencil in Subculture is my perfect nude pink, it has reached holy grail status for me, I’ve gone through 4 of them in my life, it’s the best light pink nude that is still wearable
  5. MAC Lip Pencil in Oak is a classic light flesh nude, it’s a classic for me because it has no orange undertone in it but doesn’t make me look dead, unfortunately I think it might be on the discontinue list – the only place I could find it was on Bloomingdale’s so I ordered 3 backups
  6. MAC Lip Pencil in Stripdown is another good true flesh nude, it’s brown in undertone and slightly warmer than Oak, it’s a good one but I know many find it too brown/grey
  7. MAC Lip Pencil in Boldly Bare comes second to my favorite Subculture, it’s what I wanted Spice to always be, Boldly Bare is the perfect pinky warm medium nude that works wonders with pale lip colors and glosses
  8. MAC Lip Pencil in Spice is a cult classic that was so popular when I was in high school, every cool girl owned it, on me it was always so brown and pulled orangey on my lips even though it swatches more neutral, I still use and wear it to tweak lip colors, it’s just not my favorite
  9. MAC Lip Pencil in Dervish isn’t really a nude, it’s more of a neutral medium rosy pink, but it falls into the neutral category for me, it’s a classic staple I think everyone should try
  10. MAC Lip Pencil in Whirl is another really good nude, it pulls more mauvey nude rose which I adore, the cool tones prevents it from looking orange or brown on my lips, it has enough depth to really define the lips perfectly
  11. MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Double-Time is a neutral medium warm brown-pink-nude, this lasts all day without budging
  12. MAC Lip Pencil in Soar is a medium to dark pink, it’s a bit darker and deeper on me than the traditional neutral, if you have deeper skin or deeper lips, this will probably pull more neutral on you than it does on me
  13. MAC Lip Pencil in Hover is another deeper neutral, it’s one of the deepest neutrals I own
  14. MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Staunchly Stylish almost matches Subculture but it’s slightly deeper and has a more pigmented finish
  15. Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Re-Size and Re-Shape Lip Liner in Iconic Nude is my perfect true nude in the sense that it’s a flesh-toned beige nude, this is a classic pigmented pencil that I think might be a universally flattering color
  16. Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Re-Size and Re-Shape Lip Liner in Pillow Talk is a classic rosy pink neutral, this one goes well with a lot of the Charlotte Tilbury Lipsticks like Bitch Perfect, Confession, Penelope Pink etc.
  17. Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Re-Size and Re-Shape Lip Liner in Pink Venus is a warm peachy pink, the color warms up the lips and adds life to the face
  18. Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Natural is a classic light neutral pink nude beige, if you’re looking for the perfect beige pink nude, this is it, compared to other formulas Chanel can tug on the lips a little, but they aren’t drying
  19. Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Beige Satin is one of the lightest colors I own, it’s borderline too pale for me, but I like mixing it with beige and nude lipsticks
  20. Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Beige Innocent is another pale pearly lip pencil from Chanel, it’s almost identical to Beige Satin but slightly lighter
  21. Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Nude is a cult classic that has been used on me for every single Chanel makeover I’ve had, it’s always seemed to be darker than what I envisioned a nude to be, but it’s almost magical – artists have used this with every lip color imaginable from red, pink, coral, beige, peach – this somehow transforms and defines lip colors in the most amazing way
  22. Laura Mercier Lip Pencil in Naked is light baby pink neutral, it looks super light on me, but when I blend it out, it evens out the lip tone
  23. Laura Mercier Lip Pencil in Chestnut is another cult classic that is super popular, it’s always recommended for the lipsticks I look at when shopping at the counter, it’s a mauvey warm neutral
  24. Marc Jacobs Beauty (P)Outliner Lip Pencil in Honey(bun) is a super pigmented creamy twist up lip pencil, all three shades of the (P)Outliner are reviewed here, Honey(bun) is a neutral bright peachy color
  25. Marc Jacobs Beauty (P)Outliner Lip Pencil in Prim(rose) is a rosey pink brown neutral
  26. Marc Jacobs Beauty (P)Outliner Lip Pencil in Nude(ist) is a beige brown nude
  27. Edward Bess Defining Lip Liner in Natural is in my top picks for lip pencil formula, it comes in a sleek twist up tube and mine have never dried out, I’ve gone through several pencils, it’s a great go-with-everything kind of neutral, texture is smooth and doesn’t tug the lips
  28. Nudestix Lip & Cheek Pencil in Soul is one of the few chubby pencils I really really like. I own a number of chubby sticks from different brands but always find them a pain to sharpen (they always get so messy). Nudestix has a wide number of great nudes, Soul is my perfect warm peach nude (swatched on lips here)
One more view of all the pencils:

