My Thoughts on Matte Palettes

To me, matte palettes are an essential in any girl's makeup arsenal. Not only do they work great on their own (natural matte look, anyone?), but they also compliment other palettes you may already have in a way that shimmery palettes can't. I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for at least one matte shade to put in my crease, if not more if I want a less glittery look. So often I buy palettes that are filled with gorgeous shimmery or satin shades, but when I start using them I always find myself reaching for a matte shade to tie everything together - and that's where matte palettes swoop in to save the day. 

In my collection, I have two all-matte palettes. The first is the Sonia Kashuk Eye On Neutral 02 palette, which contains twelve matte shades ranging from pure white all the way down to black. The second is the Urban Decay Naked Basics 2 palette, which has lots of mid-range shades (technically the shade skimp has some slight pearl to it, but I find that on the eyes it comes off as totally matte). I like both for different reasons. 

The Sonia Kashuk palette is great because of the varied colors, and I like that it has a bright white (as you can see since I've hit pan on that shade). Usually palettes only go as light as a champagne shade, but having a white can be really helpful when you want a stark highlight. The only downside to this palette is the shadow texture; while it isn't the worse by far, some shades can still come off a little chalky. They definitely perform better with a primer.

The Naked Basics 2 is great if you find yourself lacking in crease shades or everyday mattes, but I wouldn't recommend it for someone who needs ultra-light or really dark colors. If you're looking for those, check out the Naked Basics 1. I usually find myself reaching for this palette when I want a matte transition or crease shade. The quality of these shadows are amazing, and it's also great for travel because of its compact size.

Those are my thoughts on my matte palettes! Do you have any favorites?


Single Eyeshadow Picks

Sometimes, I just don't want a lot of options. On those days, instead of reaching for a palette, I go for a single-eyeshadow. There's something relieving about not having to think too much about an eyeshadow look when you're having a rushed morning - and single eyeshadows are about as foolproof as it gets. Here are some of my favorites!

Milani Bella Eyes Gel Powder Eyeshadow (Bella Champagne): While I'm not sure what Milani means by "gel powder" (this is definitely a powder product), I really like this shade from their new single Bella eyeshadows. It's a very pretty light pink shade with gold glitter running throughout. Although it does benefit from a primer, it does a great job of brightening up my eyes and giving them a little more dimension. 

NYX Prismatic Eyeshadow (Liquid Gold): The Prismatic line is full of amazing single shadows, however this is the most wearable of the bunch. The pigmentation of these shadows is crazy! In  pictures Liquid Gold can appear a bit orangey, but in person it is a very pretty true yellow-gold. It looks great all over the lid for a one-shadow look and it really highlights my brown eyes.

Maybelline Color Tattoos (Bad to the Bronze, Barely Branded, Creamy Beige): These are some of the best cream shadows in the drugstore. They go on creamy and once they set they don't budge all day. Bad to the Bronze (part of the regular color tattoo line) is a cult favorite for good reason. It's a beautiful bronze color with slight shimmer that looks great on everyone regardless of skin tone. Barely Branded (color tattoo metals line) is a very brightening champagne color that does wonders for tired eyes. It's my favorite for early school mornings. Creamy Beige is the one I use the most out of these three, which is a bit surprising. I admit, it doesn't look like much in the pot, but when you apply it on the eye it takes on these beautiful purple undertones that give your eye incredible definition without trying hard. 


Celebrity Look Inspiration Roundup

Whenever I'm in a beauty rut, I like to browse the world of Pinterest in search of some celebrity inspiration. Celebs are always getting their hair and makeup done, so you can find a lot of exciting looks that you can usually recreate yourself. Here are some of my favorite looks that are inspiring my beauty routine right now.

Emma Stone - Oscars 2015

Jason Merritt/WireImage

Emmy Rossum -  Monique Lhuillier Fall 2014

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Keira Knightly - Producer's Guild Awards


Natalie Portman - Festival de Cannes

Getty Images

Who's inspiring your makeup?


How to Unwind (for the Busy Girl)

Between school, friends, and work, life gets busy - and sometimes it's hard to find a moment to relax and make time for yourself. Here's my five tips on how to unwind when you're on a tight schedule.

1.) If you can, take a time out. The best way to really relax is to take a break from everything you have going on and take some time to do something you enjoy. Be it reading a book, taking a hot bath, or doing an at-home manicure - if you want to get away from the stress of the day, it's always more effective to focus entirely on unwinding and block everything else out. When I get some time to myself, I like to catch up on magazines. Find something that's therapeutic to you! So often, we do so much for others and forget about ourselves. Don't be afraid to make time in your schedule for you.

