I have a new updated mascara roundup. I’ve been trying a few new formulas and have some hits and some misses. The humidity in Florida is pretty high and the sun feels a million times stronger here than it did in San Diego. Finding one that holds up to the humidity has been a process.
Bobbi Brown No Smudge Mascara is a formula I had purchased from a duo over last holiday. I had it sitting in the box waiting for my other tubes to get used up. I was pleasantly surprised because the reviews with this were mixed. It had zero clumping, defined lashes, volumized, coated evenly, held the curl and had no smudging. For me this is a hit.
Sisley-Paris So Intense Mascara is one I tried from the Nordstrom Color Twist Set (review here). Huge hit with this one even though the comb is so tiny it looks like it won’t grab lashes. It allows you to get right at the base without touching the skin. This usually isn’t a big deal for me if the mascara is good because a quick clean up with a Q-tip fixes it after application. However this one makes application easier. It volumizes, holds curl and doesn’t smudge.
L’Oreal Lash Paradise Waterproof is the first drugstore mascara I’ve actually liked. I’ve tried dozens and end up throwing them all away after 2 uses because they either dry to a grey looking black, smudge or don’t hold the curl. This literally was WOW with the first try. It’s everything I want in a mascara – volume, definition and holds the curl. I absolutely love the waterproof version because there is zero smudging. Blackest Black is the color I tried and it’s a true rich black. It does take more work to remove at the end of the day but is completely worth it. Huge hit.
Tom Ford Waterproof Extreme Mascara has to be mentioned again even though it’s not new to me because it’s my favorite waterproof mascara. No smudging, holds the curl, volumizes – huge thumbs up. I’ve repurchased this one the most in the past year.
Chanel Le Volume Waterproof is another classic. The regular Le Volume is good, but I prefer the Waterproof version because it holds up better in the humidity. This is one of the few rubberized applicators I like – most other brands just don’t do it for me. A classic one for me.
Dior Pump N Volume Mascara was a big miss. The first application was decent for volume, holding the curl and having a true rich black color. Every application after that was a clumping disaster – even when I removed excess from the tube by cleaning it. When there’s buildup, every once in a while I’ll take the wand and run it in between a folded piece of paper. It’s just like you would do with a tissue or paper towel but using paper makes it so those cotton fibers from tissue won’t get caught in the bristles. The volume on this one is really good and there are quite a few rave reviews on this one, if it didn’t clump all the time it would be perfect.
Serge Lutens Comb Mascara is another miss for me. I had such high hopes for this one as it came highly recommended and the online reviews on the formula were stellar. It has a similar applicator to the Sisley-Paris one. For some reason this Serge Lutens one made my lashes look spidery. It took a while to dry and smudged with a few blinks. After it dried down it had decent staying power but didn’t hold the curl and didn’t have as rich of a black finish as other ones. It wasn’t the worst but there are much better formulas for me out there.
For makeup removal longer lasting formulas and waterproof ones are going to be more difficult to remove in the evenings. Most of these I have to use a multi-step process to take them off in the evenings. Regardless of whether I double cleanse with a cleansing oil or cleansing water, I always use a cotton pad and soak it with eyemakeup remover first. My favorite formula used to be the Chanel Gentle Bi-Phase Eye Makeup Remover but these days I’ve found it’s just ok. Some of the longer lasting formulas don’t come off anymore with this one and I don’t know if the formula of the makeup remover has changed or if I’m simply finding formulas with better lasting power. Some thing goes for the Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover. It used to be a long-time go to but my last bottle didn’t perform as well as I remember it did in past years. My current go-to is the Lancome Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover (available in this value set from Nordstrom here and here). For cotton I’ve tried a number of brands but my favorites are from Chanel and Sephora.
If I had to pick one mascara to use for the rest of the summer that would be a hard choice. I would be able to narrow it down to three: Sisley-Paris, L’Oreal and Tom Ford.
What are your favorite mascaras for the summertime?
Tom Ford Beauty has a limited-edition trio for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this year called the Golden Rose Eye and Lip Set ($91). It contains a miniature sample size Indian Rose Lip Color (0.03 oz), a full size Extreme Mascara in Raven (0.27 oz) and full size Cream Color for Eyes in Escapade. This set has colors and products I’d consider classic staples. They aren’t the most trendy or necessarily exciting shades, but they are truly perfect for everyday wear – ones I don’t think you can go wrong with for any occasion.
Long-time Tom Ford Beauty collectors will recognize Escapade as a repromote from several years ago. It was a limited-edition shade and if you missed out I recommend you give it a try this round. It’s a light champagne gold that flashes a tiny bit of pink/peach. It’s a great brightening shade for the lids that will enhance the lids with a pretty soft shimmer without looking frosty. This is the only color exclusive to the set.
Indian Rose Lip Color is one of the best everyday neutral rose colors that isn’t too light or deep. I’ve been a long-time devotee of Pink Dusk and Spanish Pink, but as I’m quite tan right now I’ve found some lighter lip colors aren’t as easy for me to wear without a bit of liner. Indian Rose is the perfect in between shade and easy to wear for a natural rosy hue. If you’re one who has yet to splurge on a Tom Ford Lipstick this miniature sample size is a nice way to try one – I think once you try one you’ll fall in love. You can buy the full size separately for this one.
Tom Ford Mascaras have been a staple in my collection. I’m super picky with mascaras and the Tom Ford ones never fail me. I actually prefer the Waterproof Extreme which I’ve featured a number of times here on the blog, but it is one of the more difficult ones to remove in the evening. In hot humid weather the waterproof has never smudged on me even with sweat. The regular version works well too to lengthen, volumize and hold the curl, it’s just not waterproof.
If you’re looking for wearable everyday kinds of colors this is a great set of staples. Indian Rose is one of the few lipsticks I’ve used up entirely and repurchased and I didn’t mind having another one in the mini size. I really love the Tom Ford Cream Color for Eyes so I was really happy to find that Escapade was relaunched. I do think you can get a similar effect with one of the other shades shown above or Laura Mercier’s Caviar Eye Stick in Rose Gold (I’ve used mine up so I couldn’t swatch to compare) – but I really love the Tom Ford formulas for an effortless kind of wash. It has a brightening effect on me and also doubles as a nice base for powder shadows.
