Budget Buys with BornPrettyStore



BornPrettyStore Swatches

I do love myself some luxury makeup, but there is a time and place for a good budget buy!

BornPrettyStore is a beauty retailer out of Asia that is chock full of budget products and dupes. They recently gave me the opportunity to try a few of the products, and I have to say, I’m pretty impressed! It takes close to two weeks to get the products since they do ship from Asia, but they arrived in great condition.

I picked the Bubu Lipstick* in Shade 02, a medium coral, and the Efolar Blush Powder* in 01, a traditional peachy-pink, and in both cases, I’m really pleased with the performance! The lipstick is fairly moisturizing, and I find that it covers up imperfections rather than emphasizing them. As someone with perpetually dry lips, that’s a must! I also like that it is bright, but muted, making it versatile year round. The blush is a solid buy as well, and I particularly liked the wear-time – 7+ hours, and it was still visible! It didn’t sink into pores or transfer at all. It has a slightly makeup-y smell (not unlike that of NARS Eyeshadows), but it doesn’t prevent me from using it. The packaging of the blush is a bit bulky and hard to store, so it may be a candidate for de-potting, but the lipstick packaging is really cute.

I have to say, I’ve always been a little wary of direct-from-Asia websites, but I am really pleased with the level of customer service and the products from BornPrettyStore. How do you feel about budget beauty buys?

Fourteen Favorites of 2014

14 Favorites of 2014

In lieu of November and December favorites posts, I compiled these fourteen products – my ultimate favorite beauty products of the year. These are the things I either can’t live without, or just kept coming back to all year long.

Despite having tried about 20 different foundations this year, only one made this list, and it was NARS Sheer Glow in Light 6 Ceylan. It gives the perfect medium-natural finish every time, no matter how you apply it. My under eye circles are too pronounced to be covered with just foundation though, so I’ve been relying heavily on my Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Peach, and my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla. These two are my dream team, and I literally don’t leave the house without applying at least these.

I’ve been topping off the base most often with either the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat or my Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Exposed. The Hourglass blush is a highlighter and blush built into one lovely product; it looks fresh all day, and it somehow is appropriate in all seasons. The nude blush trend has been a powerful one this year, and I haven’t stopped using Exposed since I picked it up – it is the best partner for a bold lip.

Speaking of bold lip, my Tom Ford lipstick in Slander (LE, but re-promoted for the Lips and Boys collection in the shade Alejandro) has been my favorite red lipstick this year. It has a satin-y finish, and it is super comfortable to wear. I’ve also been loving my NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dolce Vita as a my-lips-but-better color, as you can tell by the super worn-in pencil ha. It finishes off a makeup look like nothing else. If I opt for a gloss, it has been the blogger-favorite Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in Rosewood Shimmer, which is the non-stickiest, most lovely gloss I’ve ever tried.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know that I have a soft spot for eye products, so it was tough for me to decide which were my absolute favorites! The MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Soft Ochre made the list for its fantastic ability to nullify any existing pigment on my eyelids before I apply shadow. Sometimes I even just apply that, and then a little bit of the Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Emerald Gold for a subtle dose of color. Seriously guys, if you haven’t tried this smudgy, smooth, wonderful pencil, you should, and the green is gorgeous. If I want a quick semi-smokey eye on a rushed morning, I’ve turned to Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Shadow in Nude Compliment (LE, but Bad to the Bronze is just a good). Application is literally 20 seconds, which is amazing.

By way of powder products, the Urban Decay Naked2 Basics and the NARS NARSissist Palette (review here – LE, but still available at Sephora) both made the list for their versatility and overall quality. From barely there to super smoked, and from totally matte to beautifully shimmery, these two palettes have it covered. And the MAC 217 Blending Brush is the tool to achieve any look – I cannot believe it took me until this year to purchase this brush. If I’m being honest, that brush is probably my single favorite beauty product of the year.

So there you have it! What have you been loving this year?


