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!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario and Stick Foundation

My love for Anastasia Beverly Hills continues with two new launches in the Master Palette by Mario ($45 for .7g/0.2 oz x 12 shadows) and Stick Foundation in Warm Natural and Golden ($25 for 9 g/0.32 oz). I bought all three from Sephora – the palette is something I ordered sight unseen. For the foundation I spent some time in store swatching colors but they did not have all the testers or colors for sale. Luckily they had the colors that matched my skintone range so I was able to find something that matched. For a line that I feel is very much on the trendy side I’ve been fortunate to find some really great products that are still suitable for my conservative makeup taste. Pigment and formulas are versatile, rich in pigmented and shimmer, but still easy to blend out for a less sharp look. As much as I love new makeup trends I will not bake my face, strobe heavily, use the heavy contour method or have my highlighter “on fleek” as the young ones say these days. So for my fellow conservative makeup lovers – I think you might be able to find some really good products that are easy to wear even if you feel like you’re not the trendy type.

Up first is the Master Palette by Mario. This is the first eyeshadow palette I’ve bought from Anastasia Beverly Hills. After a few years of accumulating several palettes in my early days of makeup exploration I found many sat unused in my makeup drawers if I did not love all the colors. So I made myself a self-imposed rule that if there were 2-3 shades I did not like I told myself “don’t buy it.” I did try to stick with it and for quite a few years I was able to resist a lot of palettes. In recent years palettes have been more tempting and my resolve weakened. In this case there were 2 shades I didn’t really like which included the olive and navy teal – but seeing swatches online made me decide to cave and I’m glad I did.

The Beauty Look Book - Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario review

This is one of the more trendy palettes I own. The shimmer is noticeable and on the scale of shimmer intensity I would say it’s pretty high but I can still wear all the colors. The pigment is medium but buildable to full coverage. There are a few matte shades which also have excellent coverage. The shades are easy to blend and layer. Texture is soft so there is some fallout when applying on the eyes but I have yet to find a powder shadow that doesn’t have some level of fall out. Once on the eyes the colors stay put – no smudging, fading or creeping. I like that they apply well with or without a base (at least for me).

Colors include:

  • Hollywood is a pale shimmery gold
  • NYC is a warm coppery bronze shimmer
    Kim is a warm tan shimmer with orange tones
  • Muse is a reddish pink shimmer
  • Marina is a shimmering champagne mauve
  • Claudia is a deep greyed navy shimmer
  • Lula is a matte cool brown
  • Isabel is a matte burnt orange
  • Violeta is a warm deep brown
  • 5th Ave is a shimmering pale frosted gold
  • Bronx is a shimmering olive
  • Paris is a shimmering bronze
In terms of how to wear this palette I often get overwhelmed with this many options – but I really like this one. I’ve tried every single color in combinations of 3-4 shades and every time the look is just really pretty. Unfortunately I don’t have any eye looks for you as I’m still trying to figure out how to photograph warm shades on the eyes.

The brush is easy to use and the shape is good for blending and lid application – quality isn’t the best as I feel it’s not as soft as I’m used to, but it’s functional and works.

The Beauty Look Book - Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario review

A few more close ups:

The Beauty Look Book - Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario review

The Beauty Look Book - Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario Swatches

The Beauty Look Book - Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario Swatches
Next up are the Stick Foundations. These offer medium-full to full coverage. Picking a color was a bit tricky in store as there is a wide range and they aren’t displayed in sequential order. There are handy face photos with models to help narrow down your shade. My exact match is Warm Natural but with full coverage foundations often times an exact match can make the face look a bit flat. I picked up Golden as well which matches my tanned body so I use two shades and blend.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation in Warm Natural and Golden - The Beauty Look Book

I would say the finish pulls more on the matte side and for me – I don’t like matte finish foundations because I find they emphasize fine lines and crevices. Especially around the mouth where lines form when you smile – full coverage mattes tend to creep into those lines and age my face. The one from Anastasia Beverly Hills does not emphasize lines but if you have dry skin or skin that tends to pull dry you will probably find it too drying for all over the face. I think it still can be used for extra coverage if you like to layer foundations. To date my favorite foundation stick is still the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation (review soon but you can see it in action on my face in this post here).

Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation in Warm Natural and Golden swatched

Foundation Stick Swatches Lancome, Make Up For Ever, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Hourglass, Tom Ford
Shown above:
To find your match if you’re looking online or want to know where to start I recommend visiting their Stick Foundation Pinterest Page where they have lots of swatches, face charts and more. Here are a few that helped me. Based on these my best guess was Natural, Warm Natural and Golden and I think it was pretty accurate:

One last look:

The Beauty Look Book - Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario and Stick Foundation
Bottom line winners in my book and even though some of you have pointed out the line is overpriced as items are made in China, I still find quality and performance to be quite good. I’ve found them priced reasonably although many of you may be correct in your assessment that they are priced higher than they should be considering where the product is made. I still find what I’ve tried to be solid performers. Update: I took a closer look at the eyeshadow palette, shadows are made in USA and brush is made in PRC. Foundation sticks say made in PRC.

For other reviews you can always click the tag/label at the bottom of each post to find other features. I’ll link the ones I’ve done below for reference.

I bought the Master Palette by Mario and Stick Foundation at Sephora. You can also find the line at Ulta Beauty, Macy’s and Anastasia Beverly Hills.

Have you tried these yet? What did you think?

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8   /   9   /   10   /  11  /  12  /  13  /  14   /  15

Quite a few of you have asked that I bring back my monthly favorites roundups so I have one for you today. Many of you like the rotation and roundup kind of posts, I still have the nail/hand care, foundation, hair styling and skincare ones in the work. For those who can’t wait I’ll say that my top three favorite foundations still remain the NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint (still Groenland + St. Moritz mixed), Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation (I use 125/Y315, all shades also available online in this value set now) and the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation (my best match is 123/Y365).

