MY TOP 10 MUST HAVE MAKEUP BRUSHES

Hi everyone! I recently received a few requests to write a blog post about my favorite makeup brushes. I don’t have a HUGE makeup brush collection but I LOVE all of the brushes in my collection. This is probably because I did a ton of research as to which brushes are the “best” before I purchased any of them. The brushes below are ones that I think are must-haves. I couldn’t live without these in my collection (so dramatic, right?).

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Just a disclaimer: a lot of these brushes happen to be from Sigma. These were all purchased by me and I am in no way affiliated with them (I actually applied to be a member of their affiliate program because I love their brushes so much but they actually rejected me). I have linked all of the products for your convenience but none of these are not affiliate links 🙂

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SIGMA F80 FLAT KABUKI BRUSH –  I am absolutely obsessed with the Sigma F80 brush for buffing in my foundation (I even bought a backup). It is very dense so it provides full coverage and does not waste a lot of product. I personally am a fan of full coverage so I like this brush over every other foundation brush that I have tried.

BEAUTY BLENDER – I know a lot of people use their beauty blenders to apply their foundation but for me that just takes WAY too long. I love to use my damp beauty blender to apply my under-eye concealer and I’ve even started using it to apply loose powders. It makes applying loose powders not so messy! PS I personally like the black one the best because I have had issues with the pink one “bleeding” pink dye everywhere.

ELF BLENDING BRUSH – This brush is so inexpensive and is great for contouring. I am still on the hunt for the perfect bronzer brush for adding warmth to the face, but this is my favorite for contouring.

SIGMA F30 LARGE POWDER BRUSH – I use this brush everyday to apply pressed powder because it is very large and dense so it makes the process super quick.

SIGMA TAPERED HIGHLIGHT BRUSH – This is the perfect brush for applying highlight. I won’t ever use anything else. You can also use this for setting your concealer – it is the perfect shape for that as well. I love a brush that you can use for multiple purposes.

REAL TECHNIQUES SETTING BRUSH – This brush is under $10 and is perfect for setting your concealer.

SIGMA E25 BLENDING BRUSH – This is by far my favorite eyeshadow brush. It is perfect for blending out your transition shade. It is supposedly a dupe for the MAC 217 brush but I honestly think it is so much better than the MAC brush.

MAKEUP GEEK OUTER V BRUSH – great for applying color in the outer corner of your eyelid.

SIGMA E40 TAPERED BLENDING BRUSH – this is basically a larger, fluffier version of the Sigma E25. I use this at the end of my eyeshadow look to blend everything together.

TOO FACED RETRACTABLE KABUKI MAKEUP BRUSH – This brush is PERFECT for keeping in your purse/on-the-go makeup bag for touch-ups. I love that it is retractable – I can throw it in my purse and not have to worry about it getting dirty. Plus, the size and density make it perfect for touching up your face with pressed powder.

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What are your must-have makeup brushes?! I have a few bronzer and blush brushes that I like, but I am still on the hunt for the perfect ones and would love any recommendations. I also  think that the one type of brush DEFINITELY missing from my collection is a duo-fiber brush.

 

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BATTLE OF THE CLEANSING BALMS: CLINIQUE TAKE THE DAY OFF VS. IT COSMETICS BYE BYE MAKEUP

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For the past few months, I have been using and LOVING my Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm. Mine is almost empty so I was planning on repurchasing it during the recent Sephora sale. However, I saw Kathleen Lights rave on YouTube about how much she loved the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup around the same time that they were having their 25% off sale (I’m sure that was intentional). So, I decided to buy the Bye Bye Makeup because I love almost everything that I have tried from IT Cosmetics and I thought that comparing the two of these products would make for a good blog post.

 

 

Let me first start by saying that both of these products are amazing and if you’ve never tried either of these cleansing balms you MUST buy one. It is SO much more enjoyable, gentle, and effective than using a makeup remover wipe. Of course, cleansing balms are more expensive than the makeup remover wipes but I think that they are worth it.