Christmas Makeup Must-Haves

Christmas Makeup Must Haves

As I was packing for my trip home for the holidays, I started thinking about what my go-to products were going to be for all of the Christmas activities coming up this weekend. Here’s a quick roundup of my holiday picks to celebrate Christmas Eve:

  1. Christian Louboutin Nail Polish in Rouge Louboutin: A gift from my lovely friend C, this is the perfect Christmas red! Not to mention the amazing formula on this polish. It is the only formula I’ve ever used that actually only requires one coat to be opaque.
  2. elf Long-Lasting Cream Shadow in Toast: You can apply this with your finger, which is ideal, and over primer, it lasts 8 hours without moving. Toast is a gold shade with a subtle sparkle, which is ideal for a holiday party.
  3. MAC Heirloom Mix Lipstick in Salon Rouge: No Christmas makeup roundup would be complete without a red lipstick. I picked this limited edition matte berry red shade up a few weeks ago. but it looks to be still available online. It’s comfortable to wear, and it flatters a variety of skintones. Rimmel Kate Lipstick in 107 is a great dupe if you’re looking for a budget option.
  4. TopShop Lip Liner in Wheels on Fire: To keep the red lipstick looking fresh throughout an evening of reveling and spiked-eggnot-drinking, a lip liner is a must. I’ve been liking this red one from Topshop. It’s slightly brighter than Salon Rouge, but I like its effect on the lipstick!
  5. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye in Neutral: The morning after all that reveling, I am certain to have some dangerous under eye bags, so I grabbed a serious-business, full coverage concealer. I have tended toward this one from IT Cosmetics in the winter, as it is less prone to sticking to dry skin than other concealers I use.
  6. Benefit Watt’s Up Highlighter: Last but not least, a good highlighter – every girl needs a little radiance during the holidays! This cream formula is friendly on dry winter skin, lasts for hours, and I like the subtlety of the warm, champagne tone.

What are your Christmas Must-Haves?

Practical Bridal Makeup with Lover.ly

Bridal MakeupTo me, bridal makeup must be three things: 1) natural, 2) luxurious, and 3) transfer-proof. Everyone always nails the first two, but no one talks about the last one! A wedding day is a long day, so a bride needs her makeup to last 12+ hours, and on top of that, she needs it not to smudge on to her white dress, her groom’s white shirt, or any of the other thousand white things that are at a wedding. So, when lover.ly contacted me to do a little bridal look inspired by one of the dresses on their website, preventing transfer was on the front of my mind!

Lover.ly is a wedding planning website that is a bit like Pinterest, but only for weddings, and they have a huge focus on things you can actually purchase or book, in addition to great inspiration. It also has a ton of great search features that help you narrow down what you’re looking for. I’m not getting married any time soon (first, I’d need to find a man, ha!), but when I do, I’m looking forward to using websites like lover.ly!

Bridal Makeup

So of the thousands of dresses on the site, I chose the Monique Lhullier Madison dress, a silk satin mermaid gown, and I love it because of how it balances the dramatic with the effortless. I focused on picking products for the makeup look that last ages when applied and don’t transfer, but I also tried to keep everything luxurious, because that’s what I feel best in! Click here to take a look at their extensive dress page – it’s chock full of drool-worthy gowns.

For the base, I chose YSL’s Fusion Ink Foundation in B30 Almond. It sinks into the skin unbelievably, and no matter how long you wear it, it does not come off onto your hands or clothes, which is key. Plus it photographs really well, despite having SPF. After setting the foundation for extra protection, I applied my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat from the apples of my cheeks up toward my hairline. And you guessed it, this blush lasts hours. I contoured just a little, and for a touch of luxury, I highlighted the cheekbones with my YSL Touche Eclat in 2.0 Luminous Ivory.

I covered up any darkness under the eye, and primed my eyelids really well before applying NARS eyeshadow in Nepal (middle row, second from left) all over the lid and Brousse #2 (middle row, second from right) in the crease from my NARSissist palette. If you didn’t pick this palette up, you can get these two eyeshadows individually or in a duo from NARS’ permanent collection – the formula is so lovely, and it never creases. I topped the eye look off with a casual cat eye with my Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner in Intense Black, and I used a nude pencil on the water line to open up my eye. A few swipes of Dior’s Iconic Overcurl mascara, one of my favorites for last-all-day-lashes, and I was done!

For the lips, I went with my all-time favorite NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dolce Vita for a natural, but finished look. Despite a matte finish, this pencil is super comfortable to wear, fades extremely gracefully, and it won’t come off on your poor groom’s lips when he kisses his bride!

Married ladies, what did you wear on your wedding day? Single ladies, what are you looking forward to wearing?

