Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

So it's time for New Year's Resolutions. This year, I've pledged to help my body be at its best, inside and out. That means 6 glasses of water a day, less sodium, more vegetables and no more preservatives. I'll get right on that after this bag of Nacho Bugles and a Hershey's Cookies N Cream bar. But really- I am determined from here on out, I won't purchase things impulsively. I hope that everything I buy I will have researched in advanced or at least heard about by word of mouth. The one thing I am a little worried that I'll end up buying only mainstream over hyped makeup. So, I'll continue to make my own makeup (I'll keep you updated!) and try to refine my formulas.

So here's to quality beauty, great health and the start of a fantastic decade. <3

Happy New Year!

NARS Concealer

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Today, I am a happy person. I am also very pleased with Sephora- I'd go as far as to say that if I could legally marry a store, I would leave my fiance in an instant. Do you know why in particular, I am so thrilled with Sephora? A couple of days ago, I found that NARS duo concealer IN MY SHADE was $10 online. Yes, that's right ladies, ten dollars. Normally it's $30, and each shade of concealer separately is $22. I've been waiting and waiting forever for it to get here (ok, not really- packages from Sephora always get here in 3 days or less, but I am an impatient person). Turns out the UPS man left it this morning on my side door, not my front door.  Anyways, I opened it up and played with it right away.  It's absolutely fantastic. The moment it touched my skin, I was beyond amazed. I love the feel of it- it's so much lighter and smoother than MAC's. It feels like... primer. That same silkiness makes me giddy. By comparison, other concealers seem too pink for my skin and also very heavy and tacky in texture. Not NARS! The coverage is pretty amazing- it's sheer yet covering. I like the lighter shader for under my eyes, and in the winter but Ginger is fantastic for some areas near my temples that are slightly darker- every face has its dark and light areas, skin without a range seems unnatural! It's fantastic for light olive Asian skin tones. A few things I noticed- you HAVE to wear primer with this stuff or else it disappears within a few hours. Also, this is one of the few concealers I'd recommend applying with CLEAN fingers- Gasp, I said the 'F' word!- but really, you need the warmth of your skin to make the formula blend correctly. I am thinking of running to a Sephora store tomorrow to see if they have any more left, I want to stock up! This is my new obsession, it's the Holy Grail of blemish coverage.

DiorShow Mascara (Iconic, Blackout & Diorshow)

There is a great mascara combo pack at Sephora, and yours truly HAD to have it. It contained a full sized Dior Iconic, a mini DiorShow and a mini DiorShow Blackout. Considering Iconic is $25 bucks on its own and the pack was $29, it was a great deal because it was like the two minis were a couple dollars each. This was my first run in with DiorShow (I guess I balked a bit at the price tag). Well, to be honest, each of the mascaras alone left me somewhat unimpressed. I wasn't disappointed, not quite, but I certainly wasn't wowed. Then I tried layering 2 of them- Iconic for length and DiorShow for volume and it was STUNNING! The same thing happened when I used Iconic and Blackout together. My lashes was this masterpiece, long thick black strands that looked almost fake. Grr, that's somewhat annoying that I have to buy two mascaras for the total effect that I want.  Costly too! That means paying nearly $50 bucks for mascara. Another thing that displeases me is that there is very little mascara inside each tube. By comparison- Bare Escentuals Big Tease mascara had so much product that it took me a month of wiping the wand off everyday before it was as empty as the Dior tubes. 
The bottom line is that while I will enjoy this treat that I purchased for myself, I will not repurchase because it's just too expensive. I feel like I was a little swayed by the brand and that the reviews over hyped this product.
Is it wrong that I dream that an ultimate mascara exists? One that lengthens and volumizes at the same time? And that it's less than a small fortune?

Generic Value Products Silk Treatment Review

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What a great find! I was trying to find a good pressing medium for my self made eyeshadows and a quick google search led me to a few different sites and videos that all recommended that Biosilk was a great alternative to CoastalScents.com's EZ Prez Medium. Which if you remember, I disliked because the packaged leaked like crazy and I wasn't too thrilled about the oil layers that separated within 2 minutes of being initially shaken.  The ingredients of GVP's Silk Treatment are exactly the same as Biosilk, but I guess in slightly different proportions because it is a bit thicker. Now, I like the Biosilk dupe just fine, a few drops is all I need for making the dry ends of my hair feel ridiculously smooth yet not oily. I like pressing pigments with it as well, the thicker formula makes for less mess! EZ Prez Medium has fewer ingredients, but the GVP dupe has the same ones and more- fragrance and preservatives. Preservatives, yuck- you say? Not so fast, those dreaded parabens allow the formula to suspend its ingredients evenly. I'm not too worried because I'm using such a small amount, a couple drops per eyeshadow pan and the pay off is fantastic. Not to mention the price! 6oz for about 6 bucks with my Sally Beauty Supply card, what a deal! The medium is about 10 bucks for 2 oz and Biosilk is 13 for about 2.5 oz. I feel like I'm paying for an actual product instead of a fancy sleek bottle. After all, isn't that what matters the most?

