Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Stylish Awards: Best in Beauty 2014 - FACE

Good morning, beauty product junkies! Boy, has it been a while since I've posted here. We have been having quite a bit of snow here in Boston. In case you have been under a rock for the past few weeks, we have had a record-breaking amount of snow here in Boston. It has been the snowiest February of all time and we are on pace to be the snowiest Winter in Boston's History! Thankfully, my car has been in a covered garage since the first storm, but I can't say the same about my poor husband's car which has been under a large amount of snow for a while. He's been doing a great job digging it out though! (And I have been cheering for him from inside our warm apartment)

It's time for the next installment of the Stylish Awards. This time, we are going to talk about face products today! Again, I will try to give an award to each a high end product and a more affordable product. Some categories don't have any at all, but I will be happy to give some recommendations. For example, I don't use liquid foundations. I just think they are gross, which I didn't because the bottles look really cool and it just seems like it would be so much fun to use a Beauty Blender or a beautiful foundation brush. But it's not right for my skin, so I won't be recommending any liquid foundations. However, I do have other face products that I absolutely LOVE.

Best Primer (High End): Benefit POREfessional ($10-$42, Benefit Website, Sephora)

A mini size of the POREfessional Primer

I have gone back and forth with whether or not I like this primer. I have only ever received samples of this, but luckily, I believe I have received .6 oz of product samples and I don't use this all over my face. I have been using this, along with a few other primers. I tried the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, which is not bad. I have also tried the Becca Primer, but I found it too intensely drying. It was great in summer when my skin acts a little more oily, but in the other seasons, it was too intense. I liked this primer at first, then I didn't like it so much. I recently decided to start trying it again and it's now my favorite high end primer. It's a beige colored, but it doesn't have enough color to make an impact on my deeper skin tone (Benefit claims it's "translucent"). If you pat it into the places where your pores are larger (I have large pores on my cheeks) it will fill them in nicely. I also like to use it on places I get shiny. It has a powdery finish on your skin. This is a great product, albeit a bit expensive as most Benefit products tend to be. If you can get your hands on the mini size, it will be last you a while and it's only $10 from Sephora.

**You should know** This product contains both silicones and fragrance. This doesn't irritate my skin, but it is an irritant for some people. It doesn't have much of a fragrance, so I can't figure out why they would add this. For the record, most primers contain silicones and these are perfectly okay for most people to apply to the skin.

Best Primer (Drugstore): Rimmel Stay Matte Primer $5-$7 Drugstores

Disclaimer, I only really like this product in the summer or any other time where the humidity is higher. I tend to get a little more oily at those times and this is a great primer for making sure your T-Zone stays matte. I stumbled on to this at a Walgreens and I usually find that it's sold out at the Rimmel display. This is the only Rimmel product I've ever purchased. Brands that seem to me not terribly friendly to deeper skin tones (Benefit is the other brand I have a love/hate relationship with), I tend to avoid, but the term "Stay Matte" jumped out at me and it was inexpensive, so I gave it a try. I loved this stuff! I loved it more as a mattefier and not as a "primer" per say. This is a white cream, so if you are deeper skin toned, you should be careful with this. Mixing it with your moisturizer is a good idea. Otherwise, it's VERY EASY to put it on and discover ashy white patches on your face when you look into a mirror. I wouldn't use this product if you have dry skin, but combination skins and oily skins especially will love this.

Best Powder Foundation (High End, no drugstore entry): Too Faced Cocoa Powder Foundation

Smells like chocolate!

This is Tan
For a while, I was just into wearing a sheer application of tinted finishing powder instead of foundation because I wanted to see my skin, but I just wanted to even out my skin tone a little. Although my skin looks pretty good, I just wanted the sheerest amount of coverage. I was already a fan of the Too Faced Chocolate Bar and all their related products. This powder foundation is beautiful. I chose the color Tan and there is one darker color. Medium Tan and Tan are very similar, but Tan seemed a better match. This is a very, very soft powder and it comes with a foundation sponge. As with all products that come with a sponge, I have never used this sponge. I'm actually not sure what to do with it.

Being a soft powder, it will kick up a very large amount of powder when you touch your brush to it. I have been using the Sephora Multitasker Mineral Powder Brush to apply it and it works wonderfully. As long as you are very careful with your brush, you will enjoy this foundation. This is a light to medium coverage powder, so you will be able to see your skin through the powder. If you are looking for complete coverage, this is not the product for you. But if you have oily or combination skin and you would like light to medium coverage, this is a great product. It really does have a "rose petal" finish. 

Best Blush (High End): Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush $26, Tarte Website, Sephora 

Some of my Tarte Blush collection. Some Amazonian Clay Blushes with some Cheek Stains also!

Ho boy...I love this stuff. I love blushes in general and just cannot get enough of them and this was a tough choice. There is something about rubbing pink powder on my face that makes me insanely happy and I've been guilty of leaving the house looking like a clown on a few occasions (GET A GOOD LIGHTED MIRROR). Both Nars blushes and Becca Blushes are really nice, but there is something about these blushes that is SPECTACULAR. I own 13 shades of this formula and they are all beautiful, long-lasting and very pigmented. If you have a nice powder brush you do NOT need to pick up a ton of product. Better to start with a little and build these babies up to your desired intensity. I don't know what makes "Amazonian Clay" so magical, but the formula on these is great.

