Nars, Tom Ford, Alamar, and other May ’22 Purchases Reviewed

It’s officially one year since this monthly haul/low-buy series post should have been published. There are products I bought that should have been reviewed by now and are still relevant in my makeup collection. So, continuing with the series on and off as much as I can is something I wish to do. That brings us to our discussion for today! The photo above shows the products I bought this time last year that I will dive into, and add links to the reviews I did manage to post already.

Tom Ford Eyeshadow Quad in African Violet

I bought this from the Cosmetic Company Store website (Estee Lauder Brand Outlet), and the other Tom Ford quads I own were purchased from people who said they also bought it from a CCO. Of course, I have no way of verifying the validity of that, but I think they are legitimate based on how they look compared to the one I purchased last May.

I was planning to do a dedicated Tom Ford post, but scrapped the idea because I’m no longer enamored by the brand. The eyeshadow quality is nice, and in some cases extremely nice, but I would never say they’re worth full price. I remember a time when they used to be $80, but now they’re up to at least $90. I can’t even bring myself to pay the lower Selfridges price despite their quality being admittedly better than Guerlain’s and I’ve spent more on a Guerlain quad than these at under $40 each. But, it’s actually not the price that is the problem as much as the lack of shades. At least with a Pat Mcgrath product, which has formulas I like, I can pay a similar price and have many more color options with it.

The African Violet palette specifically appealed to me because it’s one of the most colorful available from Tom Ford. However, it’s not as smooth, shiny, or blendable as the Wet/Dry formula everyone raves about. The eyeshadows are long lasting, have decent color payoff, and don’t give me trouble with fallout or kickup, but there’s absolutely nothing special about them beyond their performance being good. I can name a ton of brands with well performing eyeshadows in palettes that cost less than half the price with at least double the shade options.

The other quads I own are Photosynthesex and Honeymoon (one shade in Honeymoon fell out and off the plastic grid, so I pressed it back into a spare eyeshadow pan and turned that empty well into a custom magnetic one so that I could continuously swap out any other brand’s eyeshadow that fits).

The quality of Photosynthesex is about the same as African Violet, but it contains a beautiful duochrome and I like the color story way more, so I get more use out of it. Honeymoon is the famed Wet/Dry formula which surpasses the others. It’s more special because of the shiny finish, the minimal effort needed to blend, the refined shimmer that don’t cause issues of creasing, and being flattering on textured eye areas. However, I still feel it’s worth half the retail price at the most. I understand the brand name and luxury packaging bumps up the price, but the sturdy yet basic plastic packaging doesn’t feel as special anymore considering the fun limited edition compact colors they release every so often. I believe the eyeshadows are a pricier formula than some others out there (even within the Estee Lauder owned brands), but I feel the markup is still too high. This is why I don’t foresee myself purchasing any additional Tom Ford quads unless I get it for a price that reflects what I think it’s worth and is in the preferred wet/dry finish. I’ve heard rave reviews about the newer cream formula, but I have not tried those. It’s typically the older quads that end up at the CCS/CCOs.

In addition, Tom Ford quads are incredibly repetitive in color stories and often contain similar shades that don’t look distinctly different enough on dark skin within the same quartet, let alone among the whole line. They’re also extremely neutral leaning. Give me some Wet/Dry greens and skip the brow bone shades, and they might just get another eyeshadow purchase out of me!

So, essentially what it comes down to is me thinking the eyeshadow quality from Tom Ford is good at the lowest and wonderful at best. I have no judgements to those who are fans of the quads. I get the appeal, even though I’m not their target customer. When it comes to luxury, everyone has their own ideas of what makes a product worth it to them versus something else. For me, having some Tom Ford highlighters was worth the splurge instead. I’ll have to review those at some point!

Haus Labs Casa Gaga Blush in Amarone – This was the first of the many blushes I ended up buying from the original Haus Labs collection before they rebranded away from Amazon. A review for it can be found HERE.

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Highlighter in Dream Light, Push Up Lashes mini mascara, and Beautiful Skin Sun-Kissed Glow Bronzer in 3 Tan – These items, plus newer releases from Charlotte Tilbury, have been reviewed HERE.

Nars Laguna Cream Bronzer in Laguna 04

I’ve discussed this product a bit in my other cream bronzer reviews, but I’ll pretend like I haven’t. Essentially, this bronzer is quite emollient, blends nicely, has a strong but pleasant beachy scent, and has the benefit of not forming a weird top layer after repeated use. The downside for me is purely the color. I don’t mind a red toned bronzer as long as it isn’t too red. This has the misfortune of being a little more red on my face than I want, plus being a deeper shade that will probably work better in the summer, but is a bit dark for me now. For those who don’t mind the cons that I listed, I do think it’s a nice quality cream bronzer, but it’s admittedly not in my top favorites. I prefer the Charlotte Tilbury one (even though it’s more expensive) and the one from Anastasia Beverly Hills.

Nars Bronzer Powder in Punta Cana

The photo below was taken in the time frame when I was at my lightest for the year, so this bronzer looks a bit deep in the picture, but normally this is a subtle, but not too subtle bronzer match for me. The depth and undertone (mix of red leaning base color plus gold shimmer) combines to a shade I like. However, despite the shimmer particles being barely noticeable in the pan, they reflect powerfully under daylight lights to the point where all you see is shine and it doesn’t even look like I’m wearing bronzer. For the longest time, I thought this shade was too light for me because of where I normally sit when I apply it and view myself in the mirror. I kept trying it every few months and when I could suddenly see it, I assumed it was because I was in my winter shade. It wasn’t until I happened to look in a different position and angle during one of the wear tests that I figured out what was happening. Once I made this discovery and could properly see how it looked on my skin in various situations, I started to enjoy this bronzer a lot more.
It’s ironic that now that I like it, it’s no longer available!

Nars discontinued their shimmery and matte Bronzing Powder lines in favor of the new, for 2023, Laguna Talc-Free Bronzing Powder. I purchased shades 5 and 6 of the new one recently and have yet to review them on this blog. I can say from a first impression standpoint that I slightly prefer the new ones. The original that I have looks quite pretty on the skin, but it wasn’t seamless blending. It stuck to the skin in places sometimes, but just the tiniest bit. I’m really nitpicking at this point because it’s still easy to blend, just not perfect. I still consider it a good bronzer. Oddly enough, I have more building up to do with the new bronzers because they’re slightly less pigmented. However, they haven’t stuck yet, are smoother gliding across the skin, and an airbrush effect can be achieved with them. It’s not as airbrushed as the Charlotte Tilbury powder one, but enough to at least make me think of it.

For those who already own the older bronzers, I don’t feel it’s worth getting the new ones if you’re satisfied with what you have, and especially if you already have the matte version. It’s not different enough from the previous formula, unless you’re the type of person trying to avoid talc in products. Since the new line contains no shimmers from what I can see, I’m going to continue using Punta Cana when I want a glowy bronzer. It was the darkest in the shimmer range and the base color is similar to Laguna 6, but the shimmer makes it appear a little lighter. That difference makes me feel like it still has a place in my collection. For those who don’t have a shade in the older range, this new one might have an option. Nars now offers minis in 5 of the 9 colors, so that helps in terms of being able to try one without breaking the bank.

Oh, and if you’re my shade twin, I recommend going with Laguna 06. I prefer mixing 05 and 06 together for the perfect color, but I can’t use Laguna 05 by itself because it’s practically my winter skin tone.

Sigma Beauty Bronzer in Deep and Highlighter in Golden Hour

I’ve tried the bronzer so many times and I really do not like it. It’s so hard to blend, and try to fix after it goes on patchy, and it ends up looking like a contour if I blend it in too much because it goes too deep. It looks gorgeously warm when unblended, but it seems like there’s some grey in the base color. It’s still workable, but other than forcing myself to keep using it on top of various foundations (it looks better on top of matte ones) and switching to different brushes, I just don’t want to use it again. In fact, I had to rescue it from the declutter pile when I forgot I was supposed to keep it until I had time to post this review.

