Reviewing New (to me) Products at Sephora

With the annual VIB sale starting soon for Rouge members, I wanted to post a quick review of the newest items I bought from Sephora that were mostly purchased during the Friends and Family sale last month. To anyone who doesn’t have Rouge status, and therefore wouldn’t get 20% off, I recommend waiting for sales directly from brand websites which tend to be discounted by at least 20%. I personally don’t think 10-15% is that much of a savings unless it’s from one of those rare brands that never put their products for sale or their shipping fees make purchasing from Sephora a better deal.

Danessa Myricks Beauty Power Cream Bronzer in Deep

I officially have a new favorite cream bronzer! Granted, I don’t have that many of them, but this takes the top spot. Formula-wise, I loved the ones from Colourpop/Sol Body but the tones didn’t look as nice when the products were sheered out on my face. This bronzer from Danessa Myricks is such a highly pigmented and smooth cream that melts into the skin. It reminds me of that Sol Body formula but in a tone that works for me and doesn’t have fragrance. Deep looks deceptively lighter in the pan. The true shade is the darker spot where my brush picked up the product in the photo above. If this bronzer wasn’t so blendable, this shade would be too dark for me. However, I just do a single tap into the product with my Sonia G Mini Base brush and I can cover most of my face with it because it spreads easily and I have some time to work with it before it sets. The spreadability is due to having a lot of emollient ingredients in this bronzer. When I first got it, I could even see liquid seeping around the edges of the compact, likely due to the heat while being shipped, but it doesn’t feel oily or greasy on the skin.

It sets to the point of being dry to the touch, even without being set with powder. It doesn’t come off on my finger if I just touch the spot where the bronzer is, but a tiny bit will show on my finger if I rub across it. Also, this is so pigmented that it has a bit of a staining effect on the skin, which definitely aids in longevity but requires more effort to remove from the face.

I didn’t fully blend the bronzer above so it would be more visible in the photo, but in actuality, this cream bronzer looks so natural on my skin! I’m wearing it in every photo in today’s post. I like it much more than the Danessa Myricks Balm Contour, which I have in the shade Deep 1. The Balm Contour is even warmer of a shade and looks like a bronzer rather than a contour, but it’s not as smooth in texture as the actual bronzer formula. I want to keep my cream bronzer and contours to a minimum, so that’s the reason I haven’t tried the Anastasia Beverly Hills Cream Bronzer, Saie Sun Melt Natural Cream Bronzer, or the Glossier Solar Paint Luminous Bronzer that I’ve heard are fantastic quality (well, the last one I just want out of curiosity). However, this one from Danessa has quelled the desire to get anymore…for now at least! I bought this during the Friends and Family sale, but it’s definitely worth full price.

Huda Beauty GloWish Cheeky Vegan Blush Powder in 02 Caring Coral and 03 Berry Juicy

There are four shades total in the new blush line from GloWish. Caring Coral is a “mid tone rosy coral” best suited for up to tan skin, but since mid tone pinks are my preference, I wanted to try it anyway. Caring Coral is interesting because the darker pink swirl in the compact is definitely deep enough for my skin tone but the lighter swirl made my cheeks look visibly ashy when I tried it on my bare skin no matter how much I blended it. However, when applied over foundation, the swirls of colors mix better to create a more even shade that works for me. I was instantly reminded of Coral Flush from Hourglass and those two look quite similar in swatches.
As much as I tend to avoid berry toned blushes, I saw several reviews where Berry Juicy actually had more of a brown-pink look to the skin if applied with a light hand. I can confirm that it looks very natural and more muted pink than berry-pink if I don’t build it up too much, so I’m shocked to say I prefer Berry Juicy on me! I also like the look of using Berry Juicy all over my cheek, but keeping Caring Coral contained to just the apple of my cheeks, as demonstrated in the highlighter portion of this post.

I’m wearing the same bronzer, foundation, and concealer in every face photo.

This formula is supposed to impart a “soft focus glow,” feel buttery on the skin, and last up to twelve hours. I haven’t worn these blushes for that long, but they do seem to be long-lasting. They didn’t fade when I tested them for up to nine hours. I don’t notice that much glow or radiance to these powders; they look satin-matte on my cheeks, or mostly matte. They feel similar in texture to the GloWish bronzers, though slightly less buttery or creamy. I also have to add that the GloWish bronzers impressed me so much and became part of my top three favorites in the powder bronzer category, whereas these blushes are nice but not particularly special. They’re alright for the price. Some customers may be unhappy with their tiny size compared to the bronzers, but I don’t mind because I doubt I would ever hit pan in them anyway. It also helps that I got this for 20% off, but the full price of $21 isn’t too bad in my opinion.

And speaking of the bronzers, if you haven’t tried those, I definitely recommend them! Sephora has a few of the bronzers available in mini sizes, which I assume will be the same sizes as the blushes since they are close to the same price at $19.

LYS Aim High Pressed Highlighter Powder in Fearless

I bought this with my own money from the LYS Beauty website before becoming an ambassador for the brand. I have more details about that in the “Full Disclosure and Affiliations” section of my About Me page if you’d like to know more, along with my link to the brand website (which I’m not sure if it still works in terms of generating a commission) and affiliate code (LYSUNBOXLILI which is no longer active).

I normally go for a lighter shade of highlighter, like a champagne color, but I wanted something less common in my collection. That’s why I bought Fearless, a gorgeous bronze gold pressed powder highlighter. It’s close to my skin tone, so it looks more subtle despite how reflective and sparkly it actually is. I recommend this for someone who likes a strong highlighter, as the other two shades available are quite beautiful. However, it’s commonly known to those who frequently read my blog that I don’t like large glitter particles in highlighters. The smaller the better for me. The particles in this one aren’t so large that I wouldn’t use it, but I admittedly don’t wear it often and the visible shimmer keeps it from being among my favorites. I’ve been tempted to purchase the shade Brave to see if I would like it more, but the particle size keeps me away. It doesn’t look that way on camera but it’s something I see in person.

In addition to the pressed powder highlighters, LYS also released liquid highlighters and a highlighting serum, but I haven’t tried them. In my Glowing Skin post, I mentioned that I don’t use those kind of products enough to justify purchasing anymore in the future, which is why I’m sticking to powder highlighters from now on.

I decided to put my review of the highlighter here because it’s a new release from Sephora, but my actual recommendation for the Sephora sale are the cream blushes. LYS is pretty affordable already for a Sephora brand, but I’m always a proponent of consumers getting the best deals wherever they can. So, the sale is a great time to try the brand’s formula if you haven’t already. The cream blushes have not been surpassed yet in my eyes. I’ve been raving about them ever since I got them, and that was long before I had any connections to the brand.

Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Eyeshadow and Concealer Primer

This primer is so tricky to use, but when I do it right, it’s such a game changer! I’ll just say right off the bat though that I hate it for eyeshadows. In order to get the best results, applying a thin even layer and smoothing it out with the finger is crucial. If it’s too thick, it won’t “dry.” I’m using quotes for the word dry because it’s not supposed to actually feel dry to the touch. When it “dries” it changes from an almost greasy feeling (which is strange for a gel looking texture) to a slightly tacky feeling. With a thin layer, this takes about five minutes to get to this point. If I’m impatient and try to apply shadows before it gets tacky it will just smear and move the eyeshadow around and look extremely patchy. If I didn’t blend out the primer with my finger to create an even layer, it will still smear and move because it would be too thick to dry down at all.

If I follow the instructions and do those steps above, in the best case scenario the shadows will grip to the primer and appear very intensely on the eyes. However, it grips so well that I cannot blend them out! So, if I’m going to use this on my eyes, I keep it concentrated to just the eyelid where I want my shimmer to stick. I haven’t tried this primer with that many different eyeshadow formulas, but in this demonstration using the Urban Decay Born to Run Palette, the primer did intensify the shimmers and mattes, but the matte shade darkened up a lot. The primer itself is clear, so the wet consistency caused this to happen, which some people will not like. I’m not sure if I like that aspect myself. Perhaps this doesn’t happen if I use even less product, but either way, I don’t like that I can’t blend the shadows, so I didn’t continue to try testing it.

What I absolutely love this primer for is to use with my concealers. I have intensely dark brown under eye circles and hyperpigmentation that require the fullest of full coverage concealers to camouflage the darkness. The best results I’ve ever had are from the original Tarte Shape Tape and/or mixing it with the Pat Mcgrath Concealer. Those two are full coverage and last the longest on my skin because I have a second issue of concealers usually getting absorbed into my skin so easily. With the MILK primer, I’ve been able to get full days of wear out of my concealers even though it’s only advertised to last for eight hours! Granted, by the end of the day it certainly doesn’t look fresh, but at least it’s still there! This product even makes concealers that didn’t work for me before to last longer! In order to achieve this, I once again have to apply a thin layer, smooth it out with my finger, wait at least five minutes for it to dry, and then dab/stamp/stipple the concealer over it with my Sonia G Jumbo Concealer brush. Swiping motions will disturb the primer. It needs to be patted on in order to last. I can actually feel the grip as I stamp it into place. I do not set my eye with powder, as that will eventually lead to the lines under my eyes looking even more dried out and emphasized as it wears throughout the day.

This primer touts ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Hemp-Derived Cannabis Seed Extract, Niacinamide, and Aloe Water for added moisturization and hydration. I don’t find this to be very hydrating to my under eyes. If anything, it looks just as dry or drier if I don’t prep my skin. I have found that doing my usual steps with the primer but then smoothing the tiniest bit of Laneige Cream Skin Refiner (Moisturizer/Toner) on top of it and letting it dry again before applying one of my concealers, other than Tarte Shape Tape, does make my under eyes look less dry. In my case, this need for an occlusive layer prevents moisture from being taken out of the lower layers of my skin and gives the Hyaluronic Acid something to draw on instead. That’s my best guess. Since the primer is supposed to be applied to clean skin, it’s implied that prepping the undereyes with a cream or something else may not allow the primer to work as effectively. The Laneige Refiner is the most lightweight moisturizing product I have, so it works well. I have not tried to use this primer though with eye creams.

I have seen quite a few negative reviews for this and I understand why. I had to play around with this for weeks to figure out how to get the amazing results that I have with this product. I think whether this product works for someone or not will depend on their skin type, the condition of their skin, if they’re using their regular skin care routine with it, if they’re allowing it to dry first for long enough, the application technique, etc. Now that I have the routine down, this product is absolutely worth it to me for the extra longevity benefits to my concealer. However, I can see how this wouldn’t be for everyone, especially if they want it exclusively as an eyeshadow primer. So, this may be a polarizing primer. This is another one of those products I’d happily pay full price for, but I did get it for 20% off during the Friends and Family sale.

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear All Over Full Coverage Concealer in 460 and 495

I purchased each of these shades during sales on Lancome’s website ($17 and $20) thanks to Nikki here on the beauty blogosphere and BeautyDealsBFF on Instagram. 495 is darker than my usual concealer shades, but it’s still lighter than the darkness under my eyes. In addiction, it’s very orange toned which works as a sort of corrector color. I prefer concealers to match my skin tone, which is why I bought 460, the next shade down, but not a perfect match. I can wear 460 alone for a brightening effect, but the combination of the two shades is my favorite way to use them.

What I like about this formula is that it’s full coverage, but I’ve used it for weeks now and at best it lasts six hours or at worst my skin just absorbs it shortly after I complete my eyeshadow look unless I really pack it on. Some powders help with longevity but other powders don’t. I was on the verge of giving up and switching back to just using the Tarte and Pat Mcgrath concealers, but I tested it with the MILK Hydro Grip Eye Primer and it works wonders! With that primer, it lasts me all day and it’s less drying than Tarte Shape Tape. Once again though, I do not set it with powder when using it over the MILK primer as that can make it look dried out and emphasize the lines under my eyes. The combination of these two shades, plus the primer, is such an exciting discovery! As a standalone product, I’m not sure if I would recommend it to everyone across the board. There are too many variables when it comes to concealer to be able to say any is universally lovable.

Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturizing Foundation SPF 45 in 5N2 Amber Honey

I used to be shade 6W in Double Wear, but when I had a sample card for this particular foundation, the 6W shade was way too dark for me. 5W was also way too light, so I thought my best hope would be 5N2. It’s the only shade between the two in depth. When I first pump out the foundation, it looks fairly warm, but it does dry to a more neutral color on my skin. It’s not a perfect shade match but it’s close enough that I don’t feel uncomfortable wearing it in public.

The directions say to shake well, and that’s actually important considering it contains SPF. If I forget to shake and squeeze the tube, sometimes the color will look a bit off, either darker or lighter than it should. So, I make sure to give it a good mix before using it.

For a “moisturizing” foundation with a finish that’s supposed to be radiant, I don’t think it’s that radiant. I’d call it a natural finish, at least on my dry skin. This is more evident in the first photo in the bronzer section before I have any blushes or highlighters on my face. It would look a little more dewy if I built it up, but then it would feel heavier on my skin, so I prefer to use a light to medium amount.
A sheer layer of this foundation provides medium coverage, which impresses me for something that feels so lightweight on the skin. When I wear it, I think my skin looks smooth and even, especially paired with some of my newer finishing powders. I’ve actually been using it more than the Nars Soft Matte Foundation, when I just named that one my new holy grail earlier this year. If this did give full coverage with a sheer amount and was a closer shade match to me, then it would be my absolute favorite. As it stands though, it’s in my top two in terms of formula! The only other negative is that it doesn’t like to stick in my problematic smile line and tends move away from that spot, even if I powder it down. I have to rely on concealer to maintain some coverage there.

I always try to mention if a product has fragrance. I do notice a pleasant skincare type of scent that reminds me of the Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask when I first apply it. I actually like this smell because it’s not overpowering and is nostalgic for me. I checked the ingredients and fragrance is there, though almost at the bottom of the list.

I bought this during Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty when it was 50% off at both Ulta and Sephora. I was always curious about this foundation because of how highly Mel Thompson spoke about it. My goodness, I miss Mel. May she rest in peace.

I think that’s where I’m going to end this post.

For anyone curious about what items I don’t need and am trying to talk myself out of getting during this sale…they would be the Patrick Ta Major Headlines Blush Palette, Smashbox x Becca Under Eye Brightening Corrector in Dark, Guerlain Meteorites in Gold Pearls, Beautyblender Bounce Radiant Skin Tint and Beautyblender Bounce Liquid Cream Blush in Flirty Rose. The fact that I don’t use my current Patrick Ta Blush Duo is why I’m talking myself out of the blush palette. The Estee Lauder Futurist Foundation is why I know I don’t need the Beautyblender Skin Tint (plus I already have two bottles of the regular Beautyblender Foundation). The Lancome 495 concealer shade is why I don’t need the Becca corrector. The new Hourglass powders are why I don’t need the Guerlain Meteorites and the Beautyblender blush is a cream, which I have too many of open currently in my collection. Plus, some of these items I foresee going on sale for more than 20% off in the future.

What products are you thinking of getting during the sale? Is there anything I’m talking myself out of buying that you actually hope I will review in the future? I’d love to know in the comment section. Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Volume III and Universe Unlocked Palettes Plus More

For today’s post, I swatched and demonstrated how two of the three newest products from Hourglass performed for me. I also included plenty of comparisons between all the Hourglass products in my collection to spot any similarities and show nuances of differences.
After finishing the review portion, I ask you to please take a trip with me through my history with the brand because it will give more insight as to why I’ve been attached to them, how Hourglass lost some of its luster in my eyes, and what I hope for them going forward.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette Volume 3

The swatches are a bit difficult to see, but the left set were taken with flash off and the right set shows the tones of the powders with flash on.