At first glance, these two products are incredibly similar. They both feel creamy and gentle on the skin yet are 100% effective at removing my makeup. Here are the differences that I have noticed:

  • Bye Bye Makeup has a slight scent to it. To me, it smells like fresh oranges. I actually enjoyed this A LOT but if you are sensitive to scents you may not like this.
  • The price. The Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm costs $29 for 3.8 oz while the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup costs $38 for 2.82 oz. So, the Clinique product is larger AND cheaper.
  • On the IT Cosmetics website I read that the Bye Bye Makeup is non-comedogenic, sulfate-free and paraben-free. I checked the Clinique website and I could not find any of these claims so my assumption is that the Clinique product is NOT paraben-free, sulfate-free or non-comedogenic.
  • The consistency. I used each of these products for a few days (Clinique on one side of my face, IT Cosmetics on the other) and although they performed nearly the same they felt different. The Clinique product is slicker and more oily while the IT Cosmetics almost feels a little “fluffy”. That’s not the perfect description but I can’t think of a better word to use.

Both of these products perform incredibly well and leave my skin feeling really smooth and soft. They both remove my eye makeup without irritating my eyes. There are slight differences in the consistency of each product but to me the largest difference is price and “quality”.

BOTTOM LINE: If you have sensitive skin and/or want your skincare products to be non-comedogenic, sulfate-free and paraben-free (and don’t mind paying extra for it) then you should get the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup. If you want more “bang for your buck” or prefer an oilier consistency then you should get the Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm. As I have gotten older, I’ve started to pay more attention to the ingredients in both my skincare and haircare. I am at a point in my life where I am willing to spend more on products to get higher quality ingredients. So for me, I plan to repurchase the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup from now on!

DRUGSTORE SURVIVORS: DRUGSTORE MAKEUP THAT SURVIVED MY DECLUTTERING

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I just down-sized my makeup collection. During my makeup declutter session, I came to the realization that I need to stop buying drugstore makeup because I never reach for my drugstore makeup over my high-end products. However, I did end up keeping some of my drugstore makeup… so I thought it might be interesting to show you which items made the cut.

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I do want to admit that A LOT of these products STILL haven’t been used recently. So, if I have just listed the item and not written any comments – that means that I kept it but still haven’t reached for it very often.

PRIMERS:

  • NYX Angel Veil Primer – I like this primer for when my skin is a little dry (i.e. Winter) and I don’t need a super mattifying primer. This primer is very similar to the Hourglass Mineral Veil primer and does a great job of smoothing out your face and prepping it for foundation. I would recommend buying this if you’ve wanted to try the Hourglass Mineral Veil but don’t want to spend the money.
  • Nivea Men’s Post Shave Balm – THANK YOU Nikkie Tutorials for discovering this magical product. If you don’t mind smelling like a man, this is actually an incredible primer.

FOUNDATIONS:

  • L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation – I love this foundation. There was a time when I was reaching for this over almost all of my high end foundations. I would absolutely repurchase this foundation. It is a must if you have oily skin.
  • Covergirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3 in 1 Foundation – I really liked this until I discovered the L’Oreal Infallible Foundation. This one is still good, but I never reach for it now that I have the L’Oreal one.
  • Garnier BB Cream – I never reach for this. I either wear no makeup or a full face of makeup. However, I don’t own any other BB creams so I felt that I should keep this one in my collection in case I do start to use BB creams. It is really pretty on the skin and the one I bought is for oily and combination skin.

POWDER:

  • Revlon Stay Matte Powder – this powder actually does a very good job of keeping me matte, but the packaging is so cheap.

CONCEALER:

  • Maybelline Fit Me Concealer – I love this concealer. I actually prefer it over the Nars Concealer. I haven’t reached for this one as much now that I have discovered the Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer but I would highly recommend buying this product.

BLUSH:

  • Milani Luminoso and Rose D’Oro – these blushes are gorgeous. They have a slight sheen so I would say that they are comparable to the Hourglass blushes. I have a very large blush collection so these don’t get a ton of use but I do actually reach for these.

MASCARA:

  • Maybelline Lash Sensational – I love this mascara, in fact, it might be my favorite of all time. It is definitely in my top 5. Once I finish trying a bunch of high-end mascara, I have a feeling that I will repurchase this one over and over. It is just as good as any high end mascara and I think that mascara is a good product to save money on.
  • I also have a few unopened mascaras that I am going to try: Maybelline the Falsies, L’Oreal Miss Manga Rock, L’Oreal Miss Manga, and L’Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black

EYESHADOW:

  • Sonia Kashuk Eye on Neutral Matte Eyeshadow Palette – This palette is very good for a drugstore palette. I really really don’t need this palette because the shades are very similar to all of the MAC and Makeup Geek eyeshadows that I own (which is why I was drawn to it) but I just couldn’t part with it because the quality is very good.
  • Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 Hour Eyeshadow in Bad to the Bronze
  • L’Oreal Infallible Eyeshadows in Bronzed Taupe, Iced Latte, and Amber Rush

EYEBROW:

  • NYX Micro Brow Pencil – these are ok, they feel a little hard. I don’t like them as much as my Anastasia Brow Wiz but these are a lot cheaper. I really want to try the L’Oreal eyebrow pencils instead of these.