As for the highlighter, I was much more pleased with that one. I like the depth and tone of the gold. I like the smooth look to it on the skin. It’s shimmery, but not overly so. It looks even better on top of dewy skin. It’s not in my top favorites considering I do have others that supersede the shine level/reflectivity, smoothness, and refinement of particle size. However, I still use it from time to time and think it’s a fairly nice product. I don’t recommend paying full price for it though. I think I got mine for 25% or 30% off and that’s about the maximum I would pay.

BPerfect Polar Vortex Highlighter in 32F

I haven’t reviewed this elsewhere, but I am unable to do so here either because Beauty Bay shipped this product in a box without bubble wrap or padding of any kind. The only shipping protection was literally one piece of paper, as seen in the photo below the demolished baked highlighter (two if the invoice paper counts). Every bit of it was covered in highlighter from the single open flap of the unicarton to the outside of the compact and all inside the box, above the plastic mirror protector, etc. I tried to re-press it into a spare empty highlighter pan from my DIY days, but because I used a liquid and didn’t dry-press it, it changed the texture completely. When I tried out the broken highlighter prior to pressing it back, it was insanely glittery (which is not my preference). The pressed version still has very visible particles on my face and is texture enhancing, even when I apply it on top of dewy skin to help melt it better onto the top of my cheekbones. So, I don’t feel it would be fair to consider this a review in this altered form, and it’s not something I want to keep anyway.

Suqqu Melting Powder Highlighter in 101 Kagerou (Limited Edition) and Melting Powder Blush in 06 Yuubae.
My review for these two can be found HERE. I’ve purchased several more items from Suqqu and had I known I would enjoy them so much, the Suqqu blushes would have been on my exceptions list for last year’s low-buy. I did manage to stop myself from purchasing every blush shade I wanted, so that counts for something, haha.

Urban Decay Mini Naked Your Way Eyeshadow Palette in Foxy

Once more, my strange aversion to using long rectangular shaped eyeshadow pans is in full effect with this palette. I’ve been able to create a few beautiful looks, but I stopped reaching for it shortly after the excitement of it being new wore off. I was drawn in by the greens, but these are lighter than I typically go for and cooler toned. I prefer the mini gold from Natasha Denona, Dior Backstage Khaki Neutrals, and ABH Nouveau palettes because they have some deeper options as well. Funky Town provides some depth, but I can’t get too dramatic with it on my skin tone.

The quality of these shades is a bit different for Urban Decay since adopting a vegan formula. I didn’t have issues blending the mattes, but they feel a little stiffer and are not as creamy to the touch. I guess all that really matters is how they perform, which is satisfactory enough for me. Foxy tends to disappear off my eyes though. If I want it to show up, I have to build it up a ton. Get Down is closer to a satin, whereas Hot Stuff and Disco are the true shimmers. The shimmers are impactful enough for me to use without feeling the need to wet my brush, but I get a lot of fallout under my eyes with Disco, so I tend to just dampen all of them. I sometimes even use glitter glue because I also have trouble periodically with the shimmers lasting on my eyes in the inner corner (my trouble spot because I tend to rub my eyes there). The shimmers are dryer than I recall from Urban Decay’s formula, and this probably adds to the issue with the inner corner, but it’s more important to me that the shimmers don’t crease on my eyes. So, I’m satisfied with them.

Overall, this is a nice palette. It’s not the most enjoyable experience in terms of textures, but the performance is there. It’s a small travel-friendly size, which I like. For the way I like to do makeup, I get about three different looks from this palette, which I find is a decent amount for so few shades.
I think this should really be in the $27 range, so I recommend waiting for a sale to try it out (I got mine discounted having purchased it from someone who got it in PR). Unlike all my other rectangular pan Urban Decay palettes that I declutter due to lack of use, I’m actually going to keep this one.

Viseart Haul: Viseart Grande Pro 1x, Petits Fours in Peridot, and Bijouxette ÉTENDU Palettes – These items and more from the brand have been reviewed already HERE.

Violet Voss Olive You and Wild Dahlia Palette

I purchased these two from a Boxycharm sale and did absolutely nothing with them for a full year. Since I own so many palettes in the Olive You Forever color story, I’m going to give it to my sister and not even swatch it so it can stay in new-ish condition. So, I don’t have a review for that one.

As for Wild Dahlia, so much time passed that I didn’t realize until I was doing swatches that it contained a beautiful duochrome! This palette offers quite an interesting shade selection. The mattes blend easily, are pigmented, and smooth. The shimmers are buttery, yet not the kind that causes an issue with creasing. I am so impressed! I do own one other mini Violet Voss palette that I depotted in the hopes that it would make me use the shadows more (and it had the opposite effect), so now I’m remembering how nice the quality was and I feel I’ve really been missing out on this experience!

The shimmers are decently impactful on their own, and applying them damp increases it slightly, but not enough to feel like it makes much difference. I also like that I had no issues with fallout either. I can easily recommend this one! The quality is fantastic. The shimmers are shinier in the Urban Decay Foxy palette, but I prefer the colors and tones of the shimmers in Wild Dahlia, plus the softness, blend, and color options of the mattes in this one too.

Melt Cosmetics Haul: Amor y Mariposas Pressed Pigment Palette, Monarca Blush Palette, and Gel Liners in Colibri and Estrella. My review for these items can be found HERE, and since I got such an amazing deal on it, I have no regrets! Even though I don’t use these a ton, I still very much love them.

Benefit Cosmetics Wanderful World Silky-Soft Powder Blush in Crystah, Terra, and Java
Crystah and Terra are in the shimmer formula and Java is the matte formula. I did not purchase anything in the satin formula because I was waiting for the delayed shade, Starlaa, to be released. I planned to review these blushes right away, but I had no idea it would take four months for that one to come out! In any case, I’ve been wanting mid-tone and deeper blush options from Benefit for so long that I just went overboard without thinking it through. My Beauty Resolutions were completely forgotten, or perhaps ignored, for this release. The review of them and even more shades can be found HERE.

Benefit Cosmetics Pore MINImizer Squad Primer Set

Aside from the fantastic price this was listed at via Asos, part of my motivation for buying this set was that I finished up a mini sample of the Hydrate primer and loved it enough to want another, but not a full-size, in addition to being curious about the Lite primer after Angelica Nyqvist raved about it so often, and I had no other setting sprays left in my collection.

I recall trying the original POREfessional primer many years ago, and liking the way it felt on my skin, but it left a cast that lightened the look of my foundation. I was nervous the Lite version would do the same, but it did not. The texture is very strange. It feels dry and chalky when it comes out, though it’s in a form soft enough to be rubbed in completely and smoothly. It’s less gel-like than typical silicone primers. It blurs my skin when I put it on, but with foundation on top of it, I don’t see the blurring effects anymore. Also, if rubbed into the skin excessively, it can pill up.
I don’t consider myself as having that great of an issue with the size of my pores, so I only really require that my primer help my foundation look smooth on top of it and perhaps increase the longevity. I think my makeup looks nice initially when I put it on, but I don’t think it helps past midday. Sephora lists this as being, “Best for Oily, Combo, Normal Skin,” so it’s not surprising that it’s not the best fit for me.

The Hydrate primer, as I mentioned already, is one that I loved. The color and consistency actually reminds me of the Glamglow Thirstymud Hydrating Mask. It feels soothing on my skin because of that added hydration. It’s easy to apply. I don’t know if it extends the wear of my makeup, but so far there haven’t been any foundations I’ve worn with it that I disliked. This one is actually best for, “Dry, Combo, Normal Skin,” and although I don’t notice any blurring at any point, I think it improves the finish of my foundation.

The Super Setter I’ve only used a few times. It has a nice sprayer. Most of it sprays lightly and evenly, but with every spritz I can feel some spots that are heavier, yet when I check the mirror there are never any visible droplets on my skin. This is great news because I’ve had that issue with a few setting sprays in the past. This spray doesn’t make my skin feel tight, nor cooling, or change the look of my makeup in any way. I honestly don’t notice any effect it’s having on my face, even with longevity. So, I won’t be repurchasing it.

