Monday, January 28, 2019

Do You Want Luxury Makeup Brushes, Minus the Animal Hair? Now You Can!

When I started this blog years ago, finding makeup brushes that were not made with animal hair was a challenge. Sure, synthetic makeup brushes have existed for a long time, but quality synthetic bristles were difficult to find. 

There were a handful of brands that sold professional quality brushes for artists, but finding synthetic brushes that someone would consider luxurious....well that was truly difficult. 

Not anymore! Over the past few years, I noticed a trend emerging. More and more high-end brands started switching from animal hair bristles to synthetic. I am guessing that this is partially due to new technology making synthetic bristles better than ever, and partially due to demand. 

I see more and more cruelty-free makeup brands launching, and even Covergirl went cruelty-free recently! 

For those who appreciate the finer things in life, and want a bit of luxury, there are now plenty of options when it comes to makeup brushes. Even cosmetic brands who are not cruelty-free have started switching to bristles made with synthetic materials. 

If you told me that I would own brushes from Chikuhodo or Hakuho-do in my collection, just a few years ago, I wouldn't have believed it. Now both offer brush lines free from animal hair. 

I now own three face brushes that are a Sephora x Hakuho-do collaboration.  In fact, one of the most popular bronzer brushes is from luxury brand Marc Jacobs

I own several Marc Jacobs brushes, and they are extremely luxurious and worth every penny.  Some who prefer animal hair brushes were disappointed when brands like MAC and Tom Ford (not cruelty-free brands) switched from animal hair to synthetic bristles. I guess some of that is due to those individuals being used to using animal hair, and some is due to the fact that there wasn't a price reduction when these brands switched to synthetic. 

As an animal lover, I am personally happy when any brand switches to synthetic bristles. I hope that it gives those who wouldn't normally buy synthetic brushes a reason to try them. 

There are other brands, like Kelly Quan who have been making luxurious brushes that rival animal hair for years. 

Brands like IT Cosmetics and Hourglass have also been selling luxury brushes free from animal hair for some time.

There are brands in my collection that are both professional quality and feel ultra luxurious like the below set from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics

Brands like Makeup Forever (not a cruelty-free brand), Kat Von D, Beauty Counter and Besame sell some very soft, high-performance brushes free from animal hair. 

Other brands sell a combination of both animal hair and synthetic bristles depending on the line, or specific brush. For example Smith Cosmetics sells both animal hair brushes and synthetic, so be careful to know what you are buying. I own the Kevyn Aucoin foundation brush, one of the most beautiful, extravagant foundation brushes in my collection. Looking for a shorter handled foundation brush? Try the Aveda Inner Light Foundation Brush. 

Real Techniques, a mostly affordable brand offers pure decadance in their PowderBleu line.

Looking for a simple set with just the essentials? The above set from Beauty Counter gets my vote.

The above powder fan brush from the set works beautifully for blending bronzer along the hairline. 

With all of these luxury brushes to chose from, this post wouldn't be complete if I failed to mention the up and coming synthetic set from Wayne Goss. I love my brush collection dearly, but I am extremely excited for Wayne's new brushes. I have been watching him on YouTube for years and I am quite sure that he loves makeup brushes just as much as I do!

His synthetic set will be available for purchase at 

*This post contains both brushes that were purchased by me and some sent for consideration. This is not a sponsored post. I do not accept money in exchange for reviews. All opinions are my own. 


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

DIY: Yoga Skin

Well, it looks like 2019 is starting off with a new trend called Yoga Skin. This trend began with U.K. based makeup artist Sara Hill. When many of us do yoga, our skin looks sweaty rather than dewy. However, the idea behind this trend is a look that is more radiant than oily and sticky. 

The "lit from within" appearance that Sara aims to create is one that many makeup artists shoot for with proper highlighting. Regardless of what you want to call it, healthy and hydrated skin is here to stay. 

Each makeup artist has his or her own technique for creating perfectly dewy, radiant skin. Normally, I apply my products in thin layers until I get the desired effect.  Sara mixes a few products together for her yoga skin method. 

To give this trend a proper go, I decided to try things the way Sara does. I tested a variety of different product combinations before I found the one that worked best for me. 

Using a few easily obtainable products, you can create your own cocktail for yoga skin at home. 

Here's how to do it yourself: 

  • Start with fresh clean skin, and prep with your normal skincare products.
  • After allowing your moisturizer to fully absorb into your skin, apply your favorite primer. 
  • Now for the mixture! Combine a few drops of facial oil, a drop of liquid highlighter and a smidge of glow drops in with your liquid foundation. 
  • Now you know that I love my makeup brushes, but yoga skin is best achieved by massaging the mixture into your skin.
  • Work the product in, applying it in very thin layers until you achieve the desired effect. 
  • It is best to wait a little bit in between layers to give the mixture time to settle. 

