Top Base Products of the Year 2013

Last year, I posted a 2012 Favorite Foundations post and wanted to do it again this year. As I’ve stated before, I’m extremely picky about foundations/base makeup; and, I consider it the most important makeup item in your arsenal. It is also the item that I suggest is worth the money/investment. This year, the foundations I’ve been loving are all new except for NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, which is a two-time winner and a re-purchased item.

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NARS Sheer Glow Foundation
This has been an all-time favorite foundation of mine, which is why it’s been re-purchased. Even though I experiment routinely with other foundations, I eventually find my way back to this one after awhile. The color match is perfect for me, and everything about it is perfect — the coverage, the formula, the texture, the wear, and the look/finish. This foundation is a no-brainer and is a favorite with so many, so it’s worth looking into if you haven’t tried it already.

Shiseido Sheer & Perfect Foundation
This is my most recent foundation purchase, but it quickly made its way to the top. Much like the Maestro, the formula is runny and thin; yet, it offers good coverage while maintaining the look of skin. Next to the NARS Sheer Glow, this foundation is also a great color match for me since Shiseido includes an ivory-range of shades. Just the color selection alone can be helpful for those who are “in the middle” when it comes to shades and undertones.

Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Foundation
The Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Foundation is the most unique foundation I have in my collection. Since it’s made with blended oils, the runny formula is light on the skin. In fact, it’s the most lightweight foundation I have. Despite being made of essential oils, the foundation isn’t greasy and looks so pretty and natural on the skin. Remember to apply this formula with your fingers rather than a brush — it blends in much better and melts in.

NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer
Awhile back, I purchased the shade “Finland” when the TM’s were first released. At the time, it was the lightest shade and leaned yellow. Since then, I finished the tube and re-purchased it in the newest shade “Terre-Neuve” (which I don’t see available online). The shade leans more ivory-pinkish but is still balanced by a good yellow base, so it’s a great in between, fair shade for me. Most days, I stick with this for its convenience and performance. I’d say that this TM is better than BB creams out on the market.

I know the post seems brief, but click the links for more in-depth reviews. There’s so many base makeup out there that it’s difficult to choose — and, eventually, I think because there’s so many choices people get overwhelmed and confused. It’s best to consider your needs and your skin’s needs first — before jumping on the bandwagon and getting suckered into particular brands. Also, it helps to do some research before seeing most of these items in person. Get a sample of the items you want to try — that way, you’ll know exactly what you’re committing to!

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Trish McEvoy Instant Eye Lift Concealer

I’ve been playing around with the Trish McEvoy Instant Eye Lift Concealer, and I’m shocked that I haven’t been using it my whole life! I’m new to Trish McEvoy products, even though I’ve had access to the brand at multiple Nordstrom locations. I can’t say that I’m interested in the line, but this product has brought me a lot closer to investigating her other products.

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Trish McEvoy’s Instant Eye Lift is a “long-wearing line filler and under-eye brightener that diminishes the look of fine lines while awakening the eye area for an instant, all-day lift.” Much like the Benefit Ooh La Lift, the concept I believe is the same but different at the same time. While the Benefit Ooh La Lift focuses on brightening to give the eye area a “boost,” TM’s Instant Eye Lift acts as a concealer (almost) while brightening and tightening the delicate under eye area.

I say concealer loosely because of it’s not marketed as a concealer. However, the salmon-pink/peach tone blends in well and seamlessly, despite the color description. It disappears into the skin beautifully while cancelling out any pigmentation of blues, purples, reds, and even veins! Although disguising puffy bags and indentation is difficult, this alone takes care of any discoloration — meaning, if you need an additional step for undereye concealing, this would be the perfect undereye primer/base.

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For me, I apply this after foundation and before the Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder. It absorbs instantly and is smooth to the touch — not tacky or sticky. The TM representative suggested that the Instant Eye Lift be applied in the “Triangle of Light,” an “inverted triangle under the eye” to bring brightness to your area of darkness. A little bit goes a long way, so I just dab two dots under each eye and blend with a small domed-shape synthetic brush. The “lifting” effect is no lie — and, I’m not sure how this works. But I think the tone/pigment of the product creates the most perfect allusion — cancelling out any pigmentation that shouldn’t be there. It almost appears to do nothing until you take a step back and look at yourself in the mirror. If you already have Benefit’s Ooh La Lift, you probably don’t need this one. However, between the two, I’d choose TM’s Instant Eye Lift because it just does so much more!