EYELINERS:

  • LA Girl Gel Liner in Dark Brown
  • L’Oreal The Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner in Black
  • Pixie Endless Silky Eye Pencil in Black
  • L’Oreal Pencil Perfect Self Advancing Eyeliner in Espresso
  • Jordana 12 Hr Made to Last Eyeliner Pencil in Espresso Last

LIP PRODUCTS:

  • Revlon Balm Stain in Honey – this is one of the drugstore products that I actually wear all the time. If you don’t have this – I would buy it! It is great to keep in your purse because it is easy to apply and looks great with every makeup look.
  • Pixi Mattelustre Lipstick in Honey Bare and Rose Naturelle – I love these, especially Honey Bare. Honey Bare is another product that I use all of the time and usually lives in my purse.
  • NYX Butter Gloss in Creme Brûlée and Tiramisu – these are great!
  • NYX Butter Lipstick in Pops
  • NYX High Voltage Lipstick in Flutter Kiss
  • L’Oreal Infallible Lipstick in Unending Kiss
  • Maybelline Lipsticks (my favorite drugstore lipstick formula by far) in Born With It, Warm Me Up and Touch of Spice.

SETTING SPRAY:

  • L’Oreal Infallible Setting Spray – this does an ok job but it’s not THAT much cheaper than my high end setting sprays so I do not plan on repurchasing it.

What are your favorite drugstore products? I really want to try the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer and the L’Oreal eyebrow products.

TATCHA THE RITUAL DISCOVERY KIT REVIEW

I received a skincare package from Tatcha full of travel-sized products custom tailored for my skin-type (oily and acne prone). First of all, how amazing is that?! Second of all, I was in no way required to review these products. However, as soon as I posted on my Instagram and Snapchat – I received so many questions and comments about this brand that I couldn’t wait to review these products. I’m going to review each individual product that I received as part of my “Ritual Discovery Kit”.

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Step 1: Pure One-Step Camelia Cleansing Oil ($12 for 0.8 oz or $48 for 5.1 oz) – this is the first ever cleansing OIL that I have tried (I love the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing BALM) but unfortunately I cannot compare this product to other cleansing oils. This product both removes your makeup and cleanses your skin, which I love. This product felt very gentle on the skin, yet did in fact remove all of my makeup. It left my skin feeling super soft and without any oily residue. I was a little wary of using an oil to cleanse my oily skin (I am used to using very strong/very drying cleansers) but I was surprised to see that it did not cause my skin to break-out in any way. If anything, my skin looks better.

Step 2: Polished Classic Rice Enzyme Powder ($15 for 0.35 oz or $65 for 2.1 oz) – this product is a powder that you pour into wet hands and massage between your hands to create sort of a paste. The “paste” has a gritty texture and I can feel it exfoliating my skin without causing any irritation. This product is supposed to help with fine lines, uneven skin tone, hyper pigmentation, dullness, dead skin cells and breakouts. After this step, my skin feels incredibly smooth. Now, here is the one negative for me: there is a slight scent to this product. It’s not “perfume-y”, it actually smells “earthy” like if you have ever used natural skincare products that almost smell like dirt. However, it wasn’t strong enough or bad enough for me to mind.

Step 3: Brightening Serum ($39 for 0.34 oz $185 for 1.7 oz) – this product is supposed to treat hyper-pigmentation, dark spots, and uneven skin tone. This product had a consistency that was more similar to a light moisturizer rather than a harsh serum. As of today, I’ve been using this product for 2 weeks and I have already started to notice improvements in my overall skin tone.

Step 4: Supple Moisture Rich Silk Cream ($150 for 1.86 oz) – this product feels so nice and hydrating on the skin. It isn’t as thick as my First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream but it provides an insane amount of moisture. I personally can only wear this at night because I found that when I applied this in the morning before my makeup my skin was getting oily within an hour. This makes for a very nice night cream.