Make Up For Ever Flash Palette vs Urban Outfitters Pigment Palette

Sunday, December 20, 2009

These two look the same, right? The MUFE palette goes for a hefty $95 (Oh my!) whereas the Kimchi Blue I picked up on sale for a mere $8. Now, though they may appear similar on the surface, let me tell you that they are very different. The MUFE colors are highly pigmented and you need the tiniest bit to create an opaque look. The Urban Decay dupe colors are more sheer and it takes a bit of product to build them up so that they are no longer translucent, or in the case of the metallic shades- no amount of product will achieve that opaqueness. The dupe is also more greasy, more likely to crease. However, with a good amount of primer and a setting powder you can do many looks with it, but you don't get as many colors as the genuine thing.
Also, the U/O product has somewhat low quality packaging, you have to save the plastic sheet that comes with it and glue it to the cover or else dust and grime can contaminate it.
So the bottom line is, save up for the real deal (or buy the primary colors and the dupe to start your collection). The Urban Outfitters dupe is a quick fix, but it's no substitution for the fantastic MUFE Flash colors. I'll still use the U/O dupe colors as bases for eye shadow and Halloween makeup, but they just doesn't mix like the other one.
Cost: $95 for the Make Up For Ever Flash Palette found at Sephora or the MUFE site. ~$12 for the Kimchi Blue Pigment #1 Palette at Urban Outfitters.

MAC Fix+

I bought a new bottle of MAC Fix+ and realized that I had started to take this product for granted- not once have I commented on it's versatility. It's a refresher, makeup setter and skin prep-per all in one spray bottle. As I peruse the internet and the many makeup forums that dwell there, it becomes clear that there are two teams with different party platforms when it comes to Fix+. There are those who buy it 5 bottles at a time and refuse to think about a cruel makeup world where it doesn't exist and there are those who believe that a homemade glycerin dupe is just as good. I think I'll pave the way for a third party.
It's true that the main ingredients are water and glycerin (I believe that many homemade recipes ask for about a 5 to 1 ratio, respectively) but there are many other ingredients as well. Those would be cucumber extract, matricaria extract, camellia leaf extract, Castor oil, caffeine, perfume and preservatives. I bet your immediate thought is, yuck, preservatives. However, it's not such a bad thing, if you were to make your own dupe, you'd have to make a new batch every week or so because there's nothing in it to keep it from going rancid. I personally don't like the smell of Fix+, and I can't justify $18 dollars for face perfume. Instead, I use the other aspects to rationalize the purchase. The caffeine energizes and is supposed to tighten your skin cells. The extracts leave your face feeling really clean, I love misting a bit on when I'm stressed, it immediately gives a flushed face a cold, calm sensation. 
The primary use however, is to set makeup. This is particularly important if you wear mineral foundation like I do. I feel like though the coverage I get from powder is great, it doesn't last all day because there's no smoothers or binders like silicone. A setting spray like Fix+ adheres (I'm not sure that 'adhere' is the best word to use when talking about skin... but it'll do) makeup to your face and give it a dewy appearance (youthful dewy, not greasy). 
The bottom line is that in a pinch, if I'm every out of Fix+ I'll make a quick glycerin dupe. However, I will continue to buy it and use it sparingly.
Cost: $18 at your local MAC or maccosmetics.com

DIY Mineral Makeup

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Ok, so I haven't posted in a about a week, but with good reason. A week ago, I got my orders from CoastalScents.com and TKBTrading.com. It was better than Christmas. I had ordered an EZ Eyeshadow kit from TKB as well as some samples of mica to supplement it (various metallics and neutrals). I also bought some 12 slot empty magnetic 26mm eyeshadow palettes (and smaller slotted ones to fill up as presents!) from CS, empty 5g jars and shrink wrap (the professional in me demanded quality packaging even if the recipients are my friends and family) from TKB and other odds 'n' ends.

