Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Perfect Brow Trio

Products Purchased By Me

My Perfect Brow Trio

Brows are a facial feature many women overlook when applying makeup. Sometimes we get hung up on images of women with tattooed on eyebrows, or become too afraid to just plain do the wrong thing. However, a perfectly filled in brow can really help frame the face and add a polished look to even the most simple makeup look. I've been on a quest for the perfect brow products for a long time. My hair is currently brown.  Sadly, I've found many brow powders and pencils on the market intended for brunettes to be too brassy, too dark or too light.  Until recently, I just couldn't find the perfect color or texture of brow product to meet my needs. 

There was a time when I was younger, that I never filled in my brows. I naturally have a fuller brow shape, and luckily never succumbed to over tweezing as so many do.  As I got a little bit older, grooming my brows simply consisted of brushing them up with a little bit of brow gel.  I've tried several different brow gels on the market, both drugstore and high end.  The one that I keep coming back to is Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel. This gel doesn't make my brows too stiff, nor does the product flake mid day. It simply holds my brows in place as any good brow gel should. This product is both long wearing, and natural looking. It's a clear gel housed in a metallic tube with a mascara-like spoolie wand for application.

Oddly, I found my perfect brow trio in reverse order. After finding my perfect brow gel, I came across my beloved Kelley Quan Wave Brush sometime in 2012. This synthetic brow brush has a unique patented design that makes it unlike any other on the market. The bristles are made of synthetic fibers meant to mimic red sable "hairs," minus the cruelty. While most apply their brow powder with a traditional angled brush, I've found the shape of this brush helps in creating the most natural looking brow. 

Then, sometime in recent months, while browsing Sephora.com as I often do, I came across Illamasqua Brow Cake in the color Motto (taupe).  This highly rated brow cake comes in a pressed powder format similar to an eyeshadow. What makes this product so unique for me, is the color. There is no hint of red or brassiness anywhere to be seen. It is a true matte taupe brown, something very difficult to find in a brow powder for some reason. It is also the perfect shade of brown, just slightly lighter than my natural shade. The powder is highly pigmented and long lasting, so I don't have to worry about a disappearing brow act mid day. This eyebrow cake is available on Sephora.com in 5 shades: Thunder (dark brown), Vehement (soft black), Motto (taupe brown), Peek (golden brown), and Gaze (dark slate grey).  What's nice about this line is that they offer brow colors that are not easily found. I have heard many women complain about not being able to find a black brow powder. While some makeup artists argue that no one should use a black brow powder, I disagree. Some women do have truly black hair naturally or otherwise, and to use a brow color other than soft black would simply look unnatural. 

 Illamasqua Brow Cake in the color Motto (taupe brown)

My Brow Routine:

I begin by brushing my brows up and out with a clean spoolie. Next, I pick up some of the brow powder on my Kelley Quan Wave Brush. Then I tap the excess off on the back of my hand. As I've mentioned, the powder is quite pigmented, so I make sure to apply just a tiny bit first, then apply more as needed. With the brush, I lightly stroke the powder though my brow hairs, taking special care to fill in any sparse areas. Once both of my brows are filled in to my liking, I comb through with a clean spoolie once more to blend the product through my brows. Finally, I apply my brow gel to set. Anastasia has cleverly packaged her brow gel in a metal container, so should the clear gel become discolored with brow powder, you won't see it. However, if you use a brow gel in a clear tube, simply wipe off the spoolie onto a clean paper towel before putting it back in the container. When using a brow gel on others, I always use disposable mascara wands for hygiene purposes.

 Below, the brow on the left (my right) is freshly filled in, while the one on the right is not. Note the difference filling in the gaps makes.

Pictured above, the brow powder has now been blended through and then set with brow gel.

I wanted to share these items with you because it has taken me so long to finally find a trio of products that work together to create my perfect brows. I feel confident each day knowing that I can easily define my brows, creating a full, yet natural looking shape. With this winning combo of brow products in my arsenal, I won't be looking for new brow products anytime soon!

How do you groom your brows? What are your holy grail brow products?

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Top 5 New Products I'm Loving - Collab

This post contains both products sent for
consideration, and products purchased by me. 

