Sunday, August 30, 2015

Swatches & Review: 2015 Sephora Favorites Limited Edition "Give Me Some Lip"

Every year beauty lovers in USA look forward to the Sephora Favorite “Give Me Some Lips” set that  is typically released around the onset of Fall. And you know me; I am a self-proclaimed value-set fanatic! :-) Sephora released this year’s set just a few days ago, and I can tell from the very first look this year’s set is almost perfect!

Let’s go straight to the product details! The packaging is super adorable! As you can see, it is a tiny cute box in the shape of lips; I am definitely displaying it on my vanity. This set will cost you $25 for one full-size lipstick and 5 deluxe size lipsticks in different formulas and different shades! Based on weight/price ratio, per my calculation this set is worth $60. Awesome value for your hard earned money! You can purchase this set here from Sephora. I loved the set that they put together in 2014, but it was a little to gloss heavy! 2014 set was also showing on Sephora website if you are interested, I have reviewed 2014 set here!

Sephora Collection Rouge Infusion Lip Stain in19-Peony”: I regularly use a lot of Sephora Collection products! In general, they perform satisfactorily. This is a very light-weight texture-less lip stain. It was comfortable to apply although I had to use 2-3 swipes to get an opaque even coverage. Sephora describes it to have buildable coverage! It does not stay more than 4-5 hrs. and after a while penetrates deep into the fine lines of my lips. It’s a deep muted fuchsia, berry type of shade; definitely the deepest shade in the set! Overall this is not particularly my favorite but I can still use it.

Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick inCoral Blossom: I am so glad that Sephora made a Tarte product their full size product in this set! It’s a universally flattering coral color in a nourishing formula! So much better than last year’s full size “Pout” lip gloss from Smashbox which is extremely pale and not suitable for every skin tone. I have 5 of these butter lipsticks from a previous set and I love them (I don’t know why I have not been wearing them a lot lately). Anyway, the formula is great. Very nourishing and comfortable to wear! You have to compromise on the wear-time though! It hardly lasts 4-5 hrs. but I don’t mind re-applying.

Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment inRose: I tried this in Full size “Tulip” treatment from a value set and I had a horrible experience; it was so bad that I skipped reviewing the whole set altogether! However, I am loving this tiny-tiny lip balm in “Rose”. It gives my lips a very natural flushed alive shade while nourishing for 3-4 hours before you feel the need to reapply!  I love it.

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème inJe T'Aime: This is my very first Marc Jacobs lip product. This line was launched last year and it immediately became a hit. I don’t know why, but I don’t find the courage to feel excited about Marc Jacobs product! Somehow I have this adamant thought in the back of my mind that they are ridiculously expensive and yet, the products are just ok! But, I have been so happy with most of the few products I have tried from them. This lipstick is not different either. Creamy opaque formula, applies smoothly to give even coverage in single swipe and stays almost the whole day! I am SUPER impressed. This is a pinky mauve shade which is perfect for everyday office wear on my medium skin tone; especially on days when I am craving a brighter shade!  I love the mini tube too; it’s so adorable!

Make Up For Ever Artist Plexi Gloss in202: I am so happy that this year they include just one gloss! That too in a very petite size! This is a relatively new product from Make Up For Ever. Formula wise, it’s thick and almost sticky but not in bad way! Over all these time experimenting with makeup I have come to a realization that I DO NOT like glosses; not at all! But this is not bad actually. It’s a very very pale coral color, almost too pale on my lips! But I can definitely wear it and I think I am going to keep it my purse for touch-up during the week days!

Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick inLolita: Ooh la la! How many of you have stalked Sephora to get your hands on this? I personally never felt that much interest. My teenage years were “brown lipstick heavy” era in India and I remember that average Indian women typically having two shades of lipstick at most. A Red lipstick if you are a little adventurous and a really brown shade applied with an even darker lip liner!! I myself have worn harsh dark brown lip liner to line my lips and nothing else to feel it in; those were some embarrassing time :P So understandably, even though the entire beauty community cannot have enough brown lip shades I am not particularly excited about them! 