Alamar Cosmetics

The two Disney collab products are sold out and discontinued. I strongly regret not posting this in time or in a separate review. I just could not make up my mind about them and kept forgetting the details of my wear tests when I kept trying them with several months gap between uses over the past year. The other highlighter is still available on the website.

Alamar Cosmetics x Disney Encanto Collection Blush and Highlighter in Hermosa Rosa and Flex Alert

The Encanto Blush is in the brand’s Colorete Powder Blush formula. Hermosa Rosa is a stunning shade. On bare skin it has issues with longevity. There was one instance that I applied a sheer layer and it faded within 20 minutes. I then built up the color heavily and it continued to fade, but I was left with a reasonable amount of blush on my cheeks by the end of the day. Over foundation, this isn’t as much of a problem, but I still need to put at least a medium amount of blush for it to last. Trying to keep it looking sheer doesn’t work for me. Aside from that, it’s so smooth looking on the skin and even in color and opacity. It blends well. I like this blush so much that I’ve considered purchasing more from the brand numerous times, but they’re all in palettes and I’m not drawn to the shades available. However, I continue to check the brand website a few times a year to see if they have additional shades I might like as much as this one.

The Encanto Highlighter is in the Sun Soaked Highlighter formula. This is the trickiest one for me to pinpoint how I feel about it because it depends on the time of year. When I’m at my darkest, this highlighter looks terrible on me because the color looks more stark against my skin and each individual particle is that much more apparent on my skin tone which makes it look excessively shimmery. When I’m lighter, I put my blush a bit higher on my cheekbones so the highlighter, when going on top of it, looks more natural. The pink tones with the gold shift match well over the coral color. It’s still borderline glittery looking, but it somehow just works. At least, it works on top of the Hermosa Rosa blush. I haven’t liked how it looks on top of other blushes. Color aside, it looks fairly smooth and lasts all day. And even though there is a lot of shimmer, it’s at about medium intensity because it doesn’t have the strongest reflect. I would recommend this only to someone who doesn’t mind a shimmery highlight while also not expecting it to be blinding.

Alamar Cosmetics Sun Soaked Highlighter in La Playa

I love a gold highlighter, but this one looks extra yellow next to certain blushes, so I’m not sure if this is the best color for me, even though it’s the right depth. This is one of those wet look type of highlighters and it’s less shimmery than Flex Alert, which I like. It has a semi-wet feel to it with some slip, similar to the Charlotte Tilbury Glow Glide Face Architect Highlighter formula, except that sometimes that smooth buttery texture adheres too strongly to one spot in a patch/clump. I have to go over it repeatedly to try and smooth it out when it happens. Essentially, this applies better with a more resilient bristle brush. It needs to be strong enough to move the product around evenly as it goes on the skin since it’s harder to blend out once it’s stuck. But once that initial layer is down, the highlighter can be built up stronger and more intensely. I included two photos above to show how it can be applied lightly on a natural finish foundation and a pink toned blush, or built up intensely especially on top of dewy foundation and an orange blush.

Despite how long I’ve had this highlighter, my praise of it goes up or down depending on the circumstances. On paper, this should be my ideal highlighter because of the way it looks like it melted into my skin (when having a shimmer clump isn’t an issue), it being more glowy than glittery, and it being a medium gold. However, because the formula isn’t perfect, it’s not on the list of my favorite highlighters. However, it’s still nice and I do like it…70% of the time.

Oden’s Eye Solmåne II Collection: Sunlight Love Blushers in W102 Peach Gleam, W103 Sienne Lustre and B103 Orange Sunny as well as the Gel Liner Pencils in 002 Orange and 012 Golden Brown.
The review for all of my Oden’s eye purchases can be found HERE. Liners were not allowed in my low-buy, but I was curious, did not own these colors, and wanted to hit the free shipping minimum which would have nearly cost the same amount. The blushes from Oden’s Eye are still in my top favorites, but I don’t use them as often as I anticipated because I have so many other favorite blushes that I need to spread the love among. Plus, I’m still using the original Oden’s Eye blushes, so when I want to reach for one, I split the choices between the new ones and old ones.

Colourpop x Winnie the Pooh Super Shock Cheeks in 100 Aker Wood and Mind Over Matter – They were reviewed HERE.

Sonia G Master Face Brush – This brush was reviewed in Fude 4. I saved $20 on it because of credit carried over from the Beautylish Gift Card sale. It would have been worth it despite my low-buy if I ended up loving the brush, but it was just okay.

CDJapan, Fude Japan, and Hakuhodo USA Haul: This month was the last time I could get Hakuhodo brushes before the price increase (up to 30% in most cases), so I placed Fude Japan and Hakuhodo USA orders for that. From CDJapan, I bought Eihodo outlet brushes, the Chikuhodo PS-2, and Mizuho brushes MB123 and MB125. The Mizuho brushes and Hakuhodo ones can be found in Fude 5. The rest are in Fude 4.

Coloured Raine Haul: Botanical Eyeshadow Palette, Cream Blushes in Copper Rose, Stiletto Rose, and Spicy and Eyeshadow Base in Wheat – These were reviewed HERE.

The Alamar products were the last ones that needed reviewing for the month of May from 2022! I hope this has been helpful and especially from a different perspective all this time later after hype for the products have died down. Thank you for reading!


Reviewing Coloured Raine After a Two Year Break

From 2018 until 2020, Coloured Raine used to be my number one favorite brand for non-multichrome eyeshadows. What made me take a long break from buying their palettes was them discontinuing their eyeshadows to go full vegan.
I’ve had issues with some vegan formulas blending away to nothing, or being too hard to blend, and being patchy. Some of the ones that did perform decently didn’t have an acceptable preservation method (tying in with the “clean beauty” anti-parabens movement), so I’d get hardly a year before the performance of the shadows changed and/or went bad.
So, I was already skeptical about whether or not Coloured Raine’s new vegan formula could measure up to their old one. When they released their Juicy Boost Collection in August 2020, the reviews I watched with the demos were terrible! That was enough for me to want to steer clear of their eyeshadows until their 2022 Memorial Day sale in May. I figured that should be enough time for the brand to fix whatever formula issues they had, so I decided to give them another chance.

The formulas, textures, and how the makeup performs turned out to be different depending on the collection. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing my observations and experiences with these products. Just keep reading to find out which items I loved and which ones I should have avoided!

Coloured Raine Cream Blushes in Spicy (Original), Stiletto Rose and Copper Rose (Botanical Collection)

The first thing to know about these blushes is that despite them all sharing the description of “cream blush,” the original four that launched, which includes Spicy, are completely different from the two blushes from the Botanical Collection. The ingredient lists are different, along with the textures and pigmentation. The container of the originals are larger than the Botanical Blushes too!

Spicy has a waxy consistency that’s so tacky it lifts up when touched. It’s thicker and more opaque. Picking up a little is still too much, so I put it on the back of my hand and warm up a small section first before applying it to my cheeks with that finger in tapping motions and then a final light sweep of the finger across the cheeks to ensure it’s fully smoothe. A little product comes off underneath, but it’s so pigmented that it will cover up the missing spot anyway. A brush will pick up way too much, but it’s still possible to use by putting it on the back of the hand or a makeup palette first (or even tapping the excess off on a towel) to get a lighter even layer across the bristles before applying it to the cheeks. I still prefer fingers because I have more control that way and can also warm up the product.

The Botanical Blushes have a higher concentration of slip agents (various silicones) that feel a little more gel-like, but still like a softer wax once the heat of a finger melts that top layer. I keep my finger on top of a spot for several seconds before I start to rub to pick up the blush onto my finger and tap it onto the cheeks. It looks like it will be just as pigmented as the original line of blushes, but when blended, it sheers out a fair amount. So, it takes a few light layers to build up to my satisfaction. This product also lifts what’s underneath, but it still looks fine to me as a veil of color. In the spots with discoloration that lifts, I put concealer back on top of the discolored spot and pack a little more blush on top, and those additional layers help it to stay.
I can use a brush with these, but it doesn’t pick up as much product without warmth.