The point being is that in the past week, I've been so busy playing alchemist that I haven't even noticed the time fly.  I even ordered some more stuff immediately, so that I would have plenty to play with.
I can't help but say great things about both TKB and CS. TKB amazed me with the eyeshadow kit, I'll be honest, for $19 I wasn't expecting much. But it came with a ton of mica, so much that even though I've made roughly 15 colors of about a tablespoon each of powder, I'm no where close to running out. $19 dollars for the ability to customize my eyeshadow colors? I'll take that, thank you very much. On top of the great price, the mineral eyeshadow I made was so so so good, I'll have to bust out the thesaurus to properly declare my love for it. The color payoff is unbelievable. I don't understand why most of the mineral eyeshadow colors I see play it safe with 'gentle' shades. The colors I formulated almost made my eyeballs pop out, that's how vivid they are. Great staying power but the consistency still needs a little work- I'll have to tweak the ingredients a bit. However, used wet the shades are simply beyond stunning.
I made a really good dupe of MAC Vanilla (which saves me a ton of money because I use it so often!) and made a few colors that were really similar to some MAC pigments that I had. Think about it: if you even match two MAC colors, you've already paid for your purchase. You can find a video on how to match colors  on the TKB site.

I also bought a bottle of EZ Prez Pressing Medium from Coastal Scents to press all my creations. I liked the formulation, it left my homemade mineral shadows very smooth. It's important to use a medium with silicone to bind mineral makeup together, or else it ends up dull and flakes easily. However, with pigments such as those from MAC, you can just use rubbing alcohol. What I didn't like is that when I got the pressing medium, it had spilled quite a bit out of the bottle (about 1/4 of the product) and into the bag it was in and quite messy. The spilled medium even dissolved the lettering on the label of the bottle, pretty freaky. The bottle is also hard to use, you end up spilling and leaking more of the fluid than you actually end up using. Crappy. I'll buy some from a different company next time. Here's the colors I made (the photo with the named colors) and some of my old MAC and Chanel colors that I depotted/mixed/pressed.

Daily Brush Cleaning

Friday, December 4, 2009

I strongly encourage everyone to clean their brushes everyday. It keeps them bacteria free- which makes for better skin. It also allows you to keep your makeup colors pure, and not become muddy brown due to accidental mixing. That being said, I find it slightly ridiculous to buy daily brush cleaner (or even buy regular brush cleaner). So I looked at the ingredients of a few daily brush cleansers, and made my own. Sephora Brand Daily Brush Cleaner contains: "5% of non-ionic surface agencts, alcohol, fragrance". What! I'm paying for alcohol? E.l.f.'s Daily Brush Cleaner isn't much better: "Water(Aqua), Alcohol Denat,Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Methylparaben". Great, parabens + other things I can't pronounce, alcohol and good ole H2O. Not exactly my idea of money well spent. 
So here is my recipe for daily brush cleaner:
-Spray bottle
-4 tablespoons of isopropyl alcohol 
-4 tablespoons of water
-2 tablespoons of makeup remover (Any kind found at the drugstore is fine)
- 1 tablespoon of glycerin
Now, the glycerin isn't really necessary, but since the alcohol is very drying (which is good for daily cleansers because you want it to dry between different products ASAP!) and some times it can curl low quality hairs, I added a bit of it to protect and hydrate the brush. Like all my recipes, I like to make small quantities and remake it fresh every week. 
I don't recommend spraying it directly onto the brush- I find that it's pretty harsh on the hairs( you can disregard this if you use synthetic or bamboo brushes). Instead, I spray some onto a clean hand towel and use a back and forth sweeping motion to gently clean off any makeup. In addition, I also condition my brushes with regular hair conditioner every week or so, to soften the hairs and get rid of any alcohol smell. 

False Eyelash Tutorial

I thought that the easier way to explain was to show you via video! If you have any questions just leave comment or shoot me an email.