From the * clockwise, Le Metier de Beaute Nudite, H&M Au Naturel, MAC Cultured, MAC Subculture, MAC Oak, MAC Stripdown, MAC Boldly Bare, MAC Spice, MAC Dervish, MAC Whirl, MAC Double-Time, MAC Soar, MAC Hover, MAC Staunchly Stylish, Nudestix Soul, Edward Bess Natural, Marc Jacobs Beauty Nudite, Marc Jacobs Beauty Primrose, Marc Jacobs Beauty Honeybun, Laura Mercier Chestnut, Laura Mercier Naked, Chanel Nude, Chanel Beige Innocent, Chanel Beige Satin, Chanel Natural, Charlotte Tilbury Pink Venus, Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk, Charlotte Tilbury Iconic Nude

Truffle Small Clarity Clutch in new Nude

In case you’re in need of some recommendations for clear or sheer lipglosses to layer over liners if you like to line and fill, here are a few of my favorites. In terms of lip primers, I swear by the MAC Prep+Prime Lip and Buxom True Nude Lip Foundation in Naked.

Below shown from left to right:
I hope you found this roundup of neutral lip pencils helpful! I think the swatches show how different many of them are even though they look really similar just based on the pencils themselves. If I were pressed to rank my top picks, my absolute favorites/staples are:

MAC Subculture
MAC Whirl
Edward Bess Natural
MAC Oak
Chanel Nude
Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk
Do you have a favorite neutral lip pencil? I’d love to hear about what your holy grail neutrals are!
Press samples featured include Marc Jacobs (P)Outliners x3, Marc Jacobs Enamored Hi-Shine Lip Lacquer in Moonglow, Nudestix Soul, Buxom True Nude Lip Foundation, Truffle Clarity Clutch

Beauty Nordstrom

The Beauty Look Book’s Guide to Building a Makeup Wardrobe

December 16, 2014

This year I’ve received quite a few e-mails from new readers who just started getting into higher-end cosmetic brands. Being a beauty junkie and beauty blogger, I put dozens of products to the test each mont. This allows me to offer comparisons in order to help others determine differences or similarities across brands, formulas and product families.

For the makeup newbie it can be a bit overwhelming to sort through all the options. Finding good makeup that works for you often has to be done through trial and error. I think we’ve all been at that place where we bought something that ended up not working so well for our skin tone or skin type. Finding a store with a wide range of brands to choose from with a good return/exchange policy is one of the main reasons I really love to shop at Nordstrom. Today I’ve teamed up with them to create a personal beauty guide on how to start building a makeup wardrobe.

Most of my makeup preferences are for natural colors that will enhance features. New readers frequently e-mail me requesting a customized shopping list of my top beauty picks for them to take to the counter. Picking favorites is almost impossible for me since I really do love a lot of brands, but I’ve compiled an edited list that I think will be good for the makeup newbie. I’ve split my guide into three categories: Lips, Eyes and Cheeks.