Eternal Light is a golden brown finishing powder that matches my face perfectly! It’s a stunning beautiful color. It gives a luminous sheen but also has a few flecks of gold glitter throughout. I wish those larger gold particles were not there, but I’m willing to overlook it because of how nice the sheen is and the overall effect on my face. If I want to avoid having glitter specks in random places, sometimes I don’t set my entire face with this powder and just apply it in the areas of my face I would normally highlight. I have especially enjoyed using this powder with the Wayne Goss 00 Powder brush.

Transcendent Light is a warm dark brown finishing powder that leans a bit red. The tone isn’t suitable as a finishing powder for me. However, it works as a very subtle bronzer that sculpts a little if I build it up with a dense packing type of brush like the Rephr 17. Unlike Eternal Light, I do not see any visible glitter in this powder.

Prismatic Strobe Light is a dark golden-copper highlighter. I typically prefer using medium-golden and warm champagne highlighters, but I can still pull this one off. It’s quite beautiful on the skin with fine shimmer that isn’t too glittery and goes on the skin smoothly. For my usual preferences though, I would likely mix this with a lighter highlighter to add extra brightness.
*This highlighter contains Zea Mays (cornstarch). Just noting for those who may be allergic.

These are the deepest highlighters I own (excluding Solar Strobe Light) out of the most popular brands I have.

Overall, the formula of these powders is the high quality Hourglass is known to have. They’re smooth and blurring even on my dry skin. They look great in person and on camera. According to Hourglass, this particular palette is “ideal for medium-deep to deep skin tones.” I agree that those with medium deep skin will benefit the most from these shades because they have a choice of using either the golden or red finishing powder as a bronzer. They won’t work as bronzers for someone with a deep skin tone and the undertones of the finishing powders are so different that I’m not certain that someone with a deep skin tone would equally enjoy using both of them to finish the face. The highlighter is a little more geared toward the deeper side, but it can work for medium-deep to deep.

This palette is only available through Hourglass directly and has sold out, been restocked, and sold out again. It’s my belief that limited quantities were made, which is supported by this comment on their Instagram page. It’s nice to know this will eventually come to retailers in 2022, and since it’s in the permanent packaging, I assume this will be a permanent item and not just an extension of a holiday release.

Even though I used a “10% off your first purchase” code on the Hourglass website a year and a half ago, I was somehow able to use another one to get this palette. I would have happily paid full price for this anyway.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Universe Unlocked Palette

To my knowledge, the Universe and Universe Unlocked palettes this year mark the return of Hourglass’ five powder face palettes since 2016. That one also had a marble print on the packaging, but it was made out of hard plastic whereas Hourglass switched to tin this year.

Radiant Light is a light golden-beige finishing powder from their permanent line. I always assumed it was too light for me, but this shade isn’t visible on my skin. It doesn’t lighten my foundation or anything, which is great, but I don’t notice any difference at all when I wear this besides mattifying the skin. I can’t see a sheen either. It does nothing for me besides depositing the occasional visible glitter particles like Eternal Light. I’m glad it at least doesn’t make anything worse, but I prefer to use other finishing powders that accomplish something I need like blurring, smoothing, or adding a healthy glow.

Rose Heat is the deepest powder blush Hourglass has ever created thus far. It’s a dark pink berry shade that is a vibrant color that keeps it from looking too dark on someone with a tan to medium and possibly light skin tone, but also not too light for someone with dark, deep, and possibly rich skin tone to be unable to wear. It is extremely pigmented and I’m able to use it gently with my usual blush brushes, but I have been loving to pair it with the Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush I purchased recently. I’ve made it no secret that berry tones are not a preference of mine, but having a shade like this adds to how usable this palette is for me, and I like it more if I mix or pair it with Coral Flush.

Radiant Bronze Light is a medium warm-toned bronzer that is the current darkest shade in the permanent bronzer line. While this “miscelare technique” can cause some people to get more or less of the darker marbled color, overall there seems to be a consensus that the bronzer in Universe Unlocked is lighter than the bronzer in Universe. This is an odd choice considering all the other shades in Universe Unlocked are darker than the powders in Universe, so logically shouldn’t the darker bronzer be in Universe Unlocked too? At the end of the day, this choice doesn’t matter for anyone darker than tan because neither will be usable as bronzers. As I mentioned before, Radiant Bronze Light is the darkest shade in the permanent line, so the only hope people of color had for a product to bronze the skin was if Hourglass released a brand new shade. Golden Bronze Light from the Mini Sculpture Unlocked and Ghost Palette is the tiniest bit darker than Radiant Bronze Light and I use Golden Bronze Light as a subtle highlighter on my skin tone, so that says it all in terms of depth. I’ve tried using this on top of cream bronzers and contours to see if I could somehow utilize that warmth and sheen, but that didn’t work. I also find it interesting that although the Radiant Light finishing powder is a lighter shade than Radiant Bronze Light, Radiant Light blends into my skin with no cast, but Radiant Bronze Light leaves a grey cast over areas that I have hyperpigmentation showing. So, I can’t use it as a glowy face powder and it only works as a subtle highlighter on me that provides a little glow but low reflectivity. I figured this would be the case ahead of time before I made my purchase, so it wasn’t a factor as to why I wanted this palette.

Coral Flush is described as a bright peony and although pigmented, I need several layers with at least a medium-dense packed brush to build it up to the point I like. I can wear Coral Flush on its own, but I prefer to add a little of Rose Heat to give it a tad more depth and turn it from being, “Kind of cute,” to “Nice! I like it!” This shade is more geared for light to medium-deep skin tones. I think someone a few shades darker than me could still pull it off, but not that much darker if using Coral Flush on its own.

Solar Strobe Light is a golden leaning metallic champagne. Somewhere between this shade and Prismatic Strobe Light is where my perfect shade exists, but I’m certainly happier with those two than any other Hourglass Strobe Light product that’s been released by them. In addition to liking the color, I’m happy this isn’t the Metallic Strobe formula because the type of ingredients used to make those so bright are not flattering on deep skin. This shade is best suited for perhaps medium up to my skin tone, but I still don’t think it’ll be as flattering past my shade.
*Unlike the Metallic Strobe formula, the Non-metallic Strobe highlighters contain Zea Mays.

Overall, those with medium to tan (but not dark tan) skin will get the most out of this palette, followed by those with light and dark tan to medium-dark skin. Anyone else could still use perhaps 1-2 shades, but I’m not certain it would be worth getting at that point.
Universe Unlocked mostly works for me, but “working” doesn’t mean it’s as flattering as it could be. I don’t feel that it enhances my makeup the way the Volume III trio did. Even the best blush look I can create with a mix of Coral Flush and Rose Heat doesn’t surpass the way the At Night blush looks on me. So, while this palette is technically still worth the 20% discounted price I paid with a coupon via Ulta, I’m conflicted as to whether it was worth getting for the actual results and how much I will realistically continue using it.

With the exception of the Surreal Light palette, all the powder products I purchased from Hourglass are basically the ones supposed to be usable by me from 2016 until now. I’ll let the swatches speak for themselves as to whether that’s the case or not. And since I believe the finishing powders from Volume III can still work as bronzers, I included them in the bronzer swatch section even though they technically should not be included there.

Hourglass, A History

I first became intrigued by the brand in 2015. Everything was out of my price range, but I purchased a mini of the Veil Mineral primer that was considered one of the best on the market at that time. It really lived up to the claims of being incredibly smoothing and minimizing the appearance of fine lines, but it left a visible white cast so strong that it made my foundation look lighter too. So, I ended up using it as an eyeshadow primer instead.
I believe 2015 was also the year Hourglass started to make the larger holiday face palettes. Their previous holiday releases were in trios, but from 2015 and onward, customers began to expect and look forward to those 5-6 powder palettes. Because it was the best bang for the buck, I hoped with each year that a palette suitable for me would become available and was willing to save up for it. By 2017, when Sephora put limited quantities of the previous year’s palette in the Rewards Bazaar, I snapped it up immediately despite knowing I probably couldn’t use any of them.

Ironically, that 2016 release Surreal Light Ambient Lighting Edit was possibly the lightest palette Hourglass made, so it definitely did not work for me. I got some use out of the powders through “Franken-Makeup” creations. For those who are not familiar with the term coined by Safiya Nygaard, it’s when someone plays Dr. Frankenstein and combines multiple products together in the hopes of making something better by capturing the best qualities of all of them, though one could end up with worse results. I scraped out some of the powders to use as fillers or to sheer out an over pigmented mixture in custom Franken blush, highlighter, and eyeshadow mixtures.
Despite everything in that palette looking like chalk on my skin and rendering it unusable for the intended purpose, I still cherished having it! In the earliest years of my makeup journey, I became obsessed with having a holy grail product in every category and I viewed Hourglass powders as the absolute best in existence (such was the level of hype it got). So even one that didn’t suit me was treasured because it brought me closer to being able to experience what everyone else could.

2015 – Ambient Lighting Edit Palette, 2016 – Surreal Light Ambient Lighting Edit Palette, 2017 – Ambient Lighting Edit Volume 3 Palette, 2018 Ambient Lighting Edit Volume 4 Palette and Unlocked Ambient Lighting Edit Palette, 2019 – Ghost Ambient Lighting Edit and Ghost Ambient Lighting Blush Quad, 2020 – Sculpture Ambient Lighting Edit Palette and Sculpture Ambient Lighting Edit Quad, 2021 – Ambient Lighting Edit Universe and Ambient Lighting Edit Universe Unlocked.

Year after year, I waited for Hourglass to release something where I could use more than just 1 or 2 powders out of the bunch. By 2019, I began to view the brand differently when they continued to re-release shades without even having covered the full color spectrum. That’s like if a brand started releasing monochromatic palettes for the holidays and came out with a purple one, a blue one, and then a green palette. The following year, rather than release an orange, yellow, or red they shift instead to making a purple-blue palette, and then a blue-green palette, and so on. Many customers began to wonder why a particular range of skin tones were being catered to while everyone else was ignored.
Fun facts: Dim Light and Diffused Light were repeated 5 times. Luminous Bronze Light, Iridescent Strobe Light, and Mood Exposure were repeated 2 times. All of the shades in the Sculpture Ambient Lighting Edit Quad were repeated shades from the previous year’s Ghost Ambient Lighting Edit Palette. There are also several shades in the full face palettes that were from the permanent line already. In addition, so many of the powders that are labelled as “new” look similar to what Hourglass has already produced.

In early 2020, I began to research and take a closer look at all the current and discontinued products that were available from Hourglass. I thought to myself, “Their liquid and cream range is inclusive, so surely there has to be something I think won’t work for my skintone but is actually darker than it looks.” After countless videos and swatch comparisons, the only one I could see was the Diffused Heat blush, provided I was very lucky and could get one that had a lot more of the pink shade than the lighter marbled shade. I was fortunate to find one like that, but it is still ashy if I’m not careful about which area of the blush I dip my brush.

Mid-June people really started to draw attention to Hourglass hardly featuring models of color, but this is because they didn’t have many products to showcase that would suit them. Instead of admitting they lacked a good range, Hourglass tried to show things that were supposedly used, but they could not have matched the models without “adjusting” the photos. This was the start of what led to Hourglass coming under fire later in the year.

In late 2020, Hourglass released the At Night shade of blush and I was ecstatic! I still need to focus on the darker marbled section for it to work, but I don’t have to struggle with it as much as other products. I was so optimistic that I took a chance on the 2020 re-release of the 2017 Ambient Metallic Strobe Lighting Palette, but the pearl powder made it looking quite icy on my face if I used too much. Because of At Night, I was still hopeful the actual holiday release for 2020 would finally work for me, but the larger palette did not. The Mini Sculpture Unlocked quad “worked” if I used the bronzer as a subtle highlighter, the blush if I built it up heavily, and if I was willing to have another icy highlighter. I always had to find ways to get my money’s worth out of the Hourglass products I bought and I ended that year sick of it. I’ve already discussed the scandal of the misleading advertising of the Ambient Lighting Volume 2 Palette in the Jasmine Tooks campaign in past posts. I do not appreciate their photos always being more saturated and deeper than the products actually are and using tricks to make products seem to work for more skin tones than they really do. For instance, with their recent line of Vanish Blush Sticks when demonstrating how the shades look on multiple skin tones, for the model with dark skin they put a very light concealer from the under eyes all the way down to her lips. The large triangle concealer technique is still popular with some people, but it’s not supposed to be applied all the way across the entire cheek to the ears. It’s quite apparent that the best way to get Sacred to show on Sydney Harper’s skin was on top of a very light base several shades too light for her. I nearly fell for it! Trickery like this is why my view on the brand took a deeply negative turn in 2020.

Sydney Harper wearing the shade Sacred on Hourglass’ Youtube page.

I personally think having two deep shades out of the six blushes is inclusive enough, so I don’t understand why this decision was made. I like medium toned blushes, but it’s always a hassle to figure out if a medium blush is on that cusp of being too light or actually working for me. How they showed Sacred in the video makes it look like it would work for skin even deeper than mine, which I’m not convinced is actually the case. If the shade doesn’t show up on the model or looks ashy, then I’d rather they just show that so I know not to spend my money on them rather than buy it, find out for myself it doesn’t work, and either absorb the cost or return it knowing it’s just going to be thrown away.

Since I never did review the Blush Stick, I’ll go ahead and say I think it’s nice but nothing special. The majority of the cream blushes I use from other brands are just as good (or better) for at least half the price. I use a light layer of Revel, but it can be built up more intensely and it’s the kind of shade that will work on a lot of skin tones. The other deep shade Hourglass makes is called Adore.

Regarding Hourglass’ tendency to misrepresent shades in their advertising, I think they did a better job of showing Volume III but it definitely needs improvement. I still caution against relying on Hourglass’ images alone for an idea of what the products look like.

The left side is a more accurate photo of Volume III, but both images are from the brand’s Instagram.

Now, in my seventh year of waiting for a dark powder palette, I can finally say I have Hourglass products that I can use (mostly) for their intended purposes! If I’m looking for an all-in-one palette, the most important thing to me is to have a usable blush, highlighter, and bronzer. I don’t believe I am alone in thinking that way. While Universe Unlocked offers the biggest variety to date of who can use the palette, only a limited group can use all three. It’s the bronzer specifically that limits things. Rather than Hourglass making a palette with 2-3 shades for some people and 2-3 shades that will work for someone else, I would have liked to see full palettes dedicated to the skin tone groups who still haven’t gotten a full face palette that will work. I am happy to have Volume III and am glad at the possibility that it’s permanent, but so many of us have been specifically wanting a full size Deep face palette. If they took all the shades from Volume III, Rose Heat from Universe Unlocked, and threw in At Night as the second blush (since they like doing repeat shades anyway) that could have been an amazing third holiday Ambient Lighting Edit palette. Indie brands like Sydney Grace and Adept Cosmetics release dark and light versions of the same eyeshadow palette and I think this would be fantastic for other companies to adopt regarding face palettes. Below are some examples of swaps that could have been made. Creating two versions of Universe Unlocked with even just a bronzer change would have made all the difference in the world.

