I’m rounding up one of the prettiest holiday collections this year with the MAC Snow Ball Collection. Everything is limited-edition and some pieces are harder to find as there are a few retailer exclusives. By now some of the items have sold out online but you may want to check your local stores to see if you can find anything. The entire collection launched a few weeks ago but as this is a pretty hefty collection it’s taken me a while to swatch, test and review everything. I received a number of press samples but tracked down some items at my local Nordstrom and MAC store. There’s still a massive amount of sets and palettes not featured today so know if you’re into more bold shades, pinks, glitzy glitters etc. there are definitely some other options to pick from that you can still find easily. Featured today includes:
First are some lip picks. I love the MAC holiday lip sets because they often have minis and are color-themed. Being the nude lip lover that I am I knew I had to get the Snow Ball Nude Lip Bag because it has one of the prettiest nude lipsticks!
There are six individual Snow Ball Lipsticks in the collection. It seems they’re sold out everywhere except MAC online. I have four which I purchased including:
Warm Ice which is a metallic pale gold beige (similar to Gel)
Holiday Crush is a metallic soft pink rose
I’m Glistening is a metallic taupe grey mauve
Elle Belle is one of the prettiest deep red creams
The Nude Lip Bag is my absolute favorite even if it seems dupe-able:
Sending Love Cremesheen Lipstick is the one of the most perfect nude pink lipsticks I’ve ever seen
Doubletime Pro Longwear Lip Pencil is permanent, it’s a toffee pink brown
Below Freezing is a Cremesheen Glass formula with clear base with loads of pale pink sparkles
Iced Over is a Metallic Vamplify formula in a metallic but very wearable beige shimmer
Winter Warmer is a Cremesheen Glass formula which is a warm pink brown with a tiny bit of sheen
MAC Snow Ball Highlighters
For the face there are lots of highlighter options. I don’t even want to admit how many MAC highlighters I own because it’s a ridiculous amount. I’m always surprised they manage to make new ones because it seems like all the colors have to have been done already. There are two individual Face Powders in an Opalescent Finish. They’re called Happy Go Dazzling which is a pale beige gold and Here Comes Joy which is a peachy shimmer. Both are noticeable on the skin but in comparison to other highlighters they have a slightly stiffer texture which makes them sheerer and less metallic. I love these because they don’t look garish on the skin but have a soft diffused look.
There are also some sets called the Snow Ball Face Bag which are a MAC and Nordstrom exclusive. Nordstrom has two options, a Peach Face Bag with Show Gold Extra Dimension Skinfinish (duochrome pink peach with loads of sparkle) and the Gold Face Bag which has Whisper of Gilt (metallic gold). These come with a sequins bag and small 140S brush in a metallic handle.
I added a swatch of Whisper of Gilt that I have from older launches:
MAC Snow Ball Eye Makeup
There are a few palette options, I received a press sample of the Snow Ball Eye Compact in Gold. Palettes can be tricky especially if you don’t 100% love all the shades. This one performs well for a smoky eye look but two of the colors are very glittery with a lot of fallout unless you pat it on the lids.
For eye makeup all the single Extra Dimension Eye Shadows pretty much sold out the day they launched. I tracked them all down in stores and am not really sure why they sold out in record time. They are indeed super beautiful but very metallic. The texture is smooth and easy to apply. On the lids they are perfect party-wear shadows. Only Starry Starry Night, Delicate Drift and It’s Snowing are ones I feel like I could wear for regular everyday wear. The swatch photos don’t capture the metallic quality as well as I’d like but I hope they give you a good reference. Colors include:
Frostwinked metallic white glitter frost
Delicate Drift metallic soft pink glitter
Stylishly Merry duochrome bronze pink glitter
It’s Snowing shimmering silvery mauve
Starry Starry Night shimmering deep charcoal with silver flecks
There’s an eye bag set called the Snow Ball Smoky Gold Eye Bag with a duo of Extra Dimension Shadows of Just Gleaming (champagne pink) and Snowdusk (shimmering taupe) with a Technakohl Eyeliner in Photogravure and In Extreme Lash Mascara in Black.