For lips, if you’re just starting to get into makeup, my recommendations would depend on what kind of look you want. Even if you want a natural color, texture and finish plays a major part in picking out the right lip product. Do you prefer sheer, glossy, velvety, full-coverage? Are you a lipstick or lipgloss kind of person? Do you like shimmer or prefer creams?
Chanel Rouge Allure Glosses offer rich pigment with high shine and flawless coverage. My favorite soft pink is Sensible 15. If you want a no-fuss medium to full coverage lip gloss that stays put, these will give a really pretty shine while adding a good amount of color. There are naturals and brights in this formula to suit a wide range of skin tones. Another really good full coverage lip gloss is the Dior Addict Fluid Stick. These are a hybrid lipstick + lipgloss and it packs in a ton of color with high shine. Whisper Beige 219 is a good natural beige nude that won’t wash out the complexion.

If you prefer to ease into color and want just a tint of color and shine, Chanel Glossimers are among my favorite out of all the lip glosses in the market. Shades range from sparkling light pinks, bright corals, soft rose, beiges to plums. The holiday Chanel Give It Shine Glossimer Lip Trio has the perfect collection of shades to start your lip wardrobe. It has Amour (soft peach), Sweet Beige (nude beige shimmer) and Wild Rose (the perfect rose pink shine). These have a smooth texture with a naturally glossy sheen.

If you want a more budget-friendly lip gloss, MAC Lipglasses are hard to pass up. These are a bit sticky and tacky, but there are a lot of colors and finishes to choose from. Lovechild Lipglass is one of the most universally flattering colors I’ve seen. It’s a soft plum with pink tones and gold shimmer. On me it pulls very natural, on fair skin it’s the perfect plum, on darker or deeper skin tones it also looks good. Laura Mercier Lip Glacés also offer a wide range of colors with a natural finish. Pink Pop is a bright but sheer pink which brings the complexion to life with a sheer wash of bright color.

If you are more of a lipstick kind of person but want something natural, Chanel Rouge Coco Shines are my favorite no fuss swipe-and-go kind of lipstick. Boy 54 is the best classic rose pink shade that adds the prettiest hint of color and shine. The sheer formula won’t be as long lasting as a regular lipstick but the color is flawless and formula is hydrating. These are really good if you’re timid with bold colors and want something to ease into for lips. The sheer glossy formula is slightly transparent and lets you natural lip shine through.

If you want a full coverage lipstick but still want something that looks natural, the NARS Audacious Lipstick formula is hands down the best that has been released this year. The formula is full coverage with an amazing coverage that melds with the lip. If you have dry lips or peeling flakes you will need to moisturize or prep with a lip balm first, but if your lip is smooth, these are the best I have tried. It has a semi-matte and semi-velvety finish but there is a slight sheen to these which prevents it from looking flat. Raquel is my perfect nude pink. Brigitte is a nude pink beige that has more color but is still very natural.

For the eyes, there are a lot of different eyeshadows and liners that I adore. If I were pressed to pick my current top three favorites for eyeshadow, they would be Urban Decay Naked3, Chanel Tisse Rivoli and Dolce & Gabbana Smoky.

The Urban Decay Naked3 Palette is my most reached-for palette. It has 12 shades of neutral rosy-toned neutrals that can create a wide range of looks. There are shimmers, sparkles and mattes all of which have really incredible pigment. The texture of Urban Decay eyeshadows is buttery smooth and this particular palette doesn’t have any glitter shades which is a huge plus for me (and any neutral makeup lover). This is the one palette that goes with me on almost every trip. It’s a palette I find can go with everything. Pink shadow can be hard for me to wear (it often gives me a pink-eye look) but Naked3 is neutral enough to be very wearable. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing rose-colored shadow the next best option is Naked2 which is more neutral and taupe-based.

