Favorites of 2014

I did not plan all along to do an annual favorite round-up, but jumped on the bandwagon after being inspired by too many other bloggers and vloggers to count, let alone name.

Beauty Tool Favorites of 2014

Beauty Tool Favorites of 2014

beautyblender PRO – The only difference between this and the original is the color. I need to replace mine now, but I have worn this little sponge out. It really does deliver a no-brainer, no-fuss, excellent application. I order mine from MakeupGeek or Amazon (being careful to seek legit ones and buy safely) so as to avoid paying full retail but also to ensure I’m getting the real thing.

Sigma F80 – Still my foundation-applying champ. I tend to use my beautyblender more in the winter, but this brush is fantastic for creating a flawless, picture-perfect canvas.

Sonia Kashuk no. 27 Angled Liner Brush – Stiff but not stabby bristles makes this ideal for gel liner. At under $10, too, it is a great steal.

Makeup Favorites of 2014

Makeup Favorites of 2014

Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer – I like this more than the Maybelline Fit Me! concealers although those are decent, too. The sponge applicator is goofy but the product itself is so good that I ca overlook the annoying applicator. The whole line is good, my shade varies on the season.

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Liner 24H – They aren’t joking about the 24 Hour claim. This stuff is matte, pigmented, doesn’t cake or flake, and is cheap – like $7-9, and there are frequently coupons available.

LORAC Pro 2You may remember my big to-do about this, and I still like it as much as I did. The shadows are so buttery, blendable, amazing. You can make so many eye looks with this palette, just like with its predecessor.

Urban Decay Naked – Yes, still. Yes, probably forever. Urban Decay’s original iconic neutrals make my heart sing. They’re good for work, good for play, good for daytime, night, lazy days, and days where you actually do feel like looking as though you give a bother.

Skincare Favorites of 2014

Skincare Favorites of 2014

Josie Maran’s Argan Oil(s) – Original and Light. My face likes them, the smallest bottles last me a REALLY long time (as in, I’m still on my original bottles of both – need to repurchase the regular variety soon though). I was skeptical about these, but have really come to like them a lot.

Pond’s Original Fresh Wet Cleansing Towelettes – These are my favorite makeup removing wipes. They’re gentle but effective, and remove most makeup without trouble. To date, the only thing I’ve had an issue with using these on is Benefit’s they’re Real! Push-up Liner. Otherwise, they’re awesome.

Clarisonic Mia 2 – I used it for a year before reviewing. It is a great skincare tool – though if you don’t have sensitive skin, save your money and get the Mia. If you’re on a budget the Olay Pro-X is a good place to start with face-washing gadgetry.

Nail Favorites of 2014

Nail Favorites of 2014

China Glaze Gelaze – Love the formula of these gel polishes, also love that I don’t need to bother with a base coat of gel. Fewer layers to cure means less bulk on the finished nail. It looks feels, and wears better. Also Shocking Pink is bright and amazing…just sayin’.

Seche Vite – I don’t tend to use gel polish on my toes (though I will use Gelaze), so I need to keep an RNP top coat on hand. It smells strong, but it is the best I’ve found. I buy mine at Sally Beauty, but Ulta carries it, and I believe Target and Wal-Mart do, too, now.

Red Carpet Manicure Glitz and Glamorous – This showed up in my December Favorites, but I use it throughout the year. I like it so much, in fact, that it was what was on my nails for my wedding.

Buying Safely

Counterfeits exist. We all know this – be they counterfeit bills, bags, whatever. Someone makes a convincing (or not-so-convincing) knock-off, sells it to some unknowing (or uncaring) consumer at what appears to be a deep, deep discount. Fakes and counterfeits exist in the beauty industry, too, so it is important to know who you’re doing business with so you can be sure you’re making good choices and buying safely.

Before my interest in the beauty industry grew, I knew there were fakes – long before I owned my Naked palette, I had seen knock-offs trying to pass themselves off as the real thing from Urban Decay. Oh sure, that palette with the wrong font, wrong-color case, sold by an atypical vendor (eBay? random Amazon Marketplace merchant? Flea-Market [yes, really]?) that only costs $10 is clearly the same thing.

