Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush | Review

Spring had sprung, and I wanted something new. Specifically, something new for my cheeks. The hunt for a new blush began on a chilly spring day. I tirelessly searched through blushes, checking out recommendations from YouTube beauty gurus, Sephora reviews, and both high-end and drugstore brands. After much deliberation, many bookmarked web pages, and a few restless nights of sleep (I take my makeup purchases seriously), I decided on the one: Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in the shade Blushing Bride.

One of the things I like best about this blush is the packaging. I ordered the blush online, and when I opened the Sephora package, I thought for a moment that I had stepped back in time, because the packaging reminds me of Polly Pocket. The pink, the gold lettering, the small compact-- it felt like 1994 all over again. Another important aspect of the packaging is the mirror on the inside. Usually, I don't use mirrors included in makeup compacts. I rarely apply makeup on the go, so the mirrors aren't a necessity for me. With this compact, I find myself using the mirror because of its superior quality. It is gorgeous and offers a pristine reflection to the user.

Back to the star of the show:  the product. Tarte claims that this blush is "infused with Amazonian clay harvested from the banks of the Amazon River and baked by the sun." This claim is graphically depicted in the blush itself. Visually, this blush is stunning, both inside and outside the package. The product wears just as beautifully on the cheeks, and truly lasts the full, advertised 12 hours. A little bit of blush goes a long way. I would recommend putting less product on your brush than usual, and building the color up as desired with a small amount on your brush each time. Blending this blush is a dream, and harsh lines are a rarity, unless too much product is applied. A light hand is the best bet.

I have been using this blush daily for three months now, and I have barely made a dent in it. For $26, it is an excellent value and well worth the investment. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush is available in 15 different shades. Let me know if you have tried any other shades and what you thought of them!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Belle Epoque | Book Review

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross is a 2014 Morris Award finalist. The Morris Award honors books written by debut authors in young adult literature. The Morris Award nominees and winners are some of the first books I add to my summer reading list, because I like the thrill of reading work from authors new to the YA scene. Elizabeth Ross did not disappoint.

Set in the late 1880s, Belle Epoque follows 16-year-old Maude from a small town in northwest Brittany to Paris, France. After a string of unsuccessful jobs and failed attempts to support herself, Maude begrudgingly becomes a repoussoir (foil) to an aristocrat named Isabelle Dubern. Isabelle is in her debutante season with the goal of becoming engaged, and Maude is hired by the Duberns as an ugly friend to make Isabelle look more beautiful.

Maude and Isabelle become friends, and we are swept away into a world of privilege and connections, which is contrasted with Maude's own world of Paris explorations and her group of bohemian friends. These two worlds cannot exist separately forever, and they inevitably collide. As the two worlds become more tangled, you might find yourself reading this book way past your bedtime.

Perhaps the most refreshing part of this book is Belle Epoque itself.  Belle epoque translates to "beautiful age" and is significant because of the story's setting and its theme. In the late 1880s, France was still recovering from drastic changes in terms of social classes. France would unveil its new social order on the stage of the World's Fair, with the newly constructed Eiffel Tower as its centerpiece. In the same way, Maude learns that her own belle epoque is now, regardless of personal appearance or social class.

Belle Epoque is the most innovative book I've read this summer. I am looking forward to reading more books by Elizabeth Ross.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mascara Madness

Somehow, I have managed to acquire three mascaras since the beginning of 2014. Miraculously, all three mascaras have remained in my daily makeup bag. This is a point of interest, because I have three different makeup storage bags-- a daily use bag, and two for less used but still loved products.

Three mascaras in my daily makeup bag may seem excessive. Surprisingly, I found myself reaching for each one often enough that it made sense to keep them all together. They're all that good.

Here's the rundown:

1. Lancome Definicils Mascara in Black
My description:  Basic, everyday mascara.
Lancome's description:  "Natural but noticeable lashes."
Price:  $27.50, the most expensive in my roundup.
Best suited for:  Daily wear for work, errands, casual events.
One coat:  Gotta run, already running late, clump-free lashes with definition and length.
Two coats:  Guaranteed compliments, zero clumps, eyelashes reaching eyebrows.

This is my go-to mascara. I have been purchasing it consistently since 2004. That's a decade of commitment, making my opinion of this mascara tried and true.

The wand itself is thin and easy to maneuver across the lashes. I appreciate the square-shaped end of the wand, as this allows me to achieve a precise and consistent application with each use.

With a classic Christmas tree shape, this mascara is perfect for anyone:  makeup beginners, makeup devotees, and occasional makeup users alike.  The formula rarely clumps. It applies with ease and yields excellent results.  This mascara will always hold a special place in my makeup bag (and my heart).