Onto my favorites for this month which was difficult for me to narrow down. I’m still enjoying these Molton Brown mini hand washes and these lip treatments. In addition these liquid lips are really very good. I have managed to narrow down a list of my top favorites for this past month though even though a lot of loves have gone unmentioned:
  1. Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadows have been in heavy rotation because of their silky smooth texture, rich pigment, blendable finish and easy to wear shades. You can pick and choose your own colors to create quads, the one shown above has Sateen, Chiffon, Warm Taupe and Chocolate. To date I’ve accumulated quite a few you can see swatched here and here.
  2. Bobbi Brown Eye Opening Mascara is something I discovered in a set from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I love this because it thickens, volumizes and holds the curl. It also looks super dark on the lashes. I will repurchase this.
  3. Dior Vernis in Minimal (c/o) is my current perfect pale polished nude. Review + swatch here.
  4. Diorskin Nude Air Luminizer Powder (c/o) is relatively new to me but it is hands down the most naturally luminous highlighter I’ve tried this year (out of the new ones launched this year). I think it’s a must, swatches here.
  5. Anastasia Glow Kit in Sundipped is one of the prettiest palettes I think I’ve seen in a while. If you don’t mind a good shimmer this is a great one for eyes and cheeks. I like mixing and swirling colors before applying to the eyes. Review + swatches here.
  6. MAC Eyelash Curler is something I picked up recently and was pleasantly surprised. My go-to Chanel lash curlers have seen better days after years of use and I don’t think they’re carried in the US anymore. The one from MAC comes in close second for my eye shape.
  7. Tom Ford Ultra Rich Lip Color in Revolve Around Me (c/o) best nude for me right now (actually since April of this year). You can see it swatched on my lips in this post here.
  8. Edward Bess Deep Shine Lip Gloss in French Lace is a pretty soft pink. All of his lip glosses reviewed in this post here.
  9. Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips in Kidman’s Kiss (shown) and Super Cindy are both pretty close neutral peachy colors, I think the entire Hot Lips Lipsticks have been a knock out success, especially for those who like matte lips (she has the best matte lipstick formula in my opinion). The entire launch reviewed and swatched here.
  10. Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk and Iconic Nude are my most reached for liners. Pillow Talk is a deeper pinky color while Iconic Nude is a brown nude. Both swatched here.
  11. Bumble and Bumble Surf Shampoo wins for best shampoo to clean the hair well with a squeaky clean feel but won’t dry out the hair. It has a mild but fresh beachy kind of scent. Leaves the hair feeling soft and fluffy (but not frizzy). Even my husband likes it. September beauty events are just around the corner. I recommend putting this on your shopping list. I will repurchase this.
  12. Bumble and Bumble Surf Conditioner also is a winner. I rarely am in love with both shampoo and conditioners of the same formula/brand and typically have to mix and match. This combo is pure love. More in this review here.
  13. Tatcha Pore Perfecting Water Gel (c/o) is something I received earlier in the spring. It took me a long time to get into testing this because frankly I don’t like face gels. They’re often sticky or tacky and just don’t absorb well into my skin. This one does indeed have a gel like consistency but if you massage it into the skin it melds in nicely and doesn’t leave a film like other brands. I’ve been alternating this with Kate Somerville Nourish, both of which are lightweight for warmer weather. Neither will get greasy but have enough for my normal-combination skin. They wear very well under foundation too. The Pore Perfecting Water Gel is also available in a mini travel size. I love the packaging, the pump and the way it feels on the skin. Huge thumbs up. It also helps to smooth out pores.
  14. Aesop Parsley Seed Cleansing Mask remains my tried and true clarifying mask that is gentle, even when my skin has flare ups. It sucks up excess dirt and oil. I have finally lost count of how many tubes I’ve bought and used up.
  15. Kate Somerville RetAsphere™ Micro Peel (c/o) is a leave-on treatment for night that helps with skin uneveness and really works to improve texture. It’s very gentle but I use it once a week. It’s a micro-peel that infuses skin with retinol with 10% glycolic acid and lactose to help resurface skin. Out of all the skincare lines I’ve tried, I feel that Kate Somerville has truly been one of the game changers for my skin as I transitioned from my 20’s to 30’s. During that transition I went through a lot of stress and my skin suffered a lot with texture issues and repeated break outs. While I’ve worked to manage the stress, finding the right skincare has played a major role in improving texture. I’ve tried so many lines and out of all the ones I have tried, Kate Somerville all around has worked the best for me. I don’t use a night treatment every night because I sometimes just want to let the skin breathe. The RetAsphere™ 2-in-1 Retinol Night Cream is one of the best most gentle yet effective night treatments I alternate with the Micro-Peel. The Micro-Peel makes the favorites list though because just using this once a week has improved my skin texture tremendously.
What are you loving right now? Do you have any favorites from the past month? As always I love reading about what you’ve tried, love and recommend. Even if something you tried hasn’t worked for you, I still love reading about those experiences as well. Are there any colors or collections you’ve been smitten with as we transition to fall beauty?
Press samples featured indicated with a “c/o”. As always all opinions my own.

I’ve been adding more Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadows to my collection. Ever since the full color line launched at Sephora and Ulta I’ve been exploring the brand more and have been really pleased with everything I’ve tried so far. As a lover of natural makeup looks I am happy to report that although the makeup from Anastasia Beverly Hills can indeed create dramatic looks, there are a lot of options for natural beauty lovers and that even though the textures are very pigmented – shimmers can be blended for a more diffused natural look. I reviewed three quads I made a few months ago. The Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadows come in single pan format so you can pick and choose what colors you want. There is a magnetized 4 pan palette that is available for purchase or you can put these in your own compacts as well. Individual shadows are priced at $12 each or if you buy four at a time plus the compact they’re priced at $40.