These blushes remain creamy on the face. If I’m wearing something like the Rose Inc Luminous Foundation Serum, that wetter products tend to set well on top of, and apply the Botanical blushes in a thin layer with a brush, it can mostly set down. However, for the amount of pigmentation I want that isn’t just a flush, it’s going to remain creamy feeling on the skin unless I set it with powder. Spicy will absolutely not set on its own, plus easily transfers, so I only wear it powder-set. Setting all three of them with powder only temporarily makes them feel dry but at least does take down the creaminess enough that it won’t feel sticky or tacky. Powder-setting also makes the Botanical Blushes more transfer-resistant, but when it comes to Spicy it will definitely still transfer when touched, just a little less. Setting with powder has the final benefit of toning down the intensity level of Spicy, and even Stiletto Rose if I go overboard with that color.

These blushes will last all day, even without powder, as long as they aren’t touched. However, it’s just my preference to set them with powder, especially with a powder blush on top to add some nuance to the shades.

The photos above demonstrate the blushes with different foundations and at different times of the year. The middle three with the dark blue shirt were under the lighting conditions of my ring light. The others were with indoor lighting and some natural light coming in from behind the window blinds.

Had I completed this review three months ago, I’d have said, “These blushes require a little more effort, but are nice enough that I may still reach for them from time to time.” However, I’ve been going through my cream and liquid blush collection a lot more lately, and in comparison, these rank so low on the list. They still aren’t bad products, but I have so many options that don’t pick up product underneath, don’t require warmth or having to baby the formula, or do any other extra steps. Plus, my other blushes are in far more interesting colors. I’ve realized that I don’t like standard crayola type of blush colors like a pure orange, pure red, or pure pink. I love reddish browns, terracottas, pinky-orange corals, pinkish-browns, etc. Those type of colors look more natural on me. I expected Spicy to be a reddish orange with some brown, but it’s actually a slightly yellow leaning orange that may as well just be “orange.” Copper Rose sounded like it would be a fun copper-pink, but most of its warmth just comes from being picked up and mixed with my foundation and concealer while being blended on my cheeks. It’s not a very unique pink by itself. Stiletto Rose is a very common rosy red, although it’s the prettiest to me of them all.
I always wore a combination of Stiletto Rose and Copper Rose (on the apples) together anyway, which is why I initially had a better impression of those blushes. However, if I view these as individual products, they’re not something I want in my collection anymore.

Coloured Raine Lip Liners in Pine (Secret Garden), The Bee’s Knees (Queen Bee), and Decadent (Botanical)

It was very difficult to tell the differences among the selection of lip liner shades on the website. I now realize it’s because the ones I wanted are so incredibly similar! Pine was the first one from Coloured Raine I tried and later bought a backup of because it’s the first shade I ever found that I can actually cover my full lip-line with and have it look normal. I have a very thick and pronounced lip line (Vermilion border) that is way lighter than my lips and surrounding mouth color. So, when I have used lip liners on my actual lip line (and not just the edge between the lip and lip line), it always emphasized that thickness and looked like I attempted to overline my lips because it sticks out, even when it’s still within the lines. The color is described as a “spiced brown” and I consider it like a caramel-pink-brown.

The Bee’s Knees is described as a “brick” color, but it looks more like a neutral brown to me on my arm. In fact, I looked at the website photos again comparing the other shade in the Queen Bee collection and The Buzz is supposed to be the neutral brown. I almost wondered if some got swapped in the manufacturing process because my lip pencil stick doesn’t have any red in it that I can see, like the ones below, and instead looks like the brown ones near it. However, on my actual lips I think I see some red tones after building up the color? Like maybe a splash? If so, it’s certainly not as red as I expected and less red than I’d expect from a brick color. When built up, it’s also darker than Pine. It’s pretty regardless.

The third and final lip liner shade is the darkest of the three and also the creamiest, which I find interesting since it’s the one that launched first. I’m guessing the brand decided to switch formulas after this collection, which is a very plausible theory based on a comparison of the ingredient lists. The other two glide across the lips nicely and aren’t too soft or too stiff, but I do prefer the feel of Decadent. This color is described as, “neutral brown with slightly cool undertones” and I can see that in the squiggle swatch. Also, the lip liners from the Botanical collection came with sharpeners at the bottom. The newer lip liners do not. Perhaps the brand didn’t feel it was necessary because of the formula differences.

I haven’t noticed any issues or differences with the longevity among them all. They suit my needs and because they’re all so similar in color, they all work for me and give me that ability to line my lips in a way that others I’ve tried haven’t. It’s very specific to me, but it’s a huge deal. In general, objectively, I still believe these are a nice comfortable long lasting product.

Coloured Raine Paint Base Eyeshadow Base in Wheat

I first tried this primer underneath the eyeshadows from the Coloured Raine Botanical Palette and was disappointed to see the shadows creased. After all, the eyeshadow primer is expected to work the best with the brand’s own eyeshadows, so that wasn’t a good sign for anything else I planned to use with it.
However, in using it with my well behaved and favorite eyeshadows, and then as an alternative primer for eyeshadows I was testing that didn’t perform as well with my MAC Paint Pot, I realized it actually wasn’t the fault of the Paint Base! I’ll get back to the Botanical Palette in the next section, but basically every palette I tried with the Paint Base performed better or at least equal to my other primers! It quickly became one of the primers I keep in rotation along with the Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas and MAC Paint Pot. In fact, I bought a backup of it during the brand’s Black Friday sale.

I really like the ABH eye primer, but it is quite drying. That one helps to combat the oils that produce on my eyelids, but that’s sometimes to the detriment of buildable type of eyeshadows being able to stick properly. This Coloured Raine primer is similar to the ABH primer, but is less drying, which makes it the better of both worlds between combating the oils but still ensuring the eyeshadows can adhere properly. It’s fantastic! Because I bought the shade Wheat, it matches the color of my eyelids better and isn’t so stark against my skin, but still helps the shadows to pop. As with most primers, a little goes a long way (though not as long as the ABH and Gerard Cosmetics ones which are even more pigmented and thicker in consistency). Wheat still provides a good amount of coverage over the discoloration on my eyelids.

It’s interesting that the brand touts the squalane and sodium hyaluronate because I would have expected that to not go well with oily prone lids and would produce too much moisture for me, but it works somehow! The Paint Base sets on my lids to a natural finish. Perhaps those ingredients are what keeps it from being as drying as the ABH one.

When I’m working with an eyeshadow formula that’s not very creamy with a rougher texture, this primer can take a little longer to blend the shadows on it, but it’s a minor difference in time. That’s the extent of the negatives I’ve found in using this primer throughout the year, which made it an almost entirely positive experience.

Coloured Raine Botanical Eyeshadow Palette

I mentioned in the Eye Base review section that despite it being from the same brand, the Coloured Raine eye primer and this palette worked fine, except that it could not keep the shimmers from retreating from the deep line I have on my lid/crease. I have since used this palette with all my tried and true primers, and none of them stop this from happening. The best results I get though is if I set the primer with powder first. Then I’m much less prone to movement and creasing, but it’s not foolproof.

Cream Gerbera barely shows despite packing it on. I don’t mind, as I’d prefer a shade that light to be subtle rather than stark. Iberis and Leonidas have a decent amount of pigment and all three are decently blendable, but that’s a little bit of a letdown in itself because I remember how rich in color and buttery feeling Coloured Raine’s mattes used to be before they got rid of their single shadows. These are fine but not particularly special. The same goes for the shimmers. They are pretty and shimmery enough for my taste, but the formula is so much thinner, less smooth, way less impactful, less pigmented, and not vibrant like their single shadows once were. I mean, Coloured Raine shimmers used to be S-tier. Being “just fine” is going to be hugely disappointing by comparison. The quality of this palette reminds me of Colourpop, which is mostly good, but it’s not even like the best of Colourpop’s formulas.

