Suqqu Melting Powder Blushes, Highlighter, and More

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Suqqu is a Japanese cosmetics brand that I’ve always been curious about, but as is common with most luxury products, the color stories are often not suited for my skin tone and/or don’t match my makeup preferences. For that reason, there hasn’t been much I’ve been able to use until this year, as it appears that Suqqu is now offering more variety in their launches as their product demand continues to increase globally. Today, I’ll be sharing my opinions of the few Suqqu items I added to my collection.

SUQQU Melting Powder Blush in 06 Yuubae and 07 Yoiurushi

The Melting Powder formula is a new one introduced from the brand in 2022. I am extremely pleased with the shade variety, as there are a few that could work for me, but 07 is what I was drawn to the most. It reminds me a bit of Pat Mcgrath’s Paradise Venus, but leaning even more red. That being said, I still ended up purchasing 06 shortly before this review was scheduled to post. It’s incredibly difficult for me to resist buying another blush shade in a formula that I like.

A photo showing #07 applied more heavily is in the highlighter section.

This is a buildable yet pigmented formula that feels smooth to the touch, like a cream, without leaving a tacky feeling to the skin. It sets into place on the cheeks enough to where it won’t transfer/move as easily as when first applied, but it doesn’t dry per say. The formula that is intended to feel and look creamy and satin-like on the skin will continue to have that same quality when the cheek is touched, but it doesn’t feel wet. I do have dry skin though, so I don’t know if setting it with powder would be necessary for those with oily skin.

These blushes remain looking pigmented all day and I love how seamlessly they meld with my skin. It’s like taking the best quality of creams and putting it in a form that those who prefer powder blushes may enjoy too. It’s advertised as becoming, “one with the skin,” which is a claim I believe is true.

It comes with a brush. I normally don’t use the brushes and other types of applicators that come with makeup, but this one actually applies the product nicely. The bristles are synthetic though, which I figured I should mention since the natural hair brushes from Suqqu were quite famous in the fude world (all Suqqu brushes are now synthetic) and I want to make it clear that these aren’t as special as those, but still decent for a free mini brush. However, if given the option, I still prefer using my own full sized brushes with this blush. Also, because of the emollient ingredients contained in the blush, I recommend using the same type of brushes with this as you would a cream product (undyed goat hair and/or other resilient natural bristle brushes and synthetic brushes).
I have used 07 once with a lightly damp sponge and it increased the opacity and amount of pigment that was deposited on the cheeks. I can also get a natural flushed look when using my fingers with these blushes, but I still prefer a brush application the most.

I believe that the eight original shades that launched before Spring are part of Suqqu’s permanent line, but they also have two limited edition shades that were released as part of their Summer Collection. Suqqu is not easily accessible in the US without ordering online, though it still has a fairly large following here, especially among fans of luxury makeup. I still have the Selfridges+ shipping subscription active on my account, so I purchased mine from Selfridges. Some really insightful information about the brand, their products over the last seven years, and the different places to purchase Suqqu products is available in this video I found just before posting this review.

SUQQU Melting Powder Highlighter 101 Kagerou

This particular shade of highlighter is limited edition and part of the Suqqu Summer Collection for 2022, but I can only assume a permanent range will eventually be released. I also assume the permanent line will not have the cake-marble pattern, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

I mentioned before how impressed I was with the color variety from Suqqu this year, and I have to give the brand credit for doing something very few others are willing to do. Any time I’ve seen a brand release a single highlighter, a single blush, single bronzer, etc., it’s intended for those with light skin tones. I wouldn’t even say pale/fair tones or medium tones, but it will almost always work on someone light. Suqqu surprised me by being the first I’ve ever seen to release a single product that is in a medium-tan tone. The color choice is, as stated by Selfridges, “Inspired by the hazy heat of balmy evenings and vibrant colours of spectacular sunsets…[that] complements your hard-earned golden glow.” That sounds like the shade was chosen specifically because it’s a Summer collection, but the end result is that I finally know what it’s like to be able to use a product that only comes in one shade! Granted, I still believe brands should release a minimum of two since it’s still not a great feeling to be left out of a collection, though I have seen people across a wide range of skin tones, including fair, be able to enjoy this product. Some examples of this highlighter on those of different skin tones are: Lexi Jong, Sofia Sees Beauty, Alicia Archer, Charlotte Holdcroft, and daps_makeup.

This shade is on the warm side, which is a great fit for me considering my undertone. I thought it would be a little more golden-yellow because of the base color underneath the swirl, but it’s more of a light peach that is mixed with the coppery and bronze colored shimmer marble/swirl. The texture feels exactly like the Melting Powder blushes and blends beautifully onto the skin, but I’ve had different results depending on the brushes used. If I’m wearing foundation, I can use any brush except my Too Faced Diamond Light Highlighter brush to get the kind of application I like. If I’m barefaced and I decide I want to add a little glow to my face without any other makeup, I can only use my absolute favorite highlighter brush (in the past twelve months), the Bisyodo CH-HC Highlight Cheek Brush. With this brush, I can get it to look smooth, but the main issue with it being on my bare face is that it looks super shimmery (especially with the other brushes) and doesn’t melt into my skin the way it does if I’m wearing foundation. The highlighters and blushes, even though they feel the exact same, don’t have the same formula from what I can see on the ingredient lists. This is possibly why it doesn’t perform the same way on my bare skin as the blushes do. This isn’t a big issue for me though, since it’s rare that I wear highlighter in strategic spots and nothing else on my face. 95% of the time that I wear highlighter, it’s going to be with foundation. So, 95% of the time this highlighter is going to look exactly how I want it to, but I thought I should mention it anyway for any makeup minimalists who may be reading this. I hope I explained that clearly enough. The highlighter is smooth and melts into foundation, but looks glittery if I put it on my bare dry skin.

Lastly, I have to comment on the fact that I’m amazed how sleek and luxurious the packaging of the blush and highlighter are despite being so lightweight and compact in size. It’s slightly more than half the thickness of the Pat Mcgrath blushes! I like how thin they are without feeling flimsy. Also, these Melting Powder products attach in one magnetic spot when stacked on top of each other. It’s not enough to be able to stick together if one is lifted, but enough to keep them secure in a drawer.

The highlighter is currently sold out at Selfridges and Fude Japan, was still available at Cult Beauty until a week ago, and I have not seen a product page for it at the Harrods site, so I’m not sure where else it can be purchased.

SUQQU Powder Blush Compact 101

This was actually the first Suqqu product I bought and the only one I had for a long time. It was released in the latter half of 2020, but I wasn’t confident that enough of the shades would work for me to be worth the $60 palette price plus $30 shipping. So, I patiently waited for an untouched or barely used one to be put on Mercari, which between a coupon and seller credit I was able to get this for well below retail!

There have been three 6-pan palettes released so far and they are all limited edition, so only the 103 version is still available on retail websites.

These blushes are in the Pure Color Powder formula, which is still immensely soft, even if it isn’t to the creamy level of the Melting Powder blushes, but they blend well and don’t look powdery on the skin. There are four matte blushes and two highlighters, but the blushes still impart a natural sheen to them that’s not quite satin but not a flat matte either.

Pan #1 is like a mauve-brown and Pan #2 is magenta. I’m not the biggest fan of those shades used on their own, but I really like the way it looks when I mix the first two of them together on my cheeks. Pan #3 is a pink highlighter with a silver reflect that is unavoidably icy on me. Pan #4 is a subdued terracotta orange-brown that has a little more of a bronzing effect on me and looks less like a blush. Pan #5 is my favorite as a medium toned coral-orange that isn’t very vibrant on my cheeks, though I don’t mind that. Pan #6 is like a taupe-champagne highlighter that again reflects silver. Essentially, I only use this palette three ways: mixing shades 1 and 2 together, using #4 on its own, and using #5 on its own. The highlighters don’t look nice on me, but because I can still use this in three ways, I still reach for this product periodically. I enjoy the Pure Color formula enough that I would be likely to get another version in the future if at least one highlighter and three blushes out of the six pans are my style. I also plan on getting at least one of Suqqu’s ombre patterned Pure Color blush compacts. ChicProfileOfficial on Instagram posted a sneak peek of Suqqu’s upcoming Fall Collection, so I plan on getting #132 if possible.

As for the packaging of the 6-pan cheek compact, it’s still lightweight but it’s a decent size in proportion to the products inside. It’s basically not bigger than it needs to be.

That’s all for today! Thank you for reading and I hope to review more from Suqqu in the future!

-Lili

March Purchases Reviewed: Dior, Colourpop, Vieve, Etc.

This experiment examining my monthly purchases has been fascinating for me to see all grouped together. January was indie and high end. February was indie and drugstore. March has shaped up to be a little of everything! There’s no consistent pattern and that makes me wonder how the rest of the year will be. Will I purchase more things or less things? Will I have an entire month of products solidly within one price range? Is it possible for me to go an entire month without buying a single thing? We will see!

Makeup Geek Empty Magnetic Mega Palettes

It’s quite unfortunate that Makeup Geek Cosmetics is no more. I didn’t add this to my Beauty Resolutions post, but I’m unofficially on an empty magnetic palette no-buy, and have been for years. I have so many unused small ones (25-30 pan ones), or what I refer to as small compared to the Coloured Raine 96 pan palettes. They don’t resell well either, so I try to avoid getting them, but these plastic Mega Vault Palettes from Makeup Geek are such a better and sturdier quality than even Z-palettes (which are already better than other more affordable cardboard packaging alternatives). For this reason, I bought two additional ones at 40% off on Makeup Geek’s website. I suspected prices would be further reduced in April, but I didn’t want to take the chance of these selling out. It’s a good thing I did because they were out of stock within a few weeks.

Wayne Goss The Luxury Eye Palette in Imperial Topaz

Between the Beautylish Lucky Bags and Wayne Goss Lucky Bags, I knew there would be plenty of untouched or only swatched palettes available on Mercari. I’ve wanted to try Wayne Goss’ eye shadows since the beginning, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay full price for six neutral shadows. So, for almost half off, I was finally able to see if playing the long game was worth it.

I didn’t have faith that these shadows would be worth full price, and it’s still not unless at least 4 of the 6 colors are someone’s style, but this really is a high quality formula! Well, the black shade is an exception but the rest are fantastic. Shades #1, #2, and #4 are satins, #6 is a topper type of glittery shimmer, shade #5 is a texturally soft matte, #3 is a very dry and stiff matte. What makes the difference between the mattes is the lack of stearates (which can account for the softness of the texture) and zea mays (oil absorbing but silky feel) missing from the black shadow that were included in the medium matte brown.

The satin shades can be used in the crease in place of a matte, but I have to be careful using #1 anywhere beyond highlighting spots because it’s so light and #2 is practically my skin tone, so it doesn’t show very much beyond adding a sheen to the area. I also wish #5 was a little deeper. I thought I would be able to mix #5 and #3, but #3 is so stiff that it doesn’t mix well with others. It reminds me of the black shade in the Hindash Beautopsy palette in the sense that it looks like it’s going to give a lot of pigment when it first touches the skin, but it’s a buildable formula that requires multiple layers to get something dark and dramatic. I appreciate that this type of shadow is perfect for smokey eye looks, but I’m able to get that effect from Hindash’s palette twice as fast and I consider that a little slow to use!

These shadows have fantastic longevity with very minimal creasing. I was impressed to discover #1 can cling to my inner corner when a lot of other shadows don’t by the end of the day from all the times my eyes get watery or I rub them. #6 also impressed me because I don’t get glitter specks on my cheeks either throughout the day. The glitter is spaced out when applied to the eye, but I can make it look less like a topper if I apply it wet.

Imperial Topaz is supposed to be that go-to palette for everyday quick and easy looks. However, they aren’t the perfect tones and depths for me, the scattered glitter effect from the nicknamed “celestial” shade isn’t my preference, soft satins are generally not my preference anymore either, and the black shadow takes effort to use. So, it’s not possible for this to be an effortless essential palette for me. I can still make nice looks with it, but it wouldn’t be worth me paying $55 for it, and I say that as someone who is willing to spend more than that on a palette if it’s nearly perfect for me. In my opinion, this palette should be $45.

As for those who love satins, celestial shades, creating soft looks and/or glam looks, is of a different skin tone in which #2 could work as a transition shade and #5 could add dimension, I can completely see how this would be an ideal neutral palette for someone. The perfect palette even. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for me, but I am still going to continue to stalk Wayne Goss launches in the hopes that one day he’ll release my ideal eyeshadow palette! The Tourmaline palette almost got me, but not quite!
This palette takes the third spot in my 24 max goal.

I realize I’ve forgotten to mention something that will only be important to some people, but I will include this note now. Whenever I purchase the first product from someone who is a celebrity, influencer, or public figure, I always disclose my thoughts on them for those who may be worried about whether my review is clouded by personal feelings positively or negatively. When it comes to Wayne Goss, even though I am subscribed to him on YouTube, I only watch 5% of his videos, so I sometimes forget he is technically an influencer. I’ve always put him in the box of Makeup Artist/Industry Professional, which most people typically don’t have parasocial ties to, and therefore wouldn’t need disclosing. So, for full disclosure now, I used to be a big fan of his and that is what got me to first start buying his brushes in 2015. His products were the reason I placed my first Beautylish order. At some point I lost interest in his videos because the reviews are always glowing since he almost never reviews products he doesn’t like, so at that point I stopped thinking of him as an influencer and instead as a brand owner and professional. Certainly, by this point, my opinion of him is neutral.

Dior Forever Couture Luminizer in Golden Glow 04

Well, I said I would eventually get a Dior highlighter in my Beauty Resolutions and here it is! All the luxury beauty channels I watch say that Dior makes the best highlighters, so I’ve wanted this since it launched. I was planning to buy it during any retailer’s 20% off sale, but I happened to find an untouched one on Mercari at a significant discount, so I snapped it up! I just did not want to pay full price for a formula I’ve never tried before and that I honestly didn’t think would live up to the hype.

I didn’t think of the implications when Angela van Rose mentioned that the base color doesn’t show very much in this highlighter. There wouldn’t have been an issue for me if the color in the pan was the tone of the shimmer, but since the base is almost transparent on the skin, I’m left with the actual color of the shimmer which is a bit too light for me. I love how the highlighter melts into the skin. I love how fine the shimmer particles are and how it gives a glassy wet-skin glow to my face. However, I can only get away with wearing it if I take my time to really blend it onto my cheekbones and even then, I’m not sure how successfully I pull it off. The best results I can get (pictured above) is with the Smashbox Precise Highlighting Brush which somehow picks up more of the powder and deposits less of the shimmer onto my cheekbones. If I want to continue using this, I could try to pair it with one of my darker highlighters.