The third concept palette that I nicknamed “Universe Aligned” is what I proposed above if Hourglass took the three Volume III shades and At Night blush and put it in the Universe Unlocked packaging with Rose Heat.

I’ve heard endlessly, “If a brand doesn’t cater to you, go buy from those who do.” I’ll explain why this doesn’t work so easily for Hourglass: No one else makes powders like Hourglass. If I had an alternative, I would have given up on them ages ago. The silkiness of the powders, the blend, the effect on the skin, etc has not been successfully replicated by anyone else. This is why we “target,” as Hourglass apologists say, the brand specifically more than other non-inclusive ones, because they are the only ones who can do this task. When the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer was considered top notch, we wanted an extension to those. When Benefit only had Hoola available, we wanted that as well. I have no problem taking my money elsewhere as long as there isn’t something considered the best of the best that they make. In which case, then there isn’t an alternative. If we want the best, that brand is the only one who can create it for us. This is why so many of us keep hoping to have something that we can use too. We want to have that same experience everyone else that Hourglass caters to gets to experience. Hourglass is inclusive except when it comes to the powder products, but powder is all I really want from them. I like makeup from Asian brands, but I accept that I’m not likely to get a base product deep enough for me because the demand isn’t high enough. When it comes to Hourglass, there is a market and a demand, so it would be financially beneficial to meet those demands. This makes it so obvious they were content in leaving a vacancy in their line while their pockets were still being filled. It was not until enough of us joined in a united front (those who could and could not wear what was available) to make our voices heard, especially those who boycotted them and the Influencers who publicly denounced and cut ties with Hourglass, and news outlets who got us to the point where Hourglass has started to give deeper options. I believe the creation of Volume III was to repair their image after the deceitful misleading advertising of Volume II. This is why I question whether Hourglass is going to continue giving deeper options in the future, or if they feel they’ve done enough now and that this is where inclusiveness ends for them. In 2022, if there is no extension of the permanent bronzers or there’s no Ambient Lighting Edit Face Palette suited for at least tan to deep skin tones, if not deeper, then it will be a clear indication once and for all that they won’t begrudgingly create anything like the Volume III again. Essentially what they do in 2022 will determine whether I continue buying from them or not. Eight years will be plenty of time and they’ve had plenty of chances to prove they aren’t focused on a particular demographic. Hourglass prioritizes being cruelty free, sustainable (with their new overpriced custom eyeshadow system), and finding vegan alternatives (with their patent-pending replacement for carmine). They dedicated so much time and research to these projects in order to be a brand that goes above and beyond others by showing their concern for the planet. It boggles my mind that they don’t care about their reputation when it comes to being exclusionary regarding their customers.

I think I’ve finally said everything I’ve wanted to say about Hourglass in this post. I really do hope they become a brand I can be proud of to say I purchase from in the future. As it stands, I’m almost embarrassed to share how long I’ve been pining for their products and how many of them I bought despite feeling as though they really don’t want to make products for those with dark skin.
That’s all for this week. If you’re still here after reading that full post and you understand my perspective, you’re at MVP status! Thank you for your time and if you’re considering getting these products now or in the future, I hope this has been helpful.

-Lili

Amazon Makeup: Haus Labs and Zeesea Cosmetics

The Amazon Prime deals that started on June 21st included 60% off Haus Laboratory Products and 20% off Zeesea Cosmetics. These deals were enough for me to take the plunge into both brands for the first time!

Also, before we get started, I’m going to address the Oompa Loompa in the room. I took these photos just after I returned from my trip. Because I had gotten darker, I needed to resort to mixing foundations and I did not realize I looked so orange until I finished everything. Sorry about that! I don’t always publish a post in the order that I work on them, so this is why my skin tone looks “warmer” than usual!

Haus Labs

Haus Laboratories Heat Spell Bronzer Highlighter Duo in Volcanic & Lava

This bronzer is the darkest in the Haus Labs line, but it will only show up on someone of my skin tone or lighter. The range could definitely use a darker option, but it’s the perfect shade and depth for me. I was impressed by how smoothly it looked on my skin despite how dry it felt to the touch and how patchy it looked when I first tried it on my bare face. This is one of those formulas that work best over a foundation. It doesn’t take much building to show on my skin, it blends very quickly, and it lasts on my face through a full day.

When using the bronzer, it looks perfect with so few swipes that I get the impulse to continue blending it in (because I’m not used to a product blending so quickly), and that’s when I run into problems. If I keep trying to blend or build up more product, it turns an unflattering darker color and starts to get patchy. The best way to use this is to apply it to the skin and when I blend to the point of, “Wow, this looks nice,” is where I have to stop or things will only go downhill after that.

The highlighter in this duo is the right depth for me too. However, it is very lightly pressed in the pan. It is extremely powdery with so much kickup. It doesn’t make a difference if I use a natural or synthetic brush, the result of the absolute barest touch in the pan leads to my brush being coated in an excess of product. I have to wipe some off my brush every time I use this product or else I will look way too sparkly for my liking. Also, it mostly sticks wherever you first place it, so blending away the edges to avoid a highlighter stripe is not easy to do. My remedy to this is to switch my usual application order and apply the highlighter before my blush, that way the excess of highlighter can be blended out while I’m blending the blush. The blush edge also partially covers it.

This highlighter is a mix of small particle shimmer with some larger shimmer particles spread throughout the pan. Because the larger sparkles are sparse enough to not draw too much attention, I don’t mind as much. I still have to be careful to use the smallest amount on my face though, and an example of a light application is in the photo on the right.

Although I can get really nice results with this duo, I’m not sure if the quality is consistent across the entire Heat Spell line. I can get stellar results if used in the specific manner I mentioned, but the fact that it can easily go wrong is why I would say these powders are similar to what Makeup Revolution and BH Cosmetics produce, but better. They’re both inexpensive brands with face products that aren’t exactly the highest quality, but they will get the job done. This duo at full price is $26, but from the view of these as two separate items at $13 each, it would be in the ballpark of those brands. While I think this is good for the price, the Kaja Bento Trio formula is an upgrade for $1 less for slightly less product spread across three pans. I also think the Beauty Bakerie Bars (Neapolitan, Brownie, and now Lemon) have the better blush and bronzer as well, though there’s way less product at $18.

All that being said, I could see myself reaching for the bronzer again, particularly for a matte look. However, my top favorites tend to have a satin or shimmer sheen which won’t be replaced by this. The highlighter in the duo is also a bit troublesome having to be used so delicately, so I won’t get use out of Lava.

Haus Laboratories Head Rush Blush/Highlighter Duo in Rock ‘N’ Rose & All Night

There is one other blush duo deeper than this one, but I’m not interested in berry tones, so I got this instead. The blush looks pigmented, but the thin powder still requires building up. In addition, it gets muddy when blended too much, especially in the spots where it overlaps with a bronzer regardless of the brand used. For the photo below, I had to wipe some of the Heat Spell bronzer away to get the pink color to show instead of the murky brownish-pink it turns. The blush is pretty, but I think the quality is lacking.

The highlighter shade is pretty interesting. I thought for certain it would look terrible on me, but it’s not too bad! It’s actually a somewhat duochromatic pink and light gold that reminds me of the Kaleidos Space Age highlighters. The Head Rush highlighter did not have the powdery kickup issue like the Heat Spell highlighter, but it’s not as soft either. It’s a decent highlighter/blush topper, but it shows a lot more of the larger shimmer particles, which deters me from wanting to use it.

I had some reservations about recommending the Heat Spell duo, but I can easily say I don’t recommend the Head Rush ones. The market is filled with so many incredible blushes and highlighters that are superior in quality. They might not be part of a duo, but a better blush and highlighter separately can be found at any price point. Nyx, Milani, and Colourpop all make better and cheaper blushes and highlighters. The Maybelline Master Chrome is another highly rated highlighter option. At the very least, the Colourpop Cheek Palette Quads come with three blushes of comparable quality and a better highlighter for $12. For that reason, even at the $15.60 price I paid for this duo, I don’t think it was worth it.

I have no feelings positively or negatively about Lady Gaga, but considering Haus Labs is owned by someone as well known as her, I had an expectation that the products would be on the higher end of drugstore prices but have even better quality. I’m not certain they lived up to even that, so my interest in trying more from the brand has dropped to zero.

Zeesea Cosmetics

The Zeesea palettes I purchased are possibly the most beautifully packaged products I own. The lining around it is a gold color, the top is slightly rounded and shiny enough to see myself in it, the design is partially raised in texture, the background design is an ombre of colors, and the designs are just beautiful. I love ancient history, particularly ancient mythology, so it was an absolute given that I needed something from the Egyptian collection. The Kitty quad I purchased as an inside joke, but I thought the color story was very cute too.

Right off the bat though, I need to give the warning that these palettes contain PET (polyethylene terephthalate) glitter. Although it is “cosmetic grade,” it is still made of plastic which is dangerous around the eye area. I hate pressed glitters because of the sticky formula and the difficulty with removing them. Only one shade in these three palettes have that clumpy pressed glitter formula, but my stance on PET glitter is that I try to avoid all shadows that contain it, regardless of the consistency and formula. When I saw how reflective and sparkly and large the particles were in person, that’s when I suspected these had shadows that were not eye safe. I did a few looks with these palettes, but I will not be using them anymore because I so easily get makeup in my eyes. Even when I’ve used the tape trick to remove the glitter, there’s still always some left behind and one of my eyes was irritated for a few days. So, these are being kept purely as collector pieces. However, I have still played with them enough (especially before I looked up the ingredients to confirm my suspicion about the shimmers) to be able to give a full review.

ZEESEA The British Museum Egypt Collection Eyeshadow Palette in #05 CRUX ANSATA

The Crux Ansata, or Ankh, is one of my favorite Egyptian symbols. This was also the palette with the color story that suited my tastes the most out of all the Zeesea x British Museum collaboration palettes (at least before the release of #09 Crystal Skull).

Shades 1, 2, 3, and 13 are all very soft, smooth, and pigmented. Shade 1 has a lovely ankh imprint in it, Shade 4 has a sphinx imprint, and 13 has a scarab beetle. Shades 4 and 15 are a little drier but still smooth and pigmented. Shade 6 is a thin powder but smooths out nicely. Shades 9 and 16 are a little drier and rougher and tend to stick to the skin where you put them, but they still blend out in a reasonable amount of time and don’t stay patchy. Shade 16 also has an eye of horus imprint in the eyeshadow.

Shade 5 is a stunningly beautiful and softly packed highly reflective glitter shade with the largest glitter particles in the palette. Shade 7 is a creamy satin with a little sparkle and Shade 8 is a reddish orange creamy duochrome with a little gold sparkle. Both 7 and 8 had a sparsely glittery top layer that seems to be mostly gone after using them a few times, so I’m not certain if it was just the top layer only or if the glitter still runs throughout.
Shade 10 is another creamy feeling shimmer with a strange mottled combination of green, blue, pink, white, and yellow which turns into a pale icy green. Shade 11 is mainly a green and aqua blue sparkly duochrome with a slight pink shift. Shade 12 is a beautiful rusty orange-red satin, and Shade 14 is a copper metallic shimmer.

ZEESEA The British Museum Egypt Collection Eyeshadow Palette in #06 EYE OF HORUS

I also chose this palette because of the iconic Eye of Horus symbol and the color story was unexciting but still wearable. I can’t pretend I didn’t want to know what Shades 9, 10, and 12 were like in person.

Shades 1, 4, 11, and 16 were that smooth and pigmented formula I noticed in most of the mattes in the Crux Ansata palette. Shade 1 has the eye of horus imprint. Shade 3 is very powdery and had to be smoothed out. Yellow shades don’t stand out easily on my eyes and this is another example of that. Shades 2 and 5 are creamy shimmers. Shades 6 and 14 are subdued satin shades. Shade 7 is a badly formulated pressed glitter which stuck to itself in the pan and I had to scrape it to get enough product to swatch on my arm. The texture was so unlike other pressed glitters I’ve felt in the past that I didn’t realize it was one at first until it swatched terribly. Shade 8 is not an opaque shimmer and takes some building up, which surprised me considering how pigmented the other shimmers are.

Shade 9 is what I can only think to call a demi-matte white because it looks matte but there’s still a sheen to it, and not strong enough of one to be considered a satin but it looks like the kind you get from mica powder. It’s also the strangest mix of cream, blue, gold/brown spots blanked out in white. I’m not sure what the purpose was in making this shade. I have no idea if they were trying to accomplish something with the pattern or if it’s just to have a different look. Shade 10 is a somewhat putty-like shimmer in lines of silver, bronze, and gold that pulls mostly gold. Shade 12 is another duochrome like in the Ankh palette as an iridescent white to blue but with a light purple shift.

Shade 13 is a super wet (not creamy) thick chunky shimmer. I really did not like the texture of this one. Shade 15 is smooth but not quite as soft as the other mattes. It still performs well though.

ZEESEA Tipsy Kitty Eyeshadow Quad in #03 Fruit Punch

This quad was my newest purchase, which did not come from the Amazon Prime Day sale, yet it was the first one of the three I started using. Shades 1 and 3 take some building up, as these mattes are thinner than some of the ones from the Egyptian palettes, but the end result is pretty and worth the extra effort to have a nice soft look. I had an easier time using Shade 4. These tones are also very nice and complimentary to each other. Shade 2 is a bit wet and a little chunky, but using MAC Fix+ helps it to spread and increases the color saturation.

Because Zeesea is a Chinese brand which creates products for the style that is popular in China, as well as catering to lighter skin tones, I am limited in the types of products from them that I can use. The quality is better than what I expected from the brand, but I can’t in good conscience recommend them beyond purchasing purely for the packaging. The British Museum palettes are pretty enough that if I had a stand to put them on, I would display them in the house, not just with my makeup. However, for those wanting to use the actual eyeshadows, I really caution against those plastic based glitters used. I wish Zeesea would exclusively use the safer alternatives like synthetic fluorphlogopite and sodium or aluminum calcium borosilicate. Even some versions of bismuth oxychloride can be quite reflective and sparkly. When I briefly perused Zeesea’s ingredient list on the website, I could see that they contained some of those alternatives but still had them in addition to the plastic glitters, which is quite a shame.

That’s all for my exploration of makeup brands on Amazon! I don’t think there will be a part 2 to this. I hope you have a fantastic day! Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Hatice Schmidt Labs Highlighter and Bronzer Review

I’ve mentioned in a few posts that I tend to make impulse purchases in the early morning hours, especially when something flares up. This time it was TMJ that kept me awake at 5 am when I decided to place this order. I was less than two weeks away from flying to Germany when I came across an Instagram post, the second one I’d seen, showing the absolutely stunning highlighters and bronzers from Hatice’s brand. I admittedly don’t know much about Hatice, as her videos are in German and even with German closed captioning, my translation abilities aren’t good enough to follow very much of what’s being said. She’s the beauty influencer behind the Becca Berlin Girl collab several years ago, but I know very little else about her. Still, her extremely inclusive range caught my attention and I thought to myself, “Why not order and have it there when you arrive? It will be two less items you have to carry with you!”