These types of colors and this overall color story is a lot softer compared to what the brand used to release. I commend them going outside of their comfort zones. However, it isn’t just the color selection and lack of color saturation that makes it slightly underwhelming for me. There are so many brands that make satin shadows and have palettes with soft colors that still somehow look elegant and beautiful on the eyes. The literal texture of the eyeshadows themselves are so soft and buildable. These shadows don’t have those same qualities. They aren’t made the same way.

I also thought it was quite strange that the colors I expected based on how they looked in the pan did not look the same on my skin. Iberis was much more red than plum. Leonidas was a truer orange instead of terracotta. Rose Gold also had a stronger red tone, like a burgundy, when I was expecting a shimmering plum. The colors are still pretty, but when other eyeshadows like from Oden’s Eye and Sydney Grace give me a visceral excited reaction to using their palettes, I don’t see why I would want to reach for this one that doesn’t spark joy. It’s a new year. Being a decent, nice, workable palette isn’t enough. On the bright side, this isn’t one of Coloured Raine’s newest palettes and I believe they’ve continued to work on their formulas since the next palette is one that I actually will be keeping in my collection.

I forgot to mention in the last look that a tiny spot of Primavera is in the center of the lower lash line too.

Coloured Raine Queen Bee Palette

Unlike the Botanical Eyeshadow Palette, this one does not have “Eyeshadow” in the name, which is because it contains pressed pigments. Considering my experience with the previous palette, I was so nervous that the bump up in intensity with the mattes would mean the shadows would perform worse, but that’s not the case. Honeycomb is actually very soft and smooth feeling. I absolutely love this color of orange. Beehave and Pollen in Love are a little rougher to the touch, but they pack on the lids well and blend fairly well. I’ve had a little trouble building Bee-Witched on the other shadows at times, but it just takes a little more effort to get the definition I want without overdoing it or having it look unblended. It’s definitely not my favorite black matte, but it’s workable.
Using Honeycomb and Beehave together in the same eye look can be a bit tricky because I get a lot more pigment from Beehave right off the bat and it can easily overshadow/overpower Honeycomb, so I have to be careful with its placement.

The two shimmers look like they would have the same texture, but they’re definitely not the same formula. Unbeelievable is a chunkier and flakier shimmer that gives me a lot of fallout. It’s a foil shadow, but even applying it damp doesn’t give me the smoothness I want. I don’t enjoy that shadow at all and won’t be using it again when I open this palette. It’s a shame because the color is so pretty.
On the other hand, Mind Your Beesness is an almost glowing green-gold duochrome with more slip to it so that it glides easier across the lids. Because the binding solution is better, I get less fallout with this one. Honeycomb, Mind Your Beesness, and Pollen in Love are the colors that make this palette memorable and make me excited whenever I use it. This is the one that gives me hope for even better palettes in Coloured Raine’s future.

Black liner was also added to the upper lash line of the last look.

The eyeshadow primer and lip liners are absolute wins for Coloured Raine. The blushes aren’t the best and I have mixed views on the palettes. Considering what I paid, it was worth it to me to give them a chance and figure out how I feel about what the brand produced in 2022. At this point in time, I have hope for them in 2023 and I am truly rooting for them. However, the competition among indie and mainstream brands alike is the toughest it’s ever been. I recognize that they’ve lowered their price point, but I’d rather spend more for better quality. For me to continue purchasing from them, their products have to be truly special or incredibly appealing to my tastes. I look forward to seeing what they’ll release this year and I hope others will still give them a try. I heard positive reviews about their Rebellious Nudes palette, so I feel they’re on the right track. Here’s hoping!

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!


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.


My Eye and Face Primer Collection and Declutter

I have tried my best to post consistently every week for a year, and in order to do that, I have to work on posts in advance and have them scheduled and ready to go each Monday. In doing so, I sometimes run into issues where I say I’m not going to buy something but end up getting it by the time that post is due. Or I just need one more item to review, but the shipment was delayed and I have to postpone it. Sometimes I’m further ahead and sometimes I’m further behind than anticipated.
In this case, I forgot to swatch some of these primers and take close up photos before decluttering.

Below is what the collection looked like at the start of 2020, though I couldn’t find one of my MAC Paint Pots at the time and took the photo anyway. I also have the deluxe sample of the Tatcha liquid primer in the photo and forgot to include the larger Mini Size that I also have. Lastly, the MAC NC45 Foundation Stick I skipped reviewing in my foundation declutter will be included here as an eye base.


There are only a few categories of makeup that I use up enough that I have to replace them. Eye primers are one of them, though it’s rare to go through an entire tube or jar before the textural changes (drying up or oil separating) force me to replace them. When I do run out of products, I tend to replace them with something new, but this is one category that I have made repurchases of my favorites.

Also, my tube of Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base is not pictured above because it has the same rubberized packaging as other Nars Products and it became so sticky and gross to look at that I didn’t want to show it. I threw it out, but the tube was pretty much empty anyway. I like that it was clear-white (though they have tinted versions) and it did the job well enough, but I have others I like more and for a lower price.

MAC NC45 Foundation Stick

I got the idea to use this as an eyeshadow primer when I was looking into the Make Up by Mario Master Eye Prep and Set in Deep. The ingredients between the two products are so similar but I knew I could get the Stick from MAC for significantly cheaper. This was Mario’s most universally liked product from his initial launch, so I was curious. Is it possible he intended for it to be similar to the MAC stick? Personally, I think so considering his Master Metal Manipulator liquid may as well be Mehron Mixing Liquid.

I don’t have the Mario one to compare with, but this MAC stick works beautifully! I find that if I leave it unset, I can get a very pigmented application of product right away, but it takes a bit longer to blend. Because it’s easier, I just prefer to lightly set it with powder first and then I have no issues with blending. I’ve used concealer before as an eye base and I was never really a fan of that, so I’m surprised this works. The Paint Pot is creamier and more opaque than the foundation stick. However, the foundation stick doesn’t need to be fully opaque considering the shadows will cover the skin there anyway. If I just want to cover the pigmentation spots on my eyes with a liner and mascara, I can layer the stick enough to give me the coverage to do it. It’s important to note that this does not crease until too much product is packed on the eyelid.
While it’s usually cheaper to purchase an eyeshadow primer, if anyone has their perfect foundation match in MAC, it would save you from having to buy two separate products!

MAC Paint Pot in Groundwork, Layin’ Low, and Rubenesque

In the last year or two, Groundwork became my favorite eyeshadow base. It deposits enough color to easily conceal my hyperpigmentation without altering the tone of the eyeshadow that gets applied on top. One of the issues I had with concealers as primers, for example, is I felt it altered the shade color. I recall there being one time that the Groundwork color made the eyeshadow darker, but I can’t remember which eyeshadow formula it was. I believe it was a pastel shade. That’s why, to be safe, I figured I should probably go with the Layin’ Low shade next. However, I’ve only used it a few times because I’m trying to use up the rest of Groundwork first. Rubenesque is a beautiful shimmery shade that does brighten up shadows applied on top of it and it’s such a beautiful shimmer shade on its own that I prefer to just use it as an inner corner eye brightener or like a cream shadow. As beautiful as this color is, I’ve had it far too long. By the end of 2021, I will only have Layin’ Low, unless I cave on my primer no-buy and order some of the new limited edition Paint Pot colors MAC released this year.

Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas in White and Cocoa

This primer is really hyped among some of the “smaller” creators in the beauty community. I bought the White shade as a replacement for my Nyx Milk Jumbo Stick and ABH primer. At the same time, I purchased Cocoa because I wanted to get a shade closer to my skin tone and in case I wanted to mix it with White to create a custom color. Cocoa is such a close match to my skintone that I’ve actually used it as concealer and it works amazingly well for that purpose! I prefer how it looks without powder though under the eyes. As a concealer, it isn’t full coverage, but it conceals enough that I could see myself continuing to use it that way.