You can find the Tom Ford Golden Rose Eye and Lip Set exclusively at Nordstrom for the Anniversary Sale. Have you tried any of these before? What did you think? Have you hauled any of the other beauty exclusives or are you picking new launches from other brands? I’ll have a couple more posts on my Nordstrom buys from the sale. Also coming up this week a lip haul with new formulas and a summer beauty launch review that has some really amazing highlighters.
By popular request I have an updated roundup of my beauty tools. So many of you have asked me what the best tools are for eye makeup and I’ve often referenced older posts. I was going through some recently and it’s hard to believe the last round up posts were done three years ago! Time literally flies! I’ve been building my brush collection for many years (for over a decade) and yet I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of the tools out there. When it comes to makeup brushes and tools I’m a creature of habit. For the longest time I’ve stuck with tried and true staples from MAC because they’re consistent in quality, they have kept the same designs for years and they get the job done. I have explored a lot of other brands over the years and today I have an updated roundup of the best eye makeup tools I own.
If I could just stick with one collection/brand I would – unfortunately no single brand has everything I want. I’ve split these into categories by shape/function. Also note that I don’t have a crease on my lids so I don’t use a crease brush like most would. I do a lot of blending to get a gradient or wash with neutral colors and then I also have a lot of detail brushes I use. I do realize this is a bit of a long list – I’ve included different options from a small handful of brands I really love as some of you may have different preferences for shape, brush size, handle size/width etc. I’ll round up my top picks at the end of the post as well.
Up first are the basic shadow/lid brushes. I like ones that are soft but somewhat dense so I can pick up powders. A lot of these I use for creams as well even though synthetic brushes often work better – I like the soft texture and feel. Shown below from left to right:
Hakuhodo J242G ($18) is a hybrid goat and synthetic fibers making it versatile for all products. It’s a smaller size making it easy to pack on color on the lids.
Hakuhodo B J004G ($20) is my favorite one for the lids, it’s made of goat hair and extremely soft. This is the best lid color brush I have – it picks up the perfect amount of color and blends powders seamlessly.
MAC 239SH ($25) is also another favorite, it’s one of my most-used brushes, the SH version is exclusive to MAC stores and online. It’s soft and dense and perfect for packing product on the lids. It’s not as soft as the Hakuhodo but still very good.
MAC 239 ($25) is the full size version, I like that both the full and short handle have the same size bristles.
Chanel Blender/Shader ($42) is a new double ended brush that’s super soft with a nice fluffy feel. The small end is also dense but fluffy, the larger side is perfect for blending.
Wayne Goss 18 (old, discontinued) is unfortunately discontinued but was the best option that was slightly larger than the MAC 239.
Chanel Large Eye Shadow Brush #25 ($38) is another great option that’s larger than the MAC 239, it’s not as dense and slightly more loose in how its packed, note that all the Chanel brushes with the silver handles (ones in the current collection) are going to be discontinued. New ones will be introduced around the 24th so if you have any current options on your wishlist you should buy them soon.
Marc Jacobs Beauty The Conceal ($30) is actually a concealer brush (which it’s great for) but I really love this one for cream shadows. It has a beveled/angled tip so it makes the creams apply easily to the lids.
Out of all of these my top two are the MAC 239 and Hakuhodo B J004G. I have multiples of both kinds and they’re probably the most versatile brushes I own.
Next are the blending brushes good for a light sweep of color, for blending or a nice wash. With some of these you will probably be able to use as a crease brushes too. I prefer the ones with white hair as they’re usually soft and super fluffy. They’re small enough so there’s some density to them. Often times I find the darker ones are a bit too loose in the way they are designed. Shown below from left to right:
Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush ($40) is my favorite large domed fluffy brush because of the density. It’s perfect for sweeping color on the lids for a nice wash and it’s also a great blending brush.
MAC 217 (also available in 217SH) ($25) is another great basic blending brush because of the softness. It’s perfect for blending out colors. For the longest time this was my favorite until I tried Tom Ford, Hakuhodo and Wayne Goss.
Wayne Goss 18 (from the Eye Set $130, individual $27) in terms of quality, I feel Wayne Goss has among the best brushes. They’re right up there with Tom Ford. #18 is the closest option to MAC 217.
Hakuhodo J5523 ($19) is made of goat hair and the equivalent of MAC 217. This one is far better in terms of how it picks up color and blends it out.
Wayne Goss 17 (from the Eye Set $130, individual $28) is a smaller sized fluffy brush, good for detail blending or crease blending.
Wayne Goss 16 (from the Eye Set $130, individual $30) is a bit longer and bigger than #18. This is a good all around blending brush.
Tom Ford 13 ($57) is a fluffy blending brush good for blending things up on the lid for a nice gradient. In my opinion Tom Ford brushes are the best brushes I own.
Tom Ford 11 ($57) is the ultimate wash brush. It applies the perfect amount of color to the lids and is super soft in feel. They’re really well made. The ones I have are made with natural bristles – at an event in the spring I was told Tom Ford was moving towards making brushes with synthetic materials but I haven’t received confirmation of when or if it has happened yet.
Hakuhodo J220G ($24) is a larger fluffy flat brush made of goat and synthetic fiber. I like this one and use it a lot but it’s not as dense as other ones so I prefer the other ones for density and this one for it’s size on some occasions.
MAC 227SH (discontinued, $32) has been discontinued unfortunately, it’s more dense than the Bobbi Brown, but for now the BB is the next best option.
For detail brushes my long-time go to has been the MAC 219 Pencil Brush which I’ve had for years. Unfortunately I lost mine either in the move or while traveling (but sometime in the past few months) and never got around to replacing it. It’s the best all around smudge or lining brush I’ve had but there are still quite a few others that are really good. Shown below from left to right:
Wayne Goss 08 (from the Anniversary Set $225, individual $17) is the tiniest detail brush I own. It’s perfect for getting into the tiny corners of the line or right along the lashes. It’s stiff but not harsh on the eyes.
