Updated Skincare Routine

Apologies for my brief absence; as many of you may understand, the holiday season is upon us and so is the end of the semester for me. However, I am taking a quick break from writing papers so give you an updated skincare routine post. It’s not much, but I like to keep things simple for the skin.

Because of seasonal changes, I was already looking towards changing my routine. But most importantly, it’s good to be observant and give your skin what it needs. Although my skin tends to continue to be combination throughout the winter months, it tends to be dehydrated despite the oily t-zone. Also, I had recently mishap (probably due to stress) and had a few pimples erupt.

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Because of those conditions that needed to be addressed, I needed hydration that was good for combination skin – which meant I was on the hunt for a non-greasy, lightweight, gel moisturizer; and, I needed some thing heavy-duty and gentle for pigmentation on the skin.

I picked up 2 Vichy skincare items from Ulta.

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Vichy ProEven Total Dark Spot Corrector + Vichy Normaderm Anti-Aging Anti-Imperfection Anti-Wrinkle Resurfacing Care were my great finds a a few months ago. I didn’t know Ulta started carrying Vichy, but I’m a huge fan French skin care so I didn’t even think twice.

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The Vichy ProEven Total Dark Spot Corrector is a product that has incorporated “DeeperCell-Concentrate” to reduce the appearance of dark spots for more even and radiant skin tone. It is dermatologist tested, sensitive skin and allergy tested, and paraben free for those of you who are interested in how it reacts to the skin. It’s soothing and contains Vichy’s “thermal spa water.”

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According to the box: “Vichy introduces the exclusive ‘DeeperCell-Concentrate’ combined with LHA, vitamin C and vitamin E. It acts on all surface layers of the skin and reduces the look of excess melanin.”

“ProEven has a powerful triple-action:
1. Instantly reveals a more radiant glow. Gentle micro-exfoliation to clear melanin-filled dead cells from the skin’s surface, to reveal smoother, newer, skin.
2. Evens skin tone. Reduces the appearance of excess melanin on all surface layers of the skin.
3. Clinically proven, even on stubborn spots.”

I like this treatment. I use it liberally all over my face at night before laying on moisturizer. It’s non-sticky and absorbs quickly. There’s no stinging sensation like some formulas, so I know it’s gentle. It takes roughly 3 weeks to work and be happy about, but it does give you a glow upon application. Of course, when you wash it off in the morning, that’s another story.

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The moisturizer I chose is Vichy Normaderm Anti-Aging Anti-Imperfection Anti-Wrinkle Resurfacing Care. It too contains LHA and vitamin C, but also has glycolic acid in it. This product is targeted for those with 1st signs of aging, which I find to be very age-appropriate for me. It helps with enlarged pores and uneven complexion as well. Perfection.

According to the box: 3 patents pending — “association of 2 peeling effect ingredients — LHA and vitamin C + glycolic acid. Normaderm creates its first anti-wrinkle resurfacing care solution.”

Efficacy: “wrinkles appear smoother, pores are tightened, leaving a more even complexion.” This is sensitive-skin tested, allergy tested, paraben free, and non-comedogenic. As with all Vichy products, this is also :infused with thermal spa water.”

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This is very hydrating but light and non-greasy. It absorbs immediately so I can layer on my sun protection and then move onto foundation, etc. It smells light and pleasant and feels clean on my face because it isn’t heavy. Oil-control is decent; but, I like the added skincare benefits in this product on top of the moisture it provides.

Made in France.

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Achieving the No-Makeup Makeup Look

Achieving the No-Makeup Makeup look is ironically not as easy as it sounds. Getting the natural look takes just as much time/effort as a dramatic, going-out look. The trick is to let your skin be your skin; and, your eyes should be defined but with no added colors/contouring. In my opinion, if you get the skin to look natural, you’re all set to go!

Getting your skin to look like it was put together with minimal effort requires minimal products. However, it all depends on your skin, the condition of it, and what you’re comfortable with. Some people aren’t comfortable going bare-faced or going even almost bare-faced, so do what makes you happy.

