Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lorac TANtalizer Highlighter & Matte Bronzer Duo ::: Review & Swatches

I started to become a hardcore makeup enthusiast sometime in late 2013. But due to my routine work tours I was never home regularly with my entire makeup collection for more than 3-4 weeks at a stretch. But now, that has changed and I have been in the same location for 2 straight months, well keeping aside a very short trip to Iowa :-) I have been able to arrange my makeup item in a somewhat aesthetically pleasing arrangement and I am finally able to wear different products to incorporate in my routine every day. YAY! Enjoying this superpower (?? J) for last two months, I am almost surprised to realize that there are a few products that I love and use very regularly but I never appreciate!

Lorac’s TANtalizer Highlighter & Matte Bronzer Duo is one such product. You can see in the picture that I have used up a lot of the bronzer! And yet, I have never expressed my love for it in my blog, or even in my Instagram I have never raved about it. But I use it regularly; more so when I am in a hurry and I just want something tried and tested. I also take it with me whenever I am travelling.

Anyway, I have the travel size which is retailed at a price of $12 for 0.02 oz. You can find Lorac in Ulta, Kohl’s and on Lorac website too. The regular size costs $33 for 0.4 oz. I really like the travel size because it is easier to store and very very comfortable to travel with. Also, just look at the packaging. It comes in a simple rose-gold elegant compact with a decent size mirror. The clasp is very well made too. Like I said, I have travelled a lot with it and often times I just throw it in my carry-on! It has certainly survived my abuse till now! :-)

I have warm undertone, and on my warm medium tan skin tone I just LOVE this bronzer! It’s COMPLETELY matte, very brown and very very warm! Very pigmented too, just a tiny swipe can bronze up your whole face! But it’s very forgiving; very easy to blend so even though it’s pigmented it is easy to wear. I love how you can see the warmth in just one light application. This is definitely for someone who likes noticeable bronzing. I personally will never dare to contour with a bronzing product! I do know that a lot of us love to contour with bronzers! The perfect matte formula in the TANtalizer would have been awesome for contouring but the shade is too warm; I anyway don’t really care about contouring with it! But I have been thoroughly enjoying it as a bronzer. I also very much enjoy the fact that it works really well with all different kind of bases! I have worn it on bare, just-moisturized skin, mineral powder foundation, full coverage liquid foundation and on BB Creams. Typically it gives me around 4-5 hrs. of wear leaving behind a nice warmth to the face. But with full coverage foundation with staying power is slightly longer.

Even though the bronzer has become quite a staple product in my makeup routine, I don’t have a lot to say about the highlighter. I am not a hardcore fan of highlighter yet (well, that might change now because I have started to use Becca highlighters :-)!) May be that is why I don’t use the highlighter that often. The shade is very beautiful though – it’s a pale pinky champagne color with micro mini speckle of glitters and sometimes on the face the glitters shows a little too obvious for my taste. It is easy to blend though!  I don’t use it when I am home and have access to other highlighters but I do use it when I am travelling. It’s an OK product for personally; I am not overly impressed, nor do I have any complaints!

I got this sometime last summer and it took me about a year to compile this review! So you know, this is one product that I have loved for this long! I hope you like the review :-) It looks like I am going to hit pan soon and I am pretty excited in anticipation of that :-) What bronzers have you been using this summer? Anything that I should try? :-)


P.S.: You can check my thoughts on Bare Minerals First Resort Bronzing Kit here which is another bronzer that I have been utterly loving for more than a year now! :-)   

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Stila Summer 2015 ::: "Sun, Sea & Splash" Collection

Bright & bold shades of makeup products are my addiction :-) If you ask me to choose just one lipstick shade for the rest of my life, I will probably pick “Red”. On the other hand, I don’t care much for limited edition seasonal makeup collections that companies develop. But these vibrant joyful products from Stila Cosmetics for Summer-2015 "Sun, Sea & Splash" Collection stole my heart right away! Who does not want to slather herself/himself in bright fun lip colors and creamy-sheeny cheeks during summer? :-) ;-) There are 5 new All Day Liquid Lipstick bright and neon-y shades, 5 Aqua Glow Watercolor Blushes, 3 Stay All Day Bronzers and a few other items. Apart from the vibrant shades of the collection, the glass and gold metal packaging is very adorable too! The shades in this collection are bright and vivid- they may appear a little bit intimidating to someone who are afraid of colors. :-)

Stila was offering 25% off on their website for this collection and that’s what encouraged me to buy these. I got “Bella” and “Venezia” liquid lipsticks and Aqua Glow Blush in “Water Lily”. Regular price for the lipsticks are $22 for 0.10 oz. and $26 for 0.21 oz. of the blush. With the discount code, all these 3 items cost me $52.50 before taxes, which seemed reasonable to me. I don’t think I would be willing to pay the regular price of $22 for the lipsticks but I will happily spend $26 for the blush!

Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Water Lily”: It comes in a beautiful jar container; sturdy and functional with gold lids! Like the name suggests it is a water-based blush and is instructed to shake it before using. There is a mesh panel color dispenser but I actually like to use the product that adheres to the back of the lid when you shake it. I love the consistency of the product; as you can see in the picture it is thicker than liquid and much thinner than cream! It is pigmented, very easy to blend, does not emphasize my pores and you can easily build it up with multiple layers to control the amount of the color you want. If cream blushes scare you, this might be a good alternative. On my light coverage foundation, a good decent 2 layers of the blush stayed from 7 am to 3.30 pm - left a beautiful sheeny cheek in its wake. So, the staying power is pretty good, but I wish it were a bit more long-wearing.

“Water Lily” is a rosey mauve shade with a hint of coral and just a little bit of shimmers. You can see the shimmers if you hold the product against sunlight. But it does not transfer to the cheeks that much! I have been loving the blush and its application process; it feels like painting with my fingertips. It brings back a lot of memories of my art classes from childhood!! I think my mom still has all those painting kits me and my sisters used. This definitely excites me.

All Day Liquid Lipstick in “Venezia”: These come in a glass tube packaging with a normal doe-foot applicator; it’s kind of similar to Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipsticks. “Venezia” is an uncommon name and I love it :-) Stila describes “Venezia” as bright red but it’s not; it’s a very bright neon-y a true coral. I was most excited about this shade and was very sure that it will absolutely flatter my skin tone! Unfortunately it looks a bit unnatural on my lips. I guess it’s one of those corals that look better on fairer skin tone rather than deeper skin tones. Otherwise tan/medium/deep skin tones can rock coral lip shades very easily. Colors aside, I found this particular formula very difficult to apply. It is liquid lipstick hence very drying and emphasizes all the fine lines on my lips. It stayed 4-5 hrs. but towards the end it crumbled up along my fine lines which is not a good look. I then started applying very thin-light layer with a lip brush along with Too Faced Lip Insurance lip primer underneath and I was able to make it somewhat wearable. But, overall this disappointed me. Return shipping to Stila is not free and I am not spending $5 to have a lipstick returned which cost me $16. :-) It needs a lot of effort with lip balm, lip primer and lip brush but nonetheless, I am resolute to make “Venezia” work! 

All Day Liquid Lipstick in “Bella”: Beautiful fuchsia pink! Very bright and looks almost fluorescent :-) It has just a little bit of neon! I am pretty sure I have similar shades in my collection but I still could not resist it. “Amalfi” looked more neon-y so I went for this. It is drying but not as much as Venezia. It can make the fine lines on the lips look a just bit more prominent. It is also a lot easier to work with. The formula feels smoother on this one; comparatively! Also, this makes my tooth a little brighter.  These are the first liquid lipstick that I have tried, and I can definitely say that there is a definite learning curve to it. The first time I tried them on, it was too goopy and I did not really enjoy the look. But slowly and steadily I am getting better at this. 

Among the very few Stila products I have tried I really love the All Day Liquid Eyeliner, Bronzing BB and I am glad that I got these for my collection; I specially ADORE everything about the blush. I have really started to like “Bella” and slowly starting to warm up to “Venezia”. These are limited-edition but are still available in Sephora, Ulta and Stila Cosmetics. Have you got any of these and what’s your thought?  


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Taste of Chicago: 2015

One of my undocumented resolution for 2015 was to explore more! I am always open to travelling places! But, sometimes I fail to explore the places that I am living in (I have lived in quite a lot of places). When I heard of Taste of Chicago, I forced myself to make time and see what it is all about. And I had a good time! 

Taste of Chicago has a long and rich history! It first was organized in 1980 and according to Wikipedia has become one of the largest food festival of the world. This year it started on 8th July in Grant Park, Downtown Chicago, and ends tomorrow!