Bobbi Brown Eye Definer (one shown is a special-edition one from a holiday set, but same as regular one) ($34) is a classic angled brush you can use for powder or gel liners. It’s also a good one for brows.
Wayne Goss 07 (from the Anniversary Set $225, individual $17) is the softest mini smudge brush, perfect for a smokey eye or blending out colors along the lash line.
Tom Ford 15 (discontinued) is the best smudge brush I have, unfortunately it’s discontinued.
Wayne Goss 05 (from the Anniversary Set $225, individual $20) is a super soft pencil brush, it picks up color a lot better than the MAC Pencil, but it’s smaller in size so not quite the same.
Laura Mercier Corner Eye Brush ($26) has been discontinued in most places, you can still find it online at a few stores right now like Bluemercury. It’s a good corner eye brush that gets color in tiny spaces with precise application but it’s large enough you can blend it out a little.
Hakuhodo G5514 ($17) is another great detail pencil brush to get that soft smokey eye.
Misc brushes and tools shown below:
Chanel Large Tapered Blending Brush 19 ($38) this originally came in the brown natural hair, then was released in a white version, but not it appears it’s back to the brown. I have both and they both perform the same. This is a good detail blending brush – I use it for under the eye when I want a very soft diffused line or to blend out shadows along the upper lash line. It’s soft and blends colors perfectly. The shape is perfect. At this time I don’t have the full list of what brushes will be coming out around the 24th, but if this is on your list I recommend you get it soon as Chanel will be phasing out their current brushes and replacing them with a new line.
MAC 226 (discontinued) is the best small to medium blending brush, why they discontinued it is a mystery to me because there’s none other like it! For now one of the Wayne Goss brushes from The Eye Set (scroll up) will perform the same way, if not better because of the material it’s made of. However this one is still a really good one.
Wayne Goss 21 (from The Brow Set, $55) is the best brow brush for powders for me. I love that it’s wider than most and it’s super dense making it easier for me to get even application for both sides.
Surratt Eyelash Curler ($30) is one of the best curlers I own. It took me some time to learn to use because it’s so much wider than other brands. It performs really well.
MAC Eyelash Curler ($22) is my most-used lash curler. It always curls perfectly and I really like the shape.
That wraps up my favorite eye makeup brushes and tools post! I hope you found this helpful in case you’re looking for new tools. If I had to pick just one brand it would be nearly impossible to do – but at the moment it would probably be Wayne Goss but I’d have to add a couple from MAC. Overall great basics can be found from MAC – it’s easiest to find at stores and counters which means you can actually see and feel the brushes. For the longest time I didn’t buy brushes unless I could try them in person, but even when I lived in San Diego, I couldn’t find them all so finally had to order some sight unseen. There are a lot of great brush blogs out there so if you need more reference or comparison a google search will bring up some amazing reviews. Best quality and performance goes to Tom Ford, Wayne Goss and Hakuhodo. If I had to pick only 10 brushes to use for the rest of my life, it would be: MAC 239, MAC 217, Hakuhodo B J004, Hakuhodo J552, Edward Bess Luxury, Wayne Goss 07, Wayne Goss 08 and Wayne Goss 18.
What are your favorite tools?
Press samples include the Charlotte Tilbury Eye Lash Curler, Wayne Goss Eye Set and Anniversary Set brushes.
By popular request I have a roundup of foundations and bases I’ve been testing since I’ve moved to Florida where the weather is warm, sunny and humidity levels are very noticeable. By comparison, San Diego is very dry although to me it always felt moderate and what I considered normal. We live in the Tampa Bay area and so far the humidity isn’t quite as bad as I had expected. I’m saying this because in December we drove to Key West which is extremely wet and humid feeling – so humid the air feels like you’re walking around in a sauna. Also a few years ago we took almost a month to travel throughout Europe through Italy and the Mediterranean in late June. It was so scorching hot and humid during out travels I completely gave up wearing makeup on most of the days after trying and failing. That being said, yes Florida is humid and hot and finding a makeup base that stays put, doesn’t budge and that won’t slide off has been a challenge.
To date I haven’t found any makeup base or combination of products can truly 100% last or stand up to serious humidity especially if I sweat. I’m the type of person who doesn’t break a sweat easily but since moving to Florida I start sweating if I’m outside for 5 minutes and there’s no wind or breeze. I’m rounding up what I’ve tested by formula and coverage and note what I’ve found wears the best. Even though it’s humid here the reality is that both Andrew and I are rarely outside for long consecutive hours unless we’re at the beach or a park doing touristy things. Also even on those occasions we can take a break from the heat while in the car with the AC or take a stop at a coffee shop or restaurant.
Up first are the more natural looking foundations with sheer to medium coverage. The most requested reviews I get are for BB Creams and CC creams and I am sad to say that those are products I really do not like. Most feel thick on my skin or look pink in undertone. As one with really yellow/olive skin I can’t do bases that have pink so unfortunately I will probably not review any. Also a quick note on shades – many of you have commented over the years that you’re the same shade as me. Since moving to Tampa I’ve tanned quite a bit – it’s something I can’t avoid. I also lose my tan quickly so my color changes on a weekly basis. Because of this annoying fact I have to mix colors a lot – more than I ever have.
Shown below from left to right:
MAC Next to Nothing Face Color is the sheerest base I’ll do. It really has a super natural tint but adheres well to the skin. I fluctuate between Medium and Medium Plus. The shades run on the pink side but since the formula is so sheer it’s really forgiving. Review and swatches of all shades here.
Bobbi Brown Nude Finish Tinted Moisturizer with SPF15 is more like a natural foundation. It’s sheer like a tinted moisturizer but gives better coverage than most that I’ve tried. It does contain Octinoxate 7.5% and Titanium Dioxide 3% so if those cause problems for your skin you may want to skip. I had no issues with this formula for my skin. If I were still in San Diego I would probably use this more regularly – since it has a mild moisturizing quality it can get a little bit dewy. I bought mine at Nordstrom but Bobbi Brown Online has more shades available.
NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint with SPF 30 is one you’ll see me wearing a lot in beauty looks or lip swatches. This one has Octinoxate 7.5% and Octisalate 3% – it’s one that doesn’t irritate my skin and has a natural looking finish that isn’t too matte, just naturally velvety. I wear St. Moritz now but on my lighter wear Groenland or mix the two.
Diorskin Forever Foundation SPF 35 is one of the best foundation bases I’ve ever tried. The only downside is finding a match can be a bit tricky. I tested 30 and 31 first – in store I had one on each side and they both matched perfectly. When I got home and tested again I found they sometimes darkened about a 1/2 shade. 31 is more yellow while 30 is more pink so I kept 31. I went back to find the next shade down which is 21 (even though there are a lot of shades in between). 21 is the most yellow. If you’re normally my skintone go with either 21 or 25. I use both 21 and 31 mixed together to get my perfect match. For me it’s 100% worth it because this looks naturally flawless on the skin and gives me exactly the coverage I want. It also stays put the best for me. It has 3% Octinoxate and 1.75% Titanium Dioxide.
I have tried the Diorskin Forever Makeup Primer and it’s quite good. I’m just not really a primer kind of person but do think this one is one of the better ones I’ve tested.
Next up medium to full coverage foundations which is what I usually prefer. Most people, friends and family included don’t realize that I’m almost always wearing a full coverage foundation until they see me with bare skin and see all my freckles. I was active in outdoor sports while in high school and even though that was YEARS ago I still got a lot of freckles and sun spots from being outside a lot. I have tried a number of whitening/brightening treatments over the years which has helped with acne scars and dark spots but I still have a lot of freckles.
Shown left to right:
Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation and Concealer is hands down my most-worn foundation base. It offers medium to full buildable coverage and I love everything about it. For me Tom Ford Beauty has the best foundation shades to match my skin tone. It blends easily and covers my skin exactly how I like it without getting cakey. It lasts an impressive amount of time without sliding, creasing or budging. Review + swatches here.
Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation is the newest one I’ve tried. I got an early sneak peek at some of the shades and given my challenge finding a match in the Candleglow version I was skeptical about this one. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good a formula is for a base – if there’s no decent match, it’s going to be a no-go. I was lucky to find my match to either Buff or Dusk. Right now Dusk is the better match because it’s more olive. On a few occasions I have found I need to mix in a bit of Macadamia to lighten it just a slight amount. I am extremely impressed with this formula. You do need to blend quickly as it dries and sets in a short amount of time. Once it sets it gives a flawless finish that looks matte but not flat. This is one of the few true matte finishes I’ve tried that I like the look of. I’ve found it pretty budge-proof – this is one I wore this on the 4th of July. I applied a fresh face of makeup in the early evening before we headed downtown to scope out some firework locations. I had this on from 4:00 pm until around midnight. That evening the air wasn’t too and we were thrilled that it actually stopped raining by the time we found parking and walked a mile to downtown. After looking around the Channelside area we decided downtown was not for us so we walked back to our car and drove to Hyde Park Village for dinner. After we then walked another mile to Bayshore Boulevard to watch the fireworks. All this rambling is to explain how this formula held up. The humidity was probably the highest I’ve felt here to date – this one held up remarkably well although I did get very glowy looking, it did not slide off or budge.
Giorgio Armani Power Fabric is another long-lasting full coverage foundation that works well in this heat. Before I had to mix 4 and 6. Right now I’m probably 6.5 which is more golden, but I can make 6 work. If you can find a shade match this an exceptionally good one for lasting power.
Next are cushions. I’ve always been interested in cushions but testers usually look pretty gross and also finding the right shade can be a challenge. Korean brands tend to run pink (at least the ones I’ve tried) but I’ve had luck with a few in the past. The best thing about the cushions is that they usually come with a refill pack so you’re getting 1 plus a backup. Right now there are 3 cushions I really like:
Dior Capture Totale Dreamskin Cushion is one I featured in my sunscreen story. It has SPF 50 and isn’t really a foundation but actually a skincare product. I can use this alone or as a base for other foundations. I think the swatches can be a bit misleading because you have to put this on your skin to see how it matches. 30 looks way too dark for me but because it’s sheer it blends in seamlessly with my skin.
Saturday Skin All Algow Sunscreen Perfecting Cushion Compact with SPF 50 is probably the best cushion I’ve tried. I ordered two shades online sight unseen. 05 Honey is my match as this darkens just a tiny bit on my skin. Color selection is pretty limited – so far I’ve only been able to find 4 total, 3 are available at Nordstrom and all 4 are available at Urban Outfitters. It offers medium to full coverage but pulls more towards the full size. It gives the skin a very natural looking glow without being too dewy. It also stays put and doesn’t budge. Active Ingredients are Octocrylene 2%, Octyle Methoxycinnamate 7%, Octyle Saliclate 4.8%, Titanium Dioxide 9%, Zinc Oxide 2%.
Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion has full coverage with limited shades. I bought the Brightening Version while in New York in 25 and 33 and after testing them at home was so disappointed to find they are simply too pink for my skin. I ordered the Perfecting Cushion in 25 to try instead which has fuller coverage and a better match. This darkens about one full shade on my skin. The formula is a bit on the heavy side for my preference but still holds up well in warm weather. I don’t hate this but don’t love it – I suspect it’s due to the fact that I don’t have a 100% shade match but I can make Shade 25 Deep Beige work for me.
Next are a few miscellaneous items I love for powders, concealers and a couple tools. I own a lot of loose powders but in general prefer pressed ones because they’re not as messy and easier for touch ups.
For pressed powders:
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Skin Perfecting Micro-Powder has one of the longest product names I think I’ve ever seen but it’s seriously THE best pressed powder I’ve tried. I saw this applied in action on my BFF at a Charlotte Tilbury event. Her foundation/base had completely worn off already and she told the artist she didn’t really want to try the foundation. The artist applied #1 on her skin and it was literally transformed into a smooth flawless canvas in front of my eyes. My shade is #2 and although I think she could add more options this one has been my go-to for at least a couple years now.