For me, I just need the essentials: concealer, powder, blush, illuminating pen. I skip foundation when I’m going for this look. If you also want to skip foundation but need coverage, opt for a BB cream or powder foundation that you can apply with a brush. Or, try applying a tinted moisturizer and then dusting on some powder.

I achieve my No-Makeup Makeup look by starting out with dotting on my Cle De Peau concealer on spots and minor discolorations. If I’m having a good skin day, I’ll just dab this around my nose and on my chin (sometimes a wee bit on my cheeks) to cancel out the redness.

Before adding powder, I apply my YSL Touche Eclat Radiant Touch illuminating pen under my eyes and down the bridge of my nose. Because this is a no-makeup makeup look, there’s no need to be heavily highlighted. I focus this product for my undereye area and the bridge of my nose for the lifting effect (because this is NOT a concealer).

Next, I’ll dust on the MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural powder all over for some coverage (but not a lot). I like this powder for its naturalness because it’s not flat and matte like some powders. It keeps oil at bay but still keeps my skin looking natural, healthy, and slightly glowy. Love. Also note that this powder provides light coverage and it’s better than nothing.

Afterwards, blush is a must so I don’t look like the walking dead. My favorite is MAC’s blush in Well Dressed because it’s the perfect pink that isn’t too pink or too peachy. It provides a subtle glow, and when applied with a light hand, the color is a natural flush tone for my cheeks. Love.

Tools are just as important, even though using your fingers is totally fine. I use Sephora’s concealer brush to blend in the YSL radiant touch pen and the Cle De Peau concealer. I use MAC’s 188 brush to lightly dust the MSF Natural and use MAC’s 129 brush for blush.

Of course, any of these tools or products can be substituted with brands that you already have.

I enjoy the No Makeup-Makeup look for lazy days or days when I’m in a rush. Sometimes on good skin days, I want my skin to really show through, so I’ll stick to a simple look like this. I hope this has helped some of you who have been asking about “everday looks.” Next, I’ll post a foundation/face routine for those who are curious.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! :)
And, as always, thanks for reading.

2012 Favorite Foundations

This post is dedicated to rounding up my favorite 2012 foundations. Out of all the foundations I’ve tried this year, four of them made my favorites list this year. Indeed, the year isn’t over yet, but foundations are hard to shop for; and, I like what I like (despite my high standards). I’m posting this entry a month and a half before the year is over because in 2013, it’s my goal to finish these foundations before moving on. Wish me luck!

I’ve chosen Chanetecaille Future Skin Gel foundation, DiorSkin Nude Skin-Glowing foundation, Armani Luminous Silk foundation, and NARS Sheer Glow foundation. Below, I have linked each review for convenience.

I picked these four as my top favorites because:
1. its consistent reliability
2. superb performance
3. lasting power despite season and weather
4. blendability and natural-look on the skin
5. no irritations, breakouts, or other forms of skin-related heartaches

1. Chantecaille Future Skin Gel Foundation review
2. DiorSkin Nude Skin-Glowing Foundation review
3. Armani Luminous Silk Foundation review
4. NARS Sheer Glow Foundation review

In the swatches above, you’ll see that not all the shades are identical but still work for me. Keep in mind I don’t tend to change colors seasonally because I wear sunscreen all year round. The darkest shade I own (even though it’s not that dark) is Armani’s LS foundation in shade 4; and, out of the four, I would say it’s the foundation that provides optimal coverage for me.

The most natural-looking and one that I go to whether I’m in a rush, having a bad skin day, or have a wedding/party to attend, is the NARS Sheer Glow foundation. This foundation has been my only re-purchase in the history of foundations for me! Dramatic, I know, lol. My ultimate, holy-grail status, favorite of all time is the Chantecaille Future Skin foundation. However, it’s not to say that it won first place by a long shot. All the featured foundations came very close to being number one in my book.

Many have asked what my favorite foundations are in the past, and I apologize that it’s taken me this long to post this entry. However, finding a good foundation is tough; and, finding a favorite is truly a task. If you’re wondering how and when I wear these foundations on a daily basis – the answer is that I have no system. All products are rotated at random; and, most of the time, it all depends on what I’m in the mood for. Sometimes, I’ll have a sudden burst of favoriting a particular product and use it for awhile by itself.