So I did. Shipping within Germany is free, whereas shipping to the US is $16 (before the PayPal conversion fee). I watched Hatice’s launch video to help decide which shades to pick and I felt confident about my choices until Angelica Nyqvist posted her video five hours after I ordered and I saw how much lighter Medium looked than I thought. I didn’t want to get the Deep shade because the tone of it isn’t my preference in highlighters. It looked similar to the Lucent Jungle shade from Nabla’s Skin Glazing line, which I decluttered this year, so I didn’t want to take that chance and there was no option in between Medium and Deep.

The products arrived in two days and my boyfriend was able to show me what they looked like from his camera. The official website has several beautiful photos of the product on models of varying skin tones, including arm swatches, but it’s still difficult to guess how it would actually appear in person when you’re not used to that brand’s lighting and editing. At the time of my purchase, there were no tan and darker YouTubers showcasing the products.

The highlighter comes in a white durable compact with a mirror inside. The bronzer comes in an identical compact but in black.

I ended up buying the Deep shade of Bronzer as well. This also took two business days to arrive.

The swatches on my arm were swiped twice, but gently each time with a finger. The swatches on the light arm were swiped once with a finger.

I find it fascinating that the Tan bronzer looks so warm on lighter skin tones, but on my skin it’s more of a neutral shade. When I was taking product photos, I could see that without flash, the bronzers looked much cooler toned in their pans than with flash on. I’ve included multiple photos throughout this post which demonstrates the differences I observed.

BRONZER in Tan and Deep

On the website, these are described as being silky, creamy, ultra blendable, and lightweight with a radiant finish. I could see in photos that the sheen on the product did indeed look like a combination of the Kosas The Sun Show Bronzer and the Nabla Skin Bronzing, which are my favorite bronzer finishes, so I had very high hopes. In Morbus Black’s video, she also compared the finish of Hatice’s bronzer to Nabla’s, though she made the point that Nabla’s bronzer is a little smaller for 22 euros versus 34 euros. For us in the US, we can usually get the Nabla Skin Glazing and Skin Bronzing products for 50% off during Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty, so it’s an even larger price difference for similar quality.

Besides the price, the main differences between the two brands of bronzers is that the HSL is an even softer powder and is not hard pressed in the pan like Nabla’s, which means it’s much easier to use and layer. HSL’s Tan is a little lighter and not as warm as Nabla’s Profile shade, but Profile is the current darkest in Nabla’s range. HSL goes many steps forward with their shade Deep.

I bought a Korean sunscreen that came with what I thought was a mini version, but the mini did not contain SPF. I didn’t realize this when I took the mini on the trip with me, so I got darker as the trip went on. Tan became too subtle to bronze me enough to show much on camera, so I thought I would give Deep a try, even though it looked like it might be more of a contour for my skin tone. Deep looks like a delicious bar of dark chocolate and is indeed too dark for me to use in a normal application method. In my previous bronzer post, I mentioned that the Beauty Bakerie Brownie Bar contains the darkest bronzer/contour in my collection, but this Deep shade is even richer.

For the time being until my “tan” fades, I can apply a light layer of Deep with a small precise brush and go over it in a larger area with the Tan shade.

In the photos above, I chose to show a heavy application of Tan because it would not be seen on camera otherwise. I chose to use a light application of Deep to show it in the most wearable state on me and how I can make it work despite being too dark for me in a normal amount.

In terms of formula, all the product claims are correct. The powder is super soft, applies smoothly to the skin, has a nice sheen, and is easy to blend. It’s right up there with my top 5 favorite bronzers, though considering I have less expensive options, I can’t say it’s worth getting over the others. This is the second most expensive single bronzer I own, after the Charlotte Tilbury one. At this moment in time, I don’t mind having bought one because I will always associate this product with the memories of my trip. I will eventually declutter the Deep shade, but I’m definitely keeping Tan.

HIGHLIGHTER in Medium

Despite my resolve to no longer purchase highlighters, this one looked like it would give the glass-skin effect, which is my favorite type of highlighter shine. That’s why I lost the will to skip it. It’s described as being long-lasting and able to be worn as subtle or as intensely as someone wants. As quoted from the website, “The special formulation with the luminous finish of a liquid highlighter and the lightness of a powder sculpts, shapes and defines your skin.”

I do love this highlighter. It slightly edges above the Nabla Skin Glazing in Amnesia, which was my holy grail highlighter. I consider them both to be champagne shades, but Medium’s base color is a touch warmer than Amnesia, which makes it better suited to my skin tone. Medium’s shimmer particles are also slightly finer and more reflective. I don’t believe those minimal differences makes the Hatice highlighter hugely better than the one from Nabla, but since I have no other dupes for the Skin Glazing, I’m happy to have it. It was a better purchase than me getting two of the bronzers.

This is a beautiful formula and fans of Hatice Schmidt will likely be very happy with what they have, as well as those who enjoy luxury. The designs in the powder and sleek packaging exude a slightly edgy but high end feel to the products. The only aspect I question is the description as being changeable from subtle to intense. Unless I’m in a spot where the light will hit my face directly, it does not look as variable as that on my skin tone. Whether I use a lot or a little and dry or damp, I find it to be the same middle ground intensity because of the base blending so much in my skin (as if semi-transparent), which is one of the best features of the product. This helps make the highlighter look like a more natural glow, but without a lighter base color, the intensity is dependent on how much it reflects, which means it’s dependent on the lighting someone is in.

The damp brush makes it look a bit stark on my skin, so I prefer keeping it dry and recommend those who want more shine (regardless of the lighting) to layer the highlighter on top of a liquid illuminator. I love the way this highlighter looks on me when I apply a normal amount, so I’m happy with the formula as is and wouldn’t change a thing. On a rare occasion I like to be beaming, but otherwise the way it is now (subtle to nicely highlighted) is perfect for me. The shade looks a tiny bit icier now that I’ve gotten a “tan” but it will match better again when it fades.

The photos in the black shirt were taken during the trip. LED lights were far above with a small amount of outdoor light shining through a window onto my face. I am wearing the Tan bronzer built up heavily and the highlighter on the high points of my forehead, above the brow, in the brow arch, on the center of the eyelid, lightly on the nose, and on the tops of my cheekbones.

HSL has a few other products available, but the ones discussed today are the only products that grabbed my interest. This is a brand I will continue to be curious about, though I may not purchase anything else purely due to the price point. That isn’t to say it’s over-priced as there may be an upcharge due to custom formulas, being made in Italy, the packaging, the embossing in the powder, ingredients, etc. This quality is top notch, but at this point in my journey with makeup, I can always find something similar for a little less. However, I’m glad that I was able to support a company that chose to have an inclusive range.

Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Bronzer Bonanza: The Rest of My Bronzer Collection

I’m Lili, and it has been two weeks since my last bronzer purchase.
This initially started as a declutter post, but I realized there wouldn’t be any point to that since I’m essentially keeping them all. Even the Kiko Milano Dolce Diva Bronzer in Cocoa and the Too Faced Chocolate Gold Bronzer, which are too light to bronze my face, I’m keeping as highlighters. At least for now.

Also, please excuse the fact that I really did not want to do a full face of makeup this week, particularly eye makeup. Or do anything with my hair. In a lot of these photos I just have on the bronzers with concealer and foundation. I try to get blog posts scheduled far in advance so that when I inevitably go through a short 4-7 day period of not wanting to wear makeup, I can skip taking photos. Unfortunately, I ran out of completed posts and I couldn’t afford to wait for it to pass, so I compromised by doing partial makeup looks.

Huda Beauty GloWish Soft Radiance Bronzing Powder in 05 Rich and 04 Tan

I’m in the Deep-Tan category of Huda’s foundations, but I was hesitant to purchase the 04 Deep Tan bronzer shade. I couldn’t tell if the combination would suit me because the darker swirl looked dark enough, but the lighter swirl appeared so light in the promo photos. I didn’t want to end up with another bronzer in my collection that needed to be built up like crazy in order to be seen, so I purchased 05 Rich.

05 Rich isn’t perfect for me, as I can see it’s a bit deep when I get too much of the darker shade on my brush. I have to be mindful of where I swirl it in the pan to get an equal amount of both shades, but my goodness, it’s worth the minor inconvenience! The finish of this powder is so skin-like and gives a beautiful sheen. It reminds me of the same finish the Nabla Skin Bronzing formula gives, but without so much effort getting product off the hard pressed bronzer and without having to build up it up to be seen. This bronzer is definitely pigmented and it gives a natural satin look to the skin even though it looks matte in the pan (likely due to being being a mica-based formula). If the two shades are applied evenly, it looks neutral but leaning red.

The texture is completely unique to anything else I have in terms of the level of creaminess it feels to the touch without actually being wet nor a cream-to-powder formula. It actually reminds me of the way a block of pottery clay feels, and I don’t mean a sticky wet consistency; I mean smoothness when you glide your finger down it.

This bronzer lasts a full eight hours on bare skin and foundation equally.

This is a little on the pricier end of my collection for a single bronzer, but considering it gives Kosas a run for its money and that bronzer retails for $34, I’m okay with this price. Also, because I’m such a fan of this formula, I took the risk and ordered 04 Deep Tan right after I finished the first draft of this post. It arrived on Saturday but unfortunately, came shattered.

Trying to get some product onto my brush out of the broken pieces led to very inconsistent mixtures of color, so I crushed it up even more before re-pressing it (no extra liquid needed). Sephora is sending me a replacement, but in the meantime, this is the best I could do at the last minute*.

04 Deep Tan seems to be my correct shade. It only takes a few dips in the pan to get the amount of bronze that’s slightly darker than my face and looks extremely natural (making it still easier to use than the Nabla Bronzer). When I say 04 is slightly darker, I mean it truly is subtle.
I’ve tested mixing 04 and 05 together, and I had to still be careful about how much of the darker swirl in 05 I pick up with my brush.

In the last minute photos above, I’m wearing a lot of new products including a sample of Make Up For Ever’s Watertone Skin-Perfecting Tint Foundation in Y445, Flower Beauty Blush Bomb Color Drops in Melon, Laura Mercier Roseglow Highlighting Powder, and the Sydney Grace x Temptalia Radiant Reflection (Deep) Palette. I was originally wearing the Danessa Myricks Contour Balm as I just wanted to try some new things in my collection and had no intention of taking photos that day, but when GloWish Deep Tan arrived, I removed it to try that shade out instead.

*UPDATE July 16th, 2021: Here are the additional photos I took after my replacement bronzer arrived.

Jaclyn Cosmetics Bronze & Blushing Duo in Be Rouge / Espresso Shot

I’m one of the lucky people that happened to only purchase the “good” Jaclyn releases that had no scandals attached to them. Because I haven’t been burned by the brand yet, I made the decision to cautiously try the products via Ulta. I’m not a Jaclyn hater, but I feel justified in being wary about Jaclyn Cosmetics considering the ridiculous number of things that have gone wrong with her collabs in the past. I don’t trust Morphe as a brand and Jaclyn Cosmetics is owned by Forma Brands (formerly Morphe Holdings), so that doesn’t fill me with confidence either.

I watched a ridiculous amount of videos to help me decide between the two darkest shade options and ultimately I picked this duo because the bronzer is listed as neutral, whereas the other option is very red. I generally avoid berry blushes, but Be Rouge passes for a dark pink if I use a light hand. So, I picked this one and while I do think this was the best choice out of the two, I was surprised to see that Espresso Shot wasn’t as dark as I’d expect for the deepest shade in the line, plus it’s more red toned than neutral. However, this range is more inclusive than the Patrick Ta and Wayne Goss duo launches, so I give the brand credit for that. Also, the formula really impressed me. When I applied both products over foundation, I was able to get a well blended look very quickly and with minimal fading after 9 hours. The result of the blush was similar to, but not better than, the Makeup by Mario Soft Pop Powder blushes. On bare skin, the powders cling to the moisturized areas and take longer to blend. I would recommend this duo for use over foundation only. I also only recommend this if the bronzer and blush are colors and tones you will like. The blend is flattering, but it’s definitely not worth $36 to only like one shade, and it’s still not worth it to somewhat like each.

Bee Shot is very pigmented. I used a medium amount and it showed this intensely on camera. I would use less on a normal makeup day.

Juvia’s Place Bronzed Duo in Dark

These bronzers look more different in their pans than they do on the face. They also look neutral until they’re actually applied to the skin. The lighter shade in the duo leans golden-orange and the darker bronzer has a stronger orange tinge. I think the lighter one is best suited for me, but it still looks nice when I mix both together. I just wouldn’t use the darker one by itself.

These bronzers are nicely pigmented, smooth, and last beyond eight hours. However, I should note that twice when I used this duo (the light shade alone and then again when both shades were mixed), it completely disappeared off the left side of my forehead. I hadn’t done anything strenuous and I wasn’t out in the heat. It was still going strong on my cheeks, so I think I might have rubbed it off by resting my forehead on my hand while watching a show.
Furthermore, when I swatched both shades on my arm, the lightest shade basically blended away if I kept rubbing at it. The darker shade only rubbed off a little. I found this to be so strange considering there is only one ingredient list printed on the box, so they should basically have the same formula. I don’t know why one shade rubs away and the other doesn’t, but that’s something to consider when deciding if this duo is worth buying. It will certainly last on the skin of someone who doesn’t touch their face a lot. Also, I have no way of knowing if it’s only an issue with the Dark duo or if the other Juvia’s Place Bronzer duos perform like this as well.

When I first bought this, I was very curious to see how it stacked up to the Coloured Raine bronzers. The Juvia’s Place bronzers feel slightly softer to the touch and are pigmented yet buildable (and perhaps too blendable)! The Coloured Raine bronzers are more pigmented and I think Cinna-Bae is the best shade for me out of the four. Also, besides the differences in tone, I think the Coloured Raine bronzers look a little nicer on the skin. Juvia’s Place gives a better deal at $18 for the duo versus $16 for an individual bronzer, but at least I don’t have to worry about Cinna-Bae coming off until I’m ready to remove my makeup.

Kaja Play Bento Cream Bronzer, Powder Blush and Highlighter Sculpting Trio in Mochamallow

This is my first ever Kaja purchase and I couldn’t be happier. I still haven’t gotten over how cute and compact it is. I think all three shades are flattering on me. I bought it during the VIB sale, so it was only $20 and well worth it. The highlighter is reflective from the shimmer but because it’s a somewhat dark gold and close to my skin tone, it’s not intense. It’s a nice middle ground. As the day goes on and the shine diminishes a bit, it looks darker, but still does it’s job as a highlighter. The blush is a pretty shade of dark pink that gives good color payoff. It’s not as smooth as some of my higher end blushes, but I still like it. It fades after about five hours on bare skin, but it doesn’t start to fade until after 8 hours when applied over foundation. The bronzer gives me a realistic looking sculpt. It performs a bit better than the Patrick Ta and gives me no issues for a full eight hours.

Regarding the application process, I prefer to use these with brushes. When I use a damp sponge with the bronzer, it can lift the foundation if I’m not careful. I also tried using the sponge with the highlighter and it gives a gorgeous dewy glow effect. I can’t apply it as precisely with a sponge, but the way it melts into skin makes precision not as necessary.

In the photos, I used a normal amount of everything, but these can all be built up even more. I also applied the three products with brushes only.

The Kaja Play Bento Sculpting Trios come in two lighter varieties as well.