I did not expect these many people! It was crowded, there were a lot of stalls of different kind of cuisines including pop-up restaurants, food trucks and Five-Day Restuarants! There were different music acts too; which were mostly free. The admission is free and the pay system for the food is by food tickets. You get 12 tickets at $8.5. A lot of the booths had taste portions which cost 4-5 tickets and other items varied from 10-20 tickets! I do think, it is a little bit expensive, but hey it's a different kind of experience. I am open to experimenting different food and I had Rattlesnake and Rabbit Snake Sausage, Mini Vietnamese Pork Taco, Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Thai Noodles and Corn on the Cob!

Here are some pictures for you.... Hope you enjoy! 

Jerk Chicken
Mini Vietnamese Pork Taco
Taste of Rattlesnake and Rabbit Sausage 
Thai Noodles and Mango Ice Cream
Shrimp Popcorns
Corn on the Cob


BECCA Limited Edition Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in "Blushed Copper"

I took pride in not falling for cute packaging for beauty products! As an Engineer I think of myself as a practical person; while I do buy more makeup than I may ever need, I still like to think that I am able to handle my temptation when it comes to cute packaging. If the product does not suit me or it’s not a quality product, but it is UBER CUTE to look at, I think I can still be reasonable and restrain myself from buying it.  

But, I recently proved myself wrong! YES, I bought this ginormous skin perfector from Becca Cosmetics! Don’t get me wrong! This is a SPECTACULAR product but will I ever need or use-up such a giant highlighter? Absolutely not!  It’s a crazy pigmented product; even if I wear it every day it will take me at least a few months to even make a dent in it! :-) But, please, look at this beautiful piece of art!! I just had to surrender to my temptation and I told myself that it is a gift to me from me for passing the Engineer-in-Training Exam. (So you know it makes sense  :-) )

Ok. Enough of introduction :-)

This is retailed at a price of $38 for 8 g (0.28 oz.). It seems to be a very steep price for a highlighter but Becca has excellent quality cheek products and I truly believe that for the amount and quality of the product, the price is justifiable.

I already told you that I fell for the packaging. The engineer in me adores Becca’s UFO/technical looking blushes and highlighters. “Blushed Copper” comes in a limited-edition packaging. It is a stunning rose-gold coppery-metallic compact that is essentially has the same design as the regular line. Very sturdy too! I love the look; this is how a $38 blush should look like! The product itself is however a very very finely milled powder; so you have to be extra careful not to break it while traveling with it! Apart from that, I give 10/10 for packaging!

Applied as highlighter
As you can see in the Sephora site it is described as “A creamy powder luminizer that absorbs and reflects light for a superb natural glow”. The color is described as “warm copper infused with rose gold tones” and I totally agree! It is heavily pigmented! The shimmers or the micro-glitters in “Blushed Copper” looks a tad bit chunky compared to “Moonstone”. For the pigmentation I have to be very very light-handed while applying it otherwise it takes just a few seconds to make me look “funny” :-) It stays on me forever! The shimmer kind of fades away after 4-5 hours but the color and pigment stays on beautifully. I actually prefer the look after 2-3 hours of wearing into; it blends into my face and looks much smoother and “naturally” glowing! I love using it as eyeshadow as well; for one shade eye-looks. I use my Bare Minerals fan brush to apply this. And I actually rather enjoy it using as blush topper than as highlighter.

Applied as a blush topper                                  Applied as eyeshadow
  • Beautiful product.
  • Pigmented
  • Big size, so never have to run out of highlighter.
  • Crazy pigmented! Have to be very very light handed.
  • Not the best for travelling or for rough use.
For the strong pigmentation it took me a while to get used to! But now I have really started to enjoy it; I specially have been really loving bronzey-corally monochromatic looks with this as the star of the look!! This will look gorgeous on an Indian Bride too…it will be perfect with all the shimmery-glittery Indian bridal wardrobe! By the way, the beautiful sheen in this blush was so hard to capture! I had to do it over and over again! Here are some failed swatches :-) Hope you enjoy them as well! 

It is a limited-edition Sephora Exclusive product and is still available (Here is the link)! If it interests you, go ahead and pick it up! It truely will be a beautiful addition to your vanity! Have a lovely weekend folks!


Monday, July 6, 2015

Products I've Used Up/Empties Vol. 3

I believe in cherishing small victories in life. Modern day lifestyle can become so stressful at times that we don’t appreciate ourselves often enough! Not to sound too deep for a blogpost, but I strongly believe that for a beauty blogger this huge pile of empty products is a pretty decent victory! I am particularly happy about this set as I could finally finish up a few makeup items! So let me celebrate it :-)  

Mentioned in brackets are the regular size prices for these products! 

Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation Facial Moisturizer (0.5 oz., 14$): It’s a white soft and light yet rich cream. The texture is light enough to sit well under makeup. This little bottle lasted me for 3-4 weeks. I did not have a lot of expectations, as I was not really a fan of the Sheer Transforming Face Crème. I really liked using the moisturizer while it lasted; however, I am not sure if I will repurchase a regular size product.

Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask (5 oz., 58$): I reviewed a few PTR masks including this one here. I use this mask whenever I think my skin needs a good cleanup action along with some strong exfoliation. I do feel a very mild burning sensation for the first few seconds after application; but it’s not that bad. This mask makes my skin immediately feel so so refreshing; I really ENJOY it! And I have already repurchased. : -)

Dior Capture Totale One Essential Super Serum (1 oz, 100$): Oooh, fancy fancy!! Got this as a 100 point perk freebie from Sephora. Even though it looks tiny I was amazed to see how long this bottle lasted me. I used 2 to 3 pumps every other day and it took me more than a month to finish it off. The texture & look of the serum itself is like pimple-fuss; VERY gross right? :-) But I really enjoyed it! It gets very easily absorbed and feels really nice on my skin. When I was using it I saw very visible effect in reduction of some of the blemishes and scaring left behind from old pimples. I don’t know if that was for this serum or the few other products that I was using in conjunction. If it was not THIS expensive, I might have bought a full-size bottle ;-)

Caudalie Vinosource Crème Sorbet (1.3 oz., 39$): It took me 3 to 4 weeks to finish this tube.  It is a light moisturizer with a very nice fragrance! Even though the texture looks a little bit gritty but it’s very smooth to apply, weightless on the skin, absorbs quickly and is good under makeup too! I use this during Spring when I was in Florida for my projects and I have to admit it was a perfect face moisturizer for hot and humid Florida. After I finish up the all the moisturizer I have been hoarding, I might be picking up the full size version of it.

Maybelline Clean Express Waterproof Makeup Remover (4 fl oz., 5-7$): Now that I have tried a few makeup removers, I think that I like this one the best. It says oil free, but it surely leaves some oil behind. It removes waterproof makeup VERY nicely if I let it set for 1 min at least and it does not hurt my eyes. I am not able to see this in any stores anymore, but I am repurchasing it whenever I can find it.

Lotus Herbals Apriscrub (60g, around 10.99$): Lotus Herbals is a natural brand from India! I used their products regularly when I was in India. Anyway, this is marketed as a whitening scrub (Indian society is obsessed with fairer skin-tone!), but I don’t care for that part. It’s a gentle yet pretty effective scrub; I totally LOVED it. I used it once a week. It really helped me in handling the dry flaky patches on my face!

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream (2 oz., 12$): I heard so much about it and I had great hope as it says “Intense hydration for dry parched skin” in its packaging! It was not that impressive. The formula is very thin; no disgusting smells but not entirely fragrance-free! If I would have used it during Spring months rather than in Winter, I may have liked it better! It last for a long time though! Overall it was an ok product but for me it just performed “OK”; I am not going to repurchase.

Bliss High Intensity 24-Heaven Healing Body Balm (1.9 oz., $32.98): I have reviewed this product in details here. It’s rich, thick yet creamy body balm! Because of its thickness it is not the most comfortable balm to "apply". I am very impressed with the product; it kept my skin moisturized the whole day. Even though it’s thick, it’s not sticky and it absorbs pretty quickly. During the harsh Chicago winter I needed to reapply another thin layer of this or my beloved Neutregena Body Oil before bed. But Overall, I am satisfied. I however do think that it is a pricy product so I am not really sure if I will repurchase this right at this moment. But if I can find a value set, I will surely get it. Or if my dry skin situation gets out of hand, I may buy it in regular size :-)

Caudalie Lip Conditioner (.15 oz., 12$): Hands down, the BEST lip balm that I have ever tried. It is a wonderful balm - velvety smooth to apply and helps to moisturize my lips for hours, even during peak winter. I already have two of these as back ups! You can never have enough lip balms, right?

PTR Laser-Free Resurface Face Serum (1 oz., 75$): Such a pretty packaging! It’s a beautiful maroon sleek bottle, sturdy and comes with a pump! Very hygienic and travel friendly. This is a tiny size that came with a PTR skincare set. I used it on alternate days and it lasted me a little over 1 month. The only problem with the packaging is that you cannot really see the usage from outside the bottle. So you will never know when you are running out of the product.  The serum itself is red in color and has a gel like consistency. It feels really great and smells kind of medicinal! It’s really hydrating for my skin! I had a lovely time while it lasted but it may be a while I go out buying a regular size.

