What’s In My Makeup Bag – New York Edition! | Blogmas Day #14

The time has finally come for my birthday trip to New York! This afternoon I am jetting off to NYC with the boyf to celebrate my 21st birthday! This was actually my present from my parents, and it is possibly the best a girl can ask for. However, I have committed myself to Blogmas, and I really want to keep up with posting everyday, so I actually plan on scheduling enough posts until I return on Thursday! I thought I would start off with what makeup I am planning on taking on my trip, as these are some of my favourite posts to read – everyone loves to be nosey…

I will begin by saying that I am by no means a light packer – I like to have options. Having said that I don’t think that I have gone too overboard; I will leave that one up to you.

Because the days will be long, I definitely wanted to bring a primer. One of my all time favourites is the Max Factor Facefinity All Day Primer (full post here), and as I’ve almost ran out, I thought I would be able to finish it off on the trip. I then decided to bring my tried and true L’Oreal True Match Foundation (review here)- I am bringing two shades (W1 and W4) because I fake tan, and once it fades I need to mix the shades. I am also bringing two concealers: the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard for blemishes and general imperfections and the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in Fair to highlight the face. Moving on to powder products, I am bringing the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light (post here) to set my makeup, and the Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna and the Mac Blush in Harmony for general bronze and contour goodness (check out my recent post for more details on this!). I decided to bring two blushes – my all time favourite Tarte Amazonion Clay Blush in Exposed and Mac Mineralize Blush in Warm Soul. These are quite similar colours, but Exposed is matte and Warm Soul is very shimmery. Finally, I’m bringing my current favourite highlighter theBalm Mary Lou-Manizer (post here).

This category is one that I feel I have actually been quite selective. I had to bring my trusty Nars Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base to keep my eyeshadow looking flawless all day, and I also decided to bring the Estee Lauder Pure Colour Stay On Shadow Paint in Chained for days when I want a quick easy option. I decided to stick to one palette that has everything I need, and this had to be the Lorac Pro Palette – I have a full review and swatches here. This is still quite new to my collection but it is probably my favourite palette, and I know that it will serve me well. Next is the Urban Decay Ink for Eyes liquid eyeliner and for mascara I am bringing the Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde Mascara. And of course I am bringing an essential to my makeup routine – my Tweezerman Eyelash Curlers and my current eyebrow pencil, the Revlon Brow Fantasy in Dark Blonde. As a bit of a glamorous addition to my makeup for my trip I thought I would bring a pack of my favourite eyelashes, the Ardell Demi Wispies.  

Probably my favourite category, and one that I always struggle to pack for! So I decided to bring the basic choices. For my nude lip option, I have picked the Kiko Precision Lip Pencil in 300 Caffe Latte and the Mac Lipstick in Kinda Sexy. This is one of my favourite go-to combinations at the moment. For a bold red, I chose another Kiko Lip Pencil in 306 Geranium Red and my current obsession, the Sephora Cream Lip Stain in 01 Always Red. In case I’m feeling a bold lip that isn’t red, I decided to bring Mac Impassioned, which is another fave of mine. And finally, the newest lipstick in my collection, Tom Ford Leonardo (full post here) just because it’s stunning. For a lip liner to accompany that, I’m bringing Mac Beet Lip Pencil

The final category is tools. For ease, I will list the brushes I am taking, and if you want to know more about my favourites, check out my posts on brushes here. So from left to right we have: the Real Techniques Setting Brush, the Sigma F25 Tapered Face Brush, the Real Techniques Contour Brush, the Real Techniques Multitask Brush, the Sigma E35 Tapered Blending Brush, the Real Techniques Buffing Brush, the Mac 239 Brush, the Real Techniques Blush Brush and the Mac 217 Brush. I know this may seem like a lot of brushes, but it means that I will have everything I could possibly need on my trip.

I apologise for the incredibly wordy post, but I hope that you enjoyed having a nosey in my makeup bag. Stay tuned tomorrow for all the skincare goodies that will be travelling across the Atlantic with me. 


Bronzing vs. Contouring | Differences and My Favourite Products – Blogmas Day #11

In a recent blogger twitter chat, the topic was contouring. It was when a few people expressed confusion over what contouring actually is and how it differs from bronzing. I am not claiming to be a makeup artist, but over the years of watching my fair few YouTube videos and reading blogs, I feel I have a firm grasp on all of this. So today I thought I would discuss in detail how I like to sculpt and warm up my face, and hopefully some of you may find this useful…