As an eye primer, these are quite nice as well. The ultimate test was using the white shade with my notoriously troublesome Nomad Cosmetics Toyko palette. It couldn’t make the palest shades work, nor did it make me like the shades I originally struggled with, but this primer helped them perform the best of all the ones I tried. I could actually blend the shadows and layer them with each other! That really impressed me. I need to use these bases with more eyeshadow formulas though because it seems that although I can blend the shadows easily and it can make more subdued shadows pop, this also has the reverse effect and can actually dull some of my shadows. I believe this happens when drier eyeshadow formulas are used on top of this base because this product isn’t very tacky or emollient, so there’s less for the shadow to stick to. I will need to continue testing this out. So far though, this seems like the type of primer that will be amazing with some formulas, but not all of them.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Deluxe Sample Eye Primer

I love how bright the shadows look with this on. It definitely helps eyeshadows that are harder to see on darker skin tones to pop and also with pastels. For an every day kind of primer, I wish this came in other shades because I look crazy if I leave any area where this is applied without putting an eyeshadow on top of it. Meaning, applying this isn’t just cancelling discoloration on my lids. It’s very much a shade to cut the crease with. A little goes a long way. The absolute tiniest amount is needed to cover the eyelid and crease. Also, unlike regular primers where I can seamlessly join shades where it is and isn’t primed, there is a clear demarcation between where the primer stops and my bare eyelid begins. Even if I try to blend the edges to the thinnest layer, it still shows a major difference. That’s why this is better for lining and cutting the crease. Also, I wish this primer didn’t emphasize the texture of my eyelids and make them look so dry. While some shadows stick to this just fine, certain eyeshadow formulas have a harder time adhering to this as a base. So, for this reason I both like and dislike this product. When I finish using up this sample, I will not be purchasing it.

Urban Decay Primer Potion

This specific tube was part of a gift set from a friend and is only five months old, but the first eyeshadow primer I ever bought was the Urban Decay Primer Potion. I used it for quite a while until discovering the Too Faced primer, which I felt worked a little better for me. In using this tube again, I see why I liked it but certain eyeshadow formulas don’t work as well with this one, whereas I rarely have to worry about an incompatibility between primer and shadow when I use the MAC Paint Pot. I still intend to use this tube until it’s completely done. Despite being in such a large tube, I feel like I’ve used up a significant amount already. One very important thing to remember when using this, if you have a darker skin tone, is that this doesn’t dry completely clear. It has a beige tinge that will effect how the eyeshadow looks on top of it if it isn’t spread in a thin even layer. If there are any areas when applying that is thicker than the rest, be sure to blend that part out or else color deposited on that spot will show up lighter than the rest of the eye.

Nyx Glitter Primer

Too Faced Glitter Glue Eye Shadow Primer is highly praised. I’ve only used samples of it, but I think the Nyx Glitter Primer is an amazing and affordable alternative that works just as well. It is a must-have when it comes to using flakier shimmers and multichromes. Of course, anyone who has visited my blog before knows my stance on glitter and that I have not used this with loose glitters. I apologize if that’s something you were hoping to know. I suppose this would be great to use with loose glitters considering that’s the intended purpose of this primer. This primer dries clear and since it’s incredibly sticky, I do not recommend using natural hair brushes with this. Honestly, I have used some of my Sonia G brushes with it, and while my brushes are still fine, it does risk the bristles being stiff and breaking off. I have noticed a slight prickly feeling with my Builder Three Brush that wasn’t there when I got it, which is probably due to a snapped bristle. This is why I don’t condone it, even though I’m guilty of doing it myself. Synthetic is safer, or allow the glue to dry down to a slightly tacky consistency and finger pat a light layer of shimmer onto the lid with the finger first before using a brush after (that way less wet primer gets on the bristles).

Nyx Pigment Primer

My tube is very old and partially dried out, so I won’t be using this on my eyes to test further, even though I only used it a few times. The reason I bought it is because I was using Nyx’s Loose pigments and wanted something that would work well with them. I also thought this would be nice to use with my pressed pigment shadows. I honestly did not see any special results when using this, which is why I quickly returned to my usual go-to primers instead.

Nyx Proof It Waterproof Eyeshadow Base

The waterproof claims are legit! I put a Viseart shadow on top of this primer, ran it under a faucet, and when I rubbed the swatch with my finger it stayed put! It basically takes an extreme amount of rubbing with a cloth to get it to start wearing down, but it removes fairly easily with my Bioderma Micellar water. When you place a shadow on top of this, it goes on very pigmented and true to color! Despite being so stuck into place where I can literally feel when my brush drags across this primer, I can still get a decent enough blend. I tried this against the UD Primer Potion with the Club Nebula palette, and I was surprised that I liked the Nyx side better! Although the UD side was more emollient, that didn’t make it easier to blend. Also, the lightly tacky base caused the shadow to show better because the colors deepened up slightly, whereas the Nyx primer could get good color payoff without changing the shade.

Nyx Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk and Black Bean

I still don’t know what these pencils are really intended for. Nyx describes them as an eyeshadow and eyeliner all in one. The first of these pencils I ever purchased was Cottage Cheese because it was a little darker than the Milk shade and I thought it would go better in my waterline the way I’d seen Beauty Gurus use Milk. I thought it was the shimmer in the product that made it look awful on me, so I purchased Milk next. I realized it was too bright of a white and my eyes looked very unnatural with it on. Plus, the pencil was way too large to apply directly to my water line. I used a thin pencil brush, which was more precise, but the formula never dried down and wouldn’t stay put on my eyes. I started using Milk as an eyeshadow base instead to brighten up eyeshadows or help pastels show better on me, but the fact that it wouldn’t set on my lids became problematic with certain eyeshadow formulas. I somehow convinced myself it would be a great idea to purchase Black Bean as a dark base for multichromes. While I did prefer it to the other shades, I just did not like the consistency and finish of the product. So, I threw them away. I wish I remembered to take shots of them swatched before I tossed them.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance

I’ve owned many sample sizes and full size tubes of this primer, in addition to the discontinued Lemon Drop shade. The consistency and performance reminds me of a slightly less emollient Urban Decay primer potion. The fact that I kept getting these in gift sets is why I originally stopped purchasing the one from Urban Decay. This was my eye primer of choice until I started using the MAC Paint Pots. I don’t have a swatch of this because the tube was nearly empty, so I threw it out after taking the primer group photo.

Face Primers

I previously owned one color correcting primer from Make Up For Ever. I used it almost exclusively under my eyes. It was very sheer, but it gave that extra bit of help to conceal my dark under eye circles. I liked it, but not enough to repurchase it once it was too old to use.

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Skin Booster Serum Deluxe Sample

Although it has serum in the name, it’s marketed as a skin prep for makeup. It has hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin and it does say to use this before a primer. I have used it on its own and there’s no difference between this and a moisturizer as a primer. When combined with another primer on top, I don’t see any added benefits either. This primer is very similar in texture to the Too Faced Hangover, but the one thing I didn’t like about the Too Faced one is how quickly the coconut scent turns and hence why it isn’t shown in my initial stash photo.

Sisley Paris Double Tenseur Sample

This gel primer has the consistency of a serum. It is nice and lightweight. I’m happy I received this sample in my Beautylish order because I’ve always been curious as to why the full size bottle costs $200. After using this three times so far, I still don’t know why it’s so expensive. There are many positive skincare ingredients in this product that are supposed to tone, firm, and lift the skin after four weeks of use. I’ll never be able to see results like that from a sample, if it even works at all. I’d like to think that skincare benefits aside, I would notice my makeup lasting longer or looking smoother or something special. My makeup always looked nice with it on, but I haven’t seen anything extraordinary.

Milk Hydro Grip Primer Deluxe Sample

I despised this primer initially because the first few pumps were incredibly sticky. Everything was harder to blend on top. Perhaps this was just due to the sample bottle because the rest of the time I’ve used it, I no longer had that problem and began to enjoy it more with every use. This adds a slight dewy finish that is a little noticeable even with a matte foundation, but not enough to make it truly glowy. I believe this does extend the wear of my makeup, as products do seem to grip more to the primer and appear more full coverage on the skin. This deluxe sample that I have is almost finished and I’ve debated whether to buy the mini, but I don’t believe I will. I still have plenty of other primers to go through and between the Tatcha and Milk, I still prefer the Tatcha. I will keep this until I use it up.