Armani Luminous Silk Compact Dual-Use Powder is another great setting powder. This one has more color options compared to the Charlotte Tilbury. It offers medium natural coverage and comes with a dual-sided sponge so you can either apply it for sheer or more full coverage. I use a powder brush to set my liquid foundation with this one for the most part. The sponge is something I use for touch ups. Even though I’ve darkened quite a bit I’ve still found Shade #4 to work perfectly for me.
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Plus is one of the few mineral powders I actually like. I tried so many when mineral powders were in – so many just looked too heavy on the skin, even after buffing it in. This one offers medium coverage and I use a brush to set my foundation. It gives an airbrushed finish but it’s not completely weightless in feel. It is a very natural looking product though and holds up well with the heat/humidity.
For concealers, I really don’t find myself using concealer a lot anymore. I simply don’t need it with good coverage foundations but my 3 most-used ones:
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer is my all around go-to for everything, spots, under eyes, red areas. It’s creamy and blends in seamlessly with the skin. Coverage is medium but can be built up. It never looks fake or cakey and stays put as long as I set it with powder.
Tools, an updated brush tool series coming up soon on the blog, but for now my two must-haves:
beautyblender is the best foundation application tool I’ve used. I’ve tried a number of the different colors and while technically they should all perform the same, I don’t find they do. The best ones for me are the original beautyblender (bright pink), bubble and nude. Review from a few years ago in this post here.
MAC Brush 140 S Synthetic Full Fan Brush is probably the best powder brush I own. It launched with the MAC Next to Nothing collection and has the perfect density and softness to pick up powder and apply it in a sweeping motion all over the face.
I wasn’t able to face swatch and photograph all the foundations, but here’s a look at two and also what my bare face looks like. With the Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Foundation in Dusk I’m just wearing the foundation (no powder to set). It was taken with a low flash and I didn’t get any white cast or flashback. Lipstick is MAC Faux.
I hope this roundup was helpful for you! A few notes on other formulas I tested, previous favorites and why I don’t use them as much now:
The Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer worked better for me when I was in San Diego. Right now it’s really too dewy for my skin type. It’s still a great product for sheer coverage.
The Make Up For Ever Ultra HD is still an amazing line for the liquid and stick foundation. I used my shades up the first month I arrived here (this was back in March). Since I’ve gotten darker I haven’t had a chance to investigate other shades to find what my current match is.
The Becca Aqua Luminous Foundation is too luminous for me right now. Earlier in the spring or even when I was here in December it worked perfectly. Right now it’s a no-go just because I have normal/combo skin.
I will be testing the new Diorskin Forever and Chanel Les Beiges cushions. Will keep you posted. I have tried the Lancome Cushion but it’s really heavy in coverage – too heavy for me.
MAC Studio Fix Fluid is one of the most full coverage foundations I’ve tried, I do like the formula but it’s a bit too opaque for me on its own. I can wear it and find it has impressive lasting power in this heat but I need to mix it with a Strobe Cream or something along those lines to sheer it out for my coverage preference.
Some final thoughts and favorites:
Best foundation for me is anything from Tom Ford, but right now my favorite formula is definitely the Waterproof Foundation/Concealer. I used to use Bisque. Now I alternate between Natural (more neutral) and Sable (more olive/yellow).
Longest lasting matte base is the new Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion. If you have normal to dry skin definitely make sure your skin is well moisturized or add a hydrating primer. Reason for this is it’s medium to full coverage and matte formulas can emphasize lines. For me this one went on flawlessly without a primer but my skin is a bit more combination with the heat/humidity.
My most-used concealer is from NARS.
Best sheer/natural looking foundation is the NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint.
Best new discoveries this year for me are the Diorskin Forever Foundation and Saturday Skin All Aglow Cushion.
I really can’t pick 1 favorite powder (sorry!) – it’s tie between the Charlotte Tilbury and Armani. If you want a flawless truly airbrushed look go with the Charlotte Tilbury. However shades are limited as there are only 3 so the next best option is Armani. The Armani has sheerer coverage with a brush.
For other touch ups and this heat I swear by the Tatcha Japanese Blotting Papers. While my in-laws were visiting we went to Orlando. All of us were sweating with the heat, humidity and thunder showers. I kinda forced them to use these – even my husband didn’t want to use it, he looked at the little square and said “there’s no way that’s going to help.” I gave them 2 each and assured them it really would help and after they tried it I was really happy to find that they did feel a lot better after using them.
Finding a good base in truly humid weather is going to be a challenge and results will definitely vary depending where you are located. Even within the Tampa Bay area humidity levels vary depending on how close I am to the coast. We live in one of the canal areas and while we aren’t directly on the bay we can see if from our house. Temperatures just a few miles inland in certain areas fluctuate and since the weather changes by the hour here so there are some times and places where it’s so hot literally nothing will truly stay put.
For those who are looking for a new base to try I hope this gave you some good ideas. If you have any you swear by let me know in the comments!
Press samples featured include the Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion, MAC Next to Nothing, Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Concealer, MAC Brush 140S Brush. All others purchased by me.
Lately I’ve been obsessed with body oils for the lightweight dry down but moisturizing feel. My long-time favorites were from Nuxe, Caudalie and Moroccanoil. They’re lightly scented but not so heavy that they will interfere with my perfumes. Unfortunately Nuxe is no longer carried in the US and with the warm weather and beautiful beaches here I’ve been on the hunt for other options including wearable shimmers. There are a number of amazing body oils out there but the main requirement I have is that it comes with a pump or spritzer (of course I have made exceptions). To this day I don’t understand why companies make oils with open tops where liquid just pours out everywhere. It’s hard to control how much you apply, not to mention gets so messy. Product oozes down the sides of the jars and it really just seems so wasteful and inconvenient. Scent-wise I prefer ones that aren’t too floral, sweet or strong as they tend to interfere with the perfume of the day.
Up first are my favorites which are the clear options. As you’ll see below I’ve already made two exceptions for my packaging and scent requirements.
From left to right:
NARS Monoi Body Glow II ($59 for 2.5 fl oz/75 ml) is the best summer time oil because it smells like a vacation in a bottle. If this had a spritzer pump it would be perfect. It has Monoi de Tahiti oil with a tiare flower inside. It smells tropical and the scent lingers for quite a long time. The packaging is the only downside but it smells so good I’ve made an exception. It’s one I’ve used up quite a few times.