Last but not least is one of the brush sets which is the Snow Ball Brush Set Mini. It has three short-handled rose gold brushes in a brushed metallic handle finish including 421SE, 535SE and 560SE. I feel like I know my MAC brushes well but don’t remember seeing any of these numbers before. They perform really well for MAC brush sets – I often find the quality of the brush sets aren’t as good as the full size/individual brushes but these are really good for powders.
One last look below. Overall lots to explore and love in this holiday collection. I really think there is something for everyone. If you’re looking for something under the $50 price point for gifts I think any of the lip bags are great. I love the Snow Ball Nude Lip Bag for $39.50 and the Mini Lipstick Kits or Gloss Kits are $29.50 each. I would personally pass on the eyeshadow palettes as I don’t 100% love all the shades. The individual eyeshadows are stunning but are on the glitzy side which makes them a bit challenging for everyday wear if you need a conservative look.
The MAC x Nicki Minaj collection just launched which includes an entire collection of nude lipsticks and glosses. It’s literally a nude lip lover’s dream come true. There are two special edition nudes that were created by Nicki Minaj that come in gorgeous pink packaging along with eighteen other lipsticks and six lipglasses (some repromotes, some are new). I’m one of the biggest fans for nude lips but since I have olive skin and a naturally pigmented lip undertone finding one that works is super tricky. I’ve found over the years the trick with a lot of nude lip shades is that layering with pencils and gloss is key. Luckily brands have expanded their range of neutrals so I’ve actually found quite a few that don’t require extra work.
I bought the entire MAC x Nicki Minaj collection online since MAC select members had early access. The same day my order arrived a beautiful press package arrived so I ended up with two of everything. I’m passing along the duplicates I ordered to a few friends and my niece, but stay tuned I’ll be doing a giveaway on another post later this week. Many of these shades are on the lighter side and a lot look very similar on me (like super pale concealer). Also because I have a pigmented lip my natural lip shows through on many of the swatches which looks like it could be a dark lipliner but I assure you it’s not. It’s just my natural lip tone showing through.
What I have reviewed and swatched for this collection:
Lipsticks in: Gossamer Wing, 2N, Bare Bling, Creme d’Nude, The Right Note, Derriere, Japanese Maple, Stripped, A Girl’s Got Needs, Easy Babe, Age Sex Location, Among the Fireflies, Playing Koi, Bosom Friend, Pretty Please, Baby’s All Right, Patisserie, Mmmmmmm
Up first are the MACxNicki Minaj Lipstick colors in The Pink Print and Nicki’s Nude. Both have an amazing smooth opaque formula that covers the lip in one swipe. The Pink Print is a pale opaque pink peach however it’s on the soft side and the lipstick broke in the tube. To continue using it I’m most likely going to have to put it into a pot. A quick look at other reviews shows that I’m not the only one with the issue of breakage. Just something to keep in mind when applying – apply if very gently. Nicki’s Nude is a deeper baby peach. This one isn’t quite as soft for me but still smooth and soft.
The Pink Print and Nicki’s Nude added in the swatch below
Foundation worn is Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation in Natural (my MAC Studio Fix Fluid equivalent is NC35/37, these shades are also swatched here). As mentioned above all the lip swatches are on bare lips. There may be a visible dark ring around the edges as that is my natural lip showing through. All lip swatches done on bare lips.
I didn’t swatch any of the lip liners repromoted with this collection but in case you’re looking for a nude. I swatched quite a few side by side from various brands in my Neutral Lip Pencil post here.
Bottom line, even though many of these colors are hard for me to wear alone, I still think this launch is a nude lip lover’s dream. If you search for swatches of these online you’ll see many of the colors that look like concealer on me look quite different on those with lighter skin or lip tones. Playing Koi for example actually looks more true to tube on some while on me it’s just a washed out mess.
My favorites include: The Right Note, Japanese Maple, Stripped, A Girl’s Got Needs, Age/Sex/Location, Among the Fireflies, Patisserie and MMMMMM. I think Patisserie is the most natural looking neutral on my complexion and I think it would most likely be one of the more universal shades in the bunch. For the lipglasses nothing would have stopped me from buying Under the Sheets and NUDE however I do think they are similar to existing shades.
What’s your favorite nude lip right now? I know everyone has a different definition of nude so I’d be interested to hear what yours is!
You can find the MAC x Nicki Minaj collection out now, I usually buy mine at MAC and Nordstrom.
MAC x Nicki Minaj collection provided by MAC for review. Items also purchased by me.