We all love a good deal, we all love not paying full price for something. I personally make it a point not to pay full retail whenever possible (legitimately, of course) but at some point I’d think a red flag would be triggered. This isn’t always the case, however; the siren song of cheap prestige makeup, skincare, and haircare is strong and lures people away from buying safely all the time.

A friend of mine (who isn’t as into this stuff) recently mentioned buying a Tarte Lipsurgence from Ulta ($24-25ish), but bemoaned the fact that she found it on Amazon for $9.97 + shipping after the fact. Eyebrows raised, I investigated…

Buying Safely - An Example of What to be Skeptical Of


…and found this.

I want to think it is reasonable to get that that cheap (or from Amazon at all), but unless that Tarte product is that cheap on sale from Ulta, Sephora, QVC, or the brand itself, steer clear. In addition to not wanting to waste money on a fake, you have to ask yourself:

If a seller is willing to pass their product off as that of another brand in order to make a sale, what else are they hiding about that product?

The ingredient listing, surely. You have no way of knowing what is in that product you’d be slapping liberally on your lips/eyes/etc. I’m not willing to gamble on that – if you are, congratulations on living on the edge, I guess. I won’t want to risk harming my eyes or lips to save a couple bucks that way. I’ll save up until I can buy it from a trusted source or I’ll buy a drugstore alternative; buying safely is too important when it comes to beauty items.

The reviews cried out that this listing was not legit, that they were sent fake product, etc. You should definitely check the reviews, but there are other things to look at. See how the features are formatted? You will never see legitimate (respectable!) retailers selling authentic product like this. It isn’t professional. Also, check their return policy. If they do not accept returns or exchanges for any reason, that’s sketchy.

Generally, be skeptical of:

  • eBay – The likelihood of you finding legitimate prestige products on eBay is pretty low. It is possible, but not likely, so I’d suggest avoiding it. You’d have better luck with Glambot – they verify legitimacy (but not batch/age).
  • Anything on Amazon that is not Shipped from and Sold By Amazon.com – There ARE a few Amazon Marketplace merchants who sell legit products but they are few and far between; and you’ll find that the legit products won’t have much (if any) of a discount as compared to traditional retailers. That said, Amazon.com itself does sell some prestige brands (LORAC, Stila, Cargo, The Balm, Eyeko, Butter London, and Deborah Lippman are some examples), so as long as you see that it is shipped from/sold by them, you can usually rest assured that you are buying safely.
  • Flea Markets – It makes me cringe to even have to mention this, but seriously. Fake palettes and products pop up all the time at these. Sometimes, the seller may not even realize they’re selling bad/fake product. Basically, don’t ever buy makeup or skincare at one of these (Avon is probably safe if you see it – no one is going to bother with counterfeits of it).

Basically, you can be pretty sure you’re buying safely if you’re buying from the brand directly, through Ulta, Sephora, a department store, Beauty.com, or other authorized retailers. If you aren’t sure if a retailer is authorized or legit to carry/sell those products, reach out to the brand to see if they can confirm.

Prestige/salon hair products are a bit more accessible. As far as hair products go, you sometimes see warnings to be skeptical of salon brands (like Tigi, Paul Mitchell, Sexy Hair, Redken, Matrix, etc) sold at drugstores, grocers and mass-retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. While you should be skeptical of buying those lines from the merchants I listed above, large chains like Walgreens, CVS, your local large grocers, Wal-Mart, and Target are not going to bother selling shady products, period. It would be a foolish risk for them to take. If you prefer to purchase them from your stylist or salon to help support their business, that’s awesome of you and you will definitely be buying safely – but you needn’t worry that you aren’t buying safely from your drugstore or mass-retailer of choice, either.

Be safe, buy safe. It isn’t just an authenticity issue, it’s a safety issue. If you aren’t sure, ask someone who is more experienced with such purchasing. If you don’t know anyone personally, there are a lot of great, helpful online communities that would be happy to help guide you.

December 2014 Favorites

December 2014 FavoritesDecember 2014 Favorites
1. Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil, $16 / 2. Kat von D Foiled Love Lipstick in Adora, discontinued /
3. OPI Gelcolor in I’m Not Really a Waitress, $15 (varies) / 4. Red Carpet Manicure Glitz and Glamorous, $10 /
5. L’Oreal Infalliable Eyeshadow in Bronzed Taupe, $7

Rather than waiting a week to get these out, I decided to publish my December 2014 Favorites today. I feel like I should have more on my list, but they kind of overlap with last month…and I imagine next month’s will overlap with this month, too. :P I hope 2014 has been awesome to you, and that 2015 is even more fulfilling.