2.) If you can't take a break, multi-task. If you can't possibly carve any more time out of your day, try multi-tasking while working on something else. One great option is to apply a face mask or deep conditioner and let it soak in while you work at your desk. You can still finish up pressing tasks while being a little self-indulgent, and when you're done, take a nice shower and be left with beautiful skin and hair. Similarly, treat yourself to a lunch at your favorite restaurant or coffee shop while you work on a project. You've done something for yourself, without sacrificing time in your schedule!

3.) Remove stressors from your life. Now, not everything that stresses you can just disappear (sadly). But it can be surprising how many little things can be contributing to your stress without you even knowing. A few months ago, I realized that there were just too many things in my room. Even though everything was neatly organized, I knew I needed to declutter. Over the course of a few weeks I spent just twenty minutes or so each night organizing one area of my room at a time, and in the end I felt much happier with less. I would suggest taking a closer look at your surroundings and identifying small things that are increasing your stress, then creating a plan to slowly eliminate them.

4.) Plan ahead. Make time in your long-term calendar for a me-day. Often we schedule appointments, meetings, events, etc. weeks or even months in advance -- why can't we do the same for time we spend on ourselves? Set a date for a spa trip, a fresh haircut, or just reserve some downtime in the midst of an over-scheduled week. And be consistent; make a your rest periods reoccurring to avoid getting caught in the midst of an over-scheduled week with no time for yourself.

5.) Make a point to do things that make you happy. Just like little things can add to your stress, they can also take away from it. Think about easy things that you can do for yourself that will make you happy in the middle of a stressful day. Maybe you have a delicious recipe you found on pinterest that you want to try -- why not make it and slip it into your lunchbox the night before a big test? Even if the rest of your day is stressful, getting to eat that treat during lunch will be something you can look forward to. Doing this will help give you little happy moments throughout the day, and enough of these moments will add up to help decrease your stress overall.

Those are my tips for how to spend some time on yourself when you're on a tight schedule. I hope you all are doing well, and don't forget to take a moment to unwind!


Bright Lipstick Picks for Summer

 One of my favorite looks to wear during the summer is a simple monochrome outfit paired with a bright lipstick. I think the pop of color is fun and unexpected when most people go for a minimal summertime makeup look. Here are three of my favorites - an orange, a pink, and a red - that I think would flatter everyone.

1.) NYX Matte Lipstick in Indie Flick - A bright shade that manages to be wearable despite its orange color. I like wearing it with a bold brow and big lashes but minimal face makeup; it looks fresh and put together. The NYX matte lipstick formula is great as well, as it doesn't dry your lips out and goes on smoothly.

2.) Maybelline Rebel Bloom Lipstick in Coral Burst -  This shade goes on full-color as a bright, pinky-coral, and makes a huge statement. It looks great with dewy summer skin and a wash of a light shimmery color on the eyes. Plus, this line of lipsticks has the prettiest packaging in the drugstore with a lilac lid.

3.) L'Oreal Colour Riche Collection Exclusive Red Lipcolor in Julianne's Red - By far my favorite red lipstick! This collection is really great because it allows you to find the perfect red for your skin tone. Julianne's Red is a beautiful blue-based red that makes your teeth look extra white, but it isn't so extreme that it looks odd on warmer skin tones. I like wearing this with a mini black cateye for a vintage-inspired look.

What are your favorite lipsticks for summer?


Summer Nights Skincare Routine

Lately (knock on wood) my skin has been looking really great, and I attribute that mostly to a new nightly skincare routine that I've been practicing religiously for the past month or so. I apply any treatments or targeting products onto my face before bed to allow everything to sink in while I sleep, so when I switch up my skin care it's usually the products I use at night. My current routine includes some old standbys and some new additions that all have been working together to keep my skin in good shape.

1&2.) I use the Clarisonic Mia 2 (I have the light blue color)  along with the Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Face Cleanser in the shower to cleanse my face and remove any makeup and dirt. I love my Clarisonic; I've had it since last Christmas and since I've started using it I've noticed a big improvement in the texture and tone of my skin. Most noticeably, it's helped to reduce my acne scars and it works great to keep my skin exfoliated. I've used this Neutrogena cleanser for a while because it's gentle and doesn't have any artificial dyes or fragrances which irritate my skin. It does a great job of cleaning my face without drying it out - plus it's affordable!

3.) When I get out of the shower I pat my skin dry, then apply a small amount of the Biopha Micellar Water onto a cotton round and gently glide it over my face. I got this on a trip to Italy so sadly it's not available in the US, but there are lots of great drugstore micellar waters here - like this or this. I love micellar water because it gets off any excess makeup that somehow escaped my Clarisonic, and also removes any excess mascara that stayed on my lashes through my shower.