In terms of longevity, this lasts all day without the shine dulling down. It’s absolutely beautiful. I just wish it was a little darker. There are six different colors in the range, but I’m not convinced 05 Rosewood would be any better on me and 06 Coral Glow is supposed to be similar to Pat Mcgrath’s Divine Rose, which I already own. So, I don’t plan on purchasing another one. As for the full retail price, I would say it’s not quite worth $48, but I bought PML’s Lunar Nude at the reduced price of $45, and this highlighter is better than that one. So, if Dior did release a similar formula of highlighter with a gold shade that would work better for me (something like Becca’s Topaz), there’s a good chance I would buy it and possibly at full price.

Also, I didn’t realize this had a scent until I was watching other videos to compare the different shades and someone mentioned it. I checked and can confirm mine does have it too, but I had to put it right up to my nose to detect it. It’s the same fragrance as my Dior Powder No Powder, so I guess it’s the brand’s signature scent for powder products.

Colourpop Super Shock Blushes in Chamomile and Sounds Grape

These purchases, combined with last month’s heart shaped blush, put a big dent in my goal of ending the year with under 15 blushes. Plus, Colourpop is not even on my blush exceptions list! The review for the Super Shock formula of blushes (with some highlighters snuck in) can be found here.

Chamomile is as pretty of a color in person as it looks online, but Sounds Grape is so much darker than I expected!

If I use a heavy amount, it looks similar to the shade Cheerio, so I have to be careful with this one and apply lightly. If I only use a little bit, the look I get is exactly as I hoped and is beautiful. I have no regrets buying these two blushes!

Colourpop Super Shock Highlighters in Flute Punch and Got Glow

Flute Punch was part of my official Colourpop order in March. I bought it so I could have a lighter version of Champagne BB that I enjoyed in February. Both were from the Feelin’ Bubbly Collection, but for some reason, I got Flute Punch in the basic permanent Super Shock packaging and not the special edition one. Colourpop Super Shock Cheeks in the highlighter formula weren’t on my exceptions list because as much as I love them, I wanted to not purchase anymore so I could use up what I have. I caved when I bought these and that was very naughty of me. As for Got Glow, the Colourpop x Avatar the Last Airbender collab, I purchased it from Ulta. I thought the color was beautiful and I wanted to try the tie-dye formula. When the Avatar Collection was released a week after my order, I regretted not waiting for something else I wanted, as this could have been the last item in my official Colourpop order instead of needing a “filler” item. The fact that it was available at Ulta, so I could add it to my order without needing to pay for shipping or meeting the price minimum was why I happily broke my rules and bought it.

The line on my cheek near my ear in the Flute Punch photo is from wearing a mask, not the cheek products.

Colourpop Pretty Fresh Face Powder in Dark 18

Because I had a 25% off coupon that would mean the difference between saving a few bucks after having to pay for shipping or spending a few extra dollars after hitting the free shipping minimum, I decided to add this as a “filler” for my order. The only other items that interested me at the time was a hair accessory or additional blushes and highlighters, which I did not want to add to my yearly tally. So, even though I’m on a definite powder no-buy, I decided to try this one as my first complexion product from Colourpop.

According to the website, this powder can be used on its own as a foundation or as a setting powder. I accidentally chose a shade slightly lighter than my skintone, but when I used this with my natural hair brushes, I get such a thin layer of product that it just blends in and may as well be translucent. As to be expected, I get a lot more coverage if I use the extremely thin powder puff that came with it. The slightly off shade still isn’t noticeable with the puff anywhere except the areas of my face where I have darker discoloration. So, this is only a problem if I’m trying to wear this product on a bare face. There are no issues when I’ve used concealer over my hyperpigmentation and then applied the powder afterwards. After looking at a few videos and seeing shades 19 and 20, I don’t believe there is a shade in the line that would suit me for foundation purposes. So, I will not be trying to get an additional shade.

I like the softness of the powder’s texture, how it helps to even out my skin tone, and it sets my makeup in place. It even works as a setting powder for my under eyes and adds a little extra coverage and brightening if I apply it towards the end of the day if my concealer is starting to fade. I’m pretty happy with this product! The result I get with this is like a less expensive version of MAC’s Mineralize Skinfinish Natural.

Tarte Shape Tape (Original) in Deep Golden

In my Beauty Resolutions, I mentioned that this was one of the rare times I would allow myself to have a backup product. I got it for 50% off during Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty. I’ve discussed this concealer in so many different posts on this blog. The only thing special about this one is that it’s yet another shade in the same Deep 53 range, but in a different undertone that looks like it will be better for me than Deep. As I’m trying to use up my other concealers, I don’t plan on opening this one anytime soon in order to keep it fresh until I’m ready for it.

Also, I just wanted to show Tarte’s packaging change between the purple box to a clear plastic one.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Intense Black

This was another Ulta 21 Days of Beauty purchase. It’s a backup item, but I mentioned this was a possible purchase in my Beauty Resolutions and Hyped Drugstore Products posts. This is a long time holy grail eyeliner, so I’ve discussed it plenty of times on my blog.

Covergirl TruBlend So Flushed High Pigment Bronzer in Ebony

Since I got free shipping from buying a Beauty Steal (Shape Tape), and I had some funds left on my gift card, I added this to my order. In my post about Drugstore Items Worth The Hype, I discussed how much I enjoyed the Sweet Seductions blush from this range and wanted to try the bronzer. This is still a breach of my beauty resolutions because Covergirl is not on my list of no-buy exceptions, but I have no regrets because this is such a great bronzer! The way that it is similar to the blush is that it’s very blendable, but rather than shimmery, it adds a pretty sheen to the skin.

If I use a dense brush, I don’t have to build it up as much. The Ebony shade is perfect for my skintone as a true bronzer, rather than all the brontours I’ve been using lately. It’s only a few shades darker, so I don’t get a ton of sculpting with it unless I really build it up, but it matches my undertone so well in providing a very natural looking warmth. I highly recommend it and can easily say it’s my favorite bronzer available at the drugstore as it truly rivals some high end formulas.

The partial indent on my cheek is from wearing a mask.

Olivia Palermo Beauty Eyeshadow Palette in Regalia

Mercari to the rescue again! When Olivia Palermo Beauty launched, I wanted a palette solely for the packaging, which I heard was luxurious and weighty. However, I had enough sense not to spend $58 for color story I hated. The Soirée and O’Naturel palettes were all that was available until February 24th when Regalia was released. I was about to order this from the website with the 15% off coupon for signing up for emails, but the shipping price deterred me. There is a free shipping minimum of $60, but a palette plus the cheapest item in the shop (a $29 lip balm) makes that free shipping minimum really $74 after the coupon. So, I decided to play the long game. What a stroke of luck that I found a seller three weeks after the launch willing to part with one of her unused palettes and for just $28! And in the terms of my eyeshadow palette low-buy, this purchase takes the fourth spot in my 24 max goal.

The first time I tried out this palette, I tested it with the MAC Paint Pot on one eye and no primer on the other. The texture of the eyeshadows felt different from what I’m used to, which is why I wanted to test them without a base to make sure it didn’t negatively impact the shadows. My findings was that the matte shade deepened up quite a bit on the primed side, even though the Paint Pot had enough time to set. I used Smoky Quartz in both creases and the shade was not easy to blend on either eye. The performance of the shimmers were much better. I did not wet my brush or use glitter primer, yet I didn’t see any glitter fallout at the end of the day, only the particles that fell from the initial application. This was shocking considering how packed with sparkle Diamond Dust is! Diamond Dust was even applied on the eye without the primer! As for the primed side, Antique Diamante is borderline a glitter-shimmer shade and that didn’t have fallout either.

Rose Gold is labeled a satin, and I agree with that. Malachite, Antique Diamante, Amethyst, and Diamond Dust are all called shimmers, but Malachite and Amethyst are much more satin-like in comparison to Antique Diamante and Diamond Dust. The four shimmers also have a black base to them. I could see the darkness in the smudges they left on my fingers after swatching them. This helps those shimmers to pop and increases the opaque look to them. I don’t need to load on the shadows to make an impact.

I find it interesting how soft the satin and shimmers feel (minus Diamond Dust), how pigmented they are, and how smoothly they apply. A lot of other formulas have slip ingredients like dimethicone in a higher concentration in order to achieve that spreadability and creamy feel, but because this one doesn’t rely as heavily on dimethicone, it barely creased on me. The fallout-free and crease-free aspects alone might make this palette worth full price for some people. That isn’t the case for me, but as someone with a lot of lines on my eyes and oily lids, it’s an aspect that is gaining importance to me as I get older.

“Glittering gems and precious metals,” are the inspiration for the Regalia palette. For my personal preferences, I would have liked a matte black to emphasize the sultry smoky side of the shimmer shades and give me the level of depth I enjoy most, but I appreciate the fact that having the warm brown gives me something to pair with Rose Gold for a daytime option, and so I don’t feel restricted to just use that shade exclusively for highlighting the eyes. Technically, the shimmers are dramatic enough to wear on their own, so having a color like Smoky Quartz offers more variety to the looks and is probably less intimidating for some people than a matte black would be. I just wish it was a more blendable shadow.

I am of course thrilled with my purchase at the reduced price, but I’m not sure how I would have felt if I paid full price for it. In addition to the creasing and fallout being non-factors, and the tones of the shadows looking flattering on my eyes, this has phenomenal packaging that literally weighs half a pound! The outer shell is metal, which makes up for most of the weight. The inner portion surrounding the pans and mirror feel like plastic, but I’m not certain about that. The total weight of the actual shadows is 7g/2.5oz, which means the packaging alone is over 5.45 ounces. I can see how this palette would be a nice luxury purchase for someone and the experience certainly raises its value. However, for those who don’t care about packaging and just want something nice for a lower price point, the Lorac Pro Fairytale Forest palette isn’t a dupe, but it gives a similar vibe for $39.

Lastly, I remember reading Trendmood1’s post on Instagram for people commenting to be nice when she posted about the brand’s launch. This was during the time of back to back announcements of celebrity beauty brand launches, which people were voicing their displeasure over. I hadn’t heard of Olivia Palermo until that post, so my interest in the brand is purely for the products and not the person.

Vieve Sunset Blush in Sorbet

I’ll get this disclosure out of the way now, since this is my first Vieve Product. I am familiar with the name Jamie Genevieve because of other Influencers, but I don’t know anything about her. I wanted to try this brand because Brit Clarke consistently raves about the products and discusses every new launch. Plus, in one of the focus groups I’m part of, I learned that another beauty retailer is interested in knowing people’s thoughts on the brand, which increased my curiosity as to whether the products live up to the hype since they may eventually become easier for me to obtain in the US. So, my interest is in Vieve, not the owner.

I said in my Beauty Resolutions that I would avoid buying products from brands that are new to me, but the discount on someone’s unused backup blush was too good to miss out on. Being able to determine how good the highly praised blushes are would help me decide whether I should look into the bronzer duos since I’ve had my eye on those but wasn’t sure if I should splurge on the duos from Victoria Beckham Beauty instead. A lot was riding on this!

Once again, the partial indent in my cheek is from wearing a mask. It’s not the makeup.

Sorbet is exactly how I wanted Nars Orgasm X to look on me. Although it’s described on some websites as being a peachy shade, I view this as medium to medium-dark coral shade with super fine gold shimmer that gives a satin appearance when looking straightforward, but gives a golden glow when it catches the light. I believe this shade could work for those several shades darker than me in the “deep” category. It’s firmly pressed in the pan to help minimize kickup and also make it easy for those with lighter skin tones to be able to wear a bold color like this without overdoing it. That said, it doesn’t take much effort to build it up on my cheeks. So, it’s pigmented but buildable. I once made the mistake of rubbing my squirrel hair brush roughly back and forth thinking it wouldn’t pick up that much, but as soon as I put the brush to my face, I immediately got more pigment than I bargained for on my cheeks and had to tone it down with foundation. I prefer to slowly build up three layers for the perfect amount for me.
It lasts on my cheeks all day without fading. Overall, I think it’s a great quality blush and I would be tempted to purchase the other shade that caught my eye, Piazza, but that is supposed to be similar to Mented’s Clay Too Much and Fenty’s Rose Latte, so I will just stick to this one.

Regarding the full price of $32, I think that’s actually fair considering the performance. I also like the effort to make the packaging look luxurious if you don’t stare at it too long. For instance, the black leather with the gold logo/name plate is reminiscent of a designer handbag, but the product is lightweight in the hand and faux/vegan leather wrapped around cardboard and a shiny thin plastic covering on the inside. And what looks to be a metal tag is plastic. It’s pretty, but I can’t help but compare it to Pat Mcgrath’s blushes which perform the same, plus have that pretty rose embossing, as well as the sleek weighty plastic compact. PML’s blushes are $38 but they’re always on sale and the minimum sale discount would make it the same place as the Vieve blushes, so if they had similar shades I would buy the one from PML instead, unless I was going on a trip. Then the Vieve blush would have the advantage. Vieve also has the PETA bunny on the packaging, which the cruelty-free, vegan, gluten-free, paraben-free, and fragrance-free aspect is important to a lot of people. PML doesn’t advertise having all vegan formulas, but I did not see carmine, fragrance, or parabens in the blushes and they say they do not test on animals. Although I’d prefer to purchase PML blushes, I do recommend the Vieve ones and I’m thrilled to have this Sorbet color.

Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer in Glass Slipper

In March, Fenty had their annual Friends and Family sale at 30% off for customers with an account or 25% off for everyone else. This is always the time I get the previous year’s Gloss Bomb holiday set since they tend to always be available beyond Christmas. My two complaints about the Gloss Bombs are that I wish they had more pigment and less visible shimmer. The 2021 Glossy Posse: Fantasy 4Sum Mini Gloss Bomb Collection contained a Cream Color Drip, which is a formula I hate, and even more glittery versions of the gloss bombs. So, I opted out and decided to get Glass Slipper, which is a clear gloss with no shimmer since the original gloss bombs barely change the color of my lips anyway. Although I’m supposed to be on a lip product no-buy, there is an allowance for replacement lippies and things I had to delay purchasing from the previous year (though technically I replaced the replacement option). I have old gloss bombs I need to toss out, so this purchase is allowed, but it’s still subject to my 5 lip product maximum for 2022. This makes number 4. My review of the Gloss Bombs and Cream Color Drip can be found here.

Hindash Monochromance Gradient Palette – I did a dedicated review to this product here. I decided in my Beauty Resolutions that if Hindash released another gradient palette, I wouldn’t count it as part of my eyeshadow tally since I tend to use these more on the face than on my eyes.

Sonia G Cheek Pro – When I bought the Hindash Palette, it was during the Beautylish Gift Card Event where you can get a $20 credit on your account for every $100 spent. This purchase, although it shouldn’t be allowed under the section about not buying repeat products, got me to the $100 threshold. My review for this brush can be found here, though I’ve discussed it multiple times throughout my blog.