I hope this entry has helped and happy foundation shopping! :)

Makeup Setting Sprays: MAC Fix + and Urban Decay De-Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray

Normally, I’m quite wary of makeup setting sprays. Over the summer, I did some research attempting to find a setting spray that genuinely worked because my makeup was melting away in the summer heat here in Texas. Although it’s no longer that hot here right now, I wanted to continue to experiment with them to see if there really was a difference (seasonally).

I looked into two highly recognized products: the MAC Fix + and the Urban Decay De-Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray. Based on my research via other beauty blogs and YouTube, I purchased sample sizes to give them a try before really committing to the full sizes.

MAC Fix + according to the website:
“An aqua-spritz of vitamin and minerals, infused with a calm-the-skin blend of green tea, chamomile, cucumber, topped off with the fresh, natural, energizing scent of Sugi. Adds radiance, finishes makeup. Spray it on. Skin drinks it up!”

My thoughts:
I liked the smell and I like the packaging, even with the sample size. In my opinion, nothing was really “set” after I sprayed this on my face; to me, it was refreshing and felt nice on my skin during the hot summer months. It didn’t improve makeup longevity and I was still oily as well. However, perhaps this was because I was wearing liquid foundation in the heat.

However, I really liked the effect when I sprayed the Fix + over mineral foundation. It instantly got rid of the powderiness of the mineral powder and immediately “set” the makeup allowing it to look natural and pretty on the skin.

30 ml/1 oz $10.00 USD
100 ml/3.4 oz $20.00 USD
Made in Canada

Urban Decay De-Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray is described on Sephora’s website as “a makeup setting spray that helps keep oily complexions under control.” The formula, unlike the MAC Fix +, is considered “high-tech” and “keeps skin looking beautifully matte all day, without clogging pores or causing breakouts.”

It claims that “the weightless mist absorbs excess sebum and controls surface shine for up to 16 hours leaving your makeup looking fresh and newly applied.”

My thoughts:
For me, this product did well when applied no matter what foundation I was wearing underneath – mineral, powder, liquid, or cream. It “set” well – almost like it was sealing everything in a protective bubble, if you will. It performed well, even when I was sweating in the summer heat here, I didn’t noticed any blotchiness or patchiness from when my makeup would smear and run a bit.

Directions: SHAKE WELL before applying. This is so important.
I can’t really say this product controlled my oil, as it claimed to do. Eventually, the oil broke through, but it broke through in a nicer way (which I know sounds weird). When I got oily, it appeared to be more on the shiny-dewy side rather than the full on greasy-pan look.

4 oz $29.00 USD
Sample size 15 ml/0.51 oz

Final thoughts:
I think both are good products, but it depends what you want them to do and what you’re looking for. I would say that the Urban Decay setting spray is more functional, but it’s not the end all be all. In my opinion, they’re expensive for what they are and that’s my biggest problem there. They’re expensive as the samples and you get more for your money with the full sizes; and, maybe you could refill the sample bottles for portability and convenience. But, really, even the full size prices are a bit ridiculous even if they claim that the “skincare benefits” will do something on top of “setting” the makeup and controlling oil.

For now, in the cooler months, I don’t really find it necessary to spray anything so I haven’t re-purchased. However, I do have most of the MAC Fix + left and will continue to use it with my mineral makeup until it runs out.

What are your thoughts on makeup setting sprays? Are they necessary?

REVIEW: Dior ‘Nude Rouge’ Lipstick – “TROMP L’oeil 123”

Since purchasing the new Dior Glow Luminous eyeshadow palette and the new DiorSkin Nude Skin-Glowing foundation, I got intrigued again – this time, with the new ‘Nude Rouge’range.

The Dior Nude Rouge’ Lipstick in the shade “TROMP L’oeil 123” is nude colored lipstick that is unlike any other I’ve tried. For me, formula is important and this one takes the cake for it. :)

Before discovering this particular shade, some of my favorite nude shades were MAC “Hue” and “Shy Girl” lipsticks. All other brands had pretty colors, but either made me look like a corpse or made my lips dry and peely looking.

