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.