Retails for $38.00 USD.
Contains 0.09 oz.

REN Rosa Centifolia No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm

Using the REN Rosa Centifolia No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm is my current method of makeup removal, as I’m taking a brief break from my beloved Shu Uemura cleansing oils. Not that there’s anything wrong with my cleansing oils, because that’s my number one method of removing makeup; but, I was just curious about all the hype around cleansing balms. I’ve been using the REN Rosa Centifolia No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm for a few weeks now, and I figured it would be good to share with you my thoughts about the product.

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This product is a “two-in-one cleansing balm that gently yet thoroughly melts away dirt and makeup.” The “rose-infused balm sweeps away impurities, including waterproof mascara and the toughest of complexion products. It leaves skin cleansed, purified, calm, and glowing. It also conditions the lashes and brows.” The general idea of the cleansing balm is the same as the cleansing oils — in that you apply the oily product with your hands onto your dry face. After massaging it around, you emulsify the product with water as you rinse. For me, I follow-up with a separate face wash to remove any residual leftovers from these kinds of products. And, every few days, I use my Clarisonic.

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The cleansing balm comes with its own muslin cloth. This is nice because it helps to exfoliate your skin and remove any excess traces of the cleansing balm before you fully rinse your face. It’s suggested that you gently rub the product between your hands to warm it up, and directly apply it to your skin. As stated earlier, water will emulsify the product into a luxurious cleansing milk. However, this is NOT very good at removing eye makeup because the product stings like crazy. It’s best to remove your eye makeup with an appropriate eye makeup remover beforehand — which adds another step to the cleansing routine. I don’t mind though.

Also, it’s best to use the muslin cloth in conjunction with the balm. I noticed if I don’t the balmy residue just slips and slides around my face creating a white cast — and, then, it becomes hard to remove because of its waxy consistency. It’s best to dampen the muslin cloth and use it to wipe off the balm before rinsing with water.

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The product smells amazing and is intensely hydrating — meaning, that even after it’s removed my makeup, my skin feels nourished and hydrated and not dry and tight. It also appears to temporarily plump my skin — which is nice for when I move onto my nighttime routine. I’m confident that this cleansing balm removes makeup just like my cleansing oils, and I feel good about using it in place of my cleansing oils every now and then. I think my number one method of makeup removal will always be using oils; but, the balm is more convenient since it’s in a tub. It also feels so nice on the skin at the end of the day, and a little massage never hurt before bedtime. :)

I’d recommend this product to people with all skin types. It’s important to thoroughly remove all traces of makeup and debris from your skin at the end of the day, so that it can breathe at night. Using a cleansing wipe or just a regular face wash is not going to remove all traces — it will most likely remove just the surface particles. This product is an investment, much like the Shu Uemura cleansing oils — however, they last for 9+ months and are well worth it.

Retails for $48.00 USD.
Made in UK.
Contains 5.1 oz.

Favorite Fragrances: Jo Malone Colognes

Jo Malone Colognes are some of my favorite fragrances, but due its popularity, I like to mix mine to create something unique. Perfumes are something I’m extra picky about, but this is only because I’m sensitive to scents. Also, I don’t like to smell too fruity — like, entirely like vanilla or some kind of fruit; and, I think I’ve outgrown “teeny-bopper” scents as well. I tend to lean towards deeper scents and wore Burberry Classic for the longest time as an adult. In my college years, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue was my signature scent.

For the last few years, I’ve been deeply committed to Jo Malone Colognes, but eventually, I feel that I will move on from this range as well. To where? Who knows!

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Some of my favorites are: Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Wild Buebell, Earl Grey & Cucumber, and Blackberry & Bay.

Nectarine Blossom & Honey was my first Jo Malone purchase. My second purchase was Earl Grey & Cucumber. Then, I began mixing the two before purchasing Wild Buebell and Blackberry & Bay. Fragrances are personal, so it’s hard to recommend any particular scent. Usually, the Jo Malone counter at Nordstrom is generous with samples. So, it’s probably best to spritz yourself of whatever you feel like you prefer and test it out. There’s probably some cardinal rule about how to mix fragrances and what to mix them with — for me, it just depends on my mood and where I’m going that day. For the most part, I tend to start out with Blackberry & Bay and go from there. No particular combination is my favorite; I just go with whatever I’m in the mood for. I suppose that’s the fun in Jo Malone colognes because they can be mixed and still be wonderful.