There are some new eyeshadow palettes out and I put three to the test from MAC, Marc Jacobs Beauty and Kat Von D Beauty. At first glance the colors look really similar between the three that I have but swatching proves otherwise. They have varied undertones, different textures, finishes and pigment. I’ll say up front the new Marc Jacobs Beauty palettes win for pigment and blendability, MAC wins for the fun factor and Kat Von D is one I have mixed feelings on.
Base Shades are soft satiny shimmers: Porcelain, Dusk and Dune
Contour Shades are perfect smooth metallics: Copper, Cinder, Rust
Define Shades are glitters: Bronze, Onyx, Jasper
Topcoat Shades are chunky glitters: Sterling, Glacier and Quartz
The Base and Contour shades are really amazing in texture and pigment. They’re velvety soft and easy to blend. The Define and Topcoat Shades are where this palette gets high maintenance. There is chunky glitter with tons of fall out in application and after application/clean up. You need to apply with either a damp brush or over a super emollient base to make the shades stick. With some glitters I find applying with a finger in a patting motion helps the shadow + glitter stick better with less fall out but with these fall out happened no matter what. If all of the shades were glitter free or in the contour formula this would have been 100% perfect. I can get it to work but it takes a LOT of extra work and clean up.
MAC launched six personality palettes in their MAC Girls Collection and I received Mischief Minx as a press sample. I stopped by the counter and was seriously tempted by Prissy Princess and Power Hungry – some other gorgeous neutrals but decided for now to stick with Mischief Minx. It has a palette of shimmers and warm shades. Pigment is medium but buildable. This one is fairly warm in undertone but easy to wear (even the orange and red shades which I mix or blend). Each shade has a name but it’s only labeled in a removable plastic insert which is easy to lose.
Swatched from left to right is: Mischief Minx (shimmering orange gold), Natural Tease (shimmering tan gold), V Frisky (light silvery gold), She-Nani-Gains (shimmering warm tan), Flaming Femme (matte rust), Schemer (satiny matte warm brown), Been There Done That (shimmering dark brown shimmer), Totally Trouble (black matte), Stride of Pride (gold peach highlighter)
Last but not least is the Marc Jacobs Beauty Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Palette in Glambition. I’m a fan of the original Style Eye Con ones and the new ones have excellent pigment and texture which are just as good as the originals. Glambition is the most neutral option and the texture is super soft with a velvety feel. Pigment is just so SO good. Color-wise this isn’t necessarily the most exciting palette but it has easy to wear mix of neutrals and bolds that just work. They also layer well together.
Colors left to right include She Was (satiny soft ivory cream shimmer), Infamous (soft rose tan matte), Known For (warm pigmented gold), Seeking (fawn brown matte), The Most (pale pink frost), Over the Top (matte warm brown), Glamour (matte black with gold flecks).
I highly recommend the MAC or Marc Jacobs palettes if you’re looking for a new one. The Marc Jacobs palettes have the best formula out of the three I tried but MAC has more fun wearable shade options to choose from. Kat Von D is one I have mixed feelings on – I still think the colors are just so good but formulas are hard to work with and super high maintenance which is not something I have the patience for. If you’re looking for a new eyeshadow palette that’s more streamlined and simple, you might want to check out the Chanel City of Lights Les 4 Ombres – I just bought it and will be reviewing soon.
I had planned to do some eye looks but I’m in the midst of a move and upcoming travel so I’m a bit limited on time for the moment. Have you tried any of these formulas yet? What did you think? In case you missed it my favorite eye shadow brushes listed in this post here.
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.
Today I’m reviewing and swatching my lip haul from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I bought three sets in store from MAC, YSL and Dior for Early Access. After browsing some more online I decided to stick with what I bought for the most part (I ordered a couple more items) as most of the sets consist of existing colors this year. As usual my picks are all in the neutral category. Also since I already have some colors from other sets offered in the sale, check back later today and I’ll have swatches of those up for reference.