4&5.) I mix one drop of the Body Shop Tea Tree Oil with some of the Alba Botanica Even Advanced Night Cream on the back of my hand, then apply it all over my face. The tea tree oil helps to keep any breakouts at bay, while this night cream is moisturizing and helps to reduce discoloration and even skin tone. 

6.) Finally, I apply a thin layer of Epiduo (prescribed by my dermatologist) to areas of my face where I generally break out. If you struggle with acne I can't recommend Epiduo more, it really helped to clear up my skin and keep it clear. I've been using it for years now, and I still see no reason to switch to anything else. 

So, that's been my nighttime skin care routine this summer! It's been working really great, but if I switch things up I'll be sure to update you. What products work best for you?


New Additions (An ULTA Haul)

 Recently I took a trip to ULTA - which proved to be very dangerous because I walked out with a lot more than I had been originally looking for. (What's a girl to do?)

 Originally I had gone in for a new tube of the Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara, which is my absolute favorite. It gives my lashes (which are already pretty long) jet-black definition, and the waterproof version holds a curl really well without being a pain to take off at the end of the day. But of course I ended up being drawn to the NYX displays right next to maybelline, and picked up a couple more things.

There was a buy-one-get-one 50% off on all NYX eye cosmetics, so after deciding that I absolutely needed to try the NYX Prismatic eyeshadow in Liquid Gold  I decided to pick up a tube of the NYX Control Freak eyebrow gel. I had heard a few bloggers saying that it was a great dupe for the Anastasia Clear Brow Gel, and since I was running out of that gel, I decided that I could save $16 dollars and give NYX a chance.

Finally, I decided to spring for a lipstick that I'd been eyeing for a few months now - the NYX matte lipstick in Indie Flick. I'm so glad I picked it up, it's a beautiful  color that manages to make orange wearable and I think it'll be perfect for the rest of summer.


Primer Overview

Primers are one thing that can definitely suck me in with some killer marketing. Usually I take the claims of any given product with a grain of salt. However, I can't count the number of times I've been lured into purchasing a primer just by what's written on the packaging, without any further research whatsoever. Maybe it's the fact that I'm always looking for the primer that will do it all - that magical product that will fix all my skin issues in a flash and look great under makeup. Well, I haven't found that holy grail yet, but along the way I have gotten my hands on a few gems that each have their own unique strengths.  

1.)  KIKO Mat Base Corrector Primer -  One of two KIKO primers that I own, this one claims to give you a "long-lasting matte effect".  I like the feeling of this primer when I first apply it, and it dries to a light powder-matte finish that's smooth to the touch.  My skin also stays matte for longer with this primer than any other that I've tried. However, the deal-breaker for me is the way it interacts with the base products I put on top. This primer makes my foundation very patchy, no matter what formula I use or how I apply it. For that reason, I only use it when I absolutely must have matte skin, and I'm willing to sacrifice smooth foundation as the price.

2.) KIKO Skin Tone Correcting Primer - This is my favorite of my KIKO primers, and the primer overall that I reach for the most. It's one of the growing army of skin-tone correcting primers that are on the market these days, but I think one of the best. The green shade is intended to cancel out redness, which is great for me because of my pink undertones and acne-prone skin. While it won't completely eliminate all redness (in my experience, only foundations can do that),  I do notice a big difference after I apply it. As an added bonus, it sits really well under any base product that I choose to use, which is why it's quickly becoming an all-time favorite.

3.) Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser - This might be my least favorite primer in my collection. It's a silicone-based primer, which means it does make my skin very smooth. However I don't notice much of a difference in the appearance of my pores when I use this, and I find that it can make my skin oily throughout the day which is the opposite of what I want in a primer.

4.) L'Oreal Magic Lumi Light Infusing Primer - This is my favorite primer to use in the fall/winter months, when my skin can look a little dull and needs some added luminescence. It looks really wonderful just applied over the cheeks, or mixed in with your base product to give an overall glow. While I don't use this as much in the summer (when I'm more oily) it's a great cold-weather choice and gets a thumbs up in my book.

5.) Rimmel Stay Matte Primer - This is the most affordable of my drugstore primers, but I'm on the fence about it. While it doesn't interfere with my foundation like the KIKO matte primer does, I'm not  such a big fan of the way it makes my skin feel after I apply it. It has a very thick consistency and feels almost heavy on your face, which I don't like. However, it does do a good job of keeping my skin shine-free - so if you're looking for an inexpensive solution to oily skin, this could be the one.

So, that's all of the primers in my collection. Rest assured, I'm sure I'll be purchasing more in the future - and when I do, I'll be sure to let you know how they match up!