E.l.f. Haul (pt. 2) Makeup Brushes Review

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yesterday, I went to General Dollar looking for some spray bottles (there's about 15 million uses for small spray bottles, I store practically every liquid I have in them) and found e.l.f. cosmetics there. I was pleased as punch (hey there, outdated colloquialisms) because I was going to order some of the brushes online for my sister anyways so I saved on shipping. I bought a large face brush, a bronzer/blush brush (it was packaged incorrectly in a eye blending brush package but says 'Bronzing Brush' on it), a small eyeshadow brush, a small eye defining brush. If you remember, previously I had ordered a mascara spoolie as well as a eyebrow brush/comb combo and found them to be very satisfactory. 
Let's start out with the bad. When I opened the packaging, the brushes smelled simply awful. The bigger brushes (face and blush) were a weird maroon color- they've obviously been dyed and were all flattened (I fluffed them up for the pictures) . 
I didn't want to wrap stinky brushes up and just send them to my sis, so I washed them with my homemade brush cleaner (see older post for recipe!). They immediately started to shed and bleed their dye when I lathered them up. I switched to cold water, and the water then ran clean. I placed them on a dish towel and the larger brushes actually bled on the towel. How attractive, I now have a dish towel that looks like I wiped a bloody knife on it. When they were halfway dry, I fluffed them up by gently tugging the hairs into the direction I wanted them to go. This actually worked great, I think I increased the face brush to 300% of it's original size. Also, I noticed that the hairs on all of the brushes were a little uneven, mostly on the larger brushes with more hairs. 
What I really like about the e.l.f. brushes is that the eyeshadow brushes are of surprisingly good quality. They're soft and dense, though not as good as my Sephora or MAC brushes (I guess the appropriate sound here is 'duh!'). Though at a dollar each, I didn't have that high of expectations. They are a bit more flimsy- I put each brush to the test by trying to pull (lightly!) the metal band off where the handle meets the head of the brush. I succeeded, the eyeshadow brushes' head came right off. Don't worry, I glued it back together with Gorilla Glue, it's drying as I type and my sister will never know. 
However, for people on a budget these are decent brushes and you just can't beat the price. 
Cost: $1 a brush
Where: eyeslipsface.com or retailers such as General Dollar

Bare Escentuals Big Tease Mascara- Want

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hmm, ever buy anything that was slightly above mediocre, roughly around decent?
I really wanted like this mascara. I guess Icould see it becoming a staple. It's one of those products that doesn't specialize in one area, but provides a little bit of everything. After one application, you don't get exceptional length or volume, but you get a decent amount of both. I lied, it is great in a few aspects- it's incredibly glossy and it never clumps. It also works really with false lashes and Fast Lash while providing an outstanding black. 
The wand is pretty neat too, it's got really long bristles on one side that are supposed to help coat every single eye lash from root to tip. After I got the hang of it, I must admit that it does.
I like that it lasts all day without smudging, flaking, or smearing. But I have very high standards for mascara- those qualities should go without saying.
The value is alright though, I've been using this same tube for 4 months, there's still plenty left and it shows no signs of drying out. However, it's still more expensive then MAC Plush, so I'd rather buy that at $13 instead.
Cost: $15 at Ulta, Sephora, Bare Escentuals online.

Eye Primer Recipe Video

Friday, November 27, 2009

Check it out, my first YouTube video!