So, let’s start with bronzing. The easiest way to think about bronzing is to use it as a way to warm up the skin. I like to out bronzer on the high points of the face – in other words, where the sun would naturally hit. As you hopefully can tell in the picture above, my skin is warmest on the cheeks, temples and forehead. If I’m going for a super bronzed look, then I will hit the bridge of the nose as well. Effectively, this application of bronzer is to mimic a tan, or a sunkissed glow. It also helps to bring colour to the face and keeps it from being one flat colour, which can sometimes look unnatural. It is also handy to bronze down the neck, as for many of us, that is much lighter than the rest of the body. This can help make the transition from your face to your neck look a lot more seamless and, again, natural. My favourite bronzer – one I have mentioned many times and even dedicated a whole blog post to here – is the Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna. For my skin tone (I go between a NC20 and NC30), this is the perfect colour, but this obviously will be different for everyone. For application, I love the Real Techniques Blush Brush – the tapered end allows for precise application, but the rest of the bristles help to blend it seamlessly. 
Moving on to contouring, this is arguably the most popular trend in makeup right now. There are constant pictures on Instagram of the extreme intense cream contouring a la Kim Kardashian, but today I thought I’d discuss a more wearable version. Contouring is sculpting the face – you create depth and dimension by mimicking shadows and darkening the areas on your face that you wish to recede. The most common place to contour is underneath your cheekbones, which I have done fairly naturally in the picture above. To find where to contour your cheekbones, you can suck in your cheeks to make the typical fish face, or a pretty foolproof method is to imagine a line from the top of your ear to the corner of your mouth. To make this look natural though, I would never bring this colour past the middle of the cheek – if you a imagine a line going straight down from your pupil, you don’t want to have any shadow past that. You can also contour other parts of your face, depending on what suits you and where you would like to sculpt. A popular place is also the nose, but I feel like this is something quite difficult to master and make look natural. If you want a more pouty-looking lip, you can apply a little underneath your bottom lip which will make it look fuller. These are only a few ways to contour, and the possibilities are endless.
Personally, I think the most natural method for contouring is using a powder. When looking for one, you want to find one that is a lot more cool-toned than your bronzer – i.e. it should look considerably more grey in tone. This is because this will look more like a natural shadow rather than an orangey-toned line on your cheek. It is also essential that your powder is matte, as any shimmer will bring attention to the area, when the key is to make it recede and draw attention to the highlighted or non-contoured parts of the face. My go-to contour product is the Mac Harmony Blush, and I would see this being perfect for fair to medium skin tones. My favourite brush for contouring is the Sigma F35 Tapered Highlighter Brush – it is tapered enough that it only applies a small concentrated amount of product, but much like the Real Techniques brush, the outer bristles help to blend everything out. 
I hope this rather wordy post has been somewhat useful to you, and if I haven’t explained myself very clearly then please let me know! It’s important to remember that the key to contouring, like any aspect of makeup, is practice. Nobody gets it perfect on their first try, and part of the fun of makeup is experimenting and finding what’s best for you. Do you love contouring and bronzing as much as me? 

Eye Brushes | My Favourites

Today I bring you part two of my brush series. In case you missed it, yesterdays post rounded up my favourite face brushes (read it here). Now its only fair that we dedicate a post to eye brushes. The line up again consists of brushes from Sigma and Real Techniques but today we have a couple of Mac thrown in there…

Beginning with Sigma, my first favourite is the E30 Pencil Brush. This I primarily use for applying shadow on the lower lash line or smoking and smudging out eye liner. This is an absolute essential for any smokey eye.

The next three brushes are essential for blending. The Sigma E25 Blending Brush is a godsend when it comes to applying colour to the crease of the eye. If you don’t have a brush like this you need one asap. Something about the slightly tapered shape and the texture just does the work for you, and you will be a blending pro in seconds. The Sigma E35 Tapered Blending Brush is the E25’s slightly fluffier counterpart. I use this with no extra product on the brush and blend out the edges of an eye look. The final blending brush is the infamous Mac 217. This is practically identical to the E25, but I find it definitely comes in handy having more than one blending brush on hand – especially when more elaborate eye looks come into play.

Possibly my favourite eye brush is the Mac 239. This is perfect for packing on shadows on to the lid as it deposits the right amount of shadow. This is great for both pressed and loose shadows, and I am just in love. I personally think this is a Mac brush worth investing in as it works better than any other flat shader brush I’ve tried, including the Sigma.

Finally, we have the Real Techniques Fine Liner Brush. This has fast become my favourite brush to use with gel liner, because, as the name would suggest, the tip is incredibly fine. It makes it so easier to create thin precise line, but it is still easy to build up the thickness and intensity. It also cleans really easily which is ideal as gel liner can be quite stubborn on brushes. 

Thankfully this post was far more concise than yesterdays, and I hope that you found this mini series somewhat useful or interesting! What are your go-to brushes?


Face Brushes | My Favourites

Tools are something that I have never really addressed on the blog, but I am a firm believer in the importance of makeup brushes. Now I’m not talking investing mega bucks – as you will see all the brushes I mention in this post won’t dent your bank balance too badly, and they are definitely worth trying out.

(Sigma F35, F40, F20)

Let’s begin with Sigma. This is where my love affair for makeup brushes began. When Sigma first launched their brush range and when everyone on YouTube was working for them and raving about how incredible they were (and how they were dupes for Mac brushes) I had to get myself a kit. Several years later, I now own more brushes from Sigma than I’ll ever need and there are 3 face brushes that really stand out to me.