So, is all the hype about the “ever-out-of-stock” Lolita real? It has not knocked off my socks yet! May be because of my inhibition about the color. But the formula is WONDERFUL; very comfortable and smooth for a liquid lipstick and stays all day. The color looks incredible on me for the first 10-15 minutes and then I feel it looks too brown! But then I wear it to office the other day and under the yellow interior lights, this actually looks very office appropriate! So, I am definitely going to use it! The size is also decent. I think Sephora took a good decision to include this in this set. It is always out-of-stock online or in the stores, so if you have been curious about “Lolita”, this is the perfect opportunity to try it!

I am so happy with this year’s set. Sephora did a really good job on this. It has a very comprehensive range of shades – pink, mauve, nudes and brighter shades in different formulas – balm, gloss, traditional and liquid! The sizes are super adorable and comfortable to keep in my handbag. It is also easier to finish up these! : -) If you are lipstick lover like me, you should pick this up. Even if you are just starting out, this is a prefect set.

Good job, Sephora.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Limited Edition “Too Faced Most Loved Set”: Review and Swatches!!!

These are my very first products from Too Faced Cosmetics! I did receive a bronzer a while back with Beauty 101 Sephora Favorites set inside JC Penny but that is still untouched. Actually, a very few products from Too Faced generates interest in my mind. Mainly their packaging is girly and cute …which is not really my style.

I have previously shared that I am fanatic for Sephora (and Ulta) Value Sets :-) In these sets you get a few of their most popular and best-selling products to try out at a very justifiable price. I saw this newly created set and thought of giving it a try! If you are a beginner in makeup or beginner to the brand these are just perfect. Here are some other kits of similar nature.

This limited-edition set has 5 of their innovative and must-have products at a price of $25. By simple calculation, you will pay $5 of each item. I went a bit further and found that based on price per weight ratio this set is worth $43. You can find the link to shop the set here

Hangover Replenishing Face Primer: This is a relatively new product in their line. I have been skipping primers a lot during the summer. So, I believe the very true test of this product will be in the winter when I cannot simply imagine wearing any type of foundation without primer. On application it is very cooling on my face and it worked well with my foundation and it did give me a nice canvas to work on. I like it but I don’t find it overwhelming impressive, yet. Plus, for a face primer it is a very small size…It will hardly last for a week of usage – at best.

Shadow Insurance Eye Shadow Primer: Even though I said I hate their packaging; I do actually like the vintage-y looking design of these tubes! The product has a hint of color in it so it can cover up any redness or vein in your lids. I don’t have oily lids; but it did perform as well as any other primer I use. Plus this size will be perfect for travelling.

Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer in "Medium/Deep": I have been pretty happy with the two bronzers that I use regularly – Bare Minerals First Resort Bronzer and Lorac Tantalizer, both of which I have reviewed earlier. I do not really appreciate the cardboard plastic type packaging; it simply kind of appears cheap. The bronzer smells like chocolate and it’s a cool toned shade! But it still warms you up and is very easy to blend. I still favor my other two bronzers but this is a nice alternative for some days!

Melted Long Wear Lipstick inMelted Fig: I will admit that this was the product that I was most excited about! I have finally and slowly started to experiment with purple lip shades. And I LOVE, LOVE it. I don’t understand why it took me this long to jump in the “Too Faced Melted Lipstick” bandwagon! I love the rich and opaque formula; because of the unique applicator it is easy to apply too and stays all day. I wore it at 7 am and it was still there, bold and strong till the time I reached home around 6 pm surviving 1 cup of coffee, lunch, and several snacks! I have been wearing it a lot these days and I am super impressed. “Fig“ is a muted mid-tone purple with a lot of mauve which makes it very wearable on my skin tone. I am really very happy with this!

