My Reviews

First Impressions: Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Mascara

In a recent Sephora order, I cashed in a 100-point perk to finally try out the Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara. You guys seem to enjoy these quick first impressions, and I have been really enjoying Marc Jacobs products lately, so I thought I’d try putting them together and share my first impressions. The three areas I’ll be focusing on in my mascara review are application, wear, and removal.

The Basics: This mascara is described as “an ultra-volumizing mascara that delivers instant dimension for epic lashes”. The description continues, saying “the super-concentrated black pigment delivers the greatest visual impact, and the Flash Volume Complex™ creates instant, smudge-proof length and volume in three strokes or less”.

Continue reading “First Impressions: Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Mascara”

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My Hits & Misses

Top Ten: Summer Favorites

It’s that time of year again when the sun starts setting a little earlier and those back to school lists start cropping up, but I’m not quite ready to let go of those long, warm days yet (or to go back to school next week for my last semester of grad school). Instead of jumping the gun for fall, here are my top ten favorite products that I turned to all summer long.

ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS Brow Wiz ($21.00/0.003oz) – Believe the hype. I avoided this little thing for ages because I couldn’t believe it was really any better than the other brow pencils I’d been using (MAC, ColourPop). Oh how wrong I was! This brow pencil is so fine, it’s nearly effortless to shape and fill in your brows with precision. The formula is fantastic as well, not too soft to make a mess and not so hard that it’s difficult to use either. I’m not sure there’s anything better on the market. I use the shade Medium Brown.

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photo from anastasiabeverlyhills.com

LUSH Let The Good Times Roll ($12.95/3.5oz) – An old favorite, I recently restocked on this polenta-based exfoliating cleanser and can’t remember why I ever stopped using it. It leaves my skin feeling so smooth, and it’s gentle enough to slough away dry patches without making any new ones. After cleansing to remove my makeup, I use a nickel-sized amount to gently scrub my face and neck. My makeup sits so much better on my skin after using it!

MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Powder ($20.00/0.14oz) – It took me ages to even test out the little samples I had of this loose powdered sorcery, it seemed so intimidating, but I will never look back. This microfinish powder is so finely milled and looks absolutely flawless on the skin. I use it to set my under eye concealer and around my nose where I’m prone to creasing to keep those areas looking perfected (and poreless). It’s super lightweight so it’ll never get cakey, which makes it an excellent choice for special occasions and photos. I like to apply with my RealTechniques setting brush.

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MUFE HD Powder

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My Hits & Misses

Trending Products Worth the Hype

With the semi-annual Sephora sale coming up later this week (details below), I thought now might be a good time to share some of the super-hyped products on the market that I think are absolutely worth the attention they’ve garnered.


Historically, the semi-annual Sephora sales have taken place in April and November. So far, that seems to be true of this year too as the spring Love Note sale starts tomorrow! The following sale information is copied from Temptalia:

VIB Rouge: 7-13 April — 15% off with code ROUGENOTE
VIB: 8-13 April — 15% off with code VIBNOTE
BI: 9-12 April — 10% off with code BINOTE

If you’re shopping online, don’t forget to use Ebates for even more cash back.


Now on to the good stuff! Trending products worth the hype.

CaptureSunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil ($105.00/1oz) – My current skincare obsession, this stuff is absolutely everywhere on YouTube lately (especially if you watch any gorgeous ladies in the UK). A retinol compound suspended in oil, Luna is a nighttime facial treatment designed to exfoliate, repair damage and redness, and leaves my skin feeling soft and full. Since I already have dry skin and retinol can be a bit drying if you’re new to the product, I like to mix the Luna oil with a few drops of my regular facial oil before applying. Using once/week, I expect the full size bottle will last me about a year.

I just want to note that it doesn’t have the highest rating on Paula’s Choice, from a scientific standpoint, primarily due to added fragrance. I’m generally not a fan of this, but in the case of Sunday Riley’s Luna it doesn’t seem to irritate my skin at all (which has become increasingly rare as I get older). Still, please patch test before applying to your face.

Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Primer ($37/1.0oz) – I’ll be honest, I’ve only tried one of these so far, but when the Step 1 line of primers first launched, it was all anyone could talk about for what seemed like months. I’ve got the hydrating version, but there are nine others, and they are still flying off the shelves. Before trying this, I wasn’t sure anything could beat the Too Faced Hangover Rx primer, but MUFE is miles ahead. The texture of the formula is somewhere between a serum and a lotion which my dehydrated skin loves, plus it sets quickly and leaves a solid base to help prolong the wear of my makeup. With some added silicones, my skin feels perfectly smooth for makeup application, and there’s definitely a bit of pore-blurring as well.

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My Hits & Misses

Top Five: March Favorites

Another month, another top five! As the weather gets warmer, I’m slowly moving towards more playful looks and lighter products so here’s my top five favorite products for March!