My Top Five New Products I'm Loving (collab) 

Last month, I did a collaboration with two other cruelty-free beauty bloggers where we shared our top 5 makeup brushes. We had so much fun writing that post, that we decided to make this a regular event. This month, the focus is our top five new products that we are loving. Once again, it was super hard to narrow it down to five, but I'm never one to turn down a challenge. These products aren't necessarily new to the makeup market, just new to our personal collections. 

Let me reintroduce my cruelty-free pals Catherine from Buying Cruelty Free and Christine from Makeup Guinea Pig. As always, the products listed in all three of our posts are cruelty-free (not tested on animals).  

Catherine & Christine will be sharing their top five new products that they are loving here:

*Also, don't forget to follow us on Twitter: @MakeupMatters1  @bcrueltyfree and @MakeUpGuineaPig 

To help me keep this list to only five products, I decided to exclude brushes. I've already shared with you my top five, and although I've acquired new brushes since then, I also picked up some new goodies at IMATS and Sephora that I've been dying to share with you guys. I think I included a good mix of different product types and these are items that really blew me away this month. I've incorporated these items into my daily routine, and there is something special about each of them that impress me enough to make the cut. 

These are the five I narrowed it down to (in no particular order): 
  1. Stila Countless Color Pigments 
  2. Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream Intensive Creamy Oil 
  3. Cover FX Matte Setting Powder 
  4. IT Cosmetics  Tightline Full Lash Length Black Mascara Primer 
  5. Hourglass N 28 Lip Treatment Oil
Stila Countless Color Pigments: When I first saw these hit Sephora.com I immediately added them to my wishlist. I just love the fun packaging, and am a big fan of Stila's eyeshadows in general. However, there was a small doubt in the back of my mind. I wondered if they would really be pigmented enough.  Whenever a product makes big claims I'm always a bit leery. Sephora.com described these pigments as being, "unlike anything you've ever seen." I hesitated on the purchase, and I'm kind of glad I did because when I went to IMATS NY this year, I got to see the pigments in person and test them out before buying. After swatching them on the back of my hand, I was instantly impressed with the color payoff.  I snagged two shades; Groupie and Melody.  These single pan shadows actually contain 3 intensely pigmented shades per pan that can be custom mixed to create a medley of different shades. I've found the formula to be long wearing and I love swirling all the shades together to create a new color. Makeup artists love products like this because they really play in to our creative nature. Of the two I picked up Groupie is my favorite.  

Groupie contains three shades: cream beige, copper and dark bronze. 
Melody, the other shade I picked up contains: purple, lilac and soft lavender with blue veining running through the pan. 

 The eyeshadow is packaged in a cardboard box

Groupie (above) is a great shimmery neutral eyeshadow trio

 From left to right (above): Cream Beige, Copper, Dark Bronze, a mix of all three shades

 Melody is pictured below.

 From left to right (above): soft lavender, lilac, purple, mix of all three

 Below: Stila recommends applying with a sponge tip applicator. Please note these shadows cannot be used wet. They are only meant to be used dry. Using them dry yields plenty of pigmentation.

 Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream Intensive Creamy Oil: I've had this product for a few months now. If you are a makeup artist, I highly recommend keeping this in your kit. It has SOOOO many uses. The box (which unfortunately I threw away) listed at least 10 different uses for the product alone. I use it mainly for a mixing medium. I'll often take a loose mineral blush or loose eyeshadow and mix it with a little bit of this creamy oil to create a cream eyeshadow or cream blush. I've even mixed it with loose illuminating powder to make my own shimmery lip gloss. This is a natural creamy oil with hydrating and conditioning properties. If you like Josie Maran's argan oil, but don't like the idea of putting oil on your face, this is a nice alternative. It has all of the same properties and benefits as the oil, but is in a gel like format.Some of the uses include: using it as a cheekbone highlight, under eye cream, smoothing hair flyaways, keeping brows in place, conditioning lips, and transforming powder makeup products into creams. Truly the possibilities are infinite (hence the name of the product).  You are only limited by your imagination. I had a small patch of eczema on my ankle, and this literally cured it! 