Better Than Sex Mascara: This is one insanely popular mascara in the world of beauty! Maybe because it’s genuinely good or maybe because of its quirky name. I have a ton of mascara to try out; hence have not opened this and used it yet - I will definitely share my thoughts when I do. But, I like the shape of the wand!  

So, my first experience with Too Faced has been really good! Affordable price for 5 universal products, comprehensive products to wear every day and I am in love with the lipstick. Apart from really tiny face primer size and the cheap packaging for the bronzer, I am really enjoying this set. I will highly recommend this! Especially if you are looking for travel-sized goodies, or if just want to dip your toes into the Too Faced world!


Thursday, August 13, 2015

New Buxom Big & Sexy Bold Gel Lipstick "Evocative Petal", "Ultraviolet", "Classified Crimson" ::: Review and Swatches!!!

Off late, I have been having a lot of fun trying BRAND NEW products and limited edition goodies! There is a certain kind of exhilaration in reviewing a product that is not written about in hundreds of blog just yet :-) I am not sure how long this phase will last but for now this is very exciting!

Today I am reviewing the new Big & Sexy Bold Gel Lipsticks from Buxom Cosmetics! This is a “permanent” line of 30 very beautiful shades of lipsticks in matte and satin formulas! Every single shade in this range appears really alluring! These were exclusively available for VIB and VIB Rouge in Sephora but it looks like now it’s accessible to everyone!

Buxom Cosmetics and Bare Minerals are both owned by Bare Escentuals; an SFO based company. The products, packaging and promotion strategies from Buxom (makes me feel)/(give me the feeling) that it’s a modern, bold and edgy “no-nonsense” company. They don’t have hundred different products but the few ones I have tried has installed my belief in the company. Their lip formulas are very famous and recently launched eyeshadows has been very well accepted as well.

I picked up 3 colors; for now! A true red - my favorite lip color to wear, an everyday shade and a purple - to branch out of my comfort zone. :-) The packaging is beautiful. It’s one of the broader tubes; sturdy with magnetic closure! Fancy and functional! The shade names are at the bottom in coordinating colored label so that’s helpful. The tube material itself is satin or matte corresponding to the formula- I think that’s very cool! If you love Kat Von D type edgy packaging you will love this. For me, this is the right amount of edginess in packaging :-) ;-) Also, you might need lipstick holders with bigger slots as they don’t fit in my standard 24-lipstick holder from byAlegory.

For 0.09 Oz. of product this lipstick will cost you $22. That is expensive! They are formulated without parabens and are cruelty free! After trying them for a week or two now, I do believe there are similar if not better lipsticks in the market at less or similar price. But, I am not repenting the purchase as I am liking their performance. I realized that I only got matte shades, so I placed another order so that I can offer you more expansive information on the product a few days later.  

They have very smooth formula for a matte lipstick! Applies on uniformily & opaque in one swipe and are very comfortable! They are very light and feathery on the lips! And unlike some other creamy mattes, these actually appear matte on your lips! I love that! I have been wearing “Evocative Petal” a lot and I only have to apply my lip balm once in my 12-hr work day!! However, I am disappointed in the staying power. For the price I am paying I would have hoped a little more wear time specially when I compare this with Bite Beauty products. They have decent stay for only about 4-5 hours! But they do stain beautifully once the initial pigmentation wears off; it’s such an even and beautiful stain! Especially with “Evocative petal”! Apart from the slightly disappointing staying power, I am a total fan of the matte formula! Here are the shades:

Evocative  Petal: I don’t wear a whole lot of nude shades, but I got this thinking that it will be a beautiful “My Lips But Better” shade for me to wear to work! But it turned out to be a little deeper than I expected. Buxom describes it as matte deep rose and it is exactly that. I generally wear my makeup at around 7 am and it starts to fade around 11 am -12 pm. But like I said, the stain is beautiful, even and comfortably light. I started to feel a tid bit of dryness around 2 pm. The color was completely gone by 4.50 pm but I cannot get over how beautiful the stain looks. I did not think that I would like it but now this shade has become one of the few maintenance free lipsticks I wear to work.

