Sunday, December 30, 2012

Spotlight: IT Cosmetics Brushes

This is my final post of 2012, and I'm happy to report the year is ending on a positive note. Whenever I'm sent an item for review, I'm always a little bit nervous about liking the product because I am committed to giving honest reviews to my readers.

About a week ago, I received a four cruelty-free synthetic brushes from IT Cosmetics. Brushes are my favorite beauty item, and I am very picky about the brushes I like and use. I've tried hundreds of brushes in my lifetime, and so many brands over the past year.

What Makes a Good Brush?
Everyone has different things that they look for in a brush. For me, I need soft synthetic bristles. They need to also be very functional, meaning they need to pick up, and blend product well. The brush needs to fit comfortably in my hand. I also like brushes that are sturdy, because I'm obsessive about keeping my tools clean, I need brushes that stand up to constant cleanings. While I've only had these brushes for a short time, I put them through the ringer. I tested all of them every day for a week using them in a variety of different ways. I gave them two deep cleanings (once when I first received them, and this morning before photographing).

I'm happy to report, that I am very impressed with these. These brushes are super luxurious, and I was able to find multiple uses for nearly every brush. IT Cosmetics (which stands for Innovative Technology Cosmetics) works with leading plastic surgeons to create cruelty-free makeup and tools focused on anti-aging as well as high performance cosmetics.

Here is a look at the brushes I tested

Heavenly Luxe Wand Ball Brush:

 This brush has super soft luxurious bristles and can be used to apply powder, blush or even foundation. I tested it with both powder and liquid products and it worked equally well for both. This gave my foundation a very airbrushed appearance.  I think this brush would be ideal for someone with sensitive skin, because it has a very gentle feel against the skin.  As we age, we have to be more careful about pulling and tugging on our skin. I'm in my 30s and the fine lines are starting to show. I need to be more mindful about how rough I am with my face. This brush helped me get a professional makeup look without tugging on my delicate skin.

Dual Airbrush Concealer/Foundation Brush:

This double sided brush makes creating the perfect canvas a breeze. When you are applying your makeup, it's really nice to not have to reach for a separate tool. I was able to use the foundation brush to apply and buff in my foundation, then with a simple flip of the brush, I can blend out my under eye concealer.  I'm a huge fan of this type of brush for applying concealer under the eye rather than a traditional flat concealer brush. When used in small circular motions under the eye, you can blend out your concealer without it settling in the fine lines.  Like all the brushes in this collection, the bristles are super plush, yet firm enough to do the job they need to do.  This is the perfect tool for those who like an airbrushed look to their foundation.

French Boutique Luxe Blush Brush:

While it's really hard to chose a favorite out of these, I'm going to have to say this angled blush brush is it. One major complaint I have about the angled blush brushes in my collection, is that the head is not flat enough. I have quite an extensive brush collection, and none of my angled blush brushes have as flat a head as this does. This is truly the perfect brush for blush application. Simply dip the bristles into the product, tap off any excess product and stipple or sweep the product onto your cheekbones.

For comparison, here are some other common angled blush brushes in my collection. Note how narrow the head is on the others. A narrow head is fine for contouring, but a wide flatter head is more ideal for blush application.

Pictured Above:  IT Cosmetics French Boutique Luxe Blush Brush is pictured on the left, note the flatter head.
Although the head is wider, and flatter than other brushes in my collection, it is still the perfect size for my cheekbone (pictured above).

No-Tug Heavenly Luxe Dual Shadow Brush:

Although at first glance, this appears to be a 2-in-1 brush, it actually is a 3-in-1.  This brush works as a flat shader brush, to apply shadow to the lid, a smudge brush, or when the shadow end is turned sideways, it can be used as a blending brush.  The eye area is particularly delicate. So it's even more imperative that we use tools that are soft, and don't pull on this area of the face. As IT Cosmetics notes, "pulling on the lids promotes collagen-breakdown and eventually sagging of the skin."  If we are more aware of this fact now, we can take preventative measures, like using the right tools designed to prevent premature aging. Like all of the brushes in this collection, the rubberized handle makes these super comfortable to hold, and you don't have to worry about the brush slipping out of your hand. I used these brushes with pressed shadow as well as loose pigment.  The smudging end of the brush is ideal for applying shadow to the under eye area as liner, or when creating a smokey eye.