Guerlain L’Or 24K Gold Radiance Concentrate Base / Hydrating Primer

This is the most expensive primer I own in the full size. When I visibly watched Tati Westbrook’s skin lift in a video when she wore this, I was sold. Well, I at least waited until a VIB sale from Sephora and then I purchased it. In the beginning, I really did think this was essentially contouring my face wherever I put it. I honestly don’t know if it was a placebo effect or not. I continued to see results until I started gaining weight. Naturally, I blamed my weight gain for why the product no longer worked. I told myself, “There’s too much skin to snatch!” Perhaps it just lost its efficacy as it had been around the year mark that I questioned if it was still working.
The product description does claim to have hydrating and tightening effects. Perhaps the alcohol in the primer made my skin feel tighter and I imagined my skin looked tighter too. I don’t know. I’d like to think what I saw was accurate over the course of that year that I regularly used it. At the same time, I remember how confident I felt when I used it, and that fact already made this product worth the price tag.
The texture is similar to the YSL Touche Eclat Blur Face Primer in that it feels like a gel and also comes in a version with flecks of gold. I had the YSL as a mini and I remember liking the Guerlain much better because of the firming element and how the Guerlain sunk into my skin better. These brands say the gold flakes add luminosity but that element is just a gimmick and an excuse to bump up the price. There is no evidence that gold as an ingredient helps the skin and whenever I get some of the flakes on my face, it looks accidental and not intentional. It’s the kind that someone would walk up to you and say, “Hey you have a speck of something on your face!” It does have a knack of showing up in photos too. There are many times in the past that I had to retake pictures because it looked like I had some glitter fallout on my face and it didn’t look cute.
The other thing I didn’t like about this is that it contains fragrance. The perfume smell is okay and fades quickly, but I wish it wasn’t present at all. My bottle smells even more strongly of perfume, which is an indication that mine is too old. Even though I’m no longer using it, I’m keeping it on my vanity because it’s admittedly so pretty with the glass bottle and gold elements.

As a primer for makeup, this worked well with every product I’ve ever put on top of it. I rarely wore makeup longer than 8 hours, so I can at least say everything I wore over it lasted at least to this point. The texture left on the skin didn’t make for the smoothest application process though, but it always looked nice in the end. I can’t say for sure whether it’s worth the price, as that comes down to the individual’s needs and if someone would get the same results I did.

Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base Deluxe Sample

I’ve heard this primer raved about almost as much as the Tatcha Silk Canvas. While it does help my skin to feel moisturized, I don’t see any additional benefits in terms of wearing it under my makeup. To be fair, the product description only promises it, “hydrates, softens, and cushions skin…and fends off environmental damage.” I also didn’t realize, until I checked Sephora’s website, that this product is recommended for normal, combo, and oily skin. Perhaps I’m failing to see what makes this special because my skin type is dry-normal (leaning more dry), but my personal experience with this product is that it’s just okay. I would never spend over $30 for the full size, yet this retails for $62 at 1.7 oz/ 50 mL.

Tarte Timeless Smoothing Primer

This is another Tati Westbrook recommendation, although, by the time Tarte sold this in the mini size it was said by Tati that the formula was already different. I tended to love 75-80% of her recommendations, so I had high expectations that this primer failed to live up to. For one, it didn’t do anything for my makeup. It gave me the same results I would have had if I applied foundation to my bare face. I don’t like the texture of it either. It’s difficult to smooth onto my skin (warming it up by rubbing it in my hands doesn’t help) and will pill up if I have too many moisturizing ingredients on my face. I didn’t like it with my initial first uses and now that I’ve had this for a long time and tried it again recently, my opinion hasn’t changed. I’m not keeping this. This has a little bit of a lemon scent.

ELF Poreless Putty Primer

In my ELF review, I mentioned that I liked using this in the smoother areas of my face and that I would continue to use it. Honestly, I haven’t. I’ve been working on finishing my MILK Hydro Grip Primer and Tatcha ones (which look nice no matter where I put them), so I haven’t had the desire or chance to use this much. I still stick to my belief that this is a decent primer. I do feel it helps my makeup stay put longer, but it doesn’t have the added benefits of making my skin look smoother or looking nice over fine lines, so it’s not on my list of favorites.

Tatcha Silk Canvas Mini in Original and Liquid forms

Deluxe Sample of 5g versus the 10g Mini

What I love about the liquid form is that it has all the benefits I loved from the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer but without the white cast. This one is a white liquid as well, but it melts fully into the skin to leave no trace of white behind. My foundation and blush looks so much smoother when I apply them over this primer. The Silk Canvas in the jar form performs the same way, but it takes a little more effort to smooth it and absorb into my skin. I’ve continued to use this up, but I put it exclusively under my eyes to add extra hydration and help my concealer look a bit smoother. Also, this had a light non-overpowering lemon scent that I can smell when I hold it up to my nose, but it doesn’t linger once it’s on my skin.

Cover FX Illuminating Primer Base Deluxe Sample

I have no idea how long ago I got this sample because I believe this is a discontinued product. This looks shiny when I first put it on my skin but as I rub it in, the shine disappears and I’m left with a barely detectable shine that disappears when foundation is put on top of it. Since it’s probably old and doesn’t work well enough anyway, I’m tossing it.

MAC Strobe Cream Deluxe Mini in Pinklite

I have this sample in the original shade. Although I’ve never been a fan of pink highlighters, the pink isn’t very strong on my skin. This is the kind of product I’d wear on no-makeup days to just add a bit of luminosity to my face. As a primer, it has more of a shine than the CoverFx primer I mentioned earlier, but it dulls down quite a bit with foundation over it. This is unlike the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter which I can wear under foundation and still have a glow to my skin. This product can also be used as a liquid highlighter, not just as a primer, so adding it back on top of my skin looks nice and works too. It doesn’t disturb my liquid foundation too much, but I did try it once over powder and it definitely lifted my foundation off that time. I’m tossing this tube but I have another more recent sample. I may or may not continue to use this because my skin does look very smooth with this as a primer, but I don’t think I like this enough to buy a full size bottle. I’m happy with the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter as my glowy base primer and liquid highlighter.

Becca Backlight Priming Filter Base Deluxe Sample

While this does give a mild glow to the skin, it emphasizes texture a bit when used on its own. When under foundation, the glow is even more minimal and by the end of the day, my skin actually looked dry. I got this in either a subscription box or mini set. While mine is currently too old and should be thrown away, I used it on two other occasions when it was still new and I wasn’t impressed. I held onto it so I could give it another chance in the future, but time didn’t change my mind.

Becca Skin Love Brighten and Blur Primer

The texture of this primer is what I imagine a liquid version of the Tarte Timeless Smoothing Primer would be like, but better. I didn’t notice any blurring or brightening, but it made a smooth base for my foundation to glide on top of it. I was expecting at least a glow, considering the “brightening” claim, but my skin just looked matte. I’m not impressed with how my skin looks until I put other glowy products on top of it. It still doesn’t look its best until a few hours later when a little oil begins to show. I will continue to use up this sample, but I don’t think it does enough to make me want the full size. Unfortunately, Becca Cosmetics will shut down in September 2021, so I’d rather not get used to their primer anyway.

Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Blurring Primer

This primer is more liquid-like than the Becca Skin Love, but when it’s rubbed into the skin, this reminds me even more of the Tarte primer than the Becca! It starts to pill on itself the more it’s rubbed into the skin, so I’m careful with how much rubbing I do to get the product to stay on my face. This primer is mattifying. Other than that, I don’t see any special results when I use this, blurring or otherwise. I don’t want to let this go to waste, but I’m also unwilling to keep using it, so it’s being decluttered.