Mented Cosmetics Bronzer in Yacht Life and Vacay

I have reviewed the Mented Cosmetics Bronzer in Vacay before, but I recently picked up Yacht Life on sale. Vacay didn’t have any shimmer, so I was shocked to see the gold colored particles throughout the Yacht Life Bronzer. However, I think most of the shimmer floats away when I apply the product to my skin because I can’t see it on my face when I wear it. It has the same smoothness that impressed me about Vacay, but as a darker shade, this one has a much easier time showing up. It’s also on the orange-red side, but it’s as nice and smooth as I expected.

One of the biggest reasons I held off on buying Yacht Life was that I thought it looked quite close to Fenty’s Mocha Mami. I can confirm that they do look extremely similar, though I like Mented’s formula better. It’s just so silky and easier to blend.

Patrick Ta Major Sculpt Creme Contour & Powder Bronzer Duo in She’s Chiseled

I am so conflicted over this duo. What I do like about it is the end result from combining the bronzer and contour together. The contour alone is a nice consistency and blends very well, but it sheers out a lot no matter if I use a damp sponge or brush. It’s the darkest duo Patrick Ta offers, and in swatches it looks nearly as dark as Kaja’s Mochamallow, but the Kaja cream has more pigment. The best that I’m able to build up the Patrick Ta contour, while keeping it looking blended, still isn’t rich enough in color to live up to the name of making me look ‘chiseled’. It also makes my skin look dull until I add the bronzer on top, which gives my face some life again. Unfortunately, adding the bronzer back loses a lot of the shadow effect, especially as the day goes on because I don’t find the contour to be very long lasting, but I still prefer the combination. The powder bronzer on its own is quite sheer and barely shows on me. I get that softer makeup looks are more on trend now, but I don’t think anyone darker than me will enjoy this duo. Also, the texture is also not very smooth at all. I bought it during the VIB sale and I could swear the powder felt smoother at the time, but now it’s a bit rough. Even the powder from my much older Patrick Ta Cream and Powder Blush duo feels softer and smoother.

Speaking of Patrick Ta’s blush duo, I only find that the bronzer and contour duo is exceptional when combined with it. I built things up in the photo above, but in person when I’m using the amount I normally would, the blend between both cream products and both powder products together is seamless and so beautiful. That’s when it really becomes impressive, and that’s also what has me feeling torn. I know they all work well together, but I don’t think anyone should have to spend a combined $72 to get both duos to make a great look. At this point, I don’t regret buying the contour/bronzer duo because I already had the blush duo in my possession and now I can continue using them both together. However, I really don’t recommend The Major Sculpt Creme Contour & Powder Bronzer Duos unless the shades happen to perfectly match you so the lack of lingering pigmentation isn’t a factor. I also don’t think the quality is there for $38.

SOL Face & Body Bronzing Balm in Deep

This is easily the most emollient of the cream bronzers I have. I bought it because The Fancy Face mentioned this formula is the closest dupe she’s found for the Chanel Bronzing Cream, and in a far better shade range. Though it has a lot of glide, making blending super easy, I still prefer the Kaja Hot Chocolate shade because Deep looks either beautiful and golden when I use a small amount or it turns a bit olive-grey toned if I use too much. It doesn’t look olive in the heaviest swatch above, but it turns that way on my face, which is darker than the inside of my arm where I swatch products. I think golden, neutral, orange, and red bronzers all look better on me than olive. So, I’m really not a fan of how this looks unless I keep it nice and sheer. Also, when I use my neutral color Dior Powder no Powder, it gives the bronzer a cooler toned tinge that looks more like a contour.

I know some people really love the smell of the fragrance in this product, but I wish it wasn’t there. The artificial-coconut-meets-tanning-oil scent reminds me of the Kiko Milano Unexpected Paradise Blush. It even makes me sneeze sometimes, though the smell thankfully doesn’t linger too long on the skin depending on how much I use.

In addition to the fantastic blending power this product has, it also comes with a drawback. It moves around so easily that I lose control of far it spreads and suddenly it’s covering half my cheek or is dangerously close to my jawline and/or my mouth. The Sonia G mini base is actually still too big unless I’m extremely careful about how I apply it. A sponge is even harder to apply precisely with, so I recommend using a very small brush or a flat thin contour brush that’s shaped like the Nars Ita.

One of my favorite aspects of this bronzer is that it completely dries on its own without having to be set with powder (up to 3 layers but the third takes about 45 minutes). I like the look of cream products, but I don’t like when they transfer or remain creamy or tacky feeling on the skin, so I’m happy I don’t need to worry about that. This also lends to it being a very long lasting bronzer, especially for a cream product.

That all being said, the undertone aspect is hard for me to overlook. I did consider getting another shade to see if I would like the tone better, but $15 is a little high for a Colourpop brand regardless of the whopping 30 grams in the jar. It’s certainly cheaper than Chanel, but I don’t use cream bronzers enough to really justify investing another $15* into something that isn’t going to last me as long as a powder. And considering I already like the Kaja cream so much, I’m challenging myself to use that up first. I think if I find a brush I really like for this task, I might continue to use it, but that’s a big if. For anyone else who has the right tools, doesn’t mind fragrance, and likes the undertone of either this shade or the others available, it’s worth checking out.

*As of today, Colourpop is still having a 30% off sale which would bring this bronzer down to $10. At that price, I thought it was worth testing out a second shade (Dark which is lighter and looked more golden toned). However, Colourpop orders take about three weeks to get to me, so I won’t be able to update this post for a very long time regarding how it worked for me. Plus, focusing on the Kaja is still my priority.

Beauty Bakerie Brownie Bar

Technically, according to Beauty Bakerie, the orange shade that I call a blush is supposed to be a bronzer and the darkest shade that I use as a bronzer is supposed to be a contour. For the purposes of this review, when I refer to the bronzer in this palette, I mean the darkest shade. I’m fine with an orange leaning bronzer, but that is a bit extreme! I will only use the orange shade as a blush, even though it looks subtle on the cheek because it blends in a lot with my skin tone. I always have a difficult time finding an orange blush I like, but this is one of them. I just keep forgetting I have it in my collection! On bare skin, none of the three shades last very long. Over foundation, the bronzer has fantastic staying power for 10 hours. The highlighter shine dulls down by the 8 hour point but is still visible. The blush fades a bit but is still there too.

The left photo shows all three together. I took this picture last December when I first got the trio. The right photo shows the darkest powder alone on the cheek, but all three are on my eyes.

The highlighter is super reflective and the glitter particles are very visible on my cheek, just a bit over the line of being too much for my taste. However, I will continue using it on the eyes because my goodness it’s so pretty! My camera doesn’t even do it justice. I may even transfer this face palette to my eyeshadow collection because all three lasted so well on my eyes without me using a primer of any kind. The dark brown didn’t blend as well on top of the orange, but I think a primer would fix that.

The swatches below are showing the four darkest bronzers in my collection. Despite this one being the darkest of them all, it’s a soft thin buildable powder, so it’s hard to over do it. It’s very pigmented in swatches, but it doesn’t go on the face as intensely. Even though Beauty Bakerie calls this a contour, it’s neutral rather than cool, which also helps to look natural on me. They also have a Neapolitan Bar, which they say are universal shades, but in my opinion they suit light to tan skin tones. The Neapolitan Bar actually was intended to have a bronzer, highlighter, and blush.

I would say the quality of the Brownie Bar is on par with the Makeup Revolution Bronzers. They’re surprisingly nice, but they’re not on the same level as some of the other products I’ve reviewed today. Also, $18 for a face palette with three options seems like a really good deal, but you’re getting very little product at a net combined weight of 3.8 grams (estimated 1.26 grams for each pan). To put that in perspective, the tiny $3 ELF Bite Size Face Duos contain a net weight of 4.6 grams. The $18 Juvia’s Place Bronzer Duo contains 32 grams! Will I still ever hit pan on the trio? Probably not. For others who actually use up their makeup, the Bar products from Beauty Bakerie aren’t the cost savings they seem in terms of weight. However, it is a savings in terms of variety, provided someone likes a glittery highlighter and the two other shades.

Comparisons Grouped Together

The bronzers are only applied to one half of my face (your left, my right) so the impact the bronzers make is easier to see. The Sol Body one actually blended too much to be picked up by the camera, so I added another less blended layer so it would be visible.

Update on Other Bronzers

Bronzers Previously Reviewed (and the remainder of my current collection): Makeup Revolution Glow Splendour in Medium, I Heart Revolution Tasty Coffee Bronzer in Mocha, LYS Beauty No Limits Matte Bronzer in Strength, Benefit Hoola Bronzer in Toasted, Nabla Skin Bronzing in Profile, Coloured Raine Bronzers in Cinna-Bae and Naughty Spice, Kosas the Sun Show Bronzer in Deep, Danessa Myricks Balm Contour in Deep 1 (technically a contour but it’s warm like a bronzer and more of a bronzer/contour hybrid), Fenty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer in Mocha Mami, and the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Matte Bronzer in Deep.

As I mentioned before, I still own all the previously reviewed Bronzers. My feelings on them have not changed, though my Hoola Toasted has some hard pan from continually swatching it for comparison purposes and it keeps crumbling with each use because of the crack in the pan I haven’t fixed. It has a 12M POA, and it’s nearly two years old, so I will either re-press it or declutter it. Of the other bronzers listed, I have only continued to use the Nabla, Coloured Raine, Kosas, Charlotte Tilbury, and more recently the Danessa Myricks Contour Balm. My absolute favorites have been the Kosas and Charlotte Tilbury, but I think Huda’s GloWish has overtaken CT for the second place spot! It might still be too soon to say for sure, but we shall see!

When I mentioned that it has been two weeks since my last bronzer purchase, I am referring to the Haus Labs Bronzer duo I purchased during the Amazon Prime Day deals when everything from Lady Gaga’s brand was 60% off. I have plans for an Amazon Makeup post in the future, so I’m reserving that review for another time. Reviewing eight bronzers at once was challenging enough.

That’s everything I have for today!

Actually, that’s everything I have for the next few weeks.
I want to keep the momentum going that I started by consistently posting every Monday since August 2020. However, I have some health/personal issues that I need to sort out which cannot be pushed back any longer. I will also be in Germany for almost the entire month of August. During that trip, I will be bringing very little makeup and will not be doing wear tests, which are required for a lot of the unfinished drafts I want to complete. So, I anticipate that it will take me a while to get back on a consistent posting schedule. My goal is September 13th!

In an effort to not be completely absent for two months, I intend to mix things up with a few article style posts, which are scheduled to publish while I am on my trip. There’s so much I want to write about and review, but my ideas are all very time consuming and I don’t want to rush through them. Hopefully, they’ll be worth the wait to you!

Much love,
Lili

p.s. I may photograph some new purchases on my Instagram for those who are curious about what I’m buying, even without official reviews. I might also post a few travel photos during August. The website allows you to see the page without an IG account (just won’t let you click to see more or scroll through very far).

Hindash Beautopsy Palette Review

The idea of having a product that I can customize my shade of powder, blush, bronzer, contour, eyeshadow, etc. all in one palette appeals to the wannabe minimalist in me. I call myself a wannabe because I enjoy having a large beauty collection while simultaneously being overwhelmed by the amount I possess. This is why I love the concept of face palettes, but it’s very uncommon for me to find one where the majority of the makeup in it suits my preferences and needs. I’m curious to see if I will continue to like this palette after prolonged use and continuously mixing shades, but so far I am impressed! There’s pretty much no kickup and if I get a lighter imprint on a deep shade, or vice versa, I can sweep it away with a brush and it’s good as new! Perhaps this is possible because I combine shades by tapping into each color I want; I don’t swirl in one and then swirl my brush into the other.

A palette like this can seem intimidating, and I was initially unsure if I would buy it for that reason. Some aspects were as tricky as I expected and some parts were easier than I thought, almost intuitive. For instance, using Beautopsy for blush is pretty straightforward. Boy, Wonder, Love, and Kills are four easy options for that. Overall, while I wouldn’t go as far as to say beginners wouldn’t like this, I think it would be most enjoyed and utilized by those with an intermediate skill level and above.

Brightening and Setting Powder

For setting under my eyes, I use the leftmost sides of Tan and Feel and rightmost side of Paint with my usual Real Techniques Setting Brush to create a pale yellow-brown. I was shocked when I realized it actually had a blurring effect and made my under-eyes look smoother! Certain concealers of mine don’t play well with powders, but so far the blurring has been a consistent feature to setting under my eyes with the light shades in the palette! The photo below shows what it did to my Tarte Shape Tape and Pat Mcgrath combo (which was not originally set with powder at all). The lines under my eyes are still there, but less pronounced.

If I want to brighten my under eyes, and not just match my skin tone, I can use pretty much any of the four lightest shades without them looking stark because they blend with the concealer. Additionally, there isn’t much difference between them when applied to my skin. On a lighter skin tone, they are distinct enough, but on me they’re all essentially white with the tiniest differences in tone. That being said, they somehow don’t look ashy on me like other pale shades tend to do, but I still try to use the combinations I think make the most sense based on their color descriptions: Lines as a pure white, Tan as a soft tan, Wet as a beige shade, and Paint as a pale yellow.

While I could probably set my whole face with a mixture of Feel and Paint, I wouldn’t want to use a small brush for that task, and I have dry skin anyway, so I don’t always set my full face.
Also, I can technically use this palette to brighten the high points of my face, but I love my shimmery highlighters and I would never be satisfied with using these matte powders to highlight anywhere other than the eye area. So, in a traveling situation, I would probably bring along a separate setting powder, plus my Kaja Play Bento Sculpting Trio for the subtle shimmer highlighter and to have extra variety. The Kaja Bento in Mochamallow was previously the only all-in-one face product I had where I loved and could use every color in it. Beautopsy now joins the ranks of the best suited face palettes in my collection.

Brow Powder and Eyeliner

I’ve spoken before about how any dark eyeshadow can be used as eyeliner and for filling in the brows, so it didn’t surprise me how well Fatum worked for that purpose. I used the darkest part of Fatum as the liner. If I want to wear just a liner and no eyeshadow, this isn’t black enough for my preference. However, when I’m trying to deepen up eyeshadow looks, Fatum is dark enough for that, and quite lovely. Hindash mentioned that you can use Fix+ to transform any of these powders into liners, but I haven’t tried that.
I like to use dark shades, but not black, to fill in my brows. The middle where Intra + Fatum meet is a shade that works for defining the eye, but was too warm of a brown for my liking. So, I switched to using the center of Fatum where it still has a little of the chocolate brown shade but is also dark enough to use in my brows. I messed up a little spot in the front and didn’t notice it in person, but of course the camera picked it up. I was a bit impatient, which is why my brow isn’t perfect, but it also brings up the point that brow pencils are so much faster for me. I know I wouldn’t use this again in my brows, purely for the time factor, but I’m glad I have the option.

For those who prefer a cool-toned dark brown or soft black for their brows, Fatum mixed with Real could probably do the trick. Real + Feel might look nice on blondes and maybe Feel and Love or Feel and Intra for those with red hair, but don’t quote me on that!