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What are some of your Jo Malone favorites? Do you mix to ‘create’ your own scent?

I recommend Jo Malone fragrances and find them to be worthwhile investments. Of course, you get a better deal with purchasing the 3.3 oz. bottle since you get three times more product. I, however, have stuck with the 1 oz. bottles because I take forever to get through them — but, that’s just me.

1 oz. retails for $60.00 USD
3.3 oz. retails for $115.00 USD.

Face of the Week (using powder foundation)

This week I decided to forgo the liquid bases and put my powder foundations back in rotation. One of these days, I’ll do a post about only powder foundations including my favorites; however, for now, I’ll just feature my favorite PF of all time: the Chantecaille Compact Makeup Foundation.

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Benefit POREfessional
I started off with priming with Benefit POREfessional to cover pores and control oil production. I find that it’s important to have a smooth and perfected surface before applying powder foundation so that it has something to stick to. Read more about it in my reviews here and here.

Candy Doll Concealer
I’ve been really into my new Candy Doll Concealer in shade 01, because it’s no surprise I’m a huge fan of Japanese cosmetics in general. This shade is perfect for my fair-pinky skin and the pigmentation and coverage is insane. I ordered mine through eBay and have had no issues. I like this concealer better than the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer and the Chanel Correcteur Perfection Long Lasting Concealer.

Chantecaille Compact Makeup Foundation
After primer and concealer, I buffed on the Chantecaille Compact Makeup Foundation with a large powder brush. This is great for oil-control and evening out the skin tone. And, since the powder is so finely milled, it doesn’t take any extra work to help this product look good on the skin. It sets instantly without looking too matte or flat and stays looking good all day. When I’m in the mood for PF’s, I turn to this one first.

Tony Moly Cristal Blush in 03 “Pleasure Peach”
Tony Moly is a Korean brand that I’ve been playing around with. This brand is in the same price range as Etude House, Face Shop, and Skinfood (among others). I came across “Pleasure Peach” when I was reading Korean beauty blogs and ordered mine on eBay. It’s not a new and unique color and there’s plenty of shades out there like this, so technically, it’s nothing to write home about. However, I like the formula — even though it’s a powder blush, it looks and feels creamy.

Benefit High Beam
For some added highlighting, I lightly dabbed Benefit High Beam along my cheekbones and down the bridge of my nose. Normally, I’d advise against applying liquid highlighter after PF application, but the formulas work well for each other despite one being powder. Plus, Benefit High Beam has a pinky glow that I love and I’ll use it no matter what!

Diptyque Soothing Lip Balm
I recently featured the Diptyque Soothing Lip Balm in a recent post, and I’m still loving it and using it every day — day and night. For lips, I layered on this lip balm before adding Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in “Instinct” over on top. The pretty wash of moisturizing color is my idea of perfection. :)

What did you wear this week?

Dior Addict Lipstick in “Diorissime” 249

Recently, while watching YouTube video marathons, one of my favorite gurus Claire Marshall mentioned the Dior Addict Lipstick in “Diorissime” 249 in her recent Empties Video. Naturally, I went to Sephora to take a look at this shade and fell in love with the sheer soft coral-ness of it. It was not only perfect for my collection, but the perfect shade for me — right in between being peachy pink and pinky pink. Before this shade, the Dior Addict Lipstick in “Charmante” 437 was my go-to.

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I’m a big fan of Dior Addict Lipsticks so this purchase is really no big surprise. The hydrating formula and the pretty wash of color the Addict Lipsticks give are the main reasons why they’re so popular. They’re also why I will always have room for more in my collection. Dior Addict Lipsticks are worth the money and I feel that I can fall in love with any shade in the range. “Diorissime” is a sheer and soft coral color that has just the right amount of pink to it. It’s perfectly right in between and goes with everything: every day look, date night looks, work looks, lazy looks — and, more importantly, it works so well with my skin tone.

If you haven’t tried Dior Addict Lipsticks, you really should. The formula and texture are to die for, and the shades in the range are all worth looking at and swatching.

Made in France.
Retails for $31.00 USD.

Clarins Eye Contour Gel

Normally, I reserve using eye creams at night because I find that creamy eye creams mess with makeup application. I also have found that they’re not good for any kind of eye makeup and everything will begin to slip, slide, and smudge. However, with the changing season, my eye area has been uncharacteristically dry and I’ve never had this problem before. In the past, using whatever moisturizer I had left on my hands on my eyelids was good enough. I decided that finding a gel formula was important since I needed the eye cream to absorb right away, so I found the Clarins Eye Contour Gel and I feel that I made the right decision.