The F25 Tapered Face Brush has become my go-to brush for applying face powder. Because of the way its shaped, it only picks up a small amount of product on the tip of the brush. This makes it impossible to apply too much powder to the skin which could make you look cakey. What it is also great for is a more precise application of powder than a typical big fluffy powder brush, and makes it easier to apply powder in more difficult-to-reach areas such as under the eyes and around the nose. This brush is also incredibly soft and is a dream to apply product with.

Next up is the F40 Large Angled Contour Brush which I love for applying blush. I know that it is called a ‘contour’ brush, but sometimes the beauty in brushes is to use for whatever you think is best. For me, this is the perfect size and shape for my cheek and deposits the right amount of product. I do like to wear quite a lot of blush, so if you prefer a little less punch, I would say to go for some sort of duo fibre brush which will help to sheer out the colour. This brush blends product seamlessly and I just love it. 

The final Sigma brush in the line up in the F35 Tapered Highlighter Brush. I actually do like using this brush for its intended purpose – highlighting. The point is fine enough that it applies the perfect amount of highlighter to the tops of the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose and any other high points of the face. However, I also love this for the exact opposite – contouring. Again the tapered tip allows for precise application, but it is soft enough to blend out as you apply so you don’t end up with a brown stripe on your cheek.

(Real Techniques Multitask, Blush, Expert Face, Buffing, Setting)

Moving on to the ever popular Real TechniquesUndoubtedly, they are the brush brand of the moment, and its well deserved. They are affordable, great quality and not to mention they are made by some of my favourite YouTubers. Right now, there are five brushes that really stand out for me.

Beginning with one of the newest addition to my arsenal, the Multitask Brush. As the name suggests, this can be used for pretty much anything. I predominantly use it for blush – although I already credited the Contour Brush as great for blush, but if you’re anything like me and like to change up your blush colour, its always nice to have a few to chop and change from.

The Blush Brush is my go to for bronzer (controversial, I know). For me, it’s the perfect size to bronze up the face as it  covers quite a large surface area and makes application foolproof. As with all the Real Techniques brushes, its ridiculously soft which makes it that little bit more satisfying to use.

Lumping the next two into one, my go to foundation brushes are the Expert Face Brush and the Buffing Brush. They are very similar, but the Expert Face is a little denser, meaning you get a little bit more coverage, but the finish is pretty much the same. The main difference is that currently only the Expert Face is available to purchase individually, so that may sway your purchase…

Last but not least the Setting Brush. Again, my favourite use for this brush is not for what its intended for. What I use this for is for blending out concealer, both under my eyes and on the face. What is so great about this brush is that it removes any excess product so you don’t end up with cake face, and it blends it out to an airbrushed finish. It also eliminates the need to touch your face, being much more hygienic. 

Phew… Sorry for the very text heavy post, I clearly have a lot to say when it comes to brushes. And I’m still not done… Check back tomorrow for my favourite eye brushes.


Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge | Review

I have never been one for makeup sponges – I have always associated them with the cheap sponges that come with high street powders that I used to use and how dirty they would always become. Surprisingly, I was never sucked in by the Beauty Blender. I’ve always opted for brushes, and honestly the price has always put me off. But when my favourite affordable brush band (and one of my favourite YouTubers Pixiwoo) comes out with an alternative that everybody is obsessing over, that is definitely coming home with me. 

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

My primary use for this sponge is for liquid foundation. When using it damp, it provides a flawless-looking coverage that isn’t too sheer or too full coverage. In terms of comparing it to other forms of application, it sits somewhere in between using your fingers and a brush (fingers being the sheerer option and the brush building to a more opaque coverage). I find that it works well for most formulas of foundation, except those that are water-based (e.g. Mac Face and Body) because the sponge tends to soak up more of the product. I like to use this when I don’t want too heavy coverage and have a bit more time on my hands – I find that this method takes far longer than any other application method.

The shape (similar to the Beauty Blender) is oval, one side being rounded, the other half flat and a pointed tip. The rounded side is the one I use for the majority of my face. I like to dip the damp sponge into some foundation on the back of my hand, and use a stippling/rolling motion across the face. The flat edge of the sponge is really good for getting the foundation in those tricky to reach areas such as the contours of the nose and underneath the eyes. 

However, it doesn’t just stop at foundation. If you like to use concealer to highlight under your eyes and on the high points of your face, this is great at blending it seamlessly into your foundation. Same goes with any other cream products – blush, bronzer, highlighter etc. Another tip is that if you go a little overboard with blush or bronzer, then simply tap this over and it will sheer it out. 

So am I now a sponge convert? I’m not so sure, as I love applying my makeup with brushes. But this is a really nice method for applying foundation. One con for me personally is that I have to clean it after every use because I’m a bit of a germ freak when it comes to face brushes. Whereas I can spot clean my brushes with a bit of Mac Brush Cleanser, for this I have to really work at it with baby shampoo, which admittedly I often forget to do meaning I end up choosing another method. However when I do clean it, I really enjoy using it. It’s really affordable so I would definitely recommend picking it up.

If my explanation didn’t quite cut it for you, check out Sam’s video explaining all its uses and applying it on camera here.