Smashbox Original Photo Finish Primer

This reminds me of the Too Faced Primed and Poreless Pure (discontinued). It’s a standard silicone primer. There are plenty like this on the market and if your skin works well with silicone primers, this is pretty much guaranteed to work too. I purchased a mini of this once but between subscription boxes and free gift with purchases, I’ve never had to buy another of these again. In fact, I tend to save these minis and samples for one of my best friends who loves this primer. This was a holy grail pairing with the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD foundation I used to use. This always kept my foundation in place and while it’s one of those dependable products that are great to have, I prefer to use primers with additional benefits. I gave this unopened tube to my friend, so I don’t have photos of what it looks like swatched but there isn’t much to see anyway. It’s clear and goes onto the skin perfectly clear as well.

Good Molecules Silicone-free Priming Moisturizer Travel Size

Although I have dry skin, I cannot have too heavy or too many moisturizers on my face or else I will start to get pimples. This product definitely moisturizes my skin and isn’t totally lightweight, but it isn’t a thick cream either. It’s basically right in the middle and enough that I wouldn’t apply an additional moisturizer to my skin if I was going to use this. I would apply this to my bare skin (plus sunscreen) before putting my makeup on. Besides the Bobbi Brown Base, the only other skincare-like primer I’ve used before is the Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre, which was much thicker than this. The Good Molecules primer is very smoothing and hydrating. The skin looks moisturized without adding dewiness. Although this has a silicone alternative, I don’t believe this helps extend the wear of my makeup the way a typical primer would, so I recommend using a setting powder or setting spray with this if you need your makeup to last a full day.

End Results

I intended to have a section for primer foil samples, but I have no idea where I put them, as they’re not in my usual sample spots. In any case, these photos show how the declutter ended.

Although I kept the Layin’ Low and Groundwork Paint Pots (and got rid of Rubenesque), I estimate that I will have used up the entire jar of Groundwork in a month or two. My Urban Decay primer also feels like it’s half empty and the ABH sample is almost finished as well. So, I’ll have even fewer by the end of this year.

Because it’s so easy to get a free sample or mini of primers, I don’t foresee myself getting a new full size one anytime soon. It will still take a while to get through the samples I’m keeping (though the Sisley and Milk only have a few uses left), and I’m holding onto the L’Or because of the bottle. So, realistically, I expect to run out of primers by the end of the year and I will likely buy another travel size/mini Tatcha liquid silk canvas to use in addition to the samples I feel will likely accumulate again.

Primers aren’t super exciting, but I hope this has managed to be a useful post!


PRIMERS: The Foundation for Your Foundation

prim1In most cases, makeup is straightforward: you apply lipstick to your lips and outline your eyes with an eyeliner. So why isn’t foundation the first step? Why does it need a base?

Primer fills wrinkles and pores so that the foundation can glide evenly across the top. A moisturizer will fill the grooves as well but because of the absorption factor, it will improve the look of dryness and not necessarily create an even texture. If you have very dry skin, or even normal to dry like mine, I recommend using both if you want a perfectly smooth application.

zoomhandOn the left side, I used Too Faced Primer before adding Estée Lauder
Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup. I was able to quickly apply and buff the foundation into the back of my hand and it remained true to color. The side without primer set quickly, but was drier than my bare skin.

prim Primer helps keep foundation in place, especially in outdoor conditions (heat/humidity, rain, etc.). I rarely wear makeup for longer than 8 hours, so I haven’t tested how much longer the makeup will last. However, the other benefits are reasons enough for me to invest in primers.

* = Silicone free

*Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré – 65th anniversary Gold Edition

emb$28 at CameraReadyCosmetics

This product is the jack-of-all trades for makeup. One simple word for it, is that it’s a moisturizer. According to the makers of this product, it doubles as a primer and can also be used as a makeup remover, repairing mask, after-shave cream, and baby-care product. Celebrities and famous makeup artists like Scarlett Johansson, Karli Kloss, Demi Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Lisa Eldridge (the list is huge) have credited this product as a favorite of theirs.

This is my best recommendation for uneven skin texture. The only problem that I have pertains to the packaging. If you twist the cap too much in one direction, it loosens up and you have to twist it again to tighten it back. Also, I have to keep mine in the upright position (cap facing up) at all times, otherwise too much cream would spill out once uncapped. A little bit goes a long way so you can’t squeeze too hard.

fillewithout being squeezed it is always filled to the top.

Too Faced Primed and Poreless Pure Primer

toof$30 at Ulta

This is my go-to product. When I’m testing a new foundation or I’m in a rush and don’t want to spend time analyzing my skin to decide how much or how little moisture I need that day, this is what I will grab. If I’m going to be outside or I know I’ll need makeup for an extended amount of hours, I reach for this. The regular version of this primer comes in a pink bottle but I prefer Pure, even though I don’t have sensitive skin nor a problem controlling oil. This is a visually obvious silicone-based primer and a heavier version (an element that I like) of the Smashbox Photo Finish primer. toof2Too Faced also has a Hangover Primer but I have not tried it yet.

Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer – Caramel Primer

mufep(the sample 4 pack: top left is mattifying, top right is smoothing, bottom left is hydrating, and bottom right is for redness)

$36 at Sephora

I must have been hypnotized during the Breakfast Before Brunch VIB Rouge event because I did not realize this primer was so expensive! That being said, I don’t intend on returning it.

I own color correcting products but this is my first in the form of a primer. It’s as orange as the bottle but once blended it becomes nearly undetectable. This sounds like it would be ineffective as a CC product, but it works the same was as an eyeshadow transition color; although you don’t notice it among the darker, brighter, and bolder colors, it is what ties them all together.

mufep2Despite being creamy, the color drags against the skin when you apply with the fingers, as recommended. So I suggest using a foundation or other paddle-shaped brush to apply this primer.

There are 4 primers in the MUFE collection that tackle textural issues (mattifying, smoothing, hydrating, and nourishing) and 6 color correcting shades (green, blue, pink, yellow, peach, brown/orange). MUFE recommends combining one texture and one tone primer for the best results. I am confident that anyone could find comparable results for less than $72.

*Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer


$18 travel size at Hourglass

Oh, how I wish I could use this all over my face! This is a holy grail primer with a holy grail price tag to match ($52 for 1 ounce or $72 for 2 oz). It leaves a smooth, almost powdery finish, has 15 SPF, and I can vouch that the claims of being water repellent are true.

hgla2The downside, and the reason I don’t wear it, is because it leaves a whitish-blue tinge to my skin. I could not capture it fully on camera (just looks ashy) but there is no denying it when seen in person.

wchandIf I use a tiny amount, it still shows underneath my foundation (making the foundation look too light for me as well). Any less of the primer isn’t enough create that smooth canvas that I could get with another product. So, I use it as an eyeshadow primer instead.

For those with lighter skin tones, I highly recommend this primer. Sephora often has samples of this available, so I encourage you to at least give it a try.

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Blur Primer

ys1Full Size: $52 at Sephora

This deluxe sample was a gift with purchase ($25 minimum) from Sephora.

It’s a clear gel mixed with different kernel, seed, and bran oils. Gold glitter/shimmer is suspended in the fluid. It leaves the face feeling very soft and surprisingly not oily. I give it credit for being even better than the Embryolisse in that regard.

ys2However, I do not understand how this will add luminosity beyond the type of shine that a facial oil or moisturizer could also give me. If the glow is supposed to come from the gold shimmer, well, it fails when used alone. ys3

I can control the placement of shimmer when using a highlighter, but I don’t want random flecks of glitter spread awkwardly over my entire face. If you prefer a glittery look but find that the amount of sparkle in this is not enough, you can use it in conjunction with the matching touche eclat foundation.

These are the five I have currently in my collection. There are affordable primer alternatives on the market, but I have not tried them yet. It takes me at least a year to use up a single bottle!

One final tip: if you find that your primer and foundation are not working in harmony together, check the ingredients to make sure that both products have the same base (water, silicone, oil).

❤ Lili