Wet n Wild MegaSlicks Lip-Gloss in "Mauve-jave Deserrt/Eclat mauve" (2.29$): Aah! This was my VERY FIRST makeup product that I bought in USA. I still vividly remember the day! It must be a hectic and tensed week in the life of graduate student; no car and no money, and thousand engineering calculation to complete. I just walked a mile to the nearest Walgreen and saw this in just 1 or 2$! Yay, Wet n Wild! I used it to whenever I had a little time or want to feel fancy for just going to the University! Remember this was way before I had this much interest in makeup. Anyway, I did get a lot of usage from this - 2.5 long years :-) it’s a very natural mauve lip-gloss with some shimmer in it! I still have around 20% left in it, but it started to smell funky so I threw it out.

Lakme Sheer Satin Lip Gloss (Rs. 325): Another product that brings back so many memories!  I will forever remember my trip to Lakme makeup counter back in India just before I left for USA. It was kind of last splurge with my own money before coming here and become a poor graduate student :-) This is a clear very glossy-gloss! And it is not at all sticky! It makes every lip color perfect! I know nobody loves glossy lips these days and I don’t use it as much as I did before but I still love it. I do have an unopened new tube :-)

L’Oréal Voluminous Hydraproof (.23 fl.oz., 7.99$): I loved it when I first applied it. It gave me such a nice fluttery and yet kind of dramatic effect! Its super black and this was their waterproof one, and let me tell you it is a pain in the ass to remove! I would have loved to repurchase it because I loved the effect! But it dried within just a few weeks so I am not sure now!

RevitaLens Multipurpose Disinfecting Solution: I am a regular contact lens wearer so this is a must have for me. I got this particular bottle when I got my eyes checked. But I use Bausch & Lomb on a regular basis! This one is not bad too!

Caudalie Beauty Elixir (1 fl oz., $18): Everybody loves Caudalie Beauty Elixir! And I do too! I have written a whole long blogpost on some of the Caudalie product here. I love its strong but very refreshing smell! And I love, love the thin and stylish bottle. It comes with a hefty price for a skincare spray; so I don’t use it on an everyday basis though. I feel fancy whenever I use it and we sure do deserve to feel fancy from time to time…I already have a back-up for it :-)

BBW Shower Gel Twilight Woods Shower Gel (10 fl. oz., 12.50$): J What shall I write about this? This is a warm scent and I really like it. I used it in rotation to some other bath products but I do like it.

The Naked Bee Hand & Body Lotion (Orange Blossom Honey, Lavender & Beeswax Absolute, 6.7 oz., 12-16$): I love this moisturizer for my dry skin! It's not too thick or thin; absorbs quickly and is really "really" moisturizing. It’s perfect during summer but for rough Chicago winter months, I use my beloved Neutrogena Body Oil in coordination with this. It is 70% organic product without parabens, mineral oil, any dye or pigment. It is also cruelty free which is always a major plus in my book. The only problem is its scarce availability!

Veet Fast Acting Gel Cream Hair Remover (6.78 oz., 7.99$): This is my absolute favorite product for removing the unwanted hair J - easy and fast enough!

Parachute Coconut Oil: Where do I even begin? I religiously use it for deep overnight conditioning of my hair once a week. I have been doing it for as long as I remember :-) it helps in maintaining the moisture in my hair. I cannot live without this and I hardly ever shampoo my hair without using this overnight. Holy Grail status! :-)

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes (25 wipes, 4-6$): Now that I have tried a few makeup remover wipes, I think these are my favorite! They are effective and are able to remove face makeup to a good extent without being “too harsh”. I have stopped using wipes for my eyes at all, but when I did, it did work well enough for simple eye-looks! I buy them in bulk from Costco :-)

Equate Flushable Wipes (48 Wipes, around 2-3$): You know, sometimes you get what you pay for. These were very dry wipes. They are not marketed as Makeup remover wipes; but it was not at all effective in doing anything. I was still able to finish it up somehow :-P

I have been collecting this for the past 3-4 months, you know throughout my move from Chicago to Florida and then back to Chicago… :-) And I already have a few new empties to talk about! Hope you all had a wonderful and safe 4th of July!