Some of you spotted some new quads in my travel bags here, here and here and have asked for swatches. I have sixteen more shades to share swatches. Based on the reviews I’ve read online some are a miss, most seem to be hits. There are quite a few shades that are online only – it took me a long time to research shades, swatches and other reviews to decide which ones to order. I feel lucky that all with the exception of one shade are all hits.
I found that the palettes were great for travel. I brought 3 quads with me but really could have gotten away with just one. I normally bring the Urban Decay Naked Palettes (all the eye palettes swatched in this post here) with me but decided to change it up on my last trip.

Four quads I put together – I don’t keep the shades in the same palettes all the time, but for the most part they stay in these combinations. The colors are really versatile, well pigmented, easy to blend and layer, have minimal fallout after application, stay put – what more could I ask for? I find they work well with or without a base. I feel like a broken record when I say this, but my two go-to bases are either the Edward Bess Illuminating Eye Base or Laura Mercier Caviar Eye Stick in Rose Gold (both swatched in this post here).

Top left quad: Lace, Victorian, Pose, Truffle Glitter
Top right quad: Gleam, Birkin, Intense Gaze, Topaz
Bottom left quad: Touch of Lilac, Belize, Macaroon, Brownie
Bottom right quad: Amber, Glisten, Comfort, Dark Chocolate Shimmer

A closer look at my picks. There are several different finishes which include glitter, matte, metallic, satin and shimmer. I think the quality is great across all formulas based on what I’ve tried. Sephora separates the formulas by finish – although I find some of the shimmers to be more glittery/sparkly. The swatches below will help you see the degree of shimmer in each shade.
Descriptions as I see them:
  • Lace is the only one I found slightly disappointing, it’s a sheer ivory champagne, it’s a good blending shade, but pigment was on the sheer side
  • Victorian is an light antique patina olive shimmer
  • Touch of Lilac is a soft light shimmer with a hint of lilac
  • Belize is a medium warm peachy brown skin-toned shimmer
  • Pose is a deep purple shimmer
  • Truffle Glitter is a highly metallic sparkle brown with gold flecks
  • Macaroon is a sparkly metallic lavendar purple
  • Brownie is a sparkling gold-flecked brown
  • Amber is a pretty shimmering warm gold amber
  • Glisten is a peachy bronze shimmer
  • Gleam is a metallic champagne peach
  • Birkin is a matte warm brown
  • Comfort is a warm shimmering auburn
  • Dark Chocolate Shimmer is a dark matte black with gold flecks
  • Intense Gaze is a shimmery pink red
  • Topaz is a warm golden tan shimmer

A closer look:

Swatches:

Another thumbs up from me. I still have not tried any of the Anastasia pre-made palettes although a number of you have urged me to. There are a lot of items coming out for fall though and since I already have a lot to play with from her line shadow-wise, I think I’m set for a while. I have to set aside my budget for other items to test and feature so I probably will not be reviewing the palettes she has out now. Plus I splurged on her new Sweets Glow Kit (which I definitely did not need). Out of all the ones she has launched, Sundipped Glow Kit (reviewed here) is hands down my favorite just in case you were wondering.

I’m sure there are a number of dupes for the shadows I picked out in other lines but I’m overall really pleased with the pigment, level of shimmer and ease of blendability with all except for Lace which turned out to be too sheer for what I wanted. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, I just didn’t like it as much as the others. I found other colors to be more special. If you do order these I do recommend ordering 4 at a time + the compact for the $40 price (versus buying them in one-offs at the $12 price per shadow).

You can find the Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadows at Sephora, Ulta Beauty, Macy’s and Anastasia Beverly Hills. Have you tried these yet? Which are your favorite colors?

It’s National Lipstick Day today so I’m rounding up some of my favorite luxury lipstick formulas. I think everyone has their favorites – many of you want to know what I think the best ones are and as always, I have to say it depends! It depends on color preference, formula, finish, coverage and packaging. I gravitate towards neutrals and nudes, often times I have duplicates of the same color – but there are so many nuances in undertone, shimmer, finish I think often times they are different enough to justify owning. I’ve split mine into formula categories.