Before moving on to my favorites, today is the final day for my Urban Decay Naked2 Basics giveaway – it ends at 11:59PM EST, go check it out!

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Everything Nice Palette Tutorial: Teal Look

A while ago, I shared a creepy, low-res shot of this eye makeup (all single eye shots are creepy, face it) I did with the Too Faced holiday palette. I had taken it with my cell phone, but got a few requests to produce both a tutorial of the look and an Everything Nice Palette Tutorial. Although it is starting to be a bit late for holiday parties, this look is appropriate for them, and will carry you through any New Years’ festivities you may have. It would also be pretty cool for Mardi Gras or…you know, if you just felt like it (who needs an occasion?).

5hXauN0Everything Nice Palette Tutorial: Teal Look ft. Too Glam

Start with clean skin (obviously, we aren’t savages). When doing this look, I recommend doing your eyes first as these shadows have a good bit of fallout. You don’t want to mar your base, and who really has time for shadow shields?

Prep your eyes as you see fit – I’m going to use Too Faced Shadow Insurance. You can use whatever primer or concealer your heart desires, but since I have it, I’ll use it for this Everything Nice Palette Tutorial.

Next, grab a fluffy blending brush (I’m, using bdellium tools 785, a tapered fluffy blender), dip into Fawned of You (neutral light brown from the top row, second-to-last) and apply in your crease using circular and windshield-wiper motions. This will help us blend more later as well as provide definition to our eye socket.
Everything Nice Palette Tutorial - Crease Shade

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Too Faced Everything Nice Swatches

Remember this?


I hope so, I shared its unboxing last week. That was exciting and all, but more exciting (in my opinion) would be looking at this limited-edition mega-palette in a bit more detail.

Let’s just jump right into the Too Faced Everything Nice Palette Swatches and review!

Starting with the top row of shadows:

Everything Nice Swatches - Row 1Too Faced Everything Nice Swatches

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Too Faced Everything Nice Palette Unboxing

I listed the limited edition Everything Nice Palette from Too Faced in my 2014 Prestige Makeup (Holiday) Gifts. Fortunately, my awesome husband not only got it for me, but gave it to me early (we’re kind of bad about that). I’ve had a few weeks to play with it now, and I have a ton to say – but for now, we’ll just unbox the Everything Nice Palette to avoid TL;DR.

Here’s the box, front (left) and back (right):

Too Faced Everything Nice Palette - Box Front and Back

Let’s crack it open. It says, #own your pretty. Or is it #ownyourpretty?

Too Faced Everything Nice Palette - Unboxing 1 - #ownyourpretty

The glittery, hot pink clutch is safely tucked in along with a deluxe sample tube of Too Faced Better than Sex mascara.

Too Faced Everything Nice Palette - Unboxing 2

Get rid of those and lift the flap…bingo!

Too Faced Everything Nice Palette - Unboxing 3

“That’s what pretty girls are made of,”

Too Faced Everything Nice PaletteEverything Nice Palette by Too Faced

Glorious makeup, out of its box. Twenty shadows, two blushes, a bronzer, a highlight, three brushes, and an impossibly glittery clutch.

Too Faced Everything Nice Palette - All Unboxed

For cheap tools included with a value palette, the three included brushes aren’t bad. It includes a shader, an angled brush, and a flat face brush.

Too Faced Everything Nice Palette - Tools and Clutch Detail

And here’s a closer, top-down view of the Everything Nice Palette, opened:

Too Faced Everything Nice Palette - Top Down

Although the Everything Nice Palette is similar in format and color scheme to last year’s Too Faced mega palette (which was Too Faced My Favorite Things), it is different enough to be worth buying if you have last year’s edition (I do not have it). Retailing exclusively at Sephora, it goes for $56 in stores and online (when it isn’t sold out)! I’m curious to see if it will linger after the holidays for a little while as its predecessor did.

Review and swatches to come soon!