Ultraviolet: This is such a pretty color. So feminine, soft and yet a strong statement lip shade. I never pick violets to try, but I just could not shy away from this color! It is described as a bright violet but it is not as bright as I was expecting which actually worked out better for me. I can see a cooler under tone in it, but not very much. I was afraid to try this but if done properly it is a wearable color. I can see paler beauties rocking this color. This one lasted the least on me.  
Classified Crimson: Described as a true red. It may appear a little bit brighter depending on the lighting. I am no expert in dupes, but it is comparable to Rimmel London Lasting Finish Lipstick-Kate Moss Collection in 01. It is a beautiful red.  Sometimes it may transfer to your teeth, so you have to be little careful. If you are looking for a comfortable red, this might be it. It is not drying and there is no bleeding; it wore for 4-5 hrs. and left behind a gorgeous brightening even red stain. I have a few red in my stash; none of them looks this pretty after it wears off.

Overall, all of these have the same creaminess and opacity in the formula! I love a line where the formula is uniform throughout the whole range of shades. I am really looking forward to try the satins when my next order arrives :-) For the price, I was expecting a better staying power but overall I am satisfied!. Look out for my second review on the satins… I will talk about Graphic Grape, Red Inferno and Coral Confession!

Have you tried any of these? What’s your favorite shade?


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"Champagne Pop" - Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector by Jaclyn Hill ::: Review & Swatches!!

In my 30 years of existence I have never known myself to behave like a hard core fan to anyone; but I think that has changed now and I have become quite the fan girl of Jaclyn Hill!! :-) If you don’t know who she is, here is her YouTube profile. She is a very popular and very beloved YouTuber who specializes in makeup tutorials and reviews! For the past few weeks, beauty industry especially out here on the internet has been abuzz for the launch of Champagne Pop. She collaborated with Becca Cosmetics to bring out a limited edition shade named “Champagne Pop” for their cult favorite “Shimmering Skin Perfectors (also known as highlighters)” exclusively at Sephora :-) I personally did not get overly excited because I was 200% sure that it is going to sell out in 5 minutes. Also, the fact that I don’t wear highlighter on a regular basis, and I already have a few of them, did not make it an exciting proposition. From the limited amount of pictures available, I could see a little bit of difference in this and oher highlighter shades Becca has, but I was still not very sure if the difference will show up on the skin, once applied. Overall, I was VERY certain that I DO NOT need it and I am NOT going to buy it. But an hour into its release, I browse Sephora website and when I saw that it was still available, my brain by-passed my logic controller, and my fingers automatically clicked on “Place Order”! #lifeOfAMakeupHoarder :-) :-)

I know that at this point there is no purpose in writing a blog-post. Makeup lovers across US and the world over who wanted it have already got their hands on it. It did sell out fast; apparently it broke Sephora's record for the most-purchased product on its first day of release. Fortunately it is still available at the Sephora website and may be in some stores as well. Once they are sold out, there is very less chance of Sephora relaunching it as it is a Limited Edition product. But I am writing this blog-post out of pure respect and admiration for her. I want to share with my readers and to show myself as well the sheer power of hard work! I have been watching her for almost two years now and there is some kind of clarity in her persona that makes her so genuine. From a humble beginning as a MAC Makeup Artist to being loved by so many people across countries is quite an achievement. And, she still manages to remain humble, quirky and her true jolly self. I love that! I watch YouTube videos regularly and believe me, when I say that her videos are the only ones that I can watch without any hesitation in front of my friends who are not into makeup. A few of my guy friends have had to watch her when I was showing her videos to my girlfriends! Her personality is so simple, captivating and hilarious that my friends who usually love to make funny comments could not manage to make any! I wish success to Jaclyn and pray that she keeps on inspiring everyone, especially the younger generation! 