Best Full Coverage

Best Matte

  • Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution (Very Victoria and Sexy Sienna shown) hands down best matte because it’s a luminous matte that also has a hydrating formula that won’t dry out the lips, swatches here and here

Favorite Classic Formulas

  • Edward Bess Ultra Slick Lip Color (Pure Impulse shown) my all time favorite in the top 3 lipstick formula, I will have a dedicated post swatching and reviewing all of his lipsticks soon, they are fig scented, creamy and just perfect in terms of pigment and coverage
  • Tom Ford Lip Colors (Guilty Pleasure shown) always a favorite, this is also in my top 3 for the ultimate luxury splurge, formulas have either a cream or shimmer finish, coverage is smooth with medium to full coverage, swatches here
  • Tom Ford Lips and Boys (Austin shown) perfect clutch-sized lip colors, multiple colors and shades reviewed and swatched here
  • Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G (Penelope Pink shown) review and swatches here and here
  • Chanel Rouge Coco (Marie shown) is a classic, they have a wide range of colors from neutral, pink, plum, reds and browns, eight shades reviewed + swatched here
  • MAC Lipstick (not shown but Sunblessed a Nordstrom exclusive featured in intro and final images) this has to be added to my favorites list because even though the formula makes my lips dry and peel a bit by day 2, I just can’t resist the classic and edgy colors, they wear really well all day long and I wear them frequently, I just have to add lip balm to my lips like crazy at night

Most Hydrating

  • Chanel Rouge Coco Stylo (Recit and Message shown) is the most hydrating and comfortable lipstick formula I’ve tried, I love the slim click up wand and the best thing about this one is it’s not just a one-way click (you can click it back down too), all the colors reviewed here

Best Sheer and Glossy Formulas

  • Louboutin Sheer Voile (Rose du Desert) is the most expensive lipstick on the market and comes with a hefty price tag, I will say that I don’t know that I think any lipstick is worth $90, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t buy one (or several), the Sheer Voile has a gorgeous glossy finish, it’s sheer but gives the lips a visible tint, review on these soon
  • Chanel Rouge Coco Shine (Boy shown) is what I think of as the epitome of classic beauty, Rouge Coco Shines have been a favorite for years, if you want a natural tint of effortless color, these are the way to go
  • YSL Rouge Volupte Shine (Shade 47 shown) are another favorite, they are similar to Rouge Coco Shines but the YSL is a bit more emollient and comes with a fruity mango scent (swatches of the latest Rouge Volupte Shine Oil in Stick eight shades here)

Best Liquid Lipstick Formulas

  • Too Faced Melted Chocolate are my favorites for liquid lipstick because these also have a chocolate scent! They come with a sponge tip applicator. Swatches of all the chocolate shades in this post here.
  • Anastasia Liquid Lipstick (Crush shown) come with a love-hate feeling from me. I love these because the color really does last all day long but I am not a fan of matte finish lipsticks. This one can be fixed by adding a bit of balm or clear gloss on top and then I have a lipstick that will last from morning to night and through snacks/lunch.
  • Chanel Rouge Double Intensite (shades shown Darling Pink, Bright Rose and Light Rose) is another one that will literally last all day on my lips. It’s a two step application process, first color, let dry, then top with the clear gloss on the other end. Bright Rose swatched here. Darling Pink is the best baby pink I’ve ever tried (I don’t think I’ve reviewed it) and Light Rose is a gorgeous pinky rose color too.
  • NARS Lip Cover (Get Dirty shown) is a liquid lipstick with a glossy finish. I have two shades in Get Dirty and Overheated. I believe these are limited-edition from summer, I hope NARS considers adding this formula to the permanent line because the formula is really really good. Both shades swatched on lips here.

That wraps up my lipstick favorites in honor of National Lipstick Day! What are your favorite lipstick formulas or colors?