Moroccanoil Dry Body Oil ($48 for 3.4 fl oz/100 ml) is another favorite and it comes with a spritzer! This has the classic Moroccanoil scent with argan, olive and avocado oils. It’s a dry oil and has a nice dry down after a few minutes. This one has a very raw earthy vibe to it. I like that this one doesn’t have a greasy feel.
Ouai Rose Hair and Body Oil ($32 for 3 fl oz/98.8 ml) is the most fluid lightweight option I’ve tried. The full size is 3 fl oz, but it also comes in a mini 0.85 fl oz version in a set called The Morning After Kit. It has a very soft rose scent but it fades nicely after a few minutes. This one has a nice dry down and won’t interfere with perfume. It leaves the skin feeling very soft without any heavy feel.
Darphin The Revitalizing Oil ($ for 1.7 fl oz/50 ml) is one of the heavier body oils I’ve tried. It’s better suited for normal to dry skin or if you want a dewy finish on the skin. It has a very relaxing almost citrus scent to it, it’s not overpowering but definitely noticeable. I like this at night time if my skin feels dry, during the day in the humidity of Florida, this one can feel a bit heavy if I apply it all over. Also because it’s ultra nourishing it doesn’t really have a dry down which isn’t a bad thing – but if you need a lightweight one this may be too rich.
Next up are the shimmers. When it comes to tinted or shimmer options, I really prefer something that won’t stain white clothes so in this case I’ve tried to avoid any bronzer oils. For shimmer I also look for something that has a smooth non-gritty finish. These days I don’t mind extra sparkle but for the most part, I prefer a shimmer that is more subtle and barely there.
Shown above from left to right:
Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil ($98 for 3.4 fl oz/100 ml) this is one I bought when it first launched a year ago and I hated it. Mine was gritty and the shimmer was something I could feel. I gave it another try at my local store this year and it seems the formula has been changed to a completely smooth texture-free finish. I adore the Soleil Blanc perfume so I don’t mind the scented body oil version. This is the most sparkly one I can wear on a daily basis and not feel like it’s too much. The sparkles are noticeable though so if you work in a very conservative environment you may want to stick to the perfume or try the regular body oil version. This one has a super hydrating feel and finish. It has a light moisturizing feel without being greasy but on me it doesn’t dry down 100%.
La Mer Glowing Body Oil ($100 for 3.4 fl oz) is one that is nearly impossible to find. It sold out almost instantly and by the time I decided to splurge it was gone. I found it online when it popped back in stock at Nordstrom. It’s since restocked a few places but sold out again. This is one of the most beautiful body oils with a pretty subtle gold shimmer suspended. It has a very lightweight La Mer scent to it which I adore because the hand cream and body cream are too strong for me. The shimmer finish is very very subtle though – if you need the sparkle, opt for the Tom Ford Soleil Blanc instead even though the scent will be different. The La Mer Oil leaves the skin looking very soft and glowy.
African Botanics Marula Shimmering Gold Oil ($105 for 100 ml) is the best smelling oil I’ve tried that isn’t a perfumed/fragranced one. It’s infused with Marula Oil, Baobab Oil, Moringa Oil, Meadowfoam Oil, Kalahari Melon Seed, Neroli Oil, Gardenia and Magnolia. This one is my husband’s favorite. I walked by him after testing this one and he smelled it instantly and said it smelled amazing. It has a rich finish so doesn’t dry down like a dry oil. The gold shimmer is very subtle and almost disappears on the skin to leave a very fine shimmer.
French Girl Organics is an organic beauty line and the Lumiere Bronzing Oil and Lumiere Moonlight Oil caught my eye. Both have a super fluid texture. These come with dropper applicators and contain sunglower oil, argan oil, coconut oil and meadowfoam oil. The shimmer settles to the bottom so you shake up the bottles to mix it. They both have a very natural scent to them – one of the most natural I’ve ever tried. The pigments and shimmer are so subtle I cannot see anything on the skin, but legs and arms have a luminous glow which I think are mainly from the oil rather than the shimmer. Moonlight is scented with jasmin and neroli but smells identical to the bronzing one. They’re very hydrating and soothing. These are a bit hard to find right now. I ordered them direct from their website as they were sold out everywhere else I looked. You can find the bronze one at Beautyhabit still.
Darphin Soleil Plaisir Sultry Bronzing Oil ($55 for 1.7 fl oz/50 ml) is another beautiful shimmering body oil. I believe this one is new for summer. I picked this up at Bluemercury and fell in love at first swatch. It’s one of the softest white floral oils I’ve tried which is just so pretty. It’s not too strong or powdery like some white florals can get. It has a very hydrating feel like the Revitalizing option but isn’t sticky or greasy. It leaves a smooth veil of moisture on the skin and keeps it hydrated for hours after application. The shimmer is very subtle with a golden copper color so if you’re medium to tan or deep it doesn’t look like traditional gold shimmers.
For Bluemercury, with any $150 purchase and code TRAVEL you get a bag filled with minis
Swatches – note that these blend into the skin to disappear almost completely. The shimmers are very fine – on my medium tan skin, only the Tom Ford really stood out for the sparkles.
A few notes on formulas I tested in store but did not buy:
Bobbi Brown Beach is another amazing scented option. It smells just like a beachy scent would I found this option too strong for me as I really do like my perfumes. This one you could just wear on its own and smell great. It also does not have a spritzer which was a deal breaker for me.
Caudalie Divine Oil is still one I really like, I have a mini but just don’t reach for it as often as I used to.
Clarins has a number of great body oils all in the pour container. These had a more herbal scent to me. I tested all three at the counter and fell in love with the Contour Body Treatment Oil. If this had a different dispenser I would have bought it. However since I had already bought quite a few other formulas decided to pass.
Herbivore Botanicals Jasmine Body Oil was on my radar as I love the line – they have great body products. I was glad I tried this before jumping to splurge. If you love jasmine then you will love this. Since I prefer non-florals for oils I found this one too floral and passed.