If having 12 shadows to play with in one palette is too overwhelming and you need something more edited, Chanel Tisse Rivoli is my favorite neutral quad. The texture adheres well to the eyes and layers well. The colors are smooth and pigmented. For something with more dramatic color, Dolce & Gabbana Smoky (swatched here) is my holy grail smoky eyeshadow quad.
For a cream shadow that is a good over wash shadow the Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color in Rosegold is a good pick. It’s a soft shimmery champagne with rose and gold tones. It is creamy and blends easily on the eyes. You do need to let it sit for a minute or so to dry and then afterwards they last pretty well. It also works as an eye base for powder shadows and helps bring out the pigment.
For liners and mascara, a simple classic black is a good place to start. Not all black eyeliners are good though. Some pull grey in undertone or can smudge easily. Finding good eye makeup that you don’t have to worry about throughout the day is essential. My favorite mascara is the Armani Eyes to Kill Stretch because it grabs every little lash and volumizes, holds the curl, doesn’t smudge, doesn’t clump and defines the lashes really well. For me this one lasts all day without budging.
For liners, the Tom Ford Liquid Eyeliner is hands down the best liquid liner I’ve tried. It’s extremely pricey but it is worth every penny and will last you a very long time. There are two ends with different sizes of tips which allows for precise application and complete control. If you’re new to liquid liners, this hands down is the best one I’ve tested. It makes applying liquid liner super easy. If you prefer a pencil liner, Burberry’s Effortless Kohl Eyeliners were just released this year. Jet Black is one of the deepest and richest black liners I’ve tried and it stays put all day from morning to night. It comes in a twist up pencil format with a built in sharpener at the end which I find very convenient (especially if you carry it on the go or when you travel).

Out of all the beauty products I own, I would say blush, bronzer and highlighters dominate my makeup collection by far. Picking out a few favorites was a difficult task. For the face I’ve narrowed down my recommendations to a few items that will multi-task.

If I could only wear one blush palette for the rest of my life I would pick out the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette. It has three shades in a mirrored compact that cover all the shades you could need to go with any look. Luminous Flush is a coral pink, Incandescent Electra is a soft peach, Mood Exposure is a plum rose. The colors are very pigmented with easy to control buildable color. There is a bit of highlighter mixed into each blush which gives these a luminous glow. Those who don’t like shimmer need not fear with this one. The shimmer is finely milled and very natural on the face. It’s impossible to overdo but the pigment is rich enough to add visible color.

For a bronzer and highlighter, Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow offers both in one  convenient mirrored compact. The bronzey shade can be used as a contouring powder, although I like it as a bronzer on me. The highlighter is a pale warm gold champagne which has a high frost but looks very natural on the skin. The two combined can be used on the cheeks, temples and eyes.

Liquid illuminators are also something I consider in a makeup wardrobe. They can be used as highlighters on top of powder/foundation to add a glow or they can be used under blush to help color adhere better. I like to use these on the eyes occasionally to highlight. If you need a bit of shimmer in your foundation these can be mixed in. My favorite liquid highlighter is the Soleil Tan de Chanel in Sunkissed. It’s a pale golden champagne that dries to a semi-matte finish which means it stays put all day long. If you want more color options or want something more dewy, Armani Fluid Sheers are classic staples that will give you that glow from within look.

I hope you found this introductory guide useful! Whether you are new to higher-end makeup or want to know what my current favorites are, I hope this provides an edited list of recommendations for you to start exploring. If you could recommend your top 5 beauty picks to a makeup newbie, what would they be? I would really love to hear what your favorites are!

This post was sponsored by Nordstrom. All opinions are my own.
For more information please refer to my Disclosures

Beauty Travel

Travel / Trial Sized Beauty – Skincare for Face and Body

July 1, 2014

Since my last trip in April I’ve been on the hunt for more mini-sized beauty items for travel and testing. One area I always neglect in packing is skincare for face and body. I almost never check in luggage so I’m limited to one carry-on and therefore subject to the one quart-size bag rule for liquids. Squeezing in all the items into one bag is a challenge for me but I’ve learned that skipping out on good skincare usually results in ruined skin that takes weeks to recover (at least for me). This time I took extra care to plan in advance and did quite a bit of research in the weeks leading up to the trip looking for good travel-sized minis. This is what I brought with me, all of which fit perfectly into one quart sized bag. I love minis for skincare anyways as a way to test out new items without having to splurge on the full size.

  • SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser ($70 for full size) was part of a mini gift with purchase from Saks, I frequently check the Special Offers page before stocking up on the full size, this is one of my favorite face cleansers, when I don’t have minis of my regular face cleansers, I squeeze some into a little disposable container
  • Caudalie Cleansing Water (50 ml/1.69 fl oz) the mini size is part of The Favorites Set ($32) which I’ve been a huge fan of, this is a gentle makeup remover that makes the skin feel clean and moisturized (FYI there is a Caudalie GWP online for a Deluxe Size Divine Oil with $50+ purchases using code DIVINE through July 2nd)
  • MAC Cleanse Off Oil / Tranquil ($10 for 30 ml/1.0 fl oz) is one of the mini to-go sizes for MAC skincare, I bought this to test out since I’ve been a huge fan of the regular Cleanse Off Oil, I find the Tranquil version to be more gentle with a moisturizing feel, I prefer the Regular version to remove makeup before cleansing (with long-wear makeup, I’ve found I need a few extra steps to remove every trace of primer, concealer, foundation, powder and blush)
  • Chanel Gentle Biphase Eye Makeup Remover ($34 for the full size) is a mini I stock up on with gift with purchases during Chanel events, it’s the best I’ve tried (I favor it over Lancome) that removes waterproof mascara and long-wear eyeliners without stinging the eyes
  • Giorgio Armani Regenessence 3.R Pre-Regenerative and Retexturizing Lotion ($53 for the full size) is my current toner of choice, it makes the skin feel really and soft and helps to smooth out the surface before serums or moisturizers, I got the mini size with a Neiman Marcus gift with purchase event and saved the bottle, I refill it with the full size when I go on trips or weekend getaways

  • Caudalie Divine Oil ($9 for 15 ml/.05 fl oz) is a must-have for me, I use it almost daily for the legs and arms, I love how this one smells refreshing and especially how it absorbs into the skin quickly, it’s often available in value sets like this Sephora Summer Crushes set and I’ve seen it in seasonal duos, I bought my first Divine Oil because my friend said, “at $9 you won’t be crushed if you don’t like it, but you will, you need to try it, it’s amazing” – she was right, I’m rarely without this one (it’s often in my purse)
  • Caudalie Divine Legs (25 ml/0.84 fl oz) in the mini size is usually part of yet more value deal sets, there’s one for $32 that comes with a 50 ml Divine Oil + 25 ml Divine Legs, I have super sensitive skin that often reacts to tanning and bronzing products, although this one from Caudalie doesn’t tan, it does give a nice bronzed leg effect that I found very natural, since there were mixed reviews on Sephora, I thought getting the set with the mini was good to try, I tested the Divine Legs this past weekend rubbing quickly into the legs after moisturizing with a light layer of the Divine Oil, it dried quickly but I was able to work it in quickly before it set, I wore a black dress and skirt over the past few days so I didn’t notice any transfer to clothing, I’ll have to test this one out a few more times but I liked it and didn’t experience any irritation
  • Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream (30 ml/1 fl oz) is another lovely item from The Favorites Set, I have a number of tried and true favorite hand creams, I picked this one because of the refreshing lightweight scent and compact size
  • Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter (30 ml) is a new addition to Tatcha’s Travel Sized beauty, if you’re on their mailing list you might recognize this as one of the past gift with purchases they offered (they have special promo codes), this one will this one will be available for purchase mid to late July, you can read my full review here, some might wonder if I brought a body oil with me, did I really need to bring a body lotion as well? I could have gotten away with bringing just one, but I like the Tatcha for it’s soothing qualities, sometimes my skin acts up and gets itchy from being dry, the Tatcha Indigo line works wonders for hydration and soothing