Blushes

For blush, my favorite shades to use on their own are Wonder, which gives me a light but bright pink flush, and Love, which is a reddish-orange. Kills is a bit too deep for my preference to use alone, but I could always use it if I mix it with something lighter. Boy is a wearable peachy-pink for those with a lighter skin tone than mine. It shows on my skin, but I don’t think it’s as flattering on me as Wonder. If I want to give myself a peachy or coral look, I think of creating a different kind of orange with a little pink. So, I dip my brush mainly into Paint and Love with one extra tap of Wonder and buff it into my cheeks. If I want it a little less bright, I add some of the brown from Feel. I try not to mix more than two colors together because it tends not to look as nice on the skin, but this particular combo of 3-4 still works for me.
I’ve enjoyed using my Sonia G Cheek Pro and Wayne Goss The Artist Brush – Large to apply blush, as they aren’t too big for these pan sizes.

The head sizes of my brushes compared to the size of the pans. It’s not a coincidence that my smallest face brushes were all made in Japan.

There are so many combination possibilities! I experimented with some on my arm to give more examples. I put them on my bare arm, but the blend would look much nicer on the face with primer and foundation under them.

Contour and Bronzer

To contour my nose, I can use Feel on its own, but I prefer the look of Feel and Real together to create a proper shadow. I can use pretty much any small brush, but I’ve been liking the Scott Barnes Eye Winger #63 because the unique shape automatically creates a symmetrical line if I contour between the bridge of my nose and my brows. Most of the time I skip contouring my nose, but when I do, I like to keep it as subtle as possible and just add shadow where I need it. For instance, sometimes all I do is add contour powder on either side of the bridge of my nose, just in the middle where there’s no definition. In order to do that though, I definitely cannot use a warm/red toned contour powder, which is often what is available on the dark-deep end of contour shades. I need something cool yet not too dark, which has always been a challenge for me to find.

To contour the rest of my face, I tap my brush into the center where Feel and Real meet. I can use something with a flat top like the Chikuhodo Z-3, but I also prefer a brush with a tapered tip like the Wayne Goss Air Brush, Wayne Goss Artist Large, and Chikuhodo KZ-05.
For bronzer, I use the leftmost sides of Intra and Feel. Sometimes I use just Intra. I’ve tried different brushes, but the Chikuhodo FO-2 is my favorite to bronze with this palette. Since I only use the leftmost sides of the powders for bronzing, I dip the right half of my brush into the powders (without getting anything on the left side), I can apply with that half of the brush and blend out with the half that didn’t get any product on it.
It was a little funny to me when I discovered that the Beautopsy palette wasn’t created with bronzer as much in mind, since Hindash likes to use cream products for that purpose, yet I was able to find a bronzer combination that worked so well for me!

I’ve tested this palette over matte and dewy foundations. When I use them on matte foundations or bare skin, the blend of these powders on the face looks so good! On dewy products, it’s almost as if these don’t want to stick to the skin. It takes longer to blend and the end results looks okay, but not nearly as nice as it looks over a matte one.

Eyeshadows

I believe Beautopsy is foremost a palette for the eyes, and ironically, this is the one aspect that having only mattes as options isn’t entirely satisfactory to me. It has been quite a few years since I’ve created all matte eyeshadow looks on a regular basis. When doing an all matte look, there is no room to hide, nothing to cover up any mistakes or distract from poor blending the way shimmers can. It is a craft that looks so simple but requires immense skill to perfect. Plus, I just love putting a shimmer on my lids, so if I was on a trip, I would have to bring at least a small magnetic palette of shimmer eyeshadow singles with me.
As much as I admire sultry smoky eyes, I mainly prefer to do colorful eyeshadow looks, or at least to have a neutral crease with a bright color on my lids. This is another reason I would want a supplemental palette.
This also doesn’t give intense payoff right away, and this makes perfect sense for Hindash. As a makeup artist, he would want a product that builds up and blends well. When I say that this doesn’t fully line up to how I like to do my eye makeup, it’s not me saying the palette is bad. It’s just obviously suited for those with a different eyeshadow style than mine. In addition, the buildable nature that I don’t like as eyeshadows is what makes them so fantastic as face powders. Plus, the slow build issue I get is only when I try to use a regular eyeshadow primer underneath. If I use a complexion product as a base, I have no qualms with how long it takes, but more on that in a moment.
Regarding the texture of the shadows, these remind me a bit of Viseart. However, Viseart shadows give a little more pigment per brush stroke, but the Beautopsy powders feel a little silkier. Zea Mays is the second ingredient in the Beautopsy palette, and it does have that cornstarch feeling to the touch, which could account for the added silkiness over Viseart’s shadows.

Preferences aside, my biggest challenge was finding the right base for these powders as eyeshadows. I absolutely hated using the Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas. I had to keep making alterations because it wasn’t blending the way I wanted and it took so incredibly long to get it in a state that I thought was presentable. I had to start over again several times. I didn’t have much luck with my tried and true MAC Paint Pot either because it was as though the shadows didn’t want to build on the eye and at one point I switched to my finger to try and pack it on. Usually I only have to do that with shimmers. I got better results when using the Urban Decay primer potion, but surprisingly the best results I’ve had were when I used concealers and foundations as bases! I discovered this first when I used the Tarte Shape Tape and then again when I used the Pat Mcgrath concealer, although that one creased badly when I left it unset for too long. I’ve been using the MAC Foundation Stick as an eyeshadow primer, so I wasn’t as surprised to see that the shadows blended well over it. However, out of all the bases I tried, the best results I’ve had were with the Dermablend Flawless Creator Foundation Drops. Those drops are basically a foundation and concealer hybrid. So, if you have this palette and you’re struggling to use these over eye primers, I recommend using a complexion product as primer instead. This discovery changed my opinion of these as eyeshadows for the better and I’ve enjoyed using them so much more!

One issue I still haven’t resolved is that the shades in the top half of the palette disappear off my eye by the 5-6 hour point. It happened regardless of the base I used. The bottom half of greys, black, browns, and reds lasted 9-10 hours before I ended the wear test. Perhaps this is caused by a difference in how the lighter shades are formulated/the amount of pigment in them. That’s my best guess, although the shadows have the same ingredient list, excluding Love, which is listed separately.

I usually go into details about how I create a look and which shades I used in the eyeshadow portion of my reviews, but I mixed so many things that I lost track.

Looks 1 and 2 are both over the Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas.

This look is over the Pat Mcgrath Concealer. It was my attempt to recreate what I was trying to do in Look #1. The shimmer in the bottom half of the photo is Sun Scorched from Terra Moons Cosmetics.

The peach-pink-orange-red ombre look is over the MAC Foundation Stick. The look below it is over a MAC Paint Pot.

The grey look is over the Urban Decay primer potion. The shimmer on the lid in the bottom half of the photo is Helix Nebula from Terra Moons Cosmetics.

I used the Dermablend Flawless Creator Foundation Drops as the base. This shimmer on the lid is called Kamakura #10 from the Viseart Coy palette that I bought as a single shade. This green look was photographed many hours after I first applied it.

I have used eyeshadows as blushes and blushes as eyeshadows in the past. This palette is the first time I’ve ever preferred the secondary usage over the intended one. I was so surprised at how seamlessly these powders worked together as face products. These were not my first choice for eyeshadows until I found the right base, and now I very much like them too. They are of great quality and I foresee myself continuing to use the last 6 shades as the framework for my shimmer lid shadows.

Overall, the formula of these powders are truly special to be able to be as versatile as they are. In Hindash’s launch video, he said it took a couple of years to create this gradient palette. I tend to roll my eyes whenever influencers say that, but in this case I believe him. I can clearly see the labor of love that went into the Beautopsy Palette. I also say this from the perspective of someone who admittedly didn’t know who Hindash was until the release of this palette. I did a little research for the purpose of this review. I respect Hindash’s artistry and the way he and/or his team has been supporting smaller and larger creators equally, even liking my photo of his palette on Instagram. There still isn’t a parasocial relationship there, so I can say from a fully unbiased perspective that this is a great product and I do recommend it. It’s become for me more than just a cool and innovative release. For the past 6 weeks I’ve had it, I’ve used it for at least one purpose every single time I’ve put on my makeup, whether it was to add depth to an eyeshadow look, do a quick nose contour, to set a cream blush, etc. I store most of my makeup in drawers, but I’ve been keeping it in my train case which holds products I use the most often or am trying to pan, because I want the easy access.
Whether the cost is worth it though depends on how often one would utilize something like this for the eyes, face, or both. There are several times I’ve owned something of fantastic quality, but for whatever reason it remained unused. So, that is something that has to be factored into the decision to purchase. I’m glad it worked out for me.

Does this palette interest you? Let me know what you think!

-Lili

Danessa Myricks Beauty, Mented Cosmetics, and Coloured Raine Mini Reviews

Danessa Myricks Beauty and Mented Cosmetics are brands I’ve been curious about over the past year and I decided to try a few things from each of them! This is also the first time in a long while since I’ve purchased something other than eyeshadows from Coloured Raine!

Danessa Myricks Balm Contour in Deep 1

Danessa Myricks is a makeup artist and her products are intended for use in a professional setting. By that I mean there is a learning curve to these products. They aren’t beginner friendly. I absolutely did not like this product until the sixth or seventh time I used it. The issue is that I just needed to find the right tool; in my case it was the Sonia G Mini Base brush from the Keyaki Set. I didn’t like the results when I used my fingers, a dense contour brush, a dense concealer brush, a Beautyblender, and the Tati Blendiful. A heavier application gives a more intense sculpted look, but I prefer the controlled yet natural looking blend which a medium density brush can provide.

When it comes to this shade match, I was surprised how orange it was considering most contour products are cool toned to create a shadow. If I want to use a warm color to contour with, I prefer to have one that is more shades darker than my skin tone. However, if I exchanged or purchased Deep 2 instead, then I believe it would be too similar to cream contours I already have in my collection. So, I’m glad I chose Deep 1, but I wish it wasn’t as warm so I could use it on all areas of my face. I don’t mind using warm contours on my forehead and cheek bones but I hate them on my jaw and nose.

I also tried the underpainting technique (applying a heavy layer of dimension creating products to the skin first and applying a light layer of foundation on top to shape the face in a less detectable way) but I think I need a darker shade if I want to continue using it in that way. Deep 1 is a touch too subtle on me with underpainting, but perhaps I just need more practice.

Danessa Myricks Dew Wet Balm in Clear

There are four other shades of these balms, but they contain shimmer. Based on website photos, I was concerned the shimmer/glitter particles might be too large for my liking, so I thought getting the clear one would be a safer bet. This reminds me of a stickier version of the clear balm in Pat Mcgrath’s Highlighter + Balm Duo. With my hair down, loose strands have stuck to my face while wearing this. Although this product is intended to be worn alone or with makeup, it looks too much like I have Vaseline or lip gloss on my cheekbones if I’m bare faced, so I prefer to use it with makeup.

This product, like many highlighting balms, disturbs my makeup underneath. Thankfully, the shine is still visible under foundation. I figured out that I like this product when I’ve applied it to my cheekbones, then I take whatever foundation is left on my brush or sponge and apply it over the top of the Dew Balm. It still gives me shine without the Vaseline look or sticky texture. I can leave it like that or use the Dew Balm as a wet base to apply a highlighter on top of it for a very intense shine. I have an example of what it looks like as a base for a powder highlighter in the Mented Bronzer section.

Mented Cosmetics Bronzer in Vacay

Mented has four shades of bronzer. I suspected Vacay, intended for medium/tan skin tones, would be only a shade or two darker than me while Yacht Life, intended for deep skin tones, would be darker than I wanted and too similar to Fenty’s Mocha Mami, which I already own. Vacay turned out to be as light as I thought. If I really pack it on, it does work as a subtle bronzer. The undertone of the powder is a bit on the pinkish terracotta side, so in many photos featured here today, I’m actually wearing it as a blush. I believe Vacay is actually lighter than Mented’s Clay Too Much blush.

This formula is so smooth and reminds me of the Airbrush Bronzer from Charlotte Tilbury, but at a fraction of the cost. I am extremely tempted to buy Yacht Life and assuage my curiosity as to whether I would like it better than Vacay (and to find out how similar it really is to Mocha Mami), but I have to remind myself that I have enough bronzers as it is. It has been difficult to talk myself out of it and I’ve had it in my cart via Ulta about to check out at least three times by now. If I didn’t already have the Charlotte Tilbury bronzer, which is still the smoothest one I own, I would have absolutely purchased the other shade from Mented.

Mented Cosmetics Lip Liner in La La

I forgot my lip product no-buy when I purchased this, but I’m secretly happy to have it. I like that it’s retractable and I was able to get this for $9. It’s the kind of shade I love using all over my lips. It isn’t too drying and doesn’t look as bad as it could over my non-exfoliated lips, which is nice. It stays in place. The Tower 28 lip gloss contains oils, so I was surprised to see how well it lasted with that gloss on top, as long as I didn’t eat or drink anything.

Propa Beauty lipsticks impressed me with their brown-skin friendly versions of lighter shades with wearable pinks and oranges. Mented’s range impressed me with their nude lip shades. If I wasn’t on a lip product no-buy, I would be looking further into Nude La La, Dope Taupe, Foxy Brown, and Mented #5. I watched a Q & A session with one of the brand owners and she was explaining how Mented wanted to create nudes that weren’t just brown. Shades that matched, for instance, the darker pigmented brownish purple of my natural top lip. I always tried to get shades to match the pink in my bottom lip, but after seeing that interview, I became so intrigued by the idea of matching the brownish purple part instead. I intend to do my best in sticking with my no-buy and will perhaps try another Mented lip product in the beginning of 2022.

Coloured Raine Bronzers in Cinna-Bae and Naughty Spice

These bronzers look very similar on the skin, but Cinna-Bae is on the warm side and Naughty Spice is more neutral.

Between the two, Cinna-Bae is absolutely better suited for me. It’s the right tone and depth. Coloured Raine did a fantastic job with their product photos to help me decide that this was the best shade for me. I still purchased Naughty Spice in case I was wrong. I also wasn’t sure how pigmented they’d be, so I thought having a darker version as well couldn’t hurt. I am able to build up Naughty Spice and use it as a Bronzing-Contour. In the photo above, I applied somewhere between a light to medium amount of Naughty Spice. I used a medium amount of Cinna-Bae. It’s nice to know I can still use both though. Also, these are labeled as bronzers but on Coloured Raine’s Instagram they say these can be used as setting powders and contours as well.

The bronzers are smooth and blend well, so it’s tempting to get additional shades to try the other uses, but I refrained. I would say this formula reminds me of Fenty’s Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzers. It doesn’t beat out my top 3, but I think it’s still very good quality.

Coloured Raine Focal Point GlowLighters in Bourgeois and Just Peachy

In my Kiko Milano review, I mentioned that there are only a few brands I trust to make a shimmery blush that I like, and unfortunately Coloured Raine is not one of them. On the individual product pages it says the Focal Point Glowlighters can be used as blush, so I thought these would be like the Nabla Skin Glazing formula that are highlighters but also come in blush tones like Adults Only and Lola that make them suitable for blush too. At the very least, I thought they might be similar to MAC’s Extra Dimension Blushes which are very shimmery but still flattering. I was wrong.