L’Occitane Shea Fabulous Oil had all the things I wanted in an oil. It has great packaging and it smells great. I’ve tried this on numerous occasions though and it’s one that is just too heavy for my skin type. I suspect it would be amazing for me during the winter months or for those with dry skin. For me it was too rich and heavy feeling. If they come out with a lighter version I would definitely try it again.
In summary, thoughts and favorites:
My best body oil for summer for lightweight finish is the Ouai Rose Hair and Body Oil
Favorite shimmer options are the Tom Ford Soleil Blanc or Darphin Soleil Plaisir
Best smelling body oils are the NARS Monoi Body Glow, Tom Ford Soleil Blanc and African Botanics
Most hydrating and moisturizing oil is the Darphin Revitalizing Oil
Most natural smelling and naturally glowy oils are the ones from French Girl Organics
If I could only wear one for the rest of the summer, it would be Tom Ford Soleil Blanc
Many of these oils are multi-purpose so you can use a lot of these on the face and hair. I tend to keep things separate, so for the face I really prefer oils designed just for the face and same for the hair. Out of all the ones I tested I found each one left my skin feeling soft and well hydrated, some were just heavier than others in the dry down or finish. If you have any favorites or thoughts please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear what your favorite body oils for summer are!
I’m all about the natural makeup look and with the warm weather here I’ve been into items that are easy to apply and effortless to touch up on-the-go. I’ve teamed up with Nordstrom to share a few new makeup bag finds along with some previously launched staples that I’ve been loving lately. I’ve always been a sheer glossy lip or tinted balm kind of person and right now I have tons inside my bag. I featured some of my favorite neutrals last week. Today I’ve rounded up some items that will give a bit more color and life.
First, as a lover of flat pouches, I’ve found that Nordstrom just launched some great simple pouches from Delfonics. Sometimes I just want a no-nonsense basic streamlined pouch and these small PVC zipped pouches are exactly what I needed. Right now there are two sizes available online – I ordered a couple colors in both sizes because sometimes multiples are necessary depending on what you carry. The exterior is on the thin side so I’d try to keep these for smaller items or flat products but the larger one is quite roomy so you can fit a lot in the pouch. The Large Pouch measures 10 1/4”W x 7 1/4”H x 1/2”D and the Medium Pouch measures 7 1/2”W x 5 1/2”H x 1/2”D. (Sandals below by Joie.)
Warm weather beauty loves, makeup beauty details and swatches below. With hot weather I’ve been using more dry shampoo simply to refresh and touch up. The humidity levels are increasing here and so I’ve been experimenting with more. The Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo has been a long-time favorite. For touch ups I also really like the Armani Luminous Silk Powder Foundation. It sounds like it could be heavy based on the product name but it’s one of the most lightweight powders I’ve tried and I use to set my makeup and also for touchups. It looks natural and doesn’t cake up.
Bronzer has always been a must for me. I’ve reviewed quite a few luminous bronzers, like the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzers which double as a bronzer and highlighter in one. Some of you prefer a matte finish and the one I reach for the most is the Tom Ford Small Bronzing Powder in Terra. It’s sheer to medium and one of the lightest colors I own making it wearable and effortless. Another great option is the new NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer in Seaside. It’s the lightest option and looks peachy in the pan but wears beautifully on the face for a natural wash of color. Also I know some of you prefer the no-shimmer look, but the MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Global Glow is one of the prettiest glowy bronze shades I own. I wear it on both the cheeks and eyes. Anytime I wear it on the face I always get asked, “what’s that pretty glowy highlight you have on your face?” and it’s usually this one.
These look dark because I swatched them with a heavy hand but I assure you they can sheer out on the face for a more natural look.
Lip products are my weakness. I always carry so many with me even though I really only need 1 or 2 products max at any given time. The Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfectors are the definition of effortless beauty when it comes to tinted balms. I have and love all the shades, Apricot Shimmer is a light sheer peach. You can just add a bit of liner like Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk for color and you’re all set. They’re really easy to touch up too.
Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss in Melted Honey is a great sheer gold shimmer to add a nice soft glow. It’s sheer so if you need more color there are others to look into like Douceur or Amuse Bouche. They’re moisturizing and add a pretty shine to the lips. Louboutin launched new Meatlinudes Loubilaques and I’m OBSESSED. All the colors are amazing! Detailed review on the entire collection to come soon but the first one I’ve put on is Bronzissima which is the prettiest flawless bronze shimmer. 100% worth the splurge.
Clarins added new shades of their Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil and two of them transform in color to your lip pH to create a unique color. Tangerine is the best kind of juicy peach red for summer.
Tom Ford launched their Clutch Sized Tinted Balms early spring and I’ve been obsessed for months. There’s a light peach shade for the neutral lip lovers in L’Odissea but I adore the sheer brights like Fathom.
Last but not least the Tom Ford Cream Powder Eye Duos have been a staple since they first launched and Naked Bronze and Golden Peach have been favorites. They’re so easy to apply even if you’re on the go. I can apply these with the fingers and it’s pretty much goof-proof. This year they launched three new shades in Young Adonis, Sun Worship and Paradiso. I’ve already reviewed these new launches but re-swatched them side by side for reference. Paradiso is indeed different from Golden Peach but they are very similar so I don’t think you need both. I prefer the cream in Paradiso and the glitter in Golden Peach.
That wraps up some of my favorites for warm weather beauty! With the heat I’ve been experimenting with different bases and will have a roundup on those in the upcoming weeks. For now I hope you liked this post for ideas on effortless beauty. I included some non-neutrals but colors that are still easy to wear and natural looking. As always I’d love to hear your favorites. What are you loving these days as we transition from the spring to summer season? You can find all my picks at Nordstrom.
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Many thanks Nordstrom for partnering to sponsor this post. Press samples include lip items from Clarins and the Tom Ford Clutch Balm.
I’m obsessed with fresh pretty neutrals for spring and I have a roundup today of some old and new things in beauty. Over the past few months some new formulas in lips, eyes and cheeks have launched and of course I had to check out the nude options. I feel like we didn’t really see any trends for spring makeup but rather more mini launches and a lot of reformulations on products. I’ve teamed up with Nordstrom today to share a look at some things I’m loving right now along with some first impressions on new formulas.