bareMinerals Review- Must

Monday, November 23, 2009
I think I've watched the bareMinerals infomercial roughly 14 times. From start to finish. I can't help it, it combines my love of makeup and beauty with the ever so addictive infomercial. I've never ordered it though, because I'm always pretty skeptical of things sold via TV and I didn't think the makeup would work for me. Though to be honest, regular liquid foundation never really did the trick for me. I have combination skin and it slid all over the oily parts and made my dry scaly skin look even more pronounced. No luck with powder foundation either, it just didn't have staying power and I ended up looking pretty flaky. 
Earlier this year for my birthday, Steve my fiance, bought me a starter kit (and a pet hamster too). I got it in Medium from Ulta. It had 3 brushes, two shades of foundation, a blush that was supposed to be universally flattering, mineral veil (a kind of finishing powder that goes all over), a bottle of Skin Rev-er Upper (which is a light moisturizing vitamin lotion) and a DVD on how to use it. 
The DVD didn't work for me, but having watched the infomercials more times than I have fingers, I thought I'd be alright. It's simple enough, you shake a little of the powder onto the cap, swirl it around with a brush, tap off the excess and buff it around your face in small circles. I quickly learned that less is more, and I was shocked at the coverage provided by the tiniest bit of product. I couldn't believe how fine the foundation powder was, it almost felt like cream on my skin. It wasn't dry like flour but rather it felt like my face was being kissed with silk. I fell in love. I vowed to never use another foundation again (a promise I've upheld). To top it all off, you repeat with a bit of the Mineral Veil, which is colorless on skin. It keeps the oil at bay but at the same time, you don't get that old people matte look (you know, the dreaded dull skin). I can't for the life of me, figure out how this powder manages to give my face this nice soft focus, it just shouldn't be possible.
I really love the brushes. All three are different, the first is a full flawless brush which I use for foundation and the mineral veil. The hair in this brush (and the flawless face brush as well) are very dense and very soft- two things mineral brushes need to be. It helps distribute the fine powder evenly- better coverage. The second brush is a bit flatter than the first, almost like a paddle. I use that one for blush and bronzer. The last one is a small synthetic brush that is great for concealer- you simply pack on a bit more of the foundation with this brush and it doubles as concealer. The coverage is great for overall skin- covered my discoloration, acne scars and disguised my pores but it didn't hide a gigantic pimple so I used MAC Studio concealer for that. 
Here's what I didn't like about this whole kit business. Only one shade worked for me (Medium Beige), what am I supposed to do with the other? I ended up sending it to my mom, who luckily was a match. The 'All over face color' blush product, Warmth didn't turn out to be as universally flattering as they had claimed it would be. It was too dark, like the color of brick and very very pigmented- the tiniest bit made me look feverish. I think I'll try to use that at night in the wintertime, when the darkness of the color won't be as noticeable. Also, the Skin Rev-er Upper? Disgusting scent. I honestly think that Bare Escentuals managed to somehow capture the scent of the geriatrics ward of a hospital, combined it with cat piss and funneled it into this bottle. I would rather throw away this free gift then use it on my face. From what I saw at Sephora today, the newer starter kits now contain facial primer instead (the $60 Limited Edition Get Started kit contains a softer pink blush, primer, baby kabuki brush and refillable compact in addition to the others I mentioned). One last word of caution- some people are allergic to the bismuth oxychloride in bareMinerals. Watch out for possible signs of allergy (similar to a bad sunburn) and be sure to test it on your wrist for a few days first (Ask the lovely people at the store if you can bring a bit home to test it out first)
Still, a good value- even if I had bought the right color foundation ($25), the mineral veil ($19) and the full flawless application face brush ($28), I'd be spending way over the cost of the kit. So it's a a great value considering the fantastic brushes you get. 
If you really want to save money, I'd suggest going to Sephora, Ulta or a Bare Escentuals store and have someone working there match the foundation tone for you and just buy that. You can use a plain powder brush as long as it's very dense or buy a dupe of the bareMinerals brushes at CostalScents.com. Another great alternative is Eco Tools Bamboo Powder Brush.
Cost: $48 for Get Started Kit containing two shades, blush, 3 brushes, mineral veil, free gift and DVD.
Similar: There are a few very similar brands such as Everyday Minerals, Pur Minerals and so forth. There are plenty of sites online that have their own blends of mineral makeup that cost considerably less. 

Edit: After about 2 more months of wear, it started to break me out badly- bismuth allergy I suspect. 

E.l.f. Haul (pt. 1)

My goodness! I can't believe the things I got from e.l.f. I first heard of e.l.f. cosmetics while perusing through magazines. I couldn't believe how cheap their products were supposed to be, I was down right skeptical that I could ever like any of their cosmetics. Ugh, I can't believe I've missed out years of product enjoyment just because I was blinded by my prejudice- I thought costly always meant quality! But my cheap side won- I couldn't resist $1 makeup!
However, there are some down sides to e.l.f. products- here's my review on my haul.
I bought a little of everything- false lashes, cream eyeshadow, eyeshadow, mineral lip liner, eyeliner and some beauty tools.

First off, I bought a eyebrow grooming tool and a mascara comb for a dollar each. They look just like the brushes in my Sephora brush set, so it made me pretty happy. They are a little lighter in weight and upon closer inspection the quality isn't as good as my other brushes, but since they were a dollar each, I really can't complain. At these prices, I can afford to replace them quite often. I didn't buy any of the other brushes, but I did order some for my sister for Christmas so I'll be sure to post about them later on.

Next, the Duo Eye Shadow Cream. These were worth every penny and more! I bought Coffee & Cream, Eggplant and Olive. They are very sheer, but super buildable and highly pigmented colors. Each color also has a second color tone that shines through and makes it look wonderful. For example, the green Olive color has a gold undertone that makes it glow like you would not believe! The biggest problem is that they do crease and fade if you don't wear an eye primer. But with some Urban Decay Primer Potion on underneath, these cream shadows last all day. I especially like using these as a base, they help shimmery shadows stand out even more (the purple Eggplant color makes a fantastic plum smoky eye if you use it for a base!). However, I'm not sure how much I liked the glitter in the white part of Coffee & Cream, it was really fine and a nice gold, but glitter none the less. I thought it looked a little garish, but I guess using a little as a high lighter when I'm going out at night will add some interest around my face. 
Eyeshadow Duo- It's very basic eyeshadow, and superb quality for the price. I got a matching Olive shade as well as a Butter Pecan. Nicely pigmented and the texture is really nice. It's hard to tell from the website but some of the shades are shimmery and some are matte. Butter Pecan consisted of two neutrals that were a very basic matte that will work great for day to day looks, especially for work. Again, if you want it to stay put, you'll use a primer of some sort. 