  • Chanel Sublimage La Creme Texture Fine ($390 for the full size 1.7 oz) is one of the most amazing face moisturizers I’ve tried and also one of my biggest splurges, it hydrates the skin and keeps it looking smooth and clear, there are often minis available with gift with purchases, sometimes counters have samples to give out (they are more friendly with samples if you make a decent sized purchase) 
  • Ole Henriksen Truth Serum ($15 for 0.5 fl oz/15 ml) is one of my favorite serums, I love the small travel/trial size which is available at a good price, it’s often part of deal sets as well such as The Works, the best part is the mini packaging comes with a super convenient pump dispenser making it easy to use
  • Tatcha Camellia Beauty Oil ($33 for 10 ml) is the cutest mini-sized beauty oil, it’s the perfect size to test out in case you’re hesitant about oils in general (I am), when I travel, my skin tends to dry out a bit, I used this at night before bed to smooth the skin and give it an extra boost of hydration over night, on regular days, I use the oil for day 1-2x per week alternating with my regular serum/moisturizer routine, it gives the skin a super hydrated refreshed feel without feeling heavy (more thoughts on this one here)
  • Tatcha Ageless Revitalizing Eye Cream ($29 for 3 ml) came with a Barneys gift bag event offer, I love testing out mini eye creams and this one is super tiny which was good to fit into the corners of my quart sized bag, I found this one to be a bit heavy for my needs, it’s a rich creamy eye treatment I found good for overnight hydration (applied in small doses) but for everyday it will probably be too heavy for my skin type, this is the beauty of minis, you can test items to see how they work for you before committing to the full size

  • Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray ($14 for 30 ml/1.0 fl oz) has had so many raves on Sephora so I made a quick stop to one of the stores during my trip and picked one up. It’s described as a weightless spray that keeps your makeup looking fresh for up to 16 hours. I attended a wedding over the weekend in semi-humid weather and thought this would be the perfect time to test something like this. Most of the wedding was indoors and it didn’t last 16 hours so I couldn’t really test this to see if it lived up to its claims. I did like the lightweight feeling, it spritzes a super fine layer of mist over the face evenly (huge plus for me) and it kept my makeup looking fresh and melt-free for around 7 hours.
  • Clinique Color Correcting Superprimer ($27 for 1 fl oz, review here) was my primer of choice for the weekend for its smoothing properties, you can see the difference in the texture of the skin once applied, it works well under liquid foundations as well
  • Origins Clear Improvement Mask Pods ($8 for 4 one-time use pods) is another item I picked up during my trip, I loved the concept of the one-time use pods and am usually skeptical about pore-cleansing masks since most usually are either too strong and sting the skin or so gentle it feels like nothing (my favorite from MAC was discontinued). I used one pod during my trip and was really impressed with how well this cleansed and tightened the skin, after one use pores were visibly smaller, there is a slight tingly feeling but it did not irritate or sting the skin, based on the reviews I’ve read and my experience with one pod, this one shows a lot of promise
All the liquid/gel items in my zip-loc quart size bag – yes, they all fit including a mini perfume and bottle of Chanel foundation 🙂

Overall this trip I felt like I packed all the essentials (and then some) for skin care face and body. I did skip bringing shampoo, conditioner and shower gels and relied on what was at the hotel (I was really happy that they had Neutrogena). I ended up using everything I brought with me along with the two items I purchased on the trip at Sephora. I don’t travel often so it’s taken a few tries for me to get the right mix of products while I’m away from home. I think this time I’ve finally found my perfect mix of items for skincare. (If you want to know what makeup I brought with me let me know in the comments below, otherwise you can see what I carried with me on previous trips by clicking on the Travel tag.)

Do you have any favorite travel sized beauty items? What items did you end up loving from mini-testing that made you buy the full size? Any new discoveries lately? Also if you ended up hating something from testing out a mini, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Some items in this post were provided for review consideration and some minis were acquired from various gift with purchase events. Most items were purchased by me. For more information please refer to my Disclosures.