The above method is the main technique for yoga skin. If you are anything like me, you may still feel a little bare-faced without some concealer! Hill's technique allows for just a little bit of liquid concealer in areas where you really need the extra coverage. 

Use whatever products you happen to have in your stash. I found certain product combinations worked much better than others in my testing of this technique. 

After cleansing, toning and moisturizing, I applied a primer. For my foundation, I chose Urban Decay Naked Skin. This formula feels weightless on the skin, and I wanted to make sure that I didn't use anything too heavy. 

For my face oil, I opted for Tarte Maracuja, though I also had luck with jojoba oil. I tried a number of liquid highlighters and found that Wet n Wild Megaglow Hello Halo worked best. I didn't have any of the glow drops that have become so popular on Instagram so added just a touch of NYX Born to Glow Illuminator

I did apply just a little concealer under my eyes to hide my dark circles. 

I will say that mixing all of this up in my hands was a bit messy, and not ideal for those with a busy lifestyle. However, you can easily mix your concoction on a palette instead, though massaging it into the skin with your hands is recommended. 

After the yoga skin base is complete, Sara finishes the look with a cream blush or bronzer. Those who need to powder, should use the smallest amount possible to preserve the glow.

This look is the opposite of the full coverage, heavy contouring and baking seen in 2018.

Here is my finished look:

I applied a light sheen of color to my lips, brushed my brows in place and curled my lashes. 

Evened out, healthy, hydrated skin is a beautiful look. In my opinion, calling it "yoga skin" feels a bit gimmicky, but I can't deny the end result is a welcome change. A lot of brands are putting out matte foundations right now, but I think yoga skin is here to stay. It reminds me very much of the Korean glass skin look, which is one that I have always found to be simply stunning. 

What do you think about yoga skin? Will you be trying out this makeup look/technique? 

*All of the products in this post were purchased by me. I do not get paid to write reviews. I do not accept money in exchange for reviews. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Essential 18 of 2018

Welcome back to another look at my 2018 favorites. This time, I am bringing you my essential makeup brushes of 2018.  While there were many favorites, and not all of these were new to my collection, this list sums up the top 18 that got the most use in my makeup routine last year.

Here are my essential 18 makeup brushes of 2018:

  1. From the Wet n Wild 10 Piece Brush Collection the Flat Top Foundation Brush is the perfect tool for buffing in liquid, powder or cream foundation. The ergonomic handle, makes it comfortable to hold, and I purchased the set on sale at my local Walgreens for only $15!
  2. Next up, is an old favorite from IT Cosmetics. Their Heavenly Luxe French Boutique Blush Brush has been a longtime staple in my collection. At $34.50 each, this high-end brush is worth every penny.  Aside from performing well, the design is a lovely addition to any makeup table. 
  3. When it comes to eyeshadow application, having a high quality tapered blending brush that you can depend on is extremely important. That is why Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Tapered Blending Brush made my list. The small size, and super tapered tip makes applying and blending eyeshadow completely effortless. This $20 brush is vegan, right down to the adhesive used in making it!
  4. When it comes to bronzing brushes, the Marc Jacobs Beauty The Bronze - Bronzer Brush No. 12 is a favorite in the makeup community. At $78 it is one of the most expensive brushes that I own, but with close to 200 five-star reviews on the Sephora app, it is pretty obvious that I am not alone in thinking this brush is amazing. The extra large size, is ideal for bronzing the body.  To get a natural glow anytime of year, I use this brush to dust bronzer onto my neck, shoulders and chest area, for a perfectly blended tan. 
  5. Moving back to my Wet n Wild 10 Piece Brush Collection, the Large Powder Brush in this set earns a spot on my list.  The tapered tip helps apply powder products with precision, and the bristles are soft and fluffy enough for a perfect blend. 
  6. Crown Brush Pro Deluxe Fan Brush has been in my kit for years. With how popular highlighters were last year, it got more use than ever before. At only $11.95, this brush is a steal.  I love it for applying powder products to the neck and decollete as well. 
  7. Contouring was also super popular in 2018.  The Fenty Match Stix were a big hit for me, and I loved using the Wet n Wild Flat Contour Brush from their 10 Piece Brush Collection to blend it out. The shape works perfectly for just below the cheekbones. 
  8. The Bdellium Tools Pink Bambu #776 Blending Brush has made my brush favorites list since I bought it. This is such an underrated makeup brush! For $6.12 it is the perfect eye brush for blending cream or powder eyeshadow. 
  9. With all the highlighting I did last year, I found myself using a number of different brushes to get the job done.  The brush I used depend on the type of highlighter as well as the placement. To highlight the very tops of my cheekbones using a lighter application, I found myself reaching for the Wet n Wild Tapered Highlighting Brush from their 10 Piece Brush Collection. 
  10. If you have been reading my blog for years, you probably know that I am a huge fan of the Kelley Quan Synthetic Blue Squirrel Tapered Brush - Large.  I have seen more and more brand coming out with synthetic blue squirrel hair brushes, but my favorite is still the original. At $65 each, I own multiples in my kit because this brush is extremely useful. It blends out any harsh lines with ease, and creates the most natural looking finish on the skin when blending out powder products. 
  11. The Lottie London Bronzer Brush is the first I've purchased from this brand.  I just love the super wide bristles on this angled brush for applying bronzer to the face. 
  12. 2018 marks the first time I tried Kat Von D makeup brushes.  Her Powder Contour Brush is a must-have for those higher pigment powders.  This brush is great for sculpting, and defining cheekbones, and truly makes application effortless. 
  13. Last year, I did not skip on luxury.  The BeautyCounter Angled Blush Brush is another high-end favorite for blush application. At $35, this brush is great for blush, contour, and bronzer.  The bristles are high-performance and the brush is weighted at the bristles for a more comfortable feel. 
  14. Speaking of blush, I must mention the Blush Brush from the Wet n Wild 10 Piece Brush Collection. This brush truly rivals higher end brands, and is not just pretty to look at. It truly applies and blends blush like a dream! 
  15. While I named a few highlight brushes on this list, the Sephora Pro Highlight #98 brush is probably the most versatile. It is ideal for products that work best painted on, and is a unique size to my collection. I am really happy I added this brush to my stash last year, because I had been eyeing it for a while. 
  16. If you are looking for a slightly larger brush than the Sephora #98, I recommend the Arbonne Precision Brush. This one has been in my collection for a while, and is ideal for more dispersed color placement. 
  17. Many Makeup Artists use actual art brushes for makeup application. Last year, I added the Princeton Velvetouch Oval Mop brush to my collection for use as an eyeshadow blending brush. The size and shape is just perfect for the eye area, and the price was a bargain. 
  18. Last, but certainly not least, is the It's Likely Makeup X Furless Cosmetics Collab PRO3M Brush. I loved the entire set, but this brush changed my makeup game!  Unlike other pencil brushes, the short, dense, dome shape make this ideal for not only the lower lash line, but also getting color really precise on the outer corner of the eye. This brush is truly multipurpose, and great for makeup lovers and professionals alike. 

I have to give an honorable mention to my Aveda Inner Light Foundation Brush. I feel very confident that anyone who buys this brush will love it. I use this brush mostly when applying mineral foundation, but it works equally as well with liquid and creams. When I first bought this brush for $40, I had no idea how much I would love it. This was absolutely one of my favorite products of 2018, and if I had a 19th spot, would make my most used brush list as well.  

I hope you enjoyed this look at my 18 essential makeup brushes of 2018.  
What brushes did you use the most last year?  

*Note: Some of the brushes in this post may have been sent for consideration by the company. I do not get paid to write reviews, or write sponsored posts. I do not accept products in exchange for reviews. All opinions are my own. I will disclose that I am a Crown Brush affiliate.  However, I only make a small commission if you shop through my dedicated link.

Friday, January 4, 2019

How to Wear Coral Like a Pro

In case you haven't heard, the 2019 Pantone color of the year is....CORAL! I am really pleased with this selection from the color authority because coral looks beautiful on just about everyone. It complements my blue eyes. Light washes of coral are a lovely choice for fair skin and bolder, brighter selections of the hue look lovely on those with a deeper complexion than mine.

If you are still unsure about how to work this color into your makeup routine, I have pulled together a bunch of options for you. 

First, I will share a look that I created complete with step by step instructions. 

The Eyes:

As usual, I prepped my kids with an eye primer. This will really help the color stand out, and prevent creasing. 

I used a couple of different palettes and shadows, but use anything in your collection that looks similar. 

I began with the very popular Yes, Please palette from Colourpop. This super affordable palette has a great selection of colors and textures. 

As a base for my look, I picked up the light peach shadow from the palette on a Real Techniques #200 Bold Metals brush. If your skin is deeper than mine, use the slightly darker more orange toned color next to it. The brush I chose has a nice large brush head allowing me to coat my lid with color in one swipe. After applying this shadow to my eyelid, I used a Coastal Scents BR-C-S06 brush to blend out any edges. 

Next, I wanted to create the appearance of a shadow on the outer corner of my eyelid and trace out my crease. For this step, I switched to the Jeffree Star Cosmetics Thirsty palette because I wanted to use the color Subtle, a cool brown. If you prefer a warmer brown for this step, there is a good one in the Colourpop palette I used earlier. 