Brightening Eye Liner- Ugh, not my favorite. I got this in Plum and I found that it was too hard and too oily at the same time. How's that possible? Well, it was hard to apply- it seemed almost like the liner needed to warm up next to my skin. With a little bit of force, I did manage to get it to work, but the color was too waxy- it didn't show up at all! It did show up on my hand, but I think the delicate surface of the eye area won't allow it to really pick up color. Even after going over the same like about 4 more times, I finally got a hint of color, but it wasn't well pigmented. It faded away within about 3 minutes of the application. That's not even the worst part, the next day I got a pimple on my lower lash line where I had used it! I'm not 100 percent sure that it's due to the eye liner, but it's pretty suspicious- oily product equals nasty skin. I've never had a zit in such a weird place before. However, I was determined to find a use for this product, I'm not one to even waste a dollar! I ended up shading my entire eye lid up to my crease and used it as a sort of base to a purple shadow. The best thing that can be said about this liner is that it comes with a sharpener... at least you can use that!

Eyeliner and Shadow Stick- This is a part of the Studio line. It's more expensive at a whooping $3. I'm half way in love with this product, but also half way wanting to cast it from my makeup collection. So I bought this in Pearl/Glow, the liner side being the pearl color, and the shadow side is a pinkish pearl, but to be honest, they look the same on skin. The liner is beautiful and creamy, I use it to highlight the inner corner of my eyes and it blends really well into the rest of my eye makeup. The shadow however, is pretty crappy. It has a lumpy consistency and somewhat tacky in feel. The quality of the product isn't all that great, the shadow keeps falling out. But, I do love the idea of the product and one end, but it probably isn't worth it for the price. I know, I know, three dollars, who cares? Well, I think I'd rather put that 3 dollars towards a MAC shade stick then continue to buy these. 

Mineral Lip Liner- Got this in Peachy. I really should have read the reviews, it's actually a really bright coral color. It's a decent lip liner, but honestly- I'd rather buy something available from the drug store like Maybelline or Rimmel. Better bang for the buck. It does come in a nice twist up pen, but I'm too disappointed in what I received to want to try other colors, especially if they aren't true to their names/ the swatch shown online.

False Lashes- Fantastic! I can't wrap my head around the fact that they are a dollar a pair! I like the Dramatic black ones, they're pretty good quality. I can even reuse them if I want to, but they are pretty delicate. The eyelash glue that comes with it is somewhat dubious, I highly recommend to always use DUO Lash Adhesive.  I put in another order for the Hollywood set from the Studio line, which is $3 for a pair of really wild looking lashes, a lash stand and a lash applicator. Again, I'd like to buy about 10 pairs of these lashes and at these prices, I really can afford to toss them out on a whim. 

What really helps when buying e.l.f. products are the reviews from other people on the site. A general rule of thumb is that if it's 4.5 stars or higher, it's pretty great and well worth the price. 4 stars and lower, it's proceed with caution and buy at your own risk. 
They also have mineral makeup which is a little more expensive but still very very cheap, and since it's 1/2 off right now, I'm going to put in another order for some, but I think I'll be buying it for Christmas presents, so I don't know if I'll get to review any. I will however, treat myself to some more and let you know how it goes!

Brushes (II)- Want

Friday, November 13, 2009
So once you have the basic brushes, there's a few extra ones that make life a whole lot easier. I love having these brushes because it can get pretty tiring of using the same brush for multiple purposes, washing and drying them over and over is kind of a bitch.