Dior’s ‘Nude Rouge’ Lipsticks appear to be made with the new formulas:
“Nude does not end with a flawless complexion. Dior presents a collection of lipsticks that take nude to the next level. A collection of eight radiant lip-blush shades, instantly hydrates, plumps and smoothes lips for an elegant finish.”

The various shades in this line will flatter those with varying skintones, which is exciting news in the nude lipstick world. Not all nude shades fits all, and it’s nice that companies are now focusing on skintones when releasing shades like NUDE. I think it’s just as hard to find a well-adjusting red lipstick for various skintones as well.

“TROMP L’oeil 123” is creamy and moisturizing, but doesn’t goop. I’ve noticed that some overly moisturizing formulas out there can goop at the corners of the mouth or where the bottom and top lip presses together. It’s unflattering and gross – clearly. Mainly, I’m satisfied with it not drying out my lips – huge bonus points there.

The shade swatched on my arm is a skintone-pink that’s got the slightest hint of pale beigeness to it. The best part is that it blends into your lip color allowing your natural lip color to show through just a teeny tiny bit. I like how “TROMP L’oeil 123” doesn’t completely block out your lip color and it doesn’t look or apply like a concealer on would on the lips.

The shade is pretty and is my fave to wear when I have a bit more drama going on with the eyes. Even after the color fades, my lips remain slightly hydrated and the pigment of the color is left behind in a nice way (and not patchy and gross). The down side for me is the smell, which I know can be a deal-breaker for many. But the smell of the the Dior ‘Nude Rouge’ Lipsticks reminds me of the Revlon lipsticks!

“TROMP L’oeil 123” was the only color that tickled my fancy and the only one that I’ve purchased from the ‘Nude Rouge’ line. I highly recommend going to go check it out, especially if you’re looking for a nude lipstick that’s suitable for pale, yellow skintones like myself.

Available in 8 colors.
Retails for $32.00 USD.

REVIEW: Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35

If you’re like me and think that American BB creams can’t compare to the Asian ones, it’s time to give the Bobbi Brown BB Cream a try. My expectations for BB creams are high, but the mediocre performance of the MAC BB cream (previously reviewed), has been redeemed since trying the Bobbi Brown version.

Packaging is a typical squeeze tube and nothing to write about. But it does hold 1.35 oz of product, which is 0.35 oz more than a typical liquid foundation.

Bobbi’s claims for the product: “Moisturize, perfect and protect – instantly and over time.” Much like the Asian BB creams, we can assume that Bobbi’s BB cream is an all-in-one product as well; there’s SPF 35 contained within the product and is very hydrating.

“Now it’s easier than ever to get great skin with Bobbi Brown’s new BB Cream SPF 35. Inspired by a skincare/makeup hybrid that’s a cult favorite in Asia, this formula combines moisturizer, treatment, Broad Spectrum SPF and a lightweight foundation in one.”

The texture is creamy and easy to blend. It goes on the skin easily but does feel a bit tacky upon contact until it’s absorbed. I tend to powder lightly over my t-zone with BB creams and I do that with Bobbi’s as well. It doesn’t make me oily but doesn’t make me greasey either.

The color I chose is LIGHT. The color choices are minimal and shades look pretty much the same except for medium dark. I thought about going for the extra EXTRA LIGHT, but changed my mind at the last minute since none of my other BB creams are overly light. EXTRA LIGHT is noticably pinker as well.

As you can see, LIGHT is still yellow but on the pale side. It blends seamlessly and does a good job at brightening up the skin and evening it out. If you prefer medium to full coverage, this may not cut it for you unless you add on some mineral foundation/powder foundation on top. I personally still prefer to wear real SPF under this, even if contains SPF 35.

I recommend the Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35 and would say this is the best I’ve tried from the American market. I like that it looks like skin and adapts quickly. Pore coverage, line minimization, pigmentation coverage is pretty good; skin feels hydrated and looks healthy, which I like since it restores the natural look of it.

Bobbi’s website calls this the “skin perfector,” which I would agree with since it does correct color and imperfections. At the end of the day, it’s still not foundation, so that may be a deal breaker for many. I would recommend this over all other American brands thus far; but, Japanese and Korean BB creams are really the way to go, in my opinion. :)

Availablde Shades:
Extra Light
Light
Fair
Medium
Medium Dark

Retails for $42.00 USD
Made in Canada.