If you are in the store checking these out, they do NOT swatch well. I don't know what the deal is, the formula is a little stiff in the pan and you cannot pick up a lot of color with your finger to try it out. If you need to try it in the store, grab some sort of applicator. I have been very surprised about how lame colors have swatched on my hand from this line and how intensely the color showed up on my cheeks with my blush brush. These are expensive at $26 a pop, but worth the splurge in my opinion. At holiday time, they have had a blush palette for around $40-$45 with five colors in it. This past year, the pans were ALMOST a full size each, so if you can't stomach paying for individual compacts, if you are patient enough to wait for holiday releases (October), you can get many for the price of 2 or something. These blushes are very friendly to brown or deeper skin tones (the peaches and oranges are especially flattering) and the fairest of skin tones will find that Exposed and Dollface are perfect. There's something for everyone in this line.

Best Blush (Drugstore): Milani Baked Blush & Rose Blush $7-$9 Drugstores, Milani Website

Milani Baked Blush in Red Vino and Rose Blush in Romantic Rose

When it comes to most drugstore makeup, I feel like the quality in general of products has been much improved as of late. Most products from the drugstore can compete with the quality of products from high end brands and with some products (such as mascara) can exceed it in performance and quality. For some reason, I have not found a drugstore blush that is as lovely to use as most of the high end products I own. There are certainly some decent blushes out there, but none have impressed me as much as the blushes from the Milani line. Milani is a great drugstore line that makes products that flatter a variety of skin tones, which I find very appealing. Products from this line perform VERY well consistently (not to say that there haven't been some misses) but the blushes are a standout. The baked blushes are lovely and most of them contain a shimmery powder mixed in, but a few are matte. The formula is very smooth and can rival any high end blush. As with all baked products, a light hand should be used upon initial application.

Last Spring they introduced a limited-edition matte blush in which the product was a rose embossed powder. This was such a popular product that they recently re-released it and it is now part of the permanent line in 3 colors. The formula is different as this is not a baked product, but it is GORGEOUS. A review is forthcoming! Who wouldn't want this on their vanity?

Best Under Eye Concealer (Drugstore): Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Concealer $10 drugstores

Notice the gross applicator
Creamy texture, applied to my hand which is darker than my face.

I'm tired. Let's face it. I'm not getting enough sleep and I'm fricking tired. I always seem to have dark circles under my eyes and I've recently taken to putting a small amount of effort in to look less tired. I picked this up from the drugstore in the shade Medium and this stuff is GREAT. I do have to say that the applicator is GROSS. I reluctantly use the applicator because I'm lazy, but you can't really clean it and it's just kind of gross. I also have heard rumblings that the mechanism is a little flawed, but the product inside is great. Sponge it on (gross), blend it out a little, set it with some powder...Boom, you don't look tired. Nothin' more to say.

Best Under Eye Concealer (High End): Tarina Taratino Eye Dream Hyperlight $22 

Dumb, but it should be noted that this brand has exquisite, luxurious packaging

The product on my hand. It's a brightening, salmony pink color

Okay, so this isn't a's a brightener. It's a pinky-colored cream in a pen. I received this in a beauty box, which is why I know about it. Otherwise, I would never have tried this product. You know what? It's pretty good! Even on my deeper skin tone, this kind of balances out the dark circles under my eyes and makes me look more awake. You can use this product all over your face as a highlighter as well, but I love this for canceling out dark under eye circles. This brand is not sold at Sephora anymore but I've seen it on Hautelook a few times, so if you are patient...wait until it's on flash sale again and snag one for half price.

Best Highlighter/Luminizer (High End Only...Sorry!): Tie Josie Maran Argan Illuminizer ($28) & Benefit Watt's Up ($30)

Here's the deal with Luminizers or Highlighters. I love them, they are fun and they can add a super lovely glow to your face as a finishing touch. Like a JLo effect. However, I find that when I use these products, I use the smallest, tiniest, most minuscule amount of product. I use much less of this per application than I do ANYTHING. I don't want to look like a disco ball. Just a little on the tops of my cheeks, below my brow and on the cupid's bow above my lips is enough for me. I take serious issue with how much product is included with the full-sizes of these products. Cream products have some of the shortest shelf lives of the cosmetic world (only second to mascara and liquid/gel eyeliners) , so there's no way...unless you were insane with it, that you could use up the entirety of this product before it goes bad. The product waste is insane. That being favorite highlighters are both cream products. Both versions of this product that I own are sample sizes, which I could realistically use up (maybe not the Josie Maran one).

A miniature size of the Argan Illuminizer which is a very generous 0.5oz

The lovely glow

I couldn't make a choice between both of these products because they are both quite lovely. The Josie Maran Argan Illuminizer I received in a giftset with some other Josie Maran color collection items. It comes in a bottle with a pump, which is very sanitary. One entire pump of this product is TOO MUCH. I usually pump a small amount on to the back of my hand and blend it into the tops of my cheeks with my finger or a small stippling brush. The product has a bronze/champagne color. It is not glittery, it simply has a beautiful glow to it. It's subtle and gorgeous. I don't know why more beauty bloggers/vloggers don't talk about this product more. The full size is huge. It's not going to make you look greasy or shiny, it just gives an ethereal effect to your face and it rocks.

100pt Perk Sample size from Sephora

A bit lighter than the Josie Maran product, but just as subtle.

For a company that I have mixed feelings about, Benefit has hit it out of the park with a few products here. Watt's Up is a beautiful, cream stick highlighter. It's a champagne color and is flattering to almost every skin tone. It blends very beautifully and is not over the top shimmery and glittery. Just that JLo Glow that I was going for. It looks beautiful on the skin and is a lovely consistency. You can apply the product directly to your face or use a stippling brush. I got a sample size as a 100pt perk from Sephora as a Beauty Insider but I doubt I would purchase the full size ever. It's just too much product to make a commitment to in my opinion as I like variety, but it is too nice not to mention.

So there are my top picks from 2014 for the face! What do you think? Have you tried or loved any of these products? It's almost the end of February, so these reviews are a little late, but better late than never, right!?


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