This eye cream is described as a “cooling eye gel to minimize puffiness and dark circles.” The “lightweight gel minimizes puffiness and dark circles, preparing skin for eye makeup application and long-lasting wear.” As you can tell by the product description, it addresses my concerns making it the perfect daytime eye cream. This eye contour gel is “made with certified organic plant extracts,” and claims that the “Ginkgo Biloba [in it will] minimizes dark circles while the “caffeine decongests undereye puffs.” Also included in the formula are cornflower and chamomile extracts which “relaxes, refreshes, and soothes the eye area.” Not only does this product hydrate and soothe, but it can also be worn in conjunction with makeup since it’s not oily and creamy. This “pure and refreshing gel is the way to go if you’re just starting to see puffiness and dark circles.”

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While I don’t have any dark circle concerns, my eyes are puffy in the mornings. If I’m extra tired or a little sleep-deprived, the puffiness gets worse which tends to give me a swollen look. This gel is cooling when you apply it to the skin and absorbs right away. I pat it into my skin all over the eye area — including the lids and the under eye area. The cooling sensation lingers so it provides a soothing and relaxing feel. Since it absorbs instantly, I can move onto other areas of my morning routine without having to wait for the product to sink in. Also, I’m happy to report that applying this in the mornings hasn’t affected my eye makeup application and has also provided me the hydration I’ve been looking for.

I recommend this product to those who have oily/combination to normal skins; and, to those who are looking for a lightweight, gel eye cream that isn’t oily and messy. I have sensitive eyes and wear contacts during the day, and this product has been perfectly fine for me. However, if you have serious lines, eye bags, and really dry skin, this may not be the right product for you. I’d say that for me this an age-appropriate eye cream. If you’re looking for something creamier or heavier, Clarins also has the Eye Contour Balm, which may be a better texture for you.

Contains 0.7 oz.
Retails for $35.00 USD.
Made in France.

Dermatologist and ophthalmologist-tested. Fragrance-free.

Ditptyque Scented Candle in “Baies” and the Soothing Lip Balm

Ok, I’m really not one to splurge on candles — or, even get really into purchasing candles. For the most part, I have a few candles laying around from Target and I’ve had a few from Bath and Body Works, so it’s a big deal when I jump on the Diptyque band wagon. Because this world-renowned brand has a cult following, I did some thorough research before making any purchasing decisions. Luckily, I had a great sales associate who was really knowledgable and generous with samples. Needless to say, I’ll be making a fragrance purchase real soon. Last week, I went with the Ditptyque Scented Candle in “Baies” and the Ditptyque Soothing Lip Balm.

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The 6.5 oz. size burns for 60 hours and retails for $60.00 USD. It’s expensive and the most expensive candle I own. I admit, at first, I was a little ashamed when I realized how much I had spent on a candle of all things. But, to my pleasant surprise, there’s a reason for this cult following. I can see why there’s so many people who are not disappointed with Diptyque candles and fragrances; and, in fact, it’s the loyal following that convinced me this was going to be a worthwhile purchase. Is this a necessity? No. But, there’s a difference with the quality of Diptyque and the candles I’m used to buying at Target. The scents are oily and genuine — meaning, the essentials oils do all the work without the waxiness and the plastic-y smell from cheap candles. The scent “Baies” smells of a “bouquet of roses and blackcurrant leaves” and is “a companion to the diptyque eau de toilette L’Ombre Dans L’Eau.” According to the sales associate, “Baies” is popular and is always a best seller every year. It was a good choice for me.

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I’m a sucker for lip balms so I naturally wanted to give the Ditptyque Soothing Lip Balm a try. At $35.00 USD for less than half an ounce, this too, is an expensive item. However, it’s cheaper than the La Mer Lip Balm and the Chanel Hydramax Active Lip Care. While I like the Diptyque Soothing Lip Balm the best, the Dior Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm is the cheapest out all the ones I mentioned at $27.00 USD. The soothing lip balm is described to be a “delicately perfumed balm that melts into the lips and gives them back smoothness, softness and protection.” The scent is subtle and is intensely hydrating, and the “poppy petals softens and protects the lips while protecting them from the signs of aging.” The reason why I like it the best is because it has a nice slip to that makes my lips look shiny and line-less. It stays on forever and lingers even after the waxy slip has been eaten away. Also, mango butter and cotton oil helps lips feel luxurious and soft as well.