Eye Blender Brush- There's really two different kind of eye blenders. The first is flatter, and has a rounded tip like so. This one is the MAC217 brush. Photobucket
It's a bit pricey at $22.50 so I've found a few cheap alternatives.This is actually an artist's brush, made by Loew Cornell. It's a 1/2 Maxine Mop made of goat hair and you can find it on Amazon.Photobucket
This is from CostalScents.com (If I could marry a website, this would be the one). It's a bit softer than the MAC217, but at $3.49 it will serve any savvy penny pincher just as well.Photobucket
The second type of eye blender brush has longer fibers and round with a slightly tapered end(or just a round end). Looks something like this MAC222.Photobucket
Again, a similar one from Costal Scents for $2.95. Being too soft is the only complaint I would have for CS brushes, so a little less control. Photobucket
Lip Brush- Preferably the retractable kind, so you can stash it in a bag for on the go touch ups of lipsticks.Photobucket I prefer lip brushes made out of synthetic material because natural hairs tend to fall out more and stick to your lips. And nobody likes hair in their mouth. 
Fan Brush- When you apply eyeshadow, there's usually some that falls off and sits on your cheeks, this brush is fantastic for lightly dusting it away. Also great for applying the lightest hint of bronzer or highlighting powder. If your fan brush comes with a plastic guard, keep it! It'll protect the hairs from getting bent. This brush is really easy to find at art supply stores for under $5.Photobucket
Angled Eyebrow Brush- I like having two flat angled brushes, one smaller synthetic for eyeliner and another slightly bigger one made of natural fibers for eyebrows.  Either use this brush to apply eyebrow shadow or for blending in eyebrow pencil. You want bristles that are firm but not too stiff, that will help control any products used. Again, head to your local Michael's or AC Moore for a big selection of cheap brushes.
Foundation Brush- Flat, synthetic with rounded tip. Only really useful for applying liquid foundation. Artist brushes make the best foundation brushes.Photobucket
A Lasting Love With Your Brushes- Take care of them like they're your own infants.
Deep clean them with brush shampoo at least once every two weeks. Your face will thank you for it. Can you imagine all the bacteria, oil and skin cells that end up in your brushes and marinate there day after day? I recommend washing any brushes that touch foundation, concealer and lip products even more often because those products often contain different oils and can get pretty cakey on the brush. In addition, you want to do slight cleaning routine every day. Quick brush cleansers usually contain higher levels of alcohol so that they dry faster. I myself am guilty of not sticking to this- most of the time when I'm putting on makeup I'm in a rush. But this is essential if you use lots of different colors, you wouldn't want to end up with brown eyelids because you mixed up 3 days worth of bright colors on your eyeshadow brush would you?
Here's a recipe for brush shampoo. I'm not paying $11 dollars at MAC or $6-9 at Sephora for a bottle of the stuff when there's all the ingredients sitting at home. Enkore on YouTube has a great video for making some, but here's my simplified version (his version uses leave in conditioner, but why use that when you can use the regular kind?)
Brush Shampoo
1 empty bottle (I used an empty Clinique makeup remover bottle)
1 cup hot water (hot enough to dissolve shampoo and conditioner)
1 tablespoon conditioner
1 tablespoon shampoo/Johnson's baby wash or 1 teaspoon dish detergent (it's much more concentrated) 
1 tablespoon rubbing alcohol
Don't bother using measuring spoons, just eyeball it. It's not worth doing dishes for.Photobucket
Squirt the shampoo and conditioner into the empty bottle and pour in the hot water. Put the cap on and shake it up until everything is completely dissolved. Add rubbing alcohol. See, ridiculously easy.Photobucket
I pour a tablespoon of the shampoo into a shot glass and swirl the brush around the bottom. Then I take it out and massage the suds through the fibers and rinse with cold water. You can shape them while they're wet back to their original shapes, but don't ever set them in a cup to dry! The water runs back into the metal part where the hairs are glued in and it can grow mold in there. 
If any of your brushes get really frizzy or terribly out of shape(like I am), I suggest coating it with conditioner and shaping it, then letting it dry. Then the next day, rinse it off in cold water.
I'm working on a recipe for daily quick brush cleaning (which will probably come in installation III of Brushes-Super Want), similar to Bare Escentuals Quick Change ($18 for 3.7oz) but a cheap version is E.L.F's Daily Brush Cleaner ($3 for 8.5oz).

Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder Gel- Must

Thursday, November 12, 2009
What, you may ask, is a woman's health product doing on a beauty blog? Simple. It makes one incredible facial primer. Should I be carted of to a crazy hospital for even trying this? Probably.I've tried crazier in the name of beauty, but we'll get to that. 
I know what you're thinking. Monistat? As in, over the counter yeast infection medication? Actually, though it's made by the same makes, it's for external use only, such as chafing caused by a swim suit or riding a bike. But let's discuss the wonderful alternative use. Facial Primer! I first read about in passing on a beauty forum. I was pretty skeptical at first but I'm cheap and the thought of spending only six dollars for facial primer made it too good to pass up.
I bought it at Target and immediately tried it out. I applied a thin layer over clean and moisturized skin, using a little extra on areas where I had unevenness such as a zit or large pores. I wasn't as miserly with the amount I used, at 1/6th the price of Smashbox Photo Finish (and one and a half times the size!) I could definitely afford to not skimp. The product is a gel that feels silky smooth- the way finely milled powdered feels. It didn't smell medicinal, just faintly of baby powder.
As you can see, it's invisible when applied.
Photobucket Photobucket
In short, it delivered everything a pricey primer promises. It created a light layer between my skin and makeup, I could tell instantly when I applied my concealer to my problem areas that it helped the concealer sit evenly. It also made my makeup last all day, kept it soft and there was no irritation whatsoever, as well as oil control! I'm never shelling out 30+ dollars for expensive brand name primer ever again.
Cost: 1.5oz. Around $6 at Target, CVS, Walgreens and other drugstores.
Similar: Smashbox Photo Finish($36 for 1oz), Prep+Prime Skin ($25 for 1oz), Laura Mercier Foundation Primer ($30 for 1.75oz)

Fast Lash- Want

Oh boy, I don't even know how to begin describing this product.
It's by Tweezerman and it comes in a mascara tube with a normal wand for application. However, when you open it (carefully, carefully!) -POOF!- instead of black gloss, there's white fiber that looks suspiciously like dust bunnies. You put on a coat of mascara and while it's still wet, you touch the wand to the lashes to lightly dust them. Then another coat of mascara to fix it in place. Repeat this as many times as you want to get the desired result. You can get some crazy lengths if you keep at it!
However, it's kinda tricky and probably not for times when you're trying to get out the door in five minutes. I feel like though you can get really long full looking lashes, they look a little feathery. Like each one of your lashes look like it has split ends. I liked putting this product on my natural lashes and then putting falsies on. Sounds over the top, doesn't it? Nope, it helps the falsies blend in better! If you can follow directions, you can get the same results.

My other complaint is that there's way too much product stuffed into the tube, you really only need a microscopic amount for each application. When you pull out the wand, it gets all over the place. My solution was to pick off all the white stuff and put it into a small container until the wand just looks like it's dusty- that's all you need. Then when ever I need more, I take a small pinch and stuff it back into the tube.
Here's my lashes with Fast Lash. I used Bare Escentuals Big Tease Mascara in Blackest Black, no eyeliner and my Pixi By Petra Sensual Smoky Eye gift palette.
Here for comparison's sake, is my eye without any make up. As you can see, my lashes are a sorry sight, you can barely see them!
Because this product doesn't provide exceptional results on its own and relies on mascara and plenty of time and practice, it really falls under Want and not Must. It is however, a great alternative for people who want lengthy lashes but find falsies too extreme or difficult to use.
Cost: $15 at Ulta and on Amazon.com

Brushes (I)- Must

Monday, November 9, 2009
Don't use the sponges that come with the makeup.
Or the makeup fairy will find and will make you pay.
You know what, just throw them out now so that there's no temptation. 
Sponge applicators always waste a ton of powder when you pack it on to apply it to your face. It's pretty gross too, think about it. The oil from your face ends up on the product's surface unless you wash and dry the sponges every time. That's how that hard shiny top forms on top of your makeup cakes. 
Instead, invest in some good brushes. If it's really out of the question to shell out 50 or so bucks, try a set of travel brushes such as Eco Tools 5pc Brushes, available for around 11 dollars at retailers such as Target or Ulta. You'll have to continuously clean them though, each brush might have two different uses- for example, you'll be using your powder brush for your blush brush as well. But no matter, the important thing is that you have the tools you need to create many beautiful looks. 

Here's what you REALLY need.
-A big fluffy brush for powder and blush
-A small, flat angled brush for eyeliner or detailed work 
-A small synthetic brush for concealer(if it's small enough for the lips, that's fantastic too!)
-A small, soft, rounded brush for eyeshadow
-A comb/bristled brush for grooming eyebrows and lashes

Don't hesitate to buy artist brushes for make up! Small synthetic brushes make fantastic concealer, lip and eye liner brushes and coarser, fluffier brushes blend better than anything else out there. You can buy these at any art supply store for around 5 bucks a brush. Also, you can buy brushes at e.l.f cosmetics for literally a dollar each (they're not the best in the world, but they do in a pinch, especially if you treat them right).
Right now, I use a Sephora Brand 12pc set that I scooped up for 50 bucks on clearance. I feel like a couple of the brushes aren't as great as they could be, and there's a couple brushes that I could still use so I'll still be adding and refining my collection. 
Part II of Brushes will be about additional brushes and how to take care of them.