KVD Good Apple Lightweight Full-Coverage Concealer in Tan 173

I’m not supposed to be buying backup products, but here I am again! This is a different shade than I reviewed here previously, but it was on sale for 30% off and I used up so much so quickly that it wasn’t unreasonable to have a replacement in this specific instance. Concealers are one of the few makeup products I go through regularly. It takes me 6-8 months to use up a 0.33 oz tube of Tarte Shape Tape, so the same is probably true of the Good Apple since it has the same amount of product and nearly the same coverage. In fact, comparing the weight of my new bottle to my current one, I used up about a third of the product within two months.

KVD Vegan Beauty ModCon Liquid-Gel Contour in Tan-Deep

I didn’t think this kind of product would work for me until I had such nice results from the Glossier Solar Paint bronzer. Then I started hearing more and more people speak highly about this product, so I was curious about it. This was part of the 30% off sale, so I figured I’d give it a try, even though I’m on a contour No-Buy with only Charlotte Tilbury and Pat Mcgrath as exceptions.

Also, I should address the fact that the labeling and everything says Tan Neutral 30, but names in promo images and on websites refers to this as Tan-Deep. They are the same product.

There is a learning curve to this product, which I wanted to show in my swatch photo how I still didn’t manage to get a smooth opaque blended swatch in the first attempt. Essentially, the issue is that this product doesn’t layer well and dries quickly. To get a pretty result, I have to work in one section at a time (one cheek, the other cheek, then the forehead) and make sure I apply enough product to the area. If I apply the right amount, it just takes about 5-10 stamps or swipes to blend it in seamlessly, depending on the brush. If I overapply the product, and therefore have to spend more time blending, spots will start setting while I’m continuing to manipulate the product and that causes it to become patchy. If I underapply the contour, and therefore have to add an additional layer, spots where there is more product from the first layer will be darker and dry unevenly like some liquid lipsticks do that don’t layer well. The KVD contour essentially has to be smoothed out fully and allowed to dry undisturbed in order to look great. When I nail it…I nail it! It looks amazing and is so quick! But when I mess up, I have to literally remove all my makeup in that spot and reapply my primer, foundation, and then try again. I thought I could get better at it over time, but I find myself just not wanting to reach for it and risk the hassle.

I have tried it with a sponge, which is not my usual go-to method. Because of that gel consistency, a damp sponge really lessens the pigmentation and I had to build up multiple layers. Even though I could add layers without the patchy issue, I lost that ability to be precise, so I ended up spending just as much time fixing it. The other issue is that the contour looks more like it’s sitting on top of my skin after using the sponge, wheres the brushes I’ve used let me really press it in, though I have to admit that I can get an even more skin-like finish with my cream contours and bronzers. I’ve used this KVD contour on top of both matte and dewy foundations and I still get random results that are either stellar or needs to be redone, so it may just be an incompatibility thing with my skin since I didn’t get on with the Colourpop Cheek Dew Serum blushes which were a gel formula too. Then again, a ton of people had a bad time with the original release of those serum blushes.

Some positives about this product is that I don’t have longevity issues with it and the color match is great for me. The neutral aspect gives it a slightly cool tone without looking unnatural against the warm undertone of my skin. The great experiences I have with the contour rank so high that I personally still like the product even though I admittedly seldom use it.

Huda Beauty Mini Glow Obsessions Highlighter Face Palette in Rich

I wanted this last year, but the outer packaging was so off-putting that I couldn’t bring myself to get it. I hoped seeing it in person would change my mind. Spoiler alert: it was even worse, especially after seeing how it looked on my camera from the very first shot I took head on. It’s like one of those internet cursed images!

All three quads went on sale at Sephora for $14 and technically this is a face palette, which is allowed for this brand according to my low-buy rules, so I went for it! I no longer have Rouge status, but with the FREESHIP code I was able to get free shipping, claim some point perks, have some samples, and pay for it with a gift card I redeemed from Swagbucks.

I’m glad I was able to get this for a deal because when swatched, these are pretty much the same shade! I literally started laughing out loud as I was swatching them on my arm because highlighters have the issue already of looking too similar on the face despite the tone differences and this one has the added disadvantage of being all coppers. #1 is a light copper, #2 is a pinkish copper, #3 is copper, and #4 is bronze-copper. They’re pretty but they are all the same, which wouldn’t be as disappointing if I hadn’t really wanted more of a real blush shade out of #2. Then again, I don’t think I would have worn any of these as blush or bronzer because of the metallic shimmer being way too strong for anything but highlighting. I basically look at this as having paid $14 for a single large highlighter, which isn’t a bad price.

The formula is quite thick and a little chunky. It reminds me of an eyeshadow, and a bit like the Glowlighters from Coloured Raine. This kind of highlighter requires a brush that can pick up just enough product to spread evenly, but lightly on the high points of the face if you don’t want a blinding look.

I retook these photos to show how Rich #1 can look more seamless and blended in the skin with the right brush, and how Rich #2 and #4 look in daytime lighting as opposed to nighttime when I took those two last time. In the daytime, it’s easier to see the slight pink tinge to the #2 highlighter.

Other than the similarities in colors and the slightly chunky texture, I think this is a beautiful product and I’m thrilled I bought it for this price. I also did a little craft project to make the packaging a bit more palatable for me.

CDJapan Haul

CDJapan had a points-in-exchange-for-reviews event on Chikuhodo and Koyudo brushes purchased from their website (and not other retailers). I was able to accumulate enough points from reviews, my already existing points, my quarterly bonus points, plus use a coupon, to be able to make another order for a really great deal. Since testing multiple brushes usually takes me several months and I like to review a decent number all at once, my review for them will be coming in a future post.*

*DISCLAIMER: I started working on this post in March. All of the brushes shown and all comments above were made prior to me becoming a CDJapan Affiliate. This particular post does not contain any affiliate links.

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Whew! That was a lot, but we’ve reached the end! This is the first month that I feel I did very poorly with my low buy, but I’m determined to do better next month.
Thank you for taking the time to read! If you like my content, be sure to click the follow button to be notified whenever I post, or you can bookmark this page and return for my weekly posts on Monday 11:30 am EST! If you’re new and would like to see my previous months, January is here and February is here.

– Lili

Clionadh Cosmetics Partial Dragon Fruit and Birthday Collections

I normally post reviews exclusively on Mondays, but this post is more of a show-and-tell. I consider it a bonus!

Clionadh Cosmetics Fruitlighter in Tropico

This highlighter, or fruitlighter as it is cutely called, is part of the collaboration Dragon Fruit Collection between Clionadh Cosmetics and Emily Violet Marie. Although I’m not following Emily on any social media, I have seen some of her videos discussing Clionadh products and I think it’s fantastic that the brand liked the concept she came up with long ago and decided to work with her. The entire collection is fun and summery, but I’m on a low-buy and a bit of a neutral phase, so I decided I would just get the two most unique items: the Fruitlighters. Unfortunately, the shade Pitaya sold out as I was checking out, but I still managed to get Tropico. I don’t think I can pull off duochrome and multichrome highlighters on my face, but I plan to use Tropico exclusively on my eyes.

I am very happy with this purchase and I know I will get some use out of it because I transferred it from the compact to my custom magnetic palette with my other Clionadh multichromes. When I was swatching Tropico, I observed the pan spin around and I figured out that it wasn’t glued in the compact, just stuck there via a magnetic bottom. So, I’m able to lift it out (gently with a thin object) and put it anywhere I want.

Tropico is in the palette on the bottom right.

In terms of longevity, I have no issues using Tropico on my eyes, nor the cheeks. It lasts all day wherever I put it. Clionadh highlighters in general are a bit glittery, which is why I prefer using them as eyeshadows, if it all. Part of why I was drawn to this shade, as can be seen in the swatch video, is that at a sharp angle you can get a partial rainbow colored shift of yellow, green, blue, and purple. I cannot recreate that effect indoors on my eyes, but it’s gorgeous all the same.

Clionadh Cosmetics Britt’s Birthday Trilogy Eyeshadow Trio Set

Leigh (aka Britt) and Maggie are the two Founders of Clionadh, and it was for Leigh’s birthday that this eyeshadow trio was created. I really wanted the green shade, and when I read that Nightmare was similar to Gum Tree (one of my favorite Clionadh shadows), I planned on purchasing the set whenever I had a bigger order to make. Somehow, I missed the part about Nightmare also having a similar vibe to BrittBritt, another shade that I also already own. So, the reason I haven’t swatched it with the others above is because I decided I won’t be keeping this shade.

The main differences between the three is that BrittBritt is a little more on the bronze and plummy side, Gum Tree is closer to a gunmetal dark-grey, and Nightmare is essentially just like Gum Tree but much darker in tone. So, I gave an example below of what Nightmare could potentially look like by combining the shadow Koala as a base, which is a dark grey-black, and putting Gum Tree on top. BrittBritt, Gum Tree, and Koala are all discontinued eyeshadows that were sold to contribute to various charities. If I did not already have all of those, I would have happily kept Nightmare. This Birthday Set is still limited edition, so it won’t be around forever!

It’s very important for me to not just keep makeup for the sake of keeping them. I really want to ensure I get more use out of my products, which is why I made the decision to just keep the Clionadh products I will actually use. I’ve barely made dents in my shadows despite how often I’ve used them because a little goes such a long way and I’ve calculated that even if I used a different shade every day, between the Stained Glass Collection and Clionadh’s standard shadows, I’d only be able to use them 5 times at most per year.

Below are the comparisons to the darkest greens and deepest reds in my collection with the new shades. One thing that really stands out with Mythology is that it has a lot more sparkle to it than the other greens. As for Bratty, it’s different enough from the others to want to keep, but between the reds and pinks I do have, it’s part of the reason I opted out of the Dragon Fruit palette. I do have a lot of those kinds of shades.

Per usual with Clionadh, these shadows remain opaque and pigmented on my eyes all day.

That’s everything! Thank you so much for reading! If you’d like to check out more of my Clionadh reviews and other indie brands, I have several of them categorized alphabetically here.

-Lili

*DISCLAIMER: All products in this post were purchased by me with my own money. Non-highlighted links in bold blue font (Example) are non-affiliate links that will not generate commission. Links marked in bold black font with a light blue background (Example) are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to get a commission if purchases are made directly using my links. There are no affiliate links in this post.

MAC Surrounded By Stars Palette, Peaches ‘N’ Dreams Blush, and Macstack Mascara Reviews

I buy products from MAC fairly often, but I like to review multiple purchases at once, rather than doing them individually. Today’s post is a review of all the latest additions to my ever growing collection of makeup from MAC Cosmetics.

MAC Extra Dimension X4: Surrounded By The Stars Skinfinish Palette

This item is part of MAC’s Magnificent Moon Collection that I purchased online from Selfridges containing an existing Extra Dimension Highlighter (Oh, Darling), two existing Extra Dimension Blushes (Hushed Tone and Hard to Get), and one new Extra Dimension Skinfinish Blush/Highlighter in the shade Surrounded By Stars, which is also the name of this face quad. This release was in celebration of Ramadan and EID, which I admittedly don’t know anything about aside from them being an important time in the Islamic religion. By this point, it seems this collection will not be released in the US. As a lover of celestial imagery and MAC’s Extra Dimension Skinfinish formulas, I couldn’t pass this up like I did with the MAC Mosaic Masterpiece Collection from 2020 that I hoped would come to the US, but it never did.

I already own Hushed Tone, but the other products are new to me. Hushed Tone was my favorite Extra Dimension Blush shade from MAC for a while, but it’s on the lighter side of medium which means it is harder to see on my skin. If I build it up too much, the shimmer particles become too apparent for my taste, which is why I usually reserve this blush for the winter time when I am at my lightest. Faux Sure replaced Hushed Tone as my favorite because it has just as pretty of a sheen but is on the medium-dark spectrum, so it shows better on me. Oh, Darling is a bit light for me and Surrounded by Stars only works for me as a highlighter, so I prefer to combine those two products. Surrounded by Stars can look a bit subtle because of the tone of it, so adding the tiniest amount of Oh Darling gives it that extra pop at the highest points of my face. As for Hard to Get, the only reason I don’t already have a single of that shade is because I knew it was darker than I like to wear for blush. It doesn’t look too dark in my photo since I applied such a sheer layer, but I can literally use it as a shimmery sculpting blush if I want. In fact, when I reach for this palette, I like to put Hard to Get just above where I would contour and have it be a deeper gradient going into Hushed Tone.

I forgot to mention that in the last photo above, Surround By Stars with Oh Darling are both on top of the Suqqu blush.

It was only around six months ago that MAC released a similar product as part of the MAC x Rosalia Aute Cuture collection. Those were more of the highlighter formula whereas these are the softer to the touch blush formula, which I prefer. I’m quite pleased with the fact that I can find a use for all these shades, though I am more lightly to reach for my single products over this full palette. This is especially because I have a difficult time using limited edition products and ruining the embossing on the pans. I am happy to have this anyway.

MAC Wild Cherry Glow Play Blush in Peaches ‘N’ Dreams

I reviewed the HD Cherry Tree Blush previously, but I used my points at Ulta to get this shade. It’s not very pigmented, so it takes a ton of building up to get it to show on my cheeks, though my camera still had a hard time picking it up. It looks quite orange in the compact, but it translates to a true peach on the cheeks. I do like this shade and just like all the other Glow Play blushes, the blend is beautiful and the blush lasts as long as I need it to on my cheeks.

I couldn’t decide which photo shows the blush better so I just put them both here. It may depend on the viewer’s device settings and screen brightness.

MAC Macstack Mascara (Mini with the Superstack Mega Brush)

I bought this with my Ulta Reward Points as well. I purchased the version with the Superstack Mega Brush which is supposed to be better suited for those with longer lashes naturally and/or for everyone to use on the upper lashes. There is also a Superstack Micro Brush for those with naturally shorter lashes or for those who just want a smaller brush to get at the lower lashes.

I applied a thick line for my eyeliner, which makes it difficult to see my eyelashes, but I do have decent length to them. It’s just not as visible without the lift that a good mascara provides. My lower lashes are quite fine though, so I typically have an issue applying mascara there (except with a select few favorites), but I still went for the mini size of the Mega brush mascara.

I cannot deny that I can achieve a false lash effect with this mascara. I don’t have issues with smudging and it’s also fairly easy to remove the mascara. However, the more layers are added the more it’s prone to clump despite being marketed as, “… a continuously buildable mascara that stacks on infinite layers of volume and length.” Even if I keep passing over the lashes repeatedly without dipping back into the tube (so still within the first coat) it will start to clump if I keep at it for too long. After using it a few times, I wondered if it was because it starts trying to dry. The formula is supposed to allow the user to build up multiple coats, even on fully dry lashes, so the dried lashes do soften back up, but then it just builds on top of the clumps rather than smoothing them out. So, the most clump-free tactic I have is to skip wiggling the applicator side to side like I usually do to build up volume with other mascaras. Instead, I try building up the first coat using straight upward strokes for about 30 seconds to a minute before dipping the wand back in the tube (even if there’s still product on the wand) just to get a fresh wet coat and continue building it up, just stopping short of it starting to get that first clump. I then use the tip end of the applicator to smooth that clump back off (since it’s easier to fix one spot rather than multiple spots in multiple sections of the lash) and then leave the mascara alone. Another method is to repeat that step of building up a layer in the first minute, stopping to let it dry, then building up a second later but only in a minimal amount of strokes (5 to 15) in order to stop before the clumping begins.