Up first is my favorite, the MAC Look in a Box Saint No Angel Mini Lip Kit ($26.50 for a $40 value). Every year the neutral lip sets sell out first so I’m hoping they stocked more this year in anticipation of that. This year has minis which is why the set is less expensive. I love these colors so much I wish they had made them full size instead – I wouldn’t have minded if it were double the price for bigger ones. There are two lipsticks and two lipglasses:
Love Me Lots Matte Lipstick is a medium nude pink
Dandy Apple Satin Lipstick is nude peach-pink
Saint No Angel Lipglass is a sheer shimmering light pearly pink
Totally Buff Lipglass is a neutral pink with a slight hint of mauve
The Dior Addicted to Nude Lip Set ($70) has existing shades and after I got home I realized I already owned one of the colors. There is another option Addicted to Pink (with Baby Dior and Lazy) but my local store did not have it. The price of the individual lipsticks is $35 each so with this one you’re getting the mini Lip Maximizer and bag for free. For the nude lip set option I believe you can get both separately. Inside the Addicted to Nude Lip Set:
Dior Addict Lipstick in Bobo is the perfect coral shimmer, the formula is just so pretty and smooth
Dior Addict Lacquer Stick in Underground is the perfect neutral-cool everyday mauve pink (also wearing it in this beauty look here)
Dior Lip Maximizer mini is a plumping lip product
Last but not least is the YSL Lip Set in Nude ($74 for a $106 value). I don’t own any of the colors in this set, one is a Nordstrom Exclusive for the sale:
Rouge Volupte Shine Oil-in-Stick in Decadent Nude 61 is a shimmery nude pink mauve, the shimmer doesn’t really show up on the lips (Nordstrom Exclusive Shade)
Rouge Pur Couture in Le Nu 70 is a peachy nude
Volupte Tint in Oil in Make Me Nude 9 is a sheer nude with a hint of shimmer that makes the lips look full and voluptous
Swatches of the Nude Lip Set compared to individual existing shades, it appears the Rouge Volupte Shine Oil in Stick 44 and 47 (reviewed here) are sold out almost everywhere online now except for Neiman Marcus and YSL Beauty (in store stock may vary).
Upate: As promised swatches of the Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel and Chantecaille Lip offerings from the sale. I didn’t buy the sets as I already own the colors, for reference in case your store doesn’t have these or if you can’t get to a store I hope this helps!
Chantecaille Touch-Up Essentials has a full size Brilliant Lip Gloss in Charm which is pretty much clear on my lips along with the Faux Cils Longest Lash Mascara and a mini eye makeup remover.
Charlotte Tilbury has two lip sets. Day to Night Lip Set in Hot Lips Nude has KISSING Lipstick in KKW and Matte Revolution Lipstick in Super Cindy along with Pillow Talk Lip Liner. Day to Night Perfect Pink Lip Set has KISSING Lipstick in Kiss Chase and Matte Revolution in Between the Sheets (previously limited-edition and relaunched for the sale) along with Pink Venus Lip Liner.
For additional reference, the nude lips swatched in this post here. Pink lipstick shades are in this post here.
FYI, in all the swatch photos I’m wearing a mix of MAC Studio Fix Fluid NC25 and NC37 set with the Mineralize Skin Finish in Medium Plus. To sum up the lip options – there are lots of repeats for existing shades. I picked two I could find that have exclusive or new colors. I’m really happy with all my purchases even though it turns out I already own one of the Dior lipsticks. If you’re a beauty junkie like me you might already own a lot of the colors as well and find this year’s offerings repetitive. I found some interesting sets and think a lot of these could make for great gifts later on in the year. I stocked up on some of the MAC ones.
Early Access runs through the 20th and opens up to the public on the 21st. If you’re shopping online don’t forget to check their Gift With Purchase page – it gets updated frequently!
Did you shop the sale yet? Any lip sets catch your eye?
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.
Earlier this spring MAC repackaged their Lipglass ($17 for 3.1 ml/0.10 fl oz). They merged a few of the formulas such as the regular tinted lipglass and lustreglass into one. There are some new shades but a few of the original colors have also made their way into the new packaging, but they aren’t all the same – for example the original Love Nectar isn’t the same as the new one. The packaging itself is larger however it appears product weight has dropped quite a bit. Weight may vary per tube depending on when you got them, but I have a few that say 0.16 fl oz/4.8 ml. This isn’t the first time MAC has repackaged a product and reduced product size/weight – I’m still a little irked about when they redesigned their Pigment packaging with less product, but it hasn’t stopped me from buying new shades. Also they do last a long time so it’s not a deal breaker, more just the principle of price per weight.
