Tools of the Trade: Best Face & Eye Brushes

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Tools of the trade can often make or break a project, and makeup is no different. You don’t need to splash a lot of cash to get the good stuff, but a few key investments can really help you level up your skillset. If I tried to go through all of the 50+ brushes I own, we’d be here for the next week, so instead I thought I’d just share the key members of my brush family – the workhorses, the luxury buys that were totally worth it, and the guys I reach for just about every day.

As a side note, I have listed (to the best of my ability) whether the brushes are vegan, cruelty-free, natural hair, etc. If you prefer to only shop vegan/cruelty-free, this list from Logical Harmony is a great resource for cruelty-free brands.

Face Brushes

RealTechniques Duo-Fiber Face Brush (Amazon) – I had no idea how to use this when I first picked up the RT Duo-Fiber Collection (the colors were recently changed to align with the rest of the brand’s products), but it has become my absolute favorite brush for working with super pigmented blushes like NARS and Tarte. It’s so soft and pleasant on the skin, and picks up just the right amount of product for the easiest blending. I had such a hard time working with blush before and now it’s quickly become one of my favorite products. RealTechniques brushes are always cruelty-free.

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RealTechniques Setting Brush (Amazon) – The multi-tasker! This brush gets used so often that I actually have two of them; setting powder, highlight, contour, all over lid shade, you name it – this brush can do it. Right now its top two uses for me are picking up just the tiniest amount of HD powder to set my under eye concealer and giving me a perfectly blended out natural-looking contour. RealTechniques brushes are always cruelty-free.

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IT Cosmetics #103 Airbrush Blurring Concealer Brush (Ulta, $16.00) – For anyone that just cannot get the hang of the micro.mini beautyblender, this is hands down the best concealer brush I’ve tried. Specifically, under-eye concealer. It helps blend out product beautifully without disturbing the rest of my makeup or sheering out my foundation too much. With my current foundation, I’ve actually had better luck applying my concealer first and this brush really does give me an airbrush finish that is undetectable under or over my foundation. This brush is made with synthetic fibers.

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Spring Haul: Sephora Sale & ColourPop

I haven’t really shared a haul post here before, it’s not something I do too often anyway, but with the spring Sephora sale just passed, I’ve done quite a bit of shopping over the last month or two and decided to share. This is a bit of a mix between general overview, products I love, and a few first impressions from a collective haul featuring Sephora, ColourPop, Glossier, and vegan indie brand Blackbird Cosmetics. Unfortunately, not everything arrived in time for this post, so I’ll share more details on my Instagram and Snapchat once they do and maybe do a second haul post if that’s something you guys want to see (let me know in the comments).

Even though the sale is over now, there’s another in November, and you can still get cash back year-round for shopping online through Ebates.

Please note this is meant to be informative and fun for others who are nosy like me. This post is not meant to be insulting and I’m not trying to brag in any way. Please keep any negative comments to yourself, but feel free to contact me about personal budgeting tips or minimizing impulse purchases.

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Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil ($105.00/1oz) – My goodness this stuff gets a lot of real estate here lately! I got to try a deluxe sample of this sorcery back in December and finally went crazy enough to splurge on the full size bottle (which should last me at least the rest of this year). I have talked this stuff to death in both my skincare routine and my recent products worth the hype post, so I’ll just say that I really enjoy using this product and definitely think it makes a difference in my complexion. The packaging is ultra luxe, and the oil leaves my skin looking and feeling smooth, soft, and full.

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Drunk Elephant “All Glowy” Set ($90.00/1.54oz total) – I’ve had my eye on the Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum since reading rave reviews about it on Paula’s Choice and I just had to try it. In fact, almost all of the Drunk Elephant products have amazing reviews (from a scientific/chemical standpoint) so I took the opportunity to try three for the price of one. This set includes a full size, one ounce pump bottle of TLC (a glycolic acid serum that helps promote skin renewal and collagen production) as well as two quarter-ounce (0.27oz) minis of their Virgin Marula Oil and C-Firma Day Serum ($72 and $80, respectively). I’ve still only tried the TLC serum so far, but I love the gel-like texture and a little goes a long way. As always, Drunk Elephant products are fragrance free which is a huge bonus for anyone with sensitive or acne-prone skin. I know it’s not just me having a field day with this stuff, because my mom ordered two bottles as well.