Nice to Meet You, Bobbi

Bobbi Brown

Other than my beloved Corrector, I’ve never used Bobbi Brown products before. I don’t like their eyeshadows, which is usually my draw to new brands, so I’ve somehow overlooked this cosmetics powerhouse. Consider that the past though, because I just made a little Bobbi Brown haul thanks to an extra employee discount, and you can color me impressed!

I’ve heard a lot about the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick ($44), and since I’d never tried stick foundation, I thought it would be the perfect time to try it. I picked up the color Warm Sand, which is a touch too yellow for me, but I’ll live, I think. I won’t lie, I had to watch a couple YouTube videos to learn how to apply this (Hint: Apply the stick directly to the face and buff it in with a dense brush like the RT Expert Face Brush), but once I learned, I like it! It’s quick to apply, and it feels very light on the skin, which I didn’t expect.

I also picked up another cult product from the brand in the Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner ($24). I chose the Limited Edition color Black Scotch, a gorgeous espresso brown with gold micro glitter (still available here). This was another entirely new product for me, as I’m more of a stick eyeliner girl, so I picked up the recommended Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush ($27) as well. I’m a convert – I can’t stop wearing this eyeliner. The brush is perfect for the product, and you don’t have to be exact with your application; just smudge it on and go!

For fun, I picked up one of the Art Sticks ($24) as well, in Sunset Orange. These made their rounds on the blogs a little while ago, and I just wasn’t all that enamored, but with a discount, I figured, “why the heck not?” The color is a stunning orange-based red, slightly more coral and muted than MAC’s Lady Danger. I’ve only worn it once, as it isn’t all that season-appropriate, but the formula is lovely, and I appreciate the giant pencil sharpener, because let me tell you, this pencil is enormous.

They also included two samples – the Long-Wear Makeup Remover ($26) and the Extra Repair Eye Cream ($70). The makeup remover is nice, but it doesn’t wow me. The eye cream, however, is the thickest eye cream I’ve ever used. It’s nearly solid in the jar, and it warms up on your fingers when you touch it. It is super hydrating, and I’ve been loving it on these cold winter nights!

So tell me, what are your favorite Bobbi Brown products?

Neutral Palette #12: Smashbox Double Exposure Palette

Smashbox Double Exposure

The Smashbox Double Exposure Palette ($52) was just released a few weeks ago for the holiday season as a dual use (wet or dry) sequel to the Full Exposure nude eyeshadow palette released last year. This is a really interesting release, as I haven’t seen too many palettes marketed for wet-brush use, and if this hasn’t reached UK shores yet, I’m sure it will shortly. But, in the meantime, enjoy this little sneak peek!


It’s Not Me, It’s You #2

It's Not Me It's You

I consider myself pretty lenient as far as beauty products are concerned – even if a product doesn’t work for me, I automatically conjure up situations where this product would be great for someone else, but I just could not find an excuse for these products. I’ve tried these as many ways as I could think to try them, and I just ended up disappointed.

As far as face products are concerned, there are two products with opposite problems: the Bare Minerals Ready Touch Up Veil ($23) in Translucent, and Benefit’s Fake Up ($24) in Medium. I loved the Bare Minerals veil when I first got it – it’s small, easy to carry around, and it mattifies really well. But, it shattered after one week in my bag, and I carry it in a pretty secure Whistles clutch. Additionally, if you’re not super oily, it feels a bit like chalky baby powder, and I’m just not into it. The concealer has the opposite problem: it sits on the skin and feels greasy all day. It transfers, creases, and does everything you do not want a concealer to do. I just cannot figure this one out.

I also have three eye products that I haven’t been loving, and they may be a little controversial, so hold on to your seats! First up is the NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil ($6) in Milk. I bought this after reading many a review about how much it enhances eyeshadow colors, and it definitely does do that, but it creases after literally 10 minutes! I’ve tried it over multiple primers and haven’t been able to fix that issue. Speaking of primers, I received a sample of the NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base ($25) with a palette purchase at some point, but I find that this is essentially useless – it feels good going on, but it doesn’t actually extend the wear time of my eyeshadows, so it’s an unnecessary step for me. I think I’ll stick with my UD Primer Potion.

Lastly, I have Tarte’s Lights Camera Lashes mascara ($20) on my dislike list, which is a surprise because I typically love Tarte products. It gives fluttery, pretty lashes upon application, but on me, it flakes everywhere. By lunch time, I have little flakes all over my cheek bones, which is just not a cute look.