The only time I had an issue with flaking was in the beginning when I had drier layers and clumped layers. Considering how much I dislike spidery lashes or clumps because it makes my lashes look like they’re suffering from split ends, I’m a little torn on my feelings about this mascara. I love the effect it gives in the end when I get it right, but it’s a little more finicky than my tried and true favorites, so it’s not always worth the effort for how quickly I need to do my makeup sometimes. I do like it, but I will not be buying the full size at full price. I could possibly see myself buying it at half price after my mascara no-buy is over (which I technically already broke for this).

That’s everything for today! Thank you as always for taking the time to read… or if you’re new here, welcome!

-Lili

My February Purchases Reviewed: KVD, Essence, Tarte, etc.

I wish it was possible to have reviews for my February purchases up quicker, but two of the orders were from international brands, which took nearly a month to arrive. I then needed adequate time to test out the makeup, but I was away from home quite a lot in the month of April. So, here we are now!

Some of these items have already been reviewed by now, so in order to give the unreviewed products their time to shine and not be repetitive, I will just add links that open a new tab to the locations of the previously discussed products.

KVD Beauty Good Apple Lightweight Full-Coverage Concealer in 167

This feels like old news by now since so many reviews have been released about this super hyped up concealer, but I may as well give my take on it too. This product, in terms of performance, has surpassed the identically priced and beloved Tarte Shape Tape Concealer! I have to use it in specific ways though in order to get it to last all day.

This product is full coverage but spreads very easily within the first half minute or so. The applicator feels lovely on the skin, but the amount it picks up is too much for my entire face, even when I scrape the excess product off the tip. With the scraped off amount, if I try to blend in the same spot, it still spreads outside of the brush zone, so I have to continue blending out the edges to get it to seamlessly fuse with my foundation, which can lead to it moving too far. How I minimize this is by applying a thin layer of concealer to the areas I need coverage, but I leave a little room on the edges and try to avoid my under eye lines. Then I wait at least 45 seconds to let it start to dry. Then I start blending and tap my brush onto the wettest parts that haven’t settled yet and use that to spread and cover all the blank spots. If I’ve lost some of the coverage by then, I dot the tiniest bit of extra product to those areas and smooth it out. This technique allows me to use the least amount of product, but prior to this, I learned it’s better to apply the concealer in two light layers rather than one heavy one. It also helps that I use the Sonia G Jumbo Concealer brush which doesn’t trap the product in its bristles or pick it back up off the face.

I don’t follow the inner and outer corner concealer application spots, the concealer triangle, or other shapes beauty gurus show because my dark circles and discoloration are unique and must be applied in the way that suits my face. I was in a bit of a rush when I took this picture, but that initial application doesn’t have to be perfect. The key is to cover most, but not all, of the undereye darkness and discoloration so that even less product will be able to settle into those lines later when I blend in the rest of the concealer. This is the method I use exclusively with the KVD Good Apple Concealer.

I’ve also been content with leaving my concealer as is and not setting it with powder, though without powder, I’d need a decent amount of product in order to keep it lasting all day. Denatured Alcohol is fairly high in this concealer, as the fifth ingredient. This probably helps with the quick dry down/partial self setting aspect, but it does concern me as someone with dry skin to have a drying ingredient in it. However, I decided I will continue using this concealer, at least until I’ve used it up because I like it so much. I love that it’s so lightweight but builds up to full coverage and looks a little more hydrating under my eyes than Shape Tape, even with the alcohol. It’s also longer lasting than Shape Tape. I think it’s important to prep my under eyes, but if I use a moisturizer (I don’t use eye creams anymore) with too many oils, it will break down my concealer quicker than usual. I’ve had better success using my primers/priming moisturizers like the Bobbi Brown Face Base, Tatcha Silk Canvas, Touch in Sol Pretty Filter Glassy Skin Balm, MILK Hydro Grip Eye Primer, etc. If I use something under my concealer, that’s when I make sure to set it with powder.

Regarding the color options, I recommend paying close attention to the swatches because some of the shades are randomly darker than the swatch above and below. Several shades are also essentially the same depth, but just have different undertones. When I was trying to figure out which one to get, it was quite confusing. If KVD created something between 173 and 177, that would be my ideal color provided it’s actually darker than 167 but lighter than 177. My current shade works under my eyes, but it’s too light for the hyperpigmentation around my mouth and gives a grey look when I cover it up. And for those who don’t know, I prefer having a concealer shade that matches my face, rather than being a few shades lighter. The dollops of product depicted for each shade are also much deeper than in reality, so I recommend going by the swatches or seeing these in store to be safe. My nearest Sephora never has anything new but both malls closest to me are closing, so I know that’s not possible for everyone to do.

For those curious, here are some swatches and shade comparisons. I only have a mini of the Deep Shape Tape right now, which I suspect is lighter than the full size, so I would say take that with a grain of salt, along with the Pat Mcgrath concealers which are nearly used up and also changing in consistency and should probably be tossed out. I typically mix PML’s 22 and 24 to get a better match and Lancome’s 460 and 495 to get a better match as well.

One thing to watch out for though is that after using it for a month, the color seemed a little darker than when I first got it. I think it’s due to repeated exposure to air. I will continue to monitor what happens with this concealer as time goes on and update this post if necessary.

Nyx Marshmellow Smoothing Primer (Mini)

I was always intrigued by the idea of this primer, but I held off buying it until I tried a sample of it and loved how it gave me what I wanted out of the Touch in Sol Pretty Filter Glassy Skin Balm, but with more of a shine to my skin. The sample I got was perfectly blended and mixed, but in my $8 mini, the oil and rest of the product is partly separated so much that it leaks out of the tube every time I open it. I know this is common in some products, but it’s quite the annoyance trying to apply it evenly to my face and not get too much oil in one spot. Before every use, I rotate between shaking the tube and massaging the packaging a few times to try and get them to mix back together.

This has a light marshmallow scent to it. There are quite a few claims on Ulta’s website like, “This primer smooths, softens, extends makeup wear for 16 hours, hydrates, soothes, evens tone, minimizes texture, blurs lines, adds a soft focus finish AND keeps makeup fresh.” After several wear tests, the longest being ten hours, I can only confirm the skin softening, minuscule amount of line blurring, and keeping makeup fresh. I hoped that the initial shine I got on my skin when first applied would continue throughout the day, which it does sometimes, but at other times this primer actually partially mattifies my skin. I would not have noticed if I hadn’t done several wear tests using the NYX primer only on one side of the face. Sometimes it goes on perfectly clear and at other times it leaves a slight white cast, which at least is undetectable once foundation is on top, but still it’s quite the strange phenomenon. The only explanation I have is the separation of the formula and me being unable to consistently mix it back together in the tube. So, on those matte days, I don’t know if my skin is actually being hydrated. It at least feels hydrated, so that’s a good thing for me.

I don’t wear makeup for long enough to know if it would last 16 hours and I have no idea what a “soft focus finish” from makeup would look like in real life, so I can’t confirm or disprove those claims either.
I still like this primer, but not enough to repurchase it unless I somehow start noticing the other supposed benefits like a more even tone, minimized texture, and an increase in the blurring power.

Essence Coffee to Glow Highlighter Beans

Calling this subtle wouldn’t be the right wording, but it gives more of a sheen or glow than a blinding reflect. It lasted a full eleven hours without fading during my longest wear test and with my best primer. The worst performance of it when combined with different base products left me with a very subtle sheen by the nine hour point. I’m quite shocked at how similar it actually is to the Guerlain meteorites in terms of performance, though it’s a little more toned down than those and the Guerlain is a little more friendly to texture.

It smelled like coffee when I first bought it, but a month later it smelled faintly like coffee but mostly like pencils. It’s the type of smell that is detectable when I put it on, but I can’t smell it after I finish blending it. According to Ulta and Essence’s websites though, these are somehow fragrance free. I skimmed several videos to see what others had to say about the beans, and theirs had a smell too, so I don’t know why this is the case if they aren’t supposed to be scented. Maybe it’s the foam or packaging itself that’s scented and not the makeup.

There are way less beans in the cup than I expected because there’s a foam layer that fills most of the space, as can be seen in my product photo far above. I don’t mind this since I’ve never gotten even a quarter of the way through a highlighter.

It is easier to get powder from the lid rather than trying to pick up product off the beans because I have occasionally gotten crumb size pieces between the bristles of the brush and when those fall to the floor it makes a mess. The beans stay mostly intact if I rub my brush over them, but they are not difficult to break. One shattered between my fingers when I tried to swatch each of the three colors against my arm and it got everywhere!

Considering I did not enjoy the Essence Pure Nude Highlighter Palette, I’m shocked how much better these are and how much more I like them. For those who like subtle highlighters and don’t mind scented makeup, I’d recommend trying these out if they’re still available. Also, those of a lighter skin tone can remove the darkest beans if there is a concern of this leaving a dark cast on the face. Conversely, those with a darker skin tone can remove the golden yellow beans if there is a concern of it being too stark, but I think it may be less of an issue for those on the deeper skin tone spectrum as can be seen here in this YouTuber’s video.

Essence Coffee to Glow Eyeshadow Palette

I should note that these two Essence products and the Nyx primer are all allowed in my low buy under the stipulation of “products that I intended to get last year but was prevented from doing so for one reason or another.” I tend to prefer colorful eyeshadow palettes, so the only reasons I wanted this palette were for the glossy and swirl shadows. I felt like it would somehow give me a taste of Huda Beauty’s Naughty Palette which has those types of shadows in it.

The #5 gloss shadow has a hard gel layer with all the pigment pearls at the very bottom, so I had to crush it down to the pan in order to get any color out of it. I expected it to just be a gimmick and it would certainly have been pointless wearing it on its own on my eyes if I hadn’t mixed it. It’s supposed to be a “universal eye shadow topper,” but that isn’t my makeup preference. Instead, I use this as a base primer and it greatly increases the longevity of the shimmers I apply on top, as I saw in an eleven hour wear test. I almost always get creasing on my eyes, and using the gel as a base does deepen the creases, but it also keeps my shimmers in place and prevents the transfer that I get from my lid to my crease when I use a regular eyeshadow primer.

With regular primers like the MAC Paint Pot and Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas, my eye looks using this palette are still fine past ten hours but the shimmers aren’t as intense. As for the mattes, I was impressed with the color payoff. They blend sufficiently. I just wish Essence included a deeper shade because I can’t get much depth out of shades #1 and #8 which are the two darkest colors in this palette.

I always use #3 to blend out the edges of the other mattes in the crease. For the inner corner, I use #2 or #6 but my favorite thing is to use them together for the inner corner highlight because #2 has the best reflect but it can be a bit dark depending on how much of the darker swirl is used, whereas #6 is lighter but not shinier. Those two shades don’t last as long on my eyes because I do touch my eyes frequently throughout the day and these are easily removed by touch, no matter what primer I use.

#4 is a nice metallic shade and both #4 and #6 feel like normal shimmers with some slip, but the #2 “bouncy swirl” shadow is quite creamy/wet feeling.

This palette is only $8 and is unscented. It was definitely worth me purchasing, even if it was purely for the fun of playing with some of these uncommon textures and formulas. The lightweight packaging feels like recycled cardboard and the palette is tiny and fits in the palm of my hand, but what it lacks in packaging quality, it makes up for with the eyeshadow formula.

Rephr Hydration Cream 1.0

I purchased this when rephr was offering a “set your own price” option where one could pay even as low as $0 to get it, plus the shipping cost. When I first used it, I applied way too much to my face and continued to get dewier throughout the day. In many subsequent uses, I learned that if I applied a smaller amount, it fully absorbs into my skin and is fully hydrated without leaving a trace of shine, which is fantastic for non-makeup days! I only like a little dew to my skin when I have a full face on; I don’t want to look shiny when I’m barefaced.
I’m also impressed by this formulation because it meets the requirements of my dry skin as a powerful moisturizer that is also lightweight. Rich/Heavy products tend to clog my skin. It’s not the easiest to find something that lets my skin breathe while also lasting all day.

Some highlights about the benefits of this moisturizer are that it’s fragrance and essential oil free, it’s made in Korea, it’s made of recyclable lightweight aluminum packaging, and it contains:

  • Niacinamide (5%)
  • Dimethicone (3%)
  • Glycerin (3%)
  • Centella Asiatica Complex (2%)
  • Meadowfoam Seed Oil (1%)
  • Panthenol (0.5%)
  • Algae Complex (2.0%)
  • Soybean Complex (1.5%)

Other lightweight moisturizers for my face that can do the job are the Innisfree Jeju Cherry Blossom Jelly Cream ($25 for 50ml), Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Cream ($15-36 for 80ml), Laneige Water Bank Hydro Gel ($38 for 50ml), Saturday Skin Waterfall Glacier Water Cream ($39 for 50ml), etc. So, rephr is offering quite the deal at $26 (listed price) for 100ml. The only one of those I mentioned that I like better than this one is from Round Lab, though I believe the rephr cream may be more occlusive.

I’m terrible about keeping to a consistent skincare routine, so I can’t say how this product performs on a regular daily basis, but I’ve used it enough these past few months to be able to say that it’s great and hasn’t caused me any issues.

Colourpop Pressed Powder Blush in 4ever Yours – That review is here.

This is was the first official breech of my low buy this month. I’m not supposed to buy blushes unless it’s one of the brands on the exceptions list, which this is not. Considering how similar it is to the heart shaped blush I bought from Colourpop last year, I should have stuck to my guns and not gotten it.

Colourpop Super Shock Highlighter in Champagne BB

According to the rules of my low buy, I should not have gotten this either. It’s the classic case of wanting it because I like the formula, but I don’t need anymore, especially when I have them in shades I already like. My only defense was that I at least removed the other highlighter and three blushes I had out of my shopping cart, but I just ended up buying those anyway in March. Oops!

This shade looks a bit too dark for me in swatches, but when it’s diffused onto the skin, it looks like the perfect depth and still brightens the area due to the sparkle. It lasts on my cheeks all day and I can’t even regret this purchase because it’s great! Unfortunately, this particular Super Shock has already been discontinued.

Oden’s Eye x Angelica Hela Palette – The review is Here.

This fits in line with my two eye shadow palettes per month rule. I’m doing quite well with that so far!