REVIEW: Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Mineral Makeup SPF 15

I’m back on the mineral makeup band wagon and am taking a mini break from liquid foundations as of late. I’m not entirely sure what started this for me, except for that I’ve been feeling quite lazy with various makeup trends. A few months ago, I finished using up the Laura Mercier mineral powder and I decided not to re-purchase. It wasn’t because I didn’t like the product – which I did, and wrote a positive review for it – but I wanted to try something new.

So far, in my experience with mineral makeup, I’ve tried the Bare Minerals mineral foundation and the Laura Mercier mineral makeup; and now, I’m trying the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Mineral Makeup

What I’ve always liked about mineral makeup is that it’s easy to use and provides a natural finish. In the past, I’ve had issues with allergic reactions or okay-coverage; however, I didn’t expect much in mineral foundations because I’ve always relied on liquid anyway. Recently, I visted the CCO and noticed there was a big Bobbi Brown station which intrigued me. Many of Bobbi’s foundation were available at the CCO for $10-$15 off. Unfortunately, all the shades were quite light and it seemed that medium to dark shades were not available, which is total bummer.

“Bobbi’s groundbreaking mineral makeup is made of specially-selected mineral powders to instantly even out skin and diminish the look of imperfections. The result is a natural finish that never looks masky or overly made up. The super-fine powders in this formula are triple treated with glycerin, vitamins and skin softeners, and wear extenders. Smooth and silky, it glides on with a weightless feel and helps improve skin’s appearance.”

My complaint is mainly regarding the packaging, which in my opinion, is a little “outdated” since all the other brands have designed a snap-closure mechanism to trap the powder in. Without being able to adjust the amount of product released, this can get messy even if you never travel with it. The thin plastic container doesn’t necessarily scream luxury, and I would most definitely give the packaging award to the Laura Mercier mineral foundation instead. I’ve cut only half the seal off to control and product.

According to the box: “Weightless loose powder foundation lets skin’s natural luminosity show through as it delivers a perfectly polished look. An exclusive vitamin and mineral blend helps condition and protect skin against future damage.”

This is a great mineral powder, but only if you already have decent skin. The powder is fluffy and light and blends wonderfully onto the skin. It leaves no residual trace of powdery-ness and wears well – and, by that, I mean that it’s great at controlling oil without looking flat. For the most part, I’d say the finish is semi-matte and the coverage is light-medium. The color I chose for myself is Extra Light. According to Bobbi’s color chart on her webiste, since I wear Warm Ivory 1 or Sand 2 in her regular foundation, I fit into the “Extra Light” category. It’s a great color match for me because it’s not overly yellow and doesn’t pale me out like the Laura Mercier mineral foundation.

BB’s formulation is not as luminous as the Laura Mercier one, but I’m okay with that because I like to add my own highlighter of choice anyway. To me, the Bobbi Brown mineral foundation looks more like skin (like the name of the product indicates) because it doesn’t look powdery and you don’t even have to mist your face to set it. Just like the Laura Mercier formulation, BB’s mineral foundation smooths out the skin and diffuses pores and imperfections; but, as I stated before, coverage isn’t full (but I don’t think you should expect that from powder anyway).

In my experience, layering this over concealer is great for every day; or, looks great dusted over BB cream or over a light application of liquid foundation for bad skin days.

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Titanium Dioxide 7.8%, Octinoxate 3.60%

.21 oz / 6 g
Retails for $38.00 USD.
Made in USA.

Chanel Ombres Contraste Eyeshadow Duo – “37 Sable Emouvant”

Personally, it’s been awhile since I’ve been interested in Chanel eyeshadows and took a break while my interests took me elsewhere. Since then, I’ve re-kindled my love for Chanel’s eyeshadow formulations with this duo: Ombres Contraste Eyeshadow Duo in “37 Sable Emouvant.”

“This foolproof pairing of complementary shades—in two unique textures—is housed in one convenient compact.” The compact is slimmer than the quads, which I like since it’s not bulky. No matter what, I’ll always love the glossy black case and the Chanel logo stamped on front. :)

As you can see, this duo is right up my alley. Although I have enough neutral and brown shades to last me a lifetime, compared to my other favorites and must-haves, this duo is unique.