First up my favorite category for lips. I’m a gloss girl at heart even with the liquid lip trend still going strong. I have dozens of neutrals and even though so many are similar I just can’t get enough. Glosses are more forgiving on dry lips compared to lipsticks or liquid lipsticks. A few I’ve been obsessed with, shown below left to right:
My most-used lip liner these days is MAC Lip Pencil in Boldly Bare – it’s the perfect go with everything kind of rosy tone. MAC repackaged their Lipglass and changed some of the colors. I’ll do a full review soon but for now the neutrals I have top to bottom are Love Nectar, Spice, Lust, Beaux and Oh Baby.
All of these have medium coverage that shows up on the lips with the exception of Bobbi Brown Buff which is on the sheerer side.
Swatches below (I added Chanel Caramel to the mix). If you’re looking for a less expensive option to the Chanel Caramel or Caresse, I’d say MAC Lust and Spice are pretty close in color. I do think the Chanel formula is superior, the MAC ones can settle in lip lines if you don’t have a base, liner or lipstick underneath. (My go-to lip base is the MAC Prep+Prime Lip.)
Next for eyes, I still think one of the best neutral shadow palettes is Urban Decay Naked2 but I’m always looking forward to new formulas and colors. Chanel launched two new formulas called Ombre Premiere Longwear Powder Eyeshadow and Ombre Premiere Longwear Cream Eyeshadow. I ordered three sight unseen and WOW they are truly long-wearing. In the powder I ordered Flesh which is a satiny soft champagne with a very soft finely milled sheen. It’s just gorgeous! For the creams I ordered Scintillance, a peachy champagne and Undertone, a neutral brown taupe. Both have the most beautiful shimmer I’ve ever seen.
The powder has a super soft texture and has rich pigment that is easy to blend. It wears well alone or over the cream. The creams have a stiffer texture than you’d normally think of in a cream but the color is easy to pick up and blend with the little brush or with fingers. These stayed put all day from morning to evening through a hot day (it ranged from 80’s to low 90’s). I have dry lids so I don’t recommend layering the creams over each other – they set quickly to a long-wear finish without any emollient texture. I do think any powder layered over them quickly will help intensify the powder color.
I also checked out the NARS counter recently and a Velvet Shadow Stick in Siros caught my eye. I don’t know if it’s new or an older color but it’s a soft copper bronze. For those who want a tiny bit of shimmer but not frost this is a great option.
After playing around with the new Chanel and NARS I thought they looked really similar to some Tom Ford and Burberry options I had. I had to pull them out to compare for you. There are similarities but the formulas and finishes are very different. I love the Tom Ford Cream Color for Eyes but I know some of you find them a bit too emollient in which case I’d recommend you check out the Chanel Ombre Premiere because they stay put longer. The Burberry Eye Contour Shadow Stick in Pale Copper has more shimmer and is more pigmented compared to the NARS Velvet Shadow Stick in Siros.
For cheeks my go-to neutral blush is the Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic in First Love. It has the prettiest soft sheen and two colors to swirl together. I loved the formula so much I bought almost all the colors. It occurred to me that I never swatched them all so I’ve added them below. My next favorite is Ecstasy which is a pretty peach option.
Bobbi Brown launched these new Glow Sticks which are cream twist up sticks. I fell in love with Island at the counter because of the pretty soft gold sheen it has. They are emollient similar to the texture of the RMS Mix Master and Living Luminizer so if you can wear those you will like this formula/texture. If you’re super oily you may want to skip or try before you buy. On my skin Island has a barely there kind of glow. I’ve gotten tan so this one almost matches my skin tone. I wore it under blush the other day and it stayed put without getting oily. I haven’t tested it by itself yet but will keep doing so in the upcoming weeks.
Ouai launched a new Rose Hair and Body Oil and it comes in a pink tinted oil. I’m obsessed with this as a body oil. Compared to the original Hair Oil the Rose version has a less powdery scent and has a lighter more fluid texture. For the hair I feel the original Hair Oil is more versatile to use as a pre or post styling treatment. For the Rose version I tried it several different ways – the best results for me were to use it on the ends of either towel dried hair or blow dry hair that was about 70 to 80% dry. Sometimes I just want my roots to dry first so it doesn’t irritate my scalp but I want the rest of my hair to air dry. Leaving it on ends of damp hair left the hair looking soft and shiny. A little goes a very long way – it’s fluid and absorbs quickly so I thought I wasn’t getting enough the first few tries, I applied too much and it left my hair looking stringy. I only use 1 pump and evenly distribute. On the body it leaves the skin feeling lightly hydrated and soft. It’s a win for me.
Last but not least a few beauty staples that I love from Tom Ford Beauty. I’ve been playing around with different bases for the past few months but regardless of weather the Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation and Concealer wins. The name makes it seem like it might be too opaque or too heavy, but I assure you it’s not. It is full coverage but looks very natural, doesn’t cake, doesn’t oxidize and lasts all day. I love the finish and the colors in the Tom Ford line are always great for my olive/yellow skintone. My most-worn neutral polish is Sugar Dune which I highly recommend. It’s the best neutral nude pink with good smooth coverage. You do need 2 to 3 coats but the color is perfect and formula is excellent. With the hot humid weather more mascaras have started to smudge on me. The Waterproof Extreme Mascara is pure love. I need to buy another tube soon because this one is hitting the 3 month mark. It volumizes, holds the curl, doesn’t smudge and lengthens. Last but not least I think the best nude lipstick from Tom Ford is the Lips and Boys Lipstick in Bradley. I’ve featured it so many times on the blog – it’s the perfect peachy beige neutral and doesn’t wash me out. I lost mine and after looking for it for a week decided it was lost for good and bought another one.
That rounds up my latest testing of spring neutrals and new beauty launches from Nordstrom. I hope you enjoyed and if you’re on the hunt for a good neutral nude lip gloss I hope the side by side swatches help! Also be sure to check out their Gift With Purchase page. There are a lot of great GWPs going on 🙂
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Many thanks to Nordstrom for partnering to sponsor this post. Press samples include the Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation and Ouai Hair Oil (original). All others purchased by me.