Kaleidos Lip Clays (plus Smokey Nostalgia Tin Box) in Skinship, Cognac, and Bare – The review is Here for both the Lip Clays and Blush listed below.

I purchased the custom bundle which requires 4 lip products, but the fourth was a gift for a friend. So, I’m not counting that last one as part of my lip no-buy and my total is currently 3 lip products out of the allowed 5.

Kaleidos Smokey Nostalgia Blush in P03 Sanguine – The review is linked above.

This is another purchase that technically goes against my low-buy. Kaleidos isn’t on the exceptions list for blushes, but I have always wanted to try one from them and couldn’t due to the shades not being suited for my skin tone.

MAKE UP FOR EVER Electric Brushes Set

This set with tax came to $36 from Nordstrom. The original price was $69 and has a retail value of $150. It includes :

  • 106 Foundation Brush: a brush for applying and blending all kinds of foundation for an even result.
  • 124 Powder Kabuki Brush: a brush with a short and slender handle for ensuring smooth and even application of all powders to create a lightweight, flawless result.
  • 152 Highlighter Brush: a brush for easily and delicately highlighting your face and body with its soft fibers.
  • 228 Precision Shader Brush: a paddle-shaped, flexible brush for applying, blending and smudging all types of eye products quickly.
  • Brush case

Today’s review will be about the foundation, powder, and highlighter brushes, but I’m going to give someone the shader brush. I rarely like synthetic eye brushes, so it would be a waste for me to even bother trying it. In general, I prefer natural hair brushes, but I’ve always wanted to try these, just not at full price. It was still very early in my exploration of makeup when MUFE decided to make their brushes fully synthetic. Regarding my no buy/low buy, I’m unofficially on a makeup tool low buy. However, I didn’t set any restrictions in writing.

The Foundation brush, I had seen in action during a Rouge event many years ago when a MUFE representative did my makeup and I wanted it ever since. I typically don’t like paddle style brushes, but this one works just as well as I remembered. I get zero streaks using this brush. I’m able to apply and spread foundation easily and get around edges and small corners with ease as well. I have a background with painting ceramics, and painting on canvas is an occasional hobby, so I can’t be sure if that plays into why this brush is so easy for me to use, but it is.

This brush can also apply a crisp line for cream sculpting products, though the shape of the tip isn’t the best for blending, but I can still do it with this brush.
It costs $36 which ended up being the price I paid for the entire set. I personally think it’s worth $25 at most, but having this brush made the whole set worth it.

I find it so strange that this is listed as a Highlighter brush considering it’s bigger than my Smashbox Cream Cheek brush and many other blush brushes.

It applies far too much highlighter for my preference, so I consider this a blush brush instead. That being said, I’m not the biggest fan of this brush for that purpose either. There’s so much bristle for such a flimsy floppy splay that doesn’t feel like I have much control of the blend. It’s like it smears blush across the skin like a mop rather than buffing in the blush. When I use easy to blend and pigmented blushes, this brush works perfectly fine. However, with a sheerer blush or lower quality one, it takes forever since it’s lacking firmness and makes things look patchier. I figured if this is problematic with powders then maybe cream blushes will be better for this brush, but that’s not the case. It doesn’t allow me to fully work the cream products into my skin and it just sits on top of it. With even more emollient creams, it has the issue of spreading product too far out.

This retails for $37, which I don’t think it’s anywhere near worth that. If I had bought this #152 brush individually, I would have returned it. I don’t recommend this one.

The retail price for this one is $52! I can’t recall if I ever paid over $40 for a synthetic fiber brush, so it’s no surprise that I wouldn’t normally buy a brush like this. The handle on this one feels even sturdier than the others in the line.

It’s the most dense at the very center and looser packed around the edges. When I put this brush handle side up against my palm, it sinks in at like a centimeter before it forms what feels like a wall. It’s so solid that I can’t get the bristles to splay, it just stiffens. This does the same thing when I apply a powder to my face. If I grip the handle and use a normal amount of pressure to spread powder on my face, it feels incredibly firm to point that it offers very little movement and the bristles drag heavily across my skin.

The way I like to use it is holding it in a looser grip and just blending with the tips without applying pressure. This method still gives me a strong blend without feeling like I’m using the world’s densest brush or attempting to exfoliate my face. I’m not saying that these brushes are scratchy. The bristles on all of them are soft, just not the softest synthetic I’ve felt, especially when pressure is applied and it drags on the skin. These fibers actually remind me a bit of pony hair, but softer. Now that I know the trick to using this brush, I do like it and I’m happy it’s part of the set. It can’t compare to my natural hair powder brushes, but I use those for an airier and more blended finish. This brush is one that I’d use when I want to actually load on a thin solid layer, like with face powder, before blending it out.

Even though I’m not planning to use this brush, I wanted to show how it looks through the plastic. The retail price is $25.

I feel like I got an absolute steal on this brush set! Even though I don’t want to purchase anymore synthetic fiber brushes, I can’t regret buying these.

MAC Glow Play Cherry Blossom Blush in HD Cherry Tree – The review is Here.

Considering how many MAC blushes I own, this shouldn’t be on the exceptions list, but it is because I don’t have the willpower to cut off the brand that ranks number one with blushes for me. So this purchase is still allowed according to my Beauty Resolutions.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Best of Cheek Set (Holiday 2021)

This set went on sale for $22 on 2/22/22, so with tax it came to just under $24. I always wanted to try this formula of Tarte blushes because people have been raving about them since I started getting into makeup and they always said that despite the holiday items being notoriously lower quality, this formula from Tarte was always great. After trying these minis out for myself, I can understand why these are such beloved blushes! The longevity is insane. I’ve done several wear tests with the longest being eleven hours and by that point the blush still looked freshly applied!

I used the maximum amount of Exposed, a moderate to heavy application of Charmed, a heavy application of Captivating, a moderate amount of Delight, and a light to moderate amount of Fantasy on the cheeks. Charmed and Delight had more room for building up.

I bought this expecting to only be able to wear the darkest blush in the set and just test out the formula of the highlighter, so I was pleasantly surprised to see everything show up on me! Exposed is described as a “nude pink” and admittedly barely shows because the brown tones blend into my skin. The pink is what makes it visible, though it’s on that cusp of being too light for me, so I will probably find a new home for that shade.
Charmed is a limited edition “bright pink” that I consider a light-medium tone that works for me if I spend a little time really blending it into my skin. The one that I’m actually shocked that I can wear because it’s even lighter than Charmed is the “bright peach” shade called Captivating. It looks crazy at first, but it warms up as I blend it in. I love the look of peach blushes, but they are usually ashy on me, which is why I go for corals as my closest equivalent of peach. It excites me to no end to have found one of the rare peach shades that I can pull off!
The last blush is another limited edition shade called Delight. It’s a “deep rose” that’s a cross between Exposed and Charmed, but darker. It’s the most natural looking of the shades on my cheeks and it’s the only one I don’t have to build up for depth of tone reasons and not pigmentation reasons. All of these blushes have a good amount of pigment.
As for the highlighter, the limited edition “rose gold” shade Fantasy is too light for me. Beyond the shade match, the way it reflects in the light emphasizes texture in a way that other highlighters I’ve used that are even lighter than this one don’t do. I don’t have enough experience with Tarte Highlighters to be able to say if this is indicative of their formulas, but I have an upcoming review where I tried another one that I liked much better and did not have the reflect and textural problem. That one went on smoothly, whereas this one sticks in places and takes a bit of blending in, so I think it’s just an issue with this particular highlighter.

So, in this set of five travel size products, I intend to continue using three of them. That makes the usable items worth $8 each in my eyes based on what I paid, plus the knowledge I gained in learning that I really like the Amazonian Clay blush formula! Each compact contains 1.5 grams of product, so the three I’m keeping equals 4.5 grams that I paid $24 to have. A full size blush from tarte is 5.6 grams for $29.
For these reasons, it made the set worth it, but I wouldn’t have felt the same way if I paid the $39 full price. Tarte lists this as being a $75 value, but there’s a combined product weight of 7.5 grams, which means the set should actually cost $38.84.

This is why I always recommend waiting for Tarte’s holiday items to go on sale. Then it has a chance of actually being worth buying if the products are not 100% suited for someone.

We’ve now reached the end of the post! I had so many products to review, which I expected would slow down my purchases for March, but it did not! It worked in the beginning of March but halfway through the month things got a bit crazy. I would estimate that post won’t be ready until August. I hope you’ll visit my blog again soon! And if you missed January’s purchases, they can be found here.

-Lili

Drugstore Makeup Worth The Hype?

I’ve been burned a lot by drugstore makeup, so I tend to only buy the products that have been hyped up for a year or longer. I know it’s possible for drugstore makeup to be on par with, or even better than, high end products, which is why today’s post is an attempt to see which of these items are beyond just being, “good for the price.”

Milani Cheek Kiss Cream Blush in Nude Kiss

When choosing this shade, I accurately detected that the color in the pan should be a dark enough blush color for me. What I failed to take into account was the sheerness of the formula. If I treat it like other cream blushes and pick up my usual amount to somewhat build it up, it blends away to nearly nothing. No matter how much I attempted to build, it would not go on my skin opaquely. However, if I load a lot onto my brush and apply it to my cheeks all at once and then blend it out, even picking up the excess with my Blendiful (yes, I’m still using that old thing), then I am left with a gorgeously dewy looking cheek.

I didn’t have high hopes for applying this blush with my fingers, but once again, I can get a nice result if I apply a lot of product to my cheeks at a time. This is why I don’t prefer using this blush with a sponge either, since the dampness from the sponge thins the formula and I have to use an excessive amount of product to compensate.

Had I known how sheer these would be, I would have gotten Merlot Moment. I bought Nude Kiss because I wanted something natural, but it’s still a touch too light to look completely natural on me, so I could see myself mixing this shade with some of my more pigmented cream blushes.

This formula does not set in the amount I have to use packed on, but it’s at least not sticky. It remains creamy to the touch and easily transfers. It also absorbs into my dry bare skin very quickly, so I need a barrier between the blush and my skin (like a layer of foundation) to prevent that from happening. When applied on top of foundation, this still begins to fade within a few hours. To get this to last, I use setting powder on top. This step also reduces the amount of product transfer and the balmy feeling to the skin, but it still doesn’t dry down completely.
With a foundation layer, packed on blush, and a setting powder layer, this blush starts to fade at eight hours. Considering the fact that I don’t like blushes that don’t set, I’m still impressed with this formula. It’s like a better version of the Tower 28 Beach Please Cream Blushes that so many people love, but I hate. I certainly recommend the Milani Blush over the one from Tower 28, but it’s possible the Tower 28 blush is longer lasting. I can only guess that because the Tower 28 blush I tried was more pigmented, but I don’t know its full wear time because I couldn’t stand the feeling of it on my skin and could not complete a wear test. I understand why the Milani Blush gets so much hype, and I like it, but I won’t be purchasing the others.

Below is a photo comparing the swatches off all the blushes we’ll discuss today.

J.CAT Beauty Blush-Mallow Soft Blusher in Thank You Berry Much!

This packaging is like an even cheaper version of MAC’s compacts. I feel like I could accidentally break the flimsy lid every time I open it. My fears for this cream blush are warranted considering my first one arrived broken in the mail, so Ulta replaced it.
I bought this on a whim because the look of it in promo shots and its description as, “a marshmallow textured formula,” reminded me of the Armani Neo Nude Color Melting Cream Balm Blushes (at least Warm Coral is that way). The J.Cat blush isn’t as emollient as that one and is a little stiffer, but once I’m able to pick up enough of it, it spreads fairly easily. It’s only $4, so I wouldn’t have asked for a replacement if I didn’t like the formula but I was so impressed!

Thank You Berry Much has a good amount of pigment, but because of the tone, it’s subtle on my cheeks. Despite the “berry” in its name, it’s a terracotta shade. I like the warmth it provides to my cheeks and by the eight hour point, it is significantly faded. It’s at least solid without fading up to six hours, and past eight hours it still clings on for an hour before disappearing. This also depends on whether or not I’ve set it with a powder and how often I’ve touched my face. When first applying, the blush dries enough that it’s not sticky to the touch and I don’t feel the need to set it with a powder. There is a tiny amount of transfer if touched and a low amount if accidentally rubbed.

This is one of the few blushes I like applying with my fingers, though I still end up applying it with a brush more often. The brush just requires a lot more building up. I can really pack on color with a damp sponge, but the sponge picks product back up, leaving splotches on the cheek. It also turned the blush into an odd vibrant coral orange shade. I think it’s a reaction between the water and the dyes. Sometimes eyeshadow formulas with dyes in them have color bleed out when I’m pressing them back in the pan with isopropyl alcohol. I’m guessing the dye in the blush reacted to the small amount of water in the sponge and caused a similar situation of the dye seeping out.
Because of the patchy results, I wouldn’t use this blush with a sponge again anyway. Fingers and brushes are the way to go.

As it stands, I think the one I have is the only shade I’d enjoy out of what’s available on Ulta’s site, but J.Cat has sixteen in total. The consistency is fun, the shade is pretty, and it performs fairly well on my skin, but this might be one of those things that are fantastic for the price as I can think of several cream blush formulas I prefer more.

Covergirl TruBlend So Flushed High Pigment Blush in Sweet Seduction

I like shimmery blushes, but so many that I encounter have too metallic and/or reflective of a finish or the shimmer particle size is large and takes it to the glitter level. I am so pleased to have found a great one at the drugstore, and it’s entirely thanks to Nikki posting about it on her blog. She mentioned that it can be found for as low as $7.99 at retailers like Walmart and Target. I purchased this from Ulta, which is normally $10.99, but between the sale and an additional promo code, I paid $5.30 for it. In my eyes, it’s absolutely worth getting and I’d even be willing to pay somewhere between $15-$18 for it! I have very few blushes in this exact tone, somewhere between a mauve and warm pink that adds life to the cheeks but is still grounded. It looks smooth on the cheeks, especially as it settles into the skin, and gives the right amount of shine.

“High Pigment” in the name could probably sound intimidating for some, but this blush is very blendable and therefore easy to get a subtle look or tone down. It’s also buildable, and I could get it to look even more intensely than my photo demonstrates above, which I used a medium to borderline heavy amount of blush. Nine hours is the longest I’ve worn it for, so far, and it was still going strong with no fading that I could see.

There aren’t any other blush shades in the line that interest me, but this experience makes me want to try the bronzer version and see if the Ebony shade would work for me.*

*Note: Spoiler for my March purchases post… I have tried Ebony and it does work and I do like it a lot!