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Tarte “Lights Camera Lashes” mascara ($10) – For the last year or so, Benefit’s “They’re Real” mascara has been my main man, but oh goodness, I think this stunning mascara from Tarte may have knocked Benefit out of first place. Aside from the fact that this one is actually easy to remove, the Tarte mascara is lengthening and volumizing without looking clumpy and makes my lashes look full and bushy in the absolute best way possible. Bonus: Tarte sells a half-size deluxe sample for half the price, which is one of my favorite budget beauty money savers. Mascara expires quickly so I always try to buy mini or deluxe sample sizes to save some money and waste less product.

Tarte Blush in Mirage – I hate to do this to you guys and talk about an LE product, but I can’t help it. This beautiful peachy pink blush was part of the “Pigment of Imagination” deluxe cheek set and is no longer available, but damn do I love this thing. It’s not a super unique color and there are plenty of dupes out there, but I am so in love with the stunning quality of Tarte blushes. Their blushes are super buildable but easy to sheer out too, so I reach for this for everything from “no makeup” looks to fancy occasions.

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Chella Ivory Lace Highlighter ($18) – I got this highlighting pencil in one of my ipsy bags, and I reach for it constantly. I use it in place of a liquid concealer to highlight around my brows and also in my waterline to help open up my eyes a bit more. For ladies that wear glasses, defined brows are a must or they can get lost behind the frames, and for glasses with thick frames or lenses that make your eyes look smaller, a bright white or nude in the waterline does wonders for making your eyes look big and bright.

Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipstick in Pure Hollywood ($20, Macy’s) – This Macy’s exclusive is the perfect cool-toned peachy nude and I love the ABH liquid lipstick formula. It’s less drying than some others, but still lasts for hours. You can read more about ABH liquid lipsticks and some of my other favorites in my liquid lipstick product highlight post.

Makeup Geek Eyeshadow Singles ($5.99) – I love my Makeup Geek shadows, I love the price and the quality and that I can just toss them in a z-palette. There’s about 17 in my z-palette now, but I’ve been particularly drawn to two shades lately – Barcelona Beach, a matte medium sand that is absolutely perfect for filling in my brows and Cosmopolitan, a shimmery rose gold that makes for a killer inner corner highlight and smudged on the lower lash line.

Makeup Geek shadows in a large Z-Palette
Makeup Geek shadows in a large Z-Palette
My Face

Spring Fling: Natural Makeup

The “no makeup” makeup trend definitely isn’t new, but it’s pretty new for me (or at least, making it look good is new for me). The idea behind the “no makeup” look is a semi-flawless complexion with a few simple products to highlight particular features while ultimately looking like you are not really wearing a full face of makeup.

Come warm weather, this is a super versatile look that can fit almost any daytime occasion once you figure out which areas of your face you want to accentuate. One thing I’ve discovered can be a big help with such a natural look is to go a bit monochromatic if possible, using a contrasting shade to your eyecolor. With my hazel eyes, a peachy-orange look really helps them pop behind my glasses.

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For me, the two main things to take care of for a look like this are brows and lashes. Since I wear glasses with thick plastic frames, it’s important to highlight my brows so they don’t get lost in my face, and my lashes to help my eyes look bigger and brighter. However, because this is such a natural look, I think it’s only natural to have some “flaws” showing or you’ll risk looking too made up; I usually skip the undereye concealer since I would rather cover up any blemishes/acne.

Here are the products I use for my warm weather natural makeup look (in order of application):

The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream – I am slowly becoming a complete convert to this cream over the seaweed mattifying day cream I was previously obsessed with. Since I’m going very light on the face makeup, it’s important to have my skin looking its best on its own and hydration is key. I use this cream before bed and before I do my makeup every day for soft, hydrated skin which also helps minimize creasing makeup in the under-eye area.

Budget Beauty Tip: The Body Shop often sells their creams in smaller jars advertising a 3-for-$10 deal (or $4 each). The full size of this cream is $18 for 1.7 oz. Buy the travel size/mini jars instead – three of them will net you 1.5 oz for a savings of $8 and it will be a bit more hygienic too since you won’t have to stick your fingers in the same jar for as long. 

Makeup Geek eyeshadow, Barcelona Beach – I use an angled brow brush and a tiny bit of this gorgeous matte shadow to fill in my brows before brushing in Benefit’s Gimme Brow tinted brow gel to keep them in place (I use the shade medium/deep).

Budget Beauty Tip: Got your eye on a gorgeous eyeshadow from MAC? Check out the Makeup Geek catalog for near-perfect dupes before you splurge – Marlena’s stunning shadows are only $5.99 for 1.8 grams compared to $16 for MAC’s 1.5 grams. Even the MAC pro palette refill pans will run you $10.

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