I own two of the Coloured Raine x Power Blush and Highlighter Duos, and while I thought the highlighters were too glittery for my taste, I thought the matte blushes were decent. If Just Peachy and Bourgeois were a matte formula, I know I would enjoy them because the tones are so pretty, but in this formula they are unbelievably metallic! I’ve been struggling with my camera lately and with flash off, it could not begin to show just how metallic looking they are in person when the light hits them, nor the intensity of the shades. If I try to use the lightest amount of Just Peachy, my cheeks look slightly peach from straight on, but when I tilt my head and a little light hits my cheek, all I see is a blinding gold. As pretty as the color itself is, I don’t want a gold blush. If I apply enough product to get the peachy tone to show at all angles, then it looks like I tried to use a metallic eyeshadow for blush. It’s the same case with Bourgeois. The burgundy base color is overshadowed by the intense hot orange shimmer.

Both blushes without flash.

Bourgeois with Flash On.

As blushes or blush toppers, these are unwearable for me. It comes down to the reflectivity of the shimmer. The Focal Point Glowlighters also come in traditional highlighter shades of golds and bronzes. This formula is much better suited for highlighting purposes. For those who like highlighters at this level of intensity, getting one of their standard shades (pictured below from their website) would be my recommendation.

Coloured Raine Large Powder Brush

This brush is the biggest in my entire collection and also the heaviest. I think this brush is weighted because the ferrule is very heavy in a way that isn’t proportional to the heaviness of the ferrule of the Angled brush. I’ve only had one other makeup brush that was weighted in order to create a better balance for how the brush should be held and applied to the face, to intuitively allow the user to apply the right pressure with the brush. I’m not sure if the ferrule weight of the Large Powder brush was chosen for this reason, or if it was purely to allow this brush to be able to stand upright on a flat surface with ease.

As mentioned before, the flat bottom of the handles let these brushes stand upright. The handles are plastic. The bristles are synthetic. The coffee color gradient of the handles are as pretty in photos are they are in person. The fibers are soft, but as wide as the bristles are splayed, they are not densely packed. They are long and floppy and bend dramatically with light pressure from a single finger.

I don’t mind the floppiness from the Powder Brush because the volume of the brush combined with the placement where I grip the brush (towards the base of the ferrule) allows me to sweep a light dusting of powder all over my face quickly without the bristles bending enough to impede the application. It’s a pretty good brush considering the $13 price.

Coloured Raine Angled Blush Brush

This brush technically cost $5 instead of $10 because I purchased it in the $21 bundle price with one of the bronzers. I expected this brush to work well with the bronzers since they were grouped together, but I despise this brush. I admittedly don’t favor angled brushes, but some like the Chikuhodo FO-4 are exceptions. On top of that, these bristles are not dense enough. They don’t give me enough pressure to blend. The floppiness of the brush impedes my ability to use the product. I can still use this brush with a lightly pigmented blush that wouldn’t require much blending but I recommend skipping this one. A better alternative is the Real Techniques Sculpting Brush which goes for around $15 individually, but Target has a set of three brushes and a holder for $20. The set includes the Real Techniques setting brush which I own two of and have been using almost exclusively for years to set my under eye concealer with powder. And full disclosure, the Target link is not affiliated and I make zero money from sharing it.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been curious about other Danessa Myricks products, like the Twin Flames multichromes, Color Fixes, and Vision Flushes. All the reviews I’ve seen, combined with my own experience, leads me to believe I can create beautiful looks with DM’s makeup if I’m willing to invest time into learning how best to use them. I foresee myself continuing to explore more from the brand in the latter half of 2021.

As for Mented, I’m definitely excited to try more from them in the future, especially since they’ve been made available at Ulta. It was tough for me to skip out on the blushes, but I haven’t seen enough videos and photos online to be able to tell which shades, if any, are my style. If new shades get released, I’ll be all over them!

I’m always interested in the new things Coloured Raine comes out with. In a “Behind the Beauty” episode a while back, the owner hinted at a Queen of Hearts 2 palette coming out, so I am still looking forward to that and more from the brand.

That’s everything! Thank you so much for spending your time with me today! I already had that impromptu Saturday review, but I wanted to keep the Monday schedule consistent and still make this post available today.

-Lili

LYS Beauty and Melt Cosmetics

One item I’m discussing today is a bronzer, but the rest are cream blushes. Cream, liquid, and balm blushes have become extremely popular this year and while I have held off on getting some (and even returned one from Tower 28), these were too tempting to resist.

Lys Beauty

This is the first Black-Owned “Clean” beauty brand at Sephora. I watched a fantastic interview with the brand owner where she describes the type of products she wanted to make, why she chose certain ingredients, and the overall uplifting message behind the brand: Love YourSelf. Clean Beauty products tend to be on the expensive side, so it’s amazing to see how relatively affordable the products are.

Lys Beauty No Limits Matte Bronzer in Strength $18

Niacinamide is a popular skincare ingredient, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it in a makeup product. The brand uses it in the primer, bronzer, and setting powder. Every product within the LYS line has some skin benefiting ingredients added to them.

Strength is the 4th darkest shade. I ran into the issue of this particular color looking very subtle on me, yet the Worthy shade appears as though it would be far too deep, so I settled for this one. I also chose to show what the pan looks like with and without flash because the flash-off photo is more accurate to how it looks in person, but the flash-on photo better demonstrates the depth of color when actually applied to the skin.

I like that it’s a neutral tone. Product picks up easily on my brushes, but I have to spend a lot of time getting it to show. When it does, it can be uneven at times. It’s not patchy in the sense that there are gaps with no color, but in order to get a solid section, some spots are deeper that others and sometimes looks unblended despite how long I spent on that area. I’ve used multiple brushes and techniques, but it’s still a time consuming process to get it to look nice on me. For this reason, I think the bronzer is okay but I wouldn’t recommend anyone rush out to buy it.

The blushes, however, I highly recommend! There’s a reason they’ve been going in and out of stock on Sephora’s website for nearly two months! The formula is incredible!

Lys Beauty Higher Standard Satin Matte Cream Blush in Self Love and Confidence $16

I’ve tried so many cream formulas lately and this easily surpasses them all. They’re easy to use, smooth, blendable, natural looking, pigmented but not overly pigmented. One could still build up the color or sheer it down. They’re long lasting on me. They dry down so I’m not left with a sticky, greasy, or creamy feeling when I touch my cheek. I don’t have to warm them up first to use them. They’re my perfect cream blush formula!

There are six shades in total. One lighter, two brighter, and one deeper than the shades I own. Because these are mid-toned, I can use a very heavy hand with them and not worry about overapplying and looking crazy. On the left sides of the photos are my preferred level of product for in-person blush. The right side shows what it looks like built up to near maximum opacity to make it easier to see on camera.

There’s a slight difference between Self Love and Confidence when on the skin, though they look nearly identical with a light application. Confident has a warmer undertone and is a touch lighter than Self Love, which is more on the rosey mauve side. Self Love leans a little cool, but not so cool as to look unflattering on me.

I’ve only heard good things from others who have purchased these blushes. The one concern I’ve seen from those who haven’t seen them in person is whether a brush would fit in the compact because of the triangular shape (which I love). LYS accounts for the shape by making it bigger than the average blush. Below are photos to compare the sizes. I could fit the entire Fenty blush in the center. It’s bigger than the cream blush portions in the ND Bloom palette and Patrick Ta duo. For anyone concerned about using up the last bits of product, which honestly that would take a very long time get to, a cosmetic spatula would be helpful in scraping out what is in the corners and spreading it into the center of the pan. It’s not just that the LYS pans are wider. They contain 6.5 g of product for $16 compared to 4.5 gram for $22 from Melt, 4.5g for $20 from Tower 28, and 3 grams for $20 from Fenty. Even the Rare Beauty Stay Vulnerable Cream Blush is 5g for $21.

With the LYS blush, I’ve tried this using my fingers, a brush, and a sponge. They’re all nice methods, but my favorite is using a brush, and particularly the Sonia G Mini Base brush from the Keyaki set. I can spread the color on my cheeks, but I like stippling it on the most.

Melt Cosmetics

Melt is most known for their eyeshadow stacks and palettes, but I only own blushes from them, if you count the Digital Dust Duo Blushes as actual blushes and not highlighters.

Melt Cream Blushlight in Daydreamer and Polished

The cream version of Blushlights comes in eight shades, though only six are available at Sephora. Sephora doesn’t carry Daydreamer or Cali Dream. There’s also a powder version of Blushlights but only Lynx and Sundown exist in both formulas. Cali Dream and Honey Thief are also available in powder versions but in the matte blush formula. Daydreamer is a, “rich cinnamon with pink pearl.” It’s the darkest shade in the collection and the others aren’t as easy to see on those with dark to deep skintones, so I was surprised to see it not available at Sephora, despite having arm swatch photos on the website with all eight shades together. I thought perhaps Melt didn’t create enough to give a stock of them to Sephora or that Melt intended for that shade to be a website exclusive. However, when I was scrolling through Melt’s Instagram, I saw a comment where they said Sephora “is taking” certain shades. This reveals that Sephora intentionally chose not to take the deepest shade, which would have made this range a little more inclusive. At least it would be more inclusive as blushes. Melt encourages those with medium to deep skintones to use the shimmer shades as highlighters.

I saw several people inquiring as to why Daydreamer wouldn’t be coming to Sephora (even though the full range is at Camera Ready Cosmetics) and requesting swatches on deeper skin tones.

The only explanation I can think of is that perhaps Sephora didn’t want it because they have a few colors like it available already. It’s close to Fenty’s Rose Latte, which makes it also similar to Tower 28’s Power Hour based on a video I watched comparing Tower 28 and Fenty blushes, both of which Sephora has. Among my collection, it’s also similar to Glossier’s Cloud Paint in Storm. What makes Daydreamer stand out is the fact that it’s darker and it has those specks of shimmer.

In addition to Daydreamer, I also bought Polished, a shade that’s “grapefruit…with a warm golden pearl.” I can get the color to show in person if I stipple on a heavy application of the blush. However, I prefer to wear both colors together with Daydreamer more towards the back and Polished towards the front on the apples of the cheeks. I have tried mixing the two shades together equally, but Daydreamer is such a darker color that it doesn’t look any differently.

For me to get as close to what Polished looks like, but with enough pigment to show up more easily, I have to use a mixing ratio of 3 parts Polished to 1 part Daydreamer. However, mixing is more time consuming (and messier) than applying to separate areas, so I just prefer to do that.

These blushes have a very noticeable vanilla-like scent, but the smell doesn’t linger for too long on the cheeks. I like the product’s creamy texture and the way it looks on the skin. At some angles, I like the glowing effect this blush has, but it’s at the cost of having very spread out random glitter particles, which I’ve mentioned ad nauseam is not a preference of mine. For those who don’t like shimmer, Honey Thief, Sandy Cheeks, and Cali Dream are the three shades without it.

This formula doesn’t dry down. If it doesn’t get set with a powder, it will remain emollient to the touch. When I have set this with powder, it felt dry for a short time and then eventually the cream and natural oils broke through that layer and felt creamy again. The only success I’ve had for setting it was to apply a little powder blush on top and then set it with translucent powder as well. This does, however, defeat the purpose of having that particular shade of blush and it essentially functions as a cream base in this way. I don’t mind using these blushes unset for photos, but I wouldn’t try to wear one in public where it could transfer onto my hand or mask.

The Blushlights are described as being intended for eyes, cheeks, and lips, but on the card that came with my order it specifically lists only Lynx, Sundown, and Sandy Cheeks as being usable around the eyes. On the back of my actual blush box it just says, “apply on face as desired,” but on Melt’s website in the “about” tab you can click on each individual cream Blushlight to see which ones they say to use on cheeks and lips versus the ones that have all three areas listed.

Polished shows a bit on the lips, but I can see all my discolored spots through it. I think Daydreamer looks nicer on me. My upper lip is darker than my bottom lip and is very hard to cover, which demonstrates the lack of opacity and pigmentation. My main issue is that I don’t enjoy the slippery feeling on my lips and I can smell the vanilla much stronger when it’s under my nostrils as opposed to the sides of my face. Also, although the texture the creamy, my lips feel even drier than before I put them on (and yes my lips are in a poor state in this photo). Sorry! I know it’s not the cutest thing to look at.

The “Both” photo has Daydreamer on the lips with Polished in the center.

I have also used these blushes with a brush, fingers, and a sponge. I don’t have a preferred method of application between a brush and my fingers, but I dislike the look with a sponge. It starts off depositing a lot of color, but by the time I finish blending it evenly, it becomes sheer to the point of looking like a tint. If the undertone of a blush doesn’t suit my skin tone, it makes a tint (where you can see my skin through the blush) that much more unflattering in my eyes. My goal for blush is to look naturally flushed and while a tint can sometimes do that, the wet sponge makes the shimmery sheen turn more metallic looking, which is a dead giveaway.

That’s everything I could think of to mention! Thank you for reading!

-Lili

*UPDATE and DISCLOSURE: On September 18th, 2021 I joined the LYS Beauty “Confidence Crew.” At the time this review was posted on April 5th 2021, I was not affiliated with the brand in any way and all products were purchased by me. This means there were also no affiliate links in the initial blog post. Other than adding this update, I have not altered my review above in any way and it remains my true and honest opinion of the products.

I do have an affiliate link now if you would like to shop the LYS Beauty website here
By clicking that link, I am eligible for a small commission from your purchase. I also have an affiliated discount code LYSUNBOXLILI for 20% off an order, but it is only good until October 18th, 2021. I’m not sure how long I will be part of the program but I thought it was important to post here as well and not just the new posts going forward.

-Lili

Ofra Cosmetics Review

Ofra is a small Florida based company best known for their highlighters and liquid lipsticks. I wasn’t aware of the brand until four years ago when Ofra had their first collaboration with Youtuber Nikkietutorials. Since then, they’ve continued to partner with influencers: Nikkie, Kathleenlights, Samantha March, Jen Luvs, and more. I imagine Ofra is doing very well considering their products are available at Ulta. Then again, Ulta recently announced they’ll be carrying Jaclyn Cosmetics despite Jaclyn only having one successful launch after the disastrous lipstick release. That combined with Ulta selling KVD despite the brand struggling for the last two years and taking on Hourglass at their lowest dip in popularity has me questioning what it takes to be stocked at Ulta.

In any case, after my most recent order of the Blushzer, regular blush, liquid lipstick, and brush, I decided I had enough products from the brand to do a full review!

Glow Goals Highlighter (Nikkietutorials Collab)

I have this in Ofra’s older (but not oldest) packaging. It’s a bit difficult to see on camera, but this champagne colored highlighter has a light pink tinge that shows that shade in swatches but isn’t as detectable on my face. I tend to not favor pink highlighters, so I’m glad this looks essentially gold on my skin. This highlighter is a little softer pressed and even though I used the Wayne Goss Air Brush to apply Glow Goals and Rodeo Drive in my photos, the brush picked up way more product with this one and I was left with a far more blinding strip of color. Of course, it makes sense that Glow Goals would be extremely striking considering how much Nikkie loves her highlighters. On occasion, I like an intense highlight, as long as it isn’t glittery. This is definitely one of the most blinding shimmer highlighters I have in my collection and I love the fact that the particles are so fine. Because of the $35 price tag, it’s easy to want to compare this to Becca. The consistency and texture of the powders are different, but the result is similar. If someone wants a more intense version of Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfectors, I recommend trying this one.