OK. OK. OK. Calm down, Aru! Share something about the product too! :-)

Becca is justly loved for their cheek products. Champagne Pop is a Limited Edition shade but the formula is same as their regular line and also comes in their regular packaging! I adore this packaging because the UFO looking compact is quite fitting in an Engineer’s vanity ;-) ;-)! The outer box is a limited edition design with her face on it :-) but I do wish that the actual compact would be little different- you know, just a harmless wish! It will cost you $38 for 0.28 oz. For the amount of product and for the quality, I think the price is very reasonable.

Apart from the Blushed Copper shade, which is another LE product (reviewed here), all of their highlighters seems to be fairly close in shade. Before I own any one of them, I assumed that once applied on the skin, they will be hard to distinguish! I currently have “Opal” and “Rose Gold” and I don’t know if I have changed my mind about my assumption :-)  Apart from the lovely shades and smooth formula, these are “notoriously pigmented”! Same is true for “Champagne Pop”! I mean, come on, what else do you expect from a collaboration of Becca and Jaclyn Hill!

Champagne Pop is a peachy-pinky gold! It’s very very flattering on medium skin tone; but it has the right amount of gold to suit dark skin tone as well, and also, right amount of pink to flatter paler skin tones! It truly is the perfect highlighter shade. It’s very very rich in pigmentation and has unbelievable staying power. The other day I took a bath while washing my face with a very mild cleanser and afterwards it felt like the glow from the highlighter was still there ;-) You need a light hand and a very little amount of product. Although it’s golden in hue, I have worn it with relatively cooler makeup looks as well! I also love to use it as overall lid color, as a inner corner highlighter as well as on my collarbone. :-) Overall, 10 on 10 for the product.

My only concern is the name! I kind of think “Pop” was unnecessary in the name. It does not match the other shade names and does not match the elegance that Becca as well as Jaclyn emits. If they could come up with another adorable name like the “Blushed Copper”! I know this is a useless personal observation and it has nothing to do with the quality of the product. But as a blogger I am required to state what I feel :-)

So, to keep it simple and short, I am glad that I caved and bought it…If you are lusting over it…go pick it up! Especially if you have not yet tried Becca Skin Perfectors! You will absolutely love it :-)

Keep Glowing!!


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hot Hot Summer & Cold Cold Lychee Juice!!!

Growing up we did not have easy access to a lot of “fancy” fruits back in Guwahati, my hometown! Weather-wise, the place is not the best for growing common fruits like apples, strawberries and it was difficult to import as well. And once they are actually imported, the price was and still is really expensive!

But, we do have a lot of different flavorful exotic local fruits. Especially during summer! Some of them are now memories; I cannot recall when I last ate them and I have no idea when I may get to taste them next! Every summer my heart aches a little bit in nostalgia :-(  Typically summers in Assam are filled with delicious seasonal fruits; Lesu (Lychee), Leteku (Burmese Grape), Paniyal (Flacowtia), Jaamu (Java Plum), Aamlakhi (Indian Gooseberry), Rabab Tenga (Pomelo or Grapefruit), Madhuriam (Guava), different kinds of Mangoes! We even have a small ceremony where “eating seasonal fruits” is the main ritual :-) Unfortunately, apart from Mango, the rest of these fruits are very scarce here! Whenever I do catch a rare sight of these fruits, I try to buy some. Taste wise, it can never compete with the flavor from a fresh fruit that I remember; but it’s still something.

I recall this Lychee juice that my father made for us long long ago. He got some very high quality lychees from a village farmer and obviously he bought a lot. I don’t know if this is scientifically correct but my mother barred us from eating too many lychees constantly as it can upset the stomach! So Deuta (that’s how we call our father :-) ) decided to make juice from the fruits so that it can be preserved for a few days.