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2015: The Shitlist

I realize I’m a bit late on the “posts about 2015” thing, but I really wanted to take some time to think about the products before publicly berating them. I made a post not too long about my hits and shits of the summer, but I’ve had a few flops since then and figured I’d share my thoughts.

If you’re on the fence about a product or trying to talk yourself out of buying it, here are my top disappointing products for 2015. Conversely, if one of your all-time holy grail products has made this list, please do not be offended. Everyone has a different skin tone and type, as well as varying personal preferences! Just because a product didn’t work for me does not automatically make it a bad product overall and it’s not meant to be a personal insult to you if you do enjoy or even love any of the products mentioned below.

 

Tarte PAP bronzerTarte Park Avenue Princess Amazonian Clay Matte Waterproof Bronzer ($30.00) – Okay so there isn’t actually anything wrong with this product, the issue is really with how people use it and advertise it. This is a nice, slightly more neutral-toned, lighter brown matte bronzer from a brand that makes my absolute favorite blush formula. My problem with this product is not with the product itself, but with what people are saying about it and the reasoning behind my purchase. This is NOT the best bronzer for cool toned pale skin, and it is absolutely 100% not the best contour for cool toned pale skin. Bronzer and contour are not the same thing, should not be promoted as such, and this is not a product meant for contouring. I currently run at about NW13 in MAC, so anybody still on the fair side but darker than me will likely find success with this product as a bronzer. However, if you try to contour with this, you’re gonna have a bad time – it left me looking rather dirty and muddy as opposed to warm and sun-kissed. Return!

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Stripped Down Skincare Routine

I have written and rewritten this post so many times while testing out new products for my skincare regimen. The truth of the matter is, the simplest solution is usually the right one, and after several breakouts and skincare mishaps, I’ve decided to strip it down to the bare essentials that were working for me all along. Every time I try to mess with the program or add something new to my routine, all hell breaks loose, so here’s the full breakdown of my skincare basics, supplemental products, and weekly treatments.

First you should know that, in addition to some hormonal/cystic acne, I have normal-to-dry skin, but also very  dehydrated skin – which means my skin can actually overproduce oil to compensate so even my dry spots look oily at times. I have yet to figure out if this means I have dehydrated, dry skin everywhere all the time or if something else is at play, but treating it that way seems to be working so that’s what I’m going to keep doing for now. (Please note that it is possible to have dehydrated skin regardless of your skin type).

After testing dozens of products, those listed below are what seem to work best for me. These may not be the best options for you, some may not work for you at all, but if any of the skincare issues I deal with sound familiar to you then these products may be worth trying.

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Favorite Affordable Products (under $15)

So I finally got my the-seasons-are-changing cold and wasn’t planning to post for a few days, but I didn’t want to keep putting it off. You can expect to see my updated skincare routine and fall haul soon, but for now – here are my favorite affordable products, for $15 or less.

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ColourPop is a fantastic choice if you are interested in trying some new things or experimenting with color as everything is $8 or less, plus it’s all cruelty-free and made in the USA. I am a huge fan of most of their products, especially the Ultra Matte liquid lipsticks ($6), Creme Gel eyeliners ($5), and highlighters ($8). Since I talk about the brand so much already, I’m not going to go too in-depth here, but I will recommend my favorite shade for each of the products mentioned: 1st Base, Best O, and Hippo (respectively).

sephoralipstickremover Sephora Collection Ultimate Oil-in-Gel Lipstick Remover ($9.50, on sale for $5) – This was a product recommendation from someone on Reddit and I am absolutely not disappointed. As someone who is a loyal user of oil-based cleansers, I wasn’t expecting anything overly special from this but for $5 (and 20% off of that), I had to try. Damn does this stuff cut through some liquid lipstick! It beats out both Lush‘s Ultrabland and the Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Melting Cleanser for removing my beloved liquid lipsticks. Seeing as how that is my preferred lipstick formula, I may be buying more of these soon.

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