I hauled 13 shades but luckily I had quite a few B2M empties to exchange for new glosses. Quite a few had sold out by the time I made my way to the counters and I checked back a few times and many were sold out for weeks. By now I think all the colors have restocked (at least online). A closer look at the packaging. The new tubes have a sleeker more modern look to them.
The shade I picked out are listed and swatched in alphabetical order:
Color descriptions from left to right. They have the same signature MAC lip scent with has a tinge of vanilla but isn’t overly sweet. Sticky level is medium to high but it’s not so tacky that it bothers me as long as I wear an even semi-thin layer.
Beaux is a warm tan beige with a fine pearl, this one has sheer to medium coverage
Candy Box is a cream medium pink, coverage is medium
Cultured is a light pink with a slight pearly lilac tinge, coverage is medium
Love Nectar is a semi-sheer light peachy pearl, it’s lost it’s iridescent quality that it had with the Lustreglass formula, but the new version has slightly more pigment/coverage, this one has sheer to medium coverage
Lust is a peachy pink brown cream, coverage is medium
Nymphette is a frosted pink gold with a lot of gold, coverage is medium
Oh Baby is a sparkling bronze with visible shimmer sparkles, coverage is medium
Oyster Girl is a light opal pink pearl, coverage is sheer-medium
Pinkarat is a shimmering pink with gold, more pink in this one, coverage is sheer-medium
Prrr is a frosted pink with white pearl, coverage is medium to full
Spice is a warm brown caramel cream, coverage is medium to full
Spite is a cool mauve with slight taupe, coverage is medium
Steel Kiss is a silvery mauve with silver sparkles, coverage is medium
Lip swatches below on bare lips. Note that some of these are on the sheer side so quite a few of them look similar on me. Of course they will look different on you depending on how dark/light your skin is and also what your lip tone is. On the face I’m wearing the Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion in No. 25 Deep Beige with NARS All Day Luminous Powder Foundation in Laponie (I also wear Punjab).
All of them side by side:
Some thoughts about the new packaging and the color options:
Formula of the Lipglass seems to be the same in texture and pigment. They’re semi-sticky for high shine and on me they do adhere well to the lips which makes them last a decent amount of time.
The Lustreglass shades seem to be more like Lipglass formulas now. Previously the Lustreglass was a thinner lighter texture with a tiny brush tip applicator and sheer coverage. Beaux and Love Nectar are both slightly different in color compared to their original versions. I haven’t had time to swatch the old vs new. I know I have owned 8 of the shades in the old formula – if you want a comparison I’ll try to see if I can find them (if I didn’t B2M them) and do side by sides. Let me know in the comments.
Shade wise there are a couple that are really similar. Nympette has more gold than Pinkarat, I prefer Pinkarat just because sometimes I can’t wear a yellow gold easily with my olive complexion. Lust vs Spice depends on your undertone preference, I prefer Lust because Spice pulls orange on me.
Shades I didn’t like include Steel Kiss and Spite. Both look ok in photographs, especially with a flash. But they have too much mauve/grey undertone to be ok in natural light on me. I can adjust them with a liner or lipstick to warm them up though.
Prrr is still as frosty as it was in the original formula, but for some reason I find the new one more wearable.
Oh Baby is a lot more sparkly than I could show in photographs.
If you want a neutral pinky brown color Lust is your best option. However Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss in Caramel and Caresse have way better formulas and smoother coverage. Swatched side by side here next to both Lust and Spice.
I try to do all the lip swatching in a post in one session for lighting consistency. Sometimes my lips can get super raw from all the wiping and reapplying. This round I decided to use the Bioderma Hydrabio Cleansing Water and the following days my lips were 100% fine. Disclaimer is that the bottle says it’s for Face and Eyes. No mention of whether or not you can use on the lips so I’m not sure if it’s safe. It worked for me though. Just a tip in case you want to try it.
Top two picks are Beaux and Cultured for the best color.
Overall I really like the new packaging style (with the exception of the weight drop). Out of all the other color options the only other one I had on my list is Love Child which I love in the original formula. I may pick that one up in the fall as right now I’m not that into plums for summer. Quality and pigment wise I found these consistent with the formula in the original packaging. Colors have changed a bit though. Overall a thumbs up.