Essence The Blush in Believing

Ulta bumped up the price to $3.99, but it was $2.99 originally and on sale for $1.79 at the time I bought it. It had been on my wishlist for months because I was curious as to whether or not such an inexpensive blush could actually be good, as well as wanting something I could throw in my cart to meet the free shipping requirement if needed. The only thing holding me back was the uncertainty of whether any of them would be deep enough for me. Thanks to Stef, another blogger who posted swatches of the four blushes available at Ulta, I was able to feel confident that the shade Believing would work for me. This mauve blush takes a little building up, but it does show on me and is actually quite flattering! It also lasts through a full day of wear. This is perhaps the best performing blush I’ve used at this kind of price point besides the ELF Bite Size Face Duos, which the combined weight of both the blush and highlighter (0.16 oz) is nearly the same amount of product as the one from Essence (0.17 oz). I like this, I think it’s good, and I could see myself continuing to use it, but it doesn’t quite cross into the “I love it” category. It’s equal to the quality of Colourpop blushes, which is around the $10 price point. So, for those who like Colourpop blushes and don’t mind having plain packaging, this blush is practically a steal.

Essence Pure Nude Highlighter Palette

Based on Ulta’s photos, I really thought the bottom shades in the Highlighter Palette were deeper than they ended up being. The second version called the Sunlighter Palette looked too deep for me, but I should have searched for photos from other customers and bloggers because I would have discovered it’s so much lighter.

I heard so many people say the Essence Pure Nude single compact highlighter was the perfect dupe to Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders, but I saw those in person and knew they would be too light for me. When I saw the palettes on Ulta’s site, I thought those would be deeper, but we know how that turned out. It’s possible that because the singles are baked, the formula and performance is totally different from these highlighters in the palette, since these aren’t the most refined and have a creamy slip to them that all baked products I’ve used don’t have. So, I guess I still can’t determine how good those singles are, but I can at least confirm that the highlighters in the palette don’t compare to Hourglass at all. They aren’t even the best options from the drugstore. They are too light for me, so they go on my skin bright and intense,yet they dull down so quickly and fade within hours. Even with a dewy product underneath, these highlighters don’t last on my face. They’re also a bit tough to blend and Pan #1 is flat out powdery and almost chalky. The other three weren’t as bad, but they reminded me of a slightly worse version of the Haus Labs highlighters in the Blush and Highlight Duos I’ve reviewed before. I can get the shades in this palette to work and look super pretty on the cheeks initially, but this formula just doesn’t last, which is the main reason I don’t recommend them.

I didn’t bother taking photos of highlighter #1 or #2 because they looked so terrible on me and are clearly not intended for dark skin anyway.

Maybelline Master Chrome in Molten Topaz and Molten Peach

I don’t have a lot of drugstore highlighters, but there seems to be a pattern of longevity issues with them. With this Maybelline formula, I can at least get 6-8 hours before they begin to fade. Molten Topaz is smooth, creamy feeling, and blends well into my skin. If it wasn’t for the fading, I would have mistaken it for a high end formula. Molten Peach is a stunning color, but there are noticeable large silver glitter specks throughout the pan and I am not a fan of glittery highlighters (especially silver), so this is not something I’d wear again. I wish I knew Molten Peach didn’t have the same milling of the powder as Molten Topaz, so I wouldn’t have wasted my money buying it, but it was only $5 from Amazon. I also bought Molten Topaz from Amazon for $6.

Although Molten Topaz is still not in my top favorite formulas, I think it is quite good and that the hype is well deserved. The biggest difference between this and more expensive formulas is the longevity. As for Molten Peach, that shade doesn’t give me what I want from a highlighter, so I don’t think that one is even good for the price at $10 considering I have Colourpop Super Shock highlighters at the same price that I like more and those last all day.

Revlon Skinlights Prismatic Highlighter in Gilded Dawn

Talk about a glittery cheek! In some lighting, it’s alright, but it’s really glittery up close. I despise how this looks with some brushes that pick up more of the shimmer onto the brush than the rest of the powder, but even at its best it’s still too much for me. I don’t think it looks flattering on me purely because of the visible glitter. I did attempt a full wear test and it didn’t last to the eight hour mark. It has that glassy reflect to the skin like most baked gelée products. The base color blends into my skin so well, and it feels smooth to the touch, so this really could have been a hit for me if it had finer shimmer. At the same time, I know a lot of people don’t mind glitter and some people even love it, so I still get why this is hyped up.

The Results With My Best Brush

I thought it might be interesting to compare some of my least expensive highlighters together in the picture below. I like Colourpop the most, then Maybelline, Revlon, and Essence.

L’Oreal Paris Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation in a Powder in Copper

I go through phases of wanting powder foundations, but I’ve had so much trouble finding the right shade that I’ve mostly given up. When this line came out, I was interested to see so many deeper toned options and at drugstore prices, so I thought it might be worth investigating. I watched plenty of videos to try and find my closest shade, but the overall consensus was that the foundations lean too warm for me past Hazelnut. Hazelnut in the liquid foundation was too light for me and I had to mix it with Copper, so this information made me realize I was highly unlikely to get my perfect match in the powder form and that I should skip getting it. However, in one review, someone said that this powder foundation makes for an excellent bronzer and I decided I needed to try it for that reason alone!

So, I cannot say how this product performs as a foundation. I’ve only worn it around the perimeter of my face to add warmth, but no extra depth, to my skin. It lasts all day, although it’s quite subtle because I didn’t go for a darker color. This also makes for a good balancing shade for times my foundation or concealer is too light or too cool and I need to add some warmth back.

Because I don’t use this for its intended purpose, I don’t think I’m able to judge whether it’s worth the hype or not. I can at least say I have use for it in my collection.
Ironically, just a few days ago L’Oreal actually released this product as bronzers.

For the sake of science, I’m tempted to see how the two products perform similarly, but the ingredient lists are almost identical excluding two ingredients towards the end of the list. So, I think they could be considered the same product in additional shades.

Nyx Gimme Super Stars! Epic Ink Black Eyeliner (LIMITED EDITION)/Vegan Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Black

I actually bought this by mistake, as I didn’t realize this was part of Nyx’s Holiday 2021 Collection that released two weeks after the Nyx x Netflix Casa de Papel (Money Heist) Collection. I was entranced by what looked like a gorgeous coppery packaging and I ran out of liquid liners, so I clicked whichever version on the website was available that wasn’t in the standard black packaging. It turns out it didn’t matter. The one I received was a pretty gold pen and apparently the Netflix version is still gold too. Only certain promo pics gave it the coppery outer appearance.

I’ve made it known that the Stila Stay All Day liquid liners are my holy grail. This version from NYX is very comparable, but Stila is still better in a few crucial ways. For one thing, I’ve used up a NYX Epic Ink liner pen already, so I know how it performs when it’s starting to run out of product towards the end. It ends up being less pigmented, like the liquid and pigment are separating. This causes feathering sometimes in the lines of my eye. It also means I have to reline a few times to get the full opacity. With this new pen that I have, the watery aspect has already started. I’m not sure if NYX messed with the formula because I heard someone else say the same thing in a video this year. I have to add that I can sometimes get feathering from the Stila pen as well.
The second way Stila is better is that the NYX pen doesn’t go over multichromes and some of my thicker shimmer eyeshadows as well as Stila. I have to make multiple passes when using those types of shadows as well, which increases the chance of me making the line too thick for my liking. When this NYX liner is good and working right, it’s just as great at the Stila one and really is waterproof, but it admittedly still has weak points.

The NYX liners are only $10 and could be even less with a coupon, so the few issues I have with them seem to be worth dealing with compared to Stila’s $23 liners. However, Ulta has Stila’s liners in their 21 Days of Beauty and other sales for $11 often enough that I would normally encourage others to skip the one from NYX and wait for a sale on Stila instead. In 2021, Ulta actually kept Stila off the sale page and the usual holiday kits with two products for $22 weren’t included that year, which is how I ended up buying another Epic Ink Liner instead. After getting the Stila liners at half price for the last six years or so, I was adamant about not paying full price for it. And sure enough, it has already been on sale for $11 in 2022. So, I recommend the NYX liner in the event that cheaper waterproof liquid pens aren’t available, but for anyone who can hold out, getting Stila on a sale is more worth the wait.

Well, that’s everything for today! To sum it all up, the Covergirl blush is the only one I can fully endorse, but all the other blushes and the Maybelline highlighter (Topaz specifically) are all great for the price and perhaps worth looking into as well.

-Lili

10 Colourpop Powder Blushes and Highlighters I Never Used

I made a similar post to this regarding Colourpop’s eye shadow palettes, and just like that one, since 2020 I have had a growing blush and highlighter collection that remained unused and unreviewed. I can at least say my newer blushes and highlighters get some love in the Super Shock formulas, but not the powder ones, even though I keep buying them. Doing the wear tests for this post is going to help me decide once and for all where Colourpop stands among my powder blush and highlighter collections.

Colourpop Dark Blooms Pressed Powder Blush in Palatial

I wanted at least one thing from the Dark Blooms Collection, but the palettes weren’t my kind of color story and Palatial looked like the only one of the blushes that would show up on me. I’m also a sucker for a pretty imprint, so I got it in Dec 2020. Ignoring the highlighter on the top of my cheeks, this is a matte blush. It’s fairly pigmented, but I have to build it up for it to show. Because it’s a terracotta shade, it looks natural enough on me because of the brown, but it still slightly pops from the orange-red. I like it in that barely there kind of way. It’s discontinued, but I’m sure they’ll release something again that’s similar to it.

Colourpop Big Poppy Pressed Powder Blush in Outta Sight

I did try this blush once at some point when I was darker and it didn’t show up on me at all. After trying it again now, I can faintly see the coral-orange base color, but the shimmer particles are too large in this one. I really don’t like how it looks when I turn my face and it hits the lights. There isn’t enough color payoff for the amount of shimmer, so I plan on decluttering this in some way. On top of that, it’s another blush that Colourpop discontinued.

Colourpop x Hello Kitty and Friends Pressed Powder Cheek in Bundled Up

Of the two blushes in the collection, this was the only one with a chance of showing up on me. It’s faint, but once again, I don’t like the shimmer level (even prior to adding highlighter). It’s as if Colourpop only knows how to create blushes with a sheen if it’s in the Super Shock formula. The powder blushes are either all matte or matte with sparkles (like those sequin matte with shimmer/glitter eyeshadows). Colourpop never makes the kind of shimmer blushes I like. In any case, I mostly bought this for Hello Kitty collector purposes, so it will remain in my collection for now.

Colourpop x Hello Kitty Pressed Powder Blush in Aloha Honey

We finally have a product that’s still available for purchase (at least at the time I’m writing this), though I saw it in the sale section, so it’s probably on its way out! Aloha Honey is a pigmented vibrant coral that reminds me of an even brighter and slightly lighter in tone version of Pat Mcgrath’s Electric Bloom blush. Between the two, I prefer the shade of Aloha Honey better, but the Electric Bloom formula more. PML’s non-shimmer blushes are still demi-matte and that slight sheen that it gives makes it look nicer on my dry skin. However, for the $26 full price cost difference, if I had Aloha Honey in my hands first, I would have skipped buying Electric Bloom and just been satisfied with the Colourpop blush.

Colourpop Pressed Powder Blush in Luv Me Not and 4Ever Yours

Luv Me Not was part of the 2021 Valentine’s Day collection, but I didn’t get my hands on it until one of the restocks last October. Colourpop’s heart shaped blush was another product I wanted mostly for the packaging, as well as the hype since some people were saying it was Colourpop’s highest quality blush formula to date. For the 2022 Valentine’s Day collection, they released six shades with Kiss n’ Tell as the only returning shade out of the original three. This is when I purchased the shade 4Ever Yours, which looked like a deep coral orange in Colourpop’s photos but it is in actuality way more toned down and pink. If I build up 4Ever Yours, it looks incredibly similar to Luv Me Not. Between the two, I prefer 4Ever Yours just because it’s not as deep of a shade, so I don’t have to worry as much about overapplying. Then again, it is very pigmented, so those lighter than me would still have to be careful using 4Ever Yours as well.

Colourpop Wild Orchid Collection Pressed Powder Blush in Potted

I usually say I’m not into berry blushes, but there’s something about this shade that is so special. Perhaps, it’s because it’s the exact tone of my favorite color (reddish purple). It also helps that with a sheerer application, this doesn’t look too dark on me and I find darker blushes to be aging. Part of what makes picking a berry blush tricky is that I can never tell if it will flatter me or not based on the pan color. I have to actually try them out to know for sure if it’s the kind that could work for me or not, and I’ve had so much bad luck in the past, which is why I rarely take the chance anymore.

An example of the kind I like is quite the throwback, but it was formerly my holy grail blush back in 2014 or 2015 until probably 2018. The Make Up For Ever HD cream blush in Raspberry 510. I never even considered this a berry blush because it was more like a red with a splash of purple. I have this strange view in my mind of only considering plummy cooler toned type of shades to be berries when that’s not the case in nature.

Shade aside, Potted is yet another matte pigmented blush that’s now discontinued from Colourpop, so I’m glad I snagged it while I could.

SOL Body Shimmering Body Powder in Wild Orchid

This highlighter has the typical Sol Body coconut/suntan oil smell. I’m not into duochrome highlighters, but I saw Amanda’s (Makeup.Just.For.Fun) YouTube video and it looked so beautiful with the other blush in the Orchid collection that I decided to take my chance on it. This highlighter is unsurprisingly glittery, which is another thing I tend to despise about highlighters, but this is the one exception. The way it looks with Potted is so pretty to me.

When I use this product, I prefer to either apply with my fingers and blend it out with a brush or to use it with a dense brush from the start. The dense brush will pick up more of the shimmer, but at least the base goes along with it. When I’ve tried applying this highlighter with my usual favorite highlighter brushes, they only picked up the shimmer/glitter particles and it looked terrible on my cheeks. I may use this highlighter in the future but solely with blush shades like Potted and most likely for an occasion or event.

Also, I know this is a body highlighter, but I don’t use products like that. I would only use this on my face.

Colourpop Super Shock Highlighter in Lantern Fest

I snuck this one into my powder post. Please forgive me. When I bought it, I thought it was a powder highlighter. I didn’t realize it was the Super Shock formula. I had some blinders on when I bought this because I wanted it for the packaging. It was a Lunar New Year item for the year of the Ox. I have mixed feelings about this on me, but tilted toward the side of not liking it. The specks of shimmer seems to be bigger and more visible in this formula than the other Super Shock highlighters I own. The color is light for me but sometimes I like it and other times I don’t. I’m not sure if that has something to do with the mixture of the red, yellow, and pale pink and preferring when I have more or less of a certain color. This is returning to the back of my collection and is of course discontinued.

Colourpop Cheek Palette in Tea Cakes

This is the third and last item from Colourpop that is still available for purchase. It’s one of several different cheek palettes they’ve created. The highlighter is in the Super Shock formula, but the three blushes are powder products. Most Necessary is darker and more shimmery than I like to go for in a highlighter, so I don’t intend to use it again unless I’m in a time crunch and I’m already using this palette.