Does anyone have any tips on how to make these products work? I’d love to hear what y’all think!

A Custom Date Night Dress with eShakti

eShakti Dress

Date night outfits are the hardest when the weather gets cold – how are you supposed to feel sexy when you also have to be warm? I always aim for makeup that makes me feel amazing, and a dress in a classic silhouette, topped off with my leather jacket and an edgy necklace to balance it out. This floral jacquard dress* from eShakti.com has been my favorite fall dress lately, and I’ll tell you what: it’s a stunner, and it was built specifically to fit me!  READ MORE

October Favorites

October Favorites

I could have sworn that Halloween was, like, yesterday, and yet suddenly we are halfway through November…how did that even happen? Pretend with me though, that it’s still the end of October, because I had some pretty good beauty favorites last month!

My lips have been a bit chapped lately, so I’ve stayed away from lipstick and played up my eyes most days, which made my LORAC Behind the Scenes Eyeshadow Primer ($21) and my MAC Paint Pot ($21) in Soft Ochre clutch for me this month. I expect a lot out of my eye makeup – 15 hours days with no creasing – so I’ve tried quite a few different eye primers, and the combination of the MAC over the LORAC has been the winner.

On days where I want to play up my eyes, but I don’t have 10 extra minutes to spend on eyeshadow, I have just been throwing on some cobalt blue liner and mascara and running out the door. The L’Oreal Infallible Silkissime Eyeliner ($9) in Cobalt Blue is a really great drugstore eyeliner. I’ve been paring it with a L’Oreal mascara that I believe has been discontinued in the blue, but you can find plenty of other blue mascara options at all price points (See NYX, MUFE, Sephora or Dior). Blue sounds extreme, but it looks surprisingly subtle when applied – if you want to play with color, but you don’t feel all that comfortable with it, this is a great place to start.

With all this eye makeup, I’ve been relying on Rimmel’s Blush ($7.50) in Santa Rose. This is, unfortunately, not available in the states, but you can get ahold of it from ASOS or FeelUnique. This made its rounds on blogs last year, and I entirely understand its popularity! It’s a nice, soft rose that looks extremely natural on the skin.

Last but not least, I received the Ayres Patagonia Body Butter ($28) in an Ipsy bag last month, and it’s one of the best I have used! This puts every other body butter (including the Body Shop’s classic one) to shame. It’s super thick, but it sinks into the skin in seconds and moisturizes really well, plus it doesn’t have a strong scent, which is tough to find in a body butter. I’ve been relatively disappointed with Ipsy lately, but I will definitely be purchasing the full size of this one.

What have you been loving lately? Feel free to leave your links to your October favorites in the comments!

Can’t Live Without ‘em…

Lipstick Live Ins

Like most girls, my bag is full of junk, and I have no idea how it all got in there. These lip products basically live in my bag, and when I was cleaning it out recently, I found myself putting these back in because I know that I use them all the time!

I carry two  lip balms – my trusty Eucerin Aquaphor ($5) and the blogger-favorite Nuxe Reve de Miel ($19). I love them both equally, and I use them differently, depending on the weather. The Nuxe one is a bit more matte, and the Aquaphor is more like vaseline, but  both are fantastic.

The Clinique Almost Lipstick ($16) in Black Honey is my new favorite fall lip product. It is moisturizing, and it gives the lips a nice berry flush that isn’t too obvious. Plus, it’s sheer, so you can apply it without a mirror.

I did a full review of that stunning Givenchy Le Rouge ($36) lipstick in Brun Createur, so I won’t rave too much about it here, but it is my favorite lipstick color to date. It’s a stunning dusty rose. I typically pull this out after work when I’m running to drinks or dinner and my makeup needs a little touching up.

And of course, I have a couple of NARS lip pencils just in case. The red shade is the NARS Satin Lip Pencil ($25) in Majella, a berry-based red that wears well and is perfect for fall, and the pinker shade is the Velvet Matte Lip Pencil ($25) in Dolce Vita, which is essentially the same color as the Givenchy lipstick, but it’s matte. It doubles as a lipliner for that lipstick as well!

I love these, and I don’t plan on taking these out of my bag any time soon – what do y’all carry around?

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