2.  Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara in Jet Black. 
My description:  When basic just won't cut it.
Smashbox's description:  "Volumizing and lengthening."
Price:  $19.50, the median-priced mascara in my roundup.
Best suited for:  Some time on your hands, a desire to have standout lashes, and somewhere to go.
One coat:  Lash definition, possible clumping maintenance required, eyelashes reach eyebrows.
Two coats:  Total lash definition, definite clumping maintenance required, zero flaking, lashes will look fanned out and flashy.

I reach for this mascara when I have a little extra time on my hands and if I choose to emphasize my eyes in my overall makeup look for the day.  This is not to say that I wouldn't pair this mascara with a bold lip-- if I use a single coat of it, I can have the best of both worlds, emphasized eyes and a bold lip.

As you can see, the wand of this mascara is huge. This is why I allow myself some extra time when I use it. A bigger wand means a higher chance of making mistakes, like mascara clumps or getting the formula on your skin instead of on your lashes. 

Overall, I am impressed with this mascara. I love the results I get from it, and I like that even though this is a mascara I use for a statement eye, I can still use it for everyday wear by reducing the amount I apply. There is something to be said for its versatility. However, this mascara will definitely require clumping maintenance, as the wand is roughly the size of a toothbrush. Also, the formula tends to gather at the base of the wand. I frequently wipe off the base of the wand to avoid clumping, but this wastes product. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make, but it's also a deterrent in terms of the likelihood that I will repurchase this mascara.

3.  Benefit They're Real! Mascara in Jet-Black
My description:  Fake lashes from an actual mascara. Heavenly, beautiful, statement lashes.
Benefit's description:  "Jet-black mascara that lengthens, curls, volumizes, lifts, and separates lashes for a spectacular 'out-to-here' look."
Price:  0.14 ounces, $10, the cheapest in my roundup; 0.3 ounces, $23, second most expensive.
Best suited for:  Formal events, statement eyes, impressing everyone with your majestic lashes.
One coat:  Long, full lashes that truly look like false eyelashes, black as the darkest night sky.
Two coats:  You're going to be asking yourself if your lashes are real. Clumping maintenance may be required at first, but not as you get used to the formulation of the mascara and the uniqueness of the wand.

When I use They're Real, I know it's a special day. If I want my eyes to be the primary focus of my makeup look, this is the mascara I use. It is absolutely stunning. I could write pages of praises for this mascara. It is the mascara I use the least often, but it is my favorite of the three. I purchase it in the smaller size, and two tubes of it will last me the entire year.

The wand is unique because the bristles are spaced out more than other mascaras and made of plastic instead of synthetic fibers. The top of the wand has bristles as well, which is wonderful for reaching the inner and bottom lashes.

They're Real should be in every woman's makeup bag. The small sized tube is comparable to the pricing of drugstore brands, but the high-end formulation is superior to any mascara I have ever used. One coat of this mascara is all you need to give the appearance of false eyelashes. Amazingly, one coat of They're Real will rarely clump if you are taking your time when applying it. Two coats will likely clump, and I have had some disasters when attempting two coats. One coat is plenty for dramatic, statement, perfect eyelashes.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Smashbox Be Legendary Lip Gloss | Review

Summer is in full swing! With the rise in temperatures, the need arises for a long-lasting lip color for the many festivities and occasions that summer brings. In the springtime, I noticed that lip glosses were making their way back to my favorite beauty brands' shelves. I resisted the urge to buy one for a long time, because I associated lip gloss with middle school dances and general awkwardness. When I finally caved and bought a new lip gloss, I discovered that my awkward lip gloss wearing days were gone.

In other words, this isn't your seventh grade lip gloss. Lip gloss has grown up! Allow me to present my summer beauty staple, Smashbox Be Legendary Lip Gloss in Disco Rose:

The packaging is chunky but sleek. The color itself is pigmented and unusual. Although it is described as a rich rose shade, it's not the red rose of Valentine's Day that this lip gloss has captured; rather, the deep pink roses found in the lush summer gardens cared for by passionate pruners.

Unlike the lip glosses of my adolescence, this lip gloss is smooth and wears much like a balm. I often forget that I am wearing it once I have applied it, and as I carry on with daily activities, the gloss carries on along with me. I usually get at least five hours of wear out of one application. Once the gloss wears off, a nice color remains on my lips until I wash it off or reapply.

This gloss wears beautifully on its own, but it also complements lip stains nicely in that it prevents dryness when combined with a stain. That is to say, another benefit of this lip gloss is that it is incredibly moisturizing. This is my favorite unexpected twist and added benefit to my summer staple.

Reasonably priced at $20, a bargain for high-end lip products, Smashbox Be Legendary lip gloss is well worth the investment for pretty, worry-free summer lips.