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OVERALL REVIEW: The packaging of these products look and feel super luxurious (as they should since they are in fact VERY EXPENSIVE). To be honest, I was hoping not to love these products because they are going to be really expensive for me to repurchase. However, I am a firm believer that you should splurge on your skincare routine and skimp on other areas.

If you haven’t tried any of the Tatcha skincare products I would go to their website and look into their Ritual Discovery Kits.  You can choose a kit based on your skin type (Combination, Sensitive, Dry or Oily) and receive 4 travel sized products for $59. This is what I received and I’ve been using mine morning and night for the past 2 weeks and I’m not even close to being done with any of the products. This would be a great way to try a few of the products and see which ones are worth purchasing full size. OR, if you already know you want to buy some full-size products then I have a special coupon for you. If you spend $100 or more on Tatcha.com you can use the code SPFMINI to receive a deluxe travel size of the Pore Perfection Sunscreen SPF 35 ($13 value). The coupon is valid 4/24 to 4/28.

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Pore Perfection Sunscreen SPF 35: I also received this product but because it is so pricey I had been saving it for days that I will actually be out in the sun. Unfortunately, I’ve been stuck inside at my desk job for the past 2 weeks so I hadn’t tried this product.  I applied this product today for purposes of being able to give you a short review. The best thing about this product is that it not only provides a SPF, but it also acts as a primer for your makeup (it is supposed to reduce the appearance of your pores). This is perfect for days that you will be out in the sun but also want to wear makeup. I personally find it really annoying to apply a sunscreen and then wear makeup – it just feels gross and the sunscreen makes my skin oily. This product seems to be different. It does not have that obvious sunscreen smell and it doesn’t feel sticky on my skin. My makeup actually applied very easily over this. I found that this product did slightly blur my pores and did not make my skin oily at all.

Have you tried any of these products?! Let me know if you end up trying them!

REVIEW: LORAC COLOR SOURCE BUILDABLE BLUSH

I recently reached out to Lorac Cosmetics to see if I could try one of their new Color Source blushes. I had heard amazing things about these blushes from different YouTubers and beauty bloggers and was dying to try them. Luckily, Lorac was kind enough to send me a Color Source blush in the shade Cinematic. This color is described as a “matte plum brown” and was actually the color I was most interested in. As soon as I saw it in person, I absolutely fell in love with the color.

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These blushes retail for $22 each and according to the Ulta website contain “anti-aging antioxidants such as pomegranate, acai and vitamins A, C & E”. My first impression of this blush was that it is INCREDIBLY pigmented. Seriously. One slight tap of my brush into the pan was enough for each cheek, and I am someone who enjoys a very heavy blush look. The blush actually reminded me a lot of the Lorac Pro Eyeshadow Palette. The Lorac Pro Eyeshadow Palette is very pigmented and can get a little messy because my brush tends to kick up some of the shadow. I found the blush to be exactly the same – very pigmented and a little messy because my brush kicked up some of the product. However, unlike the eyeshadow palette, which is nearly impossible to clean, the blush compact was very easy to clean because I could easily wipe off the excess blush from the edges of the compact.

If you are someone who enjoys more of a natural look – don’t be scared. I found this blush to blend out very easily. I used my Makeup Geek Face Buffer Brush and was able to easily blend this color out for a more natural look.

For me, this product is absolutely a win. I also really enjoy the shade range. I was just looking online to try to determine which shade I should purchase next and I honestly couldn’t decide. I guess it’s time to make a trip to Ulta and check out these beauties in person!

 

NuMe Signature Hair Dryer

REVIEW: NUME SIGNATURE HAIR DRYER

Hi y’all! NuMe reached out to me to see if I wanted to try one of their products. I knew my friend Lisa had bought and LOVED their Signature Hair Dryer so I decided to give it a try.

During the work week, I let my hair air-dry. For no reason other than I am just too tired to deal with my hair. On the weekends, I like to spend time on my hair routine and I will always blow dry it. For me, the biggest concern is time – how long is it going to take me to dry my hair? This is due to the fact that I do not have great hair – so even after I dry it, I either have to straighten it or curl it.

 

NuMe Signature Hair Dryer

 

When the package first arrived, I was really impressed with how sleek and expensive the dryer looked and felt. (It also comes in pink and blue if you want something more fun). The hair dryer also comes with two different concentrator nozzles.