I recommend using a pencil brush for this step, such as the Royal & Langnickel Revolution BX-95 brush. This allowed me to easily draw my crease exactly where I wanted it, I deal for those with hooded or uneven eyes. 

Now it is time for the coral! Sticking with the Thirsty palette, I used an ecotools smudge brush to apply Biiiitch! (A bright coral) to the outer corner of my lid, the upper crease, and the lower lash line. I highly recommend this ecotools brush. It is great for all eye sizes and shapes, and really allows for precise placement. 

To create a natural looking gradient on the eye, I applied Taste Buds (matte salmon) from the Thirsty palette to the center of my lid using My All Over Shadow brush from MyKitco

Another brush that I highly recommend is the Furless Cosmetics PPM1 brush. The small size really helps with getting into the inner corner of the eyelid. 

Picking up a single eyeshadow from Urban Decay called Freelove, I sprayed my Furless brush with Mario Badescu facial spray to intensify the shimmer. I applied this color to the inner corner of my eyelid, and lower lashline. 

Don't forget to keep blending your shadows together and buff out any harsh edges. 

As I get older, I am favoring matte colors under my brow more often. Parched (matte ivory) from the Thirsty palette worked perfectly for this. I applied it using my Sigma Short Shader - E20 brush.

I wanted a softer eyeliner for this look, so I picked up my Too Faced Just Peachy Mattes palette and combined Just Ripe & Chocolate Dipped. I stamped this mixture along the upper lash line using a Sigma Flat Definer E15 brush. 

For my waterline, I opted for a chocolate brown liner. My go-to is Dominatrix from Jeffree Star Cosmetics. This pencil is technically a lip liner, but the vegan formula is completely eye safe. 

To darken my lashes, I used Covergirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara. As I am sure you may know, this brand is now cruelty-free! 

The Cheeks:

Tarte makes some of the most beautiful blushes. I opted for their Amazonian Clay 12-hr blush in the color Magic. I swept this matte coral blush on the tops of my cheekbones using the Kat Von D #2 Powder Contour Brush. 

For highlighter, I used the peach shade from the Lime Crime Hi-Lite Opals palette. The Real Techniques Setting brush is perfect for applying powder highlighter like this one. 

The Lips:

I am so happy with the lip color I chose for this look. I used Wet n Wild Coral Corruption Liquid Catsuit, an affordable and comfortable matte liquid lipstick. For lip liner I used Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics in Grandma (discontinued).

Some other great coral lip colors are:

  • Too Faced Melted Coral Liquified Long Wear Lipstick 
  • Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Confidential 
  • NYX Retractable Lip Liner in Peony 
  • Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Stick in Miami 
  • Becca Beach Tint
  • Urban Decay Lip Pencil in Wired 
  • Nuance by Salma Hayek in Coral 
  • Milani Lip Intense Liquid Color in Fiery Coral (more of a pinky-coral)
  • Tarte Glamazon lipstick in Bold 
  • Physicians Formula Lip Gloss in Natural 
  • NYX India 
  • Covergirl Coral Cat 
  • Milani Crystal Gloss 
  • Buxom Matte lipstick in Naturally Daring 

The Face:

The rest of these items are not coral colored, but they did contribute to the overall look. I started with Aveda mineral tinted moisture applied with a Kevin Aucoin Foundation brush. To hide my dark circles,  I painted on some IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Waterproof Concealer with a Christopher Drummond Concealer brush (discontinued) and blended it out with my E.L.F. Total Face Sponge. For bronzer, I applied Petal Essence Face Accents in Bronze Glow from Aveda with a Royal & Langnickel S.I.L.K. Pro Powder brush. For extra coverage, and to blend out my bronzer,  I used Urban Decay Naked Skin Ultra Definition Powder Foundation in Light Warm, applied with an E.L.F Complexion brush.

Here is the final look:

If you are looking for more coral eyeshadow options, here are some of my favorites:

  • Makeup Geek Mango Tango 
  • NYX Love in Paris / Merci Beaucoup has a lovely coral.
  • Mixing Just Peachy & Peach Punch from the Too Faced Just Peachy Mattes palette is also a great choice. 
  • Jane Iredale PurePressed Eye Shadow trio in Brown Sugar has a lovely lighter coral for those who are super fair.
  • Try Kitten Parade from Sugarpill for something with more shimmer. 

The picture above is without flash, below with flash (both are without filter).

What do you think about Pantone's color of the year? Tell me your favorite coral makeup products below! 

*All of the products used in this post were purchased by me. I do not get paid to write reviews. This is not a sponsored post.