Overall, I think these are great brushes.  This set is ideal for women who are concerned about aging (which is probably all women), or those with sensitive skin.  I would especially recommend these for mature women or those with a heavier hand.  The way the brushes are made, instantly makes you have a lighter touch with your makeup, which in my opinion is preferable. 

These brushes are available for purchase here:

I wish you all a very happy and safe New Year's Eve!

*Some of the products in this post were sent for consideration. This in no way alters my review. All of my thoughts and opinions are 100% honest, and I only share them with you in hopes of helping you make informed purchasing decisions.

Spotlight: Armour Beauty

I've now mentioned these glosses in two other posts; my Beautylish Haul and 2012 Favorites. I'm talking about the glosses from Armour Beauty. In order for me to express how much I love these glosses and why, I need to first explain what makes a good gloss.

What Makes A Good Gloss?
The answer to this question is different for everyone. For me, I like a gloss to be moisturizing, non-sticky, and feel light on the lips.  The pigmentation I want, depends on what I'm using the gloss for. If I am using the gloss solo, I want it to have good pigmentation and a nice shine. If I'm using the gloss to top off a lipstick I generally like some added shimmer.

My friends at Beautylish, sent me a sample of this gloss in the shade Diana.  After wearing it only once, I was so blown away by the opacity and shine, that I logged onto that night to order four more shades. I have never been so quickly impressed by a lip gloss in my life.  These come in opaque formulas that wear more like a high shine liquid lipstick, or shimmer shades that work great as at topper gloss.

All of the glosses in this post can be purchased here 

One of the nice features of shopping this collection on Beautylish is that each of the gloss colors is shown on different skin tones. I wish all makeup products were shown this way online. Retail Price is $21 each.

Here is a closer look at the shades I own:

Diana*: This is a great nude everyday color. I found myself wearing this a lot during the day when I wanted a nice shiny, yet neutral lip. This color is a great choice to pare with a smokey eye, or even on days when you are going for a barely there makeup look.

Marilyn: This gloss is named after none other than Marilyn Monroe. It's a sheer topper gloss with sparkles that look like diamonds on the lips. This can be worn over a lipstick or one of the opaque formulas from Armour.

Nina (Beautylish Exclusive): Is an opaque formula. It's described as bright coral. This shade is perfect way to wear this spring's bright lip. Paired with minimal eye makeup, and a complimentary blush, this shade makes the perfect statement lip.

Siouxsie (Beautylish Exclusive): Is a warm red shade named after punk legend Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie And The Banshees. I was most excited to purchase this shade, because it just looked so beautiful online. I think this would look absolutely amazing on women of color. I plan to wear this shade on New Year's Eve. I'm also wearing it right now as I type this post.

Stardust: This is a topper gloss with sparkly gold shimmer. I love the way this looks over Siouxsie for a truly sexy evening pout. Like all the other Armour Beauty glosses I've tried, this is extremely long lasting, yet feels weightless on the lips. Plus, although this is loaded with sparkle, you don't feel any of the grittiness of glitter on your lips the way you do with some other brands.

Here are swatches of all the shades:

 From left to right: Diana, Stardust, Siouxsie, Nina, Marilyn

Armour Beauty Glosses are cruelty-free and paraben free. 

*Some of the products in this post were sent for consideration. This in no way alters my review. All of my thoughts and opinions are 100% honest, and I only share them with you in hopes of helping you make informed purchasing decisions.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Just wanted to drop you guys a quick note to let you know I am now on Pinterest. In addition to my blog, which includes all photographs I've taken myself, I will be sharing some of my favorite products, and different makeup looks from others that I enjoy as well.

My Pinterest page can be viewed here:

Each Friday evening I'll share a round up of my favorite looks & products for the week. Of course, sources are listed for links to other blogs. Anytime I have "looks" shown in a Pinterest board, the original source may have not used cruelty-free products.  However, I am sharing it because I like the makeup look. If there is anything you want me to re-create or suggest alternative cruelty-free products please drop me a note in the comments section below.