Rodeo Drive Highlighter

This is a warmer champagne/gold shade. I like that I have a bit more control with this product and can use a light amount for an everyday look or build it up to be much more intense. The amount seen in the photo above was created using one dip into the pan, which is the perfect amount for my usual tastes. Ofra considers this a “universally flattering shade,” and I honestly think this is as close to one as any brand can really get. It would be those on the lightest and darkest ends of the color spectrum who may not like how this looks on them.
The result I get when using this shade reminds me even more of the effect Becca highlighters can give. One of the benefits Ofra offers over Becca is that the current packaging is magnetic with moveable pans, so I don’t have to keep these highlighters in their bulky packaging. I can put them in my custom magnetic face palette. Other benefits are that they sell refills (which uses less plastic for repeat buyers) and also mini sizes for those of us who never hit pan on powder products anyway, or would just rather spend $18 for less product.

Chick-Lit Blush Duo (Samantha March Collab)

I saw some photos of this blush online that made it look darker than it really is, so I began to wonder if perhaps this is one of those light blushes that could still work for me (like MAC’s Melba and Mocha). Unfortunately, this was not the case. I think this would look better on anyone at least two shades or more lighter than me. I liked the way it looked when I mixed this shade with the right side of the Squad Blushzer, pictured below. This was basically useless in my collection, so I’m glad to know I can keep Chick-lit as a mixer shade.
I found it interesting that the shimmer half of Chick-lit has a darker base color in it than the matte/satin side, but combining the two leads to some icy looking results that I’m not into. It reminds me of the Clinique Pop Blushes, but I like the quality of this one better. Mixing them both also leads to me picking up too much product in the pan, which is quite easy to do as these blushes and blush duos from the brand creates quite a bit of kickup. The large packaging suddenly makes sense to keep the powders contained within the compact so it doesn’t waste product, but as I have a hard time panning anything, I don’t mind losing product.

Ride or Die Blushzer in Squad

While there are other products from Ofra that I’ve been curious about for well over a year (e.g. the Bali highlighter, beauty sponge, and liner), this duo drew me in to the point that I could only resist for about a week after it first launched!

As deep as these halves look, they don’t give intense pigment upon the first application once it’s blended. One pass of the blush, for example, sheers out to a soft medium pink flush. And for this bronzer to show enough to add warmth to my face, I have to really layer it on. This means that someone a few shades darker than me could wear this, but also those much lighter than me could as well.

I mentioned that this blush is sheerer than it looks upon initial application. While it’s great to have a blendable blush, I think it’s mainly due to the fact that this doesn’t stick to my skin very well. I’ve tried it over bare skin, different primers, and different foundations. The result is that this starts to noticeably fade around 3-4 hours and is gone around the 6 hour mark. I rarely have issues with blushes fading on me, so I thought it was a bit strange. However, if I use a setting spray, it does lock this product into place. Out of all the blush products I’m reviewing today, I’m the happiest with this one because I love the shade.

B-29 Coral Crush Pressed Blush

I have mixed feelings about this blush due to this specific color. I like that this is deep enough to show on me, but the particular tone isn’t my favorite. Like the Squad Blushzer, this shade has a bit of kickup. It has a little easier time sticking to my cheeks, but it will fade in five hours unless I use a setting spray.
Coral Crush is smaller than Ofra’s newer blush releases. This was $15 for 4g as opposed to $29 for 10g.

#22 Blush Brush

This is a blush brush in name, but the item description says this is a highlighting brush. I find it’s far too big to highlight with, especially considering how intense Ofra’s highlighters can get. I wouldn’t want an even bigger stripe of this on my cheekbones. The pointed tip makes it suited for the split pan products as a typical blush or bronzer brush might be too big.

This isn’t that soft of a brush and it’s a bit scratchy. The bristles have the look and feel of a low grade goat brush, but it’s actually synthetic. I was a bit surprised because I’m used to synthetic brushes feeling softer than this. Also, it sheds quite a lot. While it’s normal for a natural hair brush that’s been hand bundled to lose a few hairs, I’ve only had a synthetic brush shedding issue from my lower quality ELF brushes, so I was once again surprised considering the price of this brush. At least I got it free with my $35+ purchase.

The washing process can free the remaining straggler hairs from natural bristle brushes, so I hoped that washing this brush would do that as well. Unfortunately, washing this brush only increased the shedding and letting it air dry caused the brush to puff out and become too rounded to be useful. So, I recommend using the aloe vera method or a brush guard after washing to maintain its shape (and I have since done that with this brush to reshapen it). Ofra makes some nice products, but this brush just isn’t one of them.

I’d recommend the ELF Pro/Studio line (with the black handles), EcoTools, or Real Techniques over this one. They’re less expensive, synthetic, and softer. For synthetic bristle brushes at a higher price point, I recommend some of Tarte’s brushes and Scott Barnes. I used to use It Cosmetics for Ulta brushes, but my less expensive brushes are comparable in quality. Also, I enjoyed Smashbox’s original line of brushes (which was mostly natural hair) and while their line is completely synthetic now, I’ve heard great things about the new ones. I haven’t tried them myself yet though.

Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Baroque

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I have no intention of purchasing lip products this year (with the exception of balms), but this was on sale for $8 and would let me reach the free shipping minimum, so I decided to buy this so I could test out the formula. This shade is described as a nude pink with gold flecks. I haven’t seen any shimmer in this at all and despite looking warm toned in the tube, it’s not as brown or warm on my lips as I’d hoped. I don’t mind that it’s a light shade, but the undertone isn’t my style, even when I’ve paired it with other shades of lip liners.

I still did a few wear tests on it. This formula is very comfortable on the lips. Some liquid lipsticks show a discolored patch if you try to touch it up, but this one doesn’t do that. It isn’t completely transfer-proof (it left a faint imprint on my glass when I was drinking tea), but I had great results from the time I put it on until the time I ate. Without retouching after eating, the lipstick is susceptible to transferring a lot more, but I don’t expect any lip product to last past eating. I give this kudos for only really disappearing in the center-most part of my lips.

While it doesn’t feel drying, at around the eight hour point it starts to look drier than it feels, so that’s when I’d remove what’s left and replace it with a balm. I’ve also tried this with a Tower 28 gloss on top, and while the lipgloss doesn’t displace the color underneath, once you eat, it makes the lipstick especially easy to remove to the point that reapplication is definitely necessary.

In the future, if I want to buy liquid lipsticks, I would definitely consider this brand, but hopefully I’d be better at choosing a shade. I also think Ofra’s reputation for having fantastic highlighters is well deserved. Those two types of products are my recommendations.

That’s all I have for today! Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Lethal Cosmetics Face Powders, Velvet Dusk Palette, and More

I’m a big fan of Lethal Cosmetics for their quality products, fantastic customer service, fast worldwide shipping, and the importance they place on diversity and inclusion. My initial interest in the brand was for their eyeshadows. At the time of writing this, I own 72 out of their 90 individual shades released so far, and I reviewed most of them earlier this year.

Even though I’m trying to limit the number of face products I buy, I couldn’t resist ordering from Lethal on launch day. I purchased the Solstice palette, another highlighter, blush, bronzer, and the Lethal Cosmetics x Jolina Mennen eyeshadow palette. The same morning I began working on this post, the brand announced their new Velvet Dusk Collection and details about a Black Friday sale, so I delayed posting until those items arrived as well.

Face Powders

The Solstice Palette

This is one of the four premade palettes on Lethal’s website. It was created for those with dark tan/olive to deep skin tones. Lethal Cosmetics has six individual highlighters that have been available long before the bronzers and blushes, but the highlighters in the premade palettes are exclusive to those palettes. The exclusive shade from Solstice is called Gravity and it has a strong yellow base. The blush included is called Echinopsis and the bronzer is Caldera.

Although Lethal doesn’t have designated contour powders, within the bronzer line are three shades with cool undertones that I consider contouring-bronzers. I picked up one of them called Zenith.

Until Zenith, I had no real contour powder that I liked enough to wear regularly. The best one I have is actually a Colourpop eyeshadow called Cloud Nine.
Because Caldera is warmer and I prefer to use bronzer around my forehead, while Zenith is cool-toned and I prefer that for cheek and jaw contouring, I have found uses for both powders in my collection. I actually replaced the Gravity highlighter with Zenith in my trio palette when I was on a brief trip for my birthday. The palette is magnetic with holes in the back and the pans are not glued in, so that makes it easy to mix and match face products.

Terrestrial is the newest addition to my face powders that I purchased with the launch of the Velvet Dusk Collection. I wanted to see if I could get a cool-toned contouring bronzer that was closer to my skin tone for times I might be in a rush and don’t want to have to be careful about how much I apply. Between Terrestrial and Zenith, I think Terrestrial is better for me.

I like these powders, but I should note that these are not beginner-friendly in the sense that using the wrong brushes can make these harder and more time consuming to blend. I found this to be the case for the bronzers and blushes, but not the highlighters. Also, when it comes to bronzers, I still prefer the Kosas Sun Show Moisturizing Bronzer and the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush matte bronzers because of how they look on the skin and how they blend regardless of the tool. It should be noted that those two bronzers are 2-4 times more expensive than the ones from Lethal.

The texture and consistency of Lethal’s powder products remind me of MAC’s Satin blush formula but they are definitely matte and they perform like MAC’s brighter blush shades, such as Loudspeaker and Frankly Scarlet. What I mean by this is that wherever you first apply with the most pressure is where the powder mostly sticks. They’re still blendable, but using too small of a brush can concentrate the product in too small of an area that is time-consuming to smooth out. If the initial placement covers the entire area you want, it makes the blending process easy. This is why I recommend using a fluffy brush with these powders in order to disperse the product lightly and evenly.

Calyx was more orange than I expected. Echinopsis is more of a berry color, and darker, but it can be worn in a sheer layer as demonstrated in the photo above (a heavier application is in the Terrestrial section). Between the two, I think Echinopsis looks better on me.

As I mentioned before, Gravity has a strong yellow base, so I prefer to wear it only on days when my blush is on the more neutral, natural, and sheer side. This way, the highlighter doesn’t have to compete for attention, so to speak. If I use less, Gravity doesn’t look as strikingly yellow, but it’s still very apparent in person.

Gamma is an “elegant bronze with warm gold highlights.” It is everything I want in a highlighter! It can be subtle and look more shiny than glittery, but it can also be built up more intensely. I think it’s a better shade match for me as well.

Gamma, Echinopsis, and Terrestrial is my new favorite trio palette pairing! I have a magnetic palette with depotted face products that I’ve taken on trips before, but this is the first time I’ve ever had a highlighter, blush, and bronzer/contour from the same brand that actually works for me and is kept in an aesthetically pleasing palette that looks like it was premade! Although I could pack a trio of Nabla Skin Glazing Products, I find carrying one palette to be easier with less chance of an accident than a stack of 3 compacts.

Eye Palettes

Lethal Cosmetics x Jolina Palette

I love the fact that these shimmer shades make beautiful new colors when mixed together. For example, Fck Me Eyes and (A)mar create a pretty turquoise blue. Loyalty is a red-based purple but when combined with (A)mar is makes a nice deep cool purple. For a white shade, Scandal is not stark on my skin tone and I can actually use it in the crease. This is probably the only white shade in my entire eyeshadow collection that I like! The only color in the palette I dislike is Cold Brew, and that’s because it’s the same color as my hyperpigmentation. When I use it, it looks to me like I missed a spot or that the eyeshadow faded, but it’s just the color of the shadow.

Overall, I find the quality of this palette to be consistent with Lethal’s single eyeshadows. With the exception of a few shades, there are close enough similarities to other Lethal singles that I don’t think this palette is a necessity for anyone with a large enough collection of their shadows. If your collection is on the smaller side, this is a great way to get a variety of neutrals with vibrant pops of color at a more affordable price. The pans in this palette are smaller than the individual shades, but I have still yet to hit pan on any eyeshadow in my collection, even with mini palettes.

Velvet Dusk Eyeshadow Palette

These pans are also available for purchase individually, which is why I counted them as part of Lethal’s 90 current shadows. What made the Velvet Dusk collection especially exciting is that for the first time, Lethal introduced two “triochrome” eyeshadows.

Lethal has had duochromes for a while, such as Aerial, Stargaze, and Mainframe. Apart from certain shades like Enigma and Lucid, I don’t consider a lot of them to be true duochromes because they don’t make as much of an impact as the duochromes from other brands. I’m also more impressed when a duochrome is one base color that either shifts to another shade or the glitter color very different, as opposed to a base color with plain gold or silver shimmer particles.

Keeping this in mind prevented me from expecting much from the triochromes, so they weren’t the selling point for me for this palette. I just loved the overall color story. It’s rare that I like even half of the shades in a palette. With this one, I was drawn to 10 of the 12!

As for the triochromes Revolve and Covet, they do have a shift but they aren’t easy to see. With Clionadh, you can see a change on the fingertips, the pan, the eyelid, and/or arm swatch. Revolve is a shade I can slightly see on the finger in very specific angles but Covet is extremely difficult. I cannot see a change on either of them in arm swatches. I can faintly see a shift on the lid while wearing Revolve if I’m in the proper light. However, the only time I could capture anything from Covet was on my palm. I included a photo below, but to see a 3-second video clip you can click here. I was unable to figure out how to change the video dimensions to be smaller and embed it to a reasonable height and width on this page.

There’s something that seems a little different about the formula of the Velvet Dusk shades (and even the ones from the Afterdark palette), but I can’t put my finger on what it is or how to explain it. They’re still pigmented like the others and long-wearing. Corrosion and Deceit took a bit of work to blend. Deceit specifically is a bit patchy but the sparse areas can be patched up if extra shadow is added on top and not manipulated too much. All of the shadows in this palette stuck to my arm fine in swatches, but these absolutely need a primer in order to stick properly to my eyes. There isn’t anything wrong with needing a primer, but my other Lethal shadows from the older collections still look great without it.

I’ve found that the mattes work better over MAC Paint Pot and the shimmers work better on the Urban Decay primer potion or a non-dry base, even though Lethal recommends a dry base for all of them.

This palette is another great mix of pops of color with neutrals, just with a grungy twist. It isn’t perfect, but I would still recommend this to anyone who likes the color story. I don’t recommend this to someone specifically wanting it for the duochromes and multichromes. For those kind of shadows with more impact, I suggest Clionadh, Devinah, and Terra Moons. Even JD Glow’s Galaxy Shadows have more sparkle and shine.

Additional Single Shadows

Besides the new Velvet Dusk Palette eyeshadows, I added Synth, Ephemeral, and Frequency to my collection. I kept updating my previous Lethal Cosmetics post with either arm swatches or eye swatches each time I got a new order. It looked a bit messy, so for the sake of consistency, I redid all 72 eye swatches here! I felt it was important to show how they look on my eyelids because what I expect from the pans isn’t always what I get on my lids.

I also redid all the arm swatches because I wanted to have similar shades from lightest to darkest next to each other for comparison purposes.

The only shadows I don’t have yet, plus the remaining face powders I’m curious about are in the photo below.

Light colors of eyeshadow are my least favorite, and I don’t need so many medium-toned browns, so that is why these haven’t made it to my collection. Due to the cost of shipping, I don’t intend on making another purchase just for two more face powders, so those won’t be reviewed unless another new release catches my eye from them in 2021. I’m also planning a low-buy for 2021, so perhaps I will skip them entirely.

That’s everything! Thank you for reading! If there are any swatch comparisons you’d like to see from Lethal or any of the products in my posts, just let me know!

-Lili