I saw some lychees in Jewel Osco last week, and so I got some! They were visually very appealing! But not of supreme quality; they had some blackened bits here and there on the flesh that is attached to the seed and those parts  were bitter to taste.-So I thought, why not make the juice? It is simple, pretty much like most of the recipes I share here on “Discovering Me”. 

Ingredients: Lychee, Sugar or Honey (optional), Water :-)
  • Peel off the fruit.
  • Wash it.
  • Remove the seeds and shred the flesh into smaller pieces.
  • Put in a blender and mix it if for a minute.
  • Strain out.
  • Squeeze with hand or spoon to get the last bit of juice out
  • Throw away the left over pulp.
  • Add some water depending on the consistency you want for your juice. Mix well.
  • Add some honey or sugar. Stir again. Serve. Add Ice (optional). You may garnish it too. 
  • Keep refrigerated, and finish within not more than 4 days. 

I know that lychee juice is readily available. But this way, it’s so much fresher and healthier. You can also control the sweetness and thickness you want in your juice. The weather has been absolutely perfect here in the Windy City. Its summer and I am taking in as much of it as possible, while sipping in this PERFECT summer drink. I loved making it and have already prepared two batches and I am definitely making another batch if I can find these again before the summer is gone!


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Formula X "The Six" ::: Review and Swatches!!

When I reviewed Formula X Nail set “The Twenty Two” awhile back, I realized that every nail polish color that I might ever need was there! I promised myself that I am never buying another bottle, EVER! But, I broke my promise! (Courtesy, Formula X again!)   :-)

Formula X is Sephora’s very own nail polish brand! They have an expansive array of shades and finishes! Colors, Glitters, Sheers, Satins, Effects, Neons; almost anything you can imagine when it comes to nail polishes! Also, if you browse through Sephora’s “sale” section, you will almost always see a few items from Formula X on sale! This set titled “The Six” went on sale for $15 and I could not resist. Oops! :-) As the short and sweet name suggests, there are 6 full size nail polishes in beautiful hues and different formulas. The regular price for the set is $29.50 for 0.04x6 oz. of products.

Hocus Pocus: This is a beautiful lavender color! For as long as I can remember, this has been one of my favorite colors to wear on my nails! It’s a holographic satin, goes on smooth, easy and even on application!  Generally needs two layers for a much opaque look but one layer works too. But it looks a bit paler with one coat and it gets rubbed off easily too! With 2-3 coats the shades appear a bit deeper and richer and stay a few more days too!

Blast Off (Black) and Boom (Periwinkle Blue): There are two top coats - one in black and the other one in periwinkle blue. Black one has small strands along with the hexagons :-) I love these topcoats! They stay put. I have similar type of topcoats from the previous set. I wished they would try to infuse different kind of design/speckle in these topcoats :-)

Intergalactic: This is a pretty pink glitter shade mixed with gold micro speckles. Those of you who are not much into gold extra glittery nail polishes during holidays; this will be a beautiful substitute. An even look can be achieved with one layer. With a 2-3 days wear, the glitter kind of fades away. But I love the color nonetheless. 

Super Charged: This shade has “Holiday” written all over it :-) It’s a black and gold glitter polish. LOVE it. Especially for accent nails!!

Surreal: Another beautiful color. Very pale mermaid blue! This reminds me so much of “Mermaid’s Dream” from Deborah Lippman; of course without the shimmer and glitters. Easy to apply, stayed for 4-5 days. Looks equally good in toes & nails. This topped with Boom can definitely be a color-dupe for Mermaids Dream.

At $15, this is a great deal. You get two wearable colors with some fun glitter options; I also love that they are wearable throughout the year. It is a limited edition set but is still available on the Sephora website :-) I can never recommend nail polishes as “must have” products, but yes, if you decide to opt for it, your money will be worth spent.