Weekly Round Up:

Blushes: I am all about the blush!  Blush can really brighten up a face. In the winter, when you are feeling cold and your skin is feeling dry, a pat of cream blush can really help awaken your look. Here are some of the brands I love:

Liquid Lipstick: They apply like a gloss, but provide the coverage of a lipstick.  I find myself always going back to these three brands:

Holiday Eye Makeup: New Year's Eve is right aroud the corner and all I can think about is makeup!  Here are three inspiring looks to choose from. Silvery lids, Smoky Eye, or a Golden Liner:

Fun Brushes: There are so many fun different colored brushes on the market. These are my picks for ones that are just as functional as they are cute:

2013 Makeup Trends: As we head into the new year, many of us get into makeover mode. Why not start the year off right with a dusting of blue eyeshadow, emerald lids or red lips:

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I'm also on Twitter: @MakeupMatters1

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Top 12 From 2012 - Where to Buy

Some of you are asking where you can purchase the items seen in my Top 12 Makeup Products from 2012 post. To make shopping easy for everyone, I've linked where you can purchase below.

I do not get any commissions or payments if you shop through these sites, I'm just posting to be helpful*. 

Happy Shopping!:

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @MakeupMatters1

*Some of the products in this post were sent for consideration. This in no way alters my review. All of my thoughts and opinions are 100% honest, and I only share them with you in hopes of helping you make informed purchasing decisions.

** Royal & Langnickel does offer a pro discount to qualified members. Details are on their site.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Top 12 Makeup Products from 2012

This has been a very difficult post to write. I must have tested hundreds of products and brushes over the past year, so to narrow it down to only 12 was a very difficult task. This list is not about products that were released in 2012, but products that were new to me in 2012. Some of my most used of the year were actually repurchases, so I tried to keep the list to only products I purchased or used for the first time this year.

These twelve items have made some sort of a lasting impression on me, and more than likely have showed up in past posts. I did not include skin care products, and tried to keep the list only makeup and makeup tools. 

Without further delay, here are my top 12 makeup products from 2012 (in no particular order):

#1 Tarte Amazonian Clay Eye & Cheek Palette - This beautiful palette includes 6 eye shadows, 2 blushes and a mirror all housed in a faux snake skin clutch.  Why it made the list: This was my first introduction to Tarte blush in Exposed.  This matte nude blush has become an everyday staple for me and looks incredibly natural on my skin.  All of the eye shadows in this palette are very wearable, and I love that this palette could easily take your look from day to night.
 Above: Swatch of Exposed Blush

#2 Stila In The Light Eye Shadow Palette - Anyone who knows me knows brushes are my thing. However, if I had to choose a second love, eye shadow palettes would be it! After testing tons of palettes this year, I keep coming back to this one. I have even recommended this to others, who have purchased it and love it just as much as I do. Why it made the list: Kitten is one of the most famous eye shadows of all time. It's the shade I use most from this palette. Stila did such a nice job choosing the colors for this collection that I find myself reaching for this palette more than so many others. Bare works amazingly well as an allover base color.  Bubbly is a beautiful champagne shade that looks amazing as an inner corner highlight.  All of the shadows are smooth and pigmented, plus they included a waterproof eye liner in the color Damsel.

#3 Hourglass Veil Fluid Makeup - This was my favorite foundation of the year. I tried so many this year, and none make my skin look as flawless as this does. Why it made the list: It's oil free so it doesn't break me out.  Plus, it contains an SPF of 15 for added sun protection. For swatches you can check my prior post here:

#4 Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm - When I first mentioned this in my Beautylish Haul post ( I talked about the coverage. As I continued to use this product, I realized the coverage can actually be sheer, but it is very buildable.  My first application was a heavy one, leading me to believe the coverage was heavier than it actually was. However, the more I use this product, the more I love it. Why it made the list: The coverage is not only buildable, but it contains light reflecting pigments, which help make the skin look perfected. This two in one has been a time saver for me in the morning, and I really like that it comes in multiple shades, unlike so many other BB creams on the market. 

#5 Royal & Langnickel Revolution Brush BX-30 - You know I can't possibly write a post about favorites without mentioning brushes. This synthetic brush picks up powders so beautifully, yet still works well at blending out creams. This is an amazing brush for professional use and it yields professional results every time. Why it made the list: The size of this brush is ideal for blending blush along the cheekbone. So many blush brushes are too long, or the wrong shape. This one is just perfect.  Full review here:

#6 Bdellium Tools 925 Green Bambu Duet Fiber Fan Brush - Dewy, glowy skin is part of my signature look. One of the best ways I've found to apply highlighters is with this handy little fan brush. Why it made the list: This is a professional grade eco-friendly brush with a bamboo handle and soft vegan bristles.  This little brush has so many uses for me. It's great for sweeping away eyeshadow fallout, adding a light application of liquid or powder highlight to the face, or even polishing foundation. 