“The softly shimmering light shade is a creamy powder, which can be worn alone for a luminous effect or as a base to extend the wear of the accompanying deep-toned shadow. The dark shade has intense micronized pigments for true color application and a matte finish to create depth and contour.”

The lighter shade is my favorite as an all-over shade. Sometimes I don’t even define the crease and just wear this shade on its own. In the pan, it doesn’t look like much; however, it’s reflective in a non-glittery way. The dark brown shade is the perfect combination of bronze tones and a warm, earthy color. In my opinion, it’s a prettier version of MAC’s “Mulch” eyeshadow.

Two applicators are included and I love them. The sponge-tipped applicator applies smoothly and doesn’t break off like some. The tiny brush is good for applying the darker shade but it doesn’t do much as a blending brush. I think I’ll stick with the MAC 217 for that!

Both shades are smooth and apply softly onto the lid. Pigmentation is wonderful and blendability is superb. There’s no fall-out for me when I apply this and I absolutely love the versatility of this combination. It can be the perfect everyday duo, or you can really pack on the dark brown shade and smoke it out for night out on the town.

I’ve got no complaints about this duo and would recommend it to those who prefer natural looks and for those who favor more dramatic looks. What do you think?

Retails for $42.00 USD.
Made in France.

Dior 3 Couleurs Glow Luminous Graphic Eye Palette Eyeshadow – NUDE 651

The new Dior 3 Couleurs Glow Luminous Graphic Eye Palette Eyeshadow (Highlighter & Liner) in NUDE 651 is a palette I picked up after being excited about the newly launched Dior Nude Skin Glowing Foundation.

This palette was released with the new nude collection and I’ve been enjoying it thoroughly.

The case is beautiful – as are all Dior products. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I prefer the Dior velvet pouch over Chanel’s. It doesn’t seem to collect/catch as much dust and looks prettier (in my opinion).

The sleek case is pretty and weighty, albeit it does attract fingerprints. But I like that it’s shiny!

Slide the top portion of the palette forward and the mirror will pop up and reveal the trio beneath. This style of palette is not my favorite; maybe I’m just old-fashioned and would like an easy snap-closure palette that opens regularly. The sliding palette is unique and it hasn’t jammed or anything yet. But I wonder what would happen if it did.

The pop-up mirror is cute but I don’t like that I can’t adjust it forward or backwards. Once it pops up, that’s where it stays. The applicators it comes with are nice and I like to use the sponge-tipped applicators it comes with.

This is “a luminous graphic eye palette featuring an eye shadow duo, highlighter, and liner” all in one.

The beige-nude colors are light; hence, the name “nude.” For some, this palette may seem pointless if the colors aren’t prominent – especially if you own a lot of neutral colors already. Other than the liner shade, which is a dark, rich, blackish-gray tone – the only other pigmented shade is the first beige-nude shade. It’s not all that unique, but is a nice subtle shade.

The highlighter shade is too glittery for me as a highlight. I like it for the inner corners and occasionally along my bottom lash line.

“Within the 3 Couleurs Glow sliding case lies the secret to naturally luminous, dramatic couture eyes. In three easy steps, Dior’s two new generation fusion eyes shadow formulas enhance your eyes with an eye shadow base, a highlighter, and a liner for a perfectly glowing runway ready look.”

All the shades are buttery smooth and blend beautifully, including the liner shade. However, because the it’s a relatively light palette, it doesn’t look like much on the eyes. It does provide a nice, glowy sheen that’s natural yet lightly defined. It certainly won’t be a dramatic look (unless you really slap on the liner shade), but it’s nice for when you want to wear a dark lip.

The new nude range by Dior is worth checking out, but remember, it’s not for those who are into darker and smokey colors. The range is supposed to be light and airy and is designed to create the no-makeup makeup-look. Sometimes I use the liner shade a bit in the crease for a slightly smokey effect, and sometimes I just use it as a liner along my top lash line.

However you decide to wear this palette, it will look pretty and sophisticated. :)

Retails for $48 USD.
Made in France.