I recommend both, but neither are life changing necessities. I can see myself collecting Diptyque candles in the future — which sounds so cliche since everyone does it. But I can see why, which is what makes it so fun. I look forward to experimenting with fragrances and other candle scents soon; and, I hope to have more by the end of Christmas!

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I was given generous amounts of samples, so it’s best to go to the Diptyque counter when a proper representative is available. I’ll be doing more research before committing to a fragrance, and I’m so excited I got some samples to try.

Candle and lip balm made in France.

Le Métier de Beauté Lip Creme Lip Gloss in “Sweet Creme”

Introducing my newest favorite gloss: the Le Métier de Beauté Lip Creme Lip Gloss. I am officially declaring that it’s the best I’ve ever tried, it’s worth the money, and most importantly, I’ve been obsessed with it for weeks. This gloss is described to be a “hybrid of gloss and lipstick,” that “combines chic color, intense emollients and antioxidants to soothe and nourish.”

As a hybrid product, the color pay-off coupled with shine, gloss, and a lacquer sheen finish is the perfect combo for a lip gloss. The finish is shiny, but non-sticky; and, lasts for hours without getting goopy in the corners of my mouth. The creamy texture and easy glide formula makes the product super user-friendly and dependable. For people who are picky about glosses or don’t like them in general, this is perfect — albeit, it’s expensive.

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When I visited the Le Métier de Beauté counter, color selection was limited so that was disappointing. However, I did see some good, standard basic colors that could appeal to those who want to make practical purchases. The formulation and the texture of this gloss makes it a winner, so I recommend. While these glosses are expensive, I find them to be worth it. It beats Chanel’s glosses that are nearly $30.00 and are super sticky and get goopy within months.

Although I can admit that these aren’t necessities, I think they’re worth a try. The shade “Sweet Creme” is a baby pink shade that’s soft and quite translucent on the lips. However, the finish of glossy lips that’s not too wet-looking is pretty; and, the best part is that the lines on your lips disappear — giving them a look of plumped of freshness.

Retails for $36.00 USD.

More About Liquid Highlighters

There are so many uses for liquid highlighters and they can be tricky sometimes. This post is dedicated to helping you use and apply liquid highlighters, because they truly make a difference in achieving the glowy/dewy effect. While for some liquid highlighters are used based on various special occasions, I believe that daily highlighting can be an important part of your makeup routine. Previously, I mentioned the glowy effect in past posts like in Glowy Skin 101 featuring the NARS Illuminator in “Copacabana” and in a post about the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector. I wrote a similar post regarding liquid highlighters called What Makes You Glow about a year and a half ago, so this post can function as an update. :)

If powder highlighters are your preferences, perhaps you will find previous posts about them more helpful: Diorskin Shimmer Star in “Rose Diamond,” Wet n Wild “Reserve Your Cabana” (743A), Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in “Moonstone,” and Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder Compact – Highlight – 01.

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Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer #2 (sample)
Benefit High Beam
NARS Illuminator in “Copacabana”

Liquid highlighters can be used in various ways:
1.) LH’s be applied after foundation on your cheek bones, the bridge of your nose, and your cupid’s bow. You can blend in the liquid formula with your fingers or with a synthetic brush as well.
2.) LH’s can also be mixed in with your base makeup (foundation, BB cream, CC cream) and be applied all over your face. The great thing about this option is that you can control the glow factor by adding as little or as much as you need/want.

There’s no rules. Do what you prefer that day. For me, I like to mix in my LH’s with my base makeup; and, I like to do that because I think it’s just easier. I like to reserve my after-foundation-highlighting routine for powder highlighters.

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As you can see, the Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer #2 is a flesh-toned pinky shade that disappears into your skin or your foundation (when mixed in). It’s also more subtle this way. The Benefit High Beam and the NARS Illuminator in “Copacabana” are both white-pink, which makes them less user-friendly because they will do more harm than good if they’re not blended in well. All three are great with mixing in with base makeup, but I tend to lean towards the Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer #2 most days, and the Benefit High Beam if I want my foundation to be a bit brighter.

Of course, highlighting is based on personal preference. Not all highlighters are created equal, and further research may be necessary depending on your skin tone and the look you are trying to achieve. When in doubt, go with a powder highlighter; however, it’s not to say that the LH’s are difficult to work with.