 #7 100% Pure Cosmetics Cruelty Free Contour Brush - Everyone knows the key to blending eye shadow well is good technique, and a good brush. This white bristled favorite is an absolute lifesaver when it comes to blending out crease color. Why it made the list: I know so many people who have all synthetic brushes, except for their eye shadow blending brush. It's hard to find a synthetic brush to do the job. This one does it quite well. Full review here:

#8 Ecco Bella Shimmer Dust in Moon - To see my original review, click here: 
This product is so versatile. It can be used as a face highlight or as eye shadow.  Why it made the list: It is very hard to find a good quality highlighter that is not only cruelty-free, but also vegan. These come in 4 colors, and easily pop into a Z-Palette, or the Ecco Bella Paperback Duo Compact

#9 Milani Nail Lacquer - Nail polish is not my thing. In fact, I kind of suck at doing my own nails to be honest. However, this nail polish from Milani is absolutely amazing. It's one of the first polishes I've used that really lasts on my nails. The colors are true to the bottle, and these are super affordable. Why it made the list: I really like the color choices and how they are executed. Milani Signature Gold the most amazing metallic polish I have ever used. This product is made in the USA and is DBP Free.

#10 Armour Lip Gloss - The shade Diana was sent to me as a sample by the good folks over at Beautylish. I was immediately impressed with the opacity and shine of this product. Original thoughts and to view shade click here:
Why it made the list: Never before have I been so impressed with a lip gloss that I ran to order more immediately after trying it once. This gives the lips the most full, sexy appearance you can imagine. I have tried countless glosses in my lifetime, and this one really blows me away. 

#11 Too Faced Lip Insurance - Another gift from the folks over at Beautylish, this product truly improves the staying power of your lip product without drying out your lips. Why this made the list: While I've always been a big advocate of primers for special occasions, I never used anything more than a concealer or concealing type lip primer before this product.  Lipstick feathering is a huge issue, especially with mature ladies and this product prevents that from happening.  For more on primers, click here:

#12 Tarte Glamazon Lipstick in Playful - I have several shades from this line, and love them all. Pure is a great everyday shade, Bold is an amazing bright coral. However, Playful was my go to lipstick shade this fall. I recommended it to everyone and anyone who would listen. Why it made the list: Even without priming the lips first, this long wear formula lasts all day without drying out the lips. This is my favorite color out of the 8 available shades. This applies so smoothly, and the packaging is super cute. 

Above: Swatch of Tarte Glamazon Lipstick in Playful 

That's it! I hope you enjoyed this peek into my personal favorites for the year. I wish everyone a wonderful rest of the year and a great start to 2013!  I want to give a special thanks to my readers, followers and all those who supported me this year.  There will be many new exciting things to come from Makeup Matters By LNC in 2013 including a new look to the site, more reviews and maybe even some giveaways!

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @MakeupMatters1

*Some of the products in this post were sent for consideration. This in no way alters my review. All of my thoughts and opinions are 100% honest, and I only share them with you in hopes of helping you make informed purchasing decisions.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Primer, Primer, Primer !

My very first blog post was about wedding makeup.  In that post I wrote about the importance of wearing primer on your big day. In the makeup world, primers available to the general public are a relatively new thing. I remember when they weren't available, or at least not as readily available as they are now. Today, nearly every brand makes one, and you can prime everything from your lashes to your lips.

What is a Primer?
Like painting a wall, primer is the base coat that goes underneath your makeup (or paint in the case of a wall).  It increases the wear time of your makeup and in many cases makes the makeup you apply over it appear brighter or more intense. In addition, some primers have added benefits to them such as moisturizing, mattifying, brightening, etc.

Here is a look at some different types of primers, and brands I recommend:

Face: As we age, primers can help to fill in the fine lines and wrinkles on the face, sort of like spackling does on a wall.  Face primers can help create a smooth surface for your foundation to adhere to. This step should be done after your moisturizer, but before foundation or concealer. 

As I've mentioned in previous posts, my holy grail face primer is Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer.  In the winter, or when my skin is feeling a little dry, I mix it with Hourglass N28 Primer Serum

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer helps create a smooth matte finish on the skin.  Their N28 Primer Serum is very moisturizing and can be used as a skincare treatment, or a face primer. 