NuMe Signature Hair Dryer

So, after using this hair dryer for the past couple of weeks here are my thoughts:

  • This hair dryer dries your hair SUPER fast. Now, I didn’t time myself or anything, but usually when I am drying my hair I get to a point where my arm hurts, and I’m just sort of “over it”. I never got to that point with my NuMe hair dryer.
  • The hair dryer feels very lightweight. It is also nice and compact for travel.
  • This hair dryer is SUPER customizable.
    • You can use either of the two attachments, or just use the hair dryer on it’s own
    • There is a setting for power that you can adjust from 0 – 2
    • There is a setting for heat level that you can adjust from 1 – 3
    • There is even a setting that will release cold air which is supposedly good at the end to set your style.

If you’ve ever complained that your hair dryer is too powerful, not powerful enough, too hot, not hot enough – I would highly recommend picking this one up. You can completely customize it to be exactly what you need at that given moment.

The other good thing about NuME is that they ALWAYS have a coupon code for their products. I found a coupon code that will work on this hair dryer (or any other tool that you want to purchase): 50% Off Any Tools + free Shipping  Promo Code:  HAIRTOOLS50If you use this code you can get this hair dryer for only $89.50 instead of $179!! Have y’all tried any NuMe products? What did you think??

 

 

Laura Mercier Candleglow Soft Luminous Foundation

REVIEW: LAURA MERCIER CANDLEGLOW SOFT LUMINOUS FOUNDATION

For most of the year, my skin type is incredibly oily. I also have acne scars and red spots. So, every foundation in my collection is full coverage with a matte or satin-matte finish. However, ever since I turned 30 my skin has started to get a little less oily and a little more “combination” oily – ESPECIALLY in the Winter. I’m still oily, just with dry patches now included. So, when Laura Mercier offered to send me their Candleglow Soft Luminous Foundation I was super excited to give it a try.

Laura Mercier Candleglow Soft Luminous Foundation

I did research on the Sephora website and saw that this foundation is described as a “sheer to medium” foundation that “creates a soft, candlelit glow on the skin”. Honestly, my first impression was that I was either going to LOVE this foundation because it will be SO different from everything else in my collection or I am absolutely going to hate it. For this reason, I decided to test this foundation out on a Saturday when I had no plans to leave the house.

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised when I wore this foundation on Saturday. I applied this foundation over my Make Up For Ever Step 1 Mattifying Primer (just to be safe) and used my trusty Sigma F80 Brush. This foundation was really easy to blend it out. It did a great job of evening out my skin tone and covering most of my problem areas without looking cakey at all. The redness around my nose did show through a little so I tried to build up the coverage, but with two layers I would still consider the coverage to be medium. For purposes of testing out the product, I did not apply any powder or setting spray on top. I asked my husband his opinion and he said “it covered all your red spots” and “it doesn’t look like you are wearing any makeup”. So there you have it folks!! I wore this product for 3 hours and absolutely loved it. Now to test it out in the “real world”…

I wore this foundation to work this past week over my Make Up For Ever Step 1 Mattifying Primer and set it with my Laura Mercier Translucent Powder. I then applied my normal full face of makeup (bronzer + blush). I will say – my skin looked gorgeous each morning. My blush and bronzer looked beautiful on top of this foundation. However, due to the fact that I live in Texas and it is already hot and muggy, I was REALLY worried about how this foundation was going to hold up on my skin. This product never looked bad on my skin. However, I definitely had a glow going on all day and I’m not sure that is my favorite finish for my particular skin.

This is where my review is going to get confusing. I personally wish that this foundation provided a little more coverage and was a little less luminous. Now, let’s push those thoughts aside because the WHOLE POINT of this foundation is that it is luminous and lighter coverage. I think that I will absolutely love this foundation in the winter when it’s not so hot and my skin is more dry. However, I don’t think that this will become my every day work foundation.

 

Laura Mercier Candleglow Soft Luminous Foundation

PROS: Shade selection (There are 24 shades to choose from and they range from very light to very dark – I tried two shades: Buff and Honey and they both matched me perfectly), packaging is super sleek and luxurious feeling and I love that it has a pump.

CONS: Cost ($48 for 1 oz), packaging is also a con because it is glass and breakable (not very travel friendly).

BOTTOM LINE: I think that if you like light to medium coverage and a natural luminous finish you will REALLY enjoy this foundation. I did really like the way the lighter coverage felt on my skin and how the foundation looked once I first applied it. However, Texas is way too hot right now and my skin is way too oily for this foundation to work for me on a daily basis. I am going to save this foundation for the Winter time when I think I will absolutely love it!