Pralines is like the better version of Outta Sight. Because it’s so reflective, I think it’s best on me as a highlighter. It gives a hint of color, so I could wear it on its own, but I prefer to use it as a blush topper, which is gorgeous with other warm toned blushes. This is the only shimmery powder blush from Colourpop I’ve tried that I like, but again, as just a topper.

I’ve tried Snickerdoodle and Tea Cakes once before and I didn’t like them. I’m guessing it was when I was darker because trying them again, I find them to be much prettier now. I just wish they weren’t so matte. These two shades remind me of Sigma blushes, but just slightly better. Snickerdoodle goes on the cheeks bright initially, but is toned down when blended into the skin. Yummy Bite has just enough red in it to show as a true blush shade on me, rather than a bronzer or something, which was my initial reservation about having a brown blush in this quad. Again, in my eyes this would be even better if the blushes were semi or demi mattes rather than full on mattes. I still like them though and if I could finally get to a place where I use blush palettes rather than always reaching for my single blushes, I believe I would use this again. This is one of those purchases though that I think is worth getting for the price and not necessarily for how amazing it is. It’s pretty good, but not exceptional.

That’s all for today! After testing these out thoroughly as part of my Shop My Stash for March, I’ve decided that the Colourpop powder blushes and highlighters don’t rank in my top 50% favorite formulas. I really should not get them anymore except in the less common shades, like Potted and Aloha Honey, which are my favorites out of the bunch. Getting those were worth it because they are priced affordably. It’s the everyday wearable kind of shades for me that are worth getting at the top tier level. Most Necessary and Lantern Fest also showed me that even getting the Super Shock highlighter formula doesn’t guarantee the small particle shimmer size I prefer, so I should stop getting highlighters from Colourpop altogether.

Even though the majority of these products are discontinued, I hope this has been helpful.

-Lili

Beautylish Presents The Year of the Tiger Brush and other January Purchases

I’m still playing catch up on things I purchased in 2021 and wish to post about, but today is an update on all my beauty purchases from January 2022. I’d like to show how well (or not) I’ve been sticking to my Beauty Resolutions for the year.

Beautylish Presents the Year of the Tiger Lunar New Year Powder Brush

  • Full Length: *170mm / 6.69 in
  • Hair Length: 47.6mm / 1.87 in
  • Hair Width: *40mm / 1.57 in
  • Bristle Type: Blue Squirrel

In my Beauty Resolutions post, I mentioned that I should only purchase Lunar New Year items that had personal significance to me (ex: Year of the Dragon). This brush depicts the most adorable chubby kitty with tiger stripes, which does make it significant to me in my interpretation of this design (it’s an inside joke). In addition, for half of my life the Tiger was my favorite animal. This is why I succumbed to the temptation and finally bought one of Beautylish’s collaborative Lunar New Year brushes. They did not announce which brush-maker created this year’s brush, but in the past is was Chikuhodo. Even if another Fude company created this brush, I’m still happy that it has the Chikuhodo aesthetic with the large round shiny handle similar to the Z-series. As long as the brush is high quality, which it is, it doesn’t matter to me which Japanese company created it. This brush is still hand bundled with an exquisitely detailed lacquered handle using the maki-e process.

This brush is unbelievably silky soft and of course perfect for those who want a very sheer application of powder. I can use this for highlighter (when applied just on the very tips), blush (when I use sweeping motions across the cheek), and bronzer, but in my eyes this is a dedicated all over face powder brush. Although it picks up a small amount of product, when that product is very pigmented it takes more effort than I like to buff it out because it’s not dense enough for that. If I use a squirrel hair brush for blush, I prefer one that’s thicker and more round like the Z-1. Anything looser packed than that, I consider to be more ideal for setting/finishing powders. Honestly, this is more of a collector item for me and not one I intend to use a lot. When I do use it, it’s heaven though. It’s so soft and light that I barely feel any pressure on my skin. This is a beautiful powder brush, but if you already own one with grey/blue/ash squirrel hair, you’re not missing out by not having it. For those who don’t and would like a light/medium density powder brush, this might be a good place to start since comparable brushes to this would be a little more expensive. I still recommend this for collectors, but for someone looking for a more functional or versatile brush, I would direct them to Chikuhodo’s Z series and FO series.

At launch, Beautylish also restocked the previous Lunar New Year brushes as well: Pig, Rat, and Ox. As cute as those designs are, those three have nearly identical brush heads which is already practically the same as the Tiger brush, so I didn’t feel any pressure to add those to my cart. Since I already have three close enough brushes as the Tiger, Koi/Carp, and the Z-1 (the Z-9 is a better dupe but I don’t own it), I don’t feel a need to get a backup brush. However, trying to steer clear of a Rabbit next year will be difficult, and I suspect trying to ignore the Dragon will be impossible.

Sonia G Builder Pro Eye Shadow Brush

  • Full Length: 152mm / 5.98 in
  • Hair Length: 12mm / 0.47 in
  • Hair Width: *9mm / 0.35 in
  • Bristle Type: Dyed Saikoho Goat Hair

The Builder Pro and Builder Three are both brushes that lay product down well but can also be used for blending. I’ve discovered that the Builder Three leans better on the blending aspect because of the flatter top, so I prefer that one for crease work. The Builder Pro leans better on the lay down and building aspect because it’s perfect for applying shadows to the section of my eye between the eyelid and inner corner. I always struggled with that spot, but this brush gets in there easily. It’s also more precise for application to the outer V. I’ve actually been able to do entire eye looks using this brush alone. I’m very happy I decided to finally buy this!
The tapered tip that makes the Builder Pro so great for applying shadows also prevents it from blending large areas as quickly as the Builder Three, so I will probably use that one more often when I’m in a rush. However, for when I have more time and want to create a detailed and more skillfully done eyeshadow look, I will definitely grab the Builder Pro instead. They perform differently enough that I feel justified having them both in my collection.

Before we move onto the next topic, I have to acknowledge that I bought a backup of the Builder Three at the same time that I ordered the Builder Pro, which is a breech of my beauty resolutions. Then Sonia G/Beautylish restocked many brushes I wanted, including the Cheek Pro which would have been yet another backup purchase, but I was able to stop myself.

Lethal Cosmetics Charity Eyeshadow in Meekha

This is one of four limited edition charity eyeshadows released from Lethal Cosmetics. I mentioned liking tigers earlier in this post, but I am dog person and I have a soft spot for pitbulls. It was very lucky that the only eyeshadow that caught my attention happened to be the one named after the sweet rescue pitbull named Meekha. In addition to the animal charities being supported by the purchase, Lethal also committed to planting a tree for each January order. My sister had a pitbull named Radja, so that’s the name I chose for the planted tree in her memory.

This is the second indie brand that I’m aware of who has created limited edition shadows for charity, and I am here for it! For some reason, when larger brands do it, it feels like it’s just for press. Somehow, this kind of thing coming from a smaller brand seems more heartfelt. In any case, I like to see this.

The combination of the colors in the Meekha pan turn into an icy lavender shade on me. I’m not sure how often I will use this shadow, but I was able to create a look that I liked. It even makes for a nice bright inner corner highlight shade for other eyeshadow looks! The eyeshadow texture and performance feels just like other shimmers from the brand. The formula is a bit thick, but they smooth out nicely on the lids and fallout is about what one would expect from a shimmer shadow (present but not too bad especially if applied wet or on top of a glitter primer).

And as a follow-up to the charity aspect, post-January purchases will continue to go to charity. It’s just the tree part that is over now.

Lethal Cosmetics Highlighter in Fusion

I wanted this highlighter shade for a long time, but it was initially exclusive to the Equilux face palette, which I did not get because the blush and bronzer in the trio were too deep for my skin tone. Since it’s now available as an individual item, and I wasn’t completely satisfied with the highlighter selection I brought with me on my trip to Germany, I figured this was the best time to get it (especially with the lower shipping cost). I am supposed to be on a highlighter No-Buy, but this purchase was allowed as it falls under the category of something I would have bought last year if it was available to me, and in this case, available as a single product.

Unlike Gamma and Gravity, my two other Lethal Cosmetics highlighters, I find Fusion to be quite subtle. Fusion is close to my skin tone, and that could add to how subtle it is, but even the texture feels a bit different than the other two, and not just because of the lack of ridges. Fusion was difficult to show in swatches, even when built up. It feels a bit hard pressed*, and when the highlighter was delivered, it was messy around the pan edges as well as within the packaging. My brushes are able to grab product easily (despite the fact that it looks a bit hard-panned** now too) but perhaps the hard pressing is preventing more of the actual shimmer particles from being picked up. That would be ironic considering if I have an issue with a highlighter it’s usually that my brush is picking up too much of the shimmer.

*NOTE**: I have a few wonderful friends and family members who read my blog sometimes and may not be aware of some of the terms I’ve used. For anyone who needs clarification, the press of a product refers to the force in which a product is physically pressed into the pan (usually with a pressing machine). Makeup that is “Hard Pressed” has powder so compacted together that it becomes difficult to get the product out of the pan and onto the brush. “Hardpan” is when a powder product gets a hard or filmy top layer that also prevents someone from being able to pick up product onto a brush, but it is usually due to oils from the skin getting into the powder and creating that tough layer. Certain formulas of powder products are more prone to hardpanning than others.

Fusion has an orange tinge to it. Although the shine level is a bit low, when it hits the light, the golden-orange sheen is apparent at that point. It’s not what I was going for but mixing it with some of Gamma puts the look back in my comfort zone. I will likely declutter Gravity and Fusion at some point, but testing out these shades reminded how much I enjoyed wearing Gamma, and I will have to remember to use it more often. Anyone interested in seeing those shades on me can check out my previous Lethal Cosmetics post here.

Chanel JOUES CONTRASTE Powder Blush in 320 Rouge Profond

I considered buying a Chanel blush for a long time, although I always expected it to be from one of their limited edition collections. My interest in buying one re-sparked when Ulta started carrying Chanel Beauty products in January (although the brand will probably be excluded from all coupons including prestige). I also really wanted the Blush Lumiere Brun Roussi shade from the Spring 2022 collection, but I wasn’t willing to spend Hermes prices for it. So, when I was browsing the Duty Free section at the Frankfurt Airport, I had an impulsive moment to buy shade 320 Rouge Profond, a shade that is not available at Ulta and is part of their older blush formulation. Chanel changed to the new formula in March 2021, and according to reviews I’ve seen, the new formula is less smooth, less sheen-like, and less pigmented, so I decided to go ahead and get this one in the old formula while it was still available.

The Houkodou Nagi Powder N-F1 Brush fits perfectly around the dome of this blush and applies it perfectly as well. The blush swatch needed to be built up on my arm, but color goes onto the cheek nicely. The perfume scent is very noticeable. The color and performance reminds me of the MAC Mineralize Blush in the Flirting With Danger shade. In fact, as much as I like this blush, it didn’t “Wow” me more than the MAC blush and that one is significantly less expensive. My curiosity is satisfied knowing Chanel’s permanent blushes aren’t superior to products I already have, but there’s still that troublesome part of me wondering if Chanel’s even pricier blushes are better. Either way, at twice the price, I doubt it would be two times better, so it’s best I leave that topic alone.

That’s everything I bought in the month of January! I did not include products I ordered in December that arrived in January. Those items will show up in future posts.

Thank you for joining me today! I hope this has been helpful!

-Lili

*UPDATE: For those on the email list, I apologize for the accidental early release of this post. I’ve been consistently posting at the same time for a reason, but I’m not sure how or when the scheduled time for this one was changed and it completely escaped my notice. Considering we just entered Daylight Savings time in the US, this could be especially early for some people. I plan to resume our regular schedule of Mondays at 11:30 am EST.

I Said I Wouldn’t Buy These, But I did!

I admittedly have an excessive makeup collection for a single person. Though it may not seem like it considering all the newly released makeup I purchased in 2021, I actually made a bigger effort to talk myself out of getting makeup in categories I already had favorites of and didn’t need. Each product reviewed today were things I thought I successfully anti-hauled, but all it took was a sale for me to change my mind!

These purchases were all made in 2021, so my beauty resolutions for 2022 are still intact and going strong! If anything, this post is an example of why I had to come up with a better plan for this year.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Cream Bronzer in Hazelnut

This purchase I attribute to Angelica Nyqvist’s many videos talking about how fantastic this product is, including her end of 2021 favorites. I wish I could say I had the same experience, but I just find it to be okay at best. This cream is easy to blend out, to the point that I have to build it back up, but if I overblend while building it up, it starts to look patchy because it’s setting in spots at different times. On the opposite side of the issue, I try not to apply too much at once because the shade is a bit deep for me. The shade jump between Hazelnut and the next lighter shade, Caramel, is huge. Hazelnut was my only color option. So, perhaps if I had a better match that didn’t put me at risk of overblending, I might like it better. As it stands, I prefer the Danessa Myricks, Kaja, and Sol Body/Colourpop cream bronzer formulas above the one from ABH because those three all blend quickly and easily into a skin-like finish. They’re also just as deep, or in some cases deeper, than the ABH without the blending and building troubles.

I’ve used this about ten times, so it’s possible I could find another brush that works better with this bronzer other than the Sonia G Mini Base and Scott Barnes #65 Flawless Face Brush, but between using a sponge, brush, or finger, the end result looks similar for all of them. I’m cutting my losses and rather than figure out how to make this one work better, I can just use my no-fuss cream bronzers that I like instead.

Pat Mcgrath Labs Skin Fetish: Sublime Skin Highlighter in Lunar Nude

I couldn’t resist the gold packaging with that embossing, but I’m at least glad I waited for a sale. I told myself over and over that Lunar Nude would look too light for my skin tone, so I shouldn’t get it. I was half right. The shimmery reflective particles are light gold, but the base color is a copper color. It even looks copper or gold depending on the lighting of the room and the angle. The base tone helps it look a little more wearable on me, but it’s still lighter than I’d prefer in a highlighter.

I can see the shimmer particles on my face, which is also not my preference, but I also realized that certain brushes of mine pick up more of the sparkle than others. On the website, there was a note to pair this with the highlighting balm duo. When I used the balm and then applied Lunar Nude on top, it definitely helped to make the product melt into the skin and look super smooth and achieve that “wet look” that I enjoy. However, it really cranks up the intensity level and the fact that the highlighter is too light for me becomes way more obvious. Since I figured out how to use it to my preferences, I like the formula but not the actual shade. Ultimately though, I don’t think this is worth buying at full price except for collectors and luxury product lovers. For anyone looking for the best highlighter on the market for the best price, this isn’t it. Much better and more affordable options are out there. It’s “pretty good” at best. I personally prefer Pat Mcgrath’s Divine Rose highlighter. That one is listed as a “futuristic gel-powder formula” in the “Skin Fetish: Ultra Glow” line whereas Lunar Nude is a “luxe gel-powder formula” in the “Skin Fetish: Sublime Skin” line. It’s possible they are the same formula, but Lunar Nude leaves more sparkle on the skin, which is the biggest difference other than the color.