Another primer I love is from Too Faced. Their Primed & Poreless Skin Smoothing Face Primer does exactly what the name implies. It's lightly tinted, so can help even out the skintone of those with slight redness.  Like all good face primers, this will help your makeup stay longer, but can also be worn alone.

While available in full size, Tarte currently sells a limited edition Deluxe Primer Trio. My favorite from the pack is their Clean Slate Poreless 12-Hr Perfecting Primer. This travel size primer helps create a flawless appearance on the face, and is ideal for those who have noticeably large pores.  This primer does not contain any parabens, sulfates or synthetic fragrance. 

If you are looking for a primer that goes the extra mile, try one of these problem solvers from CoverFx. Their Clearprep FX Matte Foundation Primer and Anti-Acne Treatment is ideal for those with acne prone or oily skin. Their BritePrep FX is a great primer for those with a dull complexion  or hyperpigmentation.  This formula has an instant brightening effect on the skin.  Both apply smoothly and work well on those with sensitive skin.

If none of these fit into your budget, there is a great drugstore option available. Nuance by Salma Hayek,which is available at CVS works amazingly well. It's a cross between a gel & cream consistency.  This will leave your skin looking instantly perfected and smooth as well as keep you matte

 all day.

Eye: Aside from face primer, one of the most commonly used primers is eye primer. While I don't always wear face primer, I do always wear eye primer. Eye primer is a must to help prevent my eyeshadow from creasing.

My holy grail eye primer is Too Faced Shadow Insurance.  This is the formula I wear everyday. It's a silicone based product that comes in a squeeze tube and can be applied directly to the lid with your finger or a brush. I use this product under both powder and cream eyeshadow, and a tiny bit is all you need for it to work. 

For those with more mature lids, you might want to try Tarte's Clean Slate 360 degree Creaseless 12-Hour Smoothing Eye Primer.  This primer does everything you expect an eye primer to do, but is also formulated for the under eye area and meant to help smooth out the apperance of wrinkles. This shade works on all skin tones and is/ formulated without parabens or synthetic fragrance.

If your lids are particularly oily, I recommend Tarte's Amazonian Clay Waterproof Shadow Primer.  My lids are not overly oily, so I find this formula a bit drying. This also has a slight pink tint to it, so I don't recommend it for those with darker skin tones. However it works well on fair skin.

For a more budget friendly version, I suggest E.L.F. Eyelid Primer or NYX Eyeshadow Base. Both work well, and NYX offers their eyeshadow base in white, which is ideal for really making your eyeshadow colors pop if you are going for a bright look. I prefer this creamy white base to their famous eyeshadow pencil in Milk. 

Lashes: I never used to prime lashes, and if you are going to skip a primer, this is the one to skip. Honestly, most mascaras these days are long wear and will last you all day. However, if you are attending a special event, or a wedding, I do recommend priming the lashes. 

Tarte's version is my favorite lash primer. When worn under mascara, it actually does make the lashes look longer and fuller, in addition to increasing the wear time.  This doesn't contain any parabens and is available in both travel size (pictured) and full size tubes.

Urban Decay's Eyelash Primer Potion is both lengthening and volumizing.  It actually contains tiny fibers that cling to the lashes, which may not make it ideal for contact lens wearers. This formula is vegan (though the company is now owned by L'Oreal). 

Lips:  The newest addition to my primer family is Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer*. Prior to using this product, I used to prime the lips with a bit of concealer. E.L.F. also makes an inexpensive lip primer, but their version is basically a concealer. 

Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer is surprisingly creamy. It's just like their shadow insurance, but for the lips! I was really shocked at how this prevented my lipstick from feathering, yet didn't dry out my lips at all. This was sent to me as a sample by the good folks over at Beautylish. Since I got it, I've been testing it under lipstick, glosses and stains. I am happy to report, that not only did all of my lip products stay put, but my lips felt smooth and I didn't have to reapply my lip color all day. I'm really impressed with this product and intend to buy the full size for personal and professional use.  

The Too Faced products can be purchased at or anywhere Too Faced products are sold. 

*Some of the products in this post were sent for consideration. This in no way alters my review. All of my thoughts and opinions are 100% honest, and I only share them with you in hopes of helping you make informed purchasing decisions.