While I've only had this for a short time, it's already made it's way to holy grail status.  The product has a fresh citrus scent. While it is a little pricey, I'm still on the same tube as a little goes a long way.

 made with 100% pure argan oil
 Above is the product freshly squeezed from the tube, below is the product blended out.
Cover FX Matte Setting Powder: I received this as my VIB gift from Sephora.  I love the finish so much, that I went back and got all the other colors available. This is now officially the setting powder I use in my kit. It's available in 3 shades: light, medium and deep. It's free of ingredients that are often troublesome to those with sensitive skin such as mineral oil, fragrance, talc and gluten. It's also paraben free, and works great for setting your makeup and creating a matte finish.  Unlike mineral foundation, this is a setting powder so it's sheer, meaning it won't cover up the foundation, concealer or blush that you apply underneath it. It allows the makeup underneath show through, while setting your makeup to create a flawless finish. I actually used this in my photo shoot for my own head shots so I know it photographs beautifully, making it ideal for use in my kit. 

This is the packaging that came with the free Sephora VIB gift. It comes in a jar fitted with a sifter lid and screw top cap. 

 Shade Light pictured above sifted into the cap.

Shade Deep pictured above sifted into the cap 

IT Cosmetics  Tightline Full Lash Length Black Mascara Primer: You may have seen this in my previous post where I showed the Hello Beautiful QVC set from IT Cosmetics. While I enjoyed the entire kit sent to me by IT Cosmetics, this one particular item has really become a favorite of mine. I think it's so innovative and a truly unique product. This product is a mascara with a very thin brush that allows you to get super close to the lash line. You can press the product into your upper waterline and it literally tightlines your eye for you. Pull it through your lashes and watch them lengthen in the most beautiful way. While this can be worn on solo, I usually wear it as a mascara primer below another mascara for added length and volume. I don't think it's sold separately just yet, but will be soon. However it is still available on qvc.com in the Hello Beautiful Kit which is an excellent value and contains other stellar products from the brand. To apply just start at the root of your lashes, and wiggle and swipe up for the perfect tightlined and defined eye. I really think IT Cosmetics should think about selling disposable wands in this size and shape for makeup artists! 

The product comes in a mirrored tube with the IT Cosmetics logo all over the wand. You get 0.118 fl oz of product.  I can't wait for this to be sold individually, because I will definitely be purchasing.

 The mascara primer is great and can be worn solo or below your favorite mascara.
 This product is infused with a peptide serum to nourish your lashes.

Hourglass N 28 Lip Treatment Oil: This is a product I just could not wait to get my hands on! Hourglass posted a picture of it on their Facebook page prelaunch and I knew I had to have it. A long time fan of their N 28 treatment serum for the face, this Lip Treatment Oil has all of the same benefits, but is intended for the lips. While all the products in this post are cruelty-free, this one also happens to be vegan. I ordered this the second it came out and it's been love ever since. I am completely obsessed with this!  Sephora.com describes it as, "a richly concentrated oil blend of cutting-edge actives, botanicals, and skin-rejuvenating vitamins for the delicate lip area."  Upon first application your lips will feel conditioned and moisturized.  Over the long term, you'll notice your lips appear smoother, and more voluminous. Yes, this is a luxury item, and not for the budget conscious. However, if you truly suffer from dry chapped lips, this will really help.  The formula reminds me somewhat of the Josie Maran Argan Oil Cream, but the texture is much smoother and less oily. I will be repurchasing this once I run out. It leaves my lips soft, supple and more kissable. 

I've used a ton of lip products, and I have to say this one truly lives up to the hype, not to mention the packaging is a work of art. 

 The product is dispensed by pushing the button on the back. A bead of lip treatment emerges from the 24KT gold-plated tip.

 This can be used at night as a lip treatment, or during the day for a natural glossy lip look.

I hope you enjoyed this look at my top 5 new products I'm loving.  I would love to hear your favorites too!

Please don't forget to check out the 5 favorites from Catherine & Christine:


A big thank you to my cruelty-free sisters for including me! 
Please don't forget to subscribe to all of our blogs so you never miss a post.
 Me & Christine from Makeup Guinea Pig & IMATS NYC 2013
 Pugsley & Boomer decided to hang out by my photo box!
 Later, as I was writing this post, Pugsley was all curled up in the blanket on the floor, he looked so adorable, I just had to include this picture of him in the post. Isn't my baby cute?!  

Some other related links you might be interested in
I used my Stila Countless Color Pigments in the color Groupie to create this look:

Our very first collab post together: 

As always, THANK YOU for reading. I really appreciate all of your comments and suggestions!