Pat Mcgrath Labs Highlighter Comparisons

Different lighting to reveal the color shift of the trio.

Of course, since making this purchase, Pat Mcgrath has released similar highlighters to Lunar Nude’s formula in the Bridgerton collection. I don’t believe either of those new colors would look nice on me. If PML releases a shade variation I like in this same formula with the same special packaging and same or similar embossing, I would most likely sell Lunar Nude and buy that one. As it stands, this one isn’t getting much use in my collection but I still don’t want to part with it without a superior replacement.

Smashbox Loves Becca Under Eye Brightener in Dark

Although Becca Cosmetics is no more, a few best selling products were resurrected through Smashbox. This decision is presumed to be made by their parent company Estee Lauder.

There were originally just two shades: light-medium (now called Fair/Light) and medium-deep. The Smashbox x Becca version has two more in the mix: Medium and Dark. It’s my understanding though, based on a YouTube video by All Beauty by Sarah, that the original medium-deep color is actually close in depth to the current Medium shade with the main difference being that the original had a stronger pink tone to it. The third darkest shade now is called Medium/Dark and is much darker than the original medium-deep. The final shade, and the one I picked up, is Dark. Based on the description and the shade in the pot, I expected Dark to be too dark for me. Technically, as this is supposed to brighten my under-eyes, I should have gotten Medium/Dark. However, I prefer for my under eyes to match the rest of my face rather than being brighter, so Dark works perfectly for that. It’s the best matching color-corrector type of product I have ever used because it has a slight orange tone to hide my dark circles, but there’s also enough brown to make it look natural. I try to avoid showing my skin discoloration as much as possible, but in this instance I felt it was necessary to show a demonstration photo below.

Cream products almost always move in my under-eye area, but what makes this one a little different is the very sticky texture. This product has gripping power similar to the Milk Hydro Grip Eye Primer, but stronger than that one. This makes it ideal for applying a concealer on top, even though based on the color match, I don’t find that to even be necessary. However, it will not set on its own, so I either have to apply a concealer that sets down like the Tarte Shape Tape or apply a setting powder to my under eyes (or both). If I apply the Smashbox x Becca corrector by itself, it will settle badly into creases. So, I need at least something on top to keep it from creasing and to continue looking smooth.

So, I have an answer to using this product to hide my dark circles and keep it looking as smooth as possible considering I have heavy lines under my eyes. This product would be perfect if it wasn’t for the transfer issue. No matter what products I apply on top of the corrector, it will lift off my under eyes if I accidentally touch it or if I try to wipe away shimmer eyeshadow fallout. So, despite being the perfect color match for me, this isn’t a holy grail product. I use it on days when I’m not planning to go anywhere and am just putting on makeup for Instagram and Blog photos. I am at least glad I’m still getting use out of it. This would work wonders for people who don’t touch their face or rub their eyes as much as I do, so I still recommend it, but I would be wary about potential issues. Also, I would use a dedicated brush specifically with this product because it’s a bit of a pain to use with my favorite concealer brushes the way it coats the hairs in its sticky texture.

Flower Beauty Jungle Lights Palette

The release of Flower Beauty’s Desert Lights palette didn’t take away the major hype surrounding the original Jungle Lights palette. That’s what ultimately caused me to finally want to try it out. I’ve also always been curious how it stacked up to the MAC Tempting Fate palette a lot of people were comparing it to.

In the photo above, in the “Flash Off” set of swatches, I put a yellow divider line to help show the differences between the Flower Beauty swatches on the left half and the MAC swatches on the right half. In the “Flash On” set of swatches, I did not put a divider in order to keep it from impeding on seeing how similar the two sets look next to each other in every shade except Amazon (which had no equivalent) and Jaguar.

The Flower Beauty Jungle Lights formula is as creamy as everyone says, except Paradise and Jaguar have less slip and feel a tad more gritty. I also like the sparkle and shine level of these shimmers, which clearly surpass that of the MAC Feast Your Eyes Palette from the Tempting Fate Collection.

They’re as nice as people say, and I appreciate the fact that they last fairly well on my eyes as long as I pack on enough color with my finger (which is the recommended application method) and am content with the colors fading a bit to a duller color by the end of the day.

I think it’s worth looking into, especially at the price point. $17.99 is great already, but between a sale and coupon codes at Ulta, I got this one for $8.68. I still would have thought it was worth it at full price.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this palette was when I came across a reddit post showing 47 different shade combinations that could be made using this palette depending on which shade was on the bottom layer and which one was on top. Of course, the differences aren’t as obvious on my skin tone, but there were enough combinations to leave me thoroughly impressed. I took photos of some of the most obvious color changes with comparisons to the individual shades on their own to make it easier to see the differences.

And then the photo below shows all the individual shades plus my favorite five new shade combinations.

Unfortunately, some of these shade mixtures don’t show as well on my eyes as they did in arm swatches. However, it’s still fun to play around with the combinations. It makes for a more versatile palette.

I wish there were some mattes included, but I could perhaps continue to get use out of this if I remember to pull it out in conjunction with some of my all or nearly all matte palettes.

Sigma Beauty Berry Glow Cheek Duo

I really thought this duo looked nice on my skin in person, but in photos, the blush looks very ashy. The fact that it’s cool toned does look a little off to my own eyes though. I’m torn.

I bought the duo for about 40% off during a Black Friday sale and thought it was an extra great price considering it came with a brush as well. The brush will be reviewed in an upcoming synthetic bristle brush post. Considering the ashy look of the blush on camera, I’m not sure if I’ll continue to use it. I guess as long as it still looks nice in person, and I could potentially mix it with a warmer blush, I still somewhat like it. However, considering I also had mixed feelings about the Cor-de-Rosa blush palette, I think this will be the last blush purchase I get from them. I do like the highlighter, as it’s quite smooth with a small shimmer particle size and it doesn’t look stark even though it’s such a pale highlighting shade. It comes off a little more champagne-gold in person even though it looks almost platinum on camera. I’m almost tempted to investigate Sigma’s Glowkissed Highlight Palette from last year, but I have a full highlighter palette already from Danessa Myricks that I just bought during Black Friday too. I certainly don’t need another.

Those who are fans of the Sigma blush and highlighter formula already will likely enjoy the quality of this duo as well. I will continue to give it a few more tries to solidify my own feelings on it, but it’s just “nice” in terms of quality in my opinion. It doesn’t quite reach the “great” territory.

That’s everything! Out of the five items, I wish I could have successfully anti-hauled the ABH Cream Bronzer, Sigma Duo, and this particular shade of PML highlighter, but I really expected to love them and wouldn’t have known otherwise without having bought them first to try out. I will certainly try harder to stick to my anti-hauls in the future.
Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Blushes So Good I Needed Another…part 2

This is an update to my post from September 2020 where I’ll be showing my newest shades of blushes I’ve already reviewed before and loved so much that I wasn’t content with having just one shade. I needed more!

KVD Everlasting Blush in Peony and Foxglove

I already talked about how much I liked the shades Poppy and Snapdragon in Part 1 to this post, so I surprised myself that I actually bought two more. I always suspected Foxglove could work for me and Peony looked borderline like I might be able to pull it off during winter or early spring when I’m usually at my lightest. I was shocked that they ended up looking as nice as they do! Those two shades were clearly not intended for someone with dark skin but they have enough pigmentation to make it show and not look ashy!

Peony is cool toned, but this kind of pink still somehow looks nice on me. After about 3-4 layers, it doesn’t show any stronger on my skin tone, but I like how it looks with even just 2-3 layers. Foxglove doesn’t show as strongly in the photo above, but that’s because it’s a more toned down dusty rose type of pink and I prefer not to build it up beyond two layers. While I would say I consider a very pigmented blush to show on me in 1-2 layers, the fact that these are so pale in the pans and swatches, but still show this much on me speaks volumes.

Of the four blushes, I think Foxglove is my new favorite.

Pat Mcgrath Labs Skin Fetish: Divine Powder Blush in Electric Bloom

I purchased this perhaps a month after the initial blush launch. I wanted so many shades from the collection that I told myself I was only allowed to have one more, so I went ahead and made it this vibrant coral shade. It’s the kind of color that is debatable whether I can pull it off or not, but always calls to me. If I had just waited a little longer, I would have seen that it was listed as a dupe for Colourpop’s Aloha Honey blush shade on Temptalia’s blog and therefore I didn’t need the almost identical blush color. To be fair, I haven’t used the Colourpop blush enough to say how it compares in terms of quality because I always reach for Electric Bloom over Aloha Honey.

Paradise Venus is still my favorite shade of the three I have from Pat Mcgrath.

LYS Beauty High Standard Clean Cream Blush in Inspire

I hope anyone who reads my blog regularly isn’t tired of me going on about how much I love this cream blush formula, but I feel it deserves to be gushed over. I always had plans to eventually get this beautiful coral-orange shade, but I wanted to wait until I made more progress in my overall cream blush collection. However, I had some store credit built up via the Ambassador program with the brand, so I decided to go ahead and cross that off my wish list! Half of this blush was paid for via credit and the other half was paid for out of my own pocket. For full details about my affiliation with LYS, please see my About Me page and scroll to the near bottom.

Inspire performs just as well as the others. I cannot decide which of the three is my favorite because I keep changing my mind every time I use a different shade!

Wayne Goss The Weightless Veil Blush Palette in Bright Poppy (Sunny and Golden Glow)

Unlike the other blushes I’ve listed, which are among my top favorites, I decided to try Bright Poppy because the colors are better suited for me than Vivid Azalea and I wanted an answer as to whether the blush shade would be insanely pigmented in this duo too. Sunny is not quite at the unbelievable pigment level of Shocking, but if I tap once into the blush with my Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush, it’s enough to thoroughly cover my cheek. An additional half layer is the maximum amount I would want to use. Otherwise, my option would be to tone it back down using a finishing powder on top.

Sunny is pretty on the cheeks. Golden Glow is a nice highlighter formula that is very complimentary to my skin tone. I prefer to apply my blush and highlighter separately, but Wayne suggests that anyone who likes shimmery blush formulas could apply the highlighter to the entire cheek and then blend the blush on top of it. This technique worked for me with Vivid Azalea because the combination of the two shades turned the blush into a lighter color. I tried this with Bright Poppy and did not like it at all because the shimmer color and blush color don’t match. This means the particles in the highlighter stand out a lot more and I don’t like how contrasting it is. Whether I applied the highlighter to the bottom or the highlighter on top, the end result was the same.

Colourpop Super Shock Cheek in Matte, Satin, and Pearlized finishes.

Colourpop’s Super Shock Cheek line includes both blushes and highlighters, so I decided as a bonus to review all the ones I own here since I’m a huge fan of them. They have the benefit of looking and applying to the skin like creams, but without feeling heavy, sticky, or greasy on the skin like some cream blushes on the market can do.

In the Matte finish we have Over Dramatic, a “mid-tone pinky nude,” and Swift, a “rich deep warm brown” shade. Both are very close in color and practically look the same on my cheeks. Calling Swift a deep and rich shade is quite the exaggeration on Colourpop’s part. I have to build them up a lot in order for them to show in photos, but I bought these specific colors so I could have some brown leaning blushes, which aren’t as prevalent in my collection. Swift is from the Make It Black Collection when the brand partnered with Pull Up For Change. It’s a bit stiffer in consistency than Over Dramatic and because Swift is more of an orange-brown than pink-brown, it blends in with my skin a lot more. It’s on the borderline of blending in too much, considering it’s such a nude shade for me already. For that reason, I do prefer Over Dramatic because of my personal preferences.

I just have one Satin finish Super Shock Cheek and it’s in the shade Georgette which is described as a “bright apricot with a warm sheen.”

Georgette has the right amount of brightness that isn’t obnoxious. Also, I’ve always struggled to find orange tones of blush that look flattering on my skin tone. I tend to like the ones that lean more red or pink. This apricot shade is more on the yellow side, but I like it. So now, I think it’s just true oranges at the 50/50 split between yellow and red that I don’t enjoy as much. My quest to figure it out continues!

I have five shades in the Pearlized finish, starting with the two that came in the 2020 Lunar New Year set called the Lucky You Super Shock Cheek Duo.

I kept these unused for so long because of the pretty pattern in the Super Shocks. When I finally used them, I was a little disappointed that Drop of a Hat was too sheer to work as a blush for me. It’s better if I consider it a pink highlighter or blush topper. Goody Two Shu is pretty but a little sparkly, so I decided it wasn’t worth continuing to ruin the embossing. I just keep these as collector items now.

Voile is another Super Shock I stopped using. I kept trying to use it because the shade reminded me of Benefit’s Kiss of Rose and Charlotte Tilbury’s Walk of No Shame, which are both shimmery blushes I find to be beautiful. However, the shimmer level of Voile in person and the way the “copper sheen” sparkles on my cheeks is too much for me. It’s far more sparkly in person than it appears in the photo. I’ve realized that I prefer Colourpop’s matte and satin finishes for the blush shades. The only pearlized blush I enjoy is Cheerio and that’s because it seems to be a pearl-satin hybrid! Cheerio is a repromoted shade, which I bought from the Wine & Only Collection. The back label on my blush has “Pearlized” printed on it, but on Colourpop’s website it’s listed as a satin and it doesn’t have as many sparkles as the others in that formula. Or, perhaps I can’t see them if most of the sparkles match the color of the blush. What I see are some silver flecks.

I have to use a very small amount of Cheerio because it’s a deep shade. It’s easy to overapply and my specific blush arrived partly shriveled (which I pressed back into the pan). So, it’s a little drier than it should be and not as easy to spread evenly on my cheeks, but I can still make it work. Colourpop did send me a replacement, but I realized I preferred the cream blush from Natasha Denona’s Bloom Cheek palette a lot more, and that color is similar to this one, so I gave the replacement to my sister.

Lastly, we have my absolute favorite Colourpop Super Shock Cheek. It’s a “peachy gold” shade that I use for highlighting called Parasol.

It looks extra sparkly in the photo above because I used it over the Georgette blush which also has a sheen, but this highlighter is very smooth and wet looking. It blends into my skin very well and is the kind of tone I like for highlighting. I’ve used it quite a bit, even though it doesn’t look like it in the photo from the top down angle, but it actually has a dip in the center.

This concludes the post! I tried to keep it short since all of these (minus Colourpop) have been reviewed on this blog before.

Are there any blushes you have been loving at the moment? The blush and highlighter categories are the reason I haven’t been able to post Best of 2020 and Best of 2021 posts. I was constantly trying new products, loving the majority of them, and not able to use what I consider my favorites consistently enough to rank some over others. This year, I’m committed to getting a lot more use out of my older products. There are still plenty I haven’t even reviewed yet! I hope you’